Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 16, 2006
POLITICS: Hawkins v. McCain

Speaking as a conservative Republican who is uncommitted in 2008 and keeping an open mind about John McCain - who I voted for in the 2000 NY Republican primary - I haven't the time here to parse out my reactions to this, but John Hawkins' summary of "The Conservative Case Against John McCain In 2008" is certainly worth a read. Then again, Hawkins doesn't really address the War on Terror or answer the two burning domestic policy questions: whether McCain would really cut spending and reform entitlements and whether McCain would appoint judicial conservatives to the bench.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:02 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)

The type of job done on McCain amply demonstrates why it's proven so impossible for a senator to become President. To become a good senator, you have to compromise, to give in a bit, to vote for something before you vote against it.

Politics today, among the right and left both, has become (well let's face it, to them, it's always been) so polarized, so "I'm right and you're wrong," so much defined by abortion and now a war, that each side reuses to concede anything.

Among the non-concessionists, it would seem to me that Rudy Giuliani would be the man, except, there ya go again, he is not (except he will change to get a nomination) a staunch anti-abortion rights person (I refuse to use the P-L term, until the PLers grant that babies AFTER they are born have to be granted certain forms of protection as well). McCain is very conservative, but also a pragmatic one.

I don't know if I would vote for him; I would prefer Powell (I likemy presidents to have a military doctrine that says whip the daylights out of them and get out), but Alma won't let him, and he is smart enough to listen to his wife; and people forge that a President must, and I cannot stess this enough, be a good administrator, or oversee those who are. Reagan couldn't administrate, but he got people who could.

As to whether McCain could cut spending, well Mr. arch conservative, W sure couldn't. Things always work best with a bit of tension, with some arguing, and the needed compromises. I wold be happy with a Republican in the WHite House, but Democrats runnign either the House or the Senate. Or vice versa.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at March 16, 2006 11:15 PM

Despite John McCain's heresies, he's probably by far the most reliable conservative on fiscal issues and the role of government that can be elected. Not only that, but he has a good relationship with Congress, which will help him get his agenda passed. There's a lot of goodwill there.

Posted by: Adam Herman at March 17, 2006 3:58 AM

McCain's problems are that he has at one time or another tried to please everyone. On one hand he has come out as strongly pro-life and on another hand he said he wouldn't want Roe v. Wade overturned. Pick just about any issue and you can find a quote from him on both sides. By doing that he doesn't end up pleasing anyone except the media looking for quotes and soundbites. Plus if he were to get the nomination the media which has adored him as a "maverick" will turn on him for the crime of being a Republican.

Posted by: largebill at March 17, 2006 9:09 AM

I will have a hard time voting for McCain. He has been very devicive at times and has worked to restrict our freedoms not defend them. Of the possible candidates I prefer George Allen. He has a solid Conservative track record and I believe would provide a seemless transition from the current administration while at the same time moving to the right. Let's face it, W is NOT a hardline Conservative and we need to move a little more to the right.

Posted by: maddirishman at March 17, 2006 10:47 AM

Can someone tell me the last Republican president who actually had a fiscally conservative viewpoint and put it into action. All I ever see with y'all is unprecedented government spending, huge deficits and crazy tax policies. Maybe I haven't been alive long enough to see an honest to goodness fiscally conservative Republican president since I was only 6 when Nixon got the boot. What does one look like?

Posted by: jim at March 17, 2006 11:51 AM

Irish, I really wonder what your definition of conservative is. Sounds very much like it would be whatever your issues are. Fair enough of course.

However, a quick look at blue and red maps clearly shows that anyone even more conservative than W is way more than much of the country can accept.

What astounds me by your statement is that the ideal "so called conservative" would be the fellow who was there, and flourished, Reagan. Why would anyone want someone even more extreme than an idealogue like Bush who already has his adgenda so mapped out he doesn't need to read a newspaper. More conservative than that is just what nobody really wants. Or do you want a million Terry Shiavos a year?

