Senator John McCain was the Republican of the Old School. A decent politician who could collaborate with and have friends in the opponents team too. Something that is unusual in today’s United States.
And, of course, he was Republican far, long before Donald Trump decided on which party he sympathized with. McCain struggled into the last of the questions he was burning for and saw growing concern and despair of how his old party was taken over by the vulgar from New York.
More different people than these two are hard to find. John McCain spent six years in prison camps in Hanoi after his plan was thrown.
His dad was amiral and the North Vietnam team offered to let him out. McCain chose to stay, he refused to return home before all his American comrades in the prison camp were free.
Donald Trump pardoned him for this summer 2015, shortly after he announced he was going to stand in the presidential election. Trump said he liked war heroes, not people who had been captured.
This from a person who himself escaped being called into the Vietnam War because he suffered from healing spasm.
There were many with me who believed that Trump had gone too far against McCain. That Republican voters would not accept such. We were wrong. That was of course the beginning.
John McCain himself had tried to become president a couple of times. He made surprisingly good at the start of the primary election against George W. Bush 2000 but ultimately did not have any chance at him.
It was the first time I met him. An outspoken, spontaneous, open politician. The world had probably looked different if McCain ruled the White House after September 11, 2001.
In 2008, he finally got his chance to become the Republican Party’s presidential candidate. The opponent was, of course, Barack Obama and after eight years of George W. Bush, Iraq war and financial crisis, the odds were always against a Republican candidate.
But McCain showed his class. As at that election meeting, a woman told him that Barack Obama was “an Arab” and a Muslim. McCain interrupted her:
No, ma’m. He is a decent family father, whom I only get disagreements with.
John McCain is dead – got 81 years old
Wondering how Trump would have behaved in the same situation. He previously tried to prove that Obama was just Muslim and not born in the United States.
But ironically, John McCain helped a person like Donald Trump eventually take over the Republican party. He realized it himself afterwards.
His biggest mistake as a Republican presidential candidate was probably to appoint Sarah Palin as his vice president candidate, Alaska governor who was hopelessly unqualified for the job.
McCain wrote in his last book that he regretted the election. He would actually have his friend Joe Lieberman, a Democratic Senator and Al Gore’s Vice Presidential candidate 2000, by his side.
But it probably did not go home with the Republican voters and his counselors persuaded him to bet on Palin instead. True, she quickly became popular among the Republicans who would later form the tea party movement and also be the core of Trump’s followers.
Unlike most other Republicans, McCain did not try to set himself up at Trump. On the contrary. He became a Republican nail in the eye of the president.
For example, McCain contributed to the failure of the president and republicans to replace Obamacare. He did not like Trump’s way of using Twitter to threaten North Korea, he was concerned about the US President’s patronizing comments about NATO.
He became hugely upset by how Trump acted against Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki Summit.
Trump did not take the criticism with courage. Understood. When Trump signed a new defense attack last month after just John McCain, Trump did not even name him when he signed the decision.
McCain, who himself was tortured in Hanoi, was a stubborn advocate for the United States to never torture. He remained a bitter critic of, for example, “water torture”, a method that Trump advocated at interrogation.
There was therefore some concern that he would oppose Trump’s appointment of Gina Haspel as new CIA chief, involved in CIA’s interrogation practices in the early 00th. But White Houseman Kelly Sadler, one of Trump’s co-workers, noted the following about McCain’s opposition in a meeting this spring:
It does not matter. He’s dead soon anyway.
Sadler had to leave her post after a few weeks, but her comment still says something about the mood in Trumps White House versus McCain.
Many politicians came home to McCain Arizona at the end to honor and remember. Even politicians from the second camp, such as Obama’s vice president Joe Biden. Few of them learn to miss Trump at the funeral.
Certainly, McCain will be missing. USA needs more than ever politicians of his caliber.