I can probably count on one hand the number of times that I've agreed with Republican Senator John McCain (Arizona) over specific political issues. He has had several really fine moments, though. The first that stands out for me came when one of his supporters, Gayle Quinnell, told the crowd at a McCain Rally in Minnesota that "Obama is an Arab." McCain took away the microphone and emphatically said, "No ma'am, [Obama's] a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues." I liked that because it showed maturity and an unwillingness to resort to personal character attacks. This also came at a time when McCain and Obama were both running hard in a tough Presidential race. The stakes were high and the temptation must have been there for Senator McCain to ride the wave of this comment while it seemed to flow in his favor.
McCain had another fine moment, just this week, when he published an opinion piece for The Washington Post on May 11th (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bin-ladens-death-and-the-debate-over-torture/2011/05/11/AFd1mdsG_story.html). In this piece, McCain establishes his belief that torture endangers not just the freedom of our enemies but our own freedom as well. He also severs the connection that many have surmised between information-gathering, torture, and the demise of Osama bin Laden. He cautions us not "to forget that best sense of ourselves." This piece is as civil a piece as I've seen written since the announcement of bin Laden's death. It is humble and sensible and strikes a better tone than most have been able to achieve over the past twelve days. The bravado, gloating, and outright aggression swirling around bin Laden's death threaten our national security and our personal psyches. It was time to tone it down. That this temperance came from an unexpected source makes it all the more valuable.