As we conclude this final day before the election, the arguments have been made, the advertisements run, and the cash spent. Through all the noise, the essential decision facing the American people has not changed.
It's all about trust.
I trust John McCain. Although I have never met him, I feel I know him. McCain's life has been closely examined through decades of public service and campaigning, and relentless media scrutiny and attacks. If McCain wins, there will be policy disagreements, but there will be no surprises.
Who is Barack Obama? Despite his 18 months in the spotlight, I don't feel that I know him. Obama's life, education, and job history are mostly a mystery, shielded from public scrutiny by Obama and a compliant media. Most of what we know about Obama comes from Obama. I don't blame Obama for the fact we don't know him. Good politicians play their cards close to the vest, and Obama is a good politician. I blame the media, which has not done its job in vetting Obama, and which has taken sides in this contest from the start.
Worse still, what we are slowly learning about Obama in these final days before the election transcends policy differences, and goes to the very nature of whether we will continue to be a free-market capitalist society which supports like-minded people around the world. If Obama is elected President, the only surprise will be if there are no surprises.
To turn a phrase from the Bill Clinton campaign, it's the trust, stupid.