Monday, August 27, 2018

John McCain was a hero, but no angel

Posted By on Mon, Aug 27, 2018 at 5:23 PM

click to enlarge Sen. John McCain was 81 when he died. - ALAN FREED / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Alan Freed /
  • Sen. John McCain was 81 when he died.
The country lost a true patriot over the weekend, whose death seems to be uniting partisans unlike any living person has been able to do in the age of Trump.

But lest we canonize the departed Sen. John McCain, Vietnam War hero, prisoner of war, statesman and presidential candidate, perhaps a true look at the life of McCain can help us understand the quagmire into which national politics has sunk.

Take this Guardian piece, which reports, in part:
But as the Arizona senator, like Shakespeare’s John of Gaunt, spent his twilight years raging against the coarsening of civic life, he must have been aware that his legacy would include a decision that helped unleash the very forces he came to despise.

Wednesday marks the 10th anniversary of McCain unveiling Sarah Palin, a say-anything, gun-toting political neophyte, as his running mate in the 2008 presidential election. It was an act of political desperation that left Washington aghast. It delivered a short-term boost in the polls. But it also opened the Pandora’s box of populism.
That populism led to the presidency of a man who avoided serving his country by claiming to have bone spurs on his feet. (The New York Times reports "[That] deferment was one of five Mr. Trump received during Vietnam. The others were for education."] Trump also still seems to have only a surface understanding of the U.S. Constitution, if he understands it at all.

But back in the day, in 2008, when McCain was launching his second presidential bid, the Independent gave an unvarnished look at McCain, whose coarseness has now been forgotten.

And then, HuffingtonPost issued this "remembrance," which serves as a reminder that not everything about McCain was saintly:
McCain’s victims ― the millions who have suffered and died in accordance with his war hawk policies and positions ― who are already invisible in popular discourse in the U.S., are now deemed wholly unmentionable. Because McCain was a “great American.”
We're not disrespecting the senator, but rather trying to illuminate the man so that rather than being made into a god, he's celebrated for his contribution without losing sight of the fact that  nobody's perfect. McCain will be forever applauded for his sheer bravery, surviving the POW camp. He'll also be lauded for defying his party with his thumbs down vote on Trump's plan to dismantle Obamacare.

But he should also be remembered for less stellar moments, which might serve to give everyone the inspiration to push ahead with their ideals, moving past those boneheaded moves or unjustifiable positions that the passage of time can lead us to be ashamed of.

For now, however, we're still in the adoration stage — except for the nation's leader, who has failed to honor McCain after his Aug. 25 death and refused to keep the Capitol's flag at half-staff more than a day, until the afternoon of Aug. 27 when it was lowered again.

But Rep. Doug Lamborn, who's so closely aligned with Trump that he used video of him during his Republican primary election race, has decided to have the decency to honor McCain for his service:
I'm saddened to hear of the passing of Senator John McCain. He was a true American patriot and hero. His work paints a picture of an entire life lived in service to our country. He fought for freedom and defended the constitution. He was also a loving family man. This country will never forget him. My heart and prayers are with his wife, children, and grandchildren.
Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, chose to emphasize McCain's personal touch:
Susan and I extend our deepest condolences to the McCain family. We also express our gratitude to Senator McCain for his never-ending kindness to our daughters when they visited Washington,” Bennet said. “His example tells us that we need not accept dysfunctional politics and empty partisanship as inevitable. His absence will require much more of the rest of us.

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