"Eclectic" hardly describes it.
HBO recently aired a fantastic bio/miniseries on John Adams – worts and all. I wonder if he (or any of our founding fathers) could have held up to the level of personal scrutiny anyone running for president these days is subject to. I’m probably not voting for McCain (so this isn’t some screed by a McCain supporter), but I’m not shocked by the revelation that he’s a driven, extremely ambitious guy. Who else runs for president? And the fact that he dumped his first wife for a younger, prettier, richer woman isn’t admirable, but it isn’t the sort of stuff that should disqualify someone from higher office (if being a jerk to your spouse disqualified a person from higher office, I don’t think we’d be left with a very large talent pool).John Adams was a driven, extremely ambitious, argumentative, grump who (according to the HBO series) probably played a big part in driving one of his sons to alcoholism and suicide (although he apparently worshiped his wife, so the analogy to McCain isn’t perfect). Not exactly admirable stuff, but nothing that disqualified him from playing a crucial - and positive - role in early U.S. history.On balance, I have no doubt that knowing too much about our politicians is better than knowing too little. But I think we’ve lost something valuable as a nation when every human foible (and every not so small character flaw) is magnified to the point that by the time anyone short of Jesus Christ himself gets sworn in as president he or she has been reduced down as a person to somewhere between “barely acceptable” and “worthy of contempt.”
I just finished reading Ghost Soldiers, the story of the rescue of US POWs near Manila during WWII when US forces were invading the Phillipines and the Japanese were murdering the men in the camps that they had held captive since Bataan and Corregidor. The psychological and physical trauma the survivors suffered is something I cannot imagine. And I cannot imagine what McCain must have suffered. The fact that his sons honor him and their mother, his first wife, does too, is telling. I would find him difficult not to vote for.
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