Friday, August 15, 2008

McCain Our Churchill

John McCain seems suddenly Churchillian. Consider the resemblance. Both men came from a long line of public men, albeit of different sorts. Both distinguished themselves militarily when young, although differently. Both spent years in the legislature and in leadership positions there, Churchill as Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer and McCain as a prominent member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. If McCain is elected president, both will have come very late in life to executive leadership of their respective nations. Churchill was 65 when he became Prime Minister in 1940. John McCain will be 72 at the end of this month.

More substantively, both men were fairly isolated even within their own parties in their prescient opposition to looming tyranny in Europe. At a joint press conference in Slovenia with then Russian President Putin, President George W. Bush said "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country." In disagreement with this, Sen. McCain said "When I look into Vladimir Putin's eyes, I see three letters: a K, a G and a B." He has been advocating the expulsion of Russian from the G8 group of industrialized nations, a suggestion that obviously most have found unnecessarily provocative. Now if McCain had Obama's eloquence, the resemblance would be more convincing.

But Americans are not moved by associations with Winston Churchill. But events have opened the opportunity for McCain to step into the Reagan role. And his penchant for prudent confrontation with the Russians, despite fierce opposition from the Democrats, is Reaganesque. Putin's making explicit his imperial ambitions in Europe may clinch the election for McCain. Anything that reminds America that we are living in a dangerous world is a boost for McCain and daybreak to the Obama dream-sleep.

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