Some are wondering where – and what – it is.

Traversing the country this week on a tour of places
that have shaped his life and informed his values, John McCain spoke in
strikingly personal language to introduce himself to the American
public.

But missing so far is any significant mention of religious faith.

In an Oprah Winfrey era in which soul-baring and expressions of
faith are the norm for public figures, the presumptive Republican
nominee, open and candid about much else, retains a shroud of privacy
around his Christianity.

Funny, how recently the media expected public figures, and
especially political candidates, to keep their religious beliefs
private. Now, John McCain is being scrutinized for being too private
about his faith.

In this way, McCain, 71, is a throwback to an earlier
generation, when such personal matters were kept personal. To talk of
Jesus Christ in the comfortable, matter-of-fact fashion of the past two
baby-boom-era presidents would be unthinkable.

This gives them a chance to get a shot or two in there about McCain’s age, the undercurrent of most criticism about him.

What drives him — at least outwardly — is precisely what
he has been talking about this week: a love of country and sense of
duty instilled by a military family with a long legacy of service.

His first book, part ancestral tribute and part personal
memoir, was titled “Faith of My Fathers,” and it’s their tradition of
sacrifice, commitment and honor, a brand of martial noblesse oblige, in
which he seems to believe deepest.

Not good enough, they say. He’ll have to be more public about those deeply held beliefs.

But…..pardon the overused expression….it’s one thing to ‘talk the talk’…

Gary Bauer, the socially conservative former GOP
presidential candidate who got behind McCain in 2000 after withdrawing
from the race, recognizes Obama’s comfort level in a world that makes
many Democrats uneasy.

“But in spite of him identifying with or using language that rings a
bell with faith-based voters, he then comes to public policy
conclusions that are out of step with them,” he argues.

How much the talk guides the walk – for any candidate – is the next
question for scrutinizing media, who keep changing their collective
mind on this subject.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....