Empire editorial: Republicans should support John McCain

Posted: Sunday, February 03, 2008

To read the Juneau Empire's stand on Democratic presidential candidates, published Friday, please go to the opinion section at www.juneauempire.com.

The top Republican presidential contenders look a lot alike when it comes to the big issues - they're all for maintaining a strong U.S. military presence in Iraq, supporting free-market health care and overturning Roe v. Wade.

But Arizona Sen. John McCain is one who stands out.

Not only are his positions on various issues less predictable and more nuanced than the others, he's also more willing to speak his mind, even when it's unpopular. That's refreshing amid all the mind-numbing campaign rhetoric.

And it makes McCain more trustworthy than one of his top opponents, the slick former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, who has revised much of what he stands for on his quest for the White House.

One has to wonder if Romney isn't all about what will get him into office. He campaigned for the Massachusetts governorship with a pledge of no new taxes, but managed to balance the state's budget by raising hundreds of millions of dollars in "government fees."

With some exceptions, McCain also has shown he's willing to stand up to the extreme right faction of his own party. That's a far cry from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has instead pandered to it. McCain isn't a moderate, but he is willing to stick up for what he believes in.

With his military career and two decades in Congress, McCain is also far more versed in foreign policy than Romney or Huckabee and much better equipped to navigate a war.

Unfortunately, like the rest of the leading GOP contenders, McCain is out of step with the many in this country who believe it's time the United States created a timetable to withdraw from Iraq. While calling for increasing troops in Iraq, he also has been critical of how the war in Iraq has been managed.

Despite his hawkish ways and infamous rendition of the Beach Boys song, McCain sees military force as a last resort in dealing with Iran. He supports ramping up economic sanctions against Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons technology.

As a former prisoner of war himself, he believes in the humane treatment of prisoners and supports a ban on torture - a much-needed change in attitude after the current administration.

McCain has been an unlikely champion for taking action against global warming. He has fought a somewhat lonely fight, with his hearings on global warming and efforts to pass an act that would cap greenhouse gas emissions. But he could help the United States catch up with other industrialized nations in establishing a global warming policy.

In an effort to make government accountable, he made an admirable stab at campaign finance reform, taking on big money interests and congressional incumbents. And he has fought pork barrel spending and congressional privileges, such as free parking at airports.

McCain already has given decades of service to his country. He has shown a willingness to fight powerful interests for what he believes in and has shown he has the fortitude and experience to lead this country. He deserves the backing of Alaska Republicans when they vote in this Tuesday's caucuses.

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