For a lot of Americans, admirals or no, those are some of the most potent family remembrances, the war stories that get passed down, the medals and folded flags passed on from generation to generation. So, yeah, I think there's connection for many Americans where their lives intersect with McCain's and admiration where they don't. It should also be noted that McCain's rather good at telling stories that hint at the family's imperfections and a persistent rebel spirit that make his legacy simultaneously more charming and less potentially boastful than it would be if it were spit-polished at every point.
For instance, his picture of his granddad in today's speech:
He was devoted to the Navy, but in personal comportment, he was anything but regulation. He was a rumpled, informal man, who wore a crushed cap with the crown removed that the wife of one of his aviators had given him; kept his shoes off when he worked in an office; tobacco leavings were always scattered about him, as he rolled his own with one hand; possessed a mischievous sense of humor, and was unusually close to sailors and junior officers who served under him, and revered him. They called him, “Popeye;” his family called him, “Sid;” and his fellow officers, “Slew,” for reasons I never learned.What but the flaws of great men to convince us that we too can be great? It's relatable, and Mac has a knack for painting these pictures.
I agree with Matt that McCain's personal story is stronger even than his dad's and granddad's because is speaks to what we need to know-- how he will lead. But there's no doubt that drawing the straight line from George Washington's soldiers to World War I and II's sailors, to today's Senator is a good start.
Karl Rove has said again and again that McCain has to reintroduce himself to the American public. He began today, and each speech will help us "get" McCain a little more, becoming progressively more focused on how his history predicts his future, I'd wager.
I like it so far, and it makes a very uncomfortable target for liberal fire, so to speak.