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