John McCain for president
John McCain has served our nation with extraordinary distinction for more than 40 years. But his best service should be yet to come. He understands where America has been, where it is today, and where it must go to fulfill its potential. His proven courage, experience, knowledge, judgment and capacity for working across party lines make him the best choice for the presidency on Tuesday.
Mr. McCain's habit of delivering blunt "straight talk" represents a refreshing departure from modern political spin. For a quarter century in the U.S. House (1983-87) and Senate (1987-now), the Arizona Republican has applied sound principles of fiscal responsibility and strong national defense on a case-by-case basis.
The self-proclaimed "maverick" has dared to be his own man by taking unpopular positions on tough topics that sent most politicians retreating toward pandering generalizations. He repeatedly, and accurately, points out that he will win no "Miss Congeniality" awards from fellow federal lawmakers — due in large part to his relentless opposition to wasteful "pork" spending.
He has drawn the ire of presidents from his own party and ideological purists on the right by deviating from Republican orthodoxy. Yet his voting record affirms his credentials as a common-sense conservative. And any fair assessment of his record will affirm his prescience over a wide array of difficult issues.
Campaign propaganda to the contrary, Sen. McCain has often opposed President Bush on both the domestic and foreign fronts. He has consistently urged the president to veto spending bills filled with "earmarks" that lacked sufficient legislative scrutiny. He has rightly opposed the folly of wasteful agricultural and ethanol subsidies. He correctly warned, two years ago, that insufficient regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac risked a colossal mortgage-industry meltdown.
He was an early critic of the failure to send enough troops to Iraq to consolidate our initial victory in the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein from power. Along with trusted Senate colleague and close friend Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sen. McCain was an early and ardent advocate for a "surge" of U.S. troop levels in Iraq, an overdue move President Bush finally ordered in the spring of 2007.
At that time, prominent Democrats in Congress — including Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, now his party's presidential nominee — predicted that such an increase in American forces would fail. A few months later, with the surge's outcome still in doubt, most pundits decreed that Sen. McCain's bid for the GOP presidential nomination already had failed. The Democrats were wrong about the surge. The pundits were wrong about the nomination.
Even Sen. McCain's detractors must acknowledge that he has shown remarkable backbone by bucking his party's base on many controversial issues, including:
Illegal immigration: He recognizes it as a problem that demands comprehensive reform, not just a border fence.
Judicial appointments: Along with Sen. Graham, he helped forge a compromise that broke a senatorial stalemate blocking President Bush's court nominees.
Man-made climate change: He recognizes it as a real threat that must be addressed.
Torture of terror suspects: He vigorously criticized the administration for condoning interrogation abuses that undermine our nation's moral standing.
Such bold stands have given Sen. McCain considerable credibility as a powerful force for cross-party cooperation.
We are impressed by Sen. Obama's positive ability to inspire a broad range of Americans, and by his historic role as our nation's first black major-party presidential nominee. But he falls far short of Sen. McCain on the decisive question of experience — an especially critical consideration in regard to foreign policy.
And though Sen. Obama promises to foster bipartisan accords, unlike Sen. McCain he has not taken on his party's base. Sen. Obama chides Sen. McCain for frequently supporting President Bush. However, Sen. Obama has voted with his party's leadership at an even higher rate. His 2007 voting record was deemed the most liberal in the Senate by the National Journal, which is not a right-wing publication.
Most of Sen. Obama's positions fall well to the left of the national mainstream, including his push to provide "tax cuts" for many Americans who pay no income tax now. Sen. McCain's prescription for the ailing economy includes tax relief, but it's based on practical, free-market fundamentals rather than counterproductive attempts to "spread the wealth."
Sen. McCain proposes reforming health care via private-sector incentives. Sen. Obama proposes public-sector mandates.
Sen. McCain favors free trade. Sen. Obama increasingly backs protectionism.
Sen. McCain strongly supports school choice. Sen. Obama, despite some lip service, does not.
Sen. McCain has long pushed for entitlement reform. Sen. Obama has not.
Sen. McCain would appoint constitutional constructionists to the federal bench. Sen. Obama would appoint liberal activists.
With strengthened Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate certain, a victory for Sen. Obama would assure a lopsided edge for liberal government.
A victory for Sen. McCain would assure needed balance between a conservative president and a liberal Congress. More importantly, it would assure a steady, capable and brave hand to guide us through the looming crises sure to come.
As for concerns about Sen. McCain's age (he turned 72 in August), he has kept a demanding campaign schedule and has routinely kept his lively 96-year-old mother nearby to remind voters that he comes from a family known for healthy longevity. Similar worries were expressed about Winston Churchill, nearly 77 when he began his final stint as British prime minister in 1951, and Ronald Reagan, 17 days shy of his 70th birthday when he became U.S. president in 1981. That's awfully good septuagenarian company.
And despite misinformed assertions that Sen. McCain would too quickly choose military options, the former Navy fighter pilot knows far better than most that the horror of war should always be a last resort.
His reputation for courage long preceded his first run for office. He gallantly endured more than five years as a prisoner of war, including torture, after being shot down over Hanoi. He refused to accept early release after his communist captors discovered his father was the U.S. Pacific commander.
John McCain has demonstrated a strong commitment to principle in the political arena, too. His exemplary qualifications for the White House are clear.