Last week I wrote about John McCain and received emails after the column appeared. One of them asked me why I did not talk about the Keating Five — John McCain was one of the five sitting senators who was part of the Keating Five. This took place in 1989. According to Wikipedia, “Senators [John] Glenn and McCain were cleared of having acted improperly but were criticized for having exercised ‘poor judgment.’”
When I was in Iraq in 2003, after going to the house where Saddam Hussein kept women, one employee of the Ministry of Culture said to me, “Nobody perfect.” That can certainly be said of John McCain.
We heard that because of John McCain’s family background, he became a pilot — even though his qualifications to become a pilot were suspect. You can say what you want about then-pilot McCain being held in the Hanoi Hilton (the name given to the POW prison where he was held), but he refused to leave once they discovered who his father and grandfather were. He was not perfect, but he behaved like a hero.
Why did Senator McCain get the accolades this week? Why, of all the people who have laid in state (31 people, including Senator McCain), did McCain get that honor? It is because of what he stood for … and why the country needs Senator McCain’s viewpoint right now.
President Donald Trump has been tweeting constantly. His tweets are often divisive. For example, on July 31 he wrote: “The Fake News Media is going CRAZY! They are totally unhinged and in many ways, after witnessing first hand the damage they do to so many innocent and decent people, I enjoy watching. In 7 years, when I am no longer in office, their ratings will dry up and they will be gone!”
In other tweets, President Trump has not let go of his battle with Hillary Clinton, tweeting last week: “Hillary Clinton’s Emails, many of which are Classified Information, got hacked by China. Next move better be by the FBI & DOJ or, after all of their other missteps (Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr, FISA, Dirty Dossier etc.), their credibility will be forever gone!”
This, despite the fact that the FBI has found no evidence of hacking.
I remember being on the “Straight Talk Express” in New Hampshire during the primary there. John McCain did not go after the press; he treated us with respect. That is one of the many reasons he got so many accolades after he passed.
The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasas wrote an article this week that says if McCain had been president, we would not have had Donald Trump. That may be true; and as we know, John McCain said things that should give us pause. But he also reached across the aisle and was American at every turning point.
The reason John McCain achieved such popularity, and therefore lying in state in the U.S. Capitol, is because he strongly believed in America and reaching across the aisle. On Saturday, he was eulogized by two of his political adversaries, former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. He lost to both of them. President Obama won for president against GOP nominee McCain, and he lost to George W. Bush in the primary.
Former President Obama, often the target of President Trump, said at the funeral: “So much of our politics can seem small and mean and petty. Trafficking in bombast and insult, phony controversies and manufactured outrage. … John called on us to be bigger than that, to be better than that. … John understood that part of what makes our country great is that our membership is based not on our bloodline, not on what we look like … but on our adherence to a common creed that all of us are created equal, endowed by our Creator certain unalienable rights.” Former President Obama also mentioned that Senator McCain was in favor of a free press.
President George W. Bush said: “In the process rivalry melted away, and I got to enjoy one of life’s great gifts: the friendship of John McCain.” … “(He) detested the abuse of power and could not abide bigots and swaggering despots. … He respected the dignity inherent in every life, a dignity that does not stop at borders and cannot be erased by dictators.”
Say what you want about John McCain: “Nobody perfect,” as they said in Iraq. However he did bring all people together and that is what we need now — respect. That is why he was given the honor of lying in state.