John McCain’s acceptance speech was nearing a surprisingly effective (for him) conclusion when he said, “I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s.”
Good line. It, like a few others, came as he described his imprisonment in North Vietnam. Frankly, I didn’t think there was any way he could tell that story in a way that didn’t sound maudlin, boastful, or self-serving. I was surprised, impressed, and moved.
McCain’s public speaking has always been awkward and contrived to the point of making me uncomfortable. I squirm. I almost feel sorry for him. Tonight was the best delivery I’ve seen from him, which made it better than I expected, but still not very good. I doubt he wrote the speech himself, but few political speakers can afford to write their own stuff. Pity the unheralded speechwriters. It must be painful to write a good speech and have to watch McCain deliver it.
Anyway, after years of knowing about it, months of being reminded of it, and three days of hearing it recited in detail and splashed on a giant screen, I feel confident enough to say, yes, John McCain is a war hero.
That said, what really annoyed me about the GOP’s adulation for the war hero and his Republican supporters was the inescapable implication that there are no Democratic war heroes. At one point last night, the family of a soldier killed in Iraq was introduced and cheered as though such a thing were unique. It seemed so unfair to single out that one family when others have given just as much. Democrats have died, too. And Independents. And plenty of kids too young to know the difference.
The Republicans don’t have a corner on war heroes in this country, or on “Country First” and patriotism. It’s tasteless and offensive for them to keep acting like they do.