Monday, December 31, 2007

Biden on McCain in 2004 - "John's right" about Iraq

Back in May of 2004, Biden and McCain were together on Meet the Press.

On mistakes made in Iraq -


. . . One was the lack of sufficient troops there which allowed the looting to take place, which established kind of a lawless environment. I think any law enforcement person would tell you that the environment is a very important aspect of it. The fact that we island-hopped and left certain areas of towns and cities around Baghdad as well as in the Sunni Triangle alone. I think it's because we probably didn't make sufficient plans to turn over the government as quickly as possible and a level of expectation that probably was unrealistic, which led to a certain amount of disappointment, but a lot of it had to do with lack of sufficient troop strength at the time that "combat phase" was over.
So yes, it's true McCain has been vocal and consistent about this all along, even while he supported Bush for reelection.

Biden's response:
. . . Number two, too little power. John's right. Imagine if we had not treated the French--excuse me, the Turks with such disdain, that 4th ID would have come down from the north through the Sunni Triangle, there may not be a Sunni Triangle. As John pointed out, too few troops, looting, 850,000 tons of weapons left open, not able to guard them and then we went with too little legitimacy. . .

On how to turn things around in Iraq-

McCain: I believe that we have to make sure that we stick to the June 30 date. I believe we should accelerate the date of the elections. I think that many parts of the country, including in Baghdad, that we could have these elections. They may be flawed but the quicker we turn the government of the Iraqi people over to the Iraqi people, the more it will be then the insurgents verses the Iraqi government rather than the insurgents against us. And I would accelerate the timetable for the elections and I would certainly enter into the status of forces agreement so that we would know exactly the relationship between the U.S. military and new Iraqi government.

Russert: Senator Biden?

Biden: About the same as John. I would make this about the Iraqi people, not about us. Look, it's real simple. Why are we there? We're there now to make sure the Iraqis end up with a government. What kind of government? One that's secure, its own borders, is representative, is not a threat to its neighbors and does not have weapons of mass destruction. How do you get there? You get there by an election.

An election is going to take place, hopefully in November or December of 2005. What do you need to do that? You need more security and more legitimacy. . .

So back in 2004, Joe Biden recognized that security was a precondition for representative government in Iraq. The Democrats today have little patience for an increased troop presence that aims at precisely that. But back in 2004, there was much more acceptance among Democrats for the strategy that McCain then advocated, that is now working to reduce violence. So much so that many Democrats were excited about the prospect of a Kerry-McCain ticket. There is a lot of nonsense floating around about how McCain flirted with the idea of being the Dem's #2. The flirting was in fact from entirely the other direction, from the Democrats and MSM types like Russert. McCain gave his full support to Bush's reelection. I've long been an admirer of McCain, and my decision to vote for Bush's reelection in 2004 was greatly influenced by McCain's support. I imagine that I am hardly the only one for whom this was the case. Those who seem perpetually angry at McCain's supposed disloyalty to the GOP should consider that had McCain's endorsement was the one that mattered in 2004, and it mattered all the more because he was considered so highly by many moderates and independents. Had McCain been less enthusiastic in his support of the President, I was fully ready to write-in "John McCain" come the first Tuesday in November.

I wish Joe Biden well in Iowa. He seems like a pretty decent guy who has seen rough times in his personal life. He didn't vote to cut off funding for the troops, isn't in complete lock-step with the abortion lobby, and has more foreign policy experience than the three Dem front-runners combined. Contra Coulter, if Democrats had any brains they'd probably vote for Biden. And Biden's words of praise for McCain are just as true as they were back in 2004 ( sans the "vice"):

I think John McCain would be a great candidate for vice president. I mean it. I know John doesn't like me saying it, but the truth of the matter is, it is. We need to heal the red and the blue here, man, the red states and the blue states. And John McCain is a loyal Republican. God, he drives me crazy how loyal he is as a Republican as much of a friend as he is. We disagree on a lot of things, but I'll tell you, the fact of the matter is that we've got to bring together the red and the blue here. . . I'm counting on him being a more loyal American than he is a loyal Republican. And, John, I'm not so sure you're so happy about the Senate. I'd like to see you president instead of the guy we have now. . .

