So Senator John McCain has officially entered the race. Which may be good news if you like the idea of a president who puts sardonic quote marks around the phrase "First Amendment rights." But if you like your government limited and constitutional, and the aims it pursues sober and realistic, you may not feel like cheering.
Matt Welch has a piece in the latest issue of Reason detailing the myriad reasons limited-government types should fear a McCain presidency, among them: McCain's fascination with Teddy Roosevelt, his indiscriminate hawkishness, and his affinity for National Greatness Conservatism, libertarianism's bete noire. The Reason piece isn't online yet, but Welch's recent LA Times op-ed on the subject will give you the flavor:
Sifting through McCain's four bestselling books and nearly three decades of work on Capitol Hill, a distinct approach toward governance begins to emerge. And it's one that the electorate ought to be particularly worried about right now. McCain, it turns out, wants to restore your faith in the U.S. government by any means necessary, even if that requires thousands of more military deaths, national service for civilians and federal micromanaging of innumerable private transactions. He'll kick down the doors of boardroom and bedroom, mixing Democrats' nanny-state regulations with the GOP's red-meat paternalism in a dangerous brew of government activism. And he's trying to accomplish this, in part, for reasons of self-realization.
But there's a detail that I haven't seen in any of Welch's writings on McCain that further supports his case. It's stuck with me since I read it in newsprint some seven years ago. From a profile of McCain in the February 27, 2000 edition of the New York Times, there's this:
"I think he sensed that life held something bigger for him, but he didn't know what it was yet," said Doug McCain, his eldest son. The younger Mr. McCain remembers once going with his parents to France and visiting Napoleon's tomb -- Napoleon had been a childhood hero of John McCain -- and sensing that his father was searching for any lessons history might hold about how he himself might best serve his country. [Emphasis added].
Napoleon "a childhood hero"? No kidding. As a kid, I think I preferred Aquaman, but it takes all kinds.