Thursday, December 20, 2007

Boston Herald Endorses McCain

Choice is clear: McCain's the one
By Boston Herald editorial staff

There are times in this nation’s history so perilous that they cry out for a steady, experienced leader, a person so trusted that we would put the fate of this country in his hands.

This is one of those times, and Sen. John McCain is that person.

He has a brand of courage that is rare in the public arena these days - a courage forged in part by those years spent as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and in part by more than two decades of fighting for what he believes in on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

In an age when too many candidates are driven by polls and focus groups, fashioning and re-fashioning their “core” beliefs, McCain is a man of unwavering conviction and integrity. His values, his beliefs, his goals are what they were when he first entered public life, what they were in 2000 and what they will be a decade from now.

And those goals include a safe and secure America, a country that is respected around the world for honoring its commitments, for encouraging and respecting the rule of law whether in Baghdad or Guantanamo Bay.

During a meeting with Herald editors and reporters Wednesday McCain was accompanied by James Woolsey, a man who has served in two Republican and two Democratic administrations, including a stint as CIA director under President Clinton. If Woolsey’s presence was designed to send a message - well, message received, at a number of levels. Yes, McCain is well regarded by those who share his commitment to national security. And, yes again, there are those who operate above the partisan fray.

The two men were passionately critical of the latest National Intelligence Estimates that downplayed the danger of a nuclear Iran.

“It’s not up to the intelligence community to make policy,” McCain said, adding that their conclusions about Iran’s future nuclear capability is “not substaniated by the facts on the ground.”

The war in Iraq has, of course, loomed large both in the national consciousness and as a campaign issue. McCain knew that the administration’s early military strategy was not enough to get the job done. And he was among the first to sign on to this year’s troop surge as devised by Gen. David Petraeus.

“John Edwards used to call it ‘the McCain surge.’ He doesn’t anymore,” McCain said. “Al-Qaeda isn’t defeated in Iraq, but it’s on the run.”

But John McCain’s expertise doesn’t begin and end with national security. He is now a firm believer in the power of tax cuts as a driver of the economy. He saw the Bush tax cuts work and vows to make them permanent. He also supports an end to the alternative minimum tax, which has managed to snare far too many middle class families in its unindexed grip. This week the Congress moved to increase the exemption for the middle class, but that’s merely a one-year fix.

McCain’s name, of course, is also synonymous with immigration reform - the kind of real reform that will both safeguard our borders and provide a path to citizenship - not amnesty - for the 12 million illegal aliens who now live among us. The senator freely acknowledges that his support for immigration reform threatened to jettison his presidential candidacy.

“What we miscalculated was the total mistrust in government,” McCain told the Herald. “They didn’t believe we could secure the borders.” But this isn’t 1986. The technology has changed. But more than that, it takes commitment. A McCain administration would have that commitment.

On immigration reform, on tax reform, on campaign reform McCain has proven time and time again that he has the ability to reach across that increasingly wide partisan divide and make things happen.

This week Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who was himself on the Democratic presidential ticket in 2000, took the unprecedented step of endorsing McCain in the upcoming Republican primaries. He did so with these words:

“In this critical election, no one should let party lines be a barrier to choosing the person we believe is best qualified to lead our nation forward. The problems that confront us are too great, the threats we face too real, and the opportunities we have too exciting for us to play partisan politics with the presidency.”

The Boston Herald agrees. And so this newspaper too will break with its decades-old tradition of endorsing candidates in both the Republican and Democratic primaries. In doing so we also address our words particularly to those millions of independent voters here, in New Hampshire and around the nation who can choose to cast their ballot in either party primary.

The choice this year is indeed clear. John McCain should be the next president of the United States and the Boston Herald is proud to endorse his candidacy.

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