Monday, August 4, 2008

WaPo profile of McCain

This Washington Post profile of McCain has some interesting material. Some of it is very positive; unlike certain other recent Republican presidents one might name, McCain enjoys reading, learning and debate and has been known to change his mind in light of evidence.

Some of it is more mixed. Having an emotional temperament like a fighter pilot may be useful in tense crisis situations but may lead to a lot of frustration with policy more generally, where driving the ship of state is more like driving a vast oil tanker than a jet.

And some of it is decidedly negative, as with this:

"McCain has acknowledged that modern conservatives have been more hostile to government than he. "Many contemporary conservatives have let their healthy skepticism about government sink into something unhealthy, an embittered loathing of the federal government," McCain and Salter wrote in "Worth the Fighting For." A good government "must not shrink from its duty to be the highest expression of the national will and the last bulwark against all assaults on our founding ideals," which include liberty and opportunity."

I would argue that the very idea of a "national will" is fundamentally opposed to the founding ideals of this country. Our founders were (in the main) individualists and it is individual life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that this country is (or should be) all about. The "national will" is usually, in practice, a cover for the transfer of resources to particular groups under the guise of national solidarity. Campaigns to give life to the national will often end in wars. Belief in a national will is one thing that separates both the left and the right from genuine liberals, who view the real expression of a nation is its culture and economic life, not its military or the animated hairpieces that populate its legislatures.

Hat tip: Washington Court Hotel, who put the WaPo outside the door to my room.