John McCain: Victorian or Elizabethan?

About a week ago, William Kristol suggested that John McCain is in many ways a man of the Victorian era. (Via Erin O’Connor) Comes now Withywindle, of the fine blog Athens & Jerusalem, with the suggestion that–in view of his expressed contempt for economic motivations–McCain is actually an Elizabethan.

In any event, I have growing concerns about McCain’s ability to deal intelligently with the U.S. and world economies. Recently, contrasting his own experience with Romney’s he said: “I did not manage, I led. And I didn’t manage for profit, I led for patriotism.”

The first sentence is a reasonable attempt to contrast his own management/leadership style with that of his rival–although it cuts both ways: running an organization of thousands or millions of people is very different from running a fighter squadron or a small office. But what are we to make of the second sentence? Military service is a highly honorable calling–but are we to believe that it is the only honorable calling?

A capitalist economy clearly requires people who manage for profit. In view of the above comment, the question must be asked: Is McCain a socialist? If he is, he should explain why he thinks this economic system is superior, and offer his plan for transition from capitalism to socialism. If he is not a socialist, then the above attack on Romney is a cheap political smear, the use of which does not speak highly of McCain.

McCain also denounced Romney for layoffs conducted by companies in which Bain Capital took an investment position: “As the head of the investment company, he presided over the acquisitions of companies that immediately laid off thousands of workers.”

Again, the question must be asked: Does McCain believe in lifetime employment guarantees? If so, he should explain how these guarantees would work in practice, taking into account the experience of countries that have limited forms of such guarantees in place. If he isn’t proposing such guarantees, then obviously there will be layoffs, and this attack on Romney is again a cheap political smear.

I would certainly vote for McCain over any of the Democratic candidates. And there’s a lot I don’t like about Romney. But a lot of McCain’s recent comments and behavior have pushed me into a clear preference for Romney as the Republican candidate.

Everyone in the private sector–particularly those who are or have been “managers for profit”–needs to ask himself whether he really wants a candidate/President who has so little understanding of or appreciation for the work that he does. And those who are not in the private sector, but are still dependent on its economic health, need to ask themselves whether a capitalist economy can be entrusted to a man who seems hostile, at some level, to this economy’s very existence.

10 thoughts on “John McCain: Victorian or Elizabethan?”

  1. Most voters are ignorant of the basis for the success of our society, and if one quite reasonably sees this ignorance as rational,then how can we expect people to choose leaders who are competent? People won’t see the system as dysfunctional until it collapses around their ears.There is much ruin in a nation.

  2. Part of the reason I got fed up with the Democrats was their lack of respect and desire to marginalize small business – the source of employment in this country and, especially, the source of training in the ethos of the workplace. McCain’s comments are more than irritating.

    They have a self-righteousness – one of the worst traits the leader of the most powerful and largest nation on earth can possess. This is a trait that is likely to believe in his own righteousness regarding the first amendment or the border. . .

    I suspect because the men he led were likely to lose more than their jobs he sees (and most of us would agree, I suspect) his leadership as having a gravity that managing a business doesn’t. However, arguing that what Romney did to make a business succeed was bad because some lost jobs makes me wonder about his sense of what his leadership in the service and in the White House would mean. That harm will come to some because of decisions he will make as Commander in Chief or even in terms of proposing a budget seems a given. That such harm might be a tragic but necessary means to an end is surely what he thinks. But such remarks (thoughtless I suspect and angry I suspect) about Romney make me wonder how thoughtful and honest he is with himself.

    Of course, I’ll vote for him – he got Iraq right and isn’t still quibbling over his vote in 2002. And Romney could be more appealing. But that doesn’t mean I like the way things are turning out.

  3. “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”, Samuel Johnson.

    But patriotism is a virtue, no doubt. However it is not the ONLY virtue (Also, there is a tendency, of late, to equate victimization and incompetence with virtue by some in this country. Victims are to be pitied, helped, but not honored IMO). The legislation that he has been involved with has not been virtuous (from the viewpoint of small-gov’t., freedom loving, free-market, constitutional republicans (small r)). Amnesty, McCain-Fiengold are acts that one would expect from a mushy-headed liberal and, indeed, that’s what McCain is.

