Why We All Should be Thankful that McCain is not President

Why We All Should be Thankful that McCain is not President April 15, 2010

I could write a long list, but I feel like a short post. For a start, there would have been no stimulus bill, which in all likelihood would mean higher unemployment and a more sluggish recovery today (and that would mean higher fiscal deficits, by the way). We certainly would not have healthcare reform – there would have been no chance of covering an extra 30 million people, banning denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions, bending the curve with delivery system reforms, or regulating the ability of private insurers to cover abortion. There would have been no serious attempt at financial sector reform. And while its progress seems extremely uncertain, no Republican administration would have touched cap and trade, or any attempt to tackle climate change.

These are all good, but are ultimately not the main reason for fearing McCain – that would be his belief in the transformative power of violence on the world stage. Yes, some of Obama’s actions on this front have been disappointing (if not surprising) – continued war in Afghanistan, refusal to hold war criminals to account, continued unjust imprisonment at Guantanamo, assassination as a policy action. But in every single area, McCain would have been worse, sometimes obscenely so. People seem to forget that an electoral choice is a relative choice, no more. Do you think McCain would have stood up to wicked policies of the Netanyahu administration? Worst of all, it is highly likely that McCain would have provoked war with Iran. As was noted  recently: “Speaking figuratively, the Arizona Republican says the U.S. keeps pointing a loaded gun at Iran but failing to “pull the trigger.” I thank God that this man is not in power to pull that trigger.

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  • Craig

    Remember: we’re all Georgians now!

  • ROB

    Peace in our time.

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  • Thales

    I’m honestly not familiar with what policies of the Netanyahu administration can be described as “wicked.” Just wondering what you’re referring to.

  • Pinky

    There’s nothing in this article that a Catholic is obligated to agree with, or disagree with, so I’ll take a pass.

  • Would have liked his judicial nominations more, but it’s hard to wish for a McCain presidency. As to the rest of the post, well, it’s nice to know Obama hasn’t lost his base.

  • phosphorious

    Yes, some of Obama’s actions on this front have been disappointing (if not surprising)

    Yeah. . . the extent to which I’m disappointed in Obama is the extent to which he has maintained the course set by Bush.

    I would have hoped that his victory had put an end to a certain kind of conservative governance. But alas. . .

  • Jim N

    I would have liked a moderate Republican to balance the strong Democratic majorities in Congress. Whether we have more or less war with Obama remains to be seen, and is questionable, if not doubtful, at this point.

  • I’m honestly not familiar with what policies of the Netanyahu administration can be described as “wicked.”

    Er.., the continued efforts to displace the indigenous inhabitants of the illicitly occupied territories, via “settlement” construction and the like – or is conquering territory and then moving your own population into the conquered land now morally licit, vis., the law of the stronger?

  • I seriously doubt that McCain would have led us to war in Iran. His rhetoric is tough (perhaps too tough; I have no idea what he means by figuratively pulling the trigger), but the idea that McCain would spend the political capital on another war in this economy is absurd especially considering McCain’s propensity to be a political chameleon.

  • phosphorious

    We would all have liked a moderate republican. But where to find one these days?

    I’m hoping that Obama will eventually realize that war is not a winning issue for him. It turns off his base, and doesn’t impress the opposition.

    But so far, not so good.

  • digbydolben

    In foreign policy, a Democratic President who has to prove his “virility” on defense issues is historically generally more dangerous than a Republican President who goes into office with a “macho” reputation, as McCain would have. I hope that Obama is the exception that proves this rule.

  • ben

    Don’t forget that pro-life majority on the Supreme Court we would have had.

  • Michael Denton – McCain was one of the architects of the war on terror and of Bush’s National Security policy, “Full Spectrum Dominance,” etc. It is naive to think he would not have carried that forward.

  • As this blog is subtitled “A Catholic Perspective on Culture, Society, and Politics” I am surprised that no one has mentioned the unmitigated support of President Obama for the taking of innocent human life in the womb. Bl. Teresa of Calcutta said that the fruit of abortion is nuclear war. President Obama’s choices of “Catholics” to advise his administration are not very faithful Catholics. How can a faithful Catholic support any one (Democrat or Republican) who fails to support the dignity of EVERY HUMAN BEING.

  • Thales


    I’m not trying to make a point or be snarky. Just wanted to know what some people find objectionable about Netanyahu, because I honestly didn’t know. So thanks for the information!

  • Michael Iafrate:

    He might be for it, but in this economy and political environment he wouldn’t. Maybe 8 years down the line when the economy is back and the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan have finished or died down he’s consider it but America lacks all the resources necessary to carry out a program against Iran.

