The Case for John McCain, Republished From October 18, 2008 (Originally Sent To The New York Times)

By Chandrashekar (Chandra) Tamirisa, (On Twitter) @c_tamirisa

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The debates are over and the candidates made their closing statements to the jury, the voters.

The Democrat candidate, Barack Obama, a lawyer, was trained to make such statements in the most elite of all law schools, Harvard, and the Republican, John McCain, a sailor, was trained to serve his country and did so all his life in the most trying circumstances.

Obama, the smooth-talking lawyer, wanted to be the McCain of 2000 in this campaign, but the battle scarred senator from Arizona rebuffed the stealth campaign of Obama to usurp his straight talk agenda on primetime television in front of a national audience that is eager to give the deserving man a chance to be their president, if only he returned to being who he was in 2000.

In the end, the John McCain we all saw was the McCain of 2000, not the McCain of Bush 2004. He said that himself to Senator Obama, without mincing words.

The electorate are perhaps wise in thinking that they want a split government. They do not want to take a chance on Obama’s big government liberalism. They want to dig conservatively when the country is already in the hole.

The issue is how his liberal big government biases weigh against McCain’s conservative small government biases, especially when the country is on a certain path to necessary deficit spending. I would say quite unfavorably. Therefore, the question becomes that of frugality of borrowing, not liberalism in borrowing to achieve the same objectives, politically and economically.

A less negative number is always better than a more negative number, if the only choice we have is to live in the red for sometime. To put it differently, it is called cutting losses. Thegovernment, not the people, learning to do more with less.

The United States of America does not concede the game by lowering its standard of living as Obama appeared to repeatedly imply in the debates or through premature and generous concessions on geopolitical strategic objectives in foreign policy because of the aspirations of others.

We do not elect politicians to tell us, “look, Joe the Plumber, we screwed up since 1993, so you have to pay by lowering your living standards.”

Why let a tax and spend liberal who wants to play Robinhood with fiscal policy dig the hole any deeper than is necessary in concert with a friendly Congress if the Democrats could keep or perhaps increase their majorities in the Congress anyway?

The people want to give McCain a well-deserved chance and elect the first female vice president on November 4th as the frugal, conservative White House watch dog, the budget barracuda, who knows what was both wrong and right with the Clinton-Bush profligate policies of the last 16, not 8, years as Obama conveniently forgets to mention.

Bill Clinton had “balanced the budget,” but not quite, at the expense of the U.S. military and jobs, while raising taxes. The stock and housing bubbles had been nurtured by the Clinton treasury and the Democrats in Congress, despite the pleas of moderate Republicans like Chuck Hagel, John Sununu, Elizabeth Dole and John McCain.

George Bush suffered because of Bill Clinton.

It was clear that Obama and the Democrats were on the defensive on taxes, if not proven to be incorrect on corporate taxation. McCain, however, is far from perfect on taxation, but has fewer and far simpler adjustments to make to his tax policies than Obama can to his.

It was also clear that Obama’s healthcare plan was influenced by the single-payer crowd in the Democrat party and he could not avoid the perception that the Democrats could be tippy-toeing into a single payer system as in Europe, and not to a more efficient and competitive system that can lower costs and add to the bottom line of U.S. output, because healthcare, like anything else, is ultimately a business, just that it needs to be run better by its owners, not the government.

On the issue of abortion, the women of this country may have to rethink their unfounded fears of the emergence of a theocratic society. It will not happen. It is without a doubt that, both from the left and the right except on their farthest fringes, there is an emerging consensus that the country needs to move to a culture of greater self-responsibility on sexual behaviors and reproductive choices.

All men must be worried about the influence of a liberal culture on their daughters when they first leave home at 18 (if not sooner) for college where teetotalism and sexual restraint are as alien as nuns are to Protestantism. So, it is not an issue for merely the female voting bloc or a “my body, my business” radical pro-choice vote.

The abortion debate is about being pro-life because we are all pro-choice. It is about choosing responsibly to the extent human reproduction is indeed a controlled choice. I would rather thegovernment spend money in promoting scientific research for the prevention and cure of debilitating congenital ailments rather than promote abortion.

Abortion is not a culture war, but a matter of demographics and reproductive health. It is in fact women’s (and men’s) health that drives this debate.

It is surprising that the argument of the effect of women’s health from the chronic use of contraception that interferes with the natural cycle of ovulation is less discussed than theincreasingly statistically insignificant (in the United States, perhaps not yet in the developing world) worries about women’s health during pregnancy.

On foreign policy and national security John McCain clearly projected stature when he pointed out Joe Biden’s votes on the first Gulf War and his ideas on Iraq. Something Obama, given his relative inexperience and his own biases, could never have said in a debate, even in a primary debate.

The other fact is that the Bosnian war where U.S. and NATO troops are still present, that Biden supported quite correctly, may also be the case with Afghanistan and Iraq in the length of military deployment abroad for which the Democrats cannot rightfully criticize Bush, especially given the military modernization agenda going forward.

The nutshell question at this point for the voters on November 4th becomes: “who can carry forward the Bush foreign policy and economic agenda better than Bush himself could, having learned from his successes and mistakes?” because there is no turning back. No retreat.

George Walker Bush was not wrong on the principles and importance of political and economic freedoms around the world as being in the American interest, just as the Democrats were not wrong on principle in Vietnam.

He muddled the execution just as the Democrats also did on Vietnam, but corrected it just in time in 2006 unlike LBJ on Vietnam, in large measure because of the experience of McCain and others like him in the Republican party such as Senator John Warner of Virginia.

This implies a return to the moderate Republicanism of the Bush 41 second term that Clinton usurped gratuitously for his misguided experiments on both foreign policy and economics. Theformer president Bush, the current president’s father, was among the first to endorse Senator McCain.

On balance, I think John McCain for 4 years may perhaps be good for the country with a Democrat majority in both chambers of the Congress.

The strong bipartisan desire that is emerging to overhaul financial regulation, especially coming from the erstwhile chronic stonewallers like Barney Frank and Chuck Schumer, is a strong signal that McCain’s reform agenda won the debate for the presidency on the economy.

On the issue of energy (and the economy) McCain has already won the debate with his emphasis on energy diversification as surest and most sustainable path to addressing the threat of climate change while growing the economy and reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy.

Most importantly, we need business continuity on policies in Iraq that are succeeding. Afghanistan is less a matter of redistributing military resources for more carnage on both sides, NATO and Afghanistan, but dealing with the failing Pakistani and Afghan states, as we speak.

John McCain is the right man for what could be arduous and challenging times on both the domestic and foreign fronts for the United States of America.


About Chandrashekar (Chandra) Tamirisa
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