Saturday, March 15, 2008

McCain's Gotta Get a Philosophy

Peggy Noonan while always an interesting writer can be a bit verbose. But she poses a very important question...Just what does McCain stand for? And she appropriately asks what is his underlying philosophy that guides his actions. Does he have a philosophy?

...You know what he has in his favor. He's gentleman Johnny McCain, hero, maverick. He has more knowledge on national defense in his pinky than the others will have, after four years in the White House, in their entire bodies. He's the one who should be answering the phone at 3 a.m. ...

...He has positions, but a series of separate, discrete and seemingly unconnected stands do not coherence make. Mr. McCain, in public, does not dig down to the meaning of things, to why he stands where he stands, to what understanding of life drives his political decisions. But voters hunger for coherence, for a philosophical thread that holds all the positions together. (Read)

A MAVERICK is defined as an independent individual who does not go along with the group or party. The etymology of this word is super interesting: Samuel A. Maverick (died 1870) was an American pioneer who did not brand his calves. Well, does McCain have a brand unifying all his actions, just as a rancher has a brand unifying and identifying his property. We'll have to see if he can make a coherent umbrella of thought under which we can predict his actions. I am still hoping to see the leader on the conservative side who stands up for Capitalism, freedom and individual rights on a moral and consistent basis: freedom of speech, freedom from onerous taxation, freedom from government mandates and regulations.

Americans hunger for a man of principle - consistent principles- not the fly by the seat of your pants kind of "principles". Ayn Rand explained the crucial role that principles play in the life of a man or of a nation when she wrote:

"A principle is 'a fundamental, primary, or general truth, on which other truths depend.' Thus a principle is an abstraction which subsumes a great number of concretes. It is only by means of principles that one can set one's long-range goals and evaluate the concrete alternatives of any given moment. It is only principles that enable a man to plan his future and to achieve it.

"The present state of our culture may be gauged by the extent to which principles have vanished from public discussion, reducing our cultural atmosphere to the sordid, petty senselessness of a bickering family that haggles over trivial concretes, while betraying all its major values, selling out its future for some spurious advantage of the moment.

"To make it more grotesque, that haggling is accompanied by an aura of hysterical self-righteousness, in the form of belligerent assertions that one must compromise with anybody on anything (except on the tenet that one must compromise) and by panicky appeals to "practicality". "

Ms Rand wrote this in 1966 in her essay The Anatomy of Compromise in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal". Not much has changed has it...

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