To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Monday, February 04, 2008

This Is What Wins Front-Runner Status In The GOP

How did John McCain spend Super Bowl Sunday? Speaking at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, of course:
FAIRFIELD - John McCain cast himself Sunday as heir to Ronald Reagan on domestic spending and a strict-constructionist on judicial nominations, messages intended to reassure conservatives less than 48 hours before the Super Tuesday primaries.

But he also focused on burnishing his credentials as a fiscal hawk, decrying what he called $35 billion in pork-barrel spending signed into law over the past two years by President Bush.

Who did McCain choose to have at his side while delivering his "fiscal hawk" message? Who else: CT Rep. Chris Shays and Sen. Joe Lieberman. As David Boaz notes, Lieberman is no conservative, fiscal or otherwise. Besides hawkishness and age, there's basically nothing Lieberman and McCain have in common. And Shays? Well, his wealthy CT district was a well-represented part of the 2008 additions to the DHS "Terror Risk" list. Each of the three CT cities added to the DHS list this year have some zip codes in Shays's district. And while it's true that the list is actually released by the executive branch, it's not farfetched to believe that Shays may have had some influence. He also serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Was he any more credible regarding judicial nominations? Hard to tell... he didn't really say much:
"I am proud to have been part of a team that got Justice Roberts and Justice Alito appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court," McCain said. "I will appoint judges that strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States of America and not legislate from the bench."

CNN correspondent Dana Bash recently commented on TV that the quote from McCain was "essentially code" to appeal to conservatives. She's right in that it was a pander to conservatives... "strict-constructionist" and "not legislate from the bench" are classic GOP pandering lines. But it's not at all "code." Code, by definition, is that in which "symbols are assigned definite meanings." But there is no definite meaning here. Normal politics, absolutely. Bullshit pandering, you bet. But for fuck's sake, how about some clarification:

* What do you mean by "strict-constructionist?" Is this just a way to say "pro-life only" without saying "pro-life only?" Or do you mean "strict-constitutionalist?"

* Name three examples of "legislating from the bench." Explain how those decisions contradict the constitution. Next, explain how the constitution allows the federal government to prohibit or regulate abortion.

To be fair, I never hear any serious candidate answer these questions, not just McCain. But the point is that this guy has no idea what he will do if he is elected president, except stay in Iraq indefinitely. While McCain may be a fiscal conservative in some ways, he's obviously not a principled fiscal conservative. In other words, I cannot be confident in McCain to take the right side of any fiscal issue that may become the new hot button issue over the course of a 4 year presidency. If he wins, he might as well just flip a coin to choose his position on each new issue.

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