Considering John McCain and U.S. Grant

I could not help but smile as I watched the Republican National Convention on television this evening and saw a Lincoln reenactor in the audience. It made me ponder for a moment if John McCain could be a modern equivalent of President Grant should he be elected. Keeping McCain’s views and Grant’s unfortunate corruption laden administration out of the comparison, I feel that there are many similarities between the two men. Both men served their country honorably. The wars that each served in deeply divided the nation. Like Grant, McCain could be propelled into office by way of his military service, especially in a time of war. While Grant’s war was over, there was still much work to be done in the South. The fact that Grant faced a nation in Reconstruction and McCain faces a nation divided somewhat sectionally over many different issues is something that historians can not ignore. What will be truly interesting is how, if it happens, a McCain presidency would look compared to the Grant administration.

With regard to that, I hope that McCain does not face the same fate as Grant when it comes to corruption. It is unfortunate that Grant’s presidential record was tarnished by this, as one could imagine that he had the potential to be as successful a president as he was a general. Just as some on the Right made comparisons between President Bush and Lincoln and some on the Left compare Obama to Jesus (figuratively), one wonders if the historical community will, given the similarities, consider McCain to be a modern version of Grant.

The events of the past two weeks will ultimately make history, whichever ticket wins. We may either have the first African-American president, or elect the oldest man ever for president along with the first woman vice-president. It is interesting to consider that it has been twenty years since we elected a veteran president (George H. W. Bush in 1988). Like the nation in 1868, we may choose a war hero again to face our troubled times in 2008.

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5 thoughts on “Considering John McCain and U.S. Grant

  1. Grant was general of the Union army. He actually led armies in the Civil War. He was Lincoln’s answer for a leader who wasn’t afraid to take the battle to the enemy. He was not a legacy. McCain’s was a warrior but not a leader of warriors. The only command he held was a flight training facility. There is a difference, a big difference. Even McCain’s grandfather and father didn’t obtain the level of Grant. If you want to talk about similarities then let’s take their reliance on advisors of questionable backgrounds, those who don’t look at county first. Grant wasn’t successful in getting civil rights for African Americans, but he tried (after he left office no presidential attempt was made until the 1950’s). Grant also sold off silver reserves when he found out that trusted members of his administration aided those trying to corner the market for their own gain. McCain has challenged his party in the past but in the last year, running for president, he has reversed all of those stands. I believe that Grant made a better president then history has judged him. But by popular accounts he was at the bottom of the list. Do we want someone who doesn’t have the same measure of leadership become president?

  2. Definitely some good points, but I still think the comparison is valid. Obviously McCain never reached the level of command that Grant did, but I believe that had he not been shot down, captured, and tortured in Vietnam that he very well could have made admiral like his father and grandfather. With regard to their advisers and McCain challenging his party, I wanted to take those issues out of the equation to avoid partisan bickering. I just find it interesting that the nation is divided, though not as intensely as during either the Civil War or Reconstruction, and that the Republican ticket has a war hero on it just like it did 140 years ago. I do not think bringing McCain’s father and grandfather into the comparison is valid, as Grant’s father did not have a distinguished military career and I have seen nothing to indicate whether his grandfather served or not. In short, I basically find that there are some similarities between the two men on a basic level. I thank you for your comment and hope that it will spark some discussion.

  3. McCain was not a fighter pilot, but a ground assault one. I am unaware of Grant’s military activity vis-a-vis Southern civilians, but, providing for Grant’s ‘honourable’ service McCain is nought but a petty murder.

  4. Grant by nature was calm and steady, a horse whisperer.
    Grant’s father was a successful businessman.
    Grant went to WestPoint because his father didn’t think he’d make it in business.
    Grant graduated 21 of 39 at WestPoint middle of his class.
    Grant went to war at age 22, was successful as a warrior and excelled in logistics.
    Grant never believed that the Mexican war was justified.
    Grant married Julia Dent, outside of a few years apart, he longed for her company.
    Grant experienced most of his bouts with alcohol when she wasn’t around.
    Grant failed at farming and a number of other business pursuits before joining his father as a clerk.
    Grant demonstrated his leader of men with is first command of misfits at beginning of the Civil War.
    Grant’s first planned encounter with the confederates filled him with trepidation, when he came up on their camp he discovered that they had left the night before, they were as scared of him as he was of them, only he went forward.
    Grant took Paducah, Fort Henry, and Fort Donelson; this action forced the confederates to retreat from Nashville.
    Grant turned back a surprise attack at Shiloh, took Memphis.
    Grant attempted three unsuccessful attacks at Vicksburg from the north, He went around the city on the west and south to attack Jackson to hold off reinforcements and turned around and forced the confederate forces back into the city (All of this while living off the land, Sherman used this technique in his march to the sea).
    Grant was given command of the Union Army.
    Grant went to Chattanooga used his logistic skills to build up his depleted armies and ended the siege by attacking the confederates.
    Grant left Sherman to attack Atlanta and then run free through Georgia demonstrating that Union forces could go wherever they pleased.
    Grant went to Virginia to pursue Lee to Richmond and later capture his army in SW VA.
    Grant and his forces provided the union with a majority of it’s victories in the field and demonstrated with Sherman psychological warfare (terrorizing civilian populations so they loose their will to support the war).
    Grant became President in 1868, he attempted to heal the South, bring peace to the Indians and repair a broke economy. He met with fleeting success. His two terms were remembered for financial scandals perpetrated by his party and administration.
    Grant later wrote his memoirs, a classic work of American literature.

    McCain is a hot head by nature.
    McCain’s Father and Grandfather were successful military men.
    McCain went to Annapolis where his father and grandfather matriculated.
    McCain graduated at the bottom of his class.
    McCain married Carol Shepp.
    McCain went to war at age 31, was shot down and became a prisoner of war for five years.
    McCain went to the War College where he came to the conclusion that we lost the Vietnam War because the American people could not stomach war for long, (nothing to do with the purpose of the war).
    McCain commanded a Naval Training center successfully.
    McCain then became a liaison to the US Senate for the Navy.
    McCain divorced Carol, and married Cindy Hensley.
    McCain left the Navy when it became apparent that he wouldn’t make Admiral.
    McCain went to work for his father-in-law.
    McCain ran for Congress and won.
    McCain ran for the Senate and won.
    McCain weathered a financial scandal.
    McCain supported election reform and participate in some cross the isle collaborations.
    Mc Cain and Mark Salter wrote these books: Faith of My Fathers • Worth the Fighting For • Character Is Destiny …Hard Call

    Differences:
    Temperament, family background, marriage relationship(s), belief in justified wars, scope of command, military innovations and Books (Grant wrote all of his).

    Similarities:
    Warriors, military educations, financial scandals, and ran for president

    Did I miss anything?

  5. Comparing them seems to me to be a huge stretch. McCain is a career politician — 22 years in the Senate — with a burning personal ambition to be president who found that constant reference to service to this country from over 25 years ago makes for political advantage. In my opinion, the contrast to Grant is immense.

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