- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 21, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Sen. John McCain has a history of uniting people across the aisle in Congress and of making them mad, too. His stubborn sense of right and wrong caused him to turn down the opportunity to leave a Vietnamese prison ahead of other prisoners during the Vietnam War. One of his many military awards is the Silver Star for valor which now appears in the middle of his campaign signs to remind voters of his service to our country. The star is by chance a common decoration trend outside and inside homes, particularly in the West and Southwest, possibly precipated by September 11. It acts as a subtle connector, connoting images of the flag, our country and unity.

In the name of unity, Sen. Joe Lieberman endorsed Mr. McCain last year with the declaration: “Let’s put the United States first again, and John McCain is the man as president who will help us do that.” Mr. McCain has projected the image that he will work with Democrats and Republicans as president to unite our country and get things done. His reputation as a “maverick” comes from this ability to go across the aisle. At the same time, he has insisted to conservatives that he will not let a Democrat-controlled Congress tell him what to do as president. Our Founding Fathers seemed to expect the president be someone who stands alone against the grain of Congress to keep spending and taxes in check.

However, Mr. McCain often appears to enjoy moving between the two parties as the consummate politician who wants to make friends with everyone, the be-along-to-get-along kind of guy who’s celebrity-style comraderie with fellow senators is legendary. That could prove problematic for the McCain who would-be-president, as it runs in stark contrast to the Straight-Talking maverick that has a keen ability to pull away from the pack and make a hard stand for what he believes (i.e. Iraq and the surge.) His policy positions have made him enemies with both Republicans and Democrats at times. This is the kind of president Americans want. Mr. McCain must decide which he wants to be. As president, Mr. McCain would be expected to take a hard stand against both Republicans and Democrats to control spending, trim government, and manage the war.

That Mr. McCain loves his country is no question. As he has said, he learned to love his country while at war. And his counry has learned to love him as a war hero. His reputation as an amateur comedian and charismatic personality have won him parts in movies and even a spot as host on Saturday Night Live. He is practically everyone’s favorite uncle in the Senate. However, as president, Mr. McCain would be expected to do more than just be an affable celebrity, but a stalwart leader, who can also unite.

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