Who will be the best in a crisis?

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By John Barnhart

Both the "Democrats" and Republicans have chosen the best nominees they could from the field of candidates they had from which to chose.

Of course, neither John McCain nor Barack Obama have been officially nominated by their respective conventions. However, the party conventions are nothing more than a lot of choreographed nonsense made for TV. These two guys are the nominees.

The Bush/Rumsfeld bungling of the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath ensured that the war in Iraq went on long enough for the "Democrats" to turn it into a political football. Obama is the best candidate to carry that football. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Obama doesn't have to explain away a vote authorizing the war in the first place. It helps that he wasn't in the Senate, six years ago, when that vote was taken, but Obama also notes that he expressed his opposition in public statements at the time.

One problem he has concerning the war, is a tendency to refuse to admit he was wrong about something when proven wrong. Last year, Obama was speaking against President Bush's troop surge in Iraq. Experienced military leader that he is, he was confident that it would not work.

The course of events proved that Bush and McCain were right, and Obama was wrong. The surge, plus a change in strategy, worked. The surge's success is why the level of violence has dropped so much that the Iraqi government feels confident enough to insist that a forces agreement authorizing the presence of U. S. forces in Iraq after the end of this year contain a troop withdrawal horizon. Nevertheless, Obama refuses to admit he was wrong about the surge.

The "Democrats" have constantly accused George W. Bush of exactly the kind of stubbornness that Obama is displaying, but I guess it's OK when it's one of their guys who's being stubborn.

Although there is a lot I liked about Mike Huckabee, I think John McCain made the best choice for the Republicans out of the field of candidates they had. Although the situation in Iraq is moving in the right direction, it's still going to be going on when our next president takes the oath of office in January. The next president has the opportunity to see this mess to a satisfactory conclusion.

McCain was the best of the Republican candidates to do this. His experience suits him for this. In addition to his two decades in the Senate, McCain knows about war close-up. A career Naval officer and pilot, he commanded a squadron of Naval attack aircraft in Vietnam. He knows the ugly side of war from experience because he was shot down, captured and tortured by the North Vietnamese for seven years. Following his release, he continued his Naval career, retiring as a captain. A Navy captain is equivalent to a colonel in the Army.

McCain was also right about the surge. In fact he called for such a strategy something like three years before President Bush implemented that strategy.

In addition to being the best of the field of candidates in the Republican field, I think McCain is the best choice to be commander in chief of our armed forces. He would be the best man to have in the White House in the event of an international crisis. As a Naval officer and wartime combat commander, he's handled real crises where his decisions were a matter of life and death. The worst crisis that Obama seems to have dealt with is the price of arugula salad.

An international crisis early in the next president's administration is a distinct possibility. Last month I mentioned a couple of danger areas: the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and the danger of an Israeli airstrike on Iran. Food could also precipitate a crisis in countries where food costs comprise 60 percent of the average family's budget. Hungry people, especially hungry people in a country that is not a democracy, can be explosive. Such an overseas explosion will require a president who can quickly and wisely assess the situation and come up with a wise course of action.