Presidential Campaign

Adm. McRaven for president

The only reason The New York Times would run a front page promotion of retired Adm. William McRaven, soon to be chancellor at University of Texas at Austin, is that they can see him as one of their own; a candidate for higher office as a Democrat and possibly “positioning himself” to be Hillary Clinton’s VP as rumor had it in Special Ops when McRaven was chief. How does one “position” oneself to be Hillary’s VP? By getting the job as chancellor at UT-Austin.

{mosads}Yet the idea of Hillary as president is still primarily a generational wish by a generation whose wishes descend today into the netherworld of geriatrics. Liberalism as we have experienced it — the “Kennedy half century” as Larry Sabato correctly calls it — has passed. And when the age’s avatar passes (the late Sen. Ted Kennedy) the era itself tends to end within seven years (see Thomas Jefferson, see Queen Victoria, etc.).

“I’m not a political guy,” McRaven said after the raid on Osama bin Laden. Yet he called President Obama “the smartest guy in the room” in a national interview. High marks for Hillary too. But change is upon us; a new era is upon us, it just hasn’t started yet. There is no reason it shouldn’t start with McRaven.

Politics is a swinging pendulum. Then around the 70th year, which is about now by the generational cycle theory of William Strauss and Neil Howe, the swinging stops. The day then starts anew and our times might see a more auspicious future with a whole new crew heading to 2016. People like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D), Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D), former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D), Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) and William McRaven.

In this crowd, Hillary might then seem venerable; old school and out of touch. Quaint. Odd. Like Eleanor Roosevelt and Gov. Adlai Stevenson (D-Ill.) when the Kennedy brothers first appeared on the national stage. And if McRaven does in fact register to some as VP quality for Hillary, the very next thought to occur might be, why not VP for Warren, Warner or Webb? And why not McRaven as POTUS himself? Between his job as commander, United States Special Operations Command, and the gig at UT-Austin, he is certainly qualified.

Liberalism today might be seen then as having a free ride to begin again a new pendulum and a winning long-term cycle. The poorly conceived and executed Bush-Cheney invasion of Iraq brought a fall from grace for conservatives. Canada, Israel and other friends have today left our side and several states threaten to do the same. Republicans have endless issues: neocon sidekicks who poison the daily press with negativity, the craven and artificial politicized religious sensibility that alienates the young (and drives them to Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul), the Reagan personality cult, the impeachment fantasies, and the Benghazi obsession all threaten to send them back to Coolidgeville for another hundred years of sleep.

And McRaven touches a mythical cord. He is warrior unbeaten and unbroken; did not crash the plane, did not lose the battle, was not taken prisoner. A soldier who personifies an intrepid mythic legacy more in the vein of some in our mother culture; T.E. Lawrence or even Lord Nelson at Trafalgar come to mind. McRaven countervails bin Laden and 9/11, replacing the terrorist’s mythic power with his own inspired and positive karma. His myth must be seen and celebrated in that regard, as it is our myth. It is the legacy of the undefeated and one essential to the rising soul of America.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at

Tags United States Special Operations Command University of Texas at Austin William McRaven
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