ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE ON MCCAIN. Daniel McKivergan offers his view on the John McCain issue:
Since Jonathan Chait and others have turned their focus to Sen. McCain the last few days I'd like to add one point -- for now at least -- going back to 2001. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I was his legislative director back then.) Yes, McCain voted against the 2001 tax cut. But his collective reasons for doing so were far different than those of the Democratic caucus. Based on the "surplus" projection, he wanted to enact a smaller tax cut primarily targeting the lower- and middle class (including a child tax credit, a cut in the marriage tax penalty, payroll tax reform, and an estate tax cut capped at five million to reduce any negative impact on charitable giving), ramp up defense spending to substantially enlarge our air, land and naval forces (this was pre 9/11 I may add), fund the transition costs associated with moving toward some form of Social Security personal accounts to ensure its long-term solvency, shore up Medicare's solvency (which, I believe, is one reason why he recently voted against the prescription drug bill), and enact stiff spending reforms (pork-barrel projects, etc) because they were long overdue and would also act as a partial hedge against faulty "surplus" projection numbers.
I think this supports, um, my view of the matter. This is significantly different from George W. Bush's view of how the country should be run. What a liberal thinks of this agenda is going to have more to do with what that liberal thinks about the world than it will with McCain, per se. If I recall correctly, back in 2001 The New Republic also thought we should have a big increase in military spending and the DLC thought we should use the budget surplus to finance the transition to some form of Social Security private accounts. At the time, I thought both that we should increase military spending and that we should use the budget surplus to finance the transition to some form of Social Security privatization (when I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible), so I was reasonably enthusiastic about McCain.
With the wisdom of age, I don't think we should do either of those things so McCain doesn't look nearly as progressive to me as he once did. That however, is much more a question of my own shifting notions of what progressive politics should look like in the 21st century than it is a question of McCain's shifting views on this or that.