Yesterday The Hill reported that John McCain has rejected Secret Service protection, despite it being standard practice to protect presidential nominees. This, of course, is in stark contrast to Barack Obama, who began receiving Secret Service protection in May of 2007, earlier than any other candidate in history. McCain cited traffic concerns of all things, as well as the cost of protection, which is more than $38,000 a day.
In actuality, McCain is using this an opportunity to look tougher than his opponent -- a military man turned cowboy -- the kind of decision that could actually make one yearn for the days of George W. Bush. One must wonder whether McCain's irresponsible decisions about his own life will foreshadow equally reckless decisions made from behind his desk in the Oval Office.
That decision is, after all, unbelievably reckless and so obviously political. For a man who runs a campaign based on fear, one who adamantly insists that we must continue to fight terrorists in Iraq lest they fight us here at home, it is also horribly contradictory. If there is a real threat at home, shouldn't the Republican nominee be protected? And if there isn't a real threat, why does he keep telling us there is one?
But while McCain might believe that shrugging off protection will score him political points, it seems that it could, perhaps, hurt him even more. While some will see his decision as evidence of his toughness, others will see it as a product of his age. One is reminded of the heroine using grandfather in Little Miss Sunshine who argues to his grandson that, "at your age you'd be crazy to do this stuff, but at my age, I'd be crazy not to." Only a 71-year-old man, someone who might not expect to even survive the full term of his presidency, would be crazy enough to run for president in 2008 without Secret Service protection.
But Mr. McCain, the decision regarding your protection should not just be left to you. The Secret Service is about more than protecting your life. It is about protecting our liberty.
John McCain was democratically nominated by the people of his party. If he wins the presidency he will have been democratically elected by the people of this country. He cannot allow the actions of one madman to be more powerful than the voice of the rest of the people. That is the tragedy of assassination -- not just the loss of life, but the loss of our democratic choice.
The people of the Republican Party chose you Mr. McCain. You have an obligation to ensure that their choice is honored. Your decision to score cheap political points at the expense of their democratic preferences is, as much as anything else, strong evidence that you do not understand the sanctity of the office of the presidency, and that you do not deserve to ascend to it. You might be nearing 72-years-old. But it's time for you to grow up.