Senator John S. McCain 1936–2018

Written by  //  September 3, 2018  //  Absent Friends, Politics, U.S.  //  Comments Off on Senator John S. McCain 1936–2018

John McCain memorial service at North Phoenix Baptist Church

Remembrances Across the Nation: The Schedule of Tributes to John McCain
The former senator’s life will be celebrated for five days in Arizona, Maryland and Washington. Here’s how to pay respects
Thousands of Americans will turn out this week to honor and reflect on Senator John McCain’s life, including former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both of whom will speak Saturday at an invitation-only service at Washington National Cathedral.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will speak Thursday at a funeral service in Phoenix.
Mr. McCain, a Vietnam War veteran, will be buried at the United States Naval Academy on Sunday next to a lifelong friend, Chuck Larson. A handwritten sign already marks the site of the grave, a “beautiful spot overlooking the Severn River,” as Mr. McCain wrote in his last book, “The Restless Wave.”

McCain, like others before, rests in peace with a military academy friend
(CNN) About 500 midshipmen lined the route from the academy chapel to the cemetery Sunday, as McCain’s casket was carried by a horse-drawn caisson. Relatives walked behind. Navy jets executed a “missing man” formation in the blue sky in honor of the former military aviator.
The McCain procession on Sunday passed other US Navy heroes, many of whom died in combat or in military accidents. Among those buried at the academy are Adm. James Stockdale and Fleet Adm. Ernest King, chief of naval operations during World War II.

John McCain will be laid to rest among other Navy heroes, from the Civil War to Afghanistan
(WaPost) While McCain is being buried beside Adm. Charles R. Larson, his friend and Naval Academy classmate, the late U.S. senator and Vietnam War POW will rest amid many Navy heroes with their own ties to the academy and to one another. … The small cemetery occupies about 6.7 acres on a grassy hill at Hospital Point where College Creek — once known as Grave Yard Creek — meets the Severn River in Annapolis.
The cemetery dates to 1869, said James W. Cheevers, the retired curator at the Naval Academy Museum, and is rich with Navy lore and the echoes of great deeds and misdeeds. Graduates choose to be buried there because of strong emotional ties to the academy, he said in an interview Tuesday. …
McCain’s father and grandfather, both esteemed admirals, are buried in the vast 600 acres of Arlington National Cemetery. But the senator’s office said that before Larson died in 2014 he reserved four plots of land at the academy cemetery for himself, McCain and their wives. “I’m sure [McCain] would have more of an influence, even in death, here than he would at Arlington,” Cheevers said. There, “he’d be lost in tens of thousands.”

Two excellent pieces of writing.
John McCain’s Funeral Was the Biggest Resistance Meeting Yet
Two ex-Presidents and one eloquent daughter teamed up to rebuke the pointedly uninvited Donald Trump.
By Susan B. Glasser
(The New Yorker) McCain’s grand funeral—the Obama adviser David Axelrod called it an exercise in “civic communion”—underscored a fact that is often lost about Washington these days. The city is much more bipartisan, in some respects, than it has ever been, more united than it may currently seem, in its hatred of Donald Trump.
Some are more forthright about this than others, for understandable reasons. Others are circumspect, especially the elected Republican officials who have now publicly bowed to Trump after trying and failing to stop his ascendance in their party. But their presence at McCain’s funeral suggested that the final chapter has not yet been written in the Republican drama over what to do about the crude interloper who has taken over their party.
John McCain’s Funeral Was a Council of War—Just as He Meant It to Be
A dispatch from the National Cathedral.
This was a funeral with more than one purpose—to celebrate the passing of John McCain and to summon a rebirth of politics that did not so much reek of grift and vodka.
By Charles P. Pierce
(Esquire) He deliberately made known to people that the president* was not welcome at any of the services. He deliberately chose the previous two presidents to deliver the formal eulogies. He deliberately created that scene in the Capitol rotunda at which Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Mike Pence, an unholy trio of Trumpist quislings, had to choke down their own cowardice and say how much they loved him and his irascibility. He deliberately created a mirror in which, if they still have an ounce of self-awareness, they could see the rot that has set in on their souls. Even at the end, John McCain knew what he was doing and he was a fearsome opponent. He wanted a pageant of everything this administration* has trashed and put up for sale, and that’s what he got Saturday—a morality play shot through with Shakespearian portent and foreshadowing, a pageant of democracy’s vengeance.

