TYRRELL: Reasons to vote for McCain

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COMMENTARY:

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 Mr. McCain too.

Our country is at war with terrorists. It faces a grave financial crisis. On both issues, Mr. McCain is infinitely more experienced than his opponent, Sen. Barack Obama. Perhaps it is because Mr. 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 Mr. McCain’s commitment to duty is more substantial than the inflated claims of the average campaigning pol.

Mr. McCain might have made more of the fact he rebuilt his broken body after being tortured in prison, defied 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 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.

In the area of national security, he has demonstrated he knows things that Mr. Obama, a novice with but four years on the national stage, can only imagine. Mr. McCain knew the surge in Iraq would work, and he had the grit to support it when few would. Once again he was putting his country before his own political ambitions.

Nonetheless, Mr. McCain is no soft touch for the military. Over the years, he has demanded efficiency and economy at the Pentagon and throughout the federal budget. Now in a time of financial crisis he has opted for a proven strategy for economic recovery: low taxes, free trade and budgetary prudence.

Mr. Obama’s alternatives are the proven recipe for protracted recession. On health care, Mr. McCain’s policies promise expanded coverage with costs under control. Mr. Obama’s alternative promises the efficiencies of the Post Office, with citizens standing in long lines and costs spiraling ever upward.

Mr. McCain then is a true American hero, probably the most heroic to come this close to the presidency. He is a seasoned political leader. He is the model for good citizenship.

Alternatively, there is Mr. Obama’s record. People who have worked with him tell me he is a decent man. Yet, all he has ever done is run for office, though he has only held two: a seat in the Illinois Senate and the U.S. Senate seat he won in 2004. Though he is new to politics, his policies are not as new as he boasts. They are a rerun of the failed Great Society with some later-day left-wing extravagances thrown in.

That he has not been honest about this is disturbing, and he has established a pattern of deceit in this election that is still more disturbing. His claim that he offers a tax cut for “95 percent” of the citizenry is an obvious deceit. So far as I can ascertain it means sending government checks to some 40 percent of the citizenry who pay no taxes and raising taxes on the rest of us - yes, tax increases in the midst of recession!

More disturbing is that Mr. Obama has not been honest about the radical figures he has associated with. William Ayers is an unrepentant left-wing radical who actually bombed government facilities and caused the injury and death of fellow Americans. That is a cold fact.

Mr. Obama’s association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Pfleger put him in company with angry anti-American fringe figures, who, were they on the far right, would have ended Mr. Obama’s political career long ago. Again, he has not been honest about these associations, and John McCain - officer and gentleman that he is - has not held Mr. Obama to account.

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