McCain hails from an America that exalted service to country, and he is the scion of a military family who endured five years in enemy captivity and who preaches a mantra of personal honor and of the nation over the individual — “Country First,” as his campaign slogan declares. His wife is conspicuously reserved at his side; he does not communicate by e-mail and only recently learned to use the Internet; even his roguish sense of humor carries echoes of the more chauvinistic 1950s of his youth.
Obama’s embodiment of a newer America begins but hardly ends with the fact that he would be the first black president. In a country where people liked to know where you were from, Obama lacks a ready answer — he is part Hawaii, part Kansas, part Chicago. In a recent speech in Berlin, he declared himself a “citizen of the world.”
This would be in contrast, I guess, with the famous stability associated with military families. Except, I guess, for the fact that he was born in Panama and:
For his first ten years, ‘Johnny’ McCain (the family nickname he was given) was frequently uprooted as his family, including older sister Sandy and younger brother Joe, followed his father to New London, Connecticut, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and other stations in the Pacific Ocean […] mother who took advantage of the family’s many long-distance travels to expose him to historical and cultural sites […] two years as a naval aviator in training, first at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida through September 1959, and then at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Texas […] Starting in November 1960, McCain flew A-1 Skyraiders with the VA-65 “World Famous Fighting Tigers” squadron on the aircraft carriers USS Intrepid and USS Enterprise.
Then, of course, came Vietnam and years of captivity. Upon his return he lived in Washington, DC and then Jacksonville. “In 1976, he briefly thought of running for the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida,” but instead he went back to DC and became a lobbyist for the Navy. Then, though still married to another woman, he began commuting back-and-forth to Arizona to have an affair with Cindy Lou Hensley. Hensley was from Arizona, and he took advantage of his eventual marriage to her to move to Arizona and run for congress as something of a carpetbagger.
There’s a lot that you can say about this story — military upbringing, war heroism, bad marital conduct — but clearly just like Barack Obama (and for that matter millions of Americans) this is someone who moved around a lot and lacks deep roots in any particular place. He was in his mid-forties before he first moved to the state he currently represents in the Senate.