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Presidential contenders narrowed to three

Whatever politicians think about this year of primaries, as a voter, this is about as good as it gets.

True voter decisions, differing ideas and personalities, and the pundits more often wrong than right. How much fun a democracy can have after seven years of dysfunctional government!

But now it is time to consider, from those left as serious candidates, who might best serve the nation for the next four years as president.

As a starting point, it should be noted that these are all good people who have already sacrificed a great deal to go through the rigor of this process. It is a demanding exercise, one that takes personal courage and incredible stamina (Someone might have mentioned stamina to ex-senator Thompson).

There are now only three possibilities, realistically, left who may be sworn in as president. Our choices are now Obama, Clinton, or McCain. None have won their parties’ nomination, but McCain will be the Republican nominee given the mathematical challenge that would face Huckabee to overcome McCain’s present delegate lead.

Among these three, who can best serve the needs of the nation at this point in our history?

McCain is the best of the Republican candidates for this time, largely because he is the only one who has demonstrated any willingness to work with Democrats when it best serves the nation.

Republicans, when in power, demonstrated a disdain for such cooperation, and those who oppose McCain within his own party cite his cooperation as the reason for their distrust. You have to love a guy whose party hates him for being independent.

But McCain supports the Iraqi war and has even envisioned U.S. troops there for 100 years. McCain also supports a vigorous foreign policy, so much so, that in 2007 he sang “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boys hit Barbara Ann.

Frankly, we should find that kind of glib foreign policy offensive after a war of choice that has raided our treasury of a trillion dollars.

Clinton would give the nation its first female president, a good milestone, but not the basis for selecting the nation’s leader. We have seen her tested under fire and I doubt anyone could suggest she lacks the toughness to stand up to any adversity. She is a formidable senator with a quick intelligence and a mind that grasps how to get things done. Like McCain, Clinton has worked across party lines.

But Clinton brings baggage of the past, and the nation cannot be excited about the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton dimension that her election would bring at a time we seek change more than anything else.

Obama offers more than the great pleasure of his soaring rhetoric — he speaks of vision, a concept lost in America in recent years, and one sorely needed to re-vitalize the nation. He is at ease with himself, and provides a comforting presence not only with his words, but with his demeanor.

What Obama lacks is experience. A little more than three years ago he was a state senator in Illinois. We know less about the steel of his character than we do of either McCain or Clinton. He therefore poses a risk in that regard.

Voters have been speaking of the importance of change. If change is indeed their preference in 2008, then Obama is the best candidate for the times.

The policies of McCain would be very similar to those of Bush. The policies of Clinton would be very similar to those of, well, Clinton One.

We will have good choices this year.

Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Ironton Tribune.