The L.A. Times on “McCain the Moderate”

More of the soft bigotry of low exectations.

Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations! Just because John McCain, at some phases of the moon, is less reality-challenged than most of his Republican opponents this year doesn’t make his solid right-wing record into “centrism.”

On several points, the editorial in today’s LA Times is simply, factually wrong:

* McCain started out as an opponent of torture, but then turned around and voted against a provision that would have forbidden torture by the CIA. Either he only cares about keeping the uniformed services out of it, or he decided that he needed the wingnut vote too badly to stick by his principles.

* Whatever McCain says to Latinos in California, he has said in public that he would now vote against the immigration bill he sponsored.

* The difference between an 80% cut in greenhouse-gas emissions and a 60% cut may seem small to an innumerate editorialist, but the remaining emission level after a 60% cut is precisely twice the remaining emission level after an 80% cut. That’s aside from the fact that Obama is, and McCain isn’t, willing to pursue policies that might actually get us to his announced target.

* Agreeing on stem-cell research and a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage isn’t really much of an offset to disagreeing fundamentally about reproductive choice. Not only has McCain promised to appoint justices just like those who have already voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, he’s also been a solid vote against contraception and for “abstinence-only” sex education, which demonstrably fails.

* Nor does the fact that McCain and Obama agree on opposing a marriage amendment mean that they have similar stances on gay rights. Obama wants to repeal Dont Ask, Don’t Tell; McCain voted for it and still supports it.

Yes, the fact that the Republican candidate isn’t a global-warming denier or a flagrant gay-baiter does represent progress toward sanity. But to the question asked by the editorial’s headline &#8212 Obama-McCain, the Same?” the only correct answer is “No!”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: