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October 30, 2008

My Choice and Why

Patricia A. Kelly

I was asked some time ago to contribute a column on a political candidate and why he or she should be chosen. The request was to make it positive, without the “why not to vote for” usually associated with political arguments.


I’ve agonized over this. I think our country is desperately in need of change. I’ve been truly engaged by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s comments, his youth and his charisma. I’ve listened and read, and I’ve finally decided, to vote for Arizona Sen. John McCain. Here’s a list of some reasons.


1. John McCain is a known. He is a man with a long and consistent track record. We need change, and, with John McCain, we’ll know the character of the man who will be implementing it.


2. John McCain is courageous. He was brave enough to accept torture rather than accept release from a North Vietnamese prison, when the terms of the release violated his principles and endangered his country’s mission.


3. John McCain is tenacious. He doesn’t give up.


4. John McCain is fair. He valued the lives and the treatment of his comrades as highly as he valued his own. He puts what is right above self interest.


5. John McCain understands, truly, the workings of the military, and the actual impact of war. He will be Commander-in-Chief during the Iraq War, which bears many similarities to the Vietnam conflict. He remembers our abandonment of allies in Vietnam and Cambodia, of their clinging to the floats of our helicopters as we pulled out. He is absolutely best equipped to end the Iraq war with honor and fairness.


6. He is renowned for his integrity. He doesn’t play favorites. He received a minor sanction for trying to help a friend during the Keating Five savings and loan scandal. He has never forgotten.


7. John McCain knows Washington, and where to go to get things done. He is renowned, though, for not going along; instead following his principles.


8. He supported regulatory overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as early as 2003, stating in 2005 that their business practices posed a great danger to the American taxpayer. Sub-prime mortgages, and their packaging and resale by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, caused our current economic catastrophe.


9. John McCain’s criterion for nominating a Supreme Court justice is to find a candidate who “knows the law, knows his own mind, and knows the difference between the two.” Interpreting the law objectively is the exact role of the Supreme Court under our system of government.


10. John McCain chose a running mate who, although she has a learning curve ahead of her, has all the personal characteristics required to become a successful president. She is strong, smart, emotionally stable and unshakeable in a crisis.


Her experience as governor of a state, recipient of frequent U.S. State Department briefings on Alaska’s next door neighbor – the Soviet Union; her knowledge and experience on energy; her experience as commander-in-chief of the only National Guard unit in the U.S. on continuous active duty; and her success in political reform are clearly relevant and powerful. She, after requiring oil companies to pay an already legislated tax, gave $1,200 to each Alaskan taxpayer to help with high fuel costs. Her accomplishments, though decried in the media and in political sound bites, are extraordinary. She, though self effacing, is far from an ordinary hockey mom.


She went from her childhood as a small-town Alaska girl to great success. She funded her own education, won a beauty pageant, was proficient in sports, created for herself and her family a net worth in the range of $1.2 million, and went from PTA president to mayor to 80% approval as governor of Alaska. That’s not ordinary, and, if John McCain’s campaign had let her out more, more of us would know that.


Sarah Palin is a powerful, competent person, and truly reflects John McCain’s commitment to change.


Last but not least, a comment of the likelihood of John McCain living through his term. According to the Society of Actuaries 2007 table, a man of 72 is projected to live another 13 years. John McCain had Stage IIA melanoma in 2000. He has survived eight years, giving him, at worst, a 90% likelihood of survival without a recurrence. He is a living testimonial to vigor and clear thinking, working 16 hours a day for months during the campaign, and tolerating it well physically. He has a parent who is still alive, bright and vital at the age of 96.


According to the same table, Barack Obama can expect to live 34 additional years. He, however, is a smoker, whose parents both died at an early age.


The average duration of a really successful republic is 200 years. Ours is overdue, by that standard, for collapse. Keep that in mind on Election Day.


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