    His use of hyperbole lately and the demeanor Ginny alludes to is enough to turn me away. I believe that to expect him to act a way consistent with what he promises once he’s elected is wishful thinking – If elected he’ll do whatever he thinks is right then. For me, he doesn’t have the right stuff politically, morally, or intellectually,

  4. Does McCain believe in lifetime employment guarantees?

    McCain, aside from some high school summer employment, perhaps, has received paychecks from only one employer, the Federal Government. McCain attended only schools run or dominated by the Federal Government.

    McCain grew up in a family headed by a father who worked for only one employer, the Federal Government. His father attended only schools run or dominated by the Federal Government.

    McCain’s father grew up in a family headed by a father who worked only for one employer, the Federal Government. His father’s father attended a college run by the Federal Government.

    The question should be, Does McCain realize there is an alternative to guaranteed lifetime employment?

    This is not meant to derogate the service the McCain family has provided to this country. Two four star admirals and a 6 year POW and U. S. Senator is an outstanding record of service and accomplishment. But it is distant from the experience of the normal American. Far more distant than being the son of an auto executive who watched the demise of an industry and it’s effect on his home town.

    Is McCain a socialist?

    I doubt he’s given the matter enough thought to know the answer. But, being from the Silent Generation, I suspect he believes the purpose of citizens is to support the government so that the government can do good things like fight the Great Depression and the Evil Nazis, things that the malefactors of wealth would not and could not do without the benevolent government to lead and command them.

  5. An unattractive set of GOP candidates. Romney’s pathetic pandering to the auto workers in Michigan was revolting beyond belief, and for that matter alone, I see McCain as at least being realistic. He told them the truth, that it was doubtful those jobs were coming back and that with job training programs, skills development initiatives and going back to school (all sponsored by the feds, the states and local private sector groups) they could recover and perhaps even be better off than before.

    Also considering how Romney utilized offshore accounts and other tactics to avoid taxation (making him a greedy traitor IMHO), I lack respect for the man when he claims to care about Americans and want to help them or enable them to succeed. His personal example is very poor.

    Again, though we in the blogosphere may know more about economics and politics than the average American, we ignore at our great peril the anger in this country… indeed, the revulsion… of many Americans to the out of control greed as currently portrayed by failed CEO’s who get 15-115 million dollar severance packages, banks who knowingly corrupted the basics of credit in order to get ever more profit from subprime loans and housing scams, etc. etc. Though there may be reasonable explanations for some of this behavior, it looks to most to be a simple case of outlandish greed. McCain, like other wise candidates, picks up on that and that may be the source of some of his recent rhetoric.

  6. Eddie…yes, there are CEOs who are greedy, CEOs who are incompetent, and even some CEOs who have committed fraud. But I don’t think this is a primary cause of the economic suffering that afflicts some people.

    One major cause of poverty and inhibitor of economic mobility lies in the failures of the public school system. The people defending this system against both competition and internal improvement do more harm to the economic lives of individuals, IMNSHO, than even the worst CEO.

    Another major inhibitor of economic mobility is excessive credentialism, as encouraged and abetted by the higher-education establishment. The unwillingness of many university administrators to operate their institutions with reasonable attention to *cost* and *performance* aggravates this situation.

    The excesses of the tort law system also do economic harm, while enriching attorneys, some of whom “make” vast amounts of money.

    Political policies established for short-term gain, without serious attempts to understand the long-term impacts, do real harm to the economy. Excessive emphasis on corn-based ethanol probably falls into that category.

    No excuses should be made for inadequate or dishonest CEOs or other corporate executives. But I think most of those who are suffering economic pain should look elsewhere for the primary causes.

  7. Again, not blaming the CEO’s persay…. just saying that this is helping to feed a growing consensus among ordinary Americans that “Greed is good” is no longer a good operation philosophy. The dangers of those who would follow alternatives are many, and are as yet still not fully appreciated.

  8. Eddie said:

    “Also considering how Romney utilized offshore accounts and other tactics to avoid taxation (making him a greedy traitor IMHO)”

    Were the offshore accounts illegal? If not, I don’t see your problem. The money belonged to Romney, not the government. I do not understand the attitude that the government has a ‘right’ to your money and that you are being greedy if you structure your business dealings in a way to give them the least amount possible.

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