Thursday, January 31, 2008

Guest commentary: The case for Sen. John McCain

from the Minnesota Daily (University of Minnesota student newspaper)

Sen. John McCain's campaign bus, formerly known as the Straight Talk Express, isn't called that any longer.

Earlier this year when McCain was buried in the polls, out of money and asked by reporters at nearly every stop when he would drop out, the side of the bus was emblazoned with the words "No Surrender."

At the time, it seemed little more than a stubborn addition to the 71-year-old's quixotic campaign for president, which tilted at the windmills of both his party and public opinion and appeared most at home as underdog lashed to a losing cause.

We do not agree with McCain on a number of issues, include his wish to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, opposing any government-mandated or government-organized health care and opposing abortion rights. But, on other equally important issues, he has distinguished himself as the best choice in the Republican field. These issues include his ongoing support for stem-cell research, his belief that the government has a role in addressing global warming, and, to the undying anger of his party, his support for campaign finance reform.

On immigration, he has supported comprehensive reform and argued for compassion when the nativists within his own party have called for a war of attrition against illegal immigrants. This principled stand came with a cost, and nearly knocked him out of the race until his resurgence. Meanwhile, some of his less scrupulous opponents, such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, have pandered to every group imaginable, even promising to double the size of the Guantánamo Bay prison. McCain, who knows something about prison camps and torture, has called for it to be shut down, and for "enhanced interrogation" to be ended forever.

While we believe the war in Iraq has been a colossal mistake, McCain's criticism of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's strategy was early and correct, and McCain acknowledges the hard truth that it isn't in the United States' or Iraq's best interest to withdraw precipitously, leaving the country to chaos and likely genocide.

We are confident that if elected, McCain would be a president for all Americans and, though we do not agree with all his policies, he would be a great deal better than our current president.

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