John McCain spent the Fourth of July not in Iowa, or New Hampshire, but Baghdad. McCain the candidate still has a job as McCain the citizen, and McCain the Senator. This is not to knock the other candidates, who have spent considerable time and energy courting votes. McCain, regardless of your viewpoint, is still making policy in a time when others are just talking.
The news continues to have a field day on McCain's political grave, but I think it is still too soon. The same media, that bemoans private money in elections is now saying that should McCain tap into public funding, that he is somehow "less" of a candidate. (By public funding, I refer to that little check box option on your 1040's, that let's you chose to earmark a portion of your return for public funded elections).
Tom Coburn, a Senator from Missouri who opposed McCain's immigration bill, said this of McCain's stick-to-your-guns courage:
"Whether you agree with him or not, Senator McCain’s actions demonstrated the qualities we rarely see in Washington — courage, character, honor, and dignity."
I am not surprised by the pundits and pollsters, who judge McCain's attempts at policy as simply a failure. You cannot fit the word "compromise" into a soundbite it seems. Everything in modern politics seems to be black and white, win or lose. And so, shades of grey, compromise, bipartisanship and the like just do not make the headlines. And neither does political courage.
Kennedy's tome on courage makes for an interesting read this campaign season. Profiles in Courage highlights great Senators of the past who would have had a clear path to the presidency if they just bent on their convictions. These men looked at their values and said that their cause was "worth the fighting for". And McCain who has long been called a "maverick", a "independent operator" and his own man is chastised by the pundits for not towing his party line and playing nice.
In another era, being your own man was called "courage". In McCain, we have a candidate who is politically courageous, who might be able to deliver on change like no candidate since Teddy Roosevelt, and yet, we balk as a media consuming public when such a force, such vigor is right in front of us.
Should McCain choose matching funds to keep his campaign afloat, I will welcome it. For in this election, we need more courage and less cowardice when it comes to taking a stand on an issue, right or wrong.