Monday, May 05, 2008

May 2008 Book Club Selection: Worth the Fighting For, John McCain

Better know a would-be President vol. 1: John McCain

With the 2008 United States Presidential election quickly approaching, time is becoming of the essence to start to get familiar with the candidates.

Although many Canadians like to imagine a degree of detachedness from American policy, the fact of the matter is that whomever gets elected President of the United States -- long considered the leader of the free world -- will have a real impact on people the world over.

This month's Nexus book club selection will be the first of a three-part series. In the vein of Stephen Colbert, we'll call it "Better Know a Would-Be President".

It's unlikely that a clear picture of who will be the Democrat nominee will emerge anytime soon, so it may be best to start with the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain -- and perhaps best to at least start with his own words.

Worth the Fighting For is an illuminating look at McCain, his career, and the values that make him tick. Not only does the book deal with his military career and chronicle how it blossomed into a political career, but it also provides a deeper look into McCain himself, by continually profiling various individuals he has come to regard as a hero. (Yes, even those who consider themselves Presidential material have heroes.)

On the political side, McCain pays particular attention to his various cooperative efforts with Democrats (quite fittingly, for the man who has managed to garner himself a reputation as the most non-partisan of the partisans).

Not that he doesn't spend any time on any "outrages" perpetrated by Democrats -- the sordid John Tower affair garners particular attention. McCain very much is capable of partisanship.

Unlike many politicians, he's also capable of owning up to his own mistakes. He even goes out of his way to address his own flip-flopping over the Confederate Flag during the South Carolina primary -- one that certainly helped him lose the state when he contested the 2000 Republican presidential nomination.

If the observations of commentators like Warren Kinsella prove to be astute, John McCain may very soon be making many decisions -- trade-related, foreign-policy related and defense-related -- that will have very real impacts on the lives of ordinary Canadians.

The time to better know a would-be President is now. Worth the Fighting For provides a window into the deeper heart and mind of the man. It doesn't necessarily provide a complete picture -- autobiographies rarely do -- but it's an excellent start.

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