Monday, June 23, 2008


I have always liked John McCain, even before he was running for President. Maybe it was just the feeling that he is among the few old-school Barry Goldwater Republicans still around. Unfortunately I still wouldn't vote for him if I could, mainly because I think it's high time that this country stepped out from the shadows of the current neoconservative republicanism, which McCain can do little to swiftly quell. The problem is that even if McCain is fairly moderate, he may be forced to pander to a very conservative voter base and thus end up enforcing right-wing policies. As just one example, I have no doubt that he will appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court who will overturn Roe v Wade in a heartbeat, or at least hand over decisions over abortion to states, which will still be pretty much the same thing. Any such policy threatens to divide an already-bitter populace.

However, my respect cannot help but increase for the man when it comes to energy policy. McCain has often spoken of reducing energy dependence, and now he seems to seriously plan on doing something about it. I was extremely gratified when he spoke of constructing 45 new nuclear reactors till 2030 to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and reduce foreign oil dependence. He said,
"Across Europe there are 197 reactors in operation, and nations including France and Belgium derive more than half their electricity from nuclear power. And if all of these nations can find a way to carry out great goals in energy policy, then I assure you that the United States is more than equal to the challenge"
At last, a Republican who praises France for a change. It should be noted that no new nuclear reactor has been constructed in the country since the 1970s, and the greatest cost in commissioning new reactors still resides in their extremely long licensing times. Nuclear power, by the way, is not heavily subsidized, no matter what the environmentalists say.

Almost no Democrat I know, including Al Gore and unfortunately also Obama, has volubly spoken in favor of nuclear power or has demonstrated strong leanings towards alternative energy (except renewables, and we all know the problems with those). Now McCain has also announced a 300 million $ prize for a battery of the future that would be environment-friendly and highly efficient. He said
"In the quest for alternatives to oil, our government has thrown around enough money subsidizing special interests and excusing failure. From now on, we will encourage heroic efforts in engineering, and we will reward the greatest success," McCain said in a speech at Fresno State University."
It is heartening to know that McCain is thinking in the right direction. On the other hand, his policies and rhetoric about Iran are highly misguided. He should understand that if enough attention is paid to energy and nuclear power, Iranian oil would not be a necessity. Leave Iran alone. Focus on energy policy at home. It's good to see that he is at least partly doing that. Meanwhile I am still waiting for Obama to endorse nuclear power.

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Blogger Chetan said...

McCain is not a Barry Goldwater conservative. By saying this I mean no disrespect to either of them.

McCain is, or rather was, a principled politician who, unlike conservatives, did believe in using government's power to achieve desirable ends. No Goldwater conservative would have agreed with his positions when he took on the cigarette lobby by seeking to increase their taxes to fund no smoking campaigns. The real Conservatives would of course despise this since this is not society evolving its code organically but is a coercive action by the government.

Even worse in the eyes of Goldwater conservatives is McCain's self-professed crowning achievement, the McCain Fiengold campaign finance reform that, according to them, violated the most sacred of them all, the First amendment right to free speech.

I admire McCain a lot and that has mostly got to do with standing firm on the Iraq issue. No matter whether you are for or against the war, there is simply no escaping the fact that he took a great political risk which had the risk to benefit ratio skewed against him whether or not the surge succeeded. It is because of his support to the surge that Iraq is so stable and many lives have been saved.

Therefore, it gladdens me to know that he has a wise energy policy too.

However, recently he has lost all my respect. He is going against all that he has stood for. It would have been different had he been another run-of-the mill politician. But for someone who has emerged stronger after taking enormous political risks, his pusillanimous attitude displayed when in the election campaign he stands against whatever he has stood for his entire life, is hard to digest. He is not just pandering but almost grovelling in front of the religious right. It is probably because of the standards he set for himself that I judge him so harshly. Yet, whatever the reason, he has lost my respect.

You might lose it too if you read this. This just makes me wonder if he has lost his marbles due to old age or if he never was an intellectually smart person who grasped the complexities but just took some hard headed stances out of blind belief. Both possibilities, I am afraid, are equally terrifying.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

Thanks for reminding me about that exchange. To me it indicates how stupidly he can respond sometimes. But stupid is different from evil, vituperative, willfully hypocritical or being a crook of the first order, all of which are personality types plentifully found in the Bush administration. To me a Goldwater republican is mainly one who stands firm on his principles, even if some of them may sound crazy. I can understand why you think McCain deviates from this norm, but as far as pandering to the religious right is concerned, I don't think any presidential candidate, democrat or republican, can get away with not doing that these days. It is a sad indicator of what the people in this country have become, rather than what McCain has become. As much as I don't like it, I could excuse him for doing that, and he may be doing that especially because it seems that evangelicals might root for Obama.

9:46 AM  

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