U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., gave a speech last week that deserves to be heard or read by every American. McCain talked about what it means to be American, with all of its blessings and its obligations, and what America means to the world.
McCain was being honored with the Liberty Medal of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia for his efforts to “secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe.” Press coverage of the event focused on McCain’s veiled shot at the Trump administration for shirking America’s leadership role in the world. That was the money quote, but there was much more, including a condemnation of the “blood and soil” rhetoric of neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, Va., in August.
Context is as important as content. McCain, 81, has been given what he calls a “very poor prognosis” for an aggressive brain cancer. He appears to be writing the last chapter of an extraordinary life. He has gone from Naval Academy wild man to heroic prisoner of war to maverick Republican senator to conventional Republican nominee for president who, despite his “Country First” slogan, chose the spectacularly unqualified Sarah Palin as his running mate.
He is now back in maverick mode, casting the deciding vote against his party’s Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill in July. He voted against GOP tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 because they were fiscally irresponsible and tilted to the rich. He might do it again.
President Donald Trump was unhappy with McCain’s remarks, saying, “I’m being very, very nice but at some point I fight back, and it won’t be pretty.” To which McCain replied, “I have faced tougher adversaries.”
John McCain needs no lecturing on patriotism or duty. But his country still needs him.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH