Check out my previous blog and the comments. If you use the ranking feature you can see the top several arguments for voting for McCain versus Obama. I found it fascinating to see which arguments were most persuasive to the extra-smart readers of this blog.
Personally, I think neither McCain nor Obama meet the minimum requirements to be president. I think we're hosed either way. But I am inspired by your arguments to come up with my own best case for each candidate. First, McCain:
Argument for McCain
You've heard the saying, "Only Nixon could go to China." If not, here is some background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixon_in_China_(phrase)
Likewise, only McCain, the ultra-hawk, can make peace with Iran or North Korea or Cuba. No one could accuse him of being soft. If a hawk like McCain decides to make peace, it must be because peace is clearly the best option.
Likewise, only McCain could draw down troops in Iraq without it appearing to be a defeat. All he'd have to say is, "We'll be back tomorrow if needed," and it would seem credible. That promise wouldn't be credible coming from Obama. And the threat of return is the only thing that would make a withdrawal work.
McCain went hard to the right to get the nomination. And he appears to have been inconsistent on some issues just to get elected. That proves he is a practical guy who knows how to get the job done. Once elected, he could be expected to drift back to the middle, where things can be accomplished in this country. Even if you like more of Obama's plans compared to McCain's, only McCain could get the support from congress to get anything done. Obama will be stonewalled, especially when he tries to pay for his plans by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Even if you like that idea, it can't happen in this country because corporations and the wealthy control congress.
If you like any two ideas from McCain, and you like ten ideas from Obama, you're still better off voting for McCain because his two ideas can happen. Obama's ideas are too left to get the support needed.
Argument for Obama
McCain is simply too old to be trusted with his finger on the nuclear button. While it is entirely possible that one particular 70+ guy could defy the rules of aging and remain sharp, it is a fool's bet for voters when so much is on the line. He's clearly sharp enough today, but at that age, the drop will come quickly.
McCain supported the gas holiday over the objections of every economist. That proves he's either dishonest or willing to ignore experts, even when all of them are on the same side. Either explanation disqualifies McCain for the job of president.
Presidents don't have much impact on the economy. And as different as Obama and McCain seem on Iraq and Iran, they would end up in the same place: stuck in Iraq and talking tough with Iran but doing nothing. So you can discount the economy and foreign affairs in your voting calculation. Presidents make their biggest impact on how we feel. That was Reagan's gift and Kennedy's too. Obama makes people feel inspired and hopeful, and those things have a huge impact on the economy and even education. The very existence of an African-American president would change who we are as a country in a way that everyone agrees is positive.
If you agree that presidents have little power over economics, and both candidates will end up on the same place with international affairs, you have to decide between the inspiration of Obama and the senility of McCain. Those are the two most predictable elements.
And if you happen to be a social lefty, you need Obama to nominate the next few Supreme Court justices.
I reiterate that I don't think either man meets the minimum qualification I would like in a president. I just like the challenge of coming up with good arguments. How'd I do?