In an era when cynicism and a lack of faith in our political leaders and institutions is at an all-time high — the roots of which can be traced back to the 1960s and the subsequent Watergate scandal — Sen. John McCain truly stood out as a man whose essential belief in the values that have made America the greatest nation in the history of the world never wavered.
John McCain was a legitimate war hero whose story as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam is well-known by anyone reading this column. In contrast to the phony politicians who staked a claim to patriotism, John McCain was the real deal.
Throughout his career, Sen. McCain called out the hypocrites and fakers — he knew one when he saw one — and was known as the leading maverick in the U.S. Senate whose stands on the issues often crossed party lines.
His dramatic “thumbs down” on the vote to kill Obamacare — after Sen. McCain had been diagnosed with brain cancer and he made a special trip back to the Senate floor for the vote — will stand forever as one of the most iconic moments in the history of the Senate.
However, John McCain was not a perfect man, as are none of us. He became enmeshed in a banking scandal in the early-1980s and he was not always the maverick lawmaker that he claimed to be. He also often was cantankerous and stubborn.
However, the outpouring of support and recollections from all sides of the political spectrum in recent days attest to the basic decency and values that governed his life.
Former CIA chief John Brennan said in an interview Friday evening (just prior to Sen. McCain’s passing) that though Sen. McCain and he often disagreed vehemently about foreign policy matters, Brennan never had any doubt about McCain’s patriotism and commitment to the values that have made America great.
John McCain was an American hero whose presence in Washington was needed more than ever. He will be missed.