After hearing Sarah Palin speak tonight, and after hearing people wiser than me speak over the last two nights, I will not say that I have changed my mind but I am willing to give John McCain a chance. One chance.
First let me reiterate why I am not happy about this decision and why I do not make it lightly.
I do not believe I am wrong about John McCain: he is not the best person the GOP could have nominated and conservatism is facing a major struggle with him in office. I stand by every criticism of him that I have made. I still predict - and will yell I TOLD YOU SO from the top of a mountain if I'm right - that we are not getting a conservative and that we are in for a long, tough four years with the Maverick as our commander-in-chief.
I fear that McCain may throw our borders wide open and millions of illegals will gain amnesty and jump to the front of the citizenship line ahead of deserving immigrants who did it the right way. I fear that he may mire us in bureaucracy that will play to the silly exaggerations and fear mongering of the global warming crowd. I fear he may bring more free speech stifling legislation like McCain-Feingold. I fear that he may unleash a horde of rabid civil rights lawsuits on our civilian court system by closing Guantánamo Bay. I fear that he may not appoint an Alito or Roberts to the Supreme Court but rather clones of Kennedy and Souter. I still believe his ego may be bigger than the office he seeks. I'm going to stay on McCain like white on rice and pound him about the political head and shoulders every time I disagree with him. There will be many such times.
Now, let me tell you why I can vote for McCain. Unlike Obama, there are several criticisms you cannot level at McCain. You cannot say he isn't a leader. You cannot say he will hesitate in the face of a challenge. You cannot say he has no experience making tough decisions. You cannot say he will back down from what he thinks is right unless he truly believes he should change his mind. You cannot say he will tell you one thing to your face and say another behind your back. I know it's hard to believe but I can appreciate someone who is blunt.
There is also the fact that the opposition candidate quite simply isn't up to the job of President. Rudy Giuliani said it best tonight:
And nearly 130 times, he couldn’t make a decision. He couldn’t figure out whether to vote “yes” or “no.” It was too tough. I didn’t know about this vote “present” when I was mayor of New York City. Sarah Palin didn’t have this vote “present” when she was mayor or governor. You don’t get “present.” It doesn’t work in an executive job. For president of the United States, it’s not good enough to be present.Amen. You don't get to simply be "present" when the nation is under attack and people are dying. You don't get to simply be "present" when rogue nations and terrorists are calling for and plotting the destruction of your nation. You don't get to simply be "present" when your allies are being invaded and overrun. You don't get to simply be "present" when your desk is in the Oval Office.
You also don't get to slough off questions about your associations with known terrorists who to this day still wish they had done more to harm the United States and stand mockingly on an American flag in a dirty alley. You don't get to make speeches about wanting to bring change without offering details on how you intend to bring it about. You don't get to beg off hard questions about the world and what's happening in it by suggesting that we run to the United Nations every time a dictator farts in our general direction.
As for the argument that Joe Biden will bring some experience to Obama's administration - I don't consider that a good argument. Oh, Biden is experienced alright - he's been in the Senate since before I was in kindergarten. He's just not experienced in "change." He is, however, experienced in two things: 1) being wrong on almost every major foreign policy issue since the Cold War and 2) "quoting" other politicians.
There is also the matter of the rabid left. It's easy to forget how vicious and nasty they are between elections when they aren't as vocal or afraid. Well they've shown themselves true to form this past week by raking a mother and her handicapped child over the coals with smarmy rumor and innuendo meant only to hurt. The Kos Kids, Democratic Underground, Andrew Sullivan, and Keith Olbermann are like the "Girls Gone Wild" of politics - only without the virtue and good judgment. Does anyone else find it hypocritical that the Democrat party is suddenly concerned about the special role of a mother? Suddenly concerned about a woman with children working outside the home? Suddenly beating the "barefoot and pregnant" drum? Puhleeze. These people need less power - not more. After all, if Harry Reid can't stand John McCain, maybe there is something likeable about Senator F.U.
Say what you will about McCain, no matter how wrong I might think his plans are he can tell me why he thinks he's right and what he wants to accomplish and he loves his country first and he's proud of it - yesterday and today. Say what you will about Sarah Palin, she understands that public officials are public servants. She understands that government isn't meant to control us or give us our rights but to protect and foster the unalienable rights we are born with. Plus she hunts moose - come on, that's fantastic! Together I hope they can temper each other, she steering McCain toward the conservative principles he often seems to disdain, and he helping Palin hone her leadership skills for a future when she - and others of her generation - may be able to lead us back toward a strong and cohesive conservative movement.
I don't want any cheers, or hoots, or "welcome aboard" comments because I do not make this decision happily. The post title says it all. If I were one of the twelve disciples I'd be Thomas, because I will not believe McCain until I see him back up his words with actions on the border, and SCOTUS, and reforming government. And if at the end of four years he hasn't made good then count me out for 2012. But for now, let's get this election won and move forward.