Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake
jaylake

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[politics] McCain and Bush

I've been thinking about the McCain campaign, and what it means to run in the shadow of eight years of Bush 43. Consider Bush 41, running essentially as four more years of Reaganism. I never liked Ronald Reagan worth a damn, in fact my reactions to him were a big portion of the formation of my political opinions, but I don't have a lot of trouble seeing why conservatives in America considered him a hero both then and now. When Reagan left office, his approval ratings were 64%1.

Here's McCain, running on the heels of Bush 43, who currently tracks an approval rating lower than Nixon's, 28% as of 4/202 (some polls do show higher, though not substantially so). I'm trying to sort out what conservatives and Republicans can point to as the successes of eight years of GOP rule, six of them in complete control of all three branches of government.
  • Tax cuts
  • Reduction of entitlement programs
  • Easing of burdensome regulations
  • Protection of American business and political interests through denying international interference such as the Kyoto Agreement
  • Extensions of American business and political interests through trade policy
  • Maintaining and extending a conservative majority in the Supreme Court
  • Expanding conservative presence on the lower courts
  • Increased immigration enforcement
  • Ongoing defense of Second Amendment rights
  • Protection of family values and religious freedoms
  • Muscular foreign policy projecting American interests overseas
  • Liberation of Iraq
  • Removal of the Iraqi WMD threat
  • Aggressive combating of terrorism
  • Overthrow of the Taliban
  • Marginalization of al-Qaeda
  • Containment of North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions

Insofar as I can tell, these seem to be the things conservatives view as successes.

Several of these items are flatly counterfactual, and almost all of them are childishly easy to argue against from an objective standpoint. Even if they are all true, so what? The middle and lower class are not better off financially than they were eight years ago, the economy is as troubled as it's been since the Depression, the dollar is at record lows, oil is at record highs, our security and military posture is fantastically strained.

What's McCain's value proposition in election 2008? What does the GOP brand stand for now? Four more years of the same? Or are conservatives reduced to voting as I have voted for most of my life, for the lesser of the evils?




1. See http://uspolitics.about.com/od/polls/l/bl_historical_approval.htm. It's ironic to note that Reagan's end-of-term approval ratings are slightly less than Bill Clinton's end of term ratings.

2. See http://www.pollingreport.com/BushJob.htm.
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