Of course I'm voting for Obama, and I hope he wins, but to be honest I don't think the country will be too terribly off if he loses. There are things about John McCain that I like, and even as a liberal, I'm not ashamed to admit it. (But note how I don't go so far as to say I'm proud to admit it.)
Many claim that McCain, at age 72, is too old to be President. That may be true. On the other hand, nobody is claiming that John Paul Stevens, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, or Ruth Bader Ginsburg (all of whom are at least McCain's age if not older) are too old to continue serving on the Supreme Court. If the founding fathers had concerns about the influence of age on public service, they wouldn't have allowed those to be lifetime appointments.
A decade ago, liberals loved McCain. We're the ones responsible for creating his much-ballyhooed "maverick" image, not him, and certainly not the Republican Party (who probably spent his entire Senate career prefacing any mention of his name with the honorific "that cocksucker"). He earned that reputation through real bipartisan efforts -- McCain-Feingold, siding with the Clinton Administration in taking on Big Tobacco (to Republican chagrin), voting against the Bush tax cuts in May 2001, being the first high-profile Republican to check himself into rehab for his addiction to global warming denial. He's not perfect, but he's done good things, and he's exhibited willingness to break from his party to do what he thinks is right.
Now that he's earned the nomination of his party, though, liberals are demonizing him full-force. I find this unfortunate, but understandable. It is true that he has changed his position on a number of issues with apparently purely political motives. He suddenly claims to care strongly about things that there was little evidence he gave a shit about before, like abortion, nuclear energy, continuation of the Bush tax cuts, etc.
This could indicate one of two things:
(1) He fought the machine and lost. The Republican establishment crushed his mavericky spirit and transformed him into just another Bible-thumping, bombing-brown-people-is-fun, free-market-uber-alles fuckwit.
(2) He's swindling the machine. He has his own ideas about how to govern, a portfolio of positions that lines up 100% with neither party, and he's recognized the need to pander to certain voting blocs just to get himself elected. Once he's in office, he'll tell those blocs to go fuck themselves (postmaritally, of course) and set about governing his own way.
Many on the left have dubbed a McCain presidency "Bush's third term," and if option (1) above turns out to be true, then they'll be right. That would suck. The fact that I'm not willing to risk that outcome is why, despite my overall positive impression of the man, I just can't bring myself to vote for him.
However, there is one good indication that option (2) could occur -- one critical factor separating McCain from Bush. It has nothing to do with policy positions or even temperament. It has to do with the fact that Bush, from birth, has allowed others to manage his career. His abortive foray into the oil business, his stint as Texas governor, his bumbling, monosyllabic presidency -- all of it was coordinated, shepherded, guided, orchestrated by others. If there's one thing that even the fiercest McCain detractor has to give the man, it's that he's always been at the helm of his own career. He may make mistakes, or hold foolish positions, but it's always him at the wheel.
Any Republican willing to give Karl Rove the finger can't be all bad.
P.S. Prediction: if option (2) does in fact take place, that will seal McCain's fate as a one-term president. That would create a fascinating race in 2012: Clinton vs. Palin!