Commentary Magazine


McCain Standing Firm On Iraq and Taxes

John McCain’s performance on This Week was impressive and noteworthy for several reasons. First, he articulated the Iraq counterargument to the Democrats: they were wrong on the surge and the potential for political progress, and retreat will spell chaos. Had the election been last year, it is doubtful that would be a winning argument. But should conditions on the ground continue to improve, the Democrats insistence that nothing has changed and all is lost becomes untenable and McCain’s foresight becomes more evident. Second, McCain clearly has a less unilateral view of the presidency than does George Bush. He has no problem, he says, bringing a treaty which provides for military bases in Iraq to the Congress for approval. Likewise he would bring a request for authorization of force against Iran, if one is needed, to Congress (except in case of emergency). This is perhaps to be expected from a man who has spent decades in the Senate, but is also indicative of someone confident in his abilities to persuade and cajole. In any event, it is not unreasonable to conclude that corralling Congressional support for foreign policy undertakings is, in his view, the more desirable course. Finally, to the delight of fiscal conservatives he issued a “read my lips, no new taxes” promise. He never tries to hide his passion for spending restraint, but he has made clear he has no intention of blurring the differences on this issue between himself and his Democratic opponent.