Over the past several days, in a number of posts, Andrew Sullivan has touted Barack Obama’s opposition to suspending the gas tax as a profile in political courage, and chastized McCain together with Clinton for supporting the proposal. While I agree with Sullivan that the proposal is shameless pandering that doesn’t make economic sense, he should also be reminded that when it came to the mother of all shameless pandering — ethanol subsidies — Obama wasn’t quite as sensible. As an Investor’s Business Daily story from last week recounted, with the Iowa caucuses approaching, Obama opted for the pander, while McCain took a position almost unheard of for a presidential candidate — opposing the subsidies vigorously:
“I oppose subsidies,” McCain said. “Not just ethanol subsidies. Subsidies. And not just in Iowa either. I oppose them in my own state of Arizona. I am proud of the conservative tradition that the government can sometimes best serve the interests of the American people by knowing when to stay out of their way.”
Say what you want about McCain — the quirkiness and unpredictability of his policy stances can be maddening — but on ethanol and a host of other issues, he has taken positions that were against his immediate political interests. In Iowa, Obama had the opportunity to demonstrate political courage when his presidential ambitions were on the line, but instead he endorsed a policy that any analyst worth a dime knows is total crap. By praising Obama endlessly for his gas tax stance, while lumping McCain together with Clinton, Sullivan is being selective, shortsighted, and unfair.
As for Clinton, though, I’m with Sullivan, and all of the recent conservative love for her is nauseating. She remains a vile, contemptible, figure who will say anything that suits her political needs at any given instant.
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