Meeting up with some students who planned to protest the speech, she got this brilliant idea: "I checked the schedule for the ceremony and realized that I would be speaking just before the senator got his award. And that's when the idea for a preemptive strike began to brew in my little stressed-out brain. What if I tore McCain's speech apart before he even opened his mouth? After reading his speech a couple of times I picked out a few particularly loathsome sections -- and believe it or not, none of these actually came from the extensive section where he defends his position on the war in Iraq -- and I began planning an attack against him using his own words."
Just before the moment finally arrived, Rohe found herself in the Green Room with McCain. She introduced herself, "I almost wanted to warn the guy that I was about to make him look like an idiot so that he would at least have a fighting chance and an extra moment to change his speech to save himself. But he didn't even make eye contact when we shook hands, so I figured I didn't owe him anything."
She couldn't be more wrong. She and the others who jeered not just Sen. McCain but the president of their university, former Senator and fellow decorated Vietnam veteran Bob Kerrey, owe them their very way of life. Men like McCain and Kerrey have endured more than Miss Rohe and her fellow protesters can even imagine so that all of us might enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Rohe said that the commencement was "an occasion that is supposed to honor us above all." Maybe that's the problem. Sen. McCain was addressing a bunch of spoiled kids who think they deserve "honor" for having made it through college.
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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