Country First

“I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.”-Barack Obama.

Every presidential campaign has a slogan, some have multiple slogans. Most end up irrelevant or even the source of ridicule.

George W. Bush: “I’m a uniter, not a divider.” Didn’t quite work out how he hoped.

Barack Obama: “Change we can believe in.” I’ve used this phrase several dozen times ironically in the past few weeks when describing traditional sleazy weasel tactics used by this “candidate of change.”

John McCain’s motto of “Country First” garnered a response of “Whatever.” I figured it was a nice safe statement that probably didn’t mean much. For about the last 8 ½ years, I’ve not cared much for Senator McCain and my endorsement earlier this month came because of the Palin pick combined with statements Senator McCain’s statements made gave me comfort that he’d would move the country forward on reducing spending, appointing solid judges, and energy. Still, I questioned what efforts I’d extend for this ticket.

In the past two weeks, America has been besieged by a financial crisis. After patchwork bailouts, the Bush Administration sent Congress its proposal: a $700 bailout to purchase troubled Mortgage Securities. There was no policy for how these securities were to be chosen and at what price, and the Secretary of the Treasury was to have complete discretion in purchasing them with his decisions unreviewable by any court or administrative board. The well-meaning Bush Administration apparently thinks Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson is a grand fellow. I’m sure he is, but to give him and his successor $700 billion of blank check securities purchasing authority and labeling it a solution left many of us skeptical.

On the other hand, we do face a legitimate crisis in finance that does threaten to send our economy into a black hole. In reaction to the proposed bail out, McCain expressed concern and laid out five priorities that needed to be included in the bill: most importantly oversight, transparency, and some method for taxpayers to recoup tax dollars spent in this effort as happened in the aftermath of the S&L bailout with the Resolution Trust Corporation.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Congressional Democrats played some of the sickest political games possible. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) Tuesday was warning that without McCain’s support, the bill wouldn’t pass. Apparently, he couldn’t get enough Democrats on board for fear that their Republican opponents would use an unpopular bail out against them in the fall.

Excuse me? Let’s think about this for a moment.If we don’t need this, why support a $700 billion gift to Wall Street?

If we truly need a bail out, it’s because without one, we face a deep and serious economic crisis that borders on a depression: People out of work, businesses failing, families going hungry. And all the Senate Democrats can think about is the next election? Never has the perversion of the power elite in Washington been so clear.

Someone needed to show leadership. Yesterday, someone did.

Senator McCain suspended his campaign and put Friday’s debate on hold. After meeting with economic advisers, Senator McCain concluded that if a deal is not reached by the time the stock market opens on Monday, a global financial crisis would result. There is plenty of time to reschedule the debates, but time to address this economic crisis is running out.

Immediately, Senator McCain was hit by the Obama campaign and their partisans. Obama suggested that a President needed to multi-task and that McCain had failed to do so. While it is correct that in the course of a normal day a President does a hundred things, a President must also be able to re-arrange his schedule, eliminate all non-essentials, and focus on a sudden crisis. Isn’t Mr. Obama leader of the party that has relentlessly attacked President Bush for being aloof during Hurricane Katrina? Isn’t Senator Obama part of a party that seems to believe that President Bush can’t do his job unless he’s at the White House?

More importantly, these critiques miss the point. The problem in Congress is that this crisis comes six weeks before an election where the minds of many Congressmen, particularly Democratic Congressional leaders, are focused on politics, even while potential economic disaster threatens to put average Americans into economic straights. McCain has set an example by putting politics aside in as strong way as you possibly could.

Detractors will say that McCain’s motives are entirely political. Of course, this is a matter of perspective and liberal partisans will see McCain’s move that way as will the cynics who see every action as political. While we can’t read minds, we can judge actions and we can say that McCain knew what the right thing to do was and did it.

Of course, McCain’s move is not guaranteed to gain him victory. The last Rasmussen poll showed only 25% of Americans supporting the bail out. Many conservatives will not like the deal and some have already indicated that McCain supporting it could cost him big time. McCain may help avoid a depression and then lose the election for it.

Regardless of the political consequences, McCain has shown leadership that suggests he cares more about his country than the next election and for that I’ll do whatever I can to support his campaign.