September 5, 2008


A bit more on Maverick last night:

What's interesting is that it is a speech that's heavily dependent on the central Judeo-Christian trope, but McCain isn't churched up enough to have used it as effectively as Reagan, Clinton or W would have.

Start with the fact that whatever his strengths and weaknesses and regardless of whether he's actually right, W's presentation as president is that of a man who is profoundly certain of himself, not just politically and strategically but morally. That can't help but put off especially those who disagree with him. Next you have Obama who--whether consciously or coincidentally or both--has been marketed as a semi-divinity, our superior and virtually flawless.

Comes Mr. McCain and he says the following:

"I thought I was tougher than anyone. I was pretty independent then, too. I liked to bend a few rules, and pick a few fights for the fun of it. But I did it for my own pleasure; my own pride. I didn't think there was a cause more important than me. [...]

[A]fter I turned down their offer, they worked me over harder than they ever had before. For a long time. And they broke me."

This admission, that he broke, ties into everything we believe about Man being Fallen and necessarily fallible. Recall that when Christ is on the Cross He too breaks: "My Lord, My Lord, why hast Thou forsaken me?" Even God found that, when He tried to live as a man, He could not avoid the pitfalls that go with our mere mortality.

John McCain, having lived that pivotal episode in his life, was able to imbue it with the requisite emotion, but not really to convey its broader meaning, its eternal lesson. He even stumbled somewhat over the most important line--"I'm not running for president because I think I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need"--making it only a jibe rather than a skewer that drives home the devastating point. And there's a coda that's missing: "I have been too humbled and made too wretched to mistake myself for anything more than the all too human John McCain you see before you." The implicit contrast is that while Barrack Obama has pretenses to be more than human, I am very much one of you.

The speech -- this worthwhile portion of it, at any rate -- is structured to bring out this kind of humility, but there was so much other clutter in it and such theological talk is so foreign to him that he failed to take full advantage of the setup.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 5, 2008 10:34 AM
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