17 June 2008

17 Suggestions in 5 Policy Areas for Candidate McCain . . .

. . . the real election is just now finally beginning to get started (yet the entirety of the campaign still feels as if it has been endless).

Here are 17 semi-specific suggestions for Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain divided into five key policy areas.

Homeland Security/Defense/Foreign Policy

1. Articulate a viewpoint that makes it crystal clear that these three things are inextricably linked, that far from a failure, the past seven years have seen improvements in every facet of this matrix, and remind people that appeasement leads to worse wars to come (don't have to attack Obama specifically on any of this, just remind folks that it's OK to be patriotic, it's remarkable that there hasn't been a serious follow-on mass casualty attack in the United States since 2001, and that despite their bitching and whining, the world is more with us than against us when it comes down to it). Don't make the Giuliani error of bringing up 9/11 every five seconds, though, that'd be a sure way to lose on an issue that should be your strength.

2. Stress the need to commit to helping the Iraqis stabilize their government, and detail the horrors that could await should we leave precipitously (just pointing to recent comments from Michael J. Totten would be a good start)

3. Talk positively about the future, about our security goals, and about the prospect of a more prosperous globe and explain how those outcomes can only be accomplished by a strong American military coupled with an active and robust diplomatic corps.

4. Do not bother speaking specifically about Obama's policy statements in these areas of concern, people are smart enough in most of the country to figure things out for themselves. Presenting your positions in a positive framework is the best way to force voters to confront how truly negative, downcast, and downright Carter-like Obama's stated positions are. Either he changes his rhetoric, thus cutting himself off from his most activist lefties, or he loses the vast middle that make up the majority of voters. You are closer to the mainstream on these issues, play to that strength by emphasizing yourself, by not engaging Obama's nonsense directly, you win, he loses.

The Stupid Economy, Stupid

5. Do attack Obama directly on economic policy. It's going to require a strong dose of education and de-programming to make folks realize that your mix of economic policies are a surer path towards a 'soft landing' while Obama-like intervention and class warfare are a surer path towards a full blown Depression. Get Amity Shlaes out there on your behalf, debunking the New Deal, and highlighting the danger of Obama's many proposals of bringing about a New New Deal.

6. Go after unions, big time, especially public sector unions. You aren't winning a single vote from anybody who is a fan of their union. Ronald Reagan won blue collar workers, many of them union members, despite being a unionbuster, and he never made any bones about busting up unions. You are going to be excoriated by union leadership anyway, might as well make it a two way street. If the DEMS want to paint you a tool of 'big oil' then paint Obama as a tool of 'big union'. Remind people of the role public sector unions played in the price-hike/inflation spiral of the 70s that lead to double digit inflation, double digit unemployment, and double digit interest rates.

7. Fight subsidies, educate voters on the need to eliminate as many subsidies as possible, and explain how distorting markets always causes unintended consequences that are often worse than the problems they were meant to remedy. Couple any discussion about taxes and governance with the firm commitment to reducing the influence the federal government exerts on the economy.


8. Fight pork, hit the pork theme again and again, your record on pork is terrific, and Obama's not so much, so this is an easy area to delineate a strong contrast between you and your opponent.

9. Advocate for smaller government, start with reducing the cabinet. Promise to hack away at the cabinet. Explain that all these various levels of bureaucracies on top of other bureaucracies serves no purpose other than to feather the beds of people connected to the winning presidential campaigns. Promise to restructure the Executive Branch into a model of lean efficiency that the rest of government should emulate.

10. Express regret over how campaign finance reform turned out. Admit that it was a failure, and move on. Promise to learn from this failure and not suggest anything as silly or anti-free speech as McCain-Feingold in the future, and promise to veto any attempts to abridge free speech in such a manner again.

Social Issues

11. Be yourself. You've been around forever, and you have a record on many of the hot button issues of the day, some of your stances are on both sides of the issues, embrace that, use that as a strength. Explain that positions can evolve, and times do change, and show that flexibility of mind is a strength. This is another area where you should hammer away at Obama as being consistently liberal, and consistently out of step with most voters, and that the changes he wants to bring about are changes that won't be good for the nation.

12. Continue to emphasize patriotism and service, and a belief that the United States is a uniquely wonderful country. Do not mention Obama's position on any of that stuff, folks will make up their own minds as to whether or not there is a contrast there.

13. On immigration, stick with getting border security settled first, but admit that you believe in increasing legal immigration to the United States. Also, make a point of extolling the need for people seeking to come to the United States to become a part of the United States. Assimilation is not a dirty word, encourage policies that demand legal immigrants learn English, embrace our system of governance, and integrate into the larger American community rather than creating balkanized enclaves within the United States. As far as amnesty goes, continue to pretend the bill you introduced wasn't meant to be amnesty, maybe you can fool enough people to get elected.

Global Warming/Energy Policy

14. Abandon cap and trade NOW! Just claim after further study and speaking with knowledgeable folks, that while the goals of cap and trade is good, the implementation has been horrible and counter-productive. Show that flexibility of mind, don't call it a flip flop, call it an evolution in your position.

15. Nuclear, Nuclear, Nuclear. Our economy can't grow, and can't grow less 'carbon-spewing' unless we embrace all possible sources for getting electricity on the grid. Demonstrate how Japan, France, and even Brazil and India are using Nuclear power widely and safely. Promise to streamline the federal government's process in getting approvals, and promise to set up a system to reward localities that go with, good, clean, green, and carbon-free nuclear power in their own backyards. Also, promise to increase federal funding for R&D into fusion. That'd show you are paying attention to the good stuff that's bubbling under the radar within the science geek community.

16. Continue to 'evolve' with regards to your position on drilling and exploration for fossil fuels within our borders. Your recent pivot on off shore drilling is good, but another pivot on ANWR would be even better. Again, promise to speed the processes for approvals, don't let competing federal government agencies throw needless roadblocks to developing more refinery capacity and more drilling capacity within our borders. Oil isn't going away, and sub $100 per barrel crude probably isn't coming back either, we've got massive reserves just waiting to be tapped, promise to get our government to 'tap that' as quickly and efficiently as possible.

17. Make silly pronouncements regarding being about a "Green" President. Promise that going "Green" doesn't mean kowtowing to the UN, Europe, or hobbling our economy. Remind folks that the USA has been more successful in reducing our emmissions without joining Kyoto, than any of the nations that agreed to that silly treaty. Remind folks that it takes energy to run an economy, and the best way to improve how we get that energy is through innovation, not placing artificial constraints on growth.

I know not all of this is stuff that McCain has been about, but none of this is so out of step with who he's been that it would sound too strange coming out of his mouth. Despite everything, he has a real shot at not only beating Obama, but winning a decisive victory in the Electoral College. He needs to embrace his inner Reagan, embrace small government GOP values, and lay off attacking Obama. Just highlighting your own policies will do the job for you, elucidate your moderate/conservative viewpoint, and the contrast between that and Obama's clear liberal to downright Marxist leanings will become self evident, even with most of the media trying their hardest to get the Messiah of their dreams in office.

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