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Sunday, June 23, 2024

McCain can lead Republican Party following presidential loss

Sen. John McCain finally gave a speech worthy of a presidential candidate. He spoke to Americans like adults and forsook the aggressive and counterproductive assaults that defined his campaign.

He did all of it the moment he officially lost the election. McCain finally dropped the trappings he had donned in 2006, when he decided to run again for his party's nomination.

In 2000, McCain earned reverence from a young generation and from both parties when he called Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson the intolerant bigots that they are.

He was honest with Americans when he said a tax cut was fiscally irresponsible. As a result, he lost the primaries to a man he knew was his intellectual inferior.

When McCain decided to run for his party's nomination again in 2006, he knew what it would take to win. He knew he would have to sell himself to the neo-con brand of Republican. He would have to become the kind of far-right, Bible-thumping cowboy that had come to dominate his party.

McCain spoke at Falwell's college, Liberty University, in an effort to appeal to the evangelical vote. He decided to support cutting taxes.

In the Republican presidential debates, McCain spent virtually no time talking about his own policies and instead would regularly interrupt with backhanded comments meant to bring attention to the other candidates' lack of neo-conservative credentials.

Giuliani's divorces, Romney's stance on abortion and statewide publicly funded health care were more important than the economy, war and a ballooning national deficit.

In his concession speech, McCain forgot all that. He lost the snide comments and the underhanded suggestions. He became John McCain again.

At 72, he is obviously too old to run for the presidency again. That is a good thing for all of us.

As the face of his party, McCain now has the chance to not only return himself to his once-heralded status as a truthful and respectable statesman, but also to bring his party with him back to the center.

Sen. Hillary Clinton recently announced she has no plans to ever run for the presidency again. She is a politician, so this obviously isn't definite.

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We should remember that Sen. Ted Kennedy has brain cancer, and even if he does survive his term, he almost surely won't be running for another. There will be a power vacuum in the leadership of the Senate's Democrats - one Clinton is apt to fill - and many have called on her to fill it.

And so, after two years of campaigning, we not only have a new president-to-be, but we also have new legislative leaders for both parties in McCain and Clinton.

Both have political clout. Both are respected in Washington. Both have proven their ability to draw support. We also have reason to believe that both may even be more concerned with fixing this nation's ills than advancing their own careers.

The result of such a cocktail? Dare I say, "optimism"?

Will we actually be subjected to the kind of optimism that comes with the possibility that both parties will work for the improvement of the nation as a whole? Maybe we'll see proof that the republic our founders envisioned really can come to fruition.

Don't be ridiculous. This is government. Someone will screw it up.

Wes Hunt is a history senior.

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