Supporting A Friend To Be President

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - January 09, 2008
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A couple of years ago the Honolulu Navy League brought in my friend Sen. John McCain to speak at its annual Patriots Banquet. My wife, Susan, and I were asked to host him during his very brief stay. On his arrival evening, we took him to dinner at Aaron’s atop the Ala Moana Hotel. After dinner, as the three of us were waiting curbside for the valet to bring our car, another car pulled up from which a young couple emerged. They had been par-tying and were still in the mood. As the woman stepped up onto the curb, her eyes met the senator’s and she stopped in her tracks and stared.

“I know you!” she said. “I know I’m supposed to know who you are ... but don’t tell me.”

She studied his fac for a few seconds as John stared back with a bemused expression.

“OK, OK, I can’t think of it - who are you?”

Without hesitation, John said with a twinkle in his eye, “Al Gore!”

“You’re not Al Gore,” she said, realizing he was playing with her. “He’s more handsome than you!”

John gave in. “OK, you may be right. I’m John McCain.”

“John McCain!” she blurted, rushing to him and throwing her arms around his neck. “You’re the only Republican I’d ever vote for!”

Since then, despite some organizational and financial glitches last summer, the Straight Talk Express - the McCain campaign bus on which the media is given generous access to the senator’s ideas, concerns and personal style (read humor) - is back on track, and several national polls show him coming on strong, and leading in some categories. This is good news.

We are living in perilous times. It has been many years since our choice for the next president of the United States has been so important. That’s why - despite reservations many of you may share - only one candidate in either party measures up to the challenges. That’s John McCain.

Here’s why.

First, we need to elect a commander in chief of our military who can hit the ground running. This is no time for on-the-job training. Of the viable candidates, McCain is the only one with career (22 years) military experience, relates to the troops and commands their respect - respect not just because he is the president, but because he has lived the example of duty, honor, commitment and courage. Think about it. How unique and appropriate for the commander in chief to be the quintessential role model for those values. McCain, along with Gen. Eric Shinseki, disagreed with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from the beginning on a strategy for winning in Iraq, citing the need for more troops, a point which the success of the “surge” strategy has validated. And two of his sons serve in the military, one in Iraq.

With 26 years in the U.S. Congress - 22 in the Senate - McCain brings knowledge and experience a president must have (unlike the incumbent) to work effectively in partnership even with an opposition Congress. On many issues, he has put partisanship aside, reached across the aisle and collaborated with Democrats for the sake of moving forward, but seldom compromising his conservative values. His voting record, which, though tending toward less conservative, remains solidly conservative. And concerning pork barrel and earmark spending, there is a no more outspoken critic.

If America has lost a measure of respect in the world, as many Bush Administration critics assert, John McCain is the only candidate who commands the personal respect and gravitas necessary to restore that loss. Diplomacy and military strength go hand-in-hand, and as a senator, his personal influence over foreign relations and policy has been invaluable. He has a deep understanding of the difficult issues facing America and our allies - Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan come to mind. His firm convictions as to the military and economic alliances best serving America are leavened by the empathy and patience gained over years of personal adversity.

Although I must admit I disagree with my friend on some issues, my personal experience with him under pressure leads me to trust his integrity and his instincts. He is simply, by any criteria, hands down the most-qualified candidate to be our next president.

And for you Dems and independents out there, he could be “the only Republican you’d ever vote for!”

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