Kathryn Lopez

And what's the other choice on the Democratic side? Barack Obama, who opposed the war in Iraq. Unlike Clinton, who changed her mind when the war became unpopular, he's been consistently against an important front in this war on terror. Neither has shown a serious understanding of the threat we face. We're in a war we didn't choose to be in but rose to the occasion.

Today, we're not losing in Iraq because the president of the United States, as one senior administration official put it recently to me, "had the courage and determination to stick it out under tremendously difficult circumstances." We need that kind of leader in the White House.

I understand why McCain is hostile toward Romney. I believe it's about more than him wanting to be president. McCain and his family have served their nation valiantly, and when he looks at Romney he sees a man who didn't serve, whose sons didn't serve and who didn't take the bold stand he did last year on the surge. But serving heroically does not entitle you to be president, nor does not serving disqualify you. And when you consider the options that will be before us this fall, there are clear choices. But McCain muddies that clarity when he dishonestly pretends that Romney was on the Democratic side last year. Let me be clear: Romney was not the bold surge leader that McCain was. The Arizona senator deserves credit for his position, an unpopular one at the time. However, while Romney was cautious, he wasn't the opposition. The Democrats who are the road to the White House today were and are the opposition.

Reagan's 11th commandment -- Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican -- was primarily about judgment and perspective. Don't beat too hard on your teammates; ultimately, you're on the same side. McCain's attack on Romney blurs the distinctions on a fundamental issue of this war: Who is qualified to be commander in chief? Who is on the side of responsibility and victory? The answers can be found on the right side of the race, not the left.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.