That’s an argument the Obama campaign seems to be winning at the moment. A new Gallup poll finds that about two-thirds of voters are at least somewhat concerned that McCain “would pursue policies that are too similar to what George W. Bush has pursued,” with 49 percent “very concerned.”
I think for McCain to win this argument, he can’t focus on pointing to policy differences with President Bush, because in order to keep conservatives in the tent he’s naturally going to have to support enough of Bush’s polices for the Obama campaign to point to as evidence that he would represent a continuation of Bush’s two terms in office.
A lot of the negative feelings for Bush go beyond his policies and to his personal bio — somebody who never had to sacrifice for his country, who only got to where he is based on his last name, who wasn’t a hands on leader when it came to maintaining a failed strategy, somebody who is ignorant of foreign affairs, etc.
Although it’s tricky, a better way for McCain to contrast with Bush is how he would differ as a leader. Much of what a president does goes beyond pure policy. As 9/11 demonstrated rather dramatically, something completely unexpected can happen that changes everything in an instant, and challenges a president to respond. The set of experiences that McCain would bring to the table in such crises are completely different than what Bush brought to the table.
The fact that Bush wouldn’t increase troop levels in Iraq while McCain advocated a surge-type strategy was a policy difference, but more significantly, it was a policy difference that reflected different leadership styles. McCain was unsatisfied with the situation in Iraq, made repeated visits there, met with leaders on the ground, studied the complexities of the conflict, dipped into his decades of military and foreign policy experience, and came to the conclusion that the conflict was winnable with a new strategy. That is very un-Bush like. If McCain can shift the debate toward leadership attributes, I think he’ll have a much easier time distancing himself from Bush.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online