The strong comeback in the Pennsylvania Senate campaign of
Democratic Rep. and retired Adm. Joe Sestak is, from my point of
view, one of the few great moments in the 2010 campaign.
In a national campaign full of sickening slanders and second-rate minds, Sestak stands out for one big truth that has governed his life, his work and his career, and it is this:
When a man or woman wears the uniform of our nation in the service of our country, he or she does not look at the fellow patriot in the foxhole, in the cockpit or on the bridge and ask: Are you a liberal or conservative? Are you a Democrat or Republican? What Sestak understands, the value that has been seared into Joe Sestak's soul through a lifetime of service, is that for those who protect and defend our country, the others beside them are truly a band of brothers and sisters united by a patriotic faith that transcends the cheap shots and divisions of what has become our politics.
This is Sestak's big truth, the truth he learned in the service of the United States Navy. Words like duty, honor and country are not slogans. They are a way of life. Hard work, preparation and training are not words for a résumé. They are the standards for success and the codes of conduct for every endeavor of life.
Sestak's opponent for the Senate, former Republican Rep. Pat Toomey, is neither better nor worse than the standard issue of politics today. When he served in the House, Toomey was a standard-issue supporter of the policies of George W. Bush. As a candidate today, he reads the standard-issue bromides and platitudes of Tea Party cliches. Toomey is a decent and serious man whom I happen to disagree with. He is not a nut like Sharron Angle in Nevada or Christine O'Donnell in Delaware.
What makes Joe Sestak so rare in American politics today is that he has ingrained into his body, mind and soul the values and standards of the U.S. Navy, the spirit of service and the can-do attitudes of hard work and perseverance.
In fact, Joe Sestak is one of the most politically independent leaders in American politics. He is not standard-issue about anything. He is willing to buck Democratic leaders at times while he battles Republican leaders while he pushes for more jobs, fewer closures, more honest markets and, of course, the maximum support for his brothers and sisters who serve in uniform today.
I find the Sestak surge exciting. There are too many lies in politics today, too much fraud, too many phonies, too much sleaze.
Joe Sestak is a breath of fresh air because he has learned, and he embodies, the big truth that duty, honor and country should trump all of the partisanship and division that plagues our politics today.
When Joe Sestak meets any voter on the campaign trail or in town meetings, he thinks of the men and women who served with him in the Navy. This service and these values will lead Joe Sestak to be a senator for all of the people, all of the time.
The Senate could use a lot more of the spirit of duty, honor and country that Adm. Sestak has embodied throughout his career.
There is no political tactic or negative ad that will ever trump this ethic that makes Sestak who he is today, an ethic that is so desperately needed in Washington, D.C., on both sides of the aisle.