I have always liked John McCain, even before he was running for President. Maybe it was just the feeling that he is among the few old-school Barry Goldwater Republicans still around. Unfortunately I still wouldn’t vote for him if I could, mainly because I think it’s high time that this country stepped out from the shadows of the current neoconservative republicanism, which McCain can do little to swiftly quell. The problem is that even if McCain is fairly moderate, he may be forced to pander to a very conservative voter base and thus end up enforcing right-wing policies. As just one example, I have no doubt that he will appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court who will overturn Roe v Wade in a heartbeat, or at least hand over decisions over abortion to states, which will still be pretty much the same thing. Any such policy threatens to divide an already-bitter populace.
However, my respect cannot help but increase for the man when it comes to energy policy. McCain has often spoken of reducing energy dependence, and now he seems to seriously plan on doing something about it. I was extremely gratified when he spoke of constructing 45 new nuclear reactors till 2030 to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and reduce foreign oil dependence. He said,
“Across Europe there are 197 reactors in operation, and nations including France and Belgium derive more than half their electricity from nuclear power. And if all of these nations can find a way to carry out great goals in energy policy, then I assure you that the United States is more than equal to the challenge”
At last, a Republican who praises France for a change. It should be noted that no new nuclear reactor has been constructed in the country since the 1970s, and the greatest cost in commissioning new reactors still resides in their extremely long licensing times. Nuclear power, by the way, is not heavily subsidized, no matter what the environmentalists say.
Almost no Democrat I know, including Al Gore and unfortunately also Obama, has volubly spoken in favor of nuclear power or has demonstrated strong leanings towards alternative energy (except renewables, and we all know the problems with those). Now McCain has also announced a 300 million $ prize for a battery of the future that would be environment-friendly and highly efficient. He said
“In the quest for alternatives to oil, our government has thrown around enough money subsidizing special interests and excusing failure. From now on, we will encourage heroic efforts in engineering, and we will reward the greatest success,” McCain said in a speech at Fresno State University.”
It is heartening to know that McCain is thinking in the right direction. On the other hand, his policies and rhetoric about Iran are highly misguided. He should understand that if enough attention is paid to energy and nuclear power, Iranian oil would not be a necessity. Leave Iran alone. Focus on energy policy at home. It’s good to see that he is at least partly doing that. Meanwhile I am still waiting for Obama to endorse nuclear power.