John McCain, R.I.P.

I rarely agreed with John McCain but I couldn’t help liking him as a human being. Despite viewing politics as a contact sport, he rarely hit below the belt and when he did he regretted it. He was a proud, profane, funny, and kind man. We need more kindness in the world, which is one reason he will be missed. We also need more politicians who can laugh at the absurdity of what they do and say.

Senator McCain died today at 81; nine years to the date that we lost his fellow lion of the Senate Ted Kennedy. Both men died of brain cancer. It’s an eerie coincidence but an appropriate one. McCain had many friends on the Democratic side of the aisle in addition to Ted Kennedy. McCain and John Kerry worked together to heal the wounds of the Vietnam War in the 1990’s.  McCain and Joe Biden had a strong bond based on love of family and country.

I criticized John McCain many times over the years and I won’t take any of it back. But, dammit, I liked the man despite his right wing views on most issues.

Three things to remember about John McCain:

  1. He was the victim of one of the worst smears in American political history when Team Bush played the race card against him in 2000. Not only did they play the race card but they dealt it from the bottom of the deck as it involved his family. By all accounts, McCain forgave but never forgot this. I have done neither.
  2. He consistently opposed torture even when a president of his own party backed it.
  3. He voted against repealing the ACA and stood up for proper Senate procedures when his own party turned the “world’s greatest deliberative body” into a rubber stamp for Mitch McConnell and a president of his own party.

Whatever his flaws, John McCain was never dull. He made his share of mistakes and owned up to many of them, usually with a quip and a smile. Most importantly,  he was not a hater.

I saw a three tweet thread by an Obama speechwriter that beautifully captured the spirit of Senator McCain:

I might have been able to make Senator McCain laugh by suggesting this as his epitaph:

John McCain was NOT AN ASSHOLE.

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