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Well McCain is not a conservative, he's a "straight talk" maverik. All over the board and probably why (some) Tories and whatever they're supposed to believe in like him. But I'm really wondering if boy David just wants a grandfather.


Possibly Steevo refers to "conservative" in some american sense unknown to me, but McCain seems to tick the boxes for me (and many British Conservatives), at least more than most of the other candidates (some of whom, to eyes outside the US, seem distinctly wierd).

In economic terms he hardly seems socialistic, he would not reverse the Bush tax cuts and I think I read that he's in favour of increasing health care by reform not by the State taking it over etc. There is also an advantage in some of the things he is not: he is NOT isolationist, he is NOT pig ignorant about the rest of the world, he is NOT beholden to the evangelist religious right, he is NOT against international (and domestic) action on climate change (in fact he appears in favour). He appears to have a wider than merely sectarian appeal (yes conservatism needs a wide appeal).

I worry a bit about his stance on Iraq but he seems to have been proved more right than wrong on the "surge" and it is the future not the past that matters. Compared with Guiliani, I actually think that a military record (including a full appreciation of the horror of war - ex soldiers tend not to be trigger happy) is more relevant than happening to be the Mayor of NY on 9/11 (great though he was in that role at that time).

So, what's meant to be the problem with the guy? It's hardly a crime not to have been particularly clubbable (i.e. to think more for yourself than many) with your Senate colleages is it?

Jonathan Powell

Good on DC more making the case for free trade, this is the first sensible thing he's said for a very long time. There seems to be a growing "axis of evil" developing between old fashioned socialist protectionists (on both the left and right) and the environmentalist brigade. Since Cameron seems determined to pander to the latter group I feared he might start moving in a protectionist direction.


I wouldn't exactly call Cameron a conservative either, so that might explain the attraction to McCain. But it does raise the question: what is a conservative? I mean, does a conservative believe in a massive increase in the size and power of Federal government, protectionist steel tariffs, an executive which is above the law? If not, is George W. Bush a conservative? If so, what does that make Ronald Reagan, given that he believed in the opposite of all those things?

Also, you might consider the possibility that Tories favor McCain because they don't want to see a Democratic president, and at least McCain could win. Personally, I still think Giuliani would stand a good chance, but you have to face the fact that these are tough times for any GOP candidate, especially with the treat of recession. Surely McCain would be more conservative than Hillary Clinton?

Tony Makara

John McCain lacks the diplomatic skills needed to be president. His statements on foreign policy tell me that he is a man who would be quick on reaction slow on reflection. I much prefer Giuliani who has shown he is a man who can handle a crisis.

Tony Makara

Steevo, David Cameron shows great naivety if he believes Britain can engage in open-trade with the East and not be overrun. I believe in free-trade, but not when one nation will end up as the dumping ground for the others produce. This is about what sort of nation we want Britain to become. Hammer or anvil? Britain should be a great exporting nation, not passively existing to buy goods from the Chinese and in return supplying financial services.

Malcolm Dunn

I like politicians who indulge in 'straight talk'. Whilst I don't like some of the things that McCain talks regarding foreign policy he does strike me as an intelligent man who unlike Hillary has principles and who would in office seek to uphold them.
Guliani has those qualities too and seems very pro British which isa good thing. But from what I read and from the evidence of polling organisations he does seem a lost cause. We'll know soon.


Londener, McCain is not an American conservative and that's possibly why you don't know what I mean. He's an American just like me and I've lived here, not you, you're gonna have to accept that with its full implications. His domestic policies leave a lot to be desired for those of us who are conservative - general knowledge here of which you're very uninformed. Thompson, who is now out and Romney have received the largest portion of conservative votes. Then there's evangelical Huck and his crusade, the more his views are known the more momentum lost.

