Win or lose on Tuesday, John McCain has earned my respect.
While I may gnash my teeth at the difficulty he has had articulating a conservative message on the economy in this campaign, I look with admiration at the commitment he has demonstrated to his country and the tenacity he has shown on the hustings.Â And the humor he has shown in the face of adversity, albeit a different adversity than that he experienced in Vietnam.
In the course of this campaign, I have read (or am reading) three of his books.Â Unlike his Democratic rival, he write at great length about others, not just those whom he has met in his life, but those he has admired from afar.Â Barack Obama writes largely of himself, a fine background for a poet, but not the quality we need in national leader.
Obama has shown himself to be an effective public speaker.Â John McCain would be a more effective decision-maker.
In a piece yesterday on the Republican’s honor, the editors of the Wall Street Journal get at what distinguishes John McCain:
If the 2008 election were solely about character and experience, Mr. McCain would be winning in a walk. Few Presidential nominees have been better known or more admired. A McCain Presidency would have its surprises, but they would not be from personal vice or political scandal. His courage has been tested far more than most — both in a personal sense in Vietnam, and in a political sense during the Iraq war.
Arguably the finest hour of Mr. McCain’s career was his support for the Iraq surge at the height of the war’s unpopularity. It was gratifying to see this virtue vindicated as he won the GOP nomination. But in an irony of history, his very far-sightedness on Iraq and the success of the surge have made national security seem less urgent as Election Day nears. His commanding edge over Mr. Obama as a Commander in Chief seems less compelling to many voters than do their current fears about the economy.
John McCain demonstrated true leadership by supporting the surge even when it was not popular.Â Indeed, that support had the potential to harm his political career. Would it he could have offering a more compelling and straightforward case on the economy.
As the Journal editors put it, “His admirable personal tenacity has been better than his variable political argument.” Only late in the game, and thanks in large part to Joe the Plumber, did he succeed in putting forward a compelling message on the economy.
What he has lacked on the campaign trail, he more than makes up for as a man. And I’d much rather have a good man in a White House than a good campaigner.Â John McCain has demonstrated his honor, the quality of his character. And that’s why I know I did the right thing when I voted for him in the California Republican primary last February and why I’ll be proud to vote for him this coming Tuesday.