The Bright Side's Dark Side - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Bright Side’s Dark Side

Obviously, I agree with Daniel Larison that the gap between Barack Obama and John McCain was less than seismic. In fact, before the election I wrote:

Obama and McCain agree on expanded taxpayer-funded embryonic stem-cell research, campaign-finance reform, a costly cap-and-trade approach to reducing emissions, amnesty for illegal immigrants, and maintaining the current high levels of legal immigration. Until McCain flipped before his second presidential bid, they both opposed the Bush tax cuts. They agree, with some nuances, on affirmative action and bilingual education. They agree on an interventionist foreign policy, though they would intervene in different places. They agree on effectively imposing pharmaceutical price controls through Medicare (McCain’s otherwise honorable vote against the prescription-drug benefit was largely motivated by this concern.) Even on issues where they disagree, like gun control, they are not always as far apart as advertised — Obama received an F from the National Rifle Association, McCain a C.

To that you could add the fact that Obama and McCain agreed on the TARP bailout, both favored some form of mortgage bailout, and share the same basic Government Must Do Something impluse on most policy questions. I also said repeatedly to anyone who would listen — which, unfortunately, turned out to not be very many people — that the next president was likely to be worse in many key respects than George W. Bush no matter whether Obama or McCain was elected.

Maybe the stimulus bill wouldn’t happened or would have taken a more productive, less costly form under McCain. But that’s just a maybe. The federal budget for the coming fiscal year would probably contain fewer earmarks and one could hope, though not guarantee, that it would have clocked in at less than $3.6 trillion. President McCain would not have gotten rid of the Mexico City policy on abortion or boosted card check. His judges — at least the nominees he could have gotten confirmed by a Democratic Senate — would have been better than Obama’s, but not great. McCain’s health care plan would have been much better than Obama’s, though probably forgotten about as soon as the election was over and never implemented.

Having said all that, we don’t have a President McCain implementing bad policies. We have a President Obama implementing bad policies. It would seem to make more sense to oppose the bad policies being implemented right now than to worry about whether we would have less company in opposition on the right under McCain. Arguing “McCain would have been as bad or worse” is no more productive right now than arguing “McCain is a Republican, so everything he does is okay,” even if the former statement is truer than the latter.

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