A Sunday "Political Memo" by Michael Cooper, "A Candidate Embraces Opposites," dwelt on the apparent contradictions tearing apart the candidacy of John McCain. Cooper focused laser-like on inconsistencies in McCain's record while swiping at the Bush tax cuts, which were apparently good only for "deficit-swelling" and didn't help the economy at all.
At the presidential debate in Nashville last Tuesday, Senator John McCain made his case for fiscally conservative, smaller government, calling for an "across the board" spending freeze and denouncing what he described as Senator Barack Obama's "government will do this and government will do that" approach to health care.
But Mr. McCain's big proposal that night was to spend $300 billion in taxpayer money to buy bad mortgages from banks and refinance them, a plan conservatives quickly condemned as an expensive effort to nationalize the mortgage industry.
Mr. McCain's economic policy centers on extending President Bush's deficit-swelling tax cuts and on cutting even more corporate taxes. But at the same time, Mr. McCain has vowed to balance the federal budget by the end of his term, a pledge he has reiterated even with the fiscal crisis threatening to throw the budget even deeper into the red.
But Mr. McCain's detractors see his contradictory proposals as a cynical effort to be all things to all people, and as evidence that policy proposals often seem to take a back seat in his campaign to less tangible things like biography and character.
Did Kerry not run on biography (his three month tour of Vietnam) to the Times' appreciation in 2004?
Later, Cooper took delight in turning McCain's stump speech against him:
In recent days Mr. McCain has sought to sow doubt about his Democratic rival by asking at rallies, "Who is the real Barack Obama?" But the same question could just as easily be asked of Mr. McCain. He has at times described himself as an heir to the hands-off conservatism made famous by the man whose Senate seat he now holds, Barry Goldwater. But these days he more often cites as his model Theodore Roosevelt, who took a far more expansive view of the role of government both at home and abroad.