McCain outlines vision of Iraq victory, reduced partisanship
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — John McCain, looking through a crystal ball to 2013 and the end of a prospective first term, sees “spasmodic” but reduced violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden dead or captured and government spending curbed by his ready veto pen.
The Republican presidential contender also envisions April’s annual angst replaced by a simpler flat tax, illegal immigrants living humanely under a temporary worker program, and political partisanship stemmed by weekly news conferences and British-style question periods with joint meetings of Congress.
In a speech being delivered today, McCain concedes he cannot make the changes alone, but he wants to outline a specific governing style to show the accomplishments it can achieve. He was backing up his remarks with a Web ad featuring similar content.
“I’m not interested in partisanship that serves no other purpose than to gain a temporary advantage over our opponents. This mindless, paralyzing rancor must come to an end. We belong to different parties, not different countries,” McCain says in remarks prepared for delivery in the capital city of Ohio, a general election battleground. “There is a time to campaign, and a time to govern. If I’m elected president, the era of the permanent campaign will end; the era of problem solving will begin.”
To the disdain of some fellow Republicans, the presumed GOP nominee has worked with Democrats on legislation aimed at overhauling campaign finance regulations, redrafting immigration rules and regulations and implementing government spending controls.
While that has cultivated a maverick image for McCain, the Arizona senator has also been accused of exhibiting a nasty temper — swearing even at fellow lawmakers from his own party — and unabashed partisanship.
In particular, McCain has clashed with the leading Democratic presidential contender, Barack Obama. After tangling with the Illinois senator on lobbying reforms, McCain questioned Obama’s integrity in a publicly released 2006 letter.
McCain wrote he had thought Obama’s interest in ethics legislation “was genuine and admirable,” before adding: “Thank you for disabusing me of such notions.” He accused Obama of “partisan posturing.”
While calling for Congress to drop mindless partisanship, McCain also chided the media — with whom he has enjoyed a generally positive relationship — for fueling contention with its campaign coverage.
“Campaigns and the media collaborated as architects of the modern presidential campaign, and we deserve equal blame for the regret we feel from time to time over its less-than-inspirational features,” he said.
In outlining potential achievements of a first term, the 71-year-old McCain implicitly was suggesting he would seek a second term, an attempt to mute suggestions he would serve only four years after being the oldest president ever to take office for a first term.
In particular, he sees a world in which:
— “The Iraq war has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced.”
— The Taliban threat in Afghanistan has been greatly reduced.
— “The increase in actionable intelligence that the counterinsurgency produced led to the capture or death of Osama bin Laden, and his chief lieutenants,” McCain said. “There still has not been a major terrorist attack in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.”
Published in The Messenger 5.15.08