Let me start off this discussion with a preface. I am, politically speaking, a dyed in the wool Democrat. I cast my first ballot at the age of 18 for Bill Clinton and I have cast every single ballot since for a Democrat. I voted for Gore and I voted for Kerry.
Not only have I always voted Democratic, I despise George Bush and believe he has been a horrendously bad President with only one thing nice I can say about him… he has done wonders for disease in Africa. That’s all.
George Bush’s foreign policy has been terrible. The war in Iraq was wholly unnecessary, and I opposed it from the very beginning. I think that the war in Iraq could have been successful, but it was mismanaged horrendously by the Bush administration, as has the war in Afghanistan. Instead of uniting the world in the singularly most unique and best chance for that to happen in more than half a century, he divided it… perhaps irrepairably for a generation.
George Bush’s economic policies have been mediocre. Instead of using his political capital to push through the good long term notions he had, like increasing the oversight on Fannie and Freddie, he instead used it on total crap… tax cuts for the top 5% of wage earners and the energy bill, which contained TONS of giveaways to the oil industry only to be followed by record high oil prices that put a nail in our economic coffin.
On healthcare, George Bush also helped block the importation of prescription drugs from Canada and the ability of Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies just like every private health insurance company does, which could potentially have saved the Medicare system a staggering sum of money. He also help pushed through a Medicare reform bill that was nothing but a crap sandwich in disguise, handing even more money to business and taking it out of the pockets of our retirees.
Let me also say that, for an undetermined amount of time, I have chosen to leave the Democratic Party…. or, more specifically, to quote an old phrase… “I didn’t leave the party, the party left me.”
So, knowing that I believe all of the above, why would I support John McCain and not Barack Obama.
Well, the answer in it’s most simple form: John McCain is not George Bush.
In reality, it is more complicated than that. In the words of Bill Clinton,
For example, you’re a voter, and you have Candidate X and Candidate Y. Candidate X agrees with you on everything. But you don’t think that person can deliver on anything. Candidate Y disagrees with you on half the issues, but you believe that, on the other half, the candidate will be able to deliver. For whom will you vote?
This is a pretty good summary of what is going on here… I would add something to that though. I also believe that Candidate Y will at least listen, and I mean really listen, to what I have to say on the half that we disagree on.
So, for this Democrat… I choose Candidate Y, John McCain.
The more detailed analysis is even more complicated than that… so lets get into it.
The Wars and Foreign Policy
Foreign Policy is really the true realm of the President. There is a mistaken belief that the President’s main job has to do with domestic policy and the economy. This is not true. In foreign policy, the President has real powers, but domestically the President is basically relegated to the “Power of the Podium,” meaning that he/she has the loudest voice in a room full of people talking because of their ability to command so much attention when speaking upon a subject.
And so, because the real realm of Presidential power is foreign policy and the conduct of war, that is what will be discussed first.
As for the Iraq and Afghan wars, the myth that both candidates would like you to believe is that their stances on the war are substantially different.
Well, I hate to break it to the people on both sides of the aisle… while the political philosophies behind their decisions, what the members of their parties want may differ greatly, the actual platforms of the two candidates are virtually the same.
Barack Obama claims that he will “end the war in Iraq” and get the troops out of there… in a year and a half… starting at some undetermined date… but will leave a residual force… yeah, of like 60-70,000 troops… oh, and those troops won’t necessarily be coming home really, they will be going to Afghanistan… and, umm, not sure when that will be done.
John McCain has basically the same plan… except he is actually up front about it. He plans to make sure the government in Iraq is stable, get their army and police forces trained, boost troop levels in Afghanistan and get that finished as soon as possible by using the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force, or what I like to call the McCain Doctrine (more popularly known as “The Surge”) and to eventually get everyone the hell out of there.
In the vacuum of their policy ideas, the net result is the same… we are going to be in Iraq and Afghanistan for a very long time. Period. End of story.
The difference is on how the management of the specifics of the wars are handled and what each man will do with different eventualities.
Here is where the Obama supporter, hereafter referred to as “Obot,” brings up the theory of Obama’s superior judgement… because he was against the war from the beginning.
The funny thing is that the Obots ignore the fact that he wasn’t even in the Senate yet, so it was not his call to make and he did not have all the information the Senators did at the time (reliable or not)… he was armchair quarterbacking it.
Also ignored is the fact that he only said he was against it once… at an anti-war rally… in a room full of middle easterners… who were by and large against the war as a demographic… while running for office… in a heavily middle eastern district… upon whom he relied for the majority of his campaign finance support (ie Rezko, Auchi, Khaladi). In other words, it was a politically expedient and safe move for his situation, even though he likes to paint is as if he took some grand stand against the tide.
