Douglas MacKinnon

The biggest fear of many of these Pentagon and military officials is a fully reconstituted al-Qaida — or other terrorist organizations that have sworn to strike deep into the heart of the United States with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. What, they wonder, will happen, if, in conjunction with weakening the Patriot Act, a President Obama or a President Hillary Clinton, decides that the Bush doctrine against terrorism is morally or ethically objectionable? Should that happen, how long before al-Qaida is back to full-strength?

With John McCain, most of these Pentagon and military officials — and most of the American people — know exactly what they are getting. If McCain is elected, they know they would be getting a president for whom war is not a theoretical or academic exercise.

They know they are getting a man who spent almost a quarter-century in the Navy, was a naval aviator, flew more than 20 combat missions over North Vietnam before being shot down, broke both arms and a leg in the crash, was severely beaten and bayoneted upon capture, was offered immediate release when the North Vietnamese learned his father was the commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam, refused the immediate release unless all those held before him were released, was subsequently tortured up to three times a week after the refusal and was not finally released until March 1973. As for that white hair that frames McCain's head? That came with the torture, not the years.

Back in 1996, age may have been a detriment to the highly qualified and decent Dole. In 2008, his seasoned years will be McCain's ace in the hole. I'm putting my money on the "old" guy.


Douglas MacKinnon

Douglas MacKinnon is former White House and Pentagon official who spent three years working in a Joint Command.

Be the first to read Douglas MacKinnon's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.