Sunday, November 2, 2008

Frum Endorses McCain

Another Palin-bashing conservative, the estimable David Frum, makes strong arguments for McCain, tries some wan arguments against Palin, and gives Obama more credit than he deserves, but, in the end, he makes the right choice:

For John McCain

10) No elected official in American life has contributed more to the security of the nation than John McCain. Latterly, McCain was the most senior and most forceful advocate of the strategy that has saved the day in Iraq. For that reason alone, he deserves your vote.

9) Over a quarter-century in public life, John McCain has defended the interests of the taxpayer, not only speaking for lower taxes (that’s easy) but fighting for the essential precondition of lower taxes, less government spending.

8) McCain’s healthcare plan is the first and essential step toward a market-based approach. If competition is to work, individuals must buy their own care. Barack Obama praises the employer-based system. But Obama knows full well that the employer-based system is dying – he’s just propping up its carcass until the time is ripe to insert full government control in its place.

7) As a man, McCain is more pragmatic and more open to compromise in substance (and not just in verbal formulas) than Barack Obama. It’s a bad reflection on the McCain campaign that it has allowed the less ideological candidate to be depicted as the hot-head – and the more ideological Obama to position himself as the moderate. But the failures of the campaign are reasons to punish the campaign managers, not the country.

6) The combination of a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and federal control of the nation’s financial system is dangerous to prosperity and freedom. Even if I weren’t a conservative, I’d believe that this government bailout makes balanced government indispensable.

5) To borrow an argument from Mona Charen: The best thing about a president with a military background is that he has learned not to show too much deference to generals. Let’s not forget: The brass hats were against the surge!

4) This country hungers for moderate answers on social questions from abortion to stem cells to same-sex marriage. McCain’s split-the-difference instincts offer the hope of social peace. Obama’s 100% down-the-line social liberalism will provoke reactions that will aggravate and sustain these social controveries, when we need to find compromises that can allay them.

3) McCain’s victory would be the most surprising come-from-behind victory in American political history. It would prove that money and endorsements are not everything. That is healthy for American democracy.

2) McCain has never compromised on free trade. Never. Not to win a primary, not to win a vote. Never.

1) John McCain is white, the son and grandson of admirals, married to a wealthy heiress – and yet he has experienced degrees of suffering, despair, and defeat that not one in a million of us can imagine. Barack Obama wears a black skin and carries an exotic name. In the United States, people of darker color have faced oppression and discrimination for centuries. But in Barack Obama's own life, he has known nothing but an easy and welcoming path to success since he was 18 years old. Privileged John McCain has known more absolute degradation than any man ever to contest the presidency. Obama was born in adversity, but he has smoothly risen to a place where he is most comfortable with those for whom things are most easy.

I do not fear Barack Obama. I even rather like him. I certainly feel I have much more in common with him than I do with John McCain. To lead this country, though, I prefer the man who has seen more and suffered more and felt more. For all his faults, it is John McCain who is the more universal man.

I vote for John McCain.

One final comment. As readers of this space know, I have been very critical of the selection of Sarah Palin. Yet I do not regard her as a reason to cast aside the principles of my life on voting day. She may not bring much knowledge to this ticket. Yet she is obviously no fool. Indeed, using the favored metric of Joe Biden ("I think I have a higher IQ than you"), my guess is that she would probably outscore the Democratic vice presidential candidate on a standardized aptitude test. To his credit, Biden has conscientiously worked to familiarize himself with the great questions of national policy. To her discredit, Palin has not. But on Tuesday, I will trust that she can learn. She has governed a state - and she did risk her career by defying the corrupt leaders of the Alaska Republican party.

Beyond that, it says something important that so many millions of people respond to her as somebody who incarnates their beliefs and values. At a time when the great American middle often seems to be falling further and further behind, there may be a special need for a national leader who represents and symbolizes that middle. And if worse did come to worst, who doubts that the whole country - including Colin Powell and Larry Eagleburger - would rally to the aid and support of the first woman president, thrust into office by some unexpected tragedy?

This is a great and greatly enduring country. It flourishes because of the genius of its institutions and the decent and moderate instincts of its people. I look to the American future with confidence always - under a President McCain preferably, under a President Obama if it must be.

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