As we head into the holiday weekend, I wanted to write a bit on John McCain. I will admit, if you asked me even a year ago my thoughts on Senator McCain, I would have rolled my eyes.
I probably don’t have to say it, but I’m a die-hard liberal. I don’t agree with McCain’s politics, and even members of his family make me cringe. But in the last week, I’ve heard, read, and watched several things that have made me think differently about the late senator.
And my short conclusion is: he’s a fucking badass.
Let me explain. Yes, I knew McCain was a prisoner of war before he entered service as a senator. But even just learning more about that experience makes me wonder just how he even survived in time in prison!
I witnessed the back-and-forth between McCain and Trump, and naturally, I was disgusted, and curious as to how someone could hear such awful things about themselves and not fire back with every word in the book.
But McCain is getting the last word – even in death.
On Tuesday, I watched the HBO documentary, “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls”.
If you haven’t watched it – you must! It beautifully discusses his life through interviews with him, his family, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and former Presidents Barak Obama and George W. Bush, among many others.
You can see firsthand his life on the campaign trail – both as he ran to be the republican nominee against Bush in 2000, and as the nominee running against Obama in 2008. Both are very telling of his character.
It’s funny… the 2008 campaign was the first one that I really was into – it wasn’t my first time voting, but it was my first time watching all of the debates and news coverage surrounding it.
At the time, I was dating a fratastic republican, and we constantly got into (mild) arguments over the campaign – he loved McCain and Governor Sarah Palin. I was, obviously, not a fan.
But after knowing what I know now about McCain, he probably would have made a great President. The timing just wasn’t right.
When the McCain family announced that John would no longer be receiving treatment for his brain cancer, I was sad. But I also know that quality of life is important, and I felt a bit of happiness for him that he was able to live a full year from his diagnosis, and he used that time to not only stand up for the people of Arizona, but to also focus on the end of his life, and say his goodbyes to the ones he loved most.
As many of you know, my dad was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer late last year. It wasn’t the same kind McCain had, but he also had surgery to remove a mass behind his eye.
I was with my dad the day after his surgery, and although he was recovering well – I fully admire McCain and his ability to fly to D.C. and cast his vote against Trump’s healthcare plan just a day after his surgery.
I am fully in awe of anyone that gets to die on their own terms. From what I’ve learned of McCain, he lived on his own terms, too. And that is something I admire with my entire heart. He wasn’t afraid to go against the grain, as long as he felt it was right. He was honest, even during a time when many politicians are not.
Sadly, McCain passed away just a few days after he stopped treatment, and shortly after, his family released his final letter to America.
I’ve had experiences, adventures, friendships, enough for 10 satisfying lives, and I am so thankful.
– John McCain
The letter took a slight jab at Trump, encouraging the American people to forge on, even though we aren’t getting what we deserve right now (there is a similar jab in the documentary).
A few days ago, I saw this headline: “McCain’s Choice of Russian Dissent as Pallbearer is Final Dig at Putin, Trump.”
Wow! Even in death, this guy is sticking it to Trump, and keeping it classy.
And then yesterday, I saw this: “Sarah Palin isn’t Invited to John McCain’s Memorial Services” – I’m speechless.
I didn’t know this, but the article says that earlier this year, McCain said that choosing Palin as his running mate was one of the mistakes he made.
Since Wednesday, I have been watching McCain’s services, and although they are sad to see, I have great respect for everything he’s done for our country, and I’m inspired by the full life that he lived.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve added several of McCain’s books to my reading list. If you’re interested, here are all of them:
- The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations
- Faith of my Fathers: A Family Memoir
- Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life
- Character is Destiny: Inspiring Stories we Should All Remember
- Worth Fighting For: The Education of an American Maverick, and the Heroes Who Inspired Him
- Hard Call: The Art of Difficult Decisions
- Thirteen Soldiers: A Personal History of Americans at War
With that, I’ve learned so much about McCain this week – better late than never, right? – but I’m confident that his legacy will live on and continue to inspire others.
“In the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the real test.”
– John McCain