Linda Chavez

It's amazing what passes for courage these days. The newest hero in the Left's pantheon is 21-year-old Jean Sara Rohe, who gave a self-indulgent little tirade against Sen. John McCain on Friday when he spoke at graduation ceremonies for the New School in New York. Miss Rohe no doubt thought she was speaking truth to power when she said, "The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded," but what she really demonstrated was appalling conceit.

You can agree or disagree with Sen. McCain's politics, but the man is one of the few genuine heroes in public life. Although the official biography on his website doesn't even mention it, John McCain spent five and a half years in a North Vietnamese prison camp after his plane was shot down in 1967. He suffered terrible injuries, which were not properly treated, and was beaten and tortured repeatedly. He refused early release, choosing to stay with his fellow captives until all came home together in 1973. He has spent his entire life in public service ever since, first continuing his career as a Navy officer and then as an elected official.

Rohe could have chosen to give a substantive speech detailing why she believes "pre-emptive war is dangerous and wrong" -- or as she so categorically put it, how she "knows" that it is. Instead she took the easy way out by insulting the speaker and throwing out some leftist chestnuts about the still missing Osama bin Laden and weapons of mass destruction. But the former would have required her to grapple with ideas; she chose to take potshots.

Rohe has now decided to explain her decision to forego a speech she'd written for the occasion, one that would have talked about music and her work with children in the New York City public schools. In a posting to Arianna Huffington's blog, Rohe writes, "A certain not-so-dynamic duo of 'centrist' politicians foiled my standard graduation speech and forced me to act. Until just the day before commencement I really hadn't understood the gravity of the situation," she writes.

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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