C. Uday Bhaskar: John McCain funeral and the significance of political catharsis
(Al Arabiya) There were many distinctive and unusual elements at the funeral service and the passing away of the Republican Senator from Arizona (August 25) and the steady build-up to the memorial service was described as a “phenomenon” by a discerning US military veteran.
The emphasis on “dignity” and the reference to abhorring the “abuse of power” would have resonated negatively in a distant golf club, where a lonely and petulant President would perhaps have been gnashing his teeth and sharpening certain tweets for use at a future date.
For a large cross-section in the US that is cringing at this loss of dignity in the exalted office of the US President, the McCain memorial could well be seen as a defining socio-political event in a national consciousness that has been demeaned and diminished over the last two years.

McCain’s final Washington tribute
(Politico) MCCAIN’S NATIONAL CATHEDRAL TRIBUTE — JOHN SIDNEY MCCAIN III left the Capitol for the last time this dreary morning. His family was on hand as his casket was put in the hearse which then headed to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Cindy McCain was accompanied by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly followed by his children, as she laid a wreath in her husband’s honor at the memorial.
VIRTUALLY EVERY POLITICAL POWER PLAYER past and present was on hand this morning for McCain’s invitation-only funeral at the National Cathedral. MISSING: PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, who has been tweeting this morning about the Justice Department, the FBI and NAFTA. Trump left the White House at 10:35 a.m. wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and headed to Trump National Golf Club in Loudoun County, Virginia.
— RAISING A GLASS TO MCCAIN: “Over 100 McCain Senate Office, Senate Commerce Committee and Senate Armed Services current and former staffers to Sen. John McCain toasted him [Friday night] at PJ Clarke’s. (h/t Gigi the manager of PJ Clarke’s for being so kind with some nibbles and TLC to an emotionally drained crowd.)
“Former 2010 Irish intern Jack O’Donnell (from the U.S./Ireland intern exchange program) traveled from Dublin to join, and former Arizona State Director Pia Pelosi traveled from Hong Kong to toast the Senator. Other former staffers traveled from California, Utah and Arizona. The stories told at the party can’t be repeated, but the friendships will live on along with many wonderful memories.”
“Honoring John McCain: Images of remembrance and mourning”46 pix

Ken Burns: How to honor John McCain’s memory
In a world where considering opposing views seems increasingly endangered, you can honor the memory of John McCain by stopping to hear the stories of others.

John McCain believed in ‘the soul of America,’ Joe Biden says at tribute

Jennifer Rubin: Three men unfit to eulogize John McCain
I can think of only one living American politician who can compare to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in physical and moral courage, in international stature, and in length of career and breadth of accomplishments: President George H.W. Bush, who was shot down as a young pilot in World War II, who went to serve in Congress, the CIA, the vice presidency and the presidency and, like McCain, represents time-honored virtues. Aside from him, everyone else is going to come up short. That said, there are people worthy of expressing admiration and respect for McCain — two presidents who will speak Saturday at a memorial service, and former vice president Joe Biden, who spoke eloquently on Thursday.
And then there were the three who spoke on Friday. You had to control your gag reflex watching Vice President Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) extol McCain’s greatness as he was accorded the honor of lying in state.

Thousands of John McCain’s Constituents Pay Their Respects in Arizona
(The New Yorker) On Wednesday afternoon, just before two o’clock, an estimated fifteen thousand people began arriving at the Arizona Capitol Building, in Phoenix, to pay their respects to John McCain. Earlier that morning, a select group of current and former state officials attended a private ceremony, with McCain’s family. Now it was a hundred and five degrees under a blazing sun. State employees on golf carts distributed bottles of water while crowds queued under dozens of white tents. Inside the building, an American flag lay draped over the late senator’s closed casket—it would have been his eighty-second birthday.

27 August
White House lowers flags to half-staff, former colleagues pay tribute after McCain’s passing
(WaPost) House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday noted the “remarkable coincidence” that McCain’s passing came exactly nine years after the death of another influential senator, Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).
“Their relationship was one that I think all of us admired and we’re grateful for,” Pelosi told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an appearance on “This Week.” Regardless of whether they were on the same side as McCain on the issues, Pelosi said, lawmakers “were all in agreement that he was formidable, had enormous integrity and was acting on behalf of our country and what he truly believed.”
Pelosi also said she supports Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s call to rename the Russell Senate Office Building after McCain.