I strongly suggest 'in-the-know' Brits read this full article for a succinct nutshell of how many, view McCain:

Quote: According to a straw poll taken on Saturday, January 19 of 721 Republican Precinct Committeemen from Maricopa County, Arizona, McCain’s home county, at their annual county meeting, 59.2% found him unacceptable for the GOP presidential nomination and only 11% find him acceptable.”


Well Tony I don't blame you with your concerns about 'free' trade and the East. I have them too. Many Americans do and even if we're not in quite the predicament as the UK, we're on our way. I believe in free trade but my definition is free, only if fair. It has to be mutual. Its not so easy to change now either because we've all relied on cheaper goods, it would have to be a gradual transition of protectionist policy with politicians willing to take the heat from an angry citizenry having to pay more to receive less... I have my doubts. We've become dependent on goods, many to be affordable for lifestyles we expect. Its a sacrifice easier said than done. I've often thought how nice it would be if the zeal for fair free trade survival was the same as with the global warming crowd to saving the earth.

Tony Makara

Steevo, I feel targeted protectionism will have to happen, out of necessity, we cannot compete with the East on prices. Thankfully many in the States are now starting to realise that being a dumping ground for Chinese goods is not a good idea. I read how American children were poisoned by Chinese toys containing lead. Not good at all. America is quite capable of producing most of what it needs itself. Why import when you could be buying quality American products? If foreign goods are shut out of American markets then American goods would soon reach sensible pricing levels as they react to demand. There are certain people, internationalists, these open-traders don't see nations, they just see making a profit as being the only thing that matters.


Steevo, it seems you one of those backwoods men over their in the US who still hate John McCain for his campaign stance back in 2000 and on Iraq. For someone who has won six elections on the trought in Arizona I think you running up the wrong tree to say he has little support in his home state. Can you name six contest that Romney has even won let alone without defeat. Also the biggist problem that Mitt has faced is that he has changed postition so many times since 94 when he lost by a big margin to Ted that people are saying which Mitt are we talking about? As for you attack on Mick Huckabee is that more to do with his comments that at least in South Carolina he and McCain didn't engaged in personal attacks, the same may not have been the case in Iowa with you know who?


Peter it doesn't seem anything with you if you know what I mean, you're just one more who's presumptive from the UK not living here. You don't get the fact many of us Americans don't wanna think like you and you don't care to be informed even if a matter of understanding genuine difference in values and judgment - from those of us who actually do live here. Maybe you wish you lived here.

Did you read the link I posted? The facts are real, and sentiments shared by many in the conservative base of the Republican party. Its been that way for a long time and really nothing to do with your questions. If you can't accept that well, tough, I mean what else can be said. Excuse it away, create and believe any reality you want. Frankly tho yours is a rather lame attempt.

Can't a lot of you guys get over yourselves and try to understand people living in a foreign country can judge and come to different conclusions about their own back yard and those in it?


I hope Steevo is still reading this so he may be able to respond further.

This thread started with a report of Cameron, a British Conservative, making friendly comments about McCain and then Steevo coming in with the first comment that McCain is not a conservative. I point out a few things that show his compatibility with British conservatism and he then comes back and says he is not a conservative in the American sense and that is what counts. Sorry, it isn't mate. If we are discussing the appropriateness of Cameron being well disposed towards him, it is his compatibility with us that is at issue.

Steevo also says: "His domestic policies leave a lot to be desired for those of us who are conservative - general knowledge here of which you're very uninformed." I made no statements about American conservatism so I cannot be held uninformed about that (although I may well be). However, are you saying that my statements about what I had picked up about McCain's policies/attitudes in the second para of my original post above are uninformed, i.e. factually incorrect? If so in which way, because I would like to know what I have got wrong about him. I think it's better to stick to that than using words with different meanings on each side of the Atlantic - I remember Bush being described as a "progressive conservative" when he was running against McCain for the nomination in 2000 !!


I have now also read the link provided by Steevo. It is just about immigration and says he promoted an amnesty bill. I never said he hadn't - in fact I knew he had and so what? The post says that he has since said that he is also in favour of better border controls ("secure the borders first") (but is uncertain of their total effectiveness) - if all seems pretty sensible to me.

