Am I alone in thinking that Howard Dean tries too hard to tie the misleading “doesn’t understand the economy” and “100 years of war” into responding to ANYTHING John McCain says? It’s almost getting to the point of, “…well sure John McCain cured cancer and clothed the lepers, but he still doesn’t understand the economy and is promising 100 years of war.” Isn’t Dean just judging a man’s thirty-year career based on a few sound bytes taken out of context? I thought Barack Obama said that’s a no-no? I digress.

John McCain launched his “Service to America” tour today, and there’s a debate going on amongst the conserv-o-bloggers about just how important McCain’s military background is with voters, and whether or not it even matters these days in the first place. I agree there has to be more there than the fact he was in Vietnam (see: Rudy ‘Capt. 911’ Giuliani) and if his military service takes precedence over issues like the economy, healthcare, jobs, and/or the environment, as impressive as Sen. McCain’s military record is…what have you done for me lately?

That said, I don’t think it will be an issue. This is still the same John McCain who can give a foreign policy speech that manages to piss off both the far left (by not calling for an immediate withdrawal from the Middle East) and the far right (by not calling for an immediate carpet bombing of the Middle East) in the same speech. His time in Vietnam has had such a profound impact on his life and who he is as a man, you can’t divorce the two. This “Service to America” tour (the Rocky IV fan in me prefers the “Living in America” tour) I feel is his way to use the military background that we’re all familiar with to explain his world view as well as how it has helped form his position on the various issues. Take today’s speech that started with his family’s lineage of combat (dating back to George Washington) that also spoke of strong families and the role of government:

The family I was born to, and the family I am blessed with now, made me the man I am, and instilled in me a deep and abiding respect for the social institution that wields the greatest influence in the formation of our individual character and the character of our society. I may have been raised in a time when government did not dare to assume the responsibilities of parents. But I am a father in a time when parents worry that threats to their children’s well-being are proliferating and undermining the values they have worked to impart to them. That is not to say that government should dictate to parents how to raise their children or assume from parents any part of that most personal and important responsibility. No government is capable of caring for children as attentively and wisely as the mother and father who love them. But government must be attentive to the impact of its policies on families so that it does not through inattention or arrogance make it harder for parents to have the resources to succeed in the greatest work of their lives – raising their children. And where government has a role to play, in education, in combating the threats to the security and happiness of children from online predators, in helping to make health care affordable and accessible to the least fortunate among us, it must do so urgently, effectively and wisely.

Tax policy must not rob parents of the means to care for their children and provide them the opportunities their parents provided them. Government spending must not be squandered on things we do not need and can’t afford, and which don’t address a single American’s concern for their family’s security. Government can’t just throw money at public education while reinforcing the failures of many of our schools, but should, through choice and competition, by rewarding good teachers and holding bad teachers accountable, help parents prepare their children for the challenges and opportunities of the global economy. Government must be attentive to the impact on families of parents who have lost jobs in our changing economy that won’t come back. Our programs for displaced workers are antiquated, repetitive and ineffective. Many were designed for a time when unemployment was seasonal or a temporary consequence of an economic downturn, not for a time when systemic changes wrought by the growing global economy have, while promising undreamt of opportunities for ourselves and many historically poor societies, have cost too many parents the jobs they had assumed would be theirs for life.

If I didn’t know any better, there are some issues in there besides “hey look at me, I was in Vietnam.” I count parenting, when government should intervene and when it shouldn’t, taxes, health care, education, the global economy…a lot more than just the hundred years of war the liberal bloggers are claiming (as well as the Obama volunteers who work at MSNBC).

Tomorrow’s speech will be from his former high school where he’ll be talking about the teachers who have meant the most to him.

Listen to Rev. John every Sunday morning at 10:00 AM on PCLIVE!, heard exclusively on the Blog Talk Radio network.Also check out PCLIVE!: The Blog and PCLIVE!: The MySpace page. PCLIVE!: The Flamethrower will be released in the spring.

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