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Carroll On Mccain And Honor

James Carroll--who wrote movingly about McCain's POW experience in this New Yorker story from 1996--has an interesting column in today's Boston Globe:

For the liberals he derides, facing up to the nation's dishonor has become the new meaning of honor. That is nonsense to McCain because, in prison, it was by making the nation's honor his unrepentant absolute that he was able, in repentance, to reclaim his personal honor. Bravely confronting his own failure, that is, made him incapable of confronting his nation's. McCain's dynamic here is tragic - and, in a national leader, dangerous.

McCain spoke to me of his prison experience 12 years ago. He did so reluctantly. Honor requires such reticence. Alas, now pressed by his political handlers, McCain cheapens that experience in ads, and by using it as cover. When Jay Leno recently joshed him about his many houses, for example, he cited "5 1/2 years in a prison cell. I didn't have a house." It is sad to see John McCain dishonor his own core value in this way, but it is clear why he does so. Nothing else qualifies him to be president.

I think that last line overstates things. But, given the way McCain has campaigned to date, you can't necessarily blame Carroll for reaching that conclusion.

--Jason Zengerle