Maybe McCain's general attitudes indicate that he does not hate the rest of the world too much - I know it's a long time since the US was the land of opportunity for the rest of the world but you've still got a lot of wide open space there haven't you? Oh, and he sometimes uses "salty" language - sorry, I am unshocked.

I have not used personally disparaging language about Steevo and I hope he won't use it about me. This is meant to be a discussion about America in which others can join in, isn't it? Surely it must be a bit encouraging to you that there is at least one Presidential candidate that we quite like?!


Yeah well its about Cameron and McCain. As far as Cameron, he's your conservative. Not typical for the American conservative. McCain is not the typical American conservative because on domestic policy is not considered conservative by many if not most who regard themselves as such. That's important to me and that's what I want to point out. If you wanna keep a 100% adherence to a topic in a Britain and America forum solely for a Brit point of view, good luck. I'm just telling you the way it rubs me as I know McCain better than you. I think you need to get real here Londoner.

"Possibly Steevo refers to "conservative" in some american sense unknown to me, but McCain seems to tick the boxes for me (and many British Conservatives)" What can I say but that implies to me you don't know how I and many, many American conservatives judge him as not conservative. And as far as your challenge over your statements being "factually incorrect" well OK I'll play your game for a moment. Where did I call or compare him as a socialist? How can you say that's what I mean when I say he's not a conservative. He voted against Bush's tax cuts, now he knows with needed votes from a national conservative base its time to claim a change of perspective. You say he wouldn't reverse them, do you even know what's going on? You "think" he's in favor of increasing health care by reform. I don't have much of an issue with him on health care but be wary with the word "reform" if you live in the States. These are the only points on the social front you've attempted in proving he's conservative. Do you even understand? Now, I'm not gonna elaborate all the issues we, American conservatives, have with him but you've just now read the link and unlike those of us Americans what's not significant to you is his straight talk duplicity, manipulations and callous disposition. Not to mention the fact that allowing the law to be usurped by millions sets a hellova precedent yet OK for you, a Tory Brit.

Like I said, you're presumptive and ignorant. You're also plenty arrogant and I think rather thin-skinned.


Jonathan I'd like to write a few lines in response while I've got the opportunity. Asking what is a conservative from an American perspective is a good question. For me, its holding on to what has worked in the past from both a political policy and moral perspective that is relevant to the present and foreseeable future. The moral, I think, is where conservative Americans have the greatest difference with the more conservative Europeans. I'm speaking in general. I'm also not in complete agreement with my fellow American conservatives here, I'm not with my wife nor self-proclaimed conservative friends. There is a point tho when enough deviation from traditional relevant conservative values brings most to conclude 'that' is not conservative. Maybe not liberal but not conservative. Many will argue Bush is not really conservative on the domestic front, I wouldn't seriously argue with them. Your view of Bush is what I consider typical for a European and I think somewhat correct, distorted, and simplistic but I'd prefer to just leave it at that unless you want elaboration. Reagan is one whom I consider basically sound in conservative principals. He wasn't able to decrease spending but he had to deal with very antagonistic democratic control in both the House and Senate.

I do understand that many Tories want McCain because they don't want a democrat but I don't think McCain can win. I know what he will be like when the lib media form their attack mode effectively backing the democrat. It seems most of you in Britain don't understand this. I think Romney will hold up better and get more of the conservative base behind him. I like Rudy more than anyone in the race now but if he loses Florida I think he's had it. And yes I agree with you, McCain will be more conservative than Hillary and if he's the nominee I'll be behind him all the way because the alternative is not tolerable.


Londoner, I beg to differ with you. The problem is many in the world have an unhealthy fixation, whether it is "climate change" (what a bunch of crap) or blood for oil. I read posters talk about Romney (who I support) and dismiss him. He is a very respected businessman. McCain is an illegal alien supporter that wants to give them the farm, over my dead body!

