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.

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