Ever since I announced that I had voted for John McCain the California Republican primary, a good number of our readers have expressed shock (and dismay) that I would choose the less conservative of the two serious candidates then left in the race for the Republican nomination for president. Given my conservatism, they expected me to reject McCain and choose the supposedly more conservative Mitt Romney.
I believe this was the first time that I have differed significantly with my co-blogger on a key issue of the day with Bruce expressing significant skepticism (and outright opposition) to the apparent Republican nominee.
Even though I found the former Massachusetts Governor presidential in that New Hampshire debate, I just couldn’t bring myself to vote for him. I guess it was that he just didn’t seem very passionate, putting forward conservative policy proposals more as a professor explaining what conservative ideas were than as an advocate convinced of their merits. Later, after I cast my vote, a friend who had donated to Romney’s campaign, acknowledged that his man often seemed “plastic.”
Back in 2000, when I wavered between McCain and then-Texas Governor George W. Bush, I put a lot of thought into my decision, even ordering the Arizona Senator’s book, Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir from Amazon, reading it in the weeks before the California primary. That year (unlike this) I could identify the moment when I made my choice. It was when, as I noted here, McCain refused to address talk show Michael Reagan’s concern that he might appoint Supreme Court justices like David Souter.
The night before I voted this year I e-mailed a reader leaning toward Romney indicating that I was likely to “go with my gut” and vote for McCain. I think the main thing which swung me to a man whom I once compared to a bitter old man and whom I faulted for being “too eager” to please the media was that desipte his flaws and his many departures from conservative “orthodoxy,” on the most important issue of the day, the War on Terror, he has never wavered, remaining committed to victory in Iraq.
It wasn’t just that. When I read McCain’s book, I was impressed with his service in the United States Navy. Here was a man who didn’t need talk about his love for his country and his commitment to fellow servicemembers because he had, in his life, shown that love and commitment.
Even though I had read the book nearly eight years before first voting for John McCain, its theme still resonated with me, putting the nation ahead of one’s own personal comfort. For enduring imprisonment at the hands of the North Vietnamese when he could have won early release, John McCain is a true American hero.
This is not to say I don’t have my faults with the man. But, as I read yesterday of his exchange on Iraq with his likely rival in this fall’s presidential contest, I felt confident that I had made the right choice when earlier this month I picked him over Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination.
In that exchange alone, he did a better job than the incumbent of defending the war in Iraq. In short, that exchange reminded me of the essence of my support for John McCain–on the most important issue of the day, he not only is committed to victory against enemies who would destroy our civilization, but can also articulate his argument more effectively than many other advocates of our cause, including the architect of our current policy.
That is why I believe John Mcain is well-suited to stand up for Republican principles this year and to challenge — and defeat — the Democratic nominee this fall.