McCain Goes To The Dark Side

It’s a shame I didn’t have this one in time for SciFi Friday. Jonathan Chait writes that John McCain has gone over to the dark side, Jedi style:

Seven years ago, of course, McCain was likening himself in public to Luke Skywalker, waving light sabers on stage at rallies and comparing his party’s establishment to the Death Star. He would say such things as, “My party has become captive to special interests.” He would cite a bumper sticker that read “The Christian Right Is Neither.”

And now? Well, let’s just say that if John McCain circa 2007 was campaigning against John McCain circa 2000, he would call him a communist. The old McCain called President Bush’s tax cuts fiscally and socially irresponsible, a giveaway to the rich in a time of rising inequality. The new McCain was recently interviewed by National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru and asked if there were any circumstances, including the guarantee of spending cuts, under which he’d consider repealing the tax cuts he denounced and voted against. He replied: “No. None. None. Tax cuts, starting with Kennedy, as we all know, increase revenues.”

We all know that? In fact, economists know that this is not true. Conservative economists know this isn’t true. Even conservative economists who work in the Bush administration have admitted this isn’t true. As former Bush economist Alan Viard, now at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said: “Federal revenue is lower today than it would have been without the tax cuts. There’s really no dispute among economists about that.”

Chait notes that tying himself to Bush’s policies has not helped McCain politically as he returns to the Jedi analogy:

What makes McCain’s conversion all the more tragic is that it’s plainly not working. He has spent the last three years plotting to make himself the candidate of the GOP establishment that he once attacked. But, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “2008 is shaping up as the worst presidential year in three decades to be the candidate of the Republican establishment.”

His career since then has indeed resembled a certain famous Jedi. He began as a crusader for justice. Soon he realized that he needed to acquire more power in order to accomplish his noble goals. But over time, his pursuit of power became the goal itself, and by the end he lost his capacity to differentiate between right and wrong.

This is not Luke Skywalker here. This is Luke Skywalker’s father. But at least Darth Vader attained his position before the Death Star exploded.

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