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McBama agenda: Common ground between candidates

  In this Feb. 11, 2008 file photo, Republican presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks at a news conference in Annapolis, Md.  McCain ...

CVN McCain Profile

In this Feb. 11, 2008 file photo, Republican presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks at a news conference in Annapolis, Md. McCain ...

Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama share common ground on a surprising selection of issues as they vie for the White House.
Both want the United States to join the campaign against global warming in earnest. Both want to cut taxes for the middle class.
No matter who wins, the moratorium on offshore drilling could well be relaxed, yet both presidential candidates also oppose letting oil companies into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, after years of Republican efforts to open it to drilling.
As much as the candidates would be loathe to admit it, circumstance and the evolution of war policy have even diminished their differences over the course in Iraq.
They both favor ending the ban on federal money for embryonic stem cell research and have only shades of difference over key questions about gay marriage.
To be sure, voters have a real choice to make in the Nov. 4 election and the national party conventions are devoted to playing up the many differences. Parties, after all, need to be distinct to exist.
For starters, Obama has an ambitious _ and expensive _ plan to get the country close to universal health coverage and require insurance for children; McCain doesn't. McCain has experience in foreign affairs that Obama lacks. Obama would raise income taxes on wealthy Americans that McCain hopes to leave alone, while the Republican opposes abortion rights that the Democrat favors.
Obama's Senate voting record is largely liberal; McCain's, largely conservative with notable exceptions. And they can be expected to tilt the Supreme Court to their competing ideologies at any opportunity, as well as their many other judicial selections.
Even so, their policy intersections show how the debate has shifted on a variety of long-standing and contemporary issues. More than the usual post-primary drift to the center is at work here.
McCain's well-known tendency to wander from Republican orthodoxy on certain issues inevitably brings him closer to Obama here and there.
The realities of a struggling economy play a part, too. Both once opposed expanded offshore drilling but soaring energy costs have made that position hard to sustain, to a point where McCain supports relaxing the moratorium and Obama is conditionally open to that.
They both come at the war on terrorism with a hard line and the conviction that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan must be reinforced.
McCain rhetorically promises to follow Osama bin Laden to "the gates of hell;" Obama specifically promises to follow him into Pakistan if necessary, breaching another sovereign nation if that's what it takes to run down high-value terrorist targets.
On Iraq, both men could be credited with prophecy and accused of shortsightedness, each in his own way.
The success of last year's troop escalation in containing the insurgency vindicated McCain's early and frequent call for reinforcements, and Obama has dropped his argument that it was failing.
That very success, if it holds, in turn enhances prospects that Obama as president could carry out his plan to withdraw from Iraq methodically over 16 months. McCain has repeatedly criticized Obama's timetable but now even the Bush administration is taking steps in that direction.

Updated : 2021-10-17 14:47 GMT+08:00