Day By Day

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why I Don't Like McCain

I am beginning to get really, really fed up with John McCain. Forget all the lies and underhanded maneuvers that this supposed "man of honor" has unleashed against his opponents -- that's standard for a political campaign. Forget his past willingness to trample basic constitutional liberties and his willingness to do favors for shady characters -- that, too, has become pretty much standard operating procedure for today's political elites. And there are some very good points to be made in his favor. He has a dramatic personal history and is very strong on the war, and..., well..., he is very strong on the war. Other than that he is a disaster, especially on environmental matters.

Forget all that! What bothers me most about McCain is what makes him so attractive to media elites -- that is his authoritarianism [masked as "straight talk" and the "politics of principle"] and his profound distaste for capitalism. McCain likes to wield authority. That is appropriate in a military setting, but dangerous in the political realm. He likes things to be neat and orderly and he is uncomfortable with the messiness of democratic mechanisms. His stance with regard to opponents is arrogant and disdainful -- even contemptuous. His "straight talk" consists of him laying down the rules to others, not entering into negotiations with them. He portrays himself as a "leader", not a mere politician. That bothers me a lot. This shows up in his decision making process. He tends to think with his heart, not his head [I get the sense that he really isn't very bright]. Push his buttons (especially appeal to his sense of honor) and you can get him to sign onto all sorts of lunatic things. And, once he has made his choice, he stands by it come Hell or high water. Emotionalism and inflexibility might be admirable qualities in a military commander -- I don't want to see them in the man who inhabits the Oval Office.

The other disturbing aspect of McCain's personality is his disdain for capitalism. Mark Steyn writes about this today in NRO's Corner:

I'm getting a bit tired of Senator McCain's anti-business shtick. The line about serving "for patriotism, not for profit" is pathetic. America spends more on its military than the next 35-40 biggest military spenders on the planet combined: Where does he think the money for that comes from?

As for his line about "some greedy people on Wall Street who need to be punished", aside from being almost entirely irrelevant to the subject under discussion (the subprime "crisis"), it reveals, I think, one of the most unpleasant aspects of McCain. For a so-called "maverick", he's very comfortable with the application of Big Government power, and the assumption of Big Government virtue. Undoubtedly there are "greedy people on Wall Street". Why should he and his chums be the ones who decide whether they need to be "punished"? If greed is to be punishable, why doesn't he start with a pilot program applied to, say, the United States Senate and report back to us in five years how that's going?

Read it here. [emphasis mine]

The common aspect of both democracy and capitalism, what offends McCain the most, is their messy contentiousness. His desire to impose order on these inherently disorderly processes strikes a resonant chord in the political and economic elites [of both parties]. But ultimately, as Jonah Goldberg reminds us in his excellent book, that desire for orderly application of authority tends toward "fascism".