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To my friends, the Republicans, a word of comfort and advice. Two, in fact:

John McCain.

Listen to him. Emulate him. Value him.

"Tonight - tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama," McCain told supporters in Phoenix, conceding one of the most hard-fought campaigns in memory.

"I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.

"Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history."

In the waning days of the campaign, there were those among you, like Laura Ingraham, who began to say that it was not Republican Conservatism that was behind in the polls, but McCain himself.

Open your eyes. Look with honesty and generosity and civility and openness at the country you love. Embrace those with whom you disagree. Forgo nostalgia. Prize, yes, prize diversity.

In the aftermath of months and months of hard labor, you may well feel that you were robbed. That the Democrats were awash in money, that the media gave Obama a full push and a free pass. Fundamentally, if quietly, you may feel that McCain was insufficiently tough.

A word of advice for future elections. Be careful whom you call insufficently tough.

In defeat, with bravery and grace, John McCain showed you - and America - how very presidential he is.

John MCain, in defeat, proved that he was that rare commodity in an age that has prized venal self-interest, empty notoriety, fame for its own sake: He showed himself a class act.

John McCain showed himself, in defeat, a model for Americans, even - perhaps primarily - for those who could not bring themselves to honor the extraordinary event through which they were living.

Imagine a losing candidate who, in defeat, showed himself every inch a victor.

"I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not jus"t congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

"Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that."

"It's natural, tonight, to feel some disappointment. But tomorrow, we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again."

This is the time for Republicans to show their patriotism and place country first over party, over the need to prove, at any cost, that an ideology - that, in fact, may need updating - was right all along.

John McCain told his supporters in Arizona that the 2008 campaign "was and will remain the great honor of my life, and my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Senator Obama and my old friend Senator Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the next four years."

Many in the crowd responded with booing.

It is time for them to rethink this idea that they have about America.They should listen closer to what John McCain was telling them:

"Please. Please," he said, quieting the booing. Then he said:

"I would not be an American worthy of the name should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century.

"Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone."

John McCain has much to teach Americans about being Americans. And if his party chooses to listen, he has much to teach Republicans about being Republicans.

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  • U.S. elections on Haaretz.com

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