Saturday, February 2, 2008

AJC's Wooten Calls McCain a "CrapShoot"

The problems, potential of John McCain
By Jim Wooten The AtlantaJournal-Constitution

John McCain presents a real dilemma for conservatives. On national security, he's fine; better than fine, even. As the alternative to either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, he's super. He'll not leave troops hanging out to dry and he'll not be driven by politics into a face-saving exit from Iraq that invigorates jihadists - and makes our children's world less safe. On pork in the budget, he has been among the foot soldiers of the Reagan Revolution.

With a Republican majority in Congress, he'd be a good successor to George W. Bush. With a Democratic majority, which is likely, he's a crapshoot.

Judicial appointments? Crapshoot. Would he nominate a Ruth Bader Ginsberg? Probably not. David Souter, entirely possible. To conservatives, no difference. He says now his appointments would be in the mold of the four strict constructionists on the U.S. Supreme Court. But that was the signal ,too, when Souter was appointed.

McCain now supports making the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 permanent, something Clinton and Obama won't. In Wednesday's debate, McCain said his opposition to them stemmed from his determination to get spending reductions.

"I disagreed when we had tax cuts without spending restraint,"he said. He said at the time of the 2001 cuts that he opposed them because they benefited the wealthy. He and former U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island were the only two Republicans to oppose the $1.35 trillion in taxcuts. He opposed further reductions offered by Bush in 2003 - and was joined in opposition by Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and again by Chafee .

"The tax cut is not appropriate until we find the cost of the war and the cost of reconstruction," he said at the time.

On a number of other issues - illegal immigration and campaign finance restrictions among them - McCain has teamed with Democrats to offer legislation that alienates conservatives. They haven't voted for him yet. In three primaries he won, including Florida last Tuesday, McCain wins without conservatives.

In New Hampshire, he lost the conservative vote to Mitt Romney, 38-30. In South Carolina, he lost it to Mike Huckabee, 35-26. And in Florida, he lost it again to Romney, 37-29.

He won big among primary voters with a negative opinion of Bush, 40-26 in New Hampshire, 39-26 to Huckabee in South Carolina, and 45-23 in Florida.

But of those who view Bush positively, he lost 27-32 in New Hampshire, 31-33 in South Carolina, and 31-35 in Florida.

McCain's strength is among primary voters who consider themselves liberals, moderates and independents.

It's highly unlikely that McCain will have the nomination sewed up by next Wednesday.

Georgia and 20 other states vote Tuesday. Establishment Republicans eager to get a candidate quickly are rushing to endorse McCain. Their eagerness is understandable.

While it will be tough, the general election is very winnable for Republicans. Listening Thursday night to Obama and Clinton debate universal health care, Iraq and taxes, it was hard to imagine either of them prevailing when the cost and consequences of their ideas settle in on mainstream America.

Hillary is a Clinton, with theadvantages and baggage that brings. Obama's much too confident in his rhetorical abilities; he'll talk himself into trouble.

November's winnable with a candidate who can unite the party. Bush planted some conservative seeds in his big-government presidency - school choice, health savings accounts and others. Four years or eight years of neglect, and the seeds are dead while big, costly, over regulated government sprouts.

Mitt Romney does represent the best chance to advance a conservative agenda, however slightly that may be with a Democratic Congress. That's why more than 50 Georgia legislators endorsed him last week.

No comments: