John McCain flawed American Hero

Posted by The Skibbereen Eagle | August 26, 2018 3

Senator John McCain, the Vietnam war hero turned senator and presidential candidate, has died aged 81 at his ranch in Arizona.

Mr McCain died on Saturday in Arizona surrounded by his family, a statement from his office said. He was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in July 2017 and had been undergoing medical treatment. His family announced on Friday that Mr McCain, who left Washington in December, had decided to cease treatment. His widow, Cindy, tweeted: “My heart is broken. I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years. He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the place he loved best.”

The six-term senator for Arizona and 2008 Republican presidential nominee was diagnosed after doctors discovered his tumour during surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye last July. His family said he would lie in state in Phoenix, Arizona, and in Washington DC before a funeral at the Washington National Cathedral and his burial in Annapolis, Maryland. Former presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush are expected to give eulogies.

John McCain born at the dawn of the “American Century” at a time when the US was at the peak of its political, military and cultural power. He dies at that age’s twilight, as the nation turns inward and contemplates walls, literal and metaphorical, to insulate itself from the rest of this world.

John McCain was a brave soldier, the son and grandson of an admiral. It is a tragedy that his bravery was tested in a totally unnecessary imperialist War of Aggression in Vietnam where the United States did not learn the hard lessons about morality and the limits of its power which should have informed its future actions. The war was sold to Americans on a great lie which is still being told today. The lie that the normal rules of reality and morality do not apply because of “American Exceptionalism.”  The guff about “”The shining light on the Hill” is a cover for American greed and self interest in a nation which was built on the dispossession of Native Americans and the abhorrent racism of slavery, two issues which are toxic to the American Psyche to this day.

So, in Vietnam, a country thousands of miles away where it had no possible strategic interest, Americans were told, wrongly, that they were fighting to preserve “democracy” and stop the spread of communism.  In fact they were merely taking up the imperialist baton so recently dropped by France and when the initial lies no longer washed it became about America’s “credibility.” Well that credibility evaporated entirely when their lies caught up with them and they ignominiously lost the war but not before they engaged in illegal wars behind the back of their own Democracy in Laos and Cambodia under Nixon and the war criminal Henry Kissinger. Even now America is mired in hypocrisy about Vietnam which is discussed in terms of the American experience but not in terms of justice for the victims of their aggression and the million Vietnamese killed mainly by mass bombings of civilians and chemical warfare.

McCain flew attack planes off aircraft carriers during the Vietnam War. He was preparing for a bombing run in 1967 when a missile inadvertently fired from another plane hit his fuel tanks, triggering a fatal explosion and fire. He suffered shrapnel wounds. A few months later on Oct. 26, 1967, McCain’s A-4 Skyhawk was shot down on a bombing mission over North Vietnam’s capital and he suffered two broken arms and a broken leg in the crash. A mob then dragged him from a lake, broke his shoulder and stabbed him. Held at the notorious “Hanoi Hilton” prison and other sites, McCain was beaten and tortured, suffering broken bones and dysentery. He was released on March 14, 1973, but was left with permanent infirmities. Unlike Trump he was not a draft dodger on a spurious exemption about “bad feet.”

Sadly the party of Donald Trump began almost 10 years ago in 2008, when John McCain tapped Sarah Palin to join his ticket. By co-opting a batshit crazy demagogue with a slight grasp on reality to rescue his failing campaign he paved the decline of the GOP and the simplistic Comic Strip politics exploited by Trump today . In running for president in 2008, McCain tried to succeed an unpopular fellow Republican in Bush, who was leaving office with the United States mired in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and stuck in a financial crisis. 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. McCain tried to inject some youth and enthusiasm into his campaign with his selection of Palin, Alaska’s governor, as his running mate. But the choice backfired as her political inexperience and shaky performances in media interviews raised concerns about her qualifications. McCain voiced regret in his memoir for not choosing then-Senator Joe Lieberman, a Democrat turned independent, as his running mate.

Paying tribute to his one-time election opponent, Obama said in a statement he and McCain, despite their “completely different backgrounds” and political differences, shared “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,” Obama wrote.

John McCain was a conservative hawk but a man of decency, morality & self-restraint – watch his dignified 2008 concession speech in Arizona to see these qualities. He showed that Conservatives can define themselves by what they  are in favour of as well as things they are against. And politeness does not need to be the enemy of principle. He was a flawed hero for never drawing the lessons of morality and limits of aggressive power which he could have from Vietnam and for setting the GOP on the path of decline with his co-opting of the patently unsuitable Sarah Palin unwittingly paving the way for the post truth car crash of Trump’s Presidency. After Trump became president, McCain blasted what he called the president’s attempts to undermine the free press and rule of law and lamented the “half-baked, spurious nationalism” of the Trump era.

Flawed hero that he was nobody could dispute that he was a true representative of the party of Abraham Lincoln founded to fight slavery and stand up for the Dignity of Man.

John Sidney McCain III (August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018) American politician who served as the senior United States Senator from Arizona, a seat to which he was first elected in 1986, until his death. He was the Republican nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 election, which he lost to Barack Obama.

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