If you had approached me two years ago and asked me to offer a defense of Senator John McCain’s candidacy for president, I would have scoffed. While the rest of the applicant pool on the Republican side was less-than-stellar, he ranked up there with Giuliani among those with whom the Republican base liked the least.

Indeed, McCain’s crusade for campaign finance reform, opposition to the Bush tax cuts, support for embryonic stem cell research and environmentalism, to name a few, put him squarely at odds with the average Republican. Even though I left the Republican Party in 2004, I could not help but think that McCain would be, for conservatives, one of the two worst choices for the nomination.

Alas, he succeeded and began one of the worst-run campaigns in modern history. He lacked funds, ideas and excitement. His nomination of Sarah Palin to the vice presidential slot seemed like a chug of Red Bull to wake up a slumbering campaign a huge boost followed by an epic collapse. I would venture to say that the McCain campaign successfully squandered every opportunity to make its case to the American people, to denounce Senator Barack Obama and to lead the charge into battle. McCain seemed to prefer to limp along and throw light jabs, occasionally even an illegal blow.

In case you can’t tell, I don’t like McCain. He is neither the ideal candidate nor the ideal leader. However, I believe he is far better for America than Obama is.

Let’s face it: we don’t know Obama. He was probably born in America, but some recent evidence suggests otherwise. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

He served a few terms in the Illinois State Senate, skipping out or voting ‘present” on hot-button above-his-pay-grade issues usually controversial social issues. Despite being editor of the Harvard Law Review, he has been noticeably silent on his judicial philosophy and, moreover, what sort of judges he would or would not appoint to the Supreme Court.

Though Obama is a talented speaker, he hasn’t been able to give a straight answer in regards to the friends he keeps. Some in the media suggest that the behavior of friends and allies is beyond Obama’s control and, as such, is not an issue.

I disagree. While he may not be able to control his friends, he can control with whom he is friends.

Moreover, his choice of friends helps us to understand what kind of person Obama really is. He was a long-time friend of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a vocal and, at times, racist pastor. Rather than sever his connection with this unsavory fellow, Obama tried to skate around for months. Only after severe pressure and a late catch-up by Senator Hillary Clinton did Obama finally denounce Wright and leave his church.

The same story goes for William Ayers, a professor and unrepentant 1960s radical/terrorist. Ayers was part of the Weather Underground, a group responsible for violent attacks on the U.S. government most notably on the Pentagon. Ayers has never repudiated his actions and, much worse, has publicly stated that he wished that his group had done more.

Rather than disassociate himself from Ayers, Obama has tried to get away with just condemning his actions. But since Ayers is not sorry for what he did, Obama’s continued friendship with this man calls his character into question.

The bottom line is that we don’t know much about Obama. Of the things we do know, the outlook is bleak. He can’t admit he is wrong, he passes the buck on difficult issues and he keeps less-than-desirable friends.

I believe President Bill Clinton put it best back in August. When asked why many democrats were skeptical of Obama, Clinton said, ‘You have a guy who you agree with on 50 percent of the issues, and you are sure he can deliver on those… and another guy who you agree with on 100 percent of the issues but might not deliver on any.”

This election is not about John McCain. It is about Barack Obama. And for that reason, I cannot put the highest office in the land in the hands of uncertainty, especially in the dire times in which we live.

On Election Day, pull the lever for McCain, not because you like him or agree with him, but rather, do it for the sake of our country because we just can’t trust Obama.

Ramey is a graduate student.

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