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We think: McCain's concession reflected what's right with U.S. politics

November 8, 2008

From Germany to South Africa to Japan, people across the globe were captivated by the United States electing Barack Obama to be its first African-American president. But many, too, were struck by the gracious concession speech offered by rival John McCain.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Africans, while elated at Mr. Obama's victory, also were inspired by Mr. McCain's words. Often in countries on that continent, losers in political contests don't concede without a fight -- literally.

It's long been customary for defeated U.S. presidential candidates to congratulate the winners and promise their support. Mr. McCain went above and beyond that tradition, calling Mr. Obama's victory "a great thing for himself and for his country." He acknowledged "the special significance it has for African-Americans" and "the special pride that must be theirs tonight." He offered his sympathy to Mr. Obama for the recent death of his grandmother, whom he said would be "so very proud of the good man she helped raise."

Mr. McCain's remarks were a belated return to the political high ground he became known for occupying before his presidential campaign turned angry and divisive.

For his part, Mr. Obama hailed Mr. McCain as a "brave and selfless leader." In an appeal to Americans who didn't support him, he said, "I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president, too."

There's plenty wrong with U.S. presidential contests -- they're too long, too expensive, too negative. But Tuesday's historic outcome, and the aftermath, showed why America's political system is still admired in much of the world.

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