Monday, March 24, 2008

John McCain ahead of Democrats

While Democrats candidates are still bickering over presidential candidacy, Senator John McCain impressed his well-preparedness for the job of the next US president. Just before the 5th anniversary of the Iraq War, McCain visited Iraq on the same day as Vice President Dick Cheney did. Shortly after that, John McCain talked with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and then, flew to London. He talked with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Opposition Leader David Cameron to strengthen the Anglo-American alliance. Let me discuss his foreign and domestic policy, and explore some clues to foresee his presidency if elected.

McCain made his 8th visit to Iraq since US-led invasion in March 2003 on 16th of this month, as a member of the fact finding mission of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Senator McCain proclaimed success of the Iraq War as Vice President Cheney did. In addition, McCain articulated that continual presence of US forces to complete the mission in Iraq would be the only way to end the war quickly (“McCain Visits Iraq”; Reuters; March 17,2008).

Although this is a Senate Armed Services Committee mission, not a Presidential Election campaign, it impresses that John McCain is more qualified for the next president than Democrat candidates, as reported the following (“John McCain”; ABC News; March 20, 2008).

"While Clinton and Obama are fighting each other viciously in America, McCain is overseas looking very much like a president, and that's what his campaign wants people to think of him as," said ABC News political consultant Mark Halperin.

After the visit to Iraq, John McCain talked with leaders of key US allies, such as King Abdullah of Jordan, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, and President Nicholas Sarkozy of France. Currently, McCain is far ahead of Democrats in foreign policy.

In London, Senator McCain talked with Prime Minister Brown and Conservative Leader Cameron to praise British commitment to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to Middle East security, John McCain discussed climate change with Gordon Brown. Meanwhile, he avoided mentioning possible downsizing of British forces in Iraq, so as not to provoke antiwar voices in Britain. Quite importantly, McCain backed Brown to talk with Dalai Lama on oppression in Tibet (“Senator praises British troops in Iraq”; the Herald; March 21, 2008).

On the other hand, his domestic policy needs a closer look. Will John McCain try to keep conservative electorates on his side, or court moderates who would possibly convert from Democrats to Republicans? This is a critical test to foresee policies of the McCain administration.

Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of the Weekly Standard, argues that John McCain does not have many options to choose his running mate, because he needs to keep GOP conservatives on his side, to assure the victory in the election. In addition, the vice president candidate must be a sufficient political heavyweight. Senator Joseph Lieberman has been a long-term friend to McCain, but he is too liberal. Most of the Republican rivals at the primary failed to attract enough votes. Therefore, Barnes insists that Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the right choice (“The Veepstakes”; Weekly Standard; March 17, 2008). In that case, McCain policies will not depart from intellectual bases of mainstream Republicans.

Mara Liasson, National Political Correspondent for NPR, argues completely the opposite. She says that the nomination of John McCain symbolizes a radical change in the Republican Party, as he wears bipartisan credentials on his sleeve. Quoting words of Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota, Liasson comments that McCain is the only candidate who can appeal to swing voters called “Sam’s Club Republicans” as opposed to “Country Club Republicans”. Unlike Republican establishments, Sam’s Club voters care more about governmental help for welfare, though they retain small government ideals.

This stark contrast between Fred Barnes and Mara Liasson is very impressive. John McCain is no less revolutionary than black candidate Barack Obama and female candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. His domestic policy deserves substantial attention as much as his foreign policy.