Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bill Kristol's bold prediction

I'll admit it is a bold one, but one we doubt would ever happen. HT to Geraghty the Indispensable. From Mr. Kristol's op-ed today in the New York Times:

But this time, too, such an attack probably wouldn’t be enough. Luckily, John McCain has more to offer as a nominee than Gerald Ford did. McCain can feature an amazing story of personal courage, a record of independence and accomplishment as a senator, and courage and foresight with respect to the most important foreign policy decision of the last couple of years — the surge in Iraq. If any Republican can defend conservative principles and policies, at once acknowledging Bush’s failures while pivoting to present his own biography and agenda to the voters, McCain can.

Still, he’ll have to take risks. He could embrace a “Sam’s Club” domestic-policy reform agenda, oriented toward the legitimate concerns of middle-class and working-class families, even if it gives country-club Republicans heartburn. (He could also criticize corporate boards that have rewarded C.E.O.’s lavishly as they’ve managed their companies into the ground.)

He could explain forthrightly that we’ll have to stay in Iraq for quite a while, even if this means challenging the American people to spurn the feel-good promises of irresponsible Democrats. And he could mock the narcissism of the Obama supporters, who think they’re the ones we’ve been waiting for — by pointing out that their contemporaries serving in the armed forces are the ones making real sacrifices on our behalf.

Perhaps the most obvious way McCain could upend the normal dynamics of this year’s election would be a bold vice presidential choice. He could pick a hawkish and principled Democrat like Joe Lieberman. He could reach beyond the usual bevy of elected officials by tapping either David Petraeus or Raymond Odierno — the two generals who together, in an amazing demonstration of leadership and competence, turned the war in Iraq around last year. He could persuade the most impressive conservative in American public life, Clarence Thomas, to join the ticket. There are other unorthodox possibilities.

First, his plusses outweigh his negatives with respect to spending and national security -- two points that neither Clinton or Obama are all that great with. Both have proposed such an increase in the federal bureaucracy that there is no way a common sense voter could possibly choose them. And their cut-and-run strategy for Iraq is simple nonsensical. We ran for a decade from those attacking us in the 1990s, and what was our reward for such? It was 11 September, and our enemies reminded us of just how much of a bloody mess they make of things. So in that respect, Mr. Kristol is right that Senator McCain has more to offer than either of the Democrats, or even Gerald Ford, for that matter.

However we have problems with the veep talk. No one wants to see Joe Lieberman on that ticket. Not because he's not a good man, and a staunch supporter of the war, but because he's a liberal on the rest of the issues. Think about it. He votes with the Democrats on nearly every issue except the war. Generals Petraeus and Odierno wouldn't be bad picks, and even General Petraeus has said he wouldn't rule out a run for the White House down the road, but right now those men are needed where they are.

As for Justice Thomas, we doubt that he would even entertain the idea. He seems content to do what he's doing now, and while the pick might be the catalyst to settle the internecine squabble amongst the GOP, again he's where he is needed most. Add to the fact, as Mr. Geraghty notes, who would president Bush put up as his replacement, and what sort of odds are we looking at in getting that replacement through the Senate. Need we remind readers that the Senate is still Democrat-controlled, and seemingly hostile to the president? Or do we need to note that the prospect of a jurist like Chief Justice Roberts or Associate Justice Alito are incredibly slim, given that hostility?

John McCain brings a lot to the table that Democrats can't, given the rhetoric of Senators Obama and Clinton. His veep choice will be one that is going to take careful thought. Not only must he choose one that has the inner strength that Dick Cheney has, but it has to be one that helps unite the Republican base. If he can't do that, then this election could go either way, in addition to having a rather low voter turnout. (That is, of course, only if Hillary manages to steal the nomination as disgruntled Democrats stay home in protest.)

Publius II


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