Bush, McCain: same party, unrelated positions

Matthew White

The comparison of John McCain to George Bush by people who support neither man has already begun. Their goal is to smear the presumptive Republican presidential nominee by virtue of the previous nominee, a man whose faults they’re misidentified consistently during the past several years.

So, how valid is the criticism? Let’s first consider the two men’s personal narratives — the stories of their lives. While Bush studied at Yale University and then Harvard Business School before going on to the Texas Air National Guard (where he subsequently lost his flight status), McCain’s personal history is awash with heroism.

According to a story by the Arizona Republic, McCain was shot down on his 23rd flight over Vietnam when a missile sheared off the right wing of his plane and sent it spinning to the earth. Despite suffering many personal injuries, both from the plane crash and from years of torture in the “Hanoi Hilton,” McCain never forgot he was serving the nation he loved.

A second, drastic difference between our nation’s current president and the presumptive Republican nominee can be found in their personal philosophies toward government spending. Under Bush, our nation has seen spending spiral out of control and government expansion unlike anything since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society program. McCain, in comparison, has been called “A Taxpayer Hero” by Citizens Against Government Waste. The Club for Growth, an organization that rates lawmakers on their spending restraint, gave McCain a score of 76 in 2005 and 2006, making him better than 71 other U.S. Senators both years.

The Citizens Against Government Waste PAC’s chairman recently said: “Senator McCain is not just a war hero, he is a taxpayer hero. He has fought government waste, fraud and abuse in Washington for 26 years. He has never requested a pork-barrel project. There is nothing the big-spending politicians in Washington, D.C. fear more than a McCain presidency.”

But there’s another important difference between McCain and Bush: our Constitution. Despite pressure from some conservatives hoping to enact a federal gay marriage ban, McCain has stuck with the 10th Amendment’s provision for leaving unexpressed rights up to the states. However you feel about gay marriage, a belief in the 10th Amendment is key to shrinking the federal government and restoring freedom to individual citizens.

On the war, John McCain has consistently positioned himself to the right of Bush, by calling for the surge in troops from the beginning. However you feel about the war, this strategy was designed to clear out insurgents and hold onto peaceful territory, preventing the backward slide seen in the previous “light footprint” strategy.

So, in four very basic ways McCain is different than Bush, and this is only the beginning. However, left-wing pundits and Democrats will continue to make the case of the two men’s similarities as they wage a campaign to win the White House.

Television ads in president election campaigns are rarely bastions of contextual meaning or unmitigated truth, a sad fact of our political atmosphere. Don’t be surprised if this false comparison pervades the very consciousness of our nation in the coming months.

Matthew White is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].