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November 03, 2008

Why I’m Voting for McCain

My vote doesn't count, of course; Vermont's three electoral votes will go to Obama. Even so, it isn't an easy decision: Obama has some real positives, McCain his share of negatives.

Deciding Factors for McCain

Foreign Policy/use of force. McCain was right about the surge at a time when all the polls would have told him to go the opposite way so he gets extra credit for not being political on this. I agree with Joe Biden that Obama is likely to be tested more than McCain – especially by Putin who I fear greatly. Obama's faith in negotiations as a way to end Iran's nuclear program is touching but not convincing.

Globalization. It's real and it's here. McCain is a free-trader even in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania which have seen jobs move offshore. Obama's talked about forcibly renegotiating NAFTA.

Education. I don't think either candidate knows how to reform our appalling public education system. But I think Obama's allegiance to and debt to the teachers' union will make it impossible for him to implement any meaningful reform.

Energy. McCain's been clear that nuclear energy, offshore drilling, and coal are part of America becoming energy independent. Obama's not clearly for any of the above which means continued dependence on imported oil for the foreseeable future.

Obama Positives

He's articulate! It would be great to have a President who can speak English as well as he does; we're going to need a lot of convincing to make some of the hard choices ahead of us. Elocution IS part of leadership.

Race. It's not just that Obama is partly black; it's that he's set an example of going beyond the grievance and entitlement issues which have helped polarize us. Maybe, if he is elected, we can stop using the Nazi racial definition that anyone with any black blood is "black" and only those with purely white blood are "white".

Manner. Obama has a nice calm manner, a good thing in a leader. He was excellent on the subject of Palin's daughter's pregnancy.

His campaign. From primary to general election, he's done an excellent job putting together his campaign and choosing the people to run it. That's a big job and he did it superbly. Some of these skills are directly applicable to the President's job.

Excitement. He's bought people into the process who were hostile or apathetic before.

McCain Negatives

Economics. Other than support for free trade, he's made even less sense on the current economic "crisis" than Obama. I'd give Obama a zero and McCain minus twenty on the market meltdown and proper remedies. I easily could have changed my vote had one of them stood out on this issue.

McCain's proposal for a federal tax holiday on gas tax. This was pretty dumb. Obama didn't pander on this one.

He's a Republican. So am I much of the time but I'm not proud of the incompetence of the administration I voted for twice. All else being equal, this would be time for a change.

Lack of executive experience. There's a reason why we don't usually elect senators as President.

Choice of Palin. I'm not as negative on this as many of my friends; she's inexperienced - except when you compare her to Obama. She did fight the Republican establishment in Alaska. Religious fundamentalism scares me (so maybe I'm an East Coast liberal after all). I'd hoped that McCain's primary win would greatly diminish the influence of the religious right on the Republican party so I'm not wild about the comfort this choice gave them. Most importantly, though, McCain seemed to lose control of the message in his campaign once he chose Palin and that's his responsibility.

His campaign. I don't think McCain has made nearly as strong a case for electing him as he could have or should have. The intra-campaign sniping about Palin is appalling. Obviously a campaign is a test and I don't give him a good grade on this.

Obama Negatives

See above on foreign affairs, globalization, education and energy.

Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers. Everyone has some bad associates somewhere but he's been given too much of a hall pass on these two; they're each despicable.

Campaign finance flip-flop. He really did agree to be part of the public financing system and changed his mind when he saw how much money he could raise. Another hall pass.

Lack of a legislative record in either Illinois or Washington.

The possibility of either party having both a super-majority in Congress and the Presidency is frightening



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