John McCain On Iraq

John McCain spoke eloquently at Virginia Military Institute. Here are his concluding paragraphs:

"In closing, I'd like to bring to your attention the gallantry and patriotism of one American who served with distinction in Iraq, a Navy SEAL, who refuses to quit his mission and let the country he loves so well suffer the terrible harm our defeat would entail. A few days ago, Petty Officer First Class Mark Robbins's unit was ambushed outside Baghdad. During the ensuing firefight, he spotted an insurgent with an RPG, and immediately stepped out from cover and exposed himself to enemy fire to take out the terrorist before he could fire. He saved the lives of his comrades, but was gravely wounded as he did so. He was shot in the eye by another insurgent with an AK-47. The bullet exited the back of his head about three inches behind his ear. He was initially knocked unconscious but came to, continued to fight and then, despite the severity of his wound, walked to the evacuation helicopter. He was eventually taken to Landstuhl military hospital in Germany. As is the custom of Navy SEALs, he was accompanied by one of his comrades, Petty Officer Second Class McLean Swink.

On our way home from Iraq, our delegation stopped in Germany for refueling and crew rest, and I had the privilege of visiting some of our wounded at Landstuhl. I briefly stopped in Mark Robbins's room, but he was sedated and unable then to communicate. I spent a few moments there, and talked to his buddy, before I went to visit other wounded soldiers. Not too long after I had left Mark's room, Petty Officer Swink found me and told me Mark was awake and had asked to see me. So I returned. When I entered his room and approached his bedside, he struggled with great difficulty to sit up, stiffened his body as if he were trying to stand at attention, grasped my hand tightly and wouldn't let go. And then he whispered to me not to worry, 'We can win this fight. We can win this fight.' Mark, as another person observed, looks like the 'toughest kid on the high school football team.' He is tough, and brave, and very young. But more than that, he's an inspiration to those who are only called upon to subordinate a temporary political advantage to the security of our good and great nation. Petty Officer Mark Robbins, an American hero, believes we can still win this fight. I'll take his word for it, and accept my responsibility to help the cause he sacrificed so much to defend. Thank you."

This was an incredibly eloquent and heartfelt speech. Every American should read the whole thing.

Duke Lacrosse Players Innocent

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper's statement couldn't have been more unambiguous: "We believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges." He made clear that this case was the result of prosecutorial misconduct on the part of Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong. In a press conference, the three players made eloquent statements about the injustice they had suffered, with specific thanks to blogger K C Johnson, whose Durham-in-Wonderland website provided invaluable coverage of the case. And you really should watch this video of Fox News's Shepard Smith.

Duke President Richard Brodhead delivered a statement that stands in vivid contrast with what he was saying in April 2006. Then he was quick to cancel the lacrosse season and oust the lacrosse coach, made only the most cursory reference to the presumption of innocence, and was champing at the bit to begin university disciplinary proceedings. His performance was disgraceful, though not as bad as that of the "Group of 88" faculty members who took the players' guilt for granted.

By Michael Barone