In 1988, then Vice President George H.W. Bush was said to be running for a third Reagan term. The point was well taken. Reagan had indeed been the most popular president in decades. His first election in 1980 had been a crushing defeat for incumbent Jimmy Carter. His re-election in 1984 was a landslide that left Democrat nominee Walter Mondale barely carrying his home state of Minnesota. In 1988, had he not been constitutionally barred from running again, Reagan easily could have won a third term. It was an ideal set of conditions for Bush to launch his own bid for the presidency.
This year, the political climate is very different. Two-thirds of the country disapproves of incumbent George W. Bush's performance in office. The Left hates him because of the war. The right distrusts him because of his refusal to close the borders and because of his profligate spending. It is highly unlikely that Bush could win a third term. And yet, it seems that John McCain is, in fact, seeking a third Bush term.
Like Bush, McCain has spent the last several years trying to "reach across the aisle" to work with Democrats. McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy, McCain-Lieberman - the Arizona senator's legislative record reads like a who's who of liberal schemes to limit free speech, raise taxes and foist the responsibility for criminal behavior onto hard-working, already overburdened American taxpayers.
McCain's signature legislation was his blatantly unconstitutional campaign finance reform bill, a flagrant restriction on free speech created with his good friend Sen. Russ Feingold, a liberal Wisconsin Democrat. Aimed at taking the influence of big money out of politics, McCain-Feingold accomplished exactly the opposite, giving incredible power to radicals like billionaire leftist George Soros through their 527 groups. McCain pushed this legislation for years, and unfortunately, when it passed Congress, President Bush signed it.
McCain collaborated with Sen. Joe Lieberman (who still caucuses with senate Democrats despite his switch to "Independent") on a bill to combat global warming. One of the key points in that legislation is a provision to increase the federal tax on gasoline by fifty cents a gallon. Not surprisingly, Lieberman has now endorsed McCain's candidacy. Bush, too, has endorsed the notion of man-made global warming, although his distaste for tax increases has precluded approving the McCain-Lieberman solution.
But the issue that has most often branded both McCain and Bush as untrustworthy among conservatives is the amnesty bill concocted with another of McCain's "good friends," Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. If there is one issue that has McCain and Bush joined at the hip in the minds of most Americans, it is the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill. It was so unpopular last summer that Senate switchboards shut down and John McCain's bid for the presidency was nearly derailed in the process.
Both the president and the senator have tried to further the pro-life cause by supporting a ban on the most heinous procedure, partial birth abortion; but neither has been willing to stand squarely against all federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
Neither man has ever been enthusiastic about taking on the issue of revamping the federal tax code. Both have seemed content to tinker around the edges of a system that is strangling the life out of our economy.
Both support a strong offense against Islamo-Fascist aggression. Both know that Iraq is the central front in that conflict. However, it remains to be seen whether the American people have the stomach to remain there for 100 years, as McCain has suggested may be necessary.
It seems clear that a John McCain administration would indeed be a third George W. Bush term.