Malcolm Dunn

Londoner, so now you know! 'You're presumptive and ignorant.You're also plenty arrogant and I think rather thin skinned'.
You've got a long way to go before you catch up with me old chap. Last time I was 'sleazy' and 'a liar' I think! Have a good weekend!



I wasn't sure about McCain before but if such a temporate, empathetic and entirely charming and civilised individual as Steevo is so against him, I think that means I must be all for him. With enemies like that, who needs friends?

I don't know America at all well although I do visit family there most years. They are in New York and California, both deeply unrepresentative I know but there are quite a lot of voters in both places. The sort of people I meet are not died-in-the-wool GOP supporters. I think they are a lot more likely to vote for McCain than Romney.

Leading with my chin now and risking being called a religious bigot (but, hell, let's give something solid for Steevo to shoot at shall we?), but having a Mormon as President (such a wierd minority religion to European eyes, a sect really) is something that many Europeans I suspect are uncomfortable with. I know it was nearly 50 years ago but it seems amazing to me that a country that was surprised at itself for electing a Roman Catholic in 1960, and still has issues with either a black or a woman, should countenance a Mormon. Why not try someone more mainstream first, such as a Hindu or a Muslim?! Does America really want to have a President espousing a religion with almost no adherants in any other country in the world - a sort of "World Series" baseball President? I don't know but, despite the risk of being called every kind of bigot, I hope not. He starts 30 love behind in terms of having anything in common with us guys on this side of the pond. And are the Christian evangelicals, or any other kind of Christian for that matter, going to be comfortable about it? As for being a successful businessman, whilst some business experience may be useful, I can think of few instances in British politics of successful businessmen becoming successful politicians and I'd be interested to know how many such instances of US Presidents there have been either. The qualities and skills required are very different. I share Steevo's admiration of Reagan, definitely my favourite US President of my lifetime, but his instinctive understanding and communication did not come from having been a businessman.

And yes Steevo, my career is in business not politics. Too thin skinned you see.

What does Romney say about climate change by the way?


Malcolm you don't know the meaning of and use of factual discussion. There's also a difference between ignorant and presumptive on the one hand and moronic and stupid on the other. Everything about your posting is 1 or 2 lines of childlike this is the way it is or you're just wrong. Its hard to imagine you have any friends or capable of even an occasional smile. You've got a load of frustrated anger, and against so much American at that and it appears simply because your incapable of a life.

"I don't know America at all well"... I don't know how much you wanna believe that Londoner but I wonder if deep down, you wanna be American or at least above Americans who don't see it the way you want.

When you say you don't know or ask a question... understand what that should mean. I get motivated when a foreigner becomes presumptive above what I'm confident about as a result of living here. I responded to you directly as you've posed the challenge and I believe I've refuted your claims. We really do judge and see this country of mine not yours, different. I think its because I live here and you don't LOL. You can't accept that and so we do have a real gap in understanding.

If the most significant difference here is you don't think Romney is electable then OK. Some of your points I don't agree but some I do at least to a degree or I can understand from the perspective of a foreigner. What I know of McCain in all the years he's wanted the big-time has brought many us, mixed feelings. Too many of his views and votes are against what a lot of us republicans believe. And come crunch time I don't think he has what's needed to stand strong in the spotlight he so covets. Its an honest well experienced conclusion after knowing the man so many years now. If he is the nominee I hope I'm proven wrong and a very different McCain emerges.

If you have such a strong admiration for Reagan then we should be able to have some enjoyable and meaningful discussion regardless of a difference in point of view. But what this has amounted to is my disapproval for a certain man to be president of my country, and you take offense.

"What does Romney say about climate change by the way?" From what I've watched him say he is opposed I think as a broad policy to government imposed mandatory caps on carbon-producing gases and instead wants the free market to generate and produce improving technologies. He also wants us to be less dependent on foreign oil and open up our own reserves, largely in Alaska. I agree with this. I'm not convinced in the global warming argument being man made but I do like a clean environment.



