Saturday, January 19, 2008

Don't believe McCain

Jonathan Chait at The New Republic takes on John McCain on supply-side economics. My quibble is that there's no evidence that McCain is lying about higher taxes leading to lower revenue (in the sense that he knows the truth and is saying the opposite), just that he's demonstrably wrong. I would've also liked to see a longer timeline that shows more times when taxes were raised or lowered, what the effects on revenues were, etc.

But two broader points remain: 1) The supply-side talking points just aren't true, and 2) the press lets John McCain get away with saying anything. The corollaries to point #2 are very important to the election. The media likes to take a narrative and stick with it, and doesn't do much fact-checking at all. Politicians say things that are either misleading or out-and-out lies all the time on the campaign trail, and whether they're held accountable for it depends greatly on how the story will play out. I'm not saying that John McCain misleads more than other candidates, just that the press is a lot more likely to give him a free pass.

That's why I'm hoping the Republican nominee is anybody but McCain. He's better than the other Republicans on certain issues, but by and large, John McCain's policies would be the same old crap we've had since Bush was in office, just marginally less bad. But the press and the public see him as some sort of straight-talking maverick on a white horse, so he'd be the toughest to beat in November. Mitt Romney would be much easier to dismiss, and Mike Huckabee is likable but isn't going to win many votes outside of the South, regardless. Rudy "Il Duce" Giuliani is scary but seems to be fading in the polls, but let's wait until after Florida to count him out. Conversely, Barack Obama is a good story to sell, whereas Hillary Clinton sets off too many voters' (and reporters') heebie-jeebie alarms.

MORE: My assessments of debates before the New Hampshire primaries and the Iowa caucuses. Plus, to be honest, I get most of my political talking points these days from Matthew Yglesias's blog.

BONUS: On the other hand, it would be a great addition to lists of trivial oddities to have a President born in the Panama Canal Zone.


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