Skip to comments.Byron York: McCain still has a lot of reconciling to do - Has John McCain grown up?
Posted on 05/17/2006 7:48:34 PM PDT by Jean S
Has John McCain grown up?
Given the things the Arizona senator has done in his life, that might not seem a question that needs to be taken seriously. But it should be taken seriously because it could be a real factor in his campaign to win the Republican nomination for president.
After McCains speech at Liberty University on Saturday, I posted an excerpt on National Review Onlines blog, The Corner. It was a passage in which McCain described how he had been a know-it-all in his youth and how the passage of time had made him more circumspect and less assured of his own righteousness.
It was an entertaining riff self-effacement almost always works and it ended with a nice joke. To quote at some length, here is what McCain said:
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.
Its a pity that there wasnt a blogosphere then. I would have felt very much at home in the medium.
I thought readers would react mostly to McCains light jab at bloggers. But most readers thought the passage said a lot more about John McCain himself.
So whats changed? asked one reader, previewing a theme that would emerge in e-mail after e-mail:
Nice to see he hasnt changed!
Funny, he hasnt changed one bit.
Hes describing his youthful arrogance? Not much has changed.
He hasnt changed as much as he thinks he has.
I would say Sen. McCain still suffers from the malady he describes.
How precisely is McCains attitude toward those who disagree with him any different from his youth?
The only difference between the young McCain and the current version is that the current version now has the power to try to put his pontifications into law and regulate speech.
Now it should be said that all of these comments came from readers of National Review, which means they are probably not representative of all political persuasions. But they are representative of the people who, say, vote in Republican primaries. And they suggest that McCain still rubs a lot of those voters the wrong way.
They dont want McCain to convince them that he is a different man from the one he was in 1957. They want him to convince them that he is a different man from the one he was in 2000. And that is a tougher job.
For some conservatives, McCain, for all his other accomplishments, will always be known as the man who led the (successful) fight to regulate political speech.
His handiwork, the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, still rankles. And not just on principle. It also didnt work just look at the big money that poured into 527s in 2004 and that will pour somewhere else in 2008 if the government cracks down on 527s.
As he pursues the GOP nomination, McCain needs to reconcile with the conservatives who were appalled by the way he worked so hard to limit the right of political expression.
Of course, reconciliation was what McCains speech delivered last week at Liberty University and scheduled for delivery again tomorrow at the New School in New York was all about. Most people saw it, correctly, as McCains way of mending fences with Rev. Jerry Falwell and the people McCain offended in 2000 when he called Falwell an agent of intolerance and an evil influence in the Republican party.
Let us argue, McCain said. Our differences are not petty, they involve cherished beliefs and represent our best judgment about what is right for our country and humanity.
But any such dispute, McCain said, should remain an argument among friends.
It was an effective speech. But McCain has more reconciling to do. Can he get along with the people who knew then and know now that McCain-Feingold was a bad idea?
That will take more than a trip to Liberty University.
York is a White House correspondent for National Review. His column appears in The Hill each week. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Just look at McCain and his activity on behalf of illegal alliens with regard to Amnesty & you see the true John MCCain who would govern like a liberal but try to convince the Conservative base that he is one of them!
Its too late in McCain's career to change political parties!
Has John grown up?Nope-still the same hack politician trying to work all the angles in hopes of more votes.I hope no one here is fooled by him.
There's no way in hell. John McCain and conservatives have irreconcilable difference. Period. End of story.
This man is AMERICA'S only hope of sustaining its lead across the globe. Common sense and tough as nails. Honest and a straight shooter (at the bad guys). We will be better off.
He has my vote!
McCain is worthless.
One of the biggest evidences of his lack of character was his reconciliation with the treasonous, unrepentant John Eff'in Kerry and his lies about the Vietnam war veterans.
By the way, whatever became of that recall effort the good people of Arizona were trying to put on McCain a couple of years ago?
He's not worthless, he's dangerous. Look at McCain-Feingold. I could never vote for someone who authored that bill.
Put him on the GOP ticket and the sell-out is complete.
As far as I'm concerned, McPain is done for. Stick him with a fork, if you want.
I'll never discredit his service, but as Presidential material? Not my vote, EVER!
Don't forget, McPain immediately labeled the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth as "dishonest and dishonorable" as soon as they came forward against his good buddy, John 'F'in sKerry.
How nice to slander over 200 brave decorated combat Veterans in favor of one sleazy anti-war activist turned hero, when it suits him.
McPain will never receive a vote for anything from me.
He's going chameleon.
i don't trust him and now that the press no longer needs him, he needs a new strategy.
McCain's not a grown up, he's a suck up. He'll do it to any one he sees that can benefit him.
I think McCain would be more dangerous in the Oval Office than Perot, and that is saying something.
You forgot the sarcasm tag.
McCain and Specter, two back stabbers growing old together.