[I]t’s an interesting thought experiment to imagine what the first two years of a McCain-Palin partnership in the White House might have produced. There would probably have been no stimulus bill, and the country’s economic condition would be no better (and probably worse). General Motors and Chrysler would have been allowed to go bankrupt rather than helped to emerge into a state of healthiness, as they may well be doing. There would have been no significant new regulation of the financial industry. The Bush tax cuts for those Americans with the highest incomes—something McCain had opposed before reversing himself—would have been extended. There would have been only modest health-insurance reform, at best—McCain’s proposals were Republican boilerplate and meant for use in the campaign, never a serious program. Perhaps there would have been greater progress on immigration, though McCain had already abandoned that issue, and it’s easier to imagine his taking the more nativist stance he has since adopted. There would be no Supreme Court justices Kagan and Sotomayor, but there would likely be two more conservative justices, and the days of Roe v. Wade would be numbered. There would be no troop drawdown in Iraq. The United States might well have bombed or blockaded Iran in response to that country’s flawed election last year, or in response to its nuclear program. There would have been serial feuds between aides to the president and vice president, but the fact that Vice President Palin had an independent power base, far larger and more enthusiastic than McCain’s own, would have limited what President McCain could do about it. The “Ground Zero mosque” dispute would probably have arisen anyway, and McCain might have been hard put to do anything but side with the opponents. The Palin-family soap opera would now be daily fodder for the national press rather than mainly the tabloids.
In that the Republicans/Tea Partiers are trying to regain congressional power by blasting the current Administration, it's valid and important to consider where the country would be had McCain won the election in 2008. Based just on Chrysler and GM going under and the resulting massive additional unemployment, we'd be in even worse shape. A McCain win would have meant Bush redux; with the country sliding down the recession slope at an ever-increasing pace back in late 2008, a McCain administration likely would have continued the descent, at a terrible cost to even more Americans.
Another thought: I am not, and have never been, a particular supporter for the Obama Administration. However, I have been saying for years that what we need are statesmen: public servants who have the courage of their convictions, even in the face of powerful opposition. In that context, the Administration and the congressional Democrats who have cast supporting votes -- even at the potential cost of their jobs -- have been acting like statesmen. We should remember that.