The question none dare ask: would John McCain have been better?

Posted on by TheLastPsychiatrist and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

It’s really two questions:

What would John McCain have done differently, that lead to different results? QE1 but not QE2? A bigger stimulus? A smaller? Raised taxes? Lowered them? Much of the economic momentum was already in place. Even if McCain had different ideas at the beginning, would economic realities have forced him into the same strategies? Note how far Obama has deviated from his campaign promises, out of necessity.

And then the hardest issue: if McCain’s wouldn’t have been able/tried to do much differently– if the results would have been the same– then is the fact that there aren’t London riots here in the US due to the perception that this President is for the people, while McCain would have been perceived as “for the corporations?” If John McCain was President, would Detroit and Philadelphia be on fire?

Has “the system” bought itself the necessary four years it needs to deleverage safely– to fire people, to reduce labor costs? Carter into Reagan? Have we avoided real social unrest because we have a black President? 

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36 Responses to The question none dare ask: would John McCain have been better?

  1. lelnet says:

    Well, it’s a safe bet he wouldn’t have tried to take over the nation’s entire healthcare system. It’s almost as safe to bet that employers wouldn’t still today be too terrified of the government to hire people.

    Would all be sunlight and roses? Of course not. But better than _this_? Yeah, I’m confident of that.

    But then, it seems that America needs a reminder every generation of how bad things can get, if we trust leftists. If McCain had been elected, we wouldn’t appreciate the gravity of the tragedy thus avoided.

    • max says:

      I talk to a lot of businesses, and none of them say that fear of the government keeps them from hiring. What they really want are sales.

      Of course, none of them watch News Corp either, so maybe they’re biased.

  2. max says:

    If John McCain was President, would Detroit and Philadelphia be on fire?

    You mean, would they be on fire more?

    Seriously, there is a case to be made that Presidents are constrained by circumstance far more than the projected image. Hell, our system of government is designed to be slow acting and deliberate, but for some very specific exceptions. One might argue that a source of our problems today are the false expectations created by promises of rapid governmental change that are impossible to keep. If that’s the case, these expectations will come crashing down no matter who is in office.

    It’s just a matter of timing.

    • max says:

      Excellent quote from Jacques Delors, an architect of the EMU:

      “My time in Brussels was easier. There was not, as now, the problem of rising individualism that undermines collective adventures, this clash between the local and global that feeds fears and narrow nationalisms, or this dictatorship of the instantaneity that does not take into account the necessary political time.”

      The rate of social (and economic) change is at odds with the rate government can respond, and this is leading to crisis.

  3. Adrian says:

    Sounds to me like the type of question that nobody can honestly respond to. “What would have been” kind of questions relevance is only to examine the head of the person who responds, they have no relevance to reality because obviously nobody can know how things would have been if they weren’t like they are.

    That being said, I think the clear difference is that McCain could have probably raised taxes (and take any other needed measures) without being accused of socialism, while Obama lowered taxes and he’s seen as a pinky commie by the Fox News audience.

    • FrederickMercury says:

      case in point: lelnet.

    • philtrum says:

      I agree. We’re not going to get anything useful out of this counterfactual when Obama is still president, or even within a few decades of Obama being president.

  4. BluegrassJack says:

    Obama’s team wisely knew that to take over 1/6th of the private US economy, take ownership of 2 automobile companies, shovel-out government payments to favored sectors, that all of that and a lot more had to be done toot sweet while republicans were impotent in Washington (i.e., 2009 – 2010).

  5. Dan Dravot says:

    Huh. I think with McCain we’d have gotten less class warfare rhetoric, less active hostility to business, all that crap. But like Obama, McCain’s an idiot, and would’ve thought his job is to force things to be better, which government can’t do. So he’d have done reckless, destructive things of his own. Maybe different, maybe the same. Quite possibly even worse.

    But those four years the system arguably bought, do you really think “the system” is using them wisely? I don’t. The best “the system” can do any more is defer pain.

    • max says:

      Yes. And “deleveraging” in this case means transferring all bad debts to the government and the Fed. Those losses have yet to be realized, and are a big reason why we’re talking austerity right now.

  6. operator says:

    As a litmus for how “different” Obama has turned out to be: At no point in his presidency has Obama made good on campaign promises to repeal the USA PATRIOT act – instead, his Department of Justice has secretly reinterpreted the PATRIOT act to grant itself new (classified) powers.

    To say ‘“the system” bought itself the necessary four years’ would suggest that there was any way “the system” would concede its power. Obama stands for – even champions – George W. Bush’s legacy.

    Look up there at the White House, at the podium … pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

  7. JohnJ says:

    It may be a better idea to focus on supporting what you believe to be good policies. Politicians and pundits lie endlessly. It’s much easier to evaluate a policy’s track record. Plus, you can continue to support your policy no matter which politician gets elected and has to make compromises, or gets caught having an affair. As an added bonus, you can avoid the identity problem of associating yourself with a politician and subjecting yourself to inadvertent bias or finding yourself discredited when your politician of choice is caught acting unethically.

    • CubaLibre says:

      But you can’t vote for policies.

      • philtrum says:

        And the everyone-has-this-wrong-but-me sermondoesn’t account for the fact that there WERE substantial differences between McCain’s and Obama’s policy platforms.

        “Would we be better off with someone who claimed to support policies I think are mostly horrendous, or someone who claimed to support policies I think are mostly good?”

        The party line doesn’t change that much from election to election.

