McCain the Manichaean?

Democratic criticisms of John McCain are so partisan, so unmeasured, and so hysterical that they can hardly be taken seriously, having the unintended consequence of making me like him more. But George Will is a conservative columnist, and he has raised the most trenchant questions of all against John McCain. Referring to his pledge to fire Chris Cox, head of the Securities and Exchange commission who apparently had little to do with the current economic meltdown but with whom McCain has had a long grudge, Will says that McCain has a “Manicheaean worldview.” This refers to the heretics who insisted that the universe is a battleground between a good god and a bad god:

McCain’s smear — that Cox “betrayed the public’s trust” — is a harbinger of a McCain presidency. For McCain, politics is always operatic, pitting people who agree with him against those who are “corrupt” or “betray the public’s trust,” two categories that seem to be exhaustive — there are no other people. McCain’s Manichaean worldview drove him to his signature legislative achievement, the McCain-Feingold law’s restrictions on campaigning. Today, his campaign is creatively finding interstices in laws intended to restrict campaign giving and spending. (For details, see The Post of Sept. 17; and the New York Times of Sept. 19.) . . . .

Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?

Should such accusations about McCain’s temperament give us pause? Is this just a negative take (“boiling moralism”) on principled behavior? At what point does laudable moral zeal become heretical Manichaeanism?

Has Bush changed his ideology?

An article on how President Bush has gotten more and more liberal in his second term, culminating in his massive takeover of the financial sector. So why don’t liberals give him any credit for this?

Obama’s liberal interventionism

According to Obama’s Wars: Liberal interventionism makes a comeback in Reason Magazine, Barack Obama–based on his policy speeches and perhaps more significantly his advisors–advocates the foreign policy philosophy of liberal interventionism. This view calls for armed intervention in “failed states.” Although Obama opposes the war in Iraq, he supports war in Afghanistan and has called for interventions in Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and Sudan.

Should anti-war liberals be concerned about this? Should conservatives give him credit? Or is this another case of ideologies being all mixed up. (Might the war in Iraq actually turn out to be an example of liberal interventionism?)

A new era of big government

Steven Pearlstein discusses the new takeover of the economy by the federal government, drawing the inevitable political conclusion:

It would be hard to find a superlative that would overstate how much the parameters and contours of American economic policy have been reshaped over the past two weeks.

The degree of government intervention into the workings of the private marketplace is unprecedented. Three giant financial institutions taken over. Government purchases of vast quantities of hard-to-sell assets from banks, investment banks and anyone else whose demise might threaten the financial system. Trading outlawed in an entire class of securities. A government guarantee extended to a whole new category of investments.

Laws have been stretched until they are barely recognizable. . . .

But in terms of the political economy, there is little doubt we are witnessing a once-in-a-generation sea change. It will no longer be an easy applause line for a politician to declare that government is the problem and that markets always know better than regulators and politicians. With Bear Stearns and AIG as their rallying cry, citizens will demand the same kind of financial security and protection as bondholders of big banks and counter-parties of hedge funds. Debates about the competitiveness of U.S. financial markets will focus less on how little regulated they are and more on how much protection and transparency they offer to investors. It will be harder to deny essential government agencies the talent, money and respect they need to do the job right.

An interesting comparison can be made between Hurricane Katrina and the current financial crisis, which symbolically has now stranded a number of rich investors on the roofs of their mansions, crying out to the government to be rescued.

When we look back, we may find that this crisis, like Katrina, was a turning point in public perceptions and expectations of government — about its competence in dealing with the inevitable crises that occur and its ability to take steps ahead of time to assure that the damage is limited and the most vulnerable are protected.

Uh, so we want the government that did such a good job handling Hurricane Katrina to handle the entire economic storm? That does not bode well. The point, though, is that big government is back in vogue.

Obama vs. Abortion Survivor

Barack Obama when a state legislator opposed a measure to protect infants who survive abortion. He really did. (According to FactCheck, the bill applied only to fetuses that were unlikely to survive and that it wouldn’t be “infanticide” unless a person considered an aborted fetus an infant, which Obama doesn’t, but I do, but the facts are confirmed.) So abortion survivor Giana Jessen did an ad calling him on it. Now he is running a counter-ad calling the ad “vile” and a lie. But it isn’t a lie! See here for the various ads. Here is Giana’s response to his attack on her:

“Mr. Obama is clearly blinded by political ambition given his attack on me this week. All I asked of him was to do the right thing: support medical care and protection for babies who survive abortion – as I did 31 years ago. He voted against such protection and care four times even though the U.S. Senate voted 98-0 in favor of a bill identical to the one Obama opposed. In the words of his own false and misleading ad, his position is downright vile. Mr. Obama said at the recent Saddleback Forum that the question of when babies should get human rights was above his pay grade. Such vacillation and cowardice would have left me to die if his policies were in place when I was born. Thank God they were not.”

I know that Christians who support Obama say that the president really can’t do much about abortion, so it really doesn’t matter. But doesn’t a person’s beliefs about life issues tell you much about that person’s character and moral convictions? Not to mention that the president’s appointment of Supreme Court justices IS going to have an impact on abortions.

The left taps the contemporary Christian market

An article in the Washington Post, Trying to Get Christian Music Fans to Tune To the Left , tells about how Democrats are buying ads on Christian radio, holding anti-death penalty rallies at contemporary Christian music concerts, and doing all kinds of other initiatives to reach CCM fans and the megachurches. I think this is a brilliant tactic, since Christians who have already agreed to conform with the culture and have little interest in doctrine that might shape their political beliefs are ripe pickings.


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