    McCain is above all interested in being elected. He supported Bush when Bush was popular, moved to the right when he wanted to win the nomination, and says what he thinks he will make him more popular. A war in Iran is not popular right now so he wouldn’t do it.

  • drdwheelerreed

    @ Fr. Larry… as a member of this blog I’ve got to add, “I don’t know how a Catholic could vote for any mainstream candidate … especially in this day and age of rancor and violent partisan politics.” It almost seems like there’s no Catholic vote left in this culture–nor do I think there’s such a thing as a Christian vote.

    Besides, how does a Catholic vote for two candidates that support wars that even the Vatican has deemed unjust?

    David Wheeler-Reed

  • drdwheelerreed

    Do we even know what McCain would’ve done in any of these situations? The man seemed to change his mind depending on who he was up against. There was a time–back in 2000–when he supported the Log Cabin Republicans and was openly pro-choice. A few weeks ago news leaked that Cindy McCain is in fact pro-choice and simply remained quiet during the election. (I suspect McCain is still pro-gay and pro-choice).

    There was a comment recently at The American Catholic that said, “McCain just wanted to get elected!”

    Then again, I’m not thrilled with Obama. We need a 3rd party in this country–and one that’s actually closer to the Catholic ideals found in our Social Teachings. For now, I don’t think anyone fits that bill…

    Finally… we as Catholics need to stop putting faith in the American political system and in American politics. We … the Body of Christ … need to make the changes that our Lord commands us to make…

    David Wheeler-Reed

  • Fr. Larry does not seem to remember that McCain is pro-choice. Even Sarah Palin said that abortion should be left up to the states to decide which is a totally bogus “pro-life” position if you ask me. The “pro-life” credentials of the republican party are essentially zero, as most of them flip over to the “pro-life” side just in time for elections.

  • David Nickol

    Rachel Maddow pointed out that in an interview recently, McCain said, “I never considered myself a maverick.” And then she pointed out his 2003 book, titled Worth the Fighting For: The Education of an American Maverick, and the Heroes Who Inspired Him.

    See also the WSJ article John McCain, Maverick No More, which begins

    Every so often a politician is quoted as saying something so surprising that it can stop you in your tracks.

    Washington Wire had one of those moments today when we read the latest issue of Newsweek, which quotes Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain distancing himself from his well-established and long-nurtured national persona.

    “I never considered myself a maverick,” he told Newsweek. “I consider myself a person who serves the people of Arizona to the best of his abilities.”

    The statement is stunning on many levels, not least of which because the maverick persona was hammered by the McCain-Palin ticket in the 2008 campaign and long-cultivated by the senator and his supporters years before his presidential bid.

    Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin apparently didn’t get the maverick memo when she campaigned as recently as March 26 for McCain’s Senate re-election bid. “Send the maverick back to the United States Senate,” Palin declared. . . .

  • “We need a 3rd party in this country–and one that’s actually closer to the Catholic ideals found in our Social Teachings.”

    What we need in this country is public funding of elections, so that anybody with a message and a cause can hope to obtain the funding necessary to run for office, so long as they can qualify for those funds through a petition drive that demonstrates a significant, predetermined level of support. It should be possible to run for high office as a true independent, in order to achieve specific goals and to truly express the will of a free and dedicated constituency, willing to organize and work to make that happen.
    All that a third party ever does is throw the election over to the second party least desirable in the eyes of those supporting the third party. Third parties are studies in futility, under the current system.

  • Paul DuBois

    I have been told many times that I should vote Republican so we can have the right Supreme Court Justices and overturn Roe v. Wade. In that decision, 5 of the 7 judges on the majority were appointed by Republican presidents. Since then the court has never had fewer than 6 justices appointed by Republican presidents, has had 7 Republican appointed justices most of the time and at one point had 8. In fact all 6 Republican appointed justices currently on the Court were appointed after Roe v Wade was decided, 5 of them by presidents who made the appointment of justices who would overturn Roe v Wade a central part of their campaign.

    This is but one of the reasons I do not see opposition to abortion as a reason to support Republican candidates. The history of the party is to make big promises on abortion and to deliver little.

  • Mark Gordon

    “Democrats good, Republicans bad.” God, the MM mantra really is as repetitive, linear, binary, narrow, and boring as Rush Limbaugh’s “Republicans good, Democrats bad” schtick.

