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"Competence, courage, and conviction are enormously important for our next President to possess. No one has a better understanding of U.S. interests and dangers right now than does McCain. He was right on the mistakes made by the Bush administration in prosecuting the Islamic terrorist war in Iraq and he is being proved right on the way forward both there and worldwide.

McCain is pro-life. Always has been. He fights against special-interest and pork-barrel spending, and high spending in general, which ticks off liberals and many in the GOP who have wallowed at the public trough. Yet he also has the proven ability, unique among the contenders, to work across the political divide that has led our government into petty bickering when important problems need to be solved," - the Manchester Union Leader endorsing John McCain in New Hampshire.

My only qualm with this assessment is the notion that the best way ahead in Iraq is an indefinite continuation of the occupation. But on this, I still trust McCain's judgment more than I do Romney's or, God help us, Giuliani's. And he was right in predicting tactical success for the surge, and I was too pessimistic. I'll be interviewing the senator tomorrow. A reader seconds:

I'd been leaning McCain for a few days now, but the debate the other night clinched it for this disenchanted Republican who voted Democrat in '06.

Rudy came across as the small and petty man that he is.  His attacks on Romney were immature and sleazy, just like the man himself, as we now know from his use of taxpayer dollars and government property to tend to Judith Nathan.  Romney, meanwhile, continues to be the most cynical candidate around, parroting lines that he thinks conservatives want to hear, even though everyone can see through them.  Fred Thompson is good but pointless.  He clearly doesn't want to be in this race.  His wife must really want to be First Lady.  Paul is hopeless.  Huckabee is at least sincere, but I just feel that nominating him is tantamount to giving away the store.  He's a big-government liberal with the compassion of Jimmy Carter and a nanny-state busybody of the highest order.  I'd rather have the Bitch.  At least she'd balance the budget.  You know, like her husband did.

But McCain is a man of honor who is reasonably conservative and who would move the Republican Party forward in lots of important ways.  Finally we would have a president that agrees that it's not okay to torture or wiretap without a warrant or suspend habeas corpus.  Finally we would have a president who agrees that climate change is real and who wants to do something about it.  Finally we would have a president who believes in science.  And all of this without giving in to a big-government liberal agenda with Huckabee or Obama.  McCain wouldn't raise taxes, would cut spending, and would be able to tackle immigration and entitlements in a bipartisan way.  He was right about the surge and he could finish the job in Iraq with honor.  Sure, McCain has pissed me off over the years on this or on that, but he remains the least imperfect choice in a highly imperfect field of candidates on both sides.

As such, I've made my decision.  I'm backing McCain.  Further, I hope that Obama takes down Hillary and clinches the Democratic nomination.  A McCain/Obama race would be one about policy, not personalities, and would be a unifying event, not a polarizing one.

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