If You Miss McCain’s Speech — Just Buy The Book

By Jennifer Parker

Apr 1, 2008 11:18am

ABC News’ John Berman Reports: If you happened to miss Republican nominee to-be Sen. John McCain’s speech in Alexandria, VA, Tuesday, never fear, simply buy the book. 

The book is “Faith of my Fathers,” his gripping 1999 family memoir written along with his closest remaining aide, Mark Salter.  A book that McCain seems to be practically reading from Tuesday.

As part of his national “bio tour” McCain is speaking at his alma mater today, Episcopal High School, in Alexandria.   He is trying the stress the importance of teaching by discussing the key role one teacher played in his life. 

According to the prepared text of his speech, McCain says: “Were William B. Ravenel the only person I remembered from Episcopal, I would credit those days among the best in my life.  His influence in my life was, more important and more benevolent than that of any person outside my family.”

The funny thing is, pretty much word for word, that is what he wrote on page 113 of  “Faith.”  (In the book he writes, “from High School, rather than, “From Episcopal”). 

In his speech, he goes on to recite, again word for word, his biographical description of Ravenel from page 114 of “Faith”:

“Like most men of his generation, he had known far greater danger than that posed by a tough defensive line.  He had served in Patton’s tank corps during the Third Army’s aggressive advance across Europe, and had survived hard encounters with Hitler’s panzer divisions.  He was a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, the only master at school who still served in the military.”

McCain does make some key changes in today’s speech.  Today, he says, “He seemed to his students to be as wise and capable as anyone could expect to be.  He loved English literature, and taught us to love it as well.  He had a way of communicating with his students that was uniquely "personal and effective."  In the original work, McCain described Ravenel’s communication skills as “effective and personal” rather than “personal and effective.”

Those who have followed McCain have noted he frequently falls back on passages from his books. It doesn’t seem that there is anything unethical or untoward about quoting from your own work.  It’s yours after all.  Many politicians recite the same stump speech over and over again.  And if you are going to essentially read aloud from a book, “Faith of my Fathers” is a great book to read from.  But given that it is 9 years since he and Mr. Salter first wrote the words he is now reading, it might show the difficulty McCain has in capitalizing on his rich biography.

“Faith of my Fathers” is now available in paperback, by the way, if you don’t catch the senator on TV today.

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