Monday, July 04, 2005

Dedicated to the proposition - John McCain

In contrast to something else, John McCain's lecture to be broadcast tonight at 8pm BST on BBC Radio 4 may just be worth listening to (so long as he moves swiftly on from Alastair Cook). With Bush's strategist Mark McKinnon reportedly on board, and $200m in the bank, he looks like a prospect for '08.

The more reason for reading Connie Bruck's long profile of him in the 30 May New Yorker, which gives the impression of capturing much of the complexity, nuance that can be communicated in a single place (the article is not available online, but this is).

Bruck's profile shows the gambling, the ruthless streak, the plain speaking ("the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism and slavery"), the house parties with polar political opposites, the wicked humour (for the NRA, assault rifles are "good in schools"), the valued friendships (including, interestingly Antony Cordesman - note: he has a newish study out on Iran's military), and some of the failings (at the end of everything still agreeing with the Bush administration that the Geneva conventions can be applied in a selective way)

Can one buy a comment Bruck attributes to Lindsey Graham: "[McCain's] goal in life is not to achieve power for the sake of achieving power"?

Perhaps McCain resembles a description (I think I once heard) of the US constitution itself: deeply conservative, but with a revolutionary message at its core.

Bruck concludes with words from McCain's address to young men and women at the US naval academy on 9 October 2001, two days after the bombing of Afghanistan began:

"Soon you will be the shield behind which marches the enduring message of our revolution. There is no greater duty, no greater honor...Hold that honor as dearly as the country holds you. Hold it as dearly as do those who have already been called to battle. Hold it as if it were your greatest treasure, because it is. It is. Whatever sacrifices you must bear, you will know a happiness far more sublime than pleasure...My warrior days were long ago, but not so long ago that I have forgotten their purpose and their reward".

Happy fourth of July, Senator.

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