George Will has some advice for John McCain in his Washington Post column – “McCain’s Closing Argument”. He points out that the Palin selection was enough to get McCain back in the race, but will not be enough to carry him over the finish line:

“Palin is as bracing as an Arctic breeze and delightfully elicits the condescension of liberals whose enthusiasm for everyday middle-class Americans cannot survive an encounter with one. But the country’s romance with her will, as romances do, cool somewhat…”

Certainly, McCain is going to need an argument that will attract more moderates, centrists, independents, and libertarians to win. George Will has identified that argument:

“McCain should, therefore, enunciate a closing argument for his candidacy that goes to fundamentals of governance, concerning which the vice presidency is usually peripheral. His argument should assert the virtues of something that voters, judging by their behavior over time, prefer — divided government… Divided government compels compromises that curb each party’s excesses, especially both parties’ proclivities for excessive spending when unconstrained by an institution controlled by the other party. William Niskanen, chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute, notes that in the last 50 years, ”government spending has increased an average of only 1.73 percent annually during periods of divided government. This number more than triples, to 5.26 percent, for periods of unified government.”

An interesting argument. I am surprised we have not heard it before.

Reaction from the left and right blogosphere is… predictable.

From the left – BarbinMD at Daily Kos scoffs:

“George Will thinks that John McCain’s “closing argument” to elect him should be what a divided government would mean to the country. Seriously, that’s the only selling point for McCain that Will could come up with. You can almost feel the enthusiasm.”

From the right – Ed Morrissey considers Will’s divided government argument risky, fearing that it shows the white flag on congressional elections, but finally concurs:

“Will may be right in this case. It’s more likely that the Democrats will keep the House, and there’s almost no way they can lose the Senate, with 23 Republican seats up for grabs and only 13 seats for Democrats to defend. There is little doubt that one-party rule by Democrats will result in both the Fairness Doctrine and Card Check getting written into law. Both of them would severely undermine the American practice of freedom, one by silencing free speech on the airwaves, and the latter by eliminating the secret ballot in union organizing elections. Card Check is a blank check for a spigot of money that will float Democrats in elections for generations, the only reason for its existence. McCain needs to emphasize these two potential outcomes and cast himself as the last defense against these two destructive bills. It doesn’t have to be the only theme he uses, but it should be one of the arrows in the quiver.”

In related news, the most recent edition of The Carnival of Divided Government – a periodic compilation of blog posts and punditry on the subject of Divided Government – has been posted at Divided We Stand – United We Fall .

CORRECTION: The quote “from the right” is actually from Ed Morrissey not Michelle Malkin as originally posted. I must have been under caffeinated this morning. I knew it sounded too reasonable for MM. Fixed now.

Politics George Will: A veto we can believe in.