Beyond the calls for reform and his irascible personality, the speech below is a big reason why I supported John McCain in 2000:
Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.
Many years ago, a scared American prisoner of war in Vietnam was tied in torture robes by his tormenters and left alone in an empty room to suffer through the night. Later in the evening, a guard he had never spoken to entered the room and silently loosened the ropes to relieve his suffering. Just before morning, that same guard came back and re-tightened the ropes before his less humanitarian comrades returned.
He never said a word to the grateful prisoner, but some months later on a Christmas morning as the prisoner stood alone in the prison courtyard, the same Good Samaritan walked up to him and stood next to him for a few moments. Then with his sandal, the guard drew a cross in the dirt. Both prisoner and guard stood wordlessly there for a minute or two venerating the cross until the guard rubbed it out and walked away.
This is my faith, the faith that unites and never divides, the faith that bridges unbridgeable gaps in humanity. That is my religious faith and it is the faith I want my party to serve, and the faith I hold in my country. It is the faith that we are all equal and endowed by our creator with unalienable rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is the faith I would die to defend.
Now, as I watch him pander to Falwell (McCain will be the blowhard reverend’s guest at this weekend’s annual conference of the National Religious Broadcasters), I’m disillusioned. I still believe there’s greatness in the man, but I’m saddened to see him pretend to be something he’s not just to get the GOP nomination. It’s desperate, and it’s beneath him, as Tod Purdum observed in a recent Vanity Fair profile of the Arizona senator:
But these days, McCain often seems to think and behave like the central character of a more contemporary political novel, Joe Klein’s Primary Colors, in which Governor Jack Stanton, Klein’s talented but flawed Clinton-esque hero, begs an aide disillusioned by his compromises to stick with him. “You don’t think Abraham Lincoln was a whore before he was a president?,” Stanton asks. “He had to tell his little stories and smile his shit-eating, backcountry grin. He did it all just so he’d get the opportunity, one day, to stand in front of the nation and appeal to ‘the better angels of our nature.’ That’s when the bullshit stops. And that’s what this is all about.”