As follow-up to the comments of Joe and Dorian on John McCain’s DADT performance yesterday, I point to James Fallows writing on the mystery of John McCain:
I can remember when McCain seemed to be a potentially Eisenhower-ish, as opposed to an increasingly Bunning-like, figure in American public life. Broad-minded, tolerant, eager to bridge rather than open divides — this was the way he seemed to so many people starting from his arrival in the Congress in the 1980s.
Seeing him now is surprising not simply because it reminds us: this man could be the sitting president, but also because it again raises the question, how did he end up this way? Even if his earlier identity had been artifice, what would be the payoff in letting it go?
I have been trying to think of a comparable senior public figure who, in the later stages of his or her career, narrowed rather than broadened his view of the world and his appeals to history’s judgment. I’m sure there are plenty (on two minutes’ reflection, I’ll start with Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh), but the examples that immediately come to mind go the other way.
George C. Wallace, once a firebrand of segregation, eventually became a kind of racial-healing figure near the end of his troubled life. There was something similar in the very long and winding path of Strom Thurmond (or Robert Byrd). Or Teddy Kennedy, [Barry Goldwater, Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara]. We know that for humanity in general, the passing years can often make people closed-minded and embunkered in their views. But for people in public life, it seems to me, surprisingly often the later years bring an awareness of the chanciness and uncertainty of life, the folly of bitterness, the long-term advantage of a big-tent rather than a purist approach.
One more perspective…
Ta Nahisi Coates on the man whose opposition to DADT echoes his objections to the Martin Luther King holiday, McCain Hits Bottom, Digs:
We have, of late, taken to avoiding comparisons between the struggles of gays and the struggles of blacks. And yet, in this instance, the notion that DADT is actually a Georgetown cocktail party plot, surely recalls the notion that “Lincolnism” is actually the work of miscegenaters. The case is different, but the disinclination to argue on the grounds of facts, the proclivity for changing the subject, the penchant for deceitful ad-hominem, and the bigoted appeal to fear, is the same as it ever was.
I was never a McCain fan but it is still sad to see the sorry decline of the “maverick” moderate.
RELATED: Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, was quoted Tuesday saying that a change in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law could endanger the lives of Marines in combat. James Joyner presumed he would resign his post if the law was repealed. We’ll see. The Left calls Amos crazy; he is, in fact, deeply Christian, “I was saved many years ago as a Lieutenant going through flight school.” That seems to endorse Jeff Sharlet’s view of the power of evangelicals in the military. (Sharlet is author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.) Nathan Cox, an infantry captain in the Marine Corps who has been deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan, effectively rebuts Amos in a WaPo OpEd. Cox is “not homosexual.”