Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Welch on McCain

Matt Welch on John McCain in today's New York Times:
In “Worth the Fighting For,” he wrote that “our greatness depends upon our patriotism, and our patriotism is hardly encouraged when we cannot take pride in the highest public institutions.” These institutions, Mr. McCain wrote, should “fortify the public’s allegiance to the national community.”

...all of his actions can be seen as an attempt to use the federal government to restore your faith in ... the federal government. Once we all put our shoulder on the same wheel, there’s nothing this country can’t do.

It can be a bracing approach when his issues line up with yours — I, for one, would welcome President McCain’s unilateral wars on pork-barrel spending and waterboarding — but it’s treacherous territory for those of us who consider “the pursuit of happiness” as something best defined by individuals, not crusading presidents-to-be.

I'm not a fan of McCain's campaign finance "reform" or push against Ultimate Fighting, so I agree with a number of Welch's points. But McCain's emphasis on making the federal government more disciplined and accountable should be a pretty big positive for libertarians. And a sense of "allegiance to the national community" is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it's questionable how long an individualistic society would survive without any such allegiance.

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