No, not him!

He’s talked to democrats!  He’s acknowledged that global warming might be a problem!  No, not that!  He’s said that waterboarding is wrong.  What republican says these things!

It is tempting, perhaps, to mistake John McCain for a liberal.  He is open.  He is honest.   He is willing to work with others, even those who don’t always agree with him.  Don’t democrats care about that kind of stuff? 

John McCain is not the stereotypical “republican.”  He does not fit the carbon-copy, cookie-cutter mold that we have been told republicans must imitate.

Yet, this oft maligned maverick is in reality the enbodiment of conservative principle. 

It is not a betrayal of conservative values that has attracted moderates (and, yes, even some liberals) to John McCain.  No.  It is the embrace of good governance and responsible ethics that has drawn them, and will draw them again.

Far too many republicans dismissed Senator McCain in the past.  I know.  I was one of them.  Like many republicans, I had heard a few isolated, misquoted statements and, focusing on one or two relatively minor issues, had come to the mistaken conclusion that Senator McCain was not a conservative, not a true republican, not one of us, whatever that means.

For a long time, I held the vague and deploringly misrepresentative notion that John McCain was in some way apart from the conservative tradition. 

It took some time before I actually looked at his record – his pro-life credentials, his fiscal fidelity, his defense and military expertise – and realized the value of what he believed in and, more than that, how he stood for what he believed in regardless of the cost.

It was not until I looked again, and saw clearly for the first time, that I realized what many republicans are coming to realize – who John McCain truly is.  A conservative.  But not just a conservative, a conservative of character.

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