And Jim, a fiscally conservative president can come in any stripe. Clinton was, Reagan was, the first Bush really was. He had a tax increase because he was also a pragmatist. A fiscal conservative is someone who has enough money coming in (in Clinton's case with very low oil prices) that allows you to be conservative. And let's face it, if you think this war on terror should be a war (and it should), then you cannot, or better not be, a fiscal conservatives. Wars cost big bucks, always have, always will.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at March 17, 2006 12:17 PM


God comments, as always. But I have to disagree with your assessment of Reagan as a fiscal conservative. Despite Ronnie's (very effective) talk about limited government, he was a huge spender who oversaw a period of rising deficits.

I'm not looking to get into a discussion on his merits as a President, just noting that, like LBJ, Nixon and Bush II, among others, he was a BIG spender.

Posted by: Mike at March 17, 2006 12:27 PM

"Good" comments, not "God" comments.

Sheesh. Must proof-read, must proof-read, must proof-read . . .

Posted by: Mike at March 17, 2006 12:28 PM

I don't know what will happen in '08.

I don't like McCain. I think CFR is an unconstitutional farce, an incumbents protection act. He also shows up as way too enamored with himself for my tastes.

However he's right on the WoT. Since it appears there's no such thing as 'right on the WoT' on the Dem side, I may have to support McCain.

They (politicians) are so hard to judge anyway. So many disappoint, so many seem so dumb, so many good ones seem never to get an opportunity.

Posted by: Dwilkers at March 17, 2006 12:50 PM

First of all, I don't look at defense spending in my definition of fiscal conservatism. National defense is a necessity.

Reagan did make a few inroads against big spending, but only a few, because the Democrats controlled the House and routinely declared his budgets "dead on arrival." Ditto for Clinton, who was no fiscal conservative in 1993-94 but cut down on spending from 1995-98 when the GOP Congress made him. And yes, that means I allocate a fair amount of blame to House Republicans for the spending indiscipline of the Bush years.

I think we need a president who will be better than Bush - by which I mean more conservative - on some issues, notably spending, even if it means a president who is weaker on some other issues. Change can be a healthy corrective. That's why I'm willing to give McCain serious consideration - he'd be a change of pace. But he'd have to convince me that he would remain rock-solid on the war and the courts, and so far I'm only convinced of the former.

Posted by: The Crank at March 17, 2006 12:58 PM

The last 3 Republican presidents have all run up huge, I mean gigantic deficits. They spent money on all kinds of s**t, not just defense spending which, while necessary, they way W doles it out is ridiculous. Clinton sent balanced budgets with reasonable tax proposals that were consistently voted against by every Republican (probably because they weren't used to seeing surpluses and didn't know what to make of them). Each Republican president of the past 3 has TALKED smaller government, has talked lessened spending, has talked about balanced budgets and not only have they not delivered they have not even come close. I'm not saying Clinton was a diehard when it came to fiscal conservatism but in the past 26 years he's the only one that practiced it at all.

Posted by: jim at March 17, 2006 2:05 PM

Clinton was force fed fiscal conservatism by Newt and co. When times changed he changed with them, that's to his credit. Take a peek at the bond market 1992-1994, 1994-2000. Like Reagan, his power to set budgets was limited. In this case it was beneficial. Bush has been awful. I don't see any candidate in either party who can reign spending in. Not one with a realistic shot at 1600 Pennsylvania anyway. The conversation needs to change. If a politician thinks XYZ spending should increase by 6% next year instead of the 10% bump it received the three years prior, his opponents and the media rage about the cutting of funds to XYZ. And so it goes, a true DC debate, dishonest to the core.

Posted by: abe at March 17, 2006 9:35 PM

First, aqnd foremost, for that matter. Did you ever think that Mike DID proofread his comments, and decided God comments was correct (ahem).

As for the Clinton being forced to be more conservative, taht is true, and a good thing. Not to be more conservative, but more to be forced to see the other side. I have always thought the governemtn worked better when both parties held a share, and had to really sit down and talk it through. When you get people like Reagan or Clinton, who can convince you a rabbit is better off marrying a fox, then a president can get more of his agenda through, but not all.

