A reader writes:

Way back in the heat of the Democratic primary, I told all who would listen that if it came down to Hillary vs. McCain I'd vote McCain.

If Senator McCain was still around, I suppose I wouldn't regret that claim, but somewhere along the line, Senator McCain got replaced by Candidate McCain.

I was dwelling on this a bit today and it struck me. One benefit of this long campaign is that it really does show a person's character. And I realized. We have two men running for president right now. One has stayed true to himself throughout despite all the pressure. The other really hasn't or maybe we've just seen what he really was all along.

Obama said at the outset that he wanted a civil campaign on the issues. He said he would avoid the politics of person destruction. He demanded a cool, no drama organization -- much like himself.

He organized a strong team. Set clear goals. Adopted a sound plan and stuck to it. Reasoned, careful. Solid judgment. And in the intense glare of things like Wright and flags pins, he stuck to it all. Above all, Obama really has stayed true to who he is.

McCain on the other hand, despite his calls for a civil campaign, injected personal attacks. He cosied up to the same religious extremist he once decried. People like Hagee. And when that wasn't enough, he brought onto the ticket a evangelical with extreme views on abortion, contraception and sex education -- positions well to the right of most of the people in the Republican Party.  And he hired the same polarizing, no-holds-barred political assassins that George Bush unleashed on America and McCain himself.

Senator McCain didn't stay true to himself. He morphed into a right-wing, polarizing ideologue campaign. And why? On the one hand, he's ambivalent about his ambitions, but often he'll lose sight of his values and overreach for the sake of those ambitions. In other words, he falls victim to the allure of power and loses his good judgment. He doesn't stay true to himself.

I dearly hope American's will come to appreciate this about these two men. One has stayed true to the better angels of his nature. One succumbed to the darker angels of his. Which one would make a better president in these sad and trying times?

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