Storm warnings are up for America’s future. When the commodity markets opened yesterday, gold prices hit a record high ($861.10 an ounce), beating the previous record set in January of 1980. This only makes sense, because when the US dollar is weak, gold rises; and the dollar is falling like a stone. Oil has reached $100.00 a barrel, and US interests everywhere are menaced by the power that high oil prices gives to the petro-dictators. The war in Iraq, thankfully, is going better, and the outlines of a favorable end can be seen – but the end is not near. Afghanistan, meanwhile, looks worse.
Waiting in the wings are the Chinese – and despite all the happy talk about China’s “peaceful rise” the Chinese government, to varying degrees, takes anti-American positions in virtually every ongoing world controversy today. Our so-called European “allies” are mostly undeclared enemies.
Here at home, incomes are stagnating, gang violence is worse in the big cities, the doctor costs more and there is increasing evidence that our political and cultural leaders think that being an American is nothing special; that nationality is meaningless; and that our economic leaders will sell us to India or China if the price is right.
It’s a cliché to say that the coming election is one of the most important of modern times, but sometimes clichés have to be true, that’s why they’re clichés. The American people sense there are problems, which is why there is such interest in new faces. But new faces are only new faces, and they tell us nothing about their wearer’s ability to offer solutions to problems.
Unfortunately, I look at the new faces and see little more than inexperienced tyros grubbing for office, complete with sound-bites written by focus groups to be analyzed by computers; all to sway the lowest-common denominator moron. Too many of the old faces aren’t any better, and some represent the ideas, habits and mindset that have run-down American power rather than building it up.
I’m going to support the most conservative, most viable candidate for President. I will undoubtedly support the choice of the Republican Party in November 2008, whoever he may be; but I hope that choice is John McCain.
I haven’t come to this choice easily. I’ve said a lot of hard things about John McCain, and I sure never thought I’d be here supporting him. Temperamentally, I tend not to like political mavericks anyway, and McCain sure fits this description. More importantly, I disagree with him on some things, in particular campaign finance – the so-called “reform” bill he put his name to several years back was one of the most pernicious pieces of legislation to come out of Congress in modern times. I also think that he’s weak on immigration.
But that’s for another day. We have plenty of other irons in the fire. The very fact that McCain has taken the positions he has on these other issues – positions absolutely guaranteed to cost him votes with Republicans – tells you the man’s got character (in the event you weren’t convinced by his Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross). McCain would have waltzed to the nomination had he not taken some stands – and McCain has paid a real price for his (arguably misplaced) political courage. But whatever you think about John McCain’s positions on specific issues: you can know that John McCain will stand up for the best interests of the country, as he sees them, come Hell or high water, whatever it takes.
More than anything though, I have to support McCain because he’s been rock solid on the war these past couple of years. Ever since the stupid party took over Congress in 2004, there he’s been, in the Senate, fighting the good fight, preventing the cut-and-run-Democrats from cutting off the money for the troops; supporting President Bush on the troop surge; urging the appointment of General Petraeus; and speaking up for the justice of our cause in Iraq.
On social issues, Senator McCain has always been unequivocally pro-life – and has voted that way consistently in Congress. When the Republicans had the majority in the Senate, he helped get more conservative judges through confirmation than I thought he would, and I trust him to pick as good or better judges than any of the other possibilities.
Senator McCain has consistently fought the worst pork-barrel spending, which has infuriated the Republican Party leadership from time-to-time. Yes, McCain did oppose President Bush’s tax cuts, but, in retrospect, given that we are in a war at present, and I don’t approve of deficit spending in general, I find it hard to hold this against him, too much.
The other candidates have assorted deficits that trouble me a bit. I like Rudy Giuliani’s charisma, and from what I can see, he did a good job as mayor of New York City. But he is, after all, from New York, which bothers me a little – that city not exactly being a Republican stronghold. I wonder about how conservative he really is, and in particular, what his judicial appointments might look like. More significantly, the mayor’s connections to Bernard Kerik really are a sticking point with me; and I think the Democrats would have a field-day with this; and with the Mayor’s well-publicized personal issues in the general election. The same issues would tend to alienate the evangelical votes the Republican Party depends on, although I do not think religious voters would have much to complain about on policy grounds.
As for Mitt Romney, Governor Romney does have real executive experience, but is nationally more or less unknown, and he hasn’t done too good a job of changing that. He does not match-up well in polls against Hillary Clinton (still the most likely Democratic nominee). I think Romney has possibly focused too much on the early primary states. Governor Romney’s Mormon religion does not trouble me a whit, but I cannot get around his being Governor of Massachusetts. How conservative can the man be if he managed to get elected Governor of that place? I cannot see how he could mobilize enough Republican voters in the South and Midwest.
I am deeply disappointed in Fred Thompson. Had Senator Thompson run a good campaign, I would have been prepared to support him. I evaluate him as much like McCain, but without that Senator’s deficits. But Thompson has run a lackadaisical campaign, and I wonder if he truly wants the position, or wants to be Vice-President? The man was once an actor, so he's supposed to be good at communication. So far, I'm not seeing that.
I’m not a Huckabee supporter. I do not like what I have heard of his foreign policy opinions – they sound dangerously naïve to me, and I distrust his lack of national experience. I also think there is just too much religion in his campaign. We are electing a President, not a national pastor. In general, I am just not comfortable with populists, and Huckabee appears to fit very much into that tradition.
It’s usually easier for Republicans to pick a presidential candidate. Republicans, more than the Democrats, tend to anoint their front-runner early, and stick with him through the primary process. That’s more or less what happened to McCain in 2000 against George W. Bush. This year has been harder, not least because it’s not looking like a Republican year. But our country faces real challenges. John McCain has the character and experience to do what needs doing. and he's shown that, like the greatest Presidents, he'll do what he decides he has to, whatever it costs him personally, wherever it takes him. After all, McCain's already survived getting shot down, the North Vietnamese, cancer, the US Congress, and withering criticism from fellow-conservatives.
As I’ve said before, I’ve had reservations about this choice. McCain’s not perfect – but nobody is, and none of the other possibilities remotely measure up to this man. We can count on John McCain to give it everything he has; as he has done, despite the odds, in this campaign so far; as he has in Congress; and as he did in Vietnam and the Hanoi Hilton. So, McCain for President.