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McCain Calls Obama a 'Patriot,' Rejects Critics Who Say He's 'Unworthy' to Lead

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Sen. John McCain lost a bitter campaign against Barack Obama in 2008 and has been at loggerheads with him for much of Obama's first two years in office. But the Arizona Republican this weekend called Obama a "patriot" intent on using his presidency to "advance our country's cause" and rejected accusations -- many coming from members of his own party and the tea party movement -- "that his policies and beliefs make him unworthy to lead America."

McCain made his comments in an article he wrote for The Washington Post opinion page, posted on Saturday, in which he praised Obama for giving a "terrific speech" in Tucson at a tribute for victims of the shooting rampage that took place there a week ago.

McCain said that Obama had "comforted and inspired the country" and performed an important service by encouraging "every American who participates in our political debates -- whether we are on the left or right or in the media -- to aspire to a more generous appreciation of one another and a more modest one of ourselves."

Cindy McCain and John McCain"Our political discourse should be more civil than it currently is, and we all, myself included, bear some responsibility for it not being so," McCain said.

The shootings in Arizona have prompted much introspection about the tone and tenor of American politics even though the reasons why the suspected gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, carried out the massacre remain obscured by his history of bizarre behavior.

But the fact that his victims included a congresswoman holding a community meeting and the constituents who came to speak with her was likely a factor in connecting the violent incident to the political debate, along with suggestions and accusations that the rhetoric of political partisans had contributed to what had happened.

Obama has been one target of harsh political rhetoric since running for and becoming president. Some of it has questioned whether he really shares the values of most Americans; accused him of pushing the country in a socialist direction; and, suggested that he does not have an appreciation for the United States as an "exceptional" nation.
On the other side of the spectrum, some critics have implied or outrightly suggested that the rhetoric of McCain's former running mate, Sarah Palin, and some in the tea party movement, was responsible for what occurred in Arizona by using inflammatory imagery, including Palin's now-famous map putting gunsights over congressional districts she was targeting and the 2009 quote from Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota in which she said she wanted people "armed and dangerous" on the issue of the Democrats' energy proposal.

McCain wrote that Obama had "appropriately disputed the injurious suggestion that some participants in our political debates were responsible for a depraved man's inhumanity."

While not specifically mentioning Palin, McCain appeared to be referring to her, in saying, "Imagine how it must feel to have watched one week ago the incomprehensible massacre of innocents committed by someone who had lost some essential part of his humanity, to have shared in the heartache for its victims and in the admiration for those who acted heroically to save the lives of others -- and to have heard in the coverage of that tragedy voices accusing you of complicity in it."

But as the former GOP standard-bearer, McCain also spoke out against those who have sought to paint Obama's views as inimical to American ideals.

"I disagree with many of the president's policies, but I believe he is a patriot sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country's cause," McCain said. "I reject accusations that his policies and beliefs make him unworthy to lead America or opposed to its founding ideals. And I reject accusations that Americans who vigorously oppose his policies are less intelligent, compassionate or just than those who support them."

During the 2008 campaign, Palin had said of Obama: "This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America. ... Our opponent though, is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country?" (She was referring to onetime left wing radical William Ayers, who participated in some Chicago educational projects with which Obama had been involved).

"His worldview is dramatically different than any president, Republican or Democrat, we've had," Mike Huckabee told Politico last August.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, a possible GOP presidential contender in 2012, said to the National Review in September, "What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]? That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior."

While there is no way to tell whether those particular statements had an impact, a USA Today/Gallup poll in December found that while 80 percent of Americans thought that America "has a unique character that makes it the greatest country in the world," more than a third said Obama does not share that belief.
McCain said in his article: "It probably asks too much of human nature to expect any of us to be restrained at all times by persistent modesty and empathy from committing rhetorical excesses that exaggerate our differences and ignore our similarities. But I do not think it is beyond our ability and virtue to refrain from substituting character assassination for spirited and respectful debate."

McCain's sentiments were echoed on CBS' "Face the Nation" by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York: "In the first moments after this, there was a rush to judgment on both sides, you know, left-wingers trying to blame it on right-wing tea party, Sarah Palin; right-wingers trying to fight back and defend themselves against what was really an outrageous charge. ... And I thought the president's speech put it on a different tone. And I think we have a chance, even though a couple of days later; I think we have a chance to do the same thing that we did after September 11."
Filed Under: John McCain, Barack Obama

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brian05487

Wow a true statesman. Finally the truth from the right. Great not reading about the effects that the right has had on these occurences. He knows what has helped these stupid acts from happening , and is using his inteligence to provide the president with an ally.

February 01 2011 at 9:12 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Daniel

Nicely said, Mr. McCain.

