John McCain for president

Two weeks from today will mark the 41st anniversary of the day that John McCain began 5 1/2 long years as a prisoner of war, years lived in inhumane conditions and filled with days and days of torture, in a North Vietnamese prison cell.

It was Oct. 26, 1967, when McCain, flying his 23rd mission over North Vietnam, was shot down over downtown Hanoi. Soon after his imprisonment, when his captors learned his father was an admiral in the
U.S. Navy, he was offered release. He declined. Instead, he chose to live by the military code of conduct, which decreed that prisoners be released in the order in which they were captured.

Much has been made of that story in the past few weeks. McCain detractors have said we’ve heard more about the Republican presidential nominee’s war-time service than it warrants.

We disagree. We think that story is one of many things that make McCain the better choice to be president of the United States.

The POW story explains much about John McCain. It tells us he is, first, a man of conviction. It tells us he can deal with great adversity with enormous grace. It tells us he, and he alone among the two presidential contenders, can truly empathize with our young men and women who are in harm’s way today, fighting two wars.

But the fact that he is a genuine war hero does not alone make him our pick for president.

Last year, at the height of the immigration debate, John McCain marched away from the majority of his party to support a comprehensive immigration reform bill. “Comprehensive” at the time was a euphemism for amnesty for illegal immigrants.

It wasn’t a position this newspaper favored, or a position favored by most of the Republican Party. But it was John McCain at his best. When McCain talks about his ability to “reach across the aisle” it is more than election year bombast.  It is the truth. In fact, according to an analysis by the Washington Times,

McCain has often partnered with Democrats. He was with the Democrats 55 percent of the time during the past four years. That is in stark contrast to Barack Obama’s record of being with the GOP only 13 percent of the time.

In the age of super-heated hyper-partisanship, the ability to bring the two parties together may be more important than any single policy initiative.

We can’t recall an election that wasn’t billed as “critical” or the “most important election ever.” Many of those claims were hyperbolic. This presidential election really is the most important in generations. In addition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the country is facing the biggest financial crisis it has seen since the Great Depression. Any solution, and solutions are likely to be elusive, will require bipartisanship that hasn’t been seen in Washington for years. That kind of leadership can only be provided by McCain.

McCain also has a much more realistic view of the energy crisis. He is not a new convert to developing America’s own energy resources. He also recognizes the importance of nuclear power and supports rapid development of alternative energy sources. His energy policy is one that will ultimately wean the country from foreign oil.

It’s not just energy. On every major issue — government reform, health care, spending, taxes — McCain not only has the most sensible ideas, his track record gives him a much better chance of getting them enacted.

John McCain is the presidential candidate with the breadth and depth of experience, both personal and political, who can best lead the country out of its very troubling condition.

We urge you to vote for John McCain.


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