I haven't taken offense (or even offence LOL) that you disapprove of McCain. From the start I was just confirming that to British conservative eyes, and through the eyes of a well-wisher to America who is not American, that he seems a reasonably attractive candidate. I would much rather have had from you more actual reasons why you do not consider him a conservative in your terms, and then I and others could judge whether those reasons are also reasons we wouldn't like him. For instance, although Romney's views on climate change may be more "conservative", at least in US terms, but from what I hear I think I prefer McCain's. I've no idea of their views on gun control but if, for instance, one was more in favour and one not, I would be better disposed towards the controller one, but that's not going to be defined as the american more conservative position, I accept. So the fact that he is the less conservative candidate in some spheres may not be against him for many British conservatives (even leaving aside electability).

To the extent that you have put any doubts in my mind about McCain it makes me rather depressed. If I accepted your view of McCain that would make it the first US Presidential election yet (the first I can remember was 1964 when a child) when not one of the four likely winners (McCain, Romney, Clinton or Obama - tell me if I have missed someone else who has a chance) is someone one can be enthusiastic about even at this stage. I mean I was even quite keen on George Bush junior in 2000, even if I found myself in 2004 for the first time ever hoping the Democrat would win. If McCain is as bad as you say, then I truly think you Americans (and particularly you Republicans) may be in a worse way than you realise.

Anyway, there's been no vitriol from me. I am interested because I am a friend of you guys there. Oh, and though I admire much about the USA, let's be clear of one thing: I do not want to become a citizen of your great country. I am amazed that you ascribe to yourself such deep powers of psychological analysis from a few musings on here (that wasn't vitriol either by the way). I am much too dedicated to being a subject of my own Monarch, thank you, and although I could imagine myself living in New York, that's probably mostly because it's the most similar place I have ever found to London. Most of the relatives of mine who live on your continent (and I have quite a few) are Canadians so, whether they like it or not, they are subjects of my Monarch too!


Over the years I've discussed America, my country, with so many Brits, Germans, French, Russians, Japanese, Australians etc. who've felt they know more about this country, who should be running it and why, I begin to wonder if some folks secretly wanna be American. But VERY secretly :) Its just not the thing for most here to take the same liberties. I wasn't overly serious with you on this point tho and I appreciate your clarification. My apologies for calling you thin-skinned too.

I've gotta leave here but maybe later to pick up on a very good post of yours.


Well I can't go into every particular, there's a lot of unseemly behavior I've read but just can't recall it well enough. Its a heck of a time even explaining the obvious but it is kinda necessary because of our differing perspectives across the ocean.

McCain's Campaign Finance Reform (Incumbent Protection Act to many of us) is regarded by many constitutional experts as unconstitutional. In a nutshell it restricts free speech in the hope of making the playing field more even for candidates seeking office who may be at a disadvantage with those with more money like incumbents. Its proven not only ineffective but possibly creating more of a disadvantage for the little guy. This was foreseen and many have wondered if it was understood by a powerful incumbent like McCain. What it says to me and many others is he's willing to restrict a most fundamental right, political speech within the public arena because he feels he knows better. It was widely touted with sanctimonious righteousness and now considered I think by most a failure.

He claims waterboarding is torture. Many of our guys go through it just to understand what its like. It is not 'torture' like the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong employed on Americans including him. Its nothing compared to what Islamofascits do. It has already prevented terror plots from unfolding and saved many innocent lives. How does he answer to that? He can't when it has proven the only method under some circumstances to make very evil people talk. Since he's against it, what would he propose doing in a "ticking time bomb" scenario? But he knows better in his god forbid don't-question-his-patriotism stubbornness.

He's repeatedly opposed drilling in ANWR ( Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) that lies north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska. Despite its name its not entirely a refuge, its split up into distinct areas. There has been 1 section to its north set aside for oil and gas exploration, a small fraction and its not even classified as refuge or wilderness. There's really no threat to wildlife or plant life. Its basically just covered with ice most of the year and totally flat. More than 75% of the locals want the exploration and drilling for jobs. That might have reduced dependence on foreign oil and the middle east. But our lib media here in the lower 48 don't want it, he's an environmental guy, and the maverick.

