The Corner

McCain and Hastert

Rod, Kathryn: I cannot agree with that Dallas Morning News editorial, which I found rather more disgraceful than Hastert’s comments. First let’s recap. Reporter to Hastert: “[McCain’s] observation was never before when we’ve been at war have we been worrying about cutting taxes and his question was, ‘Where’s the sacrifice?’” Hastert responds: “”If you want to see the sacrifice, John McCain ought to visit our young men and women at Walter Reed and Bethesda. There’s the sacrifice in this country. We’re trying to make sure they have the ability to fight this war, that they have the wherewithal to be able to do it. And, at the same time, we have to react to keep this country strong.”

Okay, it was a dumb statement–it opened up Hastert to the kind of criticism he’s been getting. But I’m sorry, Hastert just didn’t belittle McCain’s own sacrifice in his statement.

As for McCain’s being right on the underlying budget issues: There is room for doubt. McCain wants a budget rule that makes it harder to cut taxes or increase spending. But he has voted to waive the rules to allow more spending. House Republicans have noticed that, and they don’t like it. Whoever’s right, it certainly complicates the picture of McCain as apostle of fiscal rectitude.

Finally, the Dallas Morning News is either badly informed or disingenuous when it suggests that there is no reason at all to question McCain’s Republican credentials. Everybody knows that there are plenty of issues on which McCain has moved left over the last five years.

To compare Hastert’s remark to Kennedy’s “under new management” line about Abu Ghraib is, to say the least, overheated. Whoever wrote the editorial needs to calm down.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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