<em>Guest Post by Ben Katcher</em>: McCain is Not the First


Ben Katcher is a Research Associate at the New America Foundation.
In a post on Monday, Steve Clemons referred to Anatol Leiven’s critique of John McCain in the Financial Times. The piece demonstrates that McCain’s propensity to make rash statements, such as singing “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” must be understood in the context of his neo-conservative foreign policy views, including his advocacy of what he calls ‘rogue state rollback.’ In addition to being unbecoming of an American president, comments like these are troublesome because they underlie McCain’s political strategy.
While McCain’s policy positions differ from those of the Republican Party on issues like tax cuts, torture, and campaign finance, the theme underpinning his campaign is, in fact, remarkably similar to that of every Republican presidential candidate since Reagan. The strategy is to claim to be the “strong, confident” candidate while painting the Democrats as weak, defeatist, and full of guilt about American power.
Today, the New America Foundation is hosting a discussion of the origins of this strategy with former New York Times Washington Correspondent Adam Clymer. His new book, Drawing the Line at the Big Ditch: The Panama Canal Treaties and the Rise of the Right, describes how, in the aftermath of Vietnam, Republicans used the Panama Canal treaty debates to launch the modern conservative movement by making an emotional appeal to voters. The event is open to the public and will begin at 12:15 pm on the 7th floor of 1630 Connecticut Ave., NW.
— Ben Katcher


9 comments on “<em>Guest Post by Ben Katcher</em>: McCain is Not the First

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  2. David says:

    For me at this point, Linda Mar, Obama is the future – if America is prepared to move forward. I think his judgment, his intelligence, and his solid grounding in actual knowledge more than offset any concerns regarding whether or not he is sufficiently prepared to be president. And if he is elected, and includes Chuck Hagel in either his cabinet or his inner circle of advisers, along with other intellectually honest folk from across the rational spectrum, he will be a very good president.
    I have long admired Hillary, but her lust for the nomination is driving her to do things I never thought she’d do. I want her to let it go and get back to being the tireless champion of all the good things she has fought for in the past. Saying that McCain is more qualified than Obama to lead this nation is both wrong and beyond the pale for a Democratic candidate. Lieberman I can let go of because he changed his party affiliation. Hillary is still a very important Democrat who can still make substantial contributions to the commonweal, but not by helping McCain be Bush’s third term.


  3. Leanderthal says:

    I don’t see how you can justify saying that McCain differs from Bush on tax cuts and tortue. He’s flip flopped on both of those issues to reel in the Far Right.


  4. Katherin says:

    Way to blog, Ben! Great work!


  5. Linda says:

    This is an excellent summary of Obama’s foreign policy that I think would take us in a new direction–actually some of the best of the old, i.e., FDR and Ike.


  6. David says:

    Thanks for that link, Linda Mar.
    Regarding McCain’s foreign policy views, I have to say they strike me as not only neocon at their core but also reflective of severe geopolitical tunnel vision. I’m not sure the Republicans will get away with the myth that they are stronger on foreign policy – or the other myth that they are better for the economy -this time around.
    And the turn of events in Iraq this week suggest to me that McCain’s full throttle embrace of Bush’s Iraq War will prove something from which he cannot disentangle himself as the situation in Iraq deteriorates even further. I say none of this with any sense of pleasure. Iraq is a deadly ongoing horror show in which a nation has been destroyed, and it is looking more and more like all the king’s horses and all the king’s men… And it also looks more and more like Iran has won the Iraq War this time around. Remember when our only goal was to make sure neither Iran nor Iraq won, and then decided to maintain that stalemate after the first Gulf War?
    I think the question Is the surge working? might prove to be one of the most unimportant questions raised regarding this geopolitical debacle.


  7. Linda says:

    A few TWN readers like me may not support the party of elephants but have pretty good memories similar to elephants’. Bush and Cheney were not very fond of Adam Clymer when he was covering the Presidential campaign for the New York times in 2000, and there was a microphone malfunction.
    The best thing I could find in a hurry was Maureen Dowd’s column about this from September 2000:
    I’m not fond of emoticons, but this one is worth more than a smile!!


  8. Sam says:

    Great post Ben! We look forward to the event!


  9. carsick says:

    “While McCain’s policy positions differ from those of the Republican Party on issues like tax cuts, torture, and campaign finance,…”
    Wait a minute, hasn’t McCain now endorsed the tax cuts he earlier opposed? Hasn’t he also, backed down from his previous accusations concerning torture?
    1 out of 3 ain’t bad.


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