Damning McCain with Faint Praise

Obama says that McCain would make a better President that George W. Bush.
Well, yes. But then you could make a better President than George W. Bush out of papier mache.

At a town hall rally in Reading, Pennsylvania, yesterday, Barack Obama said that any of the remaining presidential candidates, including John McCain, would be a better president than George W. Bush. Hillary Clinton pounced. “We need a nominee who will take on John McCain, not cheer on John McCain,” she said at a rally in Johnstown.

But even setting aside Clinton’s earlier praise for McCain’s readiness to serve as Commander-In-Chief, it’s a stretch to accuse Obama of cheering McCain on. After all, 61 percent of 109 historians recently surveyed by the History News Network said they considered George W. Bush the worst president ever.

John McCain almost certainly would be a better president, but that’s hardly high praise.

Author: Robert Frank

Robert H. Frank is the Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management and Professor of Economics at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management and the co-director of the Paduano Seminar in business ethics at NYU’s Stern School of Business. His “Economic View” column appears monthly in The New York Times. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos. He received his B.S. in mathematics from Georgia Tech, then taught math and science for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Nepal. He holds an M.A. in statistics and a Ph.D. in economics, both from the University of California at Berkeley. His papers have appeared in the American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy, and other leading professional journals. His books, which include Choosing the Right Pond, Passions Within Reason, Microeconomics and Behavior, Principles of Economics (with Ben Bernanke), Luxury Fever, What Price the Moral High Ground?, Falling Behind, The Economic Naturalist, and The Darwin Economy, have been translated into 22 languages. The Winner-Take-All Society, co-authored with Philip Cook, received a Critic's Choice Award, was named a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times, and was included in Business Week's list of the ten best books of 1995. He is a co-recipient of the 2004 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. He was awarded the Johnson School’s Stephen Russell Distinguished teaching award in 2004, 2010, and 2012, and its Apple Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005.