August 27, 2018

Senator McCain’s Legacy

We're officially on Insta! Did I throw on a blazer at 5 am for all you lovely people? You bet I did!

. He was 81.” (AP News)

Both the left and the right mourned McCain’s death and celebrated his long, illustrious career as a public servant.

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The left focused on McCain’s principled approach to politics, and willingness to break with party lines when needed.

“John McCain was no moderate... [he] supported a smaller federal government, a hawkish foreign policy and the typical Republican positions on abortion, guns and other issues. But McCain pursued his conservative ends through means that are depressingly rare in today’s Republican Party. McCain believed in the American ideals of pluralistic democracy.”

New York Times

“During McCain’s early Senate career, he was a relatively between-the-lines Republican in his voting record. But starting around his first run for president in 2000, McCain’s independent streak began to show just as party-line voting became more and more the default. He voted against the Bush tax cuts and for reducing greenhouse emissions, and he spoke out against the use of torture by the U.S. post-9/11... throughout McCain’s Senate career, he pursued various compromise deals on [immigration].”

FiveThirtyEight

“That maverick streak earned him the enmity of many national Republicans... [But] McCain secured six terms in the Senate and always won reelection easily — a sign that his clashes with GOP leaders in Washington and even some in Arizona didn’t cripple him at the polls. Indeed, the political independence that McCain made his own... remains a source of immense pride.”

Politico

Many note that “Sen. John McCain’s death heralds a sea change for congressional challenges to the Trump administration on national security, as the president’s two most vocal Republican critics pass their powerful committee gavels to two of President Trump’s biggest supporters.”

Washington Post

“His death is a reminder not only of the loss of a giant in American politics, but of a new time, with new challenges for the generation that now must follow in his footsteps. Will anyone pick up the legacy he leaves behind?

Chicago Tribune

“In theory, there’s no reason why a bad businessman can’t go on to become a good president. But a commander-in-chief whose signature legislative achievement expanded tax loopholes that he himself describes as grossly unfair is pretty much a bad president, by definition.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

While the right disagreed with some of McCain’s policy choices, they lauded his military service and steadfast dedication to the country.

While the right disagreed with some of McCain’s policy choices, they lauded his military service and steadfast dedication to the country.

“Any time McCain deviated from party orthodoxy, it was to align with fashionable liberal opinion—from campaign-finance reform to immigration to his occasional outbursts against Christian conservatives... his maverick instincts reliably put him on the side of establishment politics.”

The Spectator

But “even those who disagreed with his policies or resisted his political choices... must agree that his sacrifice as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam was extraordinary, refusing the release he was offered for propaganda purposes, as the son of one of the Navy’s top admirals. Who among us can point to anything remotely comparable to this decision?”

American Thinker

“It is to the Hanoi Hilton, and Vietnam, and the solitary cell, and the beatings and torture and heroism, to which one must return, and conclude, in assessing McCain, because all the politics, with the compromises and failings and missteps, cannot supersede his devotion to a warrior’s ideal that, with just slight contemporary American touches, is barely distinguishable from those of antiquity. In Vietnam, the McCain ambiguities disappear. Here McCain endured things and saw others that would destroy most human beings.”

City Journal

“Rambo and Magnum PI were archetypes of the Vietnam vet who came back better, stronger, though wounded men, and became heroes. But those were just stories. In real life, we had John McCain... Now and then there is a man against whom we can measure ourselves. John McCain represents a high standard, a standard that should be our goal, and we should thank him for setting it. Rest in peace.”

The Federalist

Some argue, “It stands to reason that if Kim is willing to starve his own people, deprive his economy of any growth, and pour billions of dollars into missile tech, he will, at some point, develop weapons America and its allies mastered decades ago. And short of an invasion or a diplomatic agreement, under the present circumstances, there is very little we can do to stop him… Taking a hardline approach—what many call the ‘big deal’—or only granting sanctions relief after full denuclearization and the end of Kim’s missile programs is completely impractical and something North Korea would never agree to… only a step-by-step process of disarming Pyongyang, where each side gets a benefit for making a concession, will work.”
Harry J. Kazianis, The American Conservative

Others posit that “the reason Kim is developing missiles that can strike Seattle or LA is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea… If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…

“After an exhausting two weeks [between North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others], one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not the time for the United States, preoccupied with so many crises, to begin asking, ‘Why is this our problem?’”
Pat Buchanan, Townhall

Counterpoint: “after the War of 1812, President Madison… enacted the Tariff of 1816 to price British textiles out of competition, so Americans would build the new factories and capture the booming U.S. market. It worked. Tariffs [also] financed Mr. Lincoln’s War. The Tariff of 1890 bears the name of Ohio Congressman and future President William McKinley, who said that a foreign manufacturer ‘has no right or claim to equality with our own… He pays no taxes. He performs no civil duties’… [A tariff’s] purpose is not just to raise revenue but to make a nation economically independent of others, and to bring its citizens to rely upon each other rather than foreign entities.”
Patrick J. Buchanan, The American Conservative

A libertarian's take

“The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception… Let [this] be a lesson for today’s tabloids, gossip columnists, over-credulous or mercenary journalists, and reality-television producers.”
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

On the bright side...

New research suggests evolution might favor 'survival of the laziest'

Physorg.com

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