The Obots also ignore the fact that not a year later, Obama was quoted as saying that his opinion on the war was basically equivalent to that of George Bush, and then go on to ignore the massive military strategic and tactical ignorance that Obama displayed in opposing the McCain Surge Doctrine which succeeded, in Obama’s own words, “beyond our wildest expectations.”
Add this in conjunction with Barack Obama’s choice in running mate, and upon whom he is supposed to rely for foreign policy decision making… Joseph Biden, a man that voted for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF. And yet, even though I regularly heard Obots declare that they could never vote for someone that “voted for the war,” they have fallen in line behind Biden with gusto.
(As a side note, the AUMF was not a vote FOR the Iraq war, no matter what the Obama camp would like you to think, especially during the primaries when they were attacking Hillary Clinton vicously. The AUMF authorized the President to use military force if he deemed necessary during the negotiations with Saddam Hussein to allow weapons inspectors back into the country. It was meant to be used as an additional tool for the President to use as leverage to get Iraq to open up… a kind of “yeah, we mean serious business” type of a statement, and one that worked. Iraq did allow the weapons inspectors back in, but Bush got a bit antsy and sent in the troops anyway. Regardless, the vote for the AUMF was not to send in troops, it was to authorize the President to send them in if deemed necessary. These are two very different things.)
A this point, I feel I must state again, I was against the invasion of Iraq as well. I am glad that Obama chose to oppose it as well, but the situation greatly mitigates the stance.
Also, when it comes to diplomacy, John McCain is most certainly not like George Bush. John McCain recognizes and has spoken out against the failures of the Bush Administration to effectively use diplomatic means to solve problems. He has also criticized Bush for this mismanagement of relations with our allies. He recognizes the need to regenerate the good will and respect that America should garner from our NATO allies and fellow members of the UN.
As a man that has served in a war and spent 5 1/2 years as a POW, John McCain is the last person that would run head first in to an ill advised war and do so unprepared. McCain is a strong advocate of strong diplomacy and of using force only as a last resort. McCain is a strong advocate of the Geneva Conventions, staunchly against the use of waterboarding (aka torture) and will close Guantanamo on Day One.
There are also an innumerable variety of situations that could occur in different parts of the world that can cause serious problems for and threats to the US national security, something that even Joseph Biden, aka Obama’s Foreign Policy Guru, pointed out at some private fundraisers in the last few weeks(along with some other comments I will get to in a bit.) These threats range from a resurgent Russia, a declining Pakistan, a growing China, a threatened Taiwan, a freaked out Israel, an emboldened Iran, a cornered North Korea, a troublesome Venezuela, a tiresome Cuba, to a crazed Islamic fundamentalist movement.
So the question is, who do we want handling these potential situations?
On one hand you have Barack Obama. A man with the “superior judgement” to oppose the Iraq war that is mitigated by the situation in which he announced that opposition, the gross ignorance he showed in military strategy in opposition to the war, and the choice of a running mate that “supported the war”…. A man whose proposed policies are, in the words of French President Sarkozy, weak and full of arrogance…. A man who has no real foreign policy experience, except for the 143 days that he spent in the US Senate…. A man that actually had the audacity, yes AUDACITY, to claim that his foreign policy judgement was superior to Hillary Clinton’s because he spent a few years living in Indonesia as a child…. A man that everyone from Hamas to Hezbollah to Ahmendinejad to Castro to Kim Jong Il to Osama Bin Laden himself hopes will become President…. A man whose election, according to his running mate and foreign policy guru, will lead to an immediate and serious threat to our national security because our enemies will “test him”….
And on the other hand you have John McCain. A man that grew up in a military family with a father and a grandfather that were both Admirals…. A man that attended the Naval Academy and studied military strategy and tactics…. A man that has been in combat and lived through the absolute worst that war has to offer…. A man that has decades, not days, of foreign policy experience in the US Senate…. A man that showed superior judgement in the conduct of a war when he pushed for the Surge…. A man who has been there and done that for decades when it comes to foreign policy, diplomacy and war…. A man who everyone from Hamas to Hezbollah to Ahmendinejad to Castro to Kim Jong Il to Osama Bin Laden himself hopes will not become President…. And a man that no one needs to test.
I think the choice is clear when it comes to foreign policy, don’t you?
Be sure to be on the lookout for Part 2, coming tomorrow, in which I will be discussing domestic issues and policy and Part 3 on Monday in which I will be discussing character issues… all seen through the eyes of a Democrat-No-More.