As I said he's voted against Bush's tax cuts, both in 01 and 03, but he wants to raise our CAFE (emissions) standards for autos which is already good, which will raise their cost to the consumer. Why shouldn't we consider this a form of tax raise?

And of course he co-sponsored a bill with leftwing Ted Kennedy to provide for eventual amnesty for millions of illegals. Now if you can get just a taste of his attitude with that from the link I provided than you should have no problem knowing how he's been with these and other issues and why we as conservative republicans have serious issues with the man.

Senator Rick Santorum who worked alongside McCain for 12 years vocally criticized his push in the Senate time and again against social conservative measures coming to the floor, suppressing their legislation.

I also know the image of his demeanor up to this point in the nomination process has not revealed the man who has displayed a red-faced temper on many occasion as well as the use of profanity. I even remember in 2000 after taking heavy criticism along with the other presidential hopefuls he lashed back claiming nobody had the right because he'd been a prisoner of war.

Most who've followed politics for some time here know this. The media know this. The democrats know this. Lets give him a good-guy pass until... you know.

I understand you might agree with him on many of these but again, we live here and as conservatives we don't and we are the ones directly affected. Your beliefs actually may be more in line with our Democratic party, you're much too liberal for the Republican socially. And I am wondering... how much you know of his views on foreign policy? After all, it is outside of our country that our policies will have a chance of effecting you as opposed to internal and many social issues. McCain may be just as much a hawk as Bush and this is where we conservatives will be in agreement. It appears to me you may be contradicting yourself in your fondness for him when making it a point of disagreement here. Where American conservatives are in agreement with him, I suspect, may be truly the point of disagreement for you. You see this is why I initially stated about Tories "whatever they're supposed believe in". A lot of you don't want a serious resemblance to Bush's foreign policy but you want McCain. Because he looks and sounds like a nice guy? ;) If my suspicion is correct with you then you can look at the bright side, you don't have to be depressed, unless he is elected :) Maybe its best not to have any enthusiasm. Besides, we're just one country... how I wish people would understand that.

BTW I appreciate your candidness, your openness. I respect you for it Londoner and I hope we can have many frank and congenial moments although I'm a bit worn from this one.

Jonathan Powell


You define conservatism as

holding on to what has worked in the past from both a political policy and moral perspective that is relevant to the present and foreseeable future.

Now, that seems to me a very reasonable definition which is broad enough to apply both in America and the UK. However, it is also pretty vague. In particular, who decides whether something has "worked" in the past and/or whether it is relevant to the present? Presumably, if things haven't worked in the past, or the circumstances have changed so they are no longer working a true conservative would be prepared to try a new approach.

So, for example, McCain might argue that the rules governing political speech in America had led to corruption so that it was prudent to change them. Or Giuliani might say that allowing Americans to keep guns caused to many deaths and was therefore not working. George W. Bush might argue that the policy of containing Saddam Hussain wasn't working, thus a new policy was needed, whereas someone like, I don't know Brent Scowcroft might think the old policy was still working and should be continued. According to your definition, whose to say Bushes policy is more conservative than Scowcroft?

I think this illustrates a problem with the philosophy of conservatism itself, which partly explains why I wouldn't call myself a conservative (I'm more of a libertarian), but in this context the bottom line is the being conservative is an opaque concept and thus I'm not sure you can say objectively that someone like McCain is less conservative than say, George W. Bush.

I mean, take the example of tax cuts as another illustration. McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts and now opposes repealing them. Maybe he thought the tax code as of 2000 was working OK and thus saw no reason to change, but now sees the new tax code working and wants to keep that in place. How is that not conservative by your own definition?

