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
***I hope no one here is fooled by him.***
I got a feeling our 'so-called' POW hero is somehow going to hook up with Hillary and really make waves. There is just something about the guy that gives me the willys when I see and listen to him.
And his traitor like actions with other RINOs, undercutting the 'Nuclear Option'.... Well that speaks for itself.
I wish he Clinton, and Carter would STFU and go away.
Being a POW can do that to a man.
I don't mean to be disrespectful to him because he was a POW, but by the same token, I don't think that the experience somehow qualifies him to be a U.S. senator.
We're told that when a delegation sought his help in resolving the MIA situation from the Vietnam war, he just threw them out of his office.
With an attitude like that, he shouldn't be a senator, no matter that he IS a son and grandson of Navy admirals.
John McCain, is that you?
McCain is looking down the barrel of a primary season. He hasn't changed anything except his tactics.
"I don't know the exact mental illness he has to want to destroy the country he served."
You have hit the nail squarely on the head! McQueeg is unstable, mentally ill and unfit for ANY political office, let alone President of the United States. I would not vote for him. Just the thought of him being in the Oval Office sends shivers up and down my spine.
Let me do it for you. Theres a collecti of vets that I don't give a crap how much medals they have pinned to their chests in a fleeting moment of glory for their country. Its what they do in the long term TO their country that makes them traitors. Stand up McCain, Kerry, & Murtha. You all are traitous scumbags who by your actions now, disgrace your service and your country.
Good one my friend. I am just a good old Marine who knows what it takes to keep all of us safe...