Friday, October 31, 2008

The Case for McCain

I’ve been pretty hard on Sen. Obama. And I don’t plan to stop any time soon. However, though there are plenty of reasons to vote against Mr. Obama, there are actual reasons to vote for Sen. McCain.

The Man
John McCain has seen the ugliness of war firsthand. He also has sons in the military. He knows war can be necessary, but he is neither a “chicken hawk” nor is he likely to rush into any war.

Sen. McCain has been a POW. There he demonstrated his character by refusing to be released early. He also showed his character when he admitted to Rick Warren he was glad he didn’t know how long the war was going to last. As he put it, his experiences there taught him humility (a virtue our leaders need in abundance) and to put his country before himself.

After the war, he commanded a naval squadron where he exhibited strong executive skills using sometimes unorthodox methods to make dramatic improvements in performance.

His years in Congress (in both houses) have shown us a willingness to do what he thinks is right rather than just support the party line. He’s willing to stand up for his beliefs, even when it gets him in trouble with his party, and he has a demonstrated ability to negotiate and work with people with different goals.

The Plan
His tax plans would encourage corporations to stay in the US and give employers incentives to expand their businesses – stimulating the economy, creating jobs, and increasing government tax revenues. His fiscal policies would cut wasteful government spending.

His health care plan would open up the tax benefits of buying health insurance to people who have to buy their own and provide downward pressure on the costs of insurance and health care.

His judicial philosophy would appoint judges to the courts who would not legislate from the bench and would be more likely to overturn Roe, making abortion* again an issue for democratic debate rather than judicial fiat.

His stance on war and the military make it unlikely he would start any unnecessary wars and also make it less likely that foreign dictators would want to test him.

His energy plans would encourage the creation of alternative energy sources but provide the US economy with an increased supply of petroleum as we wait for them to arrive.

John McCain is not perfect. Like us all, he’s made personal and moral errors. He’s offended scads of people and has made numerous votes he now regrets. That is going to be the case for anyone who’s been in Congress as long as he has.

The question is not whether or not he’s perfect but whether or not he can ably lead this country for four years in a time of economic instability and aggressive enemies. I think the record shows he can and his proposals show he will. Now we must give him the chance.

*The Problem
McCain and Stem Cells
John McCain is open in his support for embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). That saddens me. I think it is a grave error in morals and logic.

Why does that not keep me from voting for him? Two reasons:

First, as much as I dislike his position, it pales in comparison to the alternative. Either John McCain or Barack Obama will, barring divine intervention, be our next president. The latter has never met an abortion restriction he would support. Millions of lives have been saved over the last 20 years by various abortion restrictions and limitations that he would discard with the stroke of a pen.

Math is a cold comfort, but it does provide some.

Second, I think Sen. McCain’s swayable. A lot has happened since the embryonic stem cell research first appeared on the political scene. Not only have we made more discoveries with adult stem cells, we’ve been able to turn non-embryonic stem cells into the pluripotent cells that drive the ESCR fervor.

Given those scientific advances, I think Sen. McCain’s mind could be changed on the issue. He’s already demonstrated a willingness to change his positions when the facts on the ground change, and on this issue they have indeed changed. If I didn’t believe this, I’d have a much harder time supporting Sen. McCain.

So I live with the cold comfort of math and the warm comfort of hope.

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