May 29, 2007

My Question to McCain

Tonight, Senator John McCain was the first interview guest at the Wall Street Journal's D Conference.

During the Q&A I went to the microphone and asked him a question, one which I'd been hoping to ask him for several years.

Some 35 years ago, the late great American journalist David Halberstam wrote the classic book, The Best and the Brightest, a scathing history of what led us to get into the Vietnam War. In 2000, the Modern Library came out with a special edition that had a Forweword by none other than Senator John McCain.

In this foreword was a plea to future generations of public officials to read and reread this book before ever taking our country into war again. Here's the final paragraph of his Foreword:

For anyone who aspires to a position of national leadership, no matter the circumstances of his or her birth, this book should be mandatory reading. And anyone who feels a need, as a confused former prisoner of war once felt the need, for insights into how a great and good nation can lose a war and see its worthy purposes and principles destroyed by self-delusion can do no better than to read and reread David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest."

"Destroyed by self-delusion" . . . if ever there were a phrase that captured the essence of the quagmire we face in Iraq now, that's a good one.

I once Googled over and over again looking for any mention anywhere, in any newspaper, magazine, book, or blog, the fact that McCain had once written this Foreword for one of the definitive texts on Vietnam, and whether any reporter, blogger, or anyone had ever asked, how can McCain make the statements he made in this Foreword, yet continue to spin the standard Bush line about Iraq? Surely, surely he knows better.

Knowing McCain was going to be appearing at D, I took along my copy of the book:

and I showed him the book while asking him the question. I asked him to help me understand the discrepancy between what he pleaded for future generations of public officials to do -- read and reread the book before going to war again -- and his recent statements on Iraq. And finally, did he ever urge the Bush administration to read and reread this book before taking us into Iraq? It seems like they didn't read it.

Before McCain could reply, Kara Swisher, one of the two hosts of the D conference, quickly quipped, "It's a lot of pages," which elicited chuckles from the audience.

Senator McCain's answer to me wasn't convincing, I'm sorry to say. He tried to say that these are different wars, but I think at the end of the day, most of the audience would argue they're much more similar situations than the politicians, including McCain unfortunately, would admit.

Well, at least I got to ask the question, and now, Google will forever record the fact that someone blogged about McCain's Foreword to this book.

Posted by brian at May 29, 2007 11:59 PM


I'm glad somebody asked him that question! I've read the exact same book, and have been noting with horror the de-evolution of McCain as he has koolaided his way into having GOP support over the last disastrous Bush years. McCain was a good man before he sold his soul.

BTW, you may in fact recognize my name, as I fondly recognize yours :-). I too escaped eBay and am the much better for it. Rock on, Brian!

Posted by: Dorothy Nelson at May 30, 2007 07:56 AM

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