What McCain Must Do


The conundrum faced by McCain according to pundits, is whether to emphasize his moderate "maverick" status to attract other moderates and independents or to swing right to solidify the conservative base.

The reality though is that without the activist, impassioned conservative base, McCain has no chance.  He must have conservatives motivated in order to eek out a victory in November.

So what must he do to solidify the conservative base?

He must begin by distinguishing him from his predecessor, President Bush, whose record he will be tagged with whether he likes it or not.  He should do this as often as needed to make the point and has any number of ways to do it. 

He already has great credibility on national security and the war against radical Islamic terror.  He should distance himself from Bush by pointing out Bush's failure to rebuild the military after the drastic underfunding during the Clinton era even as he brought the nation into war - a strategic blunder - which he, McCain, intends to address.  Further, there is nothing wrong with criticizing Bush's mismanagement of the war for the first three years, during which time - because of his ineptness - the entire effort was undermined.

He should continue supporting the Iraq project - as he will.  He should also continue supporting the two esssential pillars of the Bush doctrine - preemption and the spread of democracy to the Middle East ("draining the terror swamps"), even as Bush has abandoned them (see recent blog on Bush cozying up with Palestinian terrorists). 

Bush has rejected his own doctrine because his blundering in Iraq has discredited the whole enterprise - and he simply lacks the political capital and credibility to even bring it up again let alone promote it as policy.  McCain should be willing to speak of the original noble vision of spreading democracy to the Arab heartland - while again distancing himself from Bush's incompetence.

Restore the Republican reputation for cutting spending, reducing government, and general frugality and fiscal discipline.  All this took a major hit under Bush.

Reform entitlements.  Restrain their growth.  Explain the unfunded multitrillion dollar liabilities of Social Security, Medicaid, and especially Medicare, which alone threatens to consume the entire budget.  Explain how the nation's financial integrity is under siege by entitlements.  Speaking about earmarks is fine but that is not what will bring the nation down.  Entitlements are.  What are you going to do about them? 

The country must be restored to financial solvency.  With roughly three trillion dollars in tax reciepts coming in a year to the federal government, Washington ought to be able to make do.  The government simply must be horsewhipped and thrashed into living within a budget like any normal family does - and stop spending money it doesn't have and then printing more or borrowing, all the while adding to the deficit and debt and driving up inflation.  Let us hear more about this from Mr. McCain. 

Energy Independence.  Big issue.  Go nuclear.  More drilling and exploration.  More coal.  Again, where was Bush?  Distance himself from his predecessor.  (Could you do the world and your country a favor, by the way, and stop talking about global warming?  And, please, not another word about carbon taxes, cap and trade, and the like.)

How bout a word or two on the economy?  You've been too quiet here.  And it didn't help when you said you know very little about economics as if to suggest that a man of your stature would not condescend to so lowly a topic as money and profit.  Well, what do you think pays for all your warships and jet fighters?  And all the social programs?  You frequently describe yourself as a foot soldier in the Reagan army when you were a young senator.  So are you a Reagan-Friedman free market supply sider or not?  Do you believe in lower taxes, limited government, and private enterprise?  If so, develop a program to grow the economy.  And surround yourself with the right advisors. 

How about permanent structural changes (not the silly and costly non-stimulus package you recently voted for) like marginal income tax cuts (better yet, a flat tax), capital gains tax cuts, indexing capital gains to inflation, and cutting corporate tax rates to make the US the most competitive business environment in the world (see Giuliani's excellent economic growth plan for starters)?  In other words, do you believe that business is something to be pillaged and penalized or the essence of American freedom and the engine of growth, jobs, invention, and prosperity?

Will you end illegal immigration or not?  Have you really changed your tune?  Then secure the border, build a fence, go after those who overstay their visas, and fine employers who hire illegals.  In other words, enforce the law.  Get serious about it.  And don't talk about amnesty until you do.  Also, again, hire the right advisors.  One other big point: end the anchor baby phenomenon: it has been abused, is very costly to already strapped social programs, and renders any efforts to meaningfully reform immigration very difficult.

Free Market Health Care Reform.  Haven't heard much from you here either.  Better change that because it will be a big issue this campaign.  Essential.  Make premiums deductible.  Encourage everyone to own their own insurance that is portable (just like everyone owns their own home and car insurance).  Move away from the employer based insurance model.  Deregulate the insurance market.  Allow individuals to buy insurance across state lines.  Push Health Savings Accounts.  Introduce free market reforms and competition.  Have a plan and be ready for a frontal assault by the libs. 

How about something in favor of marriage and the family.  How about the Marriage Amendment?  How about using the bully pulpit of the Presidency to promote a strong marriage and family culture and reverse the spiraling illegitimacy and divorce rate, which, too, threatens the solvency and integrity (cultural and economic) of the country - notwithstanding your own personal shortcomings.  Everyone makes mistakes but the principles remain valid.

Finally, appoint the right people.  A Newt Gingrich somewhere in your inner circle would be wonderful.  How bout secretary of state? or education?  How bout Giuliani for Homeland Security?  I like Kemp and Gramm (although both seem to love open borders).  How bout Forbes or some other well known supply sider and flat taxer.  How about Romney for veep?  Or even Santorum or George Allen?  True conservatives.  (Another thought: Giuliani for veep.  Maybe not conservative enough on some things for some people, but an unbeatable ticket.)

I think, with the right message and good appointments, a McCain-Romney (or someother suitable conservative) ticket shapes up quite well against the soaring but vacuous Obama - whom, by the way, I suspect is peaking too early.

Another suggestion: challenge the Democratic nominee as early as possible to weekly no holds barred debates between Labor Day and the election.  The steely, no nonsense war hero McCain will make the silliness and absurdity of Democratic positions, especially on Iraq and national security, among many others, abundantly clear.  The stark contrast between him and whomever he runs against will if nothing else make him/her appear small minded, unpatriotic, and trivial.  Particularly if he is up against the content free halleluyah air campaign of Obama.   




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