June 11, 2008


The McCain Miracle (Michael Gerson, 6/11/08, Real Clear Politics)

The personal miracle of McCain's presidential run is even more extraordinary. It is obvious -- and therefore often unstated -- that the journey from a 4-by-6-foot Viet Cong cell to the 36-by-29-foot Oval Office would be unprecedented. It would be as though George Washington were captured by the British, who snapped his legs in a torture cell; or Ulysses Grant were nearly starved to death at Andersonville Prison; or Dwight Eisenhower had been interrogated and beaten by the Gestapo in a German Stalag. All three, I imagine, would have been honorable, defiant and arrogant enough to survive. But McCain has proved it.

McCain's experience, unlike some war stories, grows more shockingly impressive upon examination. Physical courage and mental toughness may not be requirements for the presidency, but they are at least as relevant as service in the Illinois Legislature. And McCain's election as president would, in its own way, be historic -- finally and fully honoring the lessons of heroism that came out of America's conflicted experience of Vietnam.

All these experiences, political and personal, have created a unique candidate -- a man more driven by instincts of honor than ideology, predisposed to believe in his own virtue, equally predisposed to confuse opposition with dishonor. At its worst, this approach has alienated many of his Senate colleagues and reportedly led McCain to the brink of leaving the Republican Party in 2001, more out of pique than principle. At its best, this approach has seemed like a populist, reform-minded conservatism, aimed at breaking up concentrated, selfish interests that threaten the public good -- from his campaign against big tobacco, to his anger at inflated corporate salaries, to his disgust with congressional earmarks and pork-barrel spending, to his support for increased automobile fuel efficiency standards and a cap-and-trade system to limit carbon emissions.

...though Maverick's story does border on the miraculous, his supporters feel no need to worship him, while Senator Obama has done next to nothing and the Left thinks he's the messiah.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 11, 2008 7:35 AM

I can't stand Gerson. He's nails on a chalkboard to me....

That in mind, I have to say that both candidacies are nothing more than cults of personality.

Posted by: Benny at June 11, 2008 5:04 PM

Benny - at least John McCain is not a cardboard cut-out.

Posted by: Mikey at June 11, 2008 5:56 PM
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