Posted by Brad @ 3:16 pm on May 27th 2007

This Memorial Day…

Adam, Dizzy, Rojas and I used to sometimes get in discussions, that we haven’t yet hashed out at this blog, about the deification of the soldier, and the different ways in which British and American citizens generally look at their troops. I tend to think that Americans have an unhealthy obsession with lionizing their soldiers, and that the English have a much more sensible relationship with their troops, but that’s perhaps a discussion for another day.

What we all would agree on, however, is that it’s worthwhile to take a moment here and there to pay your respect to the fallen soldiers of your country and reflect.

So, in that light, with a hat tip to Laura, John McCain put out today a YouTube clip of him discussing Memorial Day. I like it because it shows a side of McCain I wish we’d see more often. Human, personal, casual. Campaigns are finally starting to figure out the rules and opportunities in the new media landscape, and with that the realization that you can control more than just message, but also take the opportunity to highlight different facets of your candidate than just “beloved statesman and speech-maker”. Take, for instance, Hillary Clinton’s videos regarding her campaign song, which are frankly terrific, and very positive, and show you a side of Hillary you don’t see much. In this video, John McCain just sits in a chair and, unscripted, says a few words about Memorial Day. And it’s a McCain that’s much more effective than the “Gates of Hell” style fist-pounding GWOT acolyte we’ve been seeing so much of. He reminds me of why I liked Bob Dole (oh but for campaign YouTubes in those days). He sits in a chair, as an ex-soldier himself and a man who has devoted so much of his life to the military in some fashion or another, and he just kind of rambles for a few minutes. And, frankly, he comes off much better than he does in most of his grand speeches and chest-thumping debate performances. I like McCain on the campaign bus a heckuva lot more than I like McCain on the pulpit.

But what I like most about it is the way it casts Memorial Day. Not as a time to worship on the altar of the American military and chest-thump for ass-kicking Americana, but as a simple, personal reflection that there have been citizen-soldiers in our history, and today, going out there and giving their lives, whether they meant to or not, in pursuit of greater causes.

So, here’s John McCain, asking you to pause and remember on this Memorial Day.

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