WASHINGTON -- Though I cannot recall ever endorsing a presidential candidate I am going to do so in this column. In this, I am following the lead of the dean of conservative columnists, the excellent Charles Krauthammer. Last week he endorsed Sen. John McCain. Count me for McCain, too.
Our country is at war with terrorists. It faces a grave financial crisis. On both issues McCain is infinitely more experienced than his opponent, Sen. Barack Obama. Perhaps it is because McCain is a retired naval officer and a gentleman, but he remains disappointingly reticent about his personal achievements. Sure, he modestly declares that throughout his adult life he has never flinched from answering his country's call, but there is much more to his life's accomplishment than that. I wish he had allowed his campaign to air more of the videos showing him in that cruel North Vietnamese prison. And there is also footage of his leaping out of a burning fighter on the deck of an aircraft carrier, the back of his flight suit aflame. People who have seen these videos have understood that McCain's commitment to duty is more substantial than the inflated claims of the average campaigning pol.
McCain might have made more of the fact that he rebuilt his broken body after being tortured in prison, defied the pessimistic medical prognostications, and flew combat aircraft again. Then he took command of the Navy's largest air squadron, which he revived to flight readiness. That is an act of executive prowess no one else in this presidential race can claim. Next, he became naval liaison to the Senate and helped rebuild the American military by working with senators on both sides of the aisle. As a congressman and a senator, he has continued this sort of bipartisan reform. Some of the reforms I have opposed, but no other candidate in this race has his record of constructive legislation and leadership.