As for Romney, I don't think he stands much chance for the following reason. More than any other candidate he is appealing to the same constituency as George W. Bush. Now, Bush won with very small margins, and its unlikely he would win in the current climate given the general trends against the Republicans (e.g. in the Congressional elections, declining party membership and registration versus the Democrats and opinion polls which show Democrats favored to Republicans). On top of that, I don't think Romney will galvanize the base in the way Bush did, because a) he has flip-flopped on issues like abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research (as well as admitting to being Independent during the Reagan years), b) he is a Mormon, which is bound to put off some evangelicals who voted for Bush, and c) he comes across as a smarmy jerk, and I think the Massachusetts background will hurt him in the South.

For the Republicans to stand a reasonable chance this year, you need someone who can reach out to Independents and moderate Democrats, and I really don't think Romney is the man to do that.

Jonathan Powell


I just read your post regarding McCain and torture, viz:

He claims waterboarding is torture. Many of our guys go through it just to understand what its like. It is not 'torture' like the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong employed on Americans including him. Its nothing compared to what Islamofascits do. It has already prevented terror plots from unfolding and saved many innocent lives. How does he answer to that? He can't when it has proven the only method under some circumstances to make very evil people talk. Since he's against it, what would he propose doing in a "ticking time bomb" scenario?

I just watnted to make a couple of points. First, the UN treaty to which the US is a signatory defines torture as follows:

any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession.

Thus under US law waterboarding is clearly torture. Your right to say it's not as bad as some other forms of torture, but it's torture nonetheless, and was employed by the Spanish Inquisition, the Khmer Rouge and I think also the Nazis. Now you say that US agents have undergone it but you neglect to point out they could only bear it for a few seconds, which illustrates how bad it is even when you know your gonna be OK.

Now, you may well think that the Islamofascists deserve to be tortured especially if it prevents terror attacks, and to some extent I would agree with you. But at least let's be honest and call it what it is.

The other point I wanted to make was that McCain has addressed the "ticking time bomb" question. Basically he said that in that situation the agents would break the law and if it turned out they were right (i.e. that the torture prevented a major attack) then they would be pardoned. But the broader point was that in such a situation the agents would be willing to face the consequences of their actions (even if it meant jail) because they knew it was the right thing to do, rather than just torturing systematically because it's their job.


"Now, that seems to me a very reasonable definition which is broad enough to apply both in America and the UK. However, it is also pretty vague. In particular, who decides whether something has "worked" in the past and/or whether it is relevant to the present? Presumably, if things haven't worked in the past, or the circumstances have changed so they are no longer working a true conservative would be prepared to try a new approach."

Well Jonathan, without getting into every particular of every issue and breaking it down examining all the what where and why some people hold a general agreement and some disagreement yet can agree to something very different, I'll just say that the basic premise of your questioning and examples, which I can understand, implies a presumption you hold about knowledge and how one knows he knows having a depth of relativism which more easily pulls the rug out from assuredness. This is a more prevailing generalized state of mind in Europe today than here. This is indeed a root difference in your thinking when compared to American conservatives. And if you wanna hold true, you have to acknowledge you don't have much of a basis to know that what I know is not true, good and right other than the claim I can't know. Try to accept that most American conservatives hold values that we know have born the test of time. Its not up to me to prove but you to disprove.

Just one example with lower taxes. Morally its because its our money and not bureaucrats at the state and federal level to do with it as they chose. We also know from the practical experience of history, more taxes tends to slow the economy and it should be no surprise. With less taxes people will take more pride and work harder to see the fruits of their labor as theirs. They will save, invest, build and spend... generally with more care. I don't think it can be said its success is unconditional but history has proven this out more than increasing taxes. One who is thinking in conservative terms is basing it on reality's experience.

