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|October 9-15, 2008
Back to Letters
Why I’m voting for McCain and against Obama
by Paul Danish
If you’ve been reading this column for any length of time, you may suspect by now that I’ll be voting for John McCain.
Good guess. I will be voting for McCain this year. Here are a couple reasons why.
First, McCain wants to win in Iraq. Obama wants to lose.
That might seem an overly harsh judgment on Obama, but I don’t think it is. It doesn’t take a genius to know what the enemy is going to do if the president announces American troops are going to leave Iraq by a date certain along with a time-table for their departure. He will go to ground, rearm, reorganize, expand his forces, wait until we are gone, and then resume the war in the time, place and manner of his choosing. And, in such circumstances, he would have a good chance of eventually winning.
A decision to throw in the towel in Iraq might make sense if it was a lost cause, but it’s not. Thanks to General Petraeus’ counter-insurgency strategy (of which the surge was the central, but not the only, element) the United States is winning in Iraq. In the present circumstances, a decision to withdraw by a date certain is a decision to deliberately throw away victory.
It’s inconceivable that Obama doesn’t know this. Yet his Iraq policy is defined by his call for both a date certain and a time-table for American withdrawal. In other words, he wants to lose.
Why does he want to lose in Iraq? No mystery there. It’s because a substantial part of his base within the Democratic Party wants to lose.
A year ago, a poll conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corp. for FOX News found that nearly one in five Democrats (19 percent) thought “the world would be better off if the United States loses the war in Iraq.” It doesn’t take a genius to surmise that they were disproportionately in Obama’s camp during the primaries; he pretty much owned the anti-war vote. So figure about a third of his base within the Democratic Party consists of people who are rooting for the enemy in Iraq.
This explains why Obama irrationally clings to the view that the surge was the wrong thing to do even though it worked.
(And it also explains why a few weeks ago I changed my party affiliation from Democrat to independent.)
But isn’t it also irrational to dwell on Iraq when a financial crisis has emerged as the central issue of the campaign? It is not. Islamic fascism isn’t going to go away just because the stock market tanks or unemployment spikes. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The Nazis took power in Germany in 1932, in the depths of the depression. At the time, Western leaders considered Hitler as little more than a “distraction” (to use one of Obama’s favorite words), from the work of economic recovery. Some distraction.
It’s just my opinion, but I think if we treat Islamic fascism as a “distraction” we do so at our mortal peril. And I think that is exactly what Obama and his core supporters intend to do.
All of which is sufficient reason to choose McCain over Obama, but there is a second reason as well.
The next president of the United States will have to make a lot of hard decisions that involve choosing among lousy options. Obama doesn’t do hard choices. McCain does.
If that also seems an overly harsh judgment, consider last summer’s Saddleback Civil Forum. Pastor Rick Warren asked both Obama and McCain at what point do they think the unborn get human rights. McCain’s answer was “at the moment of conception.” Obama’s answer was “from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.”
Well, answering that question is not above my pay grade, nor, I suspect, is it above yours.
I’m fiercely pro-choice, so my answer to the question is fundamentally different from McCain’s, but I can respect the intellectual honesty and candor of his. I have nothing but contempt for Obama’s answer. Asked where he stood on a moral issue that involved core American values — life and liberty — he chose not to choose. No profile in courage there.
When faced with hard choices, McCain’s instinctual response is to confront them and to make them, even if it has a political cost. Doing so seems to be a point of honor with him. In contrast, Obama’s instinctual reaction is to maintain his neutrality until he sees how things are shaking out.
Granted, this isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve known a lot of politicians who have governed successfully by reserving judgment until they see which way the wind is blowing. What they’re doing is representing their constituents, and representation is a big part of the job description of any elected official. Politicians can deliver a lot just by being good representatives.
But those who govern this way tend to come up short in a crisis, and there is one thing they deliver very little of — and that is change. Genuine political change comes from politicians who emphasize leadership as well as representation — particularly in times of crisis — and leadership comes from people who are comfortable making hard choices and living with the results. McCain is. Obama isn’t.
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