Posted tagged ‘Yiddish’

All the John McCains I Thought I Knew Are Dead.

October 27, 2008

There is a video that kind of came and went in the flurry of last week’s election noise, the wardrobe that cost three times the median income for a US family and all that.  It’s a French interview with the then young John McCain as a POW.

He’s clearly still hurting — a lot — from his injuries and he struggles to express himself a lot of the time.  He can muster up a little humor:  prisoner’s food “isn’t Paris” and more sense of loss and lonliness.  The passage at the end of the video where he tries to come up with a message for his wife would move anyone with a pulse, even as committed a partisan and McCain ’08 loather as myself.

Watching it, having just turned fifty myself, with, as President Clinton said, the awareness that I now have more yesterdays than tomorrows, and watching my own eight year old son, I was reminded of these lines from a poem I read just a few days ago.

Children vanish.

Adults — specters

of dead children.

(From “Children, Always Dying” by Aaron Zeitlin, translated from the Yiddish by Richard J. Fein in his upcoming collection With Everything We’ve Got:  A personal anthology of Yiddish poetry.)

I do not wish John McCain well at all in his current endeavor.  He has run a scurrilous, disgraceful campaign, putting the country at risk not just with his meretricious selection of Gov. Palin as his running mate, but in the way he has surrendered his candidacy to worst impulses of his party in recent weeks.  He lacks the temperament, the judgment, and even, this blog has argued, the right kind of experience to lead the United States.

But, but, but….

…he was a child once, a young man.  He suffered, and he had then a clarity, brutally enforced, about what does and does not matter.  While I fear for the country for McCain’s actions over the last few months, what saddens me most about his campaign is not the damage he is doing to the rest of us, but  the destruction his pursuit of this prize has done to that younger McCain.

That man died in the birthing of the catastrophically diminished one that we now see.

Here’s the video for those that missed it: