I’d be the first to say that John McCain is probably the best Republican presidential candidate in 40 years, but I am quick to add that Barack Obama is the best Democratic presidential candidate in over 60 years—and, more important, Obama is the better man of the two candidates.
I would like to list my reasons why a McCain presidency is not a good idea for America. Although the Democratic talking points (e.g., “McCain is Bush lite”) may be implicit in my remarks, I would like as much as possible to explore my opinions on this topic without parroting party leadership.
(1) Of Obama and McCain, McCain is less likely to preserve American democracy. He has come to represent a stance on governance centered on national security, and history shows that such a stance tends to advance a police-state mentality. Public safety and security are important, certainly, just not all-important. American liberties and rights must not be threatened or slighted.
(2) Torture is an immoral and unacceptable practice. McCain, better than most people in politics, should know this, but his party has flirted too long with redefining “torture” to exclude practices like water-boarding, widely recognized as torture since the Spanish Inquisition. Not only is torture, including psychological torture, unethical, it has proved more likely to produce false confessions than useful information.
(3) McCain has shown no capability in winning the hearts and minds of the world. His appeal, such as it is, is limited to America, and, even here, with little enthusiasm. Unlike Obama, McCain shows little capability of winning international respect and confidence or building consensus among nations.
(4) Obama’s position on Iraq has proved to be the one that even the current Republican administration has come to regard as best—recently having agreed with the Iraqi government to pull out US troops within the next three years. McCain’s one “good” idea, the 2007 surge, perhaps produced some favorable results, but the general consensus appears to be now that they have not been favorable enough.
(5) While McCain has more experience in Washington than Obama has, the nature of McCain’s experience is tainted by the corruption of the special-interest lobbyists with whom he associates and by a tendency to alternate between playing “maverick” and cozying up to power-mongers.
(6) Much has been made of Obama’s effectiveness as an inspirational speaker. Perhaps not enough has been made of McCain’s ineffectiveness in inspiring even his most ardent followers; his recent VP selection has largely eclipsed him.
(7) McCain has conducted his campaign in a manner that would have effectively sabotaged the Obama candidacy—from plunging it into near-bankruptcy just a year ago to stumbling ineptly through pedestrian rhetorical challenges in his speeches. Unlike Obama, McCain has avoided opportunities to test and prove his positions with reporters inclined to ask tough, challenging questions. Obama has proved himself superior in every aspect of campaigning and leadership.
(8) Age has not made McCain wiser. He is short-tempered, easily discombobulated, and impatient in making important decisions. He habitually blusters in the worst tradition of old coots who feel entitled by seniority to honors for which they are unqualified. He relies too much on the abilities and strategic thinking of those around him, with little flexibility in thinking, and little natural good judgment.
(9) Both McCain and Obama are wealthy men. However, McCain seems oblivious to the needs of not only the poor but also the rapidly shrinking middle class. He supports the old “trickle-down” ideology of the Reagan years, which in 28 years has not proved to benefit anyone but the already wealthy.
(10) McCain is a man of weak character. In the last four years, McCain has toadied up to George W. Bush, the man who, for political advantage, slandered McCain’s young adopted daughter in 2000. Worse, McCain has shown absolutely no disposition to hold anyone accountable for the reckless disregard for the lives and well-being of American troops or for the unconscionable lies by which these lives—and America’s former wealth and good standing in the post-cold-war world—have been imperiled.