11/01/08 — It's still McCain: Bad campaign aside, there is still one clear choice to lead

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It's still McCain: Bad campaign aside, there is still one clear choice to lead

Barack Obama is the Hollywood idea of what a president should be -- smiling, debonair, personable, affable, a baby-kissing, speech-making media darling.
He dodges, weaves, gives answers -- not the whole answer, but just enough -- and expects the issue to end there.
He can ignite a crowd, throws out the lines that grab the applause and shakes the hands.
But when it comes to substance, there is none.
There are promises -- lower taxes for middle class taxpayers, health care for everyone and free college for anyone who wants to go.
There are the lines those gathered want to hear -- a comeuppance for rich, profit-stealing companies, more money for families, mortgage bailouts and the troops on their way home.  
But when it comes time to talk about the bills, the realities -- the taxes that must be paid to get there, the other programs that must be cut to come up with the billions of dollars necessary to fund his proposals, the consequences of his decisions with regard to Middle East policy, what restrictive trade policies and increased corporate taxes will do to economic growth -- Obama is vague at best and silent at worst.
And the reason is, he doesn't know. He hasn't been there.
He is speaking in the generalities that come with being able to claim only limited experience in the Illinois State Senate and four years of service in the U.S. Senate. He is speaking like those who are able to pontificate on the utopia without having to address the steps required to achieve it.
He is speaking like an academician operating on theory rather than a leader operating on hard-fought and hard-won experience.
He is speaking like someone who will tell you what you want to hear -- as long as it gets him across the finish line. And someone who will decide how many promises he can keep and how he will keep them when he gets there.
And that is where the rubber meets the road and why he is not the right choice for the next president of the United States.
We know what John McCain will do when faced with a tough choice.
He was much younger than Obama when he stared down captors in the Hanoi Hilton and made the choice to stay with his fellow prisoners, rather than taking the out he was offered because of his status as the son of an admiral.
That's what you do when you have courage and
That's what you do when how you get somewhere matters more than the glory of getting there.
And it is what this country needs now -- someone who gets that achieving anything requires sacrifice and a gut check, someone who hears the concerns, acknowledges the problems, but is determined to make the hard choices -- and to tell others that they must make them, too.
But we also need something else. We need the man who for more than 30 years has been the advocate for the out-of-the-box, bipartisan and common sense thinking that has earned McCain respect on both sides of the aisle -- and earned him the endorsement of a Democratic rival -- Sen. Joe Lieberman.
We need a president with experience, knowledge, and a vision for what America can be, as well as what it already is.
We need that Navy pilot.
But McCain has been a disappointment this campaign.
He has acted like many of those he has criticized in the past -- saying what he needed to say and pandering to whom he needed to pander to get the Republican nomination.
He has tempered his characteristic fiery persona, becoming the equivocator -- the exact opposite of the maverick that people are seeking and many independents have long admired. He has listened to handlers and strategists rather than following his own instincts.
So an endorsement for McCain is for the man who defied his captors and his party bosses, who said what needed to be said and took the stand that got him the black mark in his own party and among the Washington elite.
You might not agree with the decisions he has made in this campaign or with his choice of a running mate -- and yes, while Sarah Palin has her challenges, she is what she has been billed -- a tough reformer who took on her own party and influential oil companies and stood up for her constituents and Alaska -- and won.
But then again, that is not what we are choosing.
We are choosing a president. We are choosing a leader.
We are choosing a man who understands the battle that comes with holding a position under enemy fire and putting your nation first -- no matter what the personal cost.
We are hiring a representative who will put together the team that will answer the threat from terrorists who took the lives of more than 3,000 people on a September morning in 2001 and who have continued to declare war on Americans, as well as those who have aligned themselves with those terrorists since.
We are picking the person who will look into the eyes of an enemy and not flinch. We are picking the man we will trust to lay down the law with our detractors and to stand firm with our allies.
We are looking for a man who will bring this country back to the days when being an American meant drive, hard work, a can-do spirit and strength. We are looking for a man who will watch our money like it is his own and who understands that more jobs and better lives for all Americans come from a strong, robust economy, not government handouts.
We are looking for someone to rekindle the spirit that brought us together as a nation on Sept. 12, 2001 -- and to honor the freedom that so many generations of Americans have died protecting.
Barack Obama is a historic candidate. He has brought thousands of people back into the political process, encouraging them to care about who leads them. He has reignited interest in the campaign and encouraged people of all walks of life to step up and be counted. He deserves credit for that contribution.
But in the end it is not about making history.
It is about picking a leader.
Obama is not ready to lead. He is too untested, too unproven and too risky for a nation facing so many
We are not choosing a celebrity or a rock star. We are choosing a president.
And for that job, there is only one choice -- John McCain.

Published in Editorials on November 1, 2008 11:36 PM