Monday, May 15, 2006

McCain at Liberty

When I heard John McCain was speaking at Liberty University, I shrugged it off as an unpleasant necessity of doing business in the modern GOP. But Michael Reynolds was wiser than I and actually paid attention to what McCain said at the Ground Zero of conservative Christian fundamentalism. He plucked these highlights:

I believe the benefits of success [in Iraq] will justify the costs and risks we have incurred. But if an American feels the decision was unwise, then they should state their opposition, and argue for another course. It is your right and your obligation. I respect you for it. I would not respect you if you chose to ignore such an important responsibility. But I ask that you consider the possibility that I, too, am trying to meet my responsibilities, to follow my conscience, to do my duty as best I can, as God has given me the light to see that duty.


Americans deserve more than tolerance from one another, we deserve each other’s respect, whether we think each other right or wrong in our views, as long as our character and our sincerity merit respect, and as long as we share, for all our differences, for all the noisy debates that enliven our politics, a mutual devotion to the sublime idea that this nation was conceived in-that freedom is the inalienable right of mankind, and in accord with laws of nature and nature’s Creator.


But let us remember, we are not enemies. We are compatriots defending ourselves from a real enemy. We have nothing to fear from each other. … It should remain an argument among friends; each of us struggling to hear our conscience, and heed its demands; each of us, despite our differences, united in our great cause, and respectful of the goodness in each other.

Goddamn it. I'm reminded for the 1,000th time why this was the man I thought in 2000 ought to be the next president. He has some of the politicians' flaws, but I believe he would have grown out of them once he was in the White House. And reading this, I realize some wise gods had prepared this man for the years they knew America faced after 2000. But even the gods can't manage a GOP primary if there's a Bush in the game.

Instead we are, as I've grown fond of saying, fighting World War II with Harding in the White House. Which, as someone pointed out to me, is not entirely fair to Harding.