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McCain Still 'In the Arena'

Sunday, 28 Jun 2009 07:25 PM

By Christopher Ruddy

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John McCain is back — and he's in a fighting mood!

The Arizona senator looked even younger and fitter than during his recent presidential campaign when I caught him last week on C-SPAN.

I admire people who show character in defeat. A prominent 19th-century pundit once said "the greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart." For sure, John McCain has not lost heart at all.

Though McCain was defeated last November, I believe he did a good job with his campaign under extremely difficult circumstances.

In September, the McCain-Palin ticket was narrowly ahead in the polls. Then the roof caved in. The Bush administration announced that the entire U.S. and global economy was on the verge of collapsing. Bush requested a $1 trillion blank check to bail out the banks. McCain's campaign was doomed.

Still, the former POW remained true to strong Republican values and ran a classy campaign. Despite carrying George W. Bush’s political baggage and unpopularity, McCain did better than expected — Barack Obama won 52.9 percent of the vote rather than the landslide numbers many had predicted.

Since his election loss, McCain could have quietly sat back and enjoyed the limelight as a senator and major presidential contender. Instead, he has been “in the arena” as Theodore Roosevelt called it, at the forefront of those Republicans in Congress holding President Obama accountable on a variety of issues.

On healthcare, he has charged that the Democrats are going about reform the wrong way with proposals that could burden taxpayers, business and the economy. He said he "will not support any legislation that is simply a massive tax hike on Americans cloaked in the name of healthcare reform."

McCain has been a supporter of climate change legislation, but he rightly called the Democrat’s climate change bill in the House of Representatives nothing more than a "grab-bag of special interests for everybody."

He spoke out against Obama's boondoggle stimulus package, saying it resulted in too much spending and not enough effect on the economy.

When mass demonstrations broke out protesting the stolen presidential election in Iran, he strongly took Obama to task for his restrained approach. "I'd like to see the president be stronger than he has been,” McCain said. He also declared that Obama "should speak out that this is a corrupt, flawed sham of an election." Obama eventually did speak more forcefully.

When an American Navy destroyer began tailing a North Korean ship suspected of carrying missiles and related parts toward Myanmar, McCain declared that the U.S. should board the vessel even without North Korean permission.

"I think we should board it," he said in an interview on CBS. "It's going to contribute to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to rogue nations that pose a direct threat to the United States."

That destroyer, as it happens, was the USS John S. McCain, named after McCain's father and grandfather. Both were admirals.

But in holding Obama and the Democrats accountable, McCain has done so in a positive way. He cannot be accused of belonging to the so-called "Party of No" charged with rebuffing Obama's every effort or against “change” for the sake of keeping the status quo.

In the past, "maverick" McCain has caused angst among some Republicans. But after McCain’s hard-fought campaign for the presidency last year and his tremendous contribution to the nation now as Obama moves us down a socialist path at home and an appeasement one abroad, McCain has emerged as a knight in shining armor.

McCain is up for re-election in Arizona next year. This certifiable hero deserves the support of Republicans and moderates in his home state and around the country.

Jim Meyers contributed to this article.

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