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

McCain's Conservative Presidency

John McCain has often noted that Teddy Roosevelt is one of his favorite presidents. But when it comes to executive power, McCain could end up being the William Howard Taft to Bush-Cheney's TR. Daniel Drezner links to this Boston Globe article describing a McCain approach to making the presidency more open and accountable. McCain might be wrong on Constitutional issues such as campaign finance, the line-item veto, and prohibiting flag burning. But a McCain presidency would break from the last two presidencies and work within the law and under the scrutiny of the public. As McCain says ,"anything that makes people pay attention to their government is probably a good idea."

Some fear McCain is too much of a hawk, but of all the candidates, due to his own experience, McCain understands that America cannot have success in a war without the support of the American people. McCain knows the stakes of war as much as anyone, and will not involve our nation in any endeavor without communicating the true scope of the sacrifices that will be necessary. McCain continues to take a lot of flack from Republicans for his "Gang of 14" that allowed most but not all of the conservative judicial nominees to go forward. This bipartisan accord was fundamentally conservative, as it stopped the traditional rules of the Senate from being thrown out the window. The filibuster makes activists moan, for it is one of the aspects of the Senate that keeps the majority party in check and characterizes the body as deliberative. By not exercising the "nuclear option," it will be possible for extreme activitist judges of the Left to be blocked even in the event of Democratic control of both the Senate and the White House. This foresight that McCain showed by holding onto deliberative tradition against the wishes of the "movement" conservatives demonstrates that a McCain presidency will be a conservative one, for McCain recognizes the corrupting influence of power. The anti-Machiavellian crusade McCain has fought against the use of torture is another example of McCain's understanding that what law broken for the sake of efficiency in the moment can have dire consequences for the liberty and security of the future.

Friday, December 21, 2007

how many politicians does it take to change a lightbulb?

Even one is too many for me.

As a conservationist, I do as much as I can to reduce, reuse and recycle.
But if I like my light bulbs heat emitting and soft on the eyes, why should my options be limited by the government?
Go ahead, put a tax on it, make me pay a few more cents for it - but for the sake of my poor astigmatic eyes, on the gentle soul of Thomas Alva Edison, don't make the incandescent light bulb illegal! (M. Malkin also laments this not-so-bright idea.)
While I'm particularly dispirited by this attack on mood lighting by our legislature, the energy bill that overwhelmingly passed both houses of congress and received the Prez's signature has myriad problems - some of them listed here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

the meaning of entrepeneur

Last Monday's quote of the day from the Council on Foreign Relations blog:

“Alcohol fuels made from corn, sugar, switch grass and many other sources that could benefit that rural farm economy of South Carolina and other states, fuel cells, biodiesel derived from waste products, natural gas, and other technologies are all promising and available alternatives to oil. I won’t support subsidizing every alternative or tariffs that restrict the healthy competition that stimulates innovation and lower costs. But I’ll encourage the development of infrastructure and market growth necessary for these products to compete, and let consumers choose the winners. I’ve never known an American entrepreneur worthy of the name who wouldn’t rather compete for sales than subsidies.”Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), in a speech today at the Center for Hydrogen Research in South Carolina.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

how to be all that you can be

Two approaches to army recruitment:

1. Lead by example: elect John McCain commander-in-chief, inspiring young people to courage and a cause greater than their own self-interest.

2. The Axe Body Spray method, as demonstrated in this Ukranian commercial.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

gratitude, not just apologies

Fred Thompson's recent "apology" to Mike Huckabee really brings up the whole issue of candidates being courteous to one another. It's about time the other candidates consider thanking Huckabee for what he's done for their campaigns so far. Here are some suggestions:

Mike, thanks for letting everyone know you think I'm awesome. Plus, thanks for being the punching bag of the supply-side fundies this time instead of me. - John

Huckster, thanks for being such an easy target for my attack ads. -Fred

Mike, you have succeeded in getting the media to focus on the debate about my religion instead of the debate about my record. I am forever grateful. - Mitt

