Whitmire On McCain

Richard Whitmire writes-up McCain’s education plans, or lack thereof, in Politico. The piece includes special bonus gushing over Lisa Keegan’s “Q” factor. I suspect Richard might catch hell when he gets home tonight…

Anyway, given the pressure on the Dems not to really say much on education that is especially interesting there does seem to be an opening for McCain (Robert Gordon on that here in Think Progress). In fact, the dynamic of the race when it comes to education basically seems to be that if McCain just trots out the golden oldies of Republican education policy it’ll be a really stale debate. If, by contrast, he puts forward a more centrist reform package that appeals to people on all sides of the issue, then the Dem nominee would be forced to engage more and we might get a lively debate around some leading edge ideas. I get why the real right-wing conservatives are hostile to public schools but I’ve never understood why Republican moderates, especially those Bull Moose or “national greatness” types don’t make a priority out of building public education into a powerfully effective national institution. It seems to fit with their agenda more generally and is a smart issue with voters.

In that vein, Whitmire references 2000 and how some insiders think that education helped Bush in that election. I’m one of those insiders, but my take is not that the issue helped Bush directly but rather that he used it as part of a broader image he was trying to create for voters to differentiate himself from Gingrich-DeLay style Republicans. He has not, of course, governed in the “compassionate conservative” style too much since then.

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