by Jill Zuckman
What kind of president would Sen. John McCain be?
In a speech in Columbus, Ohio today, McCain said he knows he can't govern by fiat and hopes that by bringing together the two parties he can accomplish much by the end of his first term in 2013.
"I want to leave office knowing that America is safer, freer, and wealthier than when I was elected; that more Americans have more opportunities to pursue their dreams than at any other time in our history; that the world has become less threatening to our interests and more hospitable to our values; and that America has again, as she always has, chosen not to hide from history but to make history," McCain said.
An end to the constant partisan squabbling is what voters are looking for, said McCain, who is eager to preserve his reputation as an independent thinker who reaches across the aisle to accomplish big things. With Sen. Barack Obama likely to be the Democratic nominee, advisers to McCain want to make sure that voters know that it is McCain, not Obama, who has a record of forging bipartisan consensus in Congress.
"For too long, now, Washington has been consumed by a hyper-partisanship that treats every serious challenge facing us as an opportunity to trade insults; disparage each other's motives; and fight about the next election," he said. "For all the problems we face, if you ask Americans what frustrates them most about Washington, they will tell you they don't think we're capable of serving the public interest before our personal and partisan ambitions; that we fight for ourselves and not for them."
Specifically, McCain said he hopes that most American troops will have returned from Iraq by the end of his first term in office. The U.S. would maintain a military presence there, but no direct combat role.
He hopes that increased cooperation with Pakistan and other allies will lead to the death of Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenants and disrupted terrorist networks worldwide.
And he sees a newly formed League of Democracies stepping in to apply diplomatic and economic pressure to force Sudan to allow peacekeeping forces into the country to stop the genocide in Darfur.
On the domestic front, McCain sees robust economic health due to the reduction of the corporate tax rate, a low capital gains rate, and doubling the child tax deduction. And he is hoping his plans for reforming the health care system will lead to better access to care than in any other time in the nation's history.
McCain said he will work with anyone and listen to any idea intended to solve the nation's problems if he is elected president. Democrats will serve in his administration and he will hold weekly press conferences to respond to questions about what the government is doing.
"I will regularly brief the American people on the progress our policies have made and the setbacks we have encountered," he said. "When we make errors, I will confess them readily, and explain what we intend to do to correct them. I will ask Congress to grant me the privilege of coming before both houses to take questions, and address criticism, much the same as the Prime Minister of Great Britain appears regularly before the House of Commons."
Not surprisingly, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean does not believe McCain's prescriptions for the nation are the right ones.
"The reality behind Senator McCain's new rhetoric is that his plans either ignore the problems he identifies or actually makes them worse," Dean said. "Whether he is taking President Bush's fiscal policies to new extremes, continuing a stay-the-course strategy in Iraq that has distracted from the real war on terror, or pretending he would bring transparency to government after refusing to even release his own tax records, Sen. McCain found yet another way to show he's the wrong choice for America's future."
In fact, McCain has released his own tax records, but his wife, Cindy McCain has not released hers. The two have filed separate tax returns throughout their 28-year marriage and signed a prenuptial agreement to keep their finances independent.