- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 4, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

OP-ED:

Some may wonder why I am in St. Paul but was not in Denver. After all, this is a historic moment in our nation’s history with an African-American having been nominated for president by a major party for the first time in our history. As an African American from the South I applaud this moment. Sen. Barack Obama has broken through great barriers. He has displayed significant political skills, determination and guile. His success speaks volumes about the America that exists today.

But as a proponent of an opportunity agenda, I believe values and good ideas take precedence over the politics of demography and identity. Americans will not fall for slogans in the absence of substance, promises and platitudes based on wrong policy prescriptions. Change is just a slogan when the ideas are simply the same steady diet of class warfare and expanded government welfare. Their hope is in government and the change they seek is in your pocket.

I am in St. Paul because John McCain is the real agent of change. He is a maverick reformer who has never marched to the beat of anything but his own conscience. He is the unique, experienced leader we need in uncertain times.

I, like many others, am impressed by Mr. Obama’s oratory, and his ability to articulate a theme of hope and change. He has yet, however, to articulate a sufficiently detailed and substantial agenda. As my mother-in-law likes to say, “you can show me better than tell me.” Show me, Mr. Obama, based on your record in the Senate or the Illinois legislature, where you have actually demonstrated the ability to create positive change.

These are times that call for bold leadership. The price of gasoline, not too long ago, was more than $4 a gallon. Electricity rates are strangling family budgets. While Mr. Obama runs advertisements with wind turbines in the background declaring a commitment to energy independence, the devil is truly in the details. The fact is he opposes offshore exploration and building coal plants even though coal plants are cleaner today, and will be even cleaner in the future. The Illinois senator also has expressed a strong distaste for nuclear energy. Show me, Mr. Obama, how you will lower the price of gasoline and the electricity we need to power our laptops, our homes, our schools.

I know something about this issue, as the energy policy maker in the nation’s top energy center. I, too, support the aggressive pursuit of renewable energy and wise conservation efforts. But that is simply not enough. Turning down the air in our homes, and increasing the air in our tires, is not an energy plan, and Mr. Obama’s failure to support the greater exploration of American oil and American natural gas here in America will make us more dependent on foreign energy, not less.

Change is just a slogan when your ideas are as old as George McGovern, Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale. Windfall profits taxes, tax hikes on those making just $42,000 a year, and forcing us all into government-run health insurance is the wrong recipe for America.

Mr. McCain understands that the fundamental issue facing the next president is not whether we should have invaded Iraq in 2003. Mr. McCain will lead America as we win the war against terror going forward.

When I speak tonight to the delegates and alternates of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, I will do so as a proud supporter of Mr. McCain. He doesn’t just want to end the war in Iraq. He wants to win it. He doesn’t just want to change Washington; he has already shown a capacity to actually do so in the Senate. The selection of Gov. Sarah Palin, an independent reformer like himself, is the most recent example.

Mr. Obama offers us a siren song of change without a demonstrated ability to make it happen. Mr. McCain is an independent maverick with a real record of reform. America needs more than great speeches. We need proven leadership in a challenging world.

Michael Williams is chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission.

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