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Never-Altered Core Position


Obama: Making Nice With Others, Including Republicans
From his early leadership roles at Harvard through his short Senate career, Obama has always believed in pragmatic politics based on bipartisanship. At the Harvard Law Review, he was elevated to the presidency with the support of the publication’s conservative faction, whose positions he was open to hearing out. In the Senate, Obama has drawn heat from the more ideologically fervent wing of the Democratic Party (well represented by the blog Daily Kos) for his reluctance to engage in the type of confrontational, combative politics it felt was necessary to achieve the party’s progressive goals. “I believe any attempt by Democrats to pursue a more sharply partisan and ideological strategy misapprehends the moment we’re in,” Obama writes in The Audacity of Hope. “What Obama understands,” writes John K. Wilson in Barack Obama: This Improbable Quest, “is that success in pursuing progressive policies comes from uniting the country behind these ideas.”

McCain: Duty, Honor, Country, Etc.
“If you want to understand John McCain,” says his former chief of staff and retired Arizona attorney general Grant Woods, “it all comes down to duty, honor, and country.” For much of his long career, McCain has emphasized government service. It's no surprise that McCain, who has been at the government's teat since he entered the workforce, values public work. But his sense of duty to America he attributes to his survival in Vietnam. Upon his return from captivity, McCain wrote in U.S. News and World Report that “I had a lot of time to think over there, and came to the conclusion that one of the most important things in life—along with a man’s family— is to make some contribution to his country.” More recently, he wrote in his 2002 memoir: “Had I never had the opportunity to join a public cause, the qualities of temperament I admired in my heroes and have tried to emulate, for all their appeal to me, would have hardly been worthwhile.” Over and again in speeches, McCain reiterates the importance of government service, perhaps most famously during a commencement speech in Annapolis in 1993: "I have watched men suffer the anguish of imprisonment, defy appalling human cruelty … break for a moment, then recover inhuman strength to defy their enemies once more. All these things and more, I have seen … And so will you. My time is slipping by. Yours is fast approaching. You will know where your duty lies."


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