Welcome to a fresh week on the blog. Before we return to our chat on mass graves and suburban sprawl, a word in remembrance of Senator John McCain. Senator McCain passed away this past Saturday, after discontinuing treatment for brain cancer. The senior senator from Arizona was one of the last true Republicans. Unlike his contemporary colleagues, he was able to reach across the political divide and work with his Democratic colleagues on the issues confronting the United States. This spirit of bipartisanship turned into lasting friendships with the late Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), retired Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), and Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC). One his lasting examples of this bipartisanship was the McCain-Feingold Act. Senator McCain, together with Senator Russell Feingold (D-WS), authored legislation to reform campaign finance laws. The law has been weakened but it was a landmark.
Following the horrific events of 9/11, Senator McCain forcefully spoke out against use, by American intelligence agncies, for "enhanced interrogation" (i.e. torture) on detainees. On this subject, he spoke from his own experiences as former prisoner of war in Viet Nam. As an inmate of the infamous Hanoi Hilton, he was subjected to the most horrific treatment. When given opportunities for early release, he refused, choosing to remain with his men. In the face of reports of the CIA torturing Iraqi detainees, he authored the Detainee Interrogation Act, which forbade American agencies from using "enhanced interrogation" techniques. Despite entreaties from then-Vice President Dick Cheney, he stood firm, refusing to change his stance. Eventually then-President George W. Bush signed the bill.
Many remember Senator McCain as a candidate for president in 2008. It was his second attempt at higher office. Senator McCain had been struggling in the polls against an upstart Senator Barack Obama. To shake up his campaign, he tapped the little known Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin. This was a decision he came to quickly regret when it became obvious that then-Gov. Palin did not have a grasp of national and international issues. In defeat he was gracious, acknowledging the newly elected Barack Obama as the President of The United States. One event, during the campaign, at a rally, a woman stood up and told Senator McCain that she would not vote for President Obama because he was an Arab. Senator McCain went over to her, looked her in the eye, and told her President Obama was a decent, upstanding, citizen.
Senator John McCain was an authentic person. He was big enough to admit his personal and professional failings, something truly lacking in contemporary life. He leaves behind his wife, Cindy, his children and grandchildren. The funeral and burial will be on Friday, at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Memorial services will be held at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and Phoenix, Arizona.
Senator John McCain, hero and patriot.