James Forsyth James Forsyth

Let us take a moment to praise John McCain

Washington is a city with a short memory. Today as I did the rounds before heading to New York and then Boston for a few days holiday, John McCain’s name was barely mentioned as anything other than a footnote. But if Tuesday night marked the beginning of the end of McCain’s career in public service, he deserves a proper and full-throated vote of thanks.

First of all, John McCain has served his country in ways that few of us can imagine. No matter how many times it is said or the partisan uses it is put to, there is no doubt that John McCain’s refusal of special treatment in Vietnam marks him out as an American hero. Second, McCain has been, and is, the best kind of Senator; a man who serves his constituents but puts the national interest ahead of the local one. Time and time again on issues from immigration to climate change to campaign finance McCain has been prepared to take political risks, and hits, to advance legislation that he believes to be for the public good (something we have not yet seen for Obama). Finally, McCain deserves credit for the fact that his campaign did not play the race card. McCain repeatedly refused to make an issue of Rev. Wright and his campaign shied away from ads or attacks that could be seen as having a racial subtext.

John McCain is the only Republican who could have kept this election competitive through the conventions. At times his campaign was not attractive and there is no doubt he made some bad decisions, but he did so as a candidate who always knew that he was behind because of the political atmospherics.

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