The Gambler

Give John McCain credit: He is not afraid of taking risks. We all know about his war record and the risks he took when in combat. In politics, we have seen a similar spirit, willing to go against the grain and often not always calculating the potential impact. He ran against the Republican establishment in 2000, only to suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of George W. Bush. At 72, and after having survived four battles against cancer, he throws his hat in the ring against all odds. At this time last year, we were writing McCain’s political obituary. Here again, the gamble paid off.

Until early September, he trailed Barack Obama in the polls, but he has recently taken a lead in most polls conducted since the Republican convention. Underestimating him is clearly the most risky of all ventures for any opponent. His recent nomination of Sarah Palin is very much in character and, for the past ten days, it has been conceivable that he may once again fool the pundits.

McCain is impulsive and instinctive. He gambled on Sarah Palin’s image as a maverick and a reformer, and felt he needed to choose her in order to change the course of the campaign. From an experience versus change election, we now have an election about what kind of change America wants and needs. And the race is a dead heat .

The Palin choice, however, does reveal a certain cynicism toward the voter. It is now becoming evident that Sarah Palin was not completely vetted. The McCain camp had certainly evaluated her political experience and her overall philosophy about government. What it failed to do was evaluate her ability to become president should tragedy strike. Her recent interview on ABC demonstrated an appalling lack of knowledge on crucial issues affecting America’s future. If Americans are discontented and discouraged about the direction of their country, a lot of that has to do with the war in Iraq and the faltering economy. The Bush doctrine created the war, yet she could not define the contents of the doctrine. The economy has resulted in high unemployment, skyrocketing energy prices, record deficits, Wall Street shockwaves and failures, and a debt of over $1-trillion. In the meantime, Bush continues his policy of tax cuts for the rich that can only add to the deficit, a policy now supported by John McCain.

McCain may be a gambler and that has been a trademark of his, but is America better for it? John McCain is an admirable patriot and a man respected across the political spectrum; however, his choice on this important matter makes me wonder whether winning at all costs is now becoming the measure of the man. He may yet win this gamble, but at what cost to the country he professes to love. McCain once said Obama was ready to lose a war to win an election. That was over the top, but is McCain willing to sacrifice his integrity, his most endearing quality as a public figure, to win an election?

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