mccain’s not too old

Posted on January 22, 2008

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Chuck Norris can jibe all he wants about John McCain being too old to be the next President of the United States.

But it takes a wise old person like McCain to make such an astute speech that could appeal to both liberals and conservatives after winning in the South Carolina primary: “In war and peace, in good times and challenging ones, we have always known that the first responsibility of government it to keep this country safe from its enemies, and the American people free of a heavy handed government that spends too much of their money, and tries to do for them what they are better able to do for themselves,” the senator from Arizona told cheering supporters.

“We want government to do its job, not your job; to do it better and to do it with less of your money; to defend our nation’s security wisely and effectively, because the cost of our defense is so dear to us; to respect our values because they are the true source of our strength; to enforce the rule of law that is first defense of freedom; to keep the promises it makes to us and not make promises it will not keep.

“We believe government should do only those things we cannot do individually, and then get out of the way so that the most industrious, ingenious and enterprising people in the world can do what they have always done: build an even greater country than the one they inherited.”

Norris can sneer at McCain’s age but South Carolina voters who regarded experience as the topmost quality they were looking for in a candidate overwhelmingly picked McCain. He also did well with those who cared about terrorism, the Iraq war and the economy. As a bonus, McCain’s draw with independent voters continued to hold firm in South Carolina.

It is not easy to bestow the “front runner” status on McCain, given how rudderless the Republican campaign still seems at the moment.

But McCain’s amazing turnaround – from an almost empty campaign finance chest last summer and the political near-death predictions by pundits, to claiming two big primary prizes (New Hampshire and South Carolina) – is even making conservative right-wingers recognize his growing dominance and move into his corner, albeit, grudgingly.

If they wanted to ensure their party remained in the White House for at least another four years, they would be silly to bet against the Arizona senator who embodies sheer determination and yes, experience aplenty. The hardcore conservatives of the party may scoff at McCain’s lack of so-called bona fide conservative credentials. But they would be stupid to reject a man who has always attracted support from independents and even moderate Democrats. Against either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the general election, McCain can more than hold his own. With his wide swath of appeal, conservative leaders reject McCain at their own peril.

Perhaps some are wising up, not least the godfather of arch conservatism, William Kristol.

Besides highlighting how old-fashioned McCain is, in a good way, in comparison to his rivals on the campaign trail, Kristol gave his blessings to McCain while revealing in a New York Times editorial a poem that is both McCain’s inspiration and battle cry. The poem is William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus”.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud,
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow’d.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

The United States could do worse than having a man with such mostly-forgotten but still admirable old-fashioned values as doggedness, grit, character and courage under fire as the Republican presidential nominee, and even potential president. And age, really, is just a number.

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Posted in: john mccain, politics, US