Thinking of John McCain

Most of us get to grieve a bad diagnosis in private, within the tight circle of our family and close friends, medical team, perhaps spiritual advisors. Not so a public figure like John McCain. On Wednesday night on CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta — himself a neurologist and surgeon — spoke about the glioblastoma diagnosis with the permission of Senator McCain and his doctors. I think it was gracious and brave of Senator McCain to recognize that the American public would care about the diagnosis, care to have the actual facts. They are grim. The outpouring of respect and support for Senator McCain and his family is much deserved — and hopefully augmented by what we heard on CNN.

I disagree with John McCain on many things. But I respect him, his VietNam war service and imprisonment in North VietNam, and his many years in public life. I wish, with very little left to lose, that he would find a time in his remaining months to call out the aberration of the Trump presidency, and its devastating impact on the nation and on human rights and democratic values globally. He could speak out as no one else seems able or willing to, for the good of the country. I suspect he won’t for a whole host of reasons, but I can still hope for a final, last statesmanlike act.

6 thoughts on “Thinking of John McCain

  1. I read the first paragraph of your post and, in light of some of the filth on Twitter, thought I found someone who could forget about politics for a moment and show this man some empathy while he fights for his life. Then I got through the second paragraph.
    I can understand your antipathy toward Donald Trump; I’m not much of a fan either. But it’s difficult to see what another public slap would accomplish. I feel like your wish for, I don’t know, political validation from a seriously ill man reflects poorly upon you.

  2. I too have a great deal of respect for John McCain. His life has been a triumph over terrible adversity. But his diagnosis and prognosis are bleak. A gleoblastoma is fatal. My uncle, also a vet, died 2 years ago with the same problem. He has surgery, radiation and chemo but died 10 months after being diagnosed.

  3. for batousan: Your point is well taken, and may even be correct. Perhaps Trump does seep inappropriately into everything. Here’s the counter point: Senator McCain is not signaling a withdrawal from politics. He isn’t saying, “I need to pull back from public life to fight this tumor and spend time with my family.” He is issuing statements, and promising to rejoin his Senate colleagues. Whether he will be able to or not remains to be seen. But if he can, what might be his final act? Is it to vote for the disastrous health care proposal, just to give Trump a victory? McCain is one of the few Republicans with the stature and personal credibility to make a strong statement — not a public slap — about the constitution crisis that we are inching toward re the Mueller investigation, and to name Trump’s disregard for the rule of law for the danger it is.

  4. for Katie: I don’t know anyone who has survived very long with this kind of brain cancer. And I assume things get progressively worse with each week, treatment or no. Very sad.

  5. That is true. The Arizona senator did not ask for privacy; he criticized Trump for essentially defunding the training of Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime. McCain also made it clear he would not vote for “Trumpcare” and has criticized the president over Russia. That’s great, and so is McCain’s attitude about the challenge he’s facing…but I wouldn’t expect him to lead the way to impeachment.

  6. for Batousan: No, I wouldn’t either — on multiple grounds. Hard to say, in an 80 year old man, how hard the effects of treatment will fall. And, after his speech about the dysfunction in the legislative process, he voted to have the health care bill proceed to consideration. At some point, as many commentators have observed, his vote has to match his words.

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