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McCain Echoes Bush on the Joys of Dictatorship

October 1, 2008

From the beginning of the general election race, the central challenge facing John McCain has been to distance himself from the wildly unpopular occupant of the White House. In June, McCain whined that "you will hear every policy of the President described as the Bush-McCain policy." The previous month, McCain water carrier Lindsey Graham threw down the gauntlet for his man, "good luck making him George Bush." Sadly, McCain yesterday shot himself in the foot once again, this time by echoing George W. Bush on the joys of dictatorship.
As ThinkProgress noted this morning, McCain joked about his authoritarian streak during an interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board. Bemoaning the gridlock in Congress he helped manufacture over passage of the bailout bill, McCain kidded:

"I just want to make a comment about the obvious issue and that is the failure of Congress to act yesterday. It's just not acceptable...This is just a not acceptable situation. I'm not saying this is the perfect answer. If I were dictator, which I always aspire to be, I would write it a little bit differently."

If McCain's guffawing sounds familiar, it should. On at least three occasions before and after becoming president, George W. Bush laughingly praised the virtues of dictatorship:

"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it." (President George W. Bush, July 26, 2001.)
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." (President-elect George W. Bush, December 18, 2000.)
"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier." (Texas Governor George W. Bush, July 1998.)

In the grand scheme of things, the Bush-McCain joy in jesting about undermining American democracy is a sideshow. After all, Lindsey Graham notwithstanding, the policies of George Bush and John McCain are almost indistinguishable on health care, taxes, Iraq, the Supreme Court, overturning Roe v. Wade, Social Security privatization and a host of other issues.
But their childish displays say a lot about presidential temperament. At the end of the day, George W. Bush didn't merely poke fun at the poor, African-Americans, children, the blind, the free ride for Scooter Libby and even the lack of WMD. With his illegal domestic surveillance, suspension of habeas corpus, regime of detainee torture and purging of U.S. attorneys, Bush proved his jokes no laughing matter.
And now John McCain, whose dangerously out-of-control temper renders him unfit for command, laughs about playing dictator. Sorry, Senator Graham, but we've already had one of those.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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