…because I’m an economist and a mom–that’s why!

The Economist Magazine Misses “McCain One”

August 31st, 2008 . by economistmom

This week’s cover story in The Economist magazine:  “Bring Back the Real McCain.”

They argue that McCain has been “too polite to the right,” and as a result has been led to propose some pretty misguided economic policy–or maybe I should say “purely guided by (bad) politics” economic policy.  My emphasis added, here’s The Economist’s critique:

…[I]t is on domestic policy that Mr McCain has tacked to the right more disquietingly. Doubtless he feels he needs to shore up his support among the conservatives who mistrust him. But the result is that he could easily alienate the independent supporters who are his great strength. Mr Obama will sensibly hope to woo them away. 

Mr McCain used to be a passionate believer in limited government and sound public finances; a man with some distaste for conservative Republicanism and its obsession with reproductive matters. On the stump, though, he has offered big tax cuts for business and the rich that he is unable to pay for, and he is much more polite to the religious right, whom he once called “agents of intolerance”. He has engaged in pretty naked populism, too, for instance in calling for a “gas-tax holiday”. If this is all just a gimmick to keep his party’s right wing happy, it may disappear again. But that is quite a gamble to take.

Two months remain before the election, more than enough time for Mr McCain to allay some of these worries. He needs to spend less time reassuring evangelicals that he agrees with them about abortion and gay marriage, and more time having another look at his tax plans. The old John McCain attacked Mr Bush for his tax cuts, which he said were unaffordable. The new John McCain not only wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, but wants to add to them by virtually eliminating estate tax (something that would benefit a tiny number of very rich families, like his own). He also proposes to slash corporation tax. People on middle incomes would see little benefit. Independent analysts agree that Mr McCain’s plans would increase an already huge deficit.

Hawkish foreign policy, irresponsible tax cuts, more talk about religion and abortion: all this sounds too much like Bush Three, the label the Democrats are trying to hang around the Republican’s neck. We preferred McCain One.

That McCain’s excessive politeness to the far right will hurt his chances of attracting the independent vote–or at least independent voters who have centrist views on economic policy–is surely true.  (That’s what I mean by it being guided by bad politics.) …And to think that The Economist thought this even before Sarah Palin was added to the ticket!  (This is the print edition’s cover story that arrived in my mailbox this weekend.)

5 Responses to “The Economist Magazine Misses “McCain One””

  1. comment number 1 by: Drew

    I concur with The Economist! It has been very disheartening to me, a registered nonpartisan, to watch Mr. McCain’s lurch to the right in recent months. I remember fondly the man who went to Iowa and was unafraid to state that he found the practice of the federal government subsidizing the overproduction of corn and then subsidizing the production of ethanol in order to reduce the surplus supply of corn to be ludicrous. Now that is a fearless, straight-talking politician I can vote for. That was ‘McCain one’. The McCain I see today is a much less compelling politician who has adopted the age-old ploy of pandering. It is sad that pandering seems to be the only way a politician can get elected to high office these days. ‘McCain one’ was right when he said the Bush tax cuts were unaffordable, but in order to win the presidency, he may feel he has to embrace the tax cuts. It is a pity that the electorate almost demands that their politicians lie to them. Our current financial problems are not going to be solved by simple, painless solutions. The Concord Coalition’s mission to educate the electorate about the national fiscal situation and to provide balanced approaches to deal with the situation is badly needed. Unfortunately, we don’t appear to have politicians willing to put their jobs at risk to make the hard calls needed to deal with this, or really any other, difficult issue. Consequently, the electorate must demand viable solutions from our politicians or nothing will be done. Keep up the fight EconomistMom! Sooner or later we must accept the painful reality of our predicament and deal with it.

  2. comment number 2 by: Patrick R. Sullivan

    McCain should ignore Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and James Dobson, and instead pander to The Economist?

    BTW, how does one get to be ‘a registered nonpartisan’?

  3. comment number 3 by: Drew

    Mr. McCain should say what he believes to be the truth rather than adopt other people’s truths. He has a pretty good grasp of the issues when he isn’t pandering to the right of the Republican party. It is what he needs to do if he hopes to get a good share of the independent (they are called nonpartisans in Nebraska) vote. I think I understand what he is doing and why; I was simply decrying the necessity of it to win election. We, the electorate, are as much, if not more, to blame for the sad state of our political affairs as anybody. It was just sad for me to see Mr. McCain give up his greatest strength to mollify the so-called base of his party.

  4. comment number 4 by: Brooks


    Applause for your comment (comment #1). Well said, and completely right, IMHO. And I have the same fond memory of McCain in the Iowa debates in 2000 saying that all the other candidates would share his position on ethanol if the Iowa caucuses weren’t the first contest on the path to the nomination.

    And I’ll add this sad note: If there was one conviction I thought McCain probably truly had, it was the necessity of ensuring national security as best he saw fit. With his selection of a novice* to be a heartbeat away from being Commander in Chief in a time of war and other major threats and critical foreign policy / national security decisions, he has at the very least cast doubt on the strength of his commitment to even the cause of national security.

    * Palin’s “executive experience” as mayor of Wasilla Town & Grill doesn’t count as a qualification for Commander in Chief or for the overall job of POTUS. So she’s got less than two years as gov of Alaska as arguably relevant executive experience.

  5. comment number 5 by: Tom Skelton

    Looking at McCain I see Yoda from Star Wars, the true Jeti Warrior. Both Yoda and McCain have stated, ” Do or not do … there is no try”. Now listen to Obama speeches and see how many times he says that word … “Try”.

    May the Force be with McCain and America.