McCain says he would nominate Supreme Court justices similar to Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Sam Alito. But how likely is he to nominate jurists who resemble those four: They consider his signature achievement constitutionally dubious.
When the Supreme Court upheld McCain-Feingold 5-4, Scalia and Thomas were in the minority. That was before Alito replaced Sandra Day O'Connor, who was in the majority. Two years later, McCain filed his own brief supporting federal suppression of a right-to-life group's issue advertisement in Wisconsin because it mentioned a candidate for federal office during the McCain-Feingold blackout period prior to an election. The court ruled 5-4 against McCain's position, with Alito in the majority.
In the New Hampshire debate, McCain asserted that corruption is the reason drugs currently cannot be reimported from Canada. The reason is "the power of the pharmaceutical companies." When Mitt Romney interjected, "Don't turn the pharmaceutical companies into the big bad guys," McCain replied, "Well, they are."
There is a place in American politics for moralizers who think in such Manichaean simplicities. That place is in the Democratic Party, where people who talk like McCain are considered not mavericks but mainstream.
Republicans are supposed to eschew demagogic aspersions concerning complicated economic matters. But applause greets faux "straight talk" that brands as "bad" the industry responsible for the facts that polio is no longer a scourge, that childhood leukemia is no longer a death sentence, that depression and other mental illnesses are treatable diseases, that the rate of heart attacks and heart failures has been cut more than in half in 50 years.
When McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced legislation empowering Congress to comprehensively regulate U.S. industries' emissions of greenhouse gases in order to "prevent catastrophic global warming," they co-authored an op-ed column that radiated McCainian intolerance of disagreement. It said that a U.N. panel's report "puts the final nail in denial's coffin about the problem of global warming." Concerning the question of whether human activity is causing catastrophic warming, they said, "the debate has ended."
Interesting, is it not, that no one considers it necessary to insist that "the debate has ended" about whether the Earth is round. People only insist that a debate stop when they are afraid of what might be learned if it continues.
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