My wife, Dana, was touched this morning when she heard a news report about John McCain’s attempt to curb some of the hostility at a campaign rally in Minnesota. After a week of increasingly angry crowds, stoked by speeches in which McCain and running mate Sarah Palin regularly raised doubts about Obama’s character and past associations, it seemed McCain suddenly realized that it was important to put on the brakes, as folks continued to disparage Obama with bitter remarks such as “terrorist” and “off with his head.”
Realizing the danger in allowing such emotion to go on unchecked, and perhaps recognizing how far removed his rallies had become from the virtues of honor and respect that he once extolled, McCain reasserted himself and attempted to change the tone. Here’s one moment from the event, as recorded in an Associated Press report:
“If you want a fight, we will fight,” McCain said. “But we will be respectful. I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments.” When people booed, he cut them off.
“I don’t mean that has to reduce your ferocity,” he said. “I just mean to say you have to be respectful.”
And then this:
“I don’t trust Obama,” a woman said. “I have read about him. He’s an Arab.”
McCain shook his head in disagreement, and said:
“No, ma’am. He’s a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with (him) on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign is all about.”
I’ve always liked John McCain precisely because he’s a leader who has been willing to show civility and respect amid the divisive, partisan bickering of Washington politics. I’m hoping his courageous stand in Minnesota portends a return to that old John McCain.