John McCain

Posted in Politics and Justice by EloiSVM42 on August 28, 2018

John McCain, one of my own personal senators, passed away last weekend, so I feel I should write something about him. In these circumstances, the Shakespearian “Mark Anthony” rule typically applies, but I have written about McCain before, so in the interest of intellectual consistency, these remarks cannot be all praise. I refer to him as the senior senile senator from Arizona, for crying out loud. But let’s begin with the praise.

McCain behaved as a true patriot and statesman regarding the Vietnam War, which gave him some significant moral suasion with me:

When he was offered release from a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp, where he was being tortured regularly, he refused to leave until his men were released also, so there he remained there until the end of the war. That is pure courage and heroism.

Thereafter, he opposed President George W. Bush regarding our own torture of prisoners of war, and bless him for that.

Likewise, he was among the first public figures to argue for reconciliation and return to normal relations with Vietnam after the war. A lesser man would have remained angry and vengeful, but McCain was able to look forward.

Later, at a campaign event against Barak Obama in the 2008 election, he politely corrected an ignorant, wretched woman, a religiously intolerant xenophobe, who called Obama an Arab, but she meant Muslim and nigger, and said Obama was a decent man, when it was clear the Republican base didn’t feel that way at all. That took political courage and decency.

Finally, among his very last votes in the Senate, he put an end to Republicans’ attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Now to the unpraiseworthy stuff. McCain was not a Maverick, but a garden variety right wing conservative until circa 2000. But after he was smeared viciously by President Bush in the South Carolina primary, he sensed where the wind was blowing in the Republican Party and shifted to the rabid right, remaining there, with the ACA vote exception, for the rest of his life.

McCain never saw a war he didn’t approve of, or want to join or to start. He stood shoulder to shoulder with John Bolton in this regard (Senator Lindsay Graham sat at McCain’s feet). As head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he saw the answer to every problem as a war.

Campaigning for the presidency against Barak Obama, he selected for his Vice Presidential running mate Sarah Palin, a women as unfit for the office of president, should it have come to that, as its current occupant. It was an unconscionable decision.

And on his very last important vote in the Senate, McCain supported the odious tax cuts that enriched himself and a very small number of other extremely rich people at the expense of the general American population. Hardly a principled vote.

That is both sides of my view of Senator McCain.




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