Hagel was asked about McCain’s recent campaign line that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a campaign. “They’re better off to focus on policy differences. I think John is treading on some very thin ground here when he impugns motives and when we start to get into, “You’re less patriotic than me. I’m more patriotic.” I admire and respect John McCain very much. I have a good relationship. To this day we do. We talk often. I talked to him right before I went to Iraq, as a matter of fact. John’s better than that.”
Hagel then offered some advice to both candidates, “And he’s not asked for advice on this, but since you’ve asked me the question, I think both he and Barack have to be very careful here because it’s just not responsible to be saying things like that. Again if for no other reason for the good of this country and the world, one of these two men on January 20, next year, is going to have to bring this country together and the world to deal with huge problems. I think the next president is going to inherit an inventory of challenges as big as Franklin Roosevelt inherited on March 4, 1933.”
For almost 60 years the patriotism argument has been a standby of Republican candidates at all levels, when they are either trailing or don’t want to talk about the issues. The only difference today is that the Communists have been replaced with terrorists, but no amount of flag waving is going to create jobs, lower prices, give the uninsured healthcare, or change our foreign policy course.
Hagel is correct in saying that the next president is going to have a tall order ahead, and will need a unified country behind him.
Attacks and ads like the ones McCain is running now will only serve the purpose of tearing the nation apart politically. I think that people have gotten tired of the red state-blue state America, and would like to see a unified country, but McCain knows that the nation will never unify around him, so his best chance of winning is to make sure that they don’t unify around Obama either.