A closing argument for John McCain

His mettle has been tested; he's ready to lead.

Speaking in Seattle to campaign contributors behind closed doors earlier this month, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden all but endorsed John McCain for president.

"Mark my words," Senator Biden warned the assembled supporters. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

"I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate," Biden continued, citing the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. "And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you – not financially to help him – we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."

Recalling that Senator Obama selected Biden as his running mate because of his purported foreign-policy expertise, one might think that more attention would be paid to the obvious import of Biden's words.

Not surprisingly, Biden made no mention of the world testing the mettle of Senator McCain if he were to take office (although he did later, lamely seeking to dismiss the meaning of his words). And for good reason. McCain's mettle has already been tested – proved under conditions beyond the imagining of most Americans. If it is possible to give something beyond the last full measure of devotion to our country, McCain has.

We think that the country would be best served by calling on McCain for one last mission – as president.

The financial crisis in which we now find ourselves poses an economic challenge to American well-being unlike any we have faced since the Great Depression. Before it materialized, Obama supported substantial tax increases through the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the highest income-earners (of shifting definition). Now that America faces a recession, Obama still supports counterproductive tax increases – on capital gains, the most productive workers, and successful small businesses – that are guaranteed to throw additional sand into the wheels of the economy.

When Obama explained to Joe the Plumber that he believed in "spread[ing] the wealth around," he meant it. He doesn't seem to have much respect for the income and wealth of those who have earned it. He seems to believe it the job of government to redistribute to those trailing "behind" Joe.

If he wins, Obama will take the oath of office, in which he'll swear to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." Yet the record shows that Obama isn't particularly fond of the Constitution. In a 2001 interview on Chicago public radio, Obama noted that the Warren Court had "never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society," and "to that extent as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical." Obama asserted that the Constitution "reflected an enormous blind spot in this culture that carries on until this day."

He also noted that the Court "didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it has been interpreted." Obama seemed to think the Constitution deficient, because it provided only a guarantee of negative liberties – what the government can't do to citizens – rather than a positive right to welfare. The Founding Fathers would be shocked by Obama's attitude toward this cornerstone of American principles.

McCain is a more traditional figure. He advocates lower taxes on earned income and shared prosperity through economic growth rather than the redistribution of wealth. He supports the mutual economic advantage to be found in free trade, particularly with friends and allies such as Canada and Colombia, as well as the preservation of the secret ballot in union elections, a strong defense, and victory in war.

In short, Biden suggests that Obama would invite the kind of crises JFK faced when Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev tested him in the Cuban missile crisis, in Berlin, and in Vietnam. And he should know.

McCain, however, also harks back to JFK – the JFK who represented a generation "tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage – and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world."

John H. Hinderaker and Scott W. Johnson are Minneapolis attorneys and contributors to the blog Power Line.

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