Exclusive: Why I Endorse John McCain

by KT MCFARLAND October 30, 2008

In case you haven’t noticed, Tuesday is Election Day. It’s the culmination of the longest campaign season in anyone’s memory, with all the elements of a long running soap opera. The stars kept changing, the plot had twists and turns, there were surprise revelations, bombshell associations, and conspiracy theories. Every ethnic group had a role, and race and gender were underlying themes throughout.  Tuesday is the season finale – when cast our votes and tune in to see which stars survive ‘til next season.

And, believe it or not, after almost two years of looking at the show, seeing the characters up close and personal, lots of us still haven’t decided who to vote for a few days from now.
 
So, in case it helps, here are some guidelines you can use to assess the candidates.
 
First, recognize your vote is as much against one candidate as it is for the other candidate. No way are you going to like everything about one candidate any more than you dislike everything about the other. That’s okay – in fact that how it’s supposed to be.
 
Second, recognize your vote should take into account a candidate’s character, as well as his policy proposals. A president is often consumed not by accomplishing the goals he set out to do, but by the crises – both domestic and foreign – that land on his lap once he takes office.  What will he do when faced with the choice of doing what is right for the country or doing what is right for his political career?
 
Third, a candidate’s past record does count – because it is often the only indicator we have of what he will do after the campaign is over. Politicians are notorious for promising everything to everybody when they’re on the campaign trail. But once they’re in office, campaign promises often fall by the wayside as impractical, unrealistic, or too ambitious. The best rule of thumb is to watch what they’ve done, not what they say they’ll do.
 
For these reasons, I’ll be casting my vote for John McCain on Tuesday. I don’t agree with all his positions, especially on abortion and a woman’s right to choose. But I do agree with him on the major issues of national security and economic policy. 
 
I think his character has been tested – not just as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, but as a senator who advocated an unpopular surge strategy in Iraq, even if it meant sacrificing his political career. In both of those cases he refused to do what was easy, or personally expedient. He insisted on doing what was right for the country. John McCain’s campaign theme of “Country First” isn’t an empty slogan – he’s lived it for 50 years.
 
Finally, the times ahead will be tough – with crises in both the domestic economy and national security. They will require a leader who can put his ego aside and reach across partisan lines to craft solutions that appeal to both parties. McCain has shown time again, on immigration, on campaign finance reform, on energy independence, on climate change, on judicial appointments, and on ethics reform that he is willing to buck the hyper-partisans of his own party to find common ground with the Democrats. Like the majority of Americans, John McCain hails from the sensible center of the American political spectrum, not the far right (or the far left).
 
While I voted for John McCain in the primary election because of his stance on national security issues, I will cast my vote for him next Tuesday for his stand on the economy. McCain has finally found his voice on economic issues – not by listening to the media mandarins in Washington, or the Beltway Bandits, or the Wall Street Millionaires. He has found it in the most unlikely of people – Joe the Plumber. Joe is an average guy who hailed from humble beginnings but through hard work, grit and determination has given his son a better life than the one he was born with. For Joe the Plumber, “fair” doesn’t mean taking his  hard-earned money away from him to  share with others who haven’t worked for it. For Joe the Plumber, Obama’s plan to “spread the wealth around” sounds suspiciously like a philosophy of wealth redistribution that Americans have roundly rejected time and time again.
 
Finally, I’m particularly suspicious of Obama’s tax and spending plans. He wants hundreds of billions of dollars in new government spending, and says he will pay for it by taxing the rich guys. This doesn’t make common sense. According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, under the Obama tax plan, 49% of Americans will not pay federal income taxes; and many of them will receive “rebate” checks, which is just a fancy way of saying welfare. Of the 51% who do pay taxes, Obama plans to give a good portion of them a tax cut.
 
So, if President Obama wants to spend more money with fewer revenues coming in because of the recession and tax cuts, the money has to come from somebody. We’re already borrowed to the hilt. It sounds suspiciously like that “somebody” will end up being you and me – because even if he taxes the “rich guys” to the hilt, there aren’t enough of them to cover all the spending.
 
Finally, I am voting for John McCain because I know who he is – warts and all. There are no surprises there. I’m not so sure about Barack Obama.  He delivers brilliant speeches which sing to my heart.  But his record is slim and the few examples that exist don’t match his rhetoric. He has never reached across the political aisle to forge compromise. In fact, he has the most liberal voting record in the Senate. And there are nagging questions about his past associations. I wouldn’t mind if he had made one or two unfortunate choices of friends. But there is a growing list of anti-American, radical Leftists who have been mentors or close associates of Barack Obama’s until just a few years ago when he entered the national stage.
 
But whomever you decide to vote for on Tuesday, be sure to vote. This election is too important and the consequences of America’s choice will be felt for years to come.
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor KT McFarland is a former top Pentagon official in the Reagan Administration and a frequent commentator on national security issues and foreign affairs. Feedback: editorialdirector@familysecuritymatters.org.
 

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