      • Rooster says:

        It’s called a referendum. Switzerland does them, Canada does them, Brazil does them. In Brazil there’s also a process for “Popular Initiative Law Proposals” — if you get 1% of the voting population to sign on your proposal, it goes to the parliament, and by then it’s hard to fight the political momentum.

        Americans are really, really disenfranchised from government because there’s this matrioshka doll concept where you’re supposed to be represented by your state in the national election. Don’t look to Brazil — it has weird customs and mores, at least if you look at it as a traditionalist american. Look to Canada. They’re the same as you, just more mature.

        • CubaLibre says:

          Referenda have worked out totally great for California.

          Our Constitution is specifically and explicitly written to empower citizens to vote for men (and, later, women), not policies. Some think it is for mere efficiency; others think a greater republican principle is at work. Certainly some of it has to do with the federal system, but not all – most state legislatures work the same way.

          Maybe we should change our constitutional system to something more like Canada’s, but we won’t, so it’s irrelevant. At any rate, I know for a fact that JohnJ definitely wouldn’t endorse such a move.

  8. antoinebugleboy says:

    Don’t forget: VP Palin

  9. Sfon says:

    The real issue between Republicans and Democrats is a massive white elephant that isn’t acknowledged even when talked about: separation of church and state, yea or nay. Most people craft one party as good and the other as evil around the fear of either more or less religion in politics. Everything else divisive flows from that.

    Pretending taxes and medicine are the real dividing issues is simply a way to avoid the real one. Whether or not a president is a communist only matters as a talking point to stealth-influence the real issue. Thus it ends up looking as shallow as choosing one baseball team over another, but it isn’t.

    • durand says:

      No, you’re wrong. Separation of church and state, or rather the big complex of issues that relate to religiosity versus secularism is surely the most important issue to some people. For example, it was the most important issue to me when I was in high school. But truth be told, millionaires really do care about their tax rates. And it’s not an accident that libertarians, a generally secular-minded group of people, are almost lockstep GOP voters: they’re basically just greedy liberals, with the greed completely swamping any disgust they feel for a party that wants the government to control women’s bodies, maybe to prohibit or at least stigmatize homosexual relationships, maybe to extend the War on Drugs, and to make it harder for people to move freely across national borders. (Though goodness knows there’s precious little policy daylight between Dems and Reps on those last two.)

      • Dan Dravot says:

        Your characterization of libertarians doesn’t match the impression I’ve gotten from the ones I know and the ones that I’ve read.

      • Sfon says:

        “But truth be told, millionaires really do care about their tax rates.”
        But is one party being more on their side than the other a truly divisive issue or just an act? Like claiming one side is ‘fiscally responsible’ while the other looks out for the poor. The result of millionaires being another group of political suckers. But even if people vote one way or the other for fake reasons, the real reasons dominate. Or so goes what I was trying to say.

        I did not even consider libertarians because I don’t meet as many. I’ve met so many people who, regardless of what they think about other issues, seem to vote for religious/secularist reasons and add a bunch of garbage to further justify it. That, and so much actual difference seems fake or to simply grab the opposite issue so one side doesn’t get more fanatics that the other.

        You are probably right that separation is just part of a larger dynamic. I am very tempted to think there is a core issue that divides them other than the obvious, because the obvious seems so messed up and inconsistent in practice. But maybe the parties have ceased to truly stand for anything other than power grabs, if they ever did.

    • philtrum says:

      a massive white elephant that isn’t acknowledged even when talked about

      It’s “elephant in the room” and I don’t know where you’re getting your information, because the liberals I hang out with talk about church-state separation all the time.

      • philtrum says:

        For that matter, how is the title of this post accurate? Who doesn’t dare to ask whether McCain would have been better? Or is it that everyone has the question answered already according to our own politics/identity/whatever, so we’re not actually asking?

  10. Dan Dravot says:

    The Christians are coming for us! They plan to do awful things to our women! Oh, what brutish, apelike sub-men they are! What primitive, animalistic fiends! Their mere proximity threatens our very existence! Their primitive, fear-driven, divisive tribalism must terrify us into banding together with people like ourselves! Let us unite against them, before all is lost!

    • boeotarch says:

      Um… what?

    • Sfon says:

      I never mentioned Christians, nor did I say they all vote on one side of the issue. Nor did I say only Christians want to impose their religious beliefs on others. If Christians were the enemy, there would be no separation of church and state.

      Also, your form is horrible. At least have the decency to put words into another’s mouth in an intelligent way. What do you really think you can accomplish, other than offending me? It’ll only make me resistant to the idea I was wrong, and contributes nothing for others except a rallying point to mock someone.

      Finally, I’d like to point out that the “Christians are evil” thing had to come from somewhere. Since I didn’t mention them, it wasn’t from me. I didn’t even mention whether more or less separation is best, and avoided calling anyone evil. That seems to have come from you. Why do you automatically associate the issue with “apelike sub-men” Christians? It cannot be the only conclusion, Pastabagel was bitching about atheists a bit ago.

      Christians are on both sides of the issue, but it is not all about them. That seems to be something you need to be told.

  11. motard en colere says:

    Overall things would have been pretty darn similar. The perception of them, however, would have been entirely different, for everyone concerned.

    • sunshinefiasco says:

      It also makes me wonder if it would have built up enough liberal annoyance/organization that they could have gotten something done after McCain was out.

  12. HP says:

    Short, simple answer: I’ve a really hard time imagining him able to do any worse.

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