By lex, on May 21st, 2008
I should probably like John McCain more than I do. After all, we went to the same school, and both served as naval aviators and attack pilots. I honor his courage in the face of horrible adversity while a prisoner of war in the Hanoi Hilton – especially the fact that he kept faith with his fellow prisoners and refused an early release offered to him based on his status as an admiral’s son. His politics seem unobjectionable to me. He’s right on the war – a single issue lever throw in my voting booth – and in my view righter than most of his own party on the environment and the status of illegal immigrants, both from a pragmatic perspective and from the point of view the party’s future viability. He’s admitted to not knowing much about the economy, but that’s no great crime in my book: Might prevent him from the well-intentioned meddling so common to those who think they are better at making choices for the rest of us than the rest of us. He even ran a little wild in his younger days, let a couple sheets fly to windward – a fact that commends him to my heart more than an alternate history of preachy political monasticism eternally Shaping The Future With An Eye On The Prize. Or one of callow insipid, vacuity. Masquerading as “change *.”
But the fact of the matter is that I could like him more, for reasons that probably don’t reflect well on me. He just seems a little too impatiently disagreeable. Like if he was interviewing you for a job you’d secretly hope not to be chosen. Or that something else might come along – at lower pay even – and that right quick.
It’s silly, because I was always taught that leadership is not a popularity contest. Except in politics where, you know, it sort of is.
With all that said, it’s unclear to me at least what kind of pipe such Obama supporters as Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and Georgia congressional candidate Bill Gillespie * are smoking from when they attack McCain’s 30-year old military record. Sure, it might be a significant area of strength for the Arizona senator – not to mention a signal distinguishing characteristic from his likely political opponent this fall – but, barring some blockbuster revelation that he slept with Jane Fonda after she manned an NVA arty tube and negotiated with the enemy in private character while honeymooning in Paris, his record is simply unassailable.
Attacks of this nature do not just make the attacker himself seem mean and shabby, they’re aggressively stupid: The kind of voter who’d flip on a former Vietnam POW because of his military service is the kind that never would have voted for him anyway, while those that still honor such dusty virtues as honor, courage and sacrifice will only find their resistance stiffened.
* 08-21-2018 Links Gone; no replacements found – Ed.