Tuesday, November 13, 2007

November 13, 2007

     New York Times columnist David Brooks quotes a political consultant as saying, "You know, there's really only one great man running for president this year, and that's McCain."  He's right.
     It isn't just the biography, though that's impressive:  combat pilot, shot down, imprisoned and tortured by the North Vietnamese (he still is awkward signing autographs because of injuries suffered then);  it's just who he is.  I realized how different he is when he was running in 2000 and I interviewed him for the CNN profile that was to air on the day he announced.
     We went through the war and the torture.  And then I said something like--Senator, a lot of us reporters admire and respect you, but there's one question I have to ask that you won't like--what about that tasteless one-liner of yours about Chelsea Clinton at a Republican dinner the other day?   And no, I won't repeat it here but it was truly ugly.  McCain looked me straight in the eye and said, "I suppose we've all done stupid and cruel things in our lives.  I hope that's my last one."  Well, have you ever heard a presidential candidate say something like that?  I hadn't.  Still haven't.
    And we reporters liked him because he, like we, took our job seriously and answered our questions.  On his bus, the Straight Talk Express, he answered so many questions I was sometimes tempted to ask, "Senator, could we maybe have the Straight Silence Express for fifteen minutes?  I have to figure out what my lead is."  He'd have said no, of course.  He answered questions.
     He was a rebel at the Naval Academy and part of him, I think, is one still.  I've always thought that if he and Bill Bradley had been the nominees in 2000, we'd have had an unusual election--two honest, decent, thoughtful men arguing issues.  Wouldn't that have been something rare and swell?
     He's less glamorous this time and less popular with the press.  He supported the war in Iraq when most of us didn't.  But it was what he believed and he said so, of course.
     Should he be president this time?  I don't know.  He's older;  he'd be, at seventy-one, the oldest president we ever inaugurated if he won.  I'm in my seventies, and I wouldn't feel up to the job.  But a fine man?  Oh yes, indeed. 

1 comment:

Holly W said...

I liked McCain until he started courting the religious right. He sold out and everyone knew it.