Hogan's Alley

Saturday, May 13, 2006

John McCain At Liberty University

Sen. John McCain has gone to Falwell's Liberty University and delivered a commencement speech that will, I hope, form the basis of his campaign for the presidency. It is a great speech. One which calls on us to recognize our shared values as we argue, as we must, over how to achieve the goals we seek. At the same time it is self-deprecating and inspiring. A tough thing to pull off.

If the years of Clinton and Bush have not torn us irreparably apart, McCain may be the only person in a leadership position who can make us a functional nation again. Key quote:

We have our disagreements, we Americans. We contend regularly and enthusiastically over many questions: over the size and purposes of our government; over the social responsibilities we accept in accord with the dictates of our conscience and our faithfulness to the God we pray to; over our role in the world and how to defend our security interests and values in places where they are threatened. These are important questions; worth arguing about. We should contend over them with one another. It is more than appropriate, it is necessary that even in times of crisis, especially in times of crisis, we fight among ourselves for the things we believe in. It is not just our right, but our civic and moral obligation.

Our country doesn'’t depend on the heroism of every citizen. But all of us should be worthy of the sacrifices made on our behalf. We have to love our freedom, not just for the private opportunities it provides, but for the goodness it makes possible. We have to love it as much, even if not as heroically, as the brave Americans who defend us at the risk and often the cost of their lives. We must love it enough to argue about it, and to serve it, in whatever way our abilities permit and our conscience requires, whether it calls us to arms or to altruism or to politics.

Here is McCain speaking about his youthful passion for speaking his mind, which, he says, would have made him a perfect citizen of the blogosphere:

When I was a young man, I was quite infatuated with self-expression, and rightly so because, if memory conveniently serves, I was so much more eloquent, well-informed, and wiser than anyone else I knew. It seemed I understood the world and the purpose of life so much more profoundly than most people. I believed that to be especially true with many of my elders, people whose only accomplishment, as far as I could tell, was that they had been born before me, and, consequently, had suffered some number of years deprived of my insights. I had opinions on everything, and I was always right. I loved to argue, and I could become understandably belligerent with people who lacked the grace and intelligence to agree with me. With my superior qualities so obvious, it was an intolerable hardship to have to suffer fools gladly. So I rarely did. All their resistance to my brilliantly conceived and cogently argued views proved was that they possessed an inferior intellect and a weaker character than God had blessed me with, and I felt it was my clear duty to so inform them. It'’s a pity that there wasn'’t a blogosphere then. I would have felt very much at home in the medium.

Sadly, too many of us persist in sharing the insufferable ignorance of the young John McClain. We could all use his maturity and perspective.

Since much of the media has set up today's speech as McCain's kowtowing to the religious right, let's see if they give it the coverage it deserves, now that he has disappointed their facile assumptions.