Not all media are joining in the praise of John McCain:
Obit Omit: What the Media Leaves Out of John McCain’s Record of Militarism and Misogyny
(Democracy now!) a roundtable discussion hosted by Amy Goodman on the life and legacy of John McCain… . We speak with Mehdi Hasan, columnist for The Intercept and host of their “Deconstructed” podcast. He’s also host of “UpFront” at Al Jazeera English. He’s been tweeting in response to McCain’s death and wrote a piece last year headlined “Despite What the Press Says, ‘Maverick’ McCain Has a Long and Distinguished Record of Horribleness.” We are also joined by Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink, which McCain once referred to as “low-life scum,” and by Norman Solomon, national coordinator of RootsAction, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”
“MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, that’s right. I think we should really look at this in the larger context of the glorification of militarism, the way McCain was in favor of the expansion of NATO, threatening towards both China and Russia. This is all in the benefit of the weapons industry. We can see Lockheed Martin doing a eulogy, which they did for John McCain. So, let’s remember, we want to thank those who don’t fight in wars, the conscientious objectors, the peacemakers, and recognize John McCain of a symbol of the glorification of military that we have to fight against.”

McCain and the Roman Precedent
The late senator embodied the classic republican virtue of aristocracy, yet he was not above the barbarous opportunism that brought us Sarah Palin, and her political heirs
By Paul Berman
(Tablet Magazine) John S. McCain was a noble Roman out of Plutarch, which is to say, a man of far-visioned republican virtue who was also, in the Roman style, shockingly barbarous; and, in this way, he was the most American American who ever lived. His story in Vietnam is surely the most extraordinary to come out of that war, but to judge it seems impossible. Was America right to have fought in Vietnam? America was obviously right, from one angle. The war was fought to spare the Republic of South Vietnam from having to undergo the experience of North Vietnam—fought to allow South Vietnam to tread in the ultimately democratic and prosperity-making path of South Korea and therefore to make a better world. But mass death was the only result, followed by, willy-nilly, the North-Vietnamization of the South. Not one good and decent thing was achieved, only horror, of which the worst may well have been the air campaign over North Vietnam, an atrocity by definition, which happened to be John McCain’s part in the war.

John McCain opened Pandora’s box – Sarah Palin came out, but Trump was right behind her
The senator regretted his choice of running mate. In 2008, no one could have imagined what it would mean
(The Guardian) …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.
Looking back at the day in Dayton, Ohio, as the crowd roars while McCain’s face is frozen in rictus, the moment is freighted with portents of a decade in which his beloved Republican party would slip from his grasp. It is a premonition of what many in America and around the world have come to regard as the horror of Trumpism. …
Just days after his diagnosis in July last year, he ignored medical advice and flew from Arizona to the Senate to vote down a Trump-backed plan to scrap Obama’s signature healthcare law. In October, he lambasted the president’s foreign policy as a “half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems”. And last month, when Trump refused to back his own intelligence agencies over Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, McCain described it as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”.
And yet, future historians seeking to understand the man and his time will surely revisit that day in Dayton, when McCain forced a smile and introduced “the next vice-president of the United States, Governor Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska”. They will consider what it foretold, and ponder why a man of decency and honour opened the door to demagoguery in America.

25 August
As expected, the NYT account of John McCain’s life is exhaustive, but fascinating, presenting all aspects of the very complex person he was.
He made some great mistakes, in my view, but I believe he almost always remained true to his values.

John McCain, War Hero, Senator, Presidential Contender, Dies at 81

(NYT) John S. McCain, the proud naval aviator who climbed from depths of despair as a prisoner of war in Vietnam to pinnacles of power as a Republican congressman and senator from Arizona and a two-time contender for the presidency, died on Saturday at his home in Arizona. He was 81.
According to a statement from his office, Mr. McCain died at 4:28 p.m. local time. He had suffered from a malignant brain tumor, called a glioblastoma, for which he had been treated periodically with radiation and chemotherapy since its discovery in 2017.
Despite his grave condition, he soon made a dramatic appearance in the Senate to cast a thumbs-down vote against his party’s drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But while he was unable to be in the Senate for a vote on the Republican tax bill in December, his endorsement was crucial, though not decisive, in the Trump administration’s lone legislative triumph of the year.

John McCain, a Maverick We Can Learn From
By Nicholas Kristof
I disagreed with John McCain on countless issues, from his support for the Iraq War and the 2017 tax bill to his 83 percent voting record in sync with President Trump. He was a conservative and I’m a liberal, so he frequently infuriated me (Sarah Palin for veep, really?!). But for all our disagreements, I deeply admired his guts, passion and determination to follow his moral code. His death leaves a great emptiness in Washington.
It is not that McCain was courageous at every moment. But even when he pandered, he was the world’s worst panderer — so obviously guilty and uncomfortable as he trolled for votes that he convinced nobody, and was always penitent afterward.

