Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Republican: John McCain

The oft-told story about John McCain's military service resonates to this day because it says so much about his integrity, strength and patriotism.

After being shot down and taken prisoner during the Vietnam War - and suffering many beatings - he was set to be released after the North Vietnamese learned his father was a prominent U.S. admiral. His captors wanted to score propaganda points. McCain, though, insisted prisoners held longer be freed first. He was kept in prison - for five years in all - and beaten again and again.

Even Hollywood would have a tough time matching that heroic plot line.

Today, McCain continues to be a man of strong conviction and unquestionable character. His leadership skills and experience make him the best Republican candidate in the field, and we support his nomination.

With his appeal to independent voters, his chances come November appear to be the Republicans' best bet for victory.

We appreciate that McCain campaigns on the issues, not demagoguery, and that he has a keen sense of bipartisan solutions to the nation's problems. He steers clear of polarizing statements and demonizing opponents. For instance, we can't see the Arizona senator participating in any kind of shameful and specious Swift Boat attack that became a centerpiece of the 2004 Bush campaign. Not with McCain's honesty and integrity.

Citizens are showing an eager desire to head in a new direction - away from the poisonous politics that have dominated the Bush years.

We don't march in lockstep with McCain on all the issues. While he has occasionally criticized Bush on Iraq, he nonetheless backs the war and especially the surge. He believes we must succeed in Iraq to help build a stable and secure region. We oppose the war and want to see our troops come home soon.

Yet McCain's ongoing backing of the surge, despite widespread opposition, shows the courage of his convictions as the strategy continues to show success. It appears voters have noticed, with his once-moribund campaign now very much alive and kicking thanks to victory in the New Hampshire primary.

McCain's economic policies focus on a pro-growth tax policy: keeping tax rates down and rewarding savings and investments. He would make Bush's income and investment tax cuts permanent. His policy of fiscal discipline - ending the Bush practice of excessive borrowing and deficit spending - is also appealing.

In order to chop away at wasteful spending, he plans to seek line-item veto power to halt earmarks and pork. Considering past failed efforts at this, McCain faces a Herculean task - but one we fully support.

He is not afraid to go against the GOP grain, either. He has vowed to be a leader in combating global warming, strive for public disclosure of the official activities of lobbyists to reduce their influence, and create an independent ethics office in Congress to restore public faith. McCain has also labeled interrogations that mimic drowning as a form of torture, alienating the party faithful.

He's in favor of universal health care - not with a government-run bureaucracy, but by bringing costs under control and promoting competition on cost and quality of care. While he's fuzzy on the details of accomplishing that, the country does not need another tax-gobbling federal agency. McCain also wants to eliminate frivolous lawsuits and exorbitant damage awards, which would definitely reduce costs. He also plans to protect Medicare, Medicaid and retirees' private health benefits.

He favors comprehensive immigration reform and had been a sponsor of the 2007 bill that would have boosted border security and provided a way for millions of undocumented workers to earn legal status. Whether immigration will become a defining issue in the campaign remains to be seen.

With solid domestic policies and vital experience in foreign affairs, McCain is the right Republican candidate at the right time in history. Above all else, this nation needs a strong leader, one who can be trusted. John McCain is that kind of leader.

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