Monday, June 9, 2008

For Careful Consideration: McCain as CINC?

Considering the question "Who will be the better Commander in Chief, McCain or Obama?" it seems many voters make the quick conclusion that McCain is the obvious choice.

After all, McCain served in the military and Obama didn't. While Obama was in still in short pants, traveling the world and earning a Harvard degree in constitutional law, McCain was a naval pilot in Vietnam; he survived being shot down and then spent six years as a prisoner of war.

However, voters should carefully ponder McCain's unique war experience and imagine how such an experience might affect McCain's decisions as Commander in Chief.

Before serving as President, Eisenhower served as a Four Star General in on-the-ground combat in WWII. With this experience behind him, Eisenhower's presidency was devoted to peace and cautioning, halting any increase America's militarism.

McCain, on the other hand, actually saw little on-the-ground combat. As a naval pilot, you could say McCain engaged the enemy "at a distance" -- in other words, he dropped napalm on Vietnamese villages. And ultimately, his primary war experience was being tortured by the enemy.

America has never had a President with POW experiences like McCain's. Might have McCain's particular war experiences instilled him with negative prejudices toward enemy combatants?

Though Obama has zero military experience, some could say he has a more Eisenhower-like background than McCain. Both Obama and Eisenhower had humble beginnings, while McCain was born into privilege and went to prep school. Both Obama and Eisenhower traveled extensively, both were well known for having a deep respect for other cultures and for civil rights. President Eisenhower was an enthusiastic supporter of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. On the other hand, McCain jokes about bombing Iran and has a virtually non-existent civil rights record.

Also unfortunate: many will be voting for McCain purely because they pity him. For many, it doesn't matter that McCain may push the U.S. further into end times, what matters is that he was a prisoner of war for six years, and for enduring all that he endured, he deserves to be President.

I'm encouraging voters to not consider McCain the de facto obvious choice for Commander in Chief. Might it be possible that Obama is the appropriate Commander in Chief at this particular time in our history?