November 14, 2007

McCain Blogger Call

John McCain held another of his regular blogger conference calls today, and once again issued his call to "get on the bus" -- and to have bloggers get off of the couches. He also spoke about Pakistan, calling for free elections and strengthening the democratic process. McCain also said that there were "complications", however, and the Pakistani intel services primary among them. He's also concerned about growing influence of Islamists in the middle- and high-ranking positions in the Army. Casualties taken in the fight against Islamists has impacted Musharraf's mandate to continue the war. McCain doesn't think that Bhutto is the answer, either -- and he warns that the last time we abandoned an ally in that region, we wound up with the Iranian mullahcracy.

"Democracy is tough," McCain said, but it's still the best policy for the long term in our foreign policy. "Elections don't necessarily mean democracy, but the rule of law [does]."

On war funding: "They [Democrats] seem to be more interested in their political fortunes than anything else."


* Should federal law supersede state law on medical marijuana? -- McCain rejects the notion that people want marijuana legalized, and scant evidence of exceptional analgesic properties. Referendums have passed, and McCain says that the momentary will of the people sometimes isn't what's best for the country. At any rate, he's not changing his position on medical marijuana.

* Health care and Jeff Flake -- Flake has built a national reputation on fighting pork, and he's proud to have him on the team. On health care, he plans to talk about pharmaceutical reimportation. Clinton's proposal would require government management, while his places more reliance on personal choices and private enterprise. He won't mandate home ownership, and he won't mandate health insurance either.

* Extending the FMLA; what about the cost for the time off, and vacation mandates? -- "Are we going to be more and more like France?" France, he notes, wants to move away from these same failed policies. Who pays for all these mandates? "It's an unfunded liability" for businesses. McCain will not support expansions of government without them being fully funded.

* Admiral William Fallon's comments -- We should have contingency plans; if we don't, someone's not doing their job. McCain thinks the President is correct in saying that Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon. He is encouraged by Sarkozy's comments on the issue, and he hopes that Angela Merkel gets on board after her meeting with George Bush. There is every indication that they would pass the weapons to terrorists. The Iranians already brag that they will fill the gap left when the Americans retreat from the region; we cannot allow that to happen. McCain supports diplomatic and economic sanctions. He also wants funding restored to pro-democracy programs at the State Department.

About the unwillingness of FSOs to go to Iraq: he thought they agreed to serve the nation in any capacity. He thinks that's indicative of serious problems at Foggy Bottom, and should be addressed immediately.

* Size and spending for the military -- It's not just the numbers. The point is what kind of military -- are we going to continue spending money on big weapons systems we don't need, or on commandos prepared for the war on terror? Are we going to continue waste in pork-barrel projects and military contracting, or are we going to put our money and troops to the most efficient use? It's about capabilities, not money.

* How about the F-22? -- McCain thinks the F-15 can be fixed. The F-22 is a fine airplane, but we need to start evaluating priorities and missions. The F-22 may not be the best option. What kind of wars will we have to prepare for? Do we need that kind of stand-off capability? Ike's warning about the military-industrial complex has more than a kernel of truth, as the C-17 project shows.

* Judges - Would anyone today vote for the nuclear option? 51 votes in the Senate with a Democratic president would be a disaster. He stands proudly on this record.

McCain sounded pretty feisty today, and I think did very well. He showed some good humor while (jokingly) blaming his "work-release" staff for not getting last week's blogger call scheduled. He pushed back respectfully against Admiral Fallon about his comments on Iran, and did his best to make the Gang of 14 an accomplishment and not an albatross -- and he has a case on that score, although I'm not entirely convinced. He sounded confident, strong, and positive, and with the latest polling showing him contending in the race again, he has no reason not to feel all of the above.

I'm still wondering why other candidates don't schedule these kinds of conference calls with bloggers. It seems like a very small investment in time with a decent return.


TrackBack URL for this entry: