Beyond politics, purely from the perspective of integrity, there is a reason why Senator McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running-mate matters: succession planning.

John McCain isn’t simply 72 years old. He also has recently had cancer and is being treated for a number of other health concerns. Should his cancer return over the next couple of years, and scientifically the statistical odds are significant that it could, the treatments he would need to undergo would likely render him unable to perform for a period of time, according to the video you can watch below. And that’s the least extreme of the potential scenarios.

Nominee McCain has selected a running mate who is so inexperienced in national and international governance that had the Democrats selected someone this under-qualified the Republicans would have gone through the roof with disgust and outrage. And rightly so.

This selection means to me that something is more important to Mr. McCain than his obligation as a potential president of the United States to do the most basic form of succession planning, given his age and health factors: selecting a running-mate who is already ready to step in should the need arise. His selection is even more alarming to me because he claims to be a person of integrity. To me, making succession planning a top priority under circumstances such as his is a matter of basic common sense. Don’t believe the spin doctors’ attempts to tell you anything different.

For a glimpse into what might motivate nominee McCain to abdicate his responsibility to make succession planning a top priority in light of his age and health concerns, I have been sitting with the following fact:

In his 2002 memoir, "Worth the Fighting For," Senator McCain wrote, "I didn’t decide to run for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms I believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. In truth, I wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to be president…. In truth, I’d had the ambition for a long time."

Think about the potential implications of this kind of motivation. Might someone with this motivation be more tempted or less tempted to try to become president even if he has to sacrifice integrity or common sense in order to succeed?

Does this kind of motivation have more to do with psychology or politics? Does it have to do with which political party or ideological decisions you support, or is this about a more fundamental matter of integrity that transcends politics and instead reveals a leader’s attitude about the extent to which the ends justify the means?

No matter what your political or ideological affiliation might be, as an integrity specialist I hope your opinion about this question that transcends political or ideological orientation has a significant influence over who you vote for on November 4, 2008.