W has bullt the most ridiculous deficit in our history by means of poor decisions, some decisions being forced on him, and a total inablilty to see and possibly persuade others who have different views. FDR and Reagan both could, and their presidencies (like Lincoln's for that matter) benefited from that ability.

Bush is a total failure on many levels, and a success on few. Even his successes (such as the invasion of Afghanistan, courtesy of the Clinton army buildup) got trashed on Iraq. He is not conservative; Goldwater was that, Reagan was that. W is an idealogue.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at March 18, 2006 4:50 PM


You can't just make stuff up and hope people will believe it. There was NO Clinton Army buildup. Having been in the military from 1978 to 2004 I can tell you very emphatically the 90's were not a period of buildup. The place you see shortfalls is not in the initial action but in sustained operations where training, maintenance, and replacement parts funding is either sufficient or not.

BTW, Bush is not an idealogue. That is a chacterization from the media wing of the Democrat party. If you really believe that, my guess is you're reading the New York Times and buying the crap they spew.

Posted by: LargeBill at March 19, 2006 7:30 AM


So, if he's not an "ideologue," he's a "pragmatist"? If not that, then what? I though most of President Pinocchio's fans liked his ideological hard-line?

His incantations of faith, his drum-beating on Iran, his insistant drive to run up deficits to impliment every policy he & his boys want is purely a matter of expediency? No ideology behind it?

I'm confused. Then again, so are the Adminstration's policies, so maybe it's working according to plan.

Posted by: Mike at March 19, 2006 10:31 AM

I know it was mentioned above, but let's not forget that Congress dictates the budget. The war is a major cost, but there has to be some discipline. Reagan's debt had as much to do with a continually Democrat controlled congress as W's do with a continually Republican controlled Congress. Congress (generally safe in their incumbancy) needs some shake ups to deliver on a not overly plused-up budget. Without the incentive of gaining control of the house or losing a re-election bid, congress will not cut the budget.

Posted by: Phanatic at March 20, 2006 10:34 AM


The President can & should veto pork. This President never does. In fact, one could argue that Bush has all but invented the concept of national pork.

Posted by: Mike at March 20, 2006 11:39 AM

That is much easier said than done. There are multiple appropriations bills that make up the national budget and it would be unheard of to veto them all. I'd be interested in anyone has some history on the subject.

As for the original thread, I think of the election were held today, you have to think that McCain is the front runner for the Republican nomination. He has been crisscrossing the U.S. and showing up at a ton of GOP fundraisers for congressional members that are up for reelection. And in the end, I don't think Guilliani runs. Pataki has no name recognition, Frist is too connectable to Bush, and I George Allen hasn't done anything to give him more name recognition yet.

Posted by: Phanatic at March 20, 2006 12:27 PM

I would like to thank everyone who made this blog possible. Were it not for you and your efforts I would have gone my entire life without ever having heard the term "Clinton military buildup." What a sad fate that would have been.

My one question for the folks here is this, by what metric is Bush a conservative? I see no evidence of his conservatism, save for his opponents using that term to smear him or his proponents using that term to praise him. In practice he is about as conservative as Eugene Debs.

Posted by: Jon at March 20, 2006 1:36 PM

Uh Jon, I am wondering, are you writing this tongue in cheek, or what? T

he great liberal/conservative divide was defined brilliantly by Andy Rooney.

One the conservative side:
Against: Abortion, the 55 mph speed limit, gun control

On the liberal side: Clearly For the above.

If you see no evidence to Bush's conservatism, I suggest you contact Jon Stewart. The Daily Show really should have someone with a right wing bent on their comedy staff.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at March 20, 2006 3:31 PM

Yeah, The Daily Show is so unfunny they need to hire someone who won't want to make fun of the plethora of material provided on a daily basis by this administration. I am Jon Stewart is in a real bind.

Posted by: jim at March 20, 2006 5:36 PM
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