Five Stories That Show Why People Love John McCain
(Politico) All of the best stories about John McCain over the years have chipped away at this thing that made him feel like a different politician—authentic, an image his aides cultivated with the famous Straight Talk Express campaign bus; and honorable and brave, which the tales of his brutal torture at the hands of North Vietnamese and his refusal to leave his Hanoi prison without his comrades underscored. Here is a little bit of what has stuck with people about the maverick Arizona senator over the years—articles, videos and stories that all highlight a quality that seems vanishingly rare in American politics today. (July 2017)

John McCain, ‘maverick’ of the Senate and former POW, dies at 81
(WaPost) U.S. Sen. John S. McCain, the son and grandson of four-star admirals, was bred for combat. He endured more than five years of imprisonment and torture by the North Vietnamese as a young naval officer and went on to battle foes on the left and the right in Washington, driven throughout by a code of honor that both defined and haunted him.
Sen. McCain, 81, died Aug. 25 at his ranch near Sedona, Ariz., his office announced in a statement. The senator was diagnosed last year with a brain tumor, and his family announced this week that he was discontinuing medical treatment.
A man who seemed his truest self when outraged, Sen. McCain reveled in going up against orthodoxy. The word “maverick” practically became a part of his name.
Sen. McCain regularly struck at the canons of his party. He ran against the GOP grain by advocating campaign finance reform, liberalized immigration laws and a ban on the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” — widely condemned as torture — against terrorism suspects.
To win his most recent reelection battle in 2016, for a sixth term, he positioned himself as a more conventional Republican, unsettling many in his political fan base. But in the era of President Trump, he again became an outlier. …
In many areas, he was a reliably conservative voice and vote. But from the beginning, he showed what became a trademark streak of independence. He called for the withdrawal of Marines from Lebanon in 1983 after a terrorist bombing left 241 U.S. service members dead; he voted to override President Reagan’s veto of sanctions against the apartheid regime of South Africa in 1986.
And — surprisingly to many — as a member of the Senate, he worked to normalize relations with Vietnam.

John McCain, senator and former presidential candidate, dies at 81
By Stephen Collinson
(CNN) Whenever America was in a fight during his long lifetime, John McCain was in the thick of it.
McCain, who has died at the age of 81, was a naval bomber pilot, prisoner of war, conservative maverick, giant of the Senate, twice-defeated presidential candidate and an abrasive American hero with a twinkle in his eye.
The Arizonan warrior politician, who survived plane crashes, several bouts of skin cancer and brushes with political oblivion, often seemed to be perpetually waging a race against time and his own mortality while striving to ensure that his five-and-a-half years as a Vietnam prisoner of war did not stand as the defining experience of his life.
He spent his last few months out of the public eye in his adopted home state of Arizona, reflecting on the meaning of his life and accepting visits from a stream of friends and old political combatants.
In a memoir published in May, McCain wrote that he hated to leave the world, but had no complaints.

Death Absolutely Exhausted After Chasing John McCain For 55 Years
(the Out and Abouter) “You know, that guy was one tough cookie,” said the looming spectre of death this afternoon, echoing the words of pretty much all of John McCain’s friends (and enemies) while pausing to collect his breath after a 55-year chase that involved multiple airplane crashes, a fire at sea, a prisoner-of-war internment, a campaign for president of the United States, a number of hospitals, and in the end, a quiet bed on a cool, drizzly afternoon in Sedona, Arizona.
“Some people go easy,” Death said, lighting a filterless cigarette and looking up at the low clouds overhead, while rubbing the back of his neck and squeezing the sweat out of his long black robes, clearly exhausted.
“But that man led me all over hill and dale for five-and-a-half decades. Do you know how many people got extra innings because I was standing by, waiting for a bayonet to be just a hair to the left, or an inferno to spread just a fraction of a second faster, or an overly-eager Vietnamese torturer to get a little carried away? Or lately, just for a doctor to miss a tumour on a scan? Lots. You’re probably one of them. Don’t make me check my records. I’m beat.”
Death went on to say that while he comes across fighters every day, it’s rare for one person to avoid his long reach so publicly, and over such an extended period of time.
“It’s not a good look for me, to be honest. I have one job, and am effectively given unilateral ability to get it done (don’t ask me who by, you’re not going to like the answer). So to have this guy out there, with a bio full of ‘cheated deaths’ and ‘survived against impossible odds’ and ‘looked death in the face many times’ well, it used to make me feel a little ineffective.”

