Thursday, September 04, 2008

Politico on McCain and Hemingway: Toughness, Perseverance, Independence Count

John McCain, in some respects, represents the kind of character - honor, principled independence, toughness, perseverance - demonstrated in the life of Ernest Hemingway, and in the men who populate the author's creative works.

That, at least is the argument that John P. Avol, the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics, makes in Politico. He points out that McCain's favorite novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, includes a phrase, "worth the fighting for," that became the title of McCain's 2002 memoir.

Below are the first few graphs of the intriguing piece. Click here to read it in its entirety.

McCain and Hemingway
By JOHN P. AVLON | 8/31/08

Honor. It is to some ears an outdated word — turn on the television and you'll see politicians slick with self-interest, reality shows full of slapstick self-debasement, people pursuing fame for its own sake. But honor is rarely honored.

What sets John McCain apart from our contemporary culture is what gives him a direct connection to a more timeless American tradition. Like his favorite author Ernest Hemingway, McCain embodies an older America where the concept of honor was concrete — where both physical courage and moral courage were the qualities admired above all others.

The characteristic phrases of McCain's campaign — "we must serve a cause greater than our self-interest" and "I'd rather lose an election than lose a war" — have a Hemingway-influenced undercurrent. Life has taught him not about hope so much as perseverance, not about optimism as much as a beautiful fatalism which breeds its own determination.

One year before this week's Republican convention, John McCain was all but counted out — his financial supporters deserted him, his staff was slashed, his enemies in the GOP smugly whispered that he was done, but McCain campaigned on almost alone.

He had not given up during 5 1/2 years of torture and he had a superstitious faith in his own powers of endurance — a belief that that luck and destiny could coincide, but only if he remained in the game. Like the old soldier and gambler he is, John McCain thrives on facing long odds.

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