Friday, November 07, 2008

John McCain

In Britain, most people started following the US election campaign fairly late. Obama was an exciting, interesting star, Palin was a hate figure, plugging into all of the European prejudices and stereotypes about "Americans", but McCain was never perceived by the general public here as anything other than a slightly better version of GW Bush. Because they started following the campaign around when he morphed into some sort of Reaganite low-tax-strong-defence bruiser, most British people had no idea of the previous McCain, who I had admired. I haven't spoken to enough people since, but many were suprised at what nice guy he seemed when he made his fantastic concession speech.

Stateside, Jeff W gets that right:
The Mac is Back: John McCain's concession speech last night was impressively gracious, unusually eloquent, visibly heartfelt, and (how else can one put it?) genuinely patriotic. This sounded like the John McCain whom many had come to admire over the years (as opposed to the John McCain who, over the past several months, has increasingly sounded like a jerk).

For those of you who didn't hear McCain's concession speech last night, I recommend listening to it now. It was an honorable and valuable end to a campaign that (honesty compels me to add) deserved to lose.

P.S. Talking of big-hearted conservatives, a shockingly nice David Horowitz. (H/t jogo)

P.P.S. This from the ever-wise Victor Davis Hanson:
Let me understand the current media analysis of John McCain: 2000—“Old” John McCain runs against the more conservative George Bush and loses, so he’s declared principled and good; mid-2008—“new” John McCain runs against a messianic Barack Obama and could win, so he’s ruthless, quasi-racist, and bad; late 2008—“new-old” John McCain loses against Obama and makes a typically gracious speech, so suddenly he’s the new ‘old’ John McCain again?


Dave Semple said...

Though I can sympathize with this viewpoint, having known of McCain's record for some time on subjects like torture, immigration and campaign finance reform, I can't find it in myself to admire him.

The man was a career Republican politician and for all his background or his supposed penchant for being the underdog or even for all his criticisms of Falwell and Robertson, he was still just one more pillar of an order which is intrinsically unjust.

In an era where our perception of "partisan" increasingly reflects a fear of the extreme right, it's almost a form of stockholm syndrome to suddenly fall for someone who occasionally voted with the moderates, or who had bipartisan support or who compromised on Senatorial filibuster for judicial candidates.

It wasn't just McCain's campaign that deserved to lose, it was McCain himself and everything he stood for as well. While we might admire his character or his ability to actually appear like a human being, McCain the man is inseparable from McCain the politician.

bob said...

I think the point I was making was that British people constructed him as much more right-wing than he is. His position on immigration is to the "left" of the New Labour government, for example. His position on climate change is close to the European social democratic norm.

I do agree though that McCain and everything he stood for deserved to lose. The global financial crisis was, at least partly, caused by a system of rewarding structural greed in the financial sector, while impoverishing the mass of Americans, and this is essentially the policy McCain promised to continue.

max said...

A great speech really.
I also didn't know much about him, I had an idea of him being a very hawkish "let's nuke them" sort of guy.
I ended up sympathizing with him quite a lot, he did come out as a nice guy and not a drone.