The LuLac Edition #524, July 24th, 2008
Very rarely do we have a guest writer on our site but when this missive came my way last night, I had to share it with you as part of something bigger than a mere post. This is a well thought out opinion on why a Hillary Clinton supporter and life long Democrat has chosen to support John McCain. We hear every day WILK's Steve Corbett talking about this phenomena but here it is in black and white folks. Not from me, not from Corbett but from a soul searching, thinking voter and reader of LuLac who made a tough decision.
Many times since the primary season ended, I have been asked to tell why I support John McCain. After all, I have admired Senator Hillary Clinton for a long time. When her husband was caught in one of his many trysts, and people were contemptuous of her for not divorcing him, I was in awe of a woman who was willing to stand by her marriage vows and to work through the “for worse” that she was experiencing at the time. Whether she was accused of being a First Lady who didn’t know her place because she dared to express opinions and to work at garnering support for legislation, or was the subject of rumors of the most heinous type (remember Vince Foster?) by political opponents, she held her head high and continued working on a variety of issues that were important to her – think the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP as an example. When she was being vilified as a carpetbagger who moved to New York to run for the U.S. Senate, I wondered how that was any different from what others have done – Robert Kennedy comes to mind. As U. S. Senator, she has earned the respect of her constituency, as proven by her re-election in a State notoriously split between the needs of the rural northern counties and those of the enormous metropolis to the south.
So, when she announced her run for the Presidency, I was happy to be able to support her. Unlike some who supported her because they thought she learned a lot about the Presidency through “pillow talk” with her husband, I knew she was a strong, highly intelligent, ambitious and competent woman who suffered the slings and arrows usually reserved for the elected official, long before she sought public office. Let’s face it- she had already been vetted. I doubt there is anything about her that remains to be uncovered. And I liked her politics. The fact that she was a woman was the frosting on the cake for me.
As things turned out, Senator Clinton was not destined to become the Democrat’s choice. Instead, the Party and much of the media chose to elevate a brash, maybe even arrogant young Senator who has done little of substance to prepare for the Presidency except to run for public office since 1996, first in the State House in Illinois. As anyone who has served in the State House will tell you, as soon as the election is over, your time is devoted to preparing for the next election which arrives in two short years. So you go to fundraisers, curry favor with the powers that be and try to do the job you were elected to do. And while you’re at it, you might also join a law firm, work for the University of Chicago Law School, and travel to Bali to complete work on a book. And you could sit on a variety of boards. Then you could mount a run for the U. S. House of Representatives, lose that election by a two to one margin, and four years later, make your move in a run for the U. S. Senate. Three years after that, you determine that you are sufficiently qualified to run for the U. S. Presidency. Why not? You look good and you deliver a hell of a sermon – I mean speech. Your audiences are so enthusiastic that you begin to believe your own hype. The fact that you speak in rousing generalities and sound like a cheerleader only endears you to the masses. Never mind that you aren’t saying anything of substance. Never mind that you act supremely confident that, not only will you be elected to the Presidency, but that it is your birthright and you will not be denied. After all, this is the age of Survivor and Dancing with the Stars, so it comes as no surprise that flash should triumph over substance. It’s a popularity contest, not an election and anyone who thinks otherwise is naïve. You are after all, Senator Barack Obama, Champion of the Poor and downtrodden, Incarnation of the American Dream, Knight in Shining Armor and Holier than All the other candidates combined.
Except that you frequently don’t seem to know what you’re talking about. And you have this thing for misleading impressions – like the one floating around out there that you voted against the Iraq war, when you weren’t even in the U. S. Senate at the time. If I hear one more time how brave you were to express your antiwar opinion in a speech, I may burst out laughing. No particular bravery is needed to speak out in a Free Nation, is it? Or the one about how you and Michele are “just plain folks”. Never mind her salary of more than a quarter million dollars as director of community and external affairs at a Chicago hospital and the couple’s $4.7 million income as reported on their 2007 tax return. Call me cynical, but I am suspicious of a person’s motives when they constantly remind us of their humble beginnings but neglect to tell us that things have improved vastly for them over the years. So don’t tell me about your opponent’s (Clinton) opulent home unless you also tell me about your own $1.7 million house. And let’s be consistent rather than saying what you think your audience wants to hear. If you say you will accept public financing for your campaign, then do so. If you think Union money is “special interest” funding for your opponents, then don’t accept it yourself.
I have great difficulty listening to Obama. He preaches with passion. I want a leader with reason. He travels abroad to prove he is “Presidential” by being photographed with world leaders. I want a leader whose mettle has been proven and who is Presidential because of a lifetime of service and integrity that has been evident throughout his career.
Enter John McCain. A Republican, to be sure, but then no one is perfect. I may not agree with all of his positions, but at least I know what they are. And more importantly, I respect his judgment. He has an extensive record in the Senate. He has shown himself willing to cross party lines when he feels it is necessary. I am particularly impressed by his claim that he has never included an earmark in any legislation he has sponsored. He is one of only five U. S. Senators who can make that claim. He has a temper, proving he is human. But he also has great compassion and a willingness to listen to the opposing point of view. More importantly, he has a lifetime of service to Country. I will mention his time as a POW not because I think it qualifies him to be President, but because it illuminates in him the traits that make him qualified. He showed strength, courage and integrity under almost unimaginable conditions. Upon his return home he decided to continue his service by entering politics, serving first in the U.S. House of Representatives and since 1986 in the U. S. Senate. He is respected and admired by members of both Parties. He tells it like it is in a calm, non flashy, sensible manner.
One more thing about McCain: There has been lots of talk since we blundered our way into Iraq that we need to “remember the lessons of Viet Nam”. This has been taken to mean that we must support our troops as a nation, which is a good lesson to be sure. But I believe the valuable lesson that we have not learned is the importance of winning a conflict with honor. We have wreaked havoc on Iraq, destroying its infrastructure and allowing terrorists an atmosphere in which they can flourish. We have a responsibility to make right what we have done. The Surge is just the beginning. Senator McCain knows that our work in Iraq is not yet finished and that it will not be until Iraqis can live without fear and until their government is willing and able to do the hard work they must do to survive as a free nation. We cannot afford scenes like those we saw upon our exit from Viet Nam when people who had worked for us were reduced to hanging onto the runners of the helicopters that were evacuating the last of the U.S. personnel from the roof of our Embassy. Like it or not, we cannot cut and run or even set a deadline for withdrawal.
So upon reflection, I find myself supporting a white male Republican. That’s about as far from my Democratic roots as I can imagine finding myself. But then I’ve always tried to support the candidate who seems to me the best fit for the office he or she is seeking. In November, that will be John McCain for President of the United States.