There is a great deal to admire about Sen. John McCain's service to America, and history will remember him as among the influential political voices of his generation.
In a lifetime of public involvement, McCain has amassed substantial knowledge about the role of a leading U.S. senator, and especially about foreign affairs, defense issues and threats to national security.
However, a historical canvas must also recognize his day-to-day missteps and unnecessarily divisive political tough talk.
McCain has tacked sharply to the right during and since the 2008 presidential election. He now says he's no maverick seeking solutions across party lines; he defines himself as the senator of "hell, no" to many programs submitted by the Obama administration; and more.
We believe much of his recent political rhetoric is merely that: rhetoric motivated by challenges from the right.
His opponent, Rodney Glassman, a Tucson Democrat, is correct to criticize McCain for his inconsistent, often shallow, attention to Arizona issues. Glassman argues, for instance, that Arizona doesn't receive as much federal moeny on projects that improve infrastructure and create jobs as it should. He also supports comprehensive immigration reform.
However, we don't believe Glassman, 32, a former Tucson city councilman, is fully prepared for the U.S. Senate. He is reaching too high, too quickly. We believe his focus should be on obtaining a state-level office.
McCain's influence among Republicans affords him the national political clout to spread his views, but his home state needs his attention more than ever. Arizonans struggle in unprecedented ways, and McCain needs to deliver solutions from the federal level, such as immigration reform that would enhance our economy and border security.
We wonder which McCain would be sworn in for a fifth, six-year term in the Senate. Would it be the McCain who took a buck-the-party-establishment approach to taking on problems and seeking solutions? Or would it be the "hell, no," politician who moved to the right to satisfy primary voters, and stayed there? We're not sure.
We expect McCain to serve America, of course, but he must demonstrate to Arizonans that their needs are paramount, as well. We encourage him to:
• Work for comprehensive reform of immigration policy in addition to border security. For reform to be effective, it must address economic issues. This is familiar turf for McCain; he supported comprehensive reform in the past. He needs to do so again.
• Lend his considerable clout to supporting projects in Arizona that are vetted within the rules of the congressional budgetary process. For example, he could lend greater support to university research funding in new technologies and renewable energies.
• Lead bipartisan efforts to reach solutions that advance America and Arizona in a post-recession economy.
McCain is 74 years old. If he's re-elected, he has the opportunity to set aside political self-interest to solve real problems.
The Star endorses McCain for re-election to the U.S. Senate.
Arizona Daily Star