On June 5th, Hillary Clinton officially “suspended” her campaign, securing Barack Obama and John McCain as the candidates in the general election for the presidency of the United States of America. On November 5th, 2008, US citizens will vote for one or the other candidate. Debating the pros and cons of the prospective candidates, therefore, is an important part of informing the choice that these voters will have to make. The debate, it should be noted, does not simply revolve around the fact that Barrack Obama is a Democrat and John McCain is a Republican. Nor does it simply revolve around their policy differences. In fact, a large part of the public debate revolves around a comparison of their experience, integrity, judgement, education, service, age differences, and other characteristics. John McCain: John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936) is the senior United States Senator from Arizona and presumptive Republican Party nominee for President of the United States in the upcoming 2008 election. Both McCain’s grandfather and father were admirals in the United States Navy. McCain graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1958 and became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he nearly lost his life in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire.
Later that year while on a bombing mission over North Vietnam, he was shot down, badly injured, and captured as a prisoner of war by the North Vietnamese. He was held from 1967 to 1973, experiencing episodes of torture and refusing an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer; his war wounds would leave him with lifelong physical limitations. He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981 and, moving to Arizona, entered politics. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982. After serving two terms, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, winning re-election easily in 1992, 1998, and 2004. While generally adhering to conservative principles, McCain has gained a media reputation as a “maverick” for disagreeing with his party on several key issues. Surviving the Keating Five scandal of the 1980s, he made campaign finance reform one of his signature concerns, which eventually led to the passage of the McCain-Feingold Act in 2002. He is also known for his work towards restoring diplomatic relations with Vietnam in the 1990s, and for his belief that the Iraq War should be fought to a successful conclusion in the 2000s. McCain has chaired the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, and has been a leader in seeking to rein in both pork barrel spending as well as Senate filibusters of judicial nominations. McCain lost the Republican nomination in the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush. He ran again for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, and gained enough delegates to become the party’s presumptive nominee in March 2008. Barack Obama: Barack Hussein Obama II (pronounced /bəˈrɑːk hʊˈseɪn oʊˈbɑːmə/; born August 4, 1961) is the junior United States Senator from Illinois. He is the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential election, and the first African American to be a major party’s presumptive nominee for President of the United States. A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama worked as a community organizer and practiced as a civil rights attorney before serving in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. From 1992 to 2004, he also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate in January 2003. After winning a landslide primary victory in March 2004, Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004. He was elected to the Senate in November 2004 with 70% of the vote. As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, he cosponsored legislation to control conventional weapons and to promote greater public accountability in the use of federal funds. He also made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In the current 110th Congress, he has sponsored legislation regarding lobbying and electoral fraud, climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for returned U.S. military personnel. Since announcing his presidential campaign in February 2007, Obama has emphasized ending the war in Iraq, increasing energy independence, decreasing the influence of lobbyists, and promoting universal health care as top national priorities.
“True, he has a reputation as a hothead. But he’s a hothead who cools down. He does not nurse grudges or agonise about vast conspiracies like some of his colleagues in the Senate.”
“He has also been right about some big issues. He was the first senior Republican to criticise George Bush for invading Iraq with too few troops, and the first to call for Donald Rumsfeld’s sacking. He is one of the few Republicans to propose sensible policies on immigration and global warming.”
“He has a 20-year history of close ties with people who hate America and say so. His official position is that he had no idea what his close friend Reverend Wright was like (“The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation”), or what his business associate Tony Rezko was like (“this isn’t the Tony Rezko I knew”). At times, he’d like us to believe, he doesn’t know what his own statements mean. From Reuters: “NEW YORK (Reuters) – Democrat Barack Obama misused a ‘code word’ in Middle East politics when he said Jerusalem should be Israel’s ‘undivided’ capital but that does not mean he is naive on foreign policy, a top adviser said on Tuesday.” In short, his official position of excuse after excuse after excuse, is tantamount to admitting that he had insufficient judgment to recognize who he was associating with, or at times, what he himself was saying.”
“Ever the maverick, McCain selected Palin because her record mirrors his own in courageously standing up to corrupt special interests regardless of party and cutting government waste. She has the instincts, temperament and backbone to help restore the Republican Party to its conservative principles and the country as a whole to those foundational ideals of individual freedom, equal justice and government that truly is of law, not of men.”
“Mr. Obama has met challenge after challenge, growing as a leader and putting real flesh on his early promises of hope and change. He has shown a cool head and sound judgment. We believe he has the will and the ability to forge the broad political consensus that is essential to finding solutions to this nation’s problems.”
