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Gerson Gets It

June 14, 2008

McCain needs to fight for what he believes in

Michael Gerson of the Washington Post has written a very interesting article about the McCain campaign. His extremely critical comments about the McCain campaign’s organisation are undoubtedly true. However, what is really perceptive is his belief that, ‘McCain must define McCainism’. I believe that this is one of the major problems of the McCain campaign. McCain has an extremely distinguished record as a fighter against big tobacco and for things such as the Patients Bill of Right. He also has, ever since the mid 90s, been one of the true foreign policy visionaries, leading the fight (along with Joe Lieberman) for intervention in Kosovo, action against Saddam’s regime and for ‘Rogue state rollback’. His early belief that we needed more troops in Iraq was correct, at a time when people like myself believed that this was unnecessary, was a unusual piece of foresight.

However, the problem is that McCain is being boxed in on all sides with advisors on the right pushing him in a more economically conservative direction while his foreign policy team seem to be trying to emasculate him. Although McCain undoubtedly needs a good organisation, this is less important than sorting out his message. I believe that a dose of moderate reformist populism (as opposed to the wasteful protectionist brand that Obama is trying to push) is what the average voter in America seems to want. Similarly, whatever the polls say, I believe that at the end of the day people want a tough, muscular but also moral foreign policy. Indeed, at no time have the American public elected an isolationist candidate as President in an election dominated by foreign policy. Even when the Korean war was pushing Truman’s popularity to depths not reached even by George W Bush, the American public elected a moderate internationalist.

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