Politics

Won't You Help Them Sing?

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Here's a pretty good profile of John McCain's speechwriter, co-author of his five books, and Vulcan mind-melder Mark Salter, by The New Republic's Michael Crowley. Lots to chew on, but one part that jumped out in particular is the way that Salter (and, we can assume, McCain) is irritated to no end that Barack Obama in 2008 is sounding a helluva lot like, and receiving a similar reaction to, John McCain in 2000:

How do this work, again?

All the more galling for Salter is his belief that Obama the candidate is lifting from McCain's oeuvre. Obama has recently described his transformation from a selfish young man who thought "life was all about me" to an adult who realizes "that life doesn't count for much unless you're willing to do your small part to leave our children?all of our children?a better world. Even if it's difficult. Even if the work seems great. Even if we don't get very far in our lifetime." Salter hears in this an echo of McCain's longtime account of outgrowing his troublemaking and self-centered youth to find a higher purpose in serving others. ("I often regret that we didn't copyright 'serving a cause greater than your self-interest,'" he cracks.)

Even more provocatively, Obama recently cited as one of his favorite novels?you guessed it?For Whom the Bell Tolls. When I relayed this to Salter, he was initially incredulous, then burst into laughter. "Is that right? Well, that's another thing he steals from McCain! That's amazing."

Is it too much to ask our presidential candidates to progress to at least post-war fiction? Bob Barr, will you not stand up for, I dunno, North Dallas Forty? And fer cryin' out loud, when will winning the presidency go back to, you know, winning the presidency, rather than serving as the cherry on top of a stirring redemption tale made straight for the celebrity-inspiration slot on the cover of Parade magazine?

Speaking of decent articles about McCain's world, this recent Washington Post profile of Cindy was pretty good.