January 23 2011 at 2:36 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
nconstinc

Well, I used to think McCain was smart.........

January 23 2011 at 7:40 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Everett Mozell

I am a progressive, but bravo to Mr McCain

January 22 2011 at 4:39 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
jarsd43

Everyone is missing the point. There is a time and place for political rhetoric and this is not it. Obama's speech in Arizona was a leaders attempt to draw his people together when political rhetoric was tearing it apart. This weakens our country in the eyes of the world and McCain knows this as should we all. There are the comments you make when you are in a political campaign and the ones that should not be made when you need to be together as a country. The devisiveness in our country now weakens it in the eyes of the world and makes us vulnerable in every way. We lost our wisdom when it became "ok" to tear apart our leader or let others tear him apart in foreign lands or by foreign leaders. (Bush) It began a very dangerous tradition and crossed boundaries that we never allowed before. We have sacrificed the well being of our country for political gain. We need to learn when it is ok to say something and when it is not. Argue the issues and go to the polls and vote and never let people on the outside say anything derogative about your sitting president. It is a serious tactical error and John McCain, who is a true patriot knows that.

January 22 2011 at 3:36 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
darlingtonnative

NO ONE IS AN ANGEL OR A DEVIL. We are all fallible human beings who can learn and who can and often do make mistakes even when we don't want to do so, but as sure as the Law of Gravity or the Law of Reciprocity exists in the Universe, we will all give an accounting, if not of our lives, by our lives, to a Creator who loves us but Who is totally just. See www.near-death.com/ritch.html and even Jesus said not to hate your enemies. On the battlefield of if they are breaking into your bedroom at night you might have to kill them but hating them harms you as well. Perhaps the hardest thing of all to do is to forgive, as Jesus said we must (for our own benefit primarily). Without God's help that might not even be possible but as Christians are supposed to know, God is accessible, and with God all things are possible. Look at the miracle of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords recovery. She is not out of the woods yet but even the doctors say it's a miracle. Does this mean that God supports all her policies? Of course not. But many who believe in God's power are praying for her including many who are independents and even members of the, dare I say it, Tea Party. We are all in this journey together and what we send into the lives of others always comes back into our own, sooner or later. One's behavior and even ones thoughts will change considerably when this realization becomes apparent. Will Rep. Giffords recovery be complete, will she be as good as new, is a question that is being bandied about. The answer is "no!" We may see it or we may not, but I believe that Gabrielle Giffords will be "better than new" and although I would not wish what happened to her on anyone, she will know in her spirit that she is a living miracle and that God answers prayers and that is something I wish everyone knew. Dum Spiro Spero.

January 22 2011 at 12:24 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
nos2001

this mindset is the reason he lost the election. notice how all the rhinos are going to pasture.

January 22 2011 at 8:55 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to nos2001's comment
jeffbrooks01

Well, at least its an indication that this one man will not sell out his core values and beliefs just to get elected (in a power grab). Very rare these days, and quite admirable! Frankly, the death-nell for his election started sounding the day he picked Palin as his running mate (talk about wishing for a do-over). But for that decision, McCain may very well have been elected (or at least would have made it a much closer race).

January 23 2011 at 6:18 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
kat

i think obama is doing a great job, with the mess he was left with

January 21 2011 at 5:50 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
accon1

I was never a fan of John McCain but, I must say that of all the Reps. he is the one I most admire right now. When you can see the truth staring you in the face and admits to it, you are a man. Mr. McCain, even though I am a Dem. if you should decide to run, I would support you. Keep to your mind and heart in the right place.
keep positive thoughts and you will succeed.
blessings

January 21 2011 at 10:42 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
Misipi6gun

McCain should have been the president because he was the lesser of 2 evils .... remember how bad he dissed Obama and told the truth as to Obamas lack of experience that would make him a good president .... and well said because Obama has gone back on all his promises or has not kept one of them , but yet what promises , except for a change .... he got that right ,all of his changes ahve worsened and practically destroyed America from the Bush admin. Clearly this is another Obama ploy starting now to build up all the credibility he can for his re elction run . McCain has clearly shown his flip flop politics since losing the election just as he did with colaborating with the gooks as a POW for an easier ride than his fellow POW's .... how anyone can praise a pseudo president for selling out America shows there own incompetance and credibility to those that know .... if the GOP is stupid enogh to endorse Palin in the next election then Obama is a shoe in again .... even the liberals that put Obama in office realize their delusional mistake now .... there's a much higher power structure running this country and to it's demis and McCain's and Obama is just their puppet . WAKE UP AMERICA !

January 21 2011 at 8:17 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Misipi6gun's comment

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