McCain on Murtha

his video clip, poor as the quality is thanks to the dim lighting at Hudson’s Smokehouse in Lexington last night, reminds me of a discussion we had regarding the "b-word" clip a couple of weeks back.

Some, who are not inclined to think as highly of John McCain as I do, tended to think of the way he spoke of fellow Sen. Hillary Clinton — with sober, collegial respect — AFTER he regained his composure as the phony part of that earlier clip. I saw it as consistent with the way Sen. McCain talks about everybody. Respecting others, regardless of political differences, is an essential part of the man’s character.

Here we see another partisan gathering — a larger one this time — and another case in which an apparent supporter tees up an opportunity for the candidate to trash a political opponent. In this case, it was someone asking about John Murtha’s past comments with regard to the conduct of American troops in Iraq.

Without the flustering factor of the profane language in that earlier incident, McCain answers in a way typical of him: He soberly expresses his respect for Congressman Murtha (in the same tone in which he expressed his respect for Sen. Clinton, the same tone in which he generally speaks of other people), then expresses his strong disagreement with the congressman and other Democrats on policy.

This speaks to the essence of what I am always seeking in political discourse — the kind of civility in which ideas can be discuss, and even debated fiercely, without the distraction of ad hominem bashing.

You don’t normally see this sort of clip, and with good reason — it’s not an explosion or a pratfall, and it doesn’t break new ground. McCain says things he says all the time. But my point, is that day in and day out, this is the way he speaks of people with whom he disagrees.

5 thoughts on “McCain on Murtha

  1. Doug Ross

    You keep trying to spin McCain’s reaction to the Hilary question as “losing his composure”… why can’t you at least be honest enough to say he laughed and also said “that’s an excellent question” BEFORE turning on the supposed “respect” for Hilary?
    SO which part of his reaction was phony – the laughter or the sober senator routine? It can’t be both. His “I respect so-and-so” patter is just that — a trained response from years on the campaign trail.
    Saying one thing in public and another in private is not an admirable trait.
    McCain’s comments on Vietnam are another reason why I would not vote for him.
    Like they say, when your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Same applies to McCain. Once you’re in the military, you can only think of military “solutions” to problems.
    Apparently, the only problem we had in Vietnam was a bunch of pot smoking hippies back in the U.S. protesting against it. Otherwise, we were on the brink of, uh, what? What was the objective? What ever did happen to that Domino Effect that we were fighting to stop? It isn’t hard to understand that Senator McCain would feel he has to justify the Vietnam War in order to cope with his horrific experience. I mean, if the Vietnam War was a useless exercise, that would mean his POW experience could have been avoided.
    The issue for the American public always comes down to “what are we fighting for? what is the cause that our American soldiers are dying for?” In the case of Iraq, just as in Vietnam, the pre-war hype has not been able to hold up to the scrutiny. The execution did not match the strategy. And the results did not match the objective.

  2. Brad Warthen

    Doug, I consider NONE of it to be phony. The embarrassment, the awkward attempts to laugh off the grotesque faux pas by someone in the audience — from the “that’s an excellent question” to the garbled request for a “translation” — and the sincere expression of respect once a few seconds had passed and the candidate had regained his composure.
    All of it was consistent with the way an honest person who respects other people would act when suddenly smacked in the face with something from so far out in left field as that.

  3. bud

    The problem with McCain has never been his character, though he is by no means perfect. He has human flaws just like anyone else. His response to the “bitch” comment was poor. His judgement in other areas has left much to be desired. I am more than willing to let all that slide, but it’s worth pointing these flaws out so that we don’t anoint him as some type of political messiah.
    What disturbs me most about John McCain is his dogmatic and totally unrealistic view of the security issues facing the U.S. Our involvement in Iraq has been a spectacular failure with Americans continuing to die by the dozens every month for no good reason. Yet McCain continues to support military solutions in a region that requires skilled diplomatic overtures instead. His situation as a POW probably colors his view of how to use our military to enhance American security.
    Jack Murtha, on the other hand, did not face the same incarceration as McCain so his views are not colored in the same way. Murtha and John Kerry both saw the futility of fighting endless battles with an elusive enemy while McCain was suffering his “tour” in the Hanoi Hilton, hence he did not grasp the situation in the same way.
    This “colored” view of the world scares me about McCain. He’s very likely to abuse our military assets and get thousands more Americans killed in endless and futile endeavors to root out phantom enemies. Thankfully McCain’s polling numbers suggest the American people are unlikely to trust the presidency to this very dangerous man.

  4. Brett

    Bud, what Kool-Aid are you drinking?? Terrorists are “phantom enemies”?? You must be less than six years old because there was this little attack on the U.S. on September 11, 2001….

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