The Whining Pose


I think The Washington Post has managed to run an editorial that’s unfair to both presidential candidates, moaning about sundry points including the idea that “Though both candidates vowed to shake up Washington, neither offered bold or innovative proposals.” This is nonsense. I don’t think John McCain’s plan to try to unravel group insurance pools through various changes in the tax and regulatory treatment of employer-sponsored health care benefits will produce the kind of beneficial results that McCain claims for his proposal, but it’s certainly bold and innovative. They complain that “Obama’s agenda for the most part might have been lifted from Democratic stump speeches of four or eight years ago” as if it’s just inconceivable that John Kerry proposed anything bold. Meanwhile, the “for the most part” clause manages to waive away Obama’s entire suite of energy-and-climate proposals which are very ambitious and totally unlike anything Kerry or Gore put on the table.

Then back to McCain when they’re upset that he “offered little in substance that President Bush hasn’t been promoting for the past eight years.” Again, I think that’s true — the two political parties each draw from an enduring set of ideas so McCain’s proposals are similar to those of his GOP predecessor just as Obama’s are similar to his Democratic predecessors — but serves as a way of eliding the point that some of these ideas are nonetheless bold and innovative. Health care, as mentioned above, fits the bill as do McCain’s views on the need to cut entitlement benefits and introduce elements of privatization. It’s true that neither campaign has managed to generate a wholly original policy agenda, but why would they? And it’s definitely false to accuse either campaign of lacking any bold ideas.