This 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.