The Economist Criticizes McCain for Move to the Right

Those who believe Obama has been changing his views since winning the nomination accuse him of moving towards the center. I tend to agree more with Ed Kilgore that what we are seeing is more a case of different aspects of the issues being important in a general election campaign as opposed to a primary campaign. Regardless of whether the candidate is actually changing positions, it would be expected to see a candidate’s campaign statements to be directed more towards a centrist audience than to the extremes of either the left or the right.

The Economist has such expectations for candidates to move towards the center, and is critical of John McCain for moving towards the right as opposed to towards the center:

WHEN more than 80% of Americans tell pollsters that they think the country is on the wrong track, and when only 28% of them believe that the president is doing a good job, you don’t need a Karl Rove or a Dick Morris to tell you that the road to the White House involves steering well clear of the incumbent’s policies. So why is John McCain not doing it?

The Republican candidate has always been close to George Bush when it comes to defending two fundamental, if unpopular, points of principle—the Iraq war and free trade. But in recent months Mr McCain has slid to the right on a series of other issues, including tax cuts, offshore drilling, immigration and even torture. This manoeuvring seems insincere and short-sighted.

They accuse McCain of “saying things it is very hard to imagine that he remotely believes in.”

It was a bad omen last year when this freewheeling western conservative in the Reagan mould went off to court the intolerant Christian right. And recently, the flip-flops have come rapidly. Once a vigorous opponent of Mr Bush’s tax cuts, he says he wants not only to continue but also to extend them. Once a champion of greenery, he has called not only for an expensive petrol-tax holiday (something Mr Obama cleverly resisted) but also for a resumption of drilling off America’s coast. Once a supporter of closing down Guantánamo Bay, he recently criticised the Supreme Court for daring to suggest that inmates deserve the right of habeas corpus. He has edged to the right on two other areas where he used to be hated by his party’s conservatives as a dangerous maverick: on torture (he won’t rule out water-boarding) and immigration reform (he says fix the border first, which will take an eternity).

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