Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

McCain at the NAACP convention

This, to my mind, is a first-rate speech. It doesn’t pander, it sharply delineates differences, and it effectively advocates for generally conservative positions.

I especially liked what McCain had to say about education. Here’s a snippet:

After decades of hearing the same big promises from the public education establishment, and seeing the same poor results, it is surely time to shake off old ways and to demand new reforms. That isn’t just my opinion; it is the conviction of parents in poor neighborhoods across this nation who want better lives for their children. In Washington, D.C., the Opportunity Scholarship program serves more than 1,900 boys and girls from families with an average income of 23,000 dollars a year. And more than 7,000 more families have applied for that program. What they all have in common is the desire to get their kids into a better school.

Democrats in Congress, including my opponent, oppose the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. In remarks to the American Federation of Teachers last weekend, Senator Obama dismissed public support for private school vouchers for low-income Americans as, "tired rhetoric about vouchers and school choice." All of that went over well with the teachers union, but where does it leave families and their children who are stuck in failing schools?

Over the years, Americans have heard a lot of "tired rhetoric" about education. We’ve heard it in the endless excuses of people who seem more concerned about their own position than about our children. We’ve heard it from politicians who accept the status quo rather than stand up for real change in our public schools. Parents ask only for schools that are safe, teachers who are competent, and diplomas that open doors of opportunity. When a public system fails, repeatedly, to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children. Some parents may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private school. Many will choose a charter school. No entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity.

This stands in sharp contrast to Obama’s position, which (to be sure) isn’t all bad. He simply doesn’t acknowledge that the parental responsibility that he rightly highlights can genuinely be fulfilled only if there’s real school choice, the same kind of choice the Obamas themselves exercise.

Discussions - 3 Comments

McCain's message is good. Delivering it in front of the black community's Politburo is questionable. Why legitimize this organization when there are other, more constructive black audiences he could be addressing?

David - Perhaps his target isn't the NAACP 'leadership.' He may be targeting the 'contructive black audiences' you mention, using his appearance as a way to be heard by the larger black community. Can he get 10-15% of black voters to recognize the moral and economic damage done by liberal Democratic policies to so many black Americans? Obviously, most of those families using vouchers in DC are black.

McCain may also be targeting conservatives by speaking so clearly about the issue to a generally liberal group. When was the last time Obama - instead of appearing before fawning supporters or pandering to undecideds - pushed liberal arguments and policies in front of a generally conservative crowd?

2: Rosy, your point about Obama is undoubtedly true. He doesn't have the guts to speak honestly to conservatives, or to anyone else except privately at multi-million dollar estates full of rich liberal snobs. It seems to me that McCain is wasting his time trying to crack the black vote in such a close (at best) or uphill (as I see it) election. I suppose some conservatives will give him a little credit for sounding conservative themes anywhere, however.

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