Folks are no longer talking so much about me being anti-gun. Instead they're talking about you being anti-tobacco. Thanks, Mike. But one thing I don't get - I get Pat Robertson's endorsement, then all of a sudden all the evangelicals start flocking to you. What gives? - Rudy

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Speaking Farsi, cont'd

Niall Ferguson, Harvard historian and annoyingly-brilliant-but-with-a-pleasant-Scottish-accent commentator on international relations, sees an opportunity for a McCain presidency to make some real headway with Iran:

On Mr Bush’s watch, Iran’s political position has got stronger. If the US quits Iraq prematurely, Persian hegemony in the Gulf could become a reality, even without nukes.

Mr Bush’s successor needs a different approach, offering a grand bargain to Tehran: economic assistance and diplomatic rapprochement for a renunciation of nuclear weapons and terrorism. Sounds implausible? No more so than Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon’s opening to Maoist China in 1972. But which of today’s presidential candidates could pull it off? Surely not foreign policy novices like Barack Obama, Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee. Surely not the fire-breathing Rudy Giuliani, a paid-up believer in world war four. Surely not, Iran being what it is, a woman.

Step forward John McCain. For who could more credibly put the next world war on ice than a veteran of Vietnam, itself a subplot in the third world’s war?

quick thoughts on a debate with short answers

I just saw the re-airing on C-SPAN of this afternoon's Republican debate in Iowa.

Huckabee and Thompson appeared to have had the strongest performance, especially considering the absurdly short time-frames allowed for the candidates to answer questions.

Romney had that same ol' twinkle in his eye, but didn't come up with anything memorable to say. Having Alan Keyes there made for some liveliness, made Duncan Hunter seem mainstream.

Finally the candidates talk a little about education - I'll post more on that before too long. Plus more straight talk by McCain on farm subsidies vs. fiscal conservatism.

You can watch it here with real media player.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stupid thoughts on the Economy

So there's this new poll claiming that voters are now more concerned with "the economy" than they are with Iraq. Bill Schneider reports on this development, quoting Ms. Clinton -

"I'd describe the economy as kind of a trap door where you're one medical diagnosis or a pink slip or a missed mortgage payment away from dropping through and losing everything"

Hmm, Ms. Clinton, is this the same economy that is experiencing such growth that it makes you so confident Social Security will be solvent indefinitely without any significant reform?

It just makes me wonder what people mean when they say they are worried most about "the economy."
Of course, in most polls "the economy" is just one item among another limited predefined selection of issues, where things like nuclear proliferation or genocide don't even show up.

The economy is an important issue - very important. But what do voters expect from a President? Politicians can do very little about the periodic waxes and waning of the market, or about this month's high gas prices. Where government does have an influence is in the long term. And so the importance of this issue shouldn't really go away. We need to start thinking less about what a President can do to lower the price of yellow bananas, and more about what a President can do to cut the deficit, to encourage long term growth, to build healthy trade relationships, and to develop sustainable policies with regard to energy and natural resources.

In short, we need a President whose economic contribution will be felt not in the next election cycle, but in the next generation.

Friday, December 7, 2007

speak Farsi and carry a big stick

Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and informal foreign policy adviser to John McCain, tells the Bush administration it's "Time to Talk to Iran"

This is as good a time as any. The United States is not in a position of weakness. The embarrassment of the NIE will be fleeting. Strategic realities are more durable. America remains powerful in the world and in the Middle East. The success of the surge policy in Iraq means that the United States may be establishing a sustainable position in the region -- a far cry from a year ago, when it seemed about to be driven out
. . .

They should also address the Iranian government's violation of human rights and its tightening political repression. Some argue that you can't talk to a country while seeking political change within it. This is nonsense. The United States simultaneously contained the Soviet Union, negotiated with the Soviet Union and pressed for political change in the Soviet Union -- supporting dissidents, communicating directly to the Russian people through radio and other media, and holding the Soviet government to account under such international human rights agreements as the Helsinki Accords. There's no reason the United States cannot talk to Iran while beefing up containment in the region and pressing for change within Iran.