Our Guy McCain.

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I have to go to the extended quote with bolds added for this. Newsweek editor John Meacham writing about John McCain at Liberty University:

Speaking of Iraq, McCain said: “Should we lose this war, our defeat will further destabilize an already volatile and dangerous region, strengthen the threat of terrorism and unleash furies that will assail us for a very long time. I believe the benefits of success will justify the costs and risks we have incurred. But if an American feels the decision was unwise, then they should state their opposition, and argue for another course. It is your right and your obligation. I respect you for it. I would not respect you if you chose to ignore such an important responsibility. But I ask that you consider the possibility that I, too, am trying to meet my responsibilities, to follow my conscience, to do my duty as best I can, as God has given me the light to see that duty.� The last phrase is an evocative one, derived from Lincoln and MacArthur, and McCain’s own faith, it seems, is largely in the tradition of what MacArthur called “duty, honor, country.� (McCain is said to have left the Episcopal Church in which he was raised in part because he found it too stuffy.)

The crux of McCain’s Liberty argument: “Americans deserve more than tolerance from one another, we deserve each other’s respect, whether we think each other right or wrong in our views, as long as our character and our sincerity merit respect, and as long as we share, for all our differences, for all the noisy debates that enliven our politics, a mutual devotion to the sublime idea that this nation was conceived in-that freedom is the inalienable right of mankind, and in accord with laws of nature and nature’s Creator.� In this McCain touched on two critical American traditions. The first is that tolerance is different from liberty (James Madison fought this battle during the Revolutionary era), for tolerance implies that one’s freedom is contingent. Liberty, however, is permanent, and, as Jefferson said, “the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.� And by speaking of freedom in terms of “the laws of nature and nature’s Creator,� McCain was grounding himself explicitly in the opening section of the Declaration of Independence, which argued that our fundamental human rights came from God, not from men, and were thus sacred and beyond the reach of any temporal power-including the right to believe or not believe as one chooses.

McCain’s call was for America to act like America: to argue about freedom, but to respect one another, to understand that we are all-even those with whom we completely disagree-made in the image and likeness of God and are thus entitled to equal dignity. The difference between a theocracy and a democratic republic like ours is that religion shapes the life of nation without controlling it. And we are no theocracy. “Let us argue with each other then,� McCain said. “By all means, let us argue. Our differences are not petty, they often involve cherished beliefs, and represent our best judgment about what is right for our country and humanity. Let us defend those beliefs. Let’s do so sincerely and strenuously. It is our right and duty to do so. And let’s not be too dismayed with the tenor and passion of our arguments, even when they wound us. We have fought among ourselves before in our history, over big things and small, with worse vitriol and bitterness than we experience today. … But let us remember, we are not enemies. We are compatriots defending ourselves from a real enemy. We have nothing to fear from each other. … It should remain an argument among friends; each of us struggling to hear our conscience, and heed its demands; each of us, despite our differences, united in our great cause, and respectful of the goodness in each other.

The one, the only, John McCain. If even ten percent of American politicians were like this guy, just think of how much lower our national cynicism quotient would be.

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