While the Democrats continue to fight each other, the Republican presidential candidate John McCain is already in full campaign mode. He's trying to win with a strong family history, boldness, and military ethic because the party which stands behind him is weaker than the opposition.
Patriotic Americans of all political shades like to think of their nation as Abraham Lincoln once did: as “the last, best hope” on earth. John McCain is now touring America to bring the different stages of his life story closer to the voters. Everyone should know of his inner deep regard for the principles of the United States’ founding fathers.
After all, one of John McCain’s ancestors fought for George Washington during the Revolutionary War in the 1700's. His father and grandfather were both four star admirals in the US Navy. John McCain stopped this week in places like Arlington, Virginia and the military airbase “McCain Field” in Meridian, Mississippi to say that many of his ancestors were buried there.
The Best Hope for the Republicans
The McCain family tradition is characterized by service to the nation. In this very difficult end phase of the Bush administration, the 71 year old Republican is actually emerging as the “last, best hope” of a conservative party which for the past several years dismissed the candidate, on the one hand, because of his moderate views and, on the other hand, because of the rebellious streak in his personality and his rudeness from time to time.
McCain’s so called “biographical tour” was tailor made by none other than chief Republican strategist Karl Rove. This same Karl Rove is widely suspected of having contrived a bitter and dirty campaign against McCain in the South Carolina primary in 2000 on behalf of George W. Bush. Also, with the current financial crisis and the rather poorly managed Iraq War, the Republicans by and large appear to be insensitive, rigid, or conciliatory depending on how one looks at it.
Guided by the Past and Military Ethic
John McCain’s appearances, however, are certainly not guided by the political party necessities of today, but rather by the dictates of the past, especially the noble ideals of the Revolution which of course cannot be found everywhere in present day American life.
Although he would have to be the main witness for the principle of equality before the law, John McCain risked everything while in his Hanoi prison during the Vietnam War. It was a war which had not exactly been personally fought by representatives of the American upper class. Just soon after McCain had been taken prisoner in 1967, the Vietnamese learned from a third party that McCain’s father was the admiral of the US Pacific fleet. His release was promptly arranged.
But for five long years, John McCain steadfastly refused his own release until every American soldier who had been captured before him was released first. At exactly the same time, McCain's father ordered the bombing of Hanoi again, knowing full well that his son was imprisoned in the North Vietnamese capital.
For many, that would sound cruel, even in accordance with a cult of death. But it shows an almost bizarre divine military nobleness. This is in a country which, from the beginning, had abolished the nobility together with the obligatory warlike ethic. The McCain family treasured and lived their own military ethic, and they are admired for it to this day.
John McCain maintains that he is an “imperfect servant” of his country. He casts masochistic traits on his family, and says that he's much like Frankenstein. But McCain’s outward political appearance is already showing something like freedom itself. And freedom seldom has that perfect face which many a European expects of it.
The Republicans in Crisis
In stark contrast to the noble stories of the McCain family stands the condition of the present Republican Party, the party which John McCain is supposed to pull back out of the grave this November. Top Republican leaders in Washington have watched with amazement as many of the party’s most important politicians and staff have left the scene. Furthermore, it turns out to be exceedingly difficult to recruit new candidates for the new vacancies.
But it gets even worse. An entire army of conservative, so called “Blue Dog" Democrats are waiting in position to take over former Republican strongholds in the fall. After conservative power player Dennis Hastert from Illinois threw in the towel last year, his seat in the US House of Representatives was filled during a special election by an unknown physicist named Bill Foster who leans toward a policy of cuts and favors “green” initiatives. In the future, similar policies are expected from Barack Obama and his chief advisor David Axelrod. The Republican Party chairman Tom Cole frankly admitted to the New York Times that this would be the “end of the Republican Party” for the time being.
And just like that, the suspense of this election year is mounting. The candidate with the most experience leads the considerably weaker and demoralized troops. On the other hand, the stronger, indeed more euphoric troops of the Democrats have the weaker leadership, with the clumsy party rules clearly preventing neither candidate from getting anything done despite all of the new energy.
Even with the symbolic power of his biography and the pull of tradition, John McCain will have a more difficult time than he wants to get to the White House. The Democrats, in contrast, are auspiciously moving in number toward the White House, if in a more chaotic manner. So this is how the battle for the mobilization of the last voters for John McCain against Barack Obama is going to look, like the difference between war and rock ‘n’ roll.