John McCain(R): A Hemingway hero inspired him
By MATT STEARNS
WASHINGTON — For John McCain, everything goes back to a book he picked up in his father’s study nearly 60 years ago.
Before his 2000 presidential run made the Arizona Republican senator a political phenomenon. Before his campaign-finance crusade cemented his reformer bona fides. Before the Keating Five scandal nearly cost him what he holds most dear – his reputation. Before the now-legendary U.S. Navy career and its brutal years in a North Vietnamese prison.
Helping guide McCain through it all was a novel: Ernest Hemingway’s “ For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and its protagonist, Robert Jordan, who dies serving a noble but doomed cause in the Spanish Civil War. It was devoured by a precocious 13-year-old who was searching for a way to reconcile his emerging iconoclasm with the rigors of the naval career that his Navy family expected of him.
Young McCain finished the book “aspiring to Jordan’s courage and nobility and certain I would possess it someday,” McCain wrote in his 2002 memoir “Worth the Fighting For,” a title taken from a line in the novel.
“My No. 1 hero of all time!” McCain reiterated earlier this year. “I am an incurable idealist and romantic. Robert Jordan is everything I ever wanted to be. I read that book at age 13 and now at age 70. Nothing’s changed.” (Read more…)