Recently on a talk radio show, the guest, a Democrat, said there was little difference in policy between John McCain and the two Democrats running for President. Many of those calling in agreed. Considering McCain’s recent comments on global climate change and his position on some other issues I can understand why some might have that impression.
If voters are convinced there would not be much difference in policy between a McCain and an Obama presidency, it is likely the majority will go for the young, charismatic candidate who would make history as the first black President. If they vote for Obama thinking he would be the same on policy as John McCain, though, they will be making a big mistake.
On some of the most important issues the country faces there are huge differences. On one issue in particular, national defense, McCain has demonstrated that he is the only candidate of the three we can afford to have as President at this time.
Democrats see the Iraq War as an issue that will hurt McCain. The war in Iraq is unpopular, and since the progress and success that is now being seen there is receiving little media attention, it is likely to remain so, at least until November.
McCain was not only supportive of the decision to go into Iraq, but he was a strong proponent for “the surge.” In fact, much of McCain’s criticism of the war was based on his belief that a larger force was needed.
McCain has not been an unquestioning cheerleader though. In addition to being a steadfast supporter of the mission, in his criticism of troop levels, McCain has also been an outspoken critic of policy failures there. This gives him credibility with many Americans who were not necessarily against removing Saddam Hussein, but rather have problems with how it was done.
The position popular with Democrats now is that we never should have removed Saddam Hussein and that even if there have been positive results of it, the surge should never have occurred because the war is ultimately unwinnable and the surge only prolonged it.
There is far from “little difference” between those positions. There is a huge difference between the two.
Putting Iraq aside, John McCain is the only candidate for President with military experience. (Hillary’s Bosnia sniper fire claim only highlighted that fact.) Some Democrats have now come up with an attempt to level the playing field against McCain based on the nature of his service. One argument now being floated by some Democrat Senators is that McCain did not learn the lessons of Vietnam because he was “sealed away” as a prisoner of war.
The New York Times reports that “in private discussions with friends and colleagues, some of them have pointed out that McCain, who was shot down and captured in 1967, spent the worst and most costly years of the war sealed away, both from the rice paddies of Indochina and from the outside world. During those years, McCain did not share the disillusioning and morally jarring experiences of soldiers like Kerry, Webb and Hagel, who found themselves unable to recognize their enemy in the confusion of the jungle; he never underwent the conversion that caused Kerry, for one, to toss away some of his war decorations during a protest at the Capitol.”
Ed Morrisey wrote in response, “[Senator Max] Cleland says that he didn’t know which heart and mind would blow him up, but McCain didn’t have to wonder at all which would torture him. He got a good, close look at the evil that totalitarians produce for over five years ‘on the ground.’”
Morrisey went on to note that later McCain studied the war in great detail at the National War College, served for over twenty years on Senate committees overseeing the armed services and their strategies and tactics and that “for almost 40 years, McCain has kept himself not just informed but critically involved in matters of national security and defense.”
On the other side of the aisle, Barack Obama has served just over three years in the U.S. Senate and in addition to making irresponsible statements regarding foreign policy he has shown a thin skin when those statements are criticized – and sometimes even when they aren’t.
Even with the problems many conservatives have with McCain on issues such as campaign finance reform and immigration, they must realize that on the issue of national defense John McCain vastly differs from his Democratic rivals. There are other issues, such as abortion and spending, where McCain’s policy is in line with conservatives and is 180 degrees different than either Obama’s or Clinton’s policies. National defense, though, is the area where the President has the most direct control and at this place in history it is the one area that we cannot afford to gamble on a careless, inexperienced, and ill-informed candidate – no matter how pretty he can speak.
What matters is not how well the candidate speaks, but what he says and time after time Obama has shown he is simply not qualified for the job. Even if it is on this one issue alone, national defense, conservatives must support John McCain in November. McCain spoke this week about the things he imagines seeing in the year 2013, at the end of a successful first term. If Obama is commander-in-chief those four years, I don’t think I want to imagine the result in 2013.