"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
What makes a hero?—not success, not fame, Inebriate merchants, and the loud acclaim Of glutted Avarice,—caps toss’d up in air, Or pen of journalist with flourish fair; Bells peal’d, stars, ribbons, and a titular name— These, though his rightful tribute, he can spare; His rightful tribute, not his end or aim, Or true reward; for never yet did these Refresh the soul, or set the heart at ease. What makes a hero?—An heroic mind, Express’d in action, in endurance prov’d. And if there be preeminence of right, Deriv’d through pain well suffer’d, to the height Of rank heroic, ’t is to bear unmov’d, Not toil, not risk, not rage of sea or wind, Not the brute fury of barbarians blind, But worse—ingratitude and poisonous darts, Launch’d by the country he had serv’d and lov’d: This, with a free, unclouded spirit pure, This, in the strength of silence to endure, A dignity to noble deeds imparts Beyond the gauds and trappings of renown; This is the hero’s complement and crown; This miss’d, one struggle had been wanting still, One glorious triumph of the heroic will, One self-approval in his heart of hearts.
I wish to tell one of my favorite stories out of British politics. It is Election Day 1970, and the Conservatives, led by Ted Heath, have pulled off a victory against Labour, led by Harold Wilson. Ken Tynan, sitting at a bar, is despondent. And Kingsley Amis is on a table dancing, saying, “Show the shaggers, show the shaggers! Five more years outside the barbed wire!”
I say, in the same spirit, “Come on, Americans, show the shaggers [or whatever your favorite national equivalent is]! Four more years outside the barbed wire!”
John and I have a column supporting John McCain for president that is forthcoming in Monday's Christian Science Monitor. Working on the column, it occurred to me that McCain would fit relatively comfortably in the Democratic Party of JFK, which lives on today if at all in the lonely personage of Senator McCain's friend and supporter Joe Lieberman.
McCain himself seems to me beautifully captured in the almost Churchillian quote from JFK's inaugural with which we conclude our column. JFK described himself as the representative of a generation "tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world."
The John McCain of this campaign is the same as he ever was. The former Navy pilot's politics has always been more personal than ideological. His core convictions are duty, honor and country. He has always been passionate to the point of being impulsive, an unguided policy missile until he locks on target. Then he can be tenacious, and sometimes moralistic. These traits have characterized the McCain candidacy for better or worse and, we suspect, would also mark his Presidency. What the media can't say with a straight face is that they are shocked by any of this; they should admit they've simply found a new romance in Barack Obama.
If the 2008 election were solely about character and experience, Mr. McCain would be winning in a walk.
Reagan spent his entire life standing up to the bully. From boyhood on, he interposed himself between the bully and the innocent. He stood up to the bullies in his schools. He stood up to the Communists in Hollywood, and to the coercive unions. He stood up to the student radicals and their abettors. He stood up to the Soviets.
He simply stood up.
In the world today are a lot of bullies to stand up to: al-Qaeda, the mullahs, the North Koreans, the Chinese Communists, the Castro brothers, Chávez. John McCain will almost certainly do it. Barack Obama will almost certainly not.
That’s one reason — probably the biggest reason — I’m voting for McCain on Tuesday.