Others Will Have to Do It For Him

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: May 05, 2008 4:03 PM
This piece from the London Times discusses John McCain's reluctance to share his "interior life" with voters -- and alludes to Karl Rove's piece urging the senator to open up a little more than he's been willing to (so far, at least).

All of it is excellent advice, of course.  But it's worth pointing out that "opening up" may be difficult for John McCain for many of the same the reasons it was for George H.W. Bush.

McCain was raised well after Bush pere.  But both came up before the baby boomer generation, when "letting it all hang out" became expected -- almost required -- of successful politicians.  They both also were raised in milieus where excessive emotion -- and being self-referential -- was (and in many quarters still is) frowned upon as "showboating."  For George H.W. Bush it was among the wealthy New England "aristocracy"; for John McCain, it was among a military family of longtime prominence and distinction.

No doubt our current President likewise was raised with many of the same precepts that his father and McCain were.  But he has grown up in an emotionally expansive place (Texas) rather than on the Yankee-dominated East Coast; the religious denomination he has chosen likewise makes more room for overt displays of emotion.  Both his father and McCain belong to the Episcopal Church; as one myself, I can say that there's some truth in the stereotype of Episcopalians as the "frozen chosen."

All this is simply to say that it's unreasonable to expect McCain really to "open up" in the way many Americans and no doubt all of his advisors wish he would.  That means that it will be more important than ever for men like George "Bud" Day (the man referenced in Karl Rove's piece) to come forward with their stories -- and for supporters like Rove to be willing to get their stories out.