It seems to me that implicit in a lot of conservative criticism of the stimulus bill, the mortgage plan, and Obama’s cap-and-trade scheme, among other things, must be the odd notion that things would have been very different had McCain won the election. While we can be sure that McCain the crazed earmark-hunter would still be with us (no doubt keeping us safe from volcano monitoring and gang tatoo removal), let us recall that McCain supported cap-and-trade (even if he didn’t necessarily understand what he was talking about when he said so), proposed an insane mortgage bailout plan that pretty much everyone hated, backed TARP and differed from Obama on taxes largely in that he refused to raise any rates. In the end, the main difference turns out to be a disagreement about whether to return the top rate to its Clinton-era level or not. I guess that is a bit more than a dime’s worth of difference, but it isn’t much. Of course, this is why so many Republicans were relieved that McCain lost, because had he won they would have ended up backing a whole host of policies that they are currently denouncing as disastrous. At the same time, we would have had an old, irritable President prone to fits of bellicosity in international affairs and moral grandstanding about any issue he doesn’t understand, and behind him would have been an unqualified VP. However bad things are, remember that they could have been far, far worse.

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