George Will Endorsing Barack Obama?
It appears that George Will has had enough of John McCain. Like myself, he’s long been a bitter opponent of McCain-Feingold and thought Sarah Palin an unimpressive — if thus far politically shrewd — choice for vice president. McCain’s odd reaction to the recent bad news from Wall Street, though, has apparently been the last straw.
Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.
Channeling his inner Queen of Hearts, John McCain furiously, and apparently without even looking around at facts, said Chris Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, should be decapitated. This childish reflex provoked the Wall Street Journal to editorialize that “McCain untethered” — disconnected from knowledge and principle — had made a “false and deeply unfair” attack on Cox that was “unpresidential” and demonstrated that McCain “doesn’t understand what’s happening on Wall Street any better than Barack Obama does.”
On “60 Minutes” Sunday evening, McCain, saying “this may sound a little unusual,” said that he would like to replace Cox with Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic attorney general of New York who is the son of former governor Mario Cuomo. McCain explained that Cuomo has “respect” and “prestige” and could “lend some bipartisanship.” Conservatives have been warned.
Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.
It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?
It’s a valid question. McCain has indeed been horridly disappointing on the financial crisis. While Obama has looked unprepared by not having an instant response to the unfolding crisis — which was also the case with the Russian invasion of Georgia — McCain has perhaps gone too far in the other direction.
George Patton famously said that, “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” He offered no advice, however, on what to do with a bad plan.
McCain remains my choice for November, for a host of reasons, but my enthusiasm lessens by the day, largely for the reasons Will outlines so forcefully in this column. McCain has staked much of his campaign on how he would rather lose an election than lose a war. The message is that he’s a man who puts principle above party and personal gain. Indeed, that’s a large measure of why I preferred McCain to the Republican primary alternatives.
Unfortunately, the war represents one of the few areas where he seems to actually have principles.
I’m in the minority in thinking that anointing the Treasury Secretary as the unalloyed czar of the economy is a bad idea. So, the fact that McCain is backing the bailout and the biggest socialization of the American economy since the New Deal — if not in history — is forgivable. That he seems not even to be giving it a second thought, though, is much less so.