As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, May 16, 2008

McCain: I Rulez!!!

Rule number one of politics: when in a war, never say that you're fine with 100 more years of it. Having learned this lesson, John W. McCain tried to reduce his commitment by 96 years, claiming that Iraq will be "won" by 2013 and most combat troops will then be home (left unsaid is that the 100-year occupation would then begin at that point).

John McCain, looking through a crystal ball to 2013 and the end of a prospective first term, sees "spasmodic" but reduced violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden dead or captured and government spending curbed by his ready veto pen.

The Republican presidential contender also envisions April's annual angst replaced by a simpler flat tax, illegal immigrants living humanely under a temporary worker program, and political partisanship stemmed by weekly news conferences and British-style question periods with joint meetings of Congress.

How dare he support a timetable for withdrawal! Doesn't he know that the terrorist murderers will just wait us out?

That wasn't much of a speech at all, basically saying "McCain would be awesome, vote McCain!" without explaining how he would accomplish any of this. Eric Martin calls it the Straight Pony Express, a fantasyland of proposals that amount to "we'll win because we will win."

Alternatively, Ezra Klein finds a couple things worth liking in the speech.

First, McCain addresses nuclear non-proliferation right at the top. There's an argument whether someone with such a loose view of treaties and a dismissive view of multilateral institutions could actually coordinate international action on this, but it's heartening that he's attentive to the issue. Similarly, I was struck to see him come out forcefully against presidential signing statements and executive office overreach. "The powers of the presidency," says McCain, "are rightly checked by the other branches of government, and I will not attempt to acquire powers our founders saw fit to grant Congress. I will exercise my veto if I believe legislation passed by Congress is not in the nation's best interests, but I will not subvert the purpose of legislation I have signed by making statements that indicate I will enforce only the parts of it I like. I will respect the responsibilities the Constitution and the American people have granted Congress." It's testament to how far we've fallen that a president simply saying he'll abide by the law is cause for celebration, but hey, we're there.

I don't know about the second part, McCain has basically endorsed Bush's view of radical executive power that shouldn't be "constrained" by the judiciary. So his demurral on signing statements is nice (so is Republican Walter Jones' bill which would provide oversight on signing statements), but it's hardly the full story.

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