In the course of this campaign, I’ve really come to admire John McCain.Â This is not to say I’ve found him perfect, but that I’ve overcome my doubts about the Arizona Senator and become convinced he could be an excellent chief executive.
In recent months, I’ve read two of his books, Why Courage Matters and Worth the Fighting For, and am currently reading a third, Hard Call: The Art of Great Decisions, having read Faith of my Fathers during the 2000 campaign.Â The former POW is clearly cut from presidential timber, understanding American history, policy issues, particularly effecting our nation’s standing in the world.Â Not just that, he has shown an appreciation for human greatness and sympathy for human frailty.
McCain’s books show a great deal of appreciation and affection for men and women from all walks of life, including Georgia Congressman John Lewis who recently badmouthed the Arizona Senator.Â By contrast, Obama’s books dwell on his own struggles and feelings, helping define him as a thoughtful and introspective individual, but not a chief executive.Â A smart, indeed thoughtful, man Obama clearly is, but a leader he is not.
Yet, where the Illinois Senator has excelled has been on the stump.Â When Obama has a well-crafted speech in front of him, few can compete with him, particularly when the media magnifies his remarks, highlighting his most powerful passages.Â And ignores his bumbling responses when speaking without notes.
McCain, however, seems his best in such unscripted situations, speaking sincerely from the heart, addressing the audience in front of him.Â How often we hear of Joe Biden’s silly statements in such situations.Â How frequently Obama’s such statements make the news, at least on the right.
Alas that such candor in front of crowds, large or small, when not clownish, rarely makes the national news.Â And that has hurt John McCain.Â His rhetorical strength does not lend itself well to the current media age.Â It’s why, I believe, Peggy Noonan was on to something when, in her column today, she faulted the Republican for not going around the media and gently seizing “the country by its lapels.”
I wonder if McCain could do this, what Reagan did.Â He excelled in his conversation with Rick Warren, but how many people saw that?Â He’s good in most “townhall” settings.Â But, few remember his speeches, as we all recall Sarah Palin’s address this summer to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
Perhaps, that’s why so many Republicans have seized on Joe the Plumber.Â He has done what McCain has had difficulty doing.Â He has connected with the average American.Â No wonder the left (and their allies in the MSM) are so eager to destroy him.
If John McCain had Reagan’s gifts, this election would have a much different dynamic, even in an atmosphere favorable to the party out of powr. And that should give Democrats pause.Â And Republicans hope.