Let’s get down to bare bones. The question most important in this election year: Who is the most qualified?
Throughout my personal and professional career, I was taught — as most of us were — that achievement and experience is most important in the screening process when applying for lofty positions of great responsibility. Past deeds is the greatest barometer by which to measure one’s abilities and to forecast the future performance of any candidate.
The election process often ignores these issues. Instead, a campaign race becomes a media event laden with hired screamers, manipulated rallies, sound bites, charisma, spin and speech making while paying little attention to one’s history of accomplishments, or lack of them.
So, let’s look at this election in another mode. Imagine, for a moment, the office of President of the United States is not an elected position. Rather, he/she is the CEO of the nation, and selection is by committee that reviews the resume’s of each candidate before naming the new leader of the free world.
Screening is whittled down to two finalists. We’ll call them, Candidate A and Candidate B. Party affiliation is irrelevant, as is race, gender and ethnic heritage. All that matters is measuring the candidate based on achievement and experience while serving in the public sector. After you review the foregoing, please let me know who you — as a member of the selection committee — would choose as the president of the nation. In consideration of word count, I’ll keep it down to the highlights.
Twenty-Two years United States Navy, retired as a captain, 1981. Among his notables:
– Navy aviator, squadron leader, many missions in Viet Nam war
– Injured aboard the USS Forrestal in 1967 when a bomb exploded as he escaped
a burning jet, trying to save the life of another pilot. The fire killed 134
– Shot down in North Viet Nam, taken as a prisoner of war for five and one half
years. Severely and repeatedly tortured leaving him with numerous, lifelong
injuries. Refused release/repatriation unless other prisoners incarcerated
longer were released first.
– After return to duty from prisoner of war status, assumed command of the
largest squadron in the Navy, managing a budget of over one billion dollars,
– Numerous military awards and decorations include; The Silver Star, Legion of
Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and Navy Commendation Medal.
– Served as Navy liaison to the U.S. Senate
– Turned down promotion to promotion to rear admiral to enter politics.
1982 – 2008. Twenty-six years in the congress of the United States, four years in the House of Representatives and twenty-two years a United States Senator from Arizona. Among his notables:
– Strong advocate for Indian Affairs; Primary author of the 1988 Indian Gaming
– Helped to pass Gramm/Rudman legislation that enforces spending cuts in
times of budget deficits.
– Member Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs
– Spearheaded normalization of relations with Viet Nam.
– Member, Armed Services Committee
– Member and chairman, Commerce Committee
– Member and chairman, Indian Affairs Committee
– Supported the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, to cut pork barrel spending by giving
the president line-item veto power.
– Bucked the tobacco industry by proposed cigarette tax increases in order to
fund anti-smoking campaigns, supported by President Clinton.
– Broke from the Bush administration is support of HMO reform, Climate Change
and gun legislation.
– Sponsored/initiated numerous bills in congress, working with both sides of the
political aisle, including the McCain/Feingold — to reform campaign finance
– Sponsored the ill-fated Immigration Reform Act co-written with Sen. Ted
Kennedy. (failed, fortunately)
– With Democratic Senator, Joe Lieberman, wrote legislation that formed the 9/11
– With Democratic Senator Fritz Holland, co-sponsored the Aviation and
Transportation Security Act to federalize airport security.
– Broke with the Bush camp by voting against tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 citing
the need for cuts in spending. In 2006, voted for extension of tax cuts.
– Starting in 2003, began criticizing and questioning the administration’s
conduct in the Iraq War, ultimately leading to the resignation of Donald
Rumsfeld. Strategy proposed for four years, was finally engaged in 2007,
resulting in a turn-around in conflict and far less American casualties.
– With Sen. Lieberman, co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship Act aimed at
reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A modified version was later co-
sponsored by Sen. Barack Obama.
– In 2005, led the Gang of 14 in the U.S. Senate which limited filibusters on
judicial nominees to “extraordinary circumstances.”
– Introduced the McCain Detainee Amendment to the 2005 Defense
Appropriations Bill, prohibiting inhumane treatment of prisoners.
Elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996. Served as state senator 1997 – 2004. Notables:
– Sponsored legislation to monitor racial profiling by requiring police to record
the race of detained drivers.
– Sponsored legislation mandating video taping of all homicide interrogations
– Sponsored legislation to increase tax credits for low income workers
– Voted “Present” 130 times in his state senate years, thereby sidestepping many
controversial issues, such as allowing some juvenile criminals to be tried as
Elected to the U.S. Senate, starting serving in January, 2005.
Two years later, February 2007, announced his candidacy for president. Essentially, served two effective years as a U.S. Senator.
– Sponsored legislation requiring nuclear plant owners to notify authorities of
– Introduced initiative which expanded the Nunn-Lugar Threat Reduction
Concept to conventional weapons
– Co-sponsored the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007
– Introduced Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007
– Co-sponsored the Democratic Republic Of Congo Relief, Security and
Democracy Promotion Act, signed into law by President Bush in 2006.
– Sponsored Global Poverty Act, committing the U.S. to spending 0.7 percent of
gross national product on foreign aid. Over thirteen years, this would cost the
American taxpayer $845 billion over and above what is now committed.
– Member Foreign Relations Committee
– Member Environment and Public Works Committee
– Chairman, sub-committee on European Affairs
Needless to say, based on resume`, selecting the most qualified between A and B is a no-brainer. Compiling experience and achievements into folders, would render “A” as stack ten feet high, while the “B” stack would barely rise above two inches. Hard to compare 46 years of service to the nation, in multiple capacities, to 3 years as a rookie senator.
In preparing this piece, I delved deep into the dossier of both candidates and their history in public service. All voters should do the same, because we can learn so much more than being taken in by sound bites, speeches and impressions.
I had not been a McCain supporter from the upstart. But conducting this review left me duly impressed, not only by the extensiveness of his service but his character as a man, and as an American. I doubt we’ve had anyone run for president as qualified in the last half century.
And for those who fall for the mantra, “four more years of Bush,” suggest you take the time, as I have, to study and learn rather than getting sucked in by oratory. You’ll find no other republican senator who has worked as close with democrats on a number of issues, often to the dismay of Mr. Bush. Sorry, that one doesn’t work.
Now, committee members, make your choice…