“In this marathon of a campaign, Obama has shown the discipline and demeanor for the job.”
Obama said in 2002, “Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him. But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.”
“the competence of McCain’s campaign staff is itself cause to question the candidate’s executive abilities. To some degree, the rigors of creating and running a campaign organization can be a test of the skills needed to create and run an administration. And even many Republicans acknowledge that the McCain campaign has been poorly organized and erratic, lurching from one crisis to another without the sense of a strong hand at the tiller.”
“Negative 2: Leadership style. John McCain is not willfully ignorant and incurious, which is a welcome contrast to George W. Bush. But he has shown during the campaign that he shares Bush’s weakness for impulsive, gut-instinct decisions. For Bush: the Iraq war; for McCain, the choice of Sarah Palin and the short-lived “emergency suspension” of his campaign.”
“His choice of a running mate so evidently unfit for the office was a final act of opportunism and bad judgment that eclipsed the accomplishments of 26 years in Congress.”
“In better times, America could afford to consider entrusting the White House to an appealing newcomer like Mr. Obama and giving control of the presidency and Congress to the same party. But in this time of great anxiety, the American people need a leader of experience guiding the ship of state. Mr. McCain offers the continuity, stability and sense of authority people want, as well as a decisive break from the Bush years.”
John McCain has been in office for 25 years. Barack Obama has only beeen in government for nearly 10 years so John McCain has significantly more experience to run America.
A Rasmussen poll found, “As the general election campaign gets started, 41% of voters nationwide say that Barack Obama is too inexperienced to be President…”
McCain has led a life filled with challenges and adversity, starting with his years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. This has tempered McCain and prepared him for the presidency in a way that Obama has not been prepared.
“John McCain stands head and shoulders above his rival. McCain has been tested as few men ever have, and he has never been found wanting. Barack Obama has no experience — none. He may be the most unprepared major-party candidate ever.”
“Mr McCain’s qualifications extend beyond character. Take experience. His range of interests as a senator has been remarkable, extending from immigration to business regulation.”
Obama’s childhood years abroad and poor background in foreign policy cannot provide him with sufficient knowledge and judgment in these important issues . In this critical time of US foreign policy, it is important we elect a commander-in-chief who can make the best judgment about these challenges.
Just because McCain almost died in a war and has been a senator for a jillion years does not mean that he has leadership experience. Being the President of the United States requires a little bit more if you ask me. Obama has showed great power in the senate while McCain before 2 years ago has been pretty quiet. Obama is young and ready to make change. This change hasnt been the best, but could McCain have done better? I will let you decide.
“But Mr. Obama, as anyone who reads his books can tell, also has a sophisticated understanding of the world and America’s place in it. He, too, is committed to maintaining U.S. leadership and sticking up for democratic values, as his recent defense of tiny Georgia makes clear.”
Obama was born to a father of Kenyan descent, has a white mother, lived in Indonesia in his youth, and has traveled to Kenya to visit his grandmother. He certainly is a diverse person with a diverse background. This is valuable in many ways to how he thinks about the world. Generally, it is likely to give him a more holistic view of the world.
While experience can be seen as a virtue, it can also be viewed as a liability, in the sense that experience within the Washington Beltway, which Clinton has, can have a corrupting influence. Obama, conversely, is a fresh face on the American political scene. As such he embodies the fundamental change that Washington, DC so desperately needs. He has not been stuck in the Washington, DC “beltway”, which has kept him clear of much of the corruption and influence that can occur as a result of this.
Obama has a very strong legislative history as a US Senator. The Daily Kos lists 19 legislative successes for Obama during his Senate career while only 13 legislative successes for Clinton. It is argued that Obama’s record of successes is, in large part, due to his ability to convince other Senators to support his legislation. Clinton, with a more divisive history, does not appear to have this same capacity.
“The Senate is not a particularly good training ground for a presidential career. Its titans are masters of securing consensus from a few dozen other senators and some key players in the House. It is a place of subtle power plays and the political long game. The president, on the other hand, must be able to manage the vast federal executive branch, directly marshal voter support for his initiatives and take full and personal responsibility for any projects that fail. One can make a convincing argument that the longer a politician spends as a legislator, the less qualified he becomes for the office of commander in chief.”
