Saturday, May 13, 2006

McCain delivers

There was much gnashing of teeth over John McCain's decision to speak at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. Was this a craven attempt at cultivating the Christian right, a group McCain badly needs if he's going to win the GOP nomination for prez in '08?

Sure it was. But after reading his speech, I'm reminded just how sorely our country needs McCain. If he can maintain this sort of inspired rhetoric throughout the campaign, we might finally have ourselves a president we can admire, one who can unify our fractured republic.

Some highlights:

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 the laws of nature and nature’s Creator.

We have so much more that unites us than divides us. We need only to look to the enemy who now confronts us, and the benighted ideals to which Islamic extremists pledge allegiance -- their disdain for the rights of Man, their contempt for innocent human life -- to appreciate how much unites us.


All lives are a struggle against selfishness. All my life I’ve stood a little apart from institutions I willingly joined. It just felt natural to me. But if my life had shared no common purpose, it would not have amounted to much more than eccentricity. There is no honor or happiness in just being strong enough to be left alone. I have spent nearly fifty years in the service of this country and its ideals. I have made many mistakes, and I have many regrets. But I have never lived a day, in good times or bad, that I wasn’t grateful for the privilege. That’s the benefit of service to a country that is an idea and a cause, a righteous idea and cause. America and her ideals helped spare me from the weaknesses in my own character. And I cannot forget it.


Let us argue with each other then. By all means, let us argue. Our differences are not petty, they often involve cherished beliefs, and represent our best judgment about what is right for our country and humanity. Let us defend those beliefs. Let’s do so sincerely and strenuously. It is our right and duty to do so. And let’s not be too dismayed with the tenor and passion of our arguments, even when they wound us. We have fought among ourselves before in our history, over big things and small, with worse vitriol and bitterness than we experience today.

Let us exercise our responsibilities as free people. 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. We are arguing over the means to better secure our freedom, promote the general welfare and defend our ideals. 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. I have not always heeded this injunction myself, and I regret it very much.

Sorry for doubting you, senator.


  1. I agree. He is not afraid to do his own thing. I would have been very happy to have voted for him in 2000; wish he had stayed in the race. Maybe next time.

  2. Heidi7:25 PM

    An honest and true speech.
    Let's hope it stays that way.