Daniel W. Drezner

Is John McCain like George H.W. Bush?

Ross Douthat raises a point I’ve been thinking about as well.  As content-free as John McCain’s campaign has been to date, so was George H.W. Bush’s, and he turned out to govern in a completely different manner than he campaigned (and I don’t care what Charles Pierce says, I’ve very glad Bush was president between 1989 ...

Ross Douthat raises a point I’ve been thinking about as well.  As content-free as John McCain’s campaign has been to date, so was George H.W. Bush’s, and he turned out to govern in a completely different manner than he campaigned (and I don’t care what Charles Pierce says, I’ve very glad Bush was president between 1989 and 1992 rather than Dukakis). Actually, the McCain/H.W. Bush comparisons go deeper than that:

  • They were both pilots who were shot down in wartime;
  • They both had decades of Washington experience;
  • They are more interested in foreign policy than domestic policy;
  • They both are lousy public speakers
  • They both lost a close primary to a more ideological two-term president eight years before they became the GOP nominee;
  • They both made dubious selections for their VP candidate; 

The thing about analogies, however, is that it’s easy to find the parallels and harder to find the contrasts.  So I’ll put this to readers — in what ways is John McCain not like George H.W. Bush.  The most obvious difference to me is are their foreign policy approaches and their temperment.  What am I missing? UPDATE:  MSM takes on the question of whether McCain’s campaign would mirror his governance style.  The Washington Post‘s Ruth Marcus says yes.  Over at the New York Times Campaign Stops blog, David Brooks offers this hopeful contrast:  “McCain would run an administration totally unlike his campaign. It would be a series of commissions run by the old establishment types McCain likes doing business with — Hillary Clinton, Alan Greenspan, Henry Kissinger, etc.” 

 Twitter: @dandrezner

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