Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

The Senate's Newest Titan

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

The Senate's Newest Titan

Article excerpt

Rebellious son of a prominent father, the candidate had been young and irresponsible almost to middle age, but love and time had finally tamed the tomcat, and all that was in the past.

On the stump, he sometimes garbled the governmental details, but won a pass from a press corps won over by his charismatic kidding.

Yes, he opposed abortion, but he gave a clear signal he had no interest in fighting an uncivil war on the issue.

That was of a political piece. Although he hailed from a conservative state and had a right-leaning record, the hopeful said that he wanted to make the Republican Party more inclusive, and assured us that if we voted for him for president, he would be a leader for all Americans.

John McCain has kept his word. And with Monday's remarkable victory on campaign-finance reform, the Arizonan is becoming that rarest of senators: a true national figure, known and respected by people around the country.

His battle to ban soft money shows the kind of determination and resolve we seldom saw from two national senators of the near past, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, always more erudition than action, and Bill Bradley, the aloof loner rather than the committed coalition builder.

Bad news, that, for George W. Bush, for McCain is just getting started. And as he demonstrated again this week, McCain won't be held partisan prisoner in the political wars, but rather intends to lead his own crusades, crusades that plant him in the sensible center on a variety of high-visibility issues.

He favors a smaller, more equitable tax cut than President Bush has proposed; is co-sponsoring a patients' bill of rights (with Sen. Ted Kennedy) that is far more pro-consumer than Bush's enunciated principles; has teamed up with Joe Lieberman to develop third-way gun-control measures; and is working with New York Democrat Charles Schumer to offer a prescription-drug benefit for seniors.

Bush has steered a very different course. Having learned a painful lesson from his father's failed presidency, the president is paying obsessive homage to the right in a country that has evolved leftward. …

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