This illustrates the problem of communication we have in this board. Those of us American conservatives live here. We know the individuals we discuss more personally. We can judge their motivations more assuredly because we know who they are, better. Its the same with policies, the past, and future relevance. I would not presume to know the disposition, motivation and implications of character regarding a Brit politician over a concerned British citizen. It would not only be arrogant but most likely, ignorant. Many British posters don't recognize this and there's a sense of superiority. I feel like my suggestion can only apply to a past generation appealing to their common sense but you have to humble themselves.

I will agree with you on one point tho not for most of the reasons you've set forth which are not that relevant other than media talking points. I also think we need someone capable to reach potential voters without a strong adherence to either party. I like Rudy but have my doubts he'll be a factor.

With regards to McCain's position on watherboarding and your views on it, the UN, historical usage and need or no need to use it on terrorists... I'll start by saying I personally don't care about the UN and its horrendous record regarding human rights. I don't know how long ago it was we even signed it but I assume its intent is for the rules of war and uniformed combatants. What we have now are very evil people hiding behind woman and children, dressing as women, walking into places of worship, supermarkets, schools etc. intending to blow themselves and every living person in the immediate vicinity into mass carnage. They need to be stopped, so, if you're going for a high ground with this its not mine.

Also, I didn't neglect to say our agents could only bear it a few seconds. Its a few seconds for everyone, that's why it works. Does 5 minutes make it more humane? The fact is torture by most does not promise to leave the individual OK. On the contrary big time. Anyway, define it anyway you want.

With McCain and the ticking bomb scenario its a ludicrous proposition as interrogators have stated. We're talking about intelligence, uncertainty can be more certain than certainty. Its foolish to put the threat of having to know 100% when we're dealing with those capable of such horrible destruction of innocent life. You know, if the fact that this has stopped such horror because some inhumane fanatics have undergone intolerable moments by Americans is so bad for you, I think you need to concern yourself with your own back yard and issues directly affecting your life. I think this applies to many Brits here. I just don't find myself so morally indignant with British policy and I can't help to think there's a problem of need with some of you that its become an irrational obsession. I'm not intending to insult you but I wonder the entirety of such discussion. The presumptive attitude of right and knowing better is indeed foreign not only in location, but to me and I believe most Americans.

Jonathan Powell

I'll just say that the basic premise of your questioning and examples, which I can understand, implies a presumption you hold about knowledge and how one knows he knows having a depth of relativism which more easily pulls the rug out from assuredness. This is a more prevailing generalized state of mind in Europe today than here. This is indeed a root difference in your thinking when compared to American conservatives... Try to accept that most American conservatives hold values that we know have born the test of time. Its not up to me to prove but you to disprove.

You seem to be changing the premise. I wasn't talking about "values", I was responding to your claim that conservatism was

holding on to what has worked in the past from both a political policy and moral perspective that is relevant to the present and foreseeable future.

Whether or not something has "worked" is not arbitrary. For sure, it may depend on your values as to whether you think it has worked, but what you did not say was: "conservatives must all share the same set of values". If that is what you believe, maybe you should write down what these values are. But if it's just a case of "holding on to what works" then there will naturally be disagreements amongst conservatives.

For instance take the tax issue. Cutting taxes isn't a "value". You can say that taxation is against your values, but not if you aren't willing to say the same about government. If it's a question of "what works" then there needs to be some objective criteria as to what this means otherwise different conservatives will come to different conclusions. For example, the economy grew strongly after Reagan cut taxes, but it also grew strongly after Clinton raised them. If the definition of conservatism is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" (which is quite close to how you defined it), then McCain can be viewed as conservative because he saw the economy do well in the 90s and saw no reason to cut taxes, whereas Bush could be seen as more radical--wanting to change things in the hope of making things better.

On the question of waterboarding my point was merely that it is defined as torture under US law. The fact that the particular law I quoted (there may be others of similar nature) derives from the UN is irrelevant. It's quite likely that the law was written by the US at the time when it would not torture and other nations did. Anyway, I wasn't making a case for or against the practice, I'm just saying let's call a spade a spade. The US is torturing people, and the president claims the power to torture anyone, including US citizens such as yourself.

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