Intelligence comes in many different flavors, characteristically capricious and patchy. If Freud free-associated with the word “Intelligence”, the reply might well be “Einstein”. Yet there is no indication that Einstein would have made a good president. In fact, the president is more times a leader, statesman and consensus builder like Abraham Lincoln, rather than a wise professor like Woodrow Wilson. Jimmy Carter was known for being quite sharp minded and his presidential rating is no where near the top. And let us not even speak of Stalin’s intelligence and resulting rein. Barak Obama passed the Bar Exam and John McCain passed the rigors of Fight School, two totally different forms of intelligence.
John McCain has a strong record for crossing party lines to form solutions and pass legislation. On the other hand, Barak Obama has used his intelligence to achieve the most liberal agenda in the Senate.
“Mr. Obama is a man of supple intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at conciliation and consensus-building.”
Barack Obama finished at the top of his Harvard Law class. He was also elected as the president of the Harvard Law Review. As far as educational success, there is almost no higher achievement than these. The President of the United States should be of the highest intelligence and capabilities. Barack Obama has demonstrated that he has these virtues. This compares starkly to John’s McCain’s less-than-average educational record.
 This demonstrates a number of things: McCain is not too intelligent, McCain lacked the judgement to perform in school, and that McCain’s rise to power had little to do with his achievements and merits in school.
“[McCain’s] policies and worldview are mired in the past.”
Senator John McCain served his country with honor in Vietnam, and has continued to serve his country with patriotic distinction, always putting his country first.
The Economist.com wrote about McCain in December of 2007, “he has repeatedly risked his political career by backing unpopular causes.”
Senator John McCain has an integrity problem: He has too much of it. At a time when would-be presidential candidates in both parties alter their views depending on the prevailing winds, McCain stands up for what he truly believes.
True, candidates typically tack to the center after contentious primaries. But the “candidate of change” is taking that process to Twilight Zone levels. Last fall, a spokesman said of a controversial element in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reauthorization bill, ‘To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.’ This week, Obama declared his support for a FISA bill that included just such immunity.” [read the full article here]
Though Obama’s political career is impressive, his legislative record in his own state of Illinois only shows that he rarely takes a firm stand, especially on tough issues like abortion, juvenile crime. According to Boston.com, “Obama acknowledges that over nearly eight years in the Illinois Senate, he voted “present” 129 times. That was out of roughly 4,000 votes he cast, so those “presents” amounted to about one of every 31 votes in his legislative career.” . Even Kirk Watson (D), a fervent Obama supporter stumped on Obama’s real legislative accomplishments
“Obama is deeply grounded in the best aspirations of this country, and we need to return to those aspirations. He has had the character and the will to achieve great things despite the obstacles that he faced as an unprivileged black man in the U.S…He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. He has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions.”
“Leading the country in such a time will require someone of intellect, creativity, honesty and passion for those traits that have made America great. That person is U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.”
“He is telling people, as more than one commentator has called it, “the inconvenient truths,” whether to the black community about the need to stop denigrating those who speak well for being too white or the Jewish community about the need to recognize Palestinian suffering.”
“WE referenced it earlier in the week, but let’s be a little more clear about how John McCain tried to circumvent campaign-finance rules that he helped create. Last year, when Mr McCain’s campaign appeared moribund, the senator applied to join the presidential public financing system. Under this programme Mr McCain agreed to certain spending limits and, in turn, received access to federal matching money. (Sidenote: It’s a terrible system that is basically designed to keep losers in the race.)”
“America is at war overseas and in an economic crisis here at home. Many of her citizens believe the country is on the wrong track. It is for times such as these that men like John McCain are made, to put country first so that it can be put right in its time of need. For this reason, The Examiner endorses McCain for president and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, for vice president.”
“hope does not balance budgets, craft alliances or reform schools. It certainly does not prove that Mr Obama would be the best, or even a good, president.”
“Mr McCain is such a familiar figure that it is easy to forget how remarkable he is. He fought heroically in Vietnam, spending more than five years as a prisoner-of-war, when many other politicians of his generation discovered, like Dick Cheney, that they had ‘other priorities’.”
Sen. Bob Dole – “He’s a good man – the kind of man I’d want to be in a fox-hole with me… He’d be a good president.”
“I’m beginning to hear more and more people compare Barack Obama to President John F. Kennedy. Not surprisingly, those making this comparison are mostly too young — or too little schooled in history — to know how invalid the comparison really is.”
“Those who believe Obama’s claims that he will reduce 95 percent of Americans’ taxes, while he pays for near-universal health care, subsidizes clean energy, expands our military commitment in Afghanistan, adds to mass transit and highway infrastructure, etc., etc., are living in a dream world.”