Arizona Senator John McCain Dies at 81
The war hero and elder statesman of the Republican Party had fought a year-long battle with brain cancer.
(The Atlantic) McCain, who died on Saturday at age 81 after a year-long struggle with brain cancer, endured more than five years of mistreatment and torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, an experience that helped vault him into national politics and endear himself as a hero to the voting public. There he endured scandal and smears, electoral defeats and his own occasional recklessness to make two serious runs at the presidency and earn a place as one of America’s most respected political figures during the last two decades of his life.

The political world reacts to Sen. John McCain’s death
(CNN) The political world is paying tribute to Sen. John McCain, who died Saturday at the age of 81. These are the messages of mourning and tribute to the Republican senator, war hero and conservative maverick.
Barack and Michelle Obama: “John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics. But we shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher — the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed. We saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world. We saw this country as a place where anything is possible — and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way.
“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt. Michelle and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family.”
Joe Biden: “John McCain’s life is proof that some truths are timeless. Character. Courage. Integrity. Honor. A life lived embodying those truths casts a long, long shadow. John McCain will cast a long shadow. His impact on America hasn’t ended. Not even close. It will go on for many years to come.
“As a POW, John endured the worst of what human beings can do to one another. In politics, he fell short of his greatest ambition. At the end of his life he faced a cruel and relentless disease. And yet through it all he never lost sight of what he believed most: Country First. And the spirit that drove him was never extinguished: we are here to commit ourselves to something bigger than ourselves.
“John was many things — a proud graduate of the Naval Academy, a Senate colleague, a political opponent. But, to me, more than anything, John was a friend.
“America will miss John McCain. The world will miss John McCain. And I will miss him dearly.
“On behalf of myself, Jill, and the entire Biden family, our sincerest condolences go out to Cindy, Doug, Andy, Sidney, Meghan, Jack, Jimmy, Bridget, and the entire McCain family.”
George W. Bush: “Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended. Some voices are so vibrant, it is hard to think of them stilled. John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order. He was a public servant in the finest traditions of our country. And to me, he was a friend whom I’ll deeply miss. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathies to Cindy and the entire McCain family, and our thanks to God for the life of John McCain.”
Bill and Hillary Clinton: “Senator John McCain believed that every citizen has a responsibility to make something of the freedoms given by our Constitution, and from his heroic service in the Navy to his 35 years in Congress, he lived by his creed every day. He was a skilled, tough politician, as well as a trusted colleague alongside whom Hillary was honored to serve in the Senate. He frequently put partisanship aside to do what he thought was best for the country, and was never afraid to break the mold if it was the right thing to do. I will always be especially grateful for his leadership in our successful efforts to normalize relations with Vietnam. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Cindy, his mother, Roberta, his children, and his entire family.”
Sarah Palin: “Today we lost an American original. Sen. John McCain was a maverick and a fighter, never afraid to stand for his beliefs. John never took the easy path in life – and through sacrifice and suffering he inspired others to serve something greater than self. John McCain was my friend. I will remember the good times. My family and I send prayers for Cindy and the McCain family.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: “The nation is in tears. Today, with the passing of John McCain, Congress and America have lost a leader and public servant of deep patriotism, outstanding bravery and undaunted spirit. Compelled by his unshakeable faith and deep love of country, he dedicated his life to defending both America and the American idea — fighting tirelessly to ensure that our nation always remains a land of justice, freedom and hope.
“Over the course of John McCain’s years of distinguished service, whether as a naval officer, Member of Congress, U.S. Senator or presidential candidate, we all saw firsthand his integrity, humility, courage and grace. He never forgot the great duty he felt to care for our nation’s heroes, dedicating his spirit and energy to ensuring that no man or woman in uniform was left behind on the battlefield or once they returned home.
“Paul and I join with all Americans in mourning the loss of this extraordinary national hero. May it be a comfort to his wife, Cindy, and his beloved children, Douglas, Andrew, Sidney, Meghan, John, James and Bridget, and his beautiful mother, Roberta, that so many people in America and around with the world mourn with them and pray for them during this sad time.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis: “We have lost a man who steadfastly represented the best ideals of our country. As a Naval Officer and defiant prisoner of war, John McCain stood with his brothers-in-arms until they returned home together.

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