  • Thales


    You don’t think the Gonzales v. Carhart case was a good decision? I think it’s safe to say that the pro-life outcome of that case wouldn’t have happened without Bush’s picks of Alito and Roberts. Without them, abortion would be even more firmly entrenched legally that it is now.

    I know you might be frustrated that Roe v Wade hasn’t been overturned yet, but unfortunately, it’s not a simple thing to do all at once.

    Setting aside all other complaints with Bush, I’ve always thought the Roberts and Alito picks were something Bush should be thanked for. They certainly wouldn’t have reached the Supreme Court under Obama.

  • Palin asks: How’s that hopey-changey thang workin’ fer ya?

    Well, Sarah, we haven’t bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bombed Iran! Not bad …

  • IMHO McCain (assumptively) and Obama are useless leaders as POTUS. Most of the discussion here is based on the two ongoing wars, the economy, and healthcare. It seems that no one wants to recognize that the wars and the current economy have direct relational consequences. The moral, ethical, and pragmatic arguments can be made and have been. However, no one wants to discuss the consequences of ending the wars. If the wars to were to end today we would send hundreds of thousands of National Guard and reservists back into civilian life. If all of these soldiers are sent back into the civilian world the unemployment rate will sky rocket as reservists and guardsmen are guaranteed their jobs when they return.

    Also, no one has any idea of what the recent health insurance reform will result in. The claim is that anywhere from 10 to 40 million more people will be insured. Yet, we don’t know and therefore cannot make any certain statements. I have read the HR bill as it pertains to the Constitution and can state with certainty that there is more ambiguity than certainty in pertinence to the results of this law. Congressional staff members are doing vigorous research in an attempt to understand the law.

    My point here is that no one can make a substantial statement as to whether the HR law is a good or bad law. In reality, no one knows. Anyone making a judgment upon the law is making a presumptive statement. Neither Democrat nor Republican staffs have a real grasp of this law. Even within the law there are bylaws that seemingly contradict other bylaws.

    That being said, why are we so glad Obama won the election and McCain didn’t? The claim was that the stimulus and health insurance reform would not have passed. I’ve already dealt with insurance so what about the “stimulus”. Personally, I think the stimulus was a fraud and has resulted in little if any benefit to the economy. This is coming from someone who has had so many lay off meetings in his office he has become numb and recently told he “looks like he has aged ten years” in the last year.

    Even if the “stimulus” package that has barely been spent and has proven little if any results was a good thing, what evidence exists that McCain wouldn’t have done the same thing? McCain is and always has been an opportunist. McCain has always done what is best for him politically. If the stimulus bill was popular than McCain would have supported it.

  • Mr. Iafrate:

    I wish not to defend the Fr. as I am sure he can do so himself. My question to you is, how does redirecting abortion rights back to the states imply an endorsement for abortion rights? In fact, if the Constitution is read literally, abortion is in fact a decision left to the states. The former governor Palin is very clear on her position on abortion. I doubt that any time soon we will see an endorsement of Palin by Planned Parenthood.

    What is your evidence that Republicans “flip” after elections? I will be the first to say that Republicans have not been strong enough against abortion but I think there is a large gap between the standard Republican position versus that of say, Obama, who believes that a child born of a botched abortion should be killed via a snip of the spinal chord while the mother is in stirrups. And that is the man appointing the next Supreme Court Justice.

  • David Nickol

    . . . Obama, who believes that a child born of a botched abortion should be killed via a snip of the spinal chord while the mother is in stirrups.

    Sean Michael,

    Can you give any evidence to support this assertion? I do not believe it to be correct. It’s a pretty serious charge to make if there is no evidence, so I hope you can produce some.

  • David,

    I attempted to respond earlier but it seems that using html meant my response was rejected. That being said, I have re-written.

    I did make a serious charge. That being so I should have been more concrete with my language. I should have stated “Obama, who believes a child born of a botched abortion should not be afforded protection from being killed…”. There is certainly a difference between supporting the killing of a baby and supporting a person’s right to do so.

    As far as evidence goes I believe the National Right to Life has some good background info at http://www.nrlc.org/obamabaipa/WhitePaperAugust282008 and supporting and more substantive evidence at http://www.nrlc.org/ObamaBAIPA/index.

    At the very least I believe this demonstrates that Obama has more interest in defending the Roe versus Wade decision than defending children, unborn or born.

  • Thales

    I think Sean Michael is referring to Obama’s opposition to Illinois’s born-alive infant protection act when he was in the state senate. While I don’t agree with Sean Michael’s descriptive language, I do think Obama’s opposition to the bill was outrageous.