Have you heard people whine that candidates for the White House are not much different from each other? You should not hear anyone complain this year.

At the moment the differences are enormous.

In the matter of energy, for instance, McCain wants us to drill more. Finally, he does. He wants us to drill offshore. And perhaps in other areas where drilling is prohibited. He now sees our energy situation as a danger to national security. McCain also wants us to build a lot more nuclear power plants, starting now. Many more.

Obama opposes drilling. He opposes allowing big oil companies to make more money. He wants to slap “windfall profit” taxes on them. He says more drilling would not affect oil and gasoline prices for many years to come.

“Nuclear energy is not optimal,” Obama says. “I am not a nuclear energy proponent.”

These are surely huge differences in attitudes by our candidates.

They, of course, have dramatically different opinions about what to do in Iraq. Forget about what they believed - and voted for - at the start of the war. Forget whether or not they supported President Bush’s surge. We have troops there now. What will be the plan for them from our next commander-in-chief?

McCain wants to stay the course until Iraq is pacified. He is prepared to leave troops there for years to come to give Iraq more time to recover and prosper. Just as we did in Japan and Germany after World War II. Just as we did in South Korea after the Korean War.

Obama wants to pull the troops. Wants to set a deadline for when we will bring the troops home. This, no matter the progress - or lack of it - in Iraq.

And so voters will have another big issue where candidates disagree with each other.

The two have disagreed with each other over most Iraq issues. That implies they differ with each other over how to defend the country. And over what constitutes defense.

It is clear their nominees to the Supreme Court will differ radically from each other. McCain feels the justices made a horrific decision recently when they gave foreign warriors captured abroad the same rights as criminals caught in Chicago.

Obama agrees with the justices. He supports, in fact he praised, the decision by the Court.

McCain feels this decision will endanger our national security. It will sometimes free vicious and dangerous terrorists on the sorts of technicalities that put killers back on Chicago streets. As freed people they can return to plotting real harm against America.

Obama sees no such danger.

The picture clouds a bit when it comes to levying taxes. Both have maneuvered a bit since the campaigns began. But the picture is clear enough to see that McCain wants to lower taxes a lot more than Obama does. And Obama wants to raise taxes a lot more than McCain does.

These are big issues. And these are big differences. And this is mighty good for the American public.

Voters have made mistakes many times. They have voted idiots into office. They have elected virtual criminals. They have rolled out the red carpet for guys who tripped over the folds and done a lot of damage to the country with their policies. No doubt we will have such characters again.

I like to think we can lessen the chances of doing this by having candidates debate issues important to us all. This campaign ought to give us some good debates. Good in the sense that these guys will not be able to do the propaganda do-si-do. “I agree with my opponent on this and that, but have problems with his position on such and such.”

The campaign is already showing us these guys heartily disagree on significant issues. They will need to tell us why. They will need to challenge each other’s positions. They will need to convince us why their beliefs are better than the other guys.

Nothing could be better for the country in the months before we elect a new leader.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.


For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): www.tomasinmorgan.com.

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