Thursday, November 16, 2006

And McCain throws his hat in the ring.

I should probably state upfront that, historically, I vote democrat. Given my husband's career, this has gotten a lot of laughs and a fair amount of heckling. To be fair, I've only been able to vote in a handful of elections so far, and with the exception of a ballot for Harry Browne in 2000, I have happily checked boxes next to the names of Clinton and Kerry.

I would argue that I am a fiscal republican and a social democrat. I understand that it is a paradoxical thing to be but that's just where I am these days. And as for morals, well, I just think they are a bit to slippery to even attempt to legislate. CPT Dick believes that I will become more conservative over time and though I can see a bit of that, I don't think it's in the way that he thinks. Because the only place in which I want to draw lines about how people conduct themselves is in terms of personal and fiscal responsibility. And slowly but surely, I'm beginning to believe the possiblity of legislating common sense is about as likely as Nancy Reagan coming out as a cokehead.

But let's go back to the election in 2000. Sure, when you mention it, everyone gets all fired up one way or another. It's the "stolen" election or the election that showed that Joe America cares about strong moral and family values (which don't include, apparently, oral sex from interns). But for me, that election is all about dirty pool. It is the election in which I might very well have voted Republican, if the GOP had the sense enough to put John McCain on the ticket. But they did not because a political mastermind named Karl Rove twisted both the history and the words of Senator McCain to make him seem weak, immoral and psychologically unsound. It was a disgusting display of negative campaigning and I was very sad to see that the majority of Republicans were stupid enough to fall for it.

But I am hopeful that the very attributes that were used against McCain in 2000 may be the ones that get him the recognition he deserves this time around. During a time of war, would it not be in America's best interest to have a leader who has actually fought for his country? When we are so carefully walking a line between intelligence gathering and torture, do we need the input of "echelons above reality" staff or someone who can speak to the experience of both a prisoner and a serviceman?

Will I vote for him in 2008? I do believe that Senator McCain is the kind of leader that this country needs. I think he is honest, forthright and an outstanding public servant. He is the kind of politician who doesn't make you feel dirty, who you really feel is working for the best interests of our country instead of the best interests of himself, his family and his business cronies. But he is also a staunch conservative who is against legalized abortion. That is a tough one for me. Though he has publicly stated that a constitutional ban on gay marriage is "un-Republican" and is working with Ted Kennedy of all people on guest worker legislation for immigrants, he is not a "soft" Republican and anyone who thinks otherwise is dead wrong.

A while back, a friend of mine went to hear McCain speak during his book tour. She, like many, wondered if perhaps McCain was more of a Republican in name only. She saw many democrats and independents in the audience that day probably wondering, like her, if the Senator from Arizona might be the kind of candidate they could get behind. But McCain opened his speech with the following line:

"Make no mistake about it. I am a conservative Republican."

So can I, in good conscience, vote for McCain? I can't rightly say. But his ability to be so forthright when he's just warming up the crowd for 2008 has got my attention.

So Senator McCain, I'm listening. Let's see what you have to say.

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