“Positive: The tone, the policies, the cast of mind, the talent, and, yes, the hope consistently represented by Obama during these past two years on the trail. If he is elected, disappointment will certainly follow. The expectations now projected upon him far exceed what any mortal can achieve. But to give the country a new chance, a leader must inspire, and he can.”
Making bold changes in America requires first that people’s attitudes be changed. Changing attitudes is not easy at all, and requires profound persuasion. Obama, more than Clinton, has the ability to persuade in this way.
“He has articulated a more compelling vision and strategy for the nation than has Republican John McCain, at a time when both are desperately needed. Obama has railed eloquently against the politics of fear and ideological combat, and promoted inclusiveness and cooperation. He has a strong grasp of the nation’s economic problems, a more urgent commitment to the green energy revolution and a better plan for expanding access to health care. On issues such as Iraq, taxes and trade, he should practice the bipartisanship he promises, but has yet to demonstrate, by remaining open to alternative views. Still, on balance, Obama offers the better way forward.”
Obama’s oratory abilities are very high. People often call him “poetic” in this way. This oratory ability has been a defining feature of the best presidents and leaders in American and world history. The reason is very straight forward; it causes people to have pride in their leaders, trust in the direction their leaders are taking the country, and hope in the future ahead. This often leads individuals to act more ethically, work harder, and generally hold themselves to a higher ethical standard. In short, inspiration matters, and the main vehicle for inspiration is inspirational oratory.
Obama has stirred up so much energy and excitement among his followers that his campaign and its supporters have been described as a “movement”. This “movement” can and should be harnessed for positive social change.
“Only one candidate has a solid record of standing up to his own party on principle and working hand in hand with legislators from the opposing party to get things done.”
“The area where Obama is vulnerable is his record, as brief as it is, and his stated positions. Senator Obama is a completely orthodox liberal — the most liberal person in the Senate in 2007, according to National Journal — in a nation that is not. Why hasn’t this fact hurt Obama so far? Because his two main opponents in the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, haven’t advertised Obama’s liberalism. They are essentially as liberal as Obama is, so that political arrow has been removed from their quiver. Hillary Clinton has therefore been forced to criticize Obama for his lack of experience — even though her own experience is quite thin and her past forays into policy have been disastrous (her mishandled health care plan helped the GOP win 52 House seats in 1994 and gave them control of the House for the first time in four decades).”
“Mr. Obama does not come to the campaign with a reputation as one of the most accommodating bridge-builders in the Senate.”
Obama has said, referring to himself, “we need a leader who can finally move beyond the divisive politics of Washington and bring Democrats, independents and Republicans together to get things done.”
On Dec. 6, 2006, this page encouraged Obama to join the presidential campaign. We wrote that he would celebrate our common values instead of exaggerate our differences. We said he would raise the tone of the campaign. We said his intellectual depth would sharpen the policy debate. In the ensuing 22 months he has done just that.
“Obama is clearly a liberal. But when he led the Harvard Law Review, he won praise from conservative thinkers because he genuinely wanted to hear what they had to say.”
“Obama would govern as much more of a pragmatic centrist than many people expect.”
“Senator John McCain of Arizona has retreated farther and farther to the fringe of American politics, running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism.”
“Americans want change, yes, but banking on change alone is a risky proposition. Both Barack Obama and John McCain offer new deals to a tense, weary nation.”
“The Democrat talks about change, but only the Republican has made change happen.”
“Domestically, McCain is unique in never seeking an earmark to benefit a family member, political ally back home, or financial contributor. As president, he will veto all earmarks and other pork barrel spending. He believes Americans know better than government how best to spend their hard-earned money, and he promises – in words that make many of his colleagues in Congress swallow very hard – to make famous those in government who waste or steal tax dollars.”
John McCain is not George W. Bush and therefore you cannot call him that. John McCain may be a republican, but that doesn’t mean he will take the same approach to things as Bush did.
Republican President Bush has been been in office for 8 years. It is time for a change from this. Obama represents a clear break from the Bush-years, while McCain represent a less distinct change.
“President Bush has practiced what Sen. John McCain has preached. We know that Sen. McCain and the Republicans are only offering more of the same.”
“Democrats must once again clean up an economic mess the Republicans left behind. We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again…By the close of the Clinton administration, America had created 22 million new jobs. Our nation built a new economy with the lowest child poverty rate in 20 years. Wages were rising and prosperity was shared. The country produced balanced budgets and a surplus. Now, eight years later, they had to add a digit to the national debt clock.”