….and can McCain Get Some?
Trying to undermine your opponents credibility is one thing. What can McCain do to make himself something other than the Unbama? David Ignatius thinks McCain should get back to his roots as the “maverick.”
When he says he preferred political defeat for himself to military defeat for his country, he is telling the truth. With an ex-POW’s stubbornness, he could not abide the notion of failure and dishonor for U.S. forces.
But what makes McCain’s account of his captivity truly remarkable is not the heroism but the humility. In page after page, he praises men who he insists were braver than he was. Though even the toughest prisoners were broken by torture, he cannot forgive himself for signing his own confession….McCain’s triumph, finally, was that he got over Vietnam. He didn’t fulminate against antiwar activists….He accepted the ways America had changed in his absence. He didn’t bear grudges. He had finally grown up. McCain wrote in a magazine article soon after his homecoming in March 1973: “Now that I’m back, I find a lot of hand-wringing about this country. I don’t buy that. I think America today is a better country than the one I left nearly six years ago.”
That healing gift is what McCain, at his best, brings to the presidential race — not the brass marching band of military valor but the tolerance of someone who has truly suffered. It’s evident in his achievements as a senator: He had been tortured himself, so he campaigned, against intense pressure from the Bush administration, for a ban on torture; he had been caught as one of the “Keating Five” in a sleazy campaign finance scandal, so he defied his party and became a crusader for campaign finance and ethics reforms.
What’s damaging the McCain campaign now, I suspect, is that this fiercely independent man is trying to please other people — especially a Republican leadership that doesn’t really trust him. He should give that up and be the person whose voice shines through the pages of his life story.
Of course, he’s done that already, which is why he’s a known quantity. What we’ve got going on here is Ignatius pining for the “maverick” of old. The one embraced by many in the media because he was butting against those they loathed: GWB and the GOP. To boot, he championed causes that they, if no one else, held dear (like campaign finance reform). Now, even though McCain may not agree with the GOP “base” on some things, he still needs them to have a shot at winning and he recognizes that. So, like it or not, this is a marriage of convenience. Because the bottom line is that decision to be made is between Obama or Unbama.