Sure, He Was Republican, But John McCain Let His Awesome Shine Through

John McCain's Official Photo
United States Congress/Wikimedia Commons

On Saturday afternoon, August 25, Arizona Senator John McCain succumbed to a malignant brain tumor he battled for nearly a year. In his passing, McCain has inspired praise from both sides of the aisle for his decades of statesmanship and service to the United States.

First rising to prominence as a prisoner of war, McCain enjoyed modest notoriety in the United States even before he threw his hat into the political arena in the 1980s. As a Senator for Arizona for more than thirty years, McCain became one of the most influential (and universally adored) politicians on the planet. His decisions may have ranged from controversial to celebratory, but they always came from a place of deep introspection and an undying commitment to improving the state of America. Plus, one of his last acts on Earth was to make Donald Trump look like a complete fool, and that’s just funny as f$!k.

Even in death, John McCain’s legacy is one that shines a light on the best of us while exposing political hypocrisy at its worst. For proof of that, we only need to pay attention to the drama unfolding in the wake of McCain’s passing and the people stepping forward to express their sincere regret at his death.

Both Sides of the Aisle Mourned McCain’s Loss

Obviously, when someone as big as McCain dies, it’s absolutely required that modern politicians say something just to have said it. Case in point, this tweet from Donny J:

Though he used the word “sympathies,” this kind of rote post feels like, well, total bullshit. Perhaps that’s why the tweet itself was met with responses like this, which gets extra credit for using the hashtag #CadetBoneSpurs:

So, that one piece of half-assed political posturing aside, some of McCain’s contemporaries had some lovely things to say. Elizabeth Warren said she never doubted where McCain’s heart was.

Paul Ryan called McCain a ‘giant of our time.’

Even McCain’s ex-running mate, that dummy from Alaska, found the right words to celebrate the man.

Former President George W. Bush also tweeted a beautiful sentiment (isn’t that guy just the best post-office?).

Hollywood Got in On the Action, Too

Amid the crowd of celebrities who voiced their heartache at the loss of the Senator from Arizona, some astounding voices rose to the fore to shine a light on a man who will be missed.

Outspoken liberal Whoopi Goldberg never felt that the Senator stopped “trying to do his best.”

Author and avid Trump-hater Stephen King summed up John McCain’s legacy gorgeously by highlighting a moment from the 2008 election in which McCain shut down one of his supporters for making a racist comment about Obama.

All that respect is — to put it mildly — profoundly deserved. Throughout his career, McCain established himself as an unwavering moralist and, to be frank, kind of a badass. Right up until the very end, McCain defied expectation and allowed himself to be guided by his own ethical compass.

I mean, just check out how McCain went out.

McCain’s Last Renegade Act Was Perfect

On the Saturday that John McCain was laid to rest, his funeral was attended by dignitaries from around the world. The sitting President of the United States, however, was a no-show. Not because he snubbed the prominent Republican, but because John McCain made it clear that he didn’t want Trump anywhere near his memorial service.

So, while political luminaries gathered to mourn the passing of an old-school American, Trump hit the links.


Maybe John McCain just didn’t want his funeral attended by a man who refuted his reputation as a war hero “because he was captured.” At the time, draft-dodging Trump had the gargantuan balls to add, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Oh, about that capture …

As a POW, McCain Turned Down an Early Release Opportunity

Most able-bodied Americans have some inkling that, as a young man, John McCain served time as a prisoner of war. However, there’s more to the story. When he began running missions over Hanoi in 1967, John McCain was a third-generation Naval officer whose father and grandfather were both four-star admirals.

When McCain was captured, the North Vietnamese considered him a prize prisoner. To gain leverage over the other prisoners and the US Army as a whole, McCain was offered his freedom. In spite of daily torture and abuse, McCain turned them down.


As McCain later recalled, “I knew that every prisoner the Vietnamese tried to break, those who had arrived before me and those who would come after me, would be taunted with the story of how an admiral’s son had gone home early, a lucky beneficiary of America’s class-conscious society.”

Definitely a guy you want to criticize.

A Legacy We Can All Aspire To

At his funeral, some of McCain’s staunchest political allies took the stage to eulogize their friend (and foe) and use his example to call for a shift in the American political landscape.

In one particularly stirring tribute, Joe Biden called attention not to McCain’s politics, but to his commitment to the fundamental values that unite us.

However, it was former President Barack “God, it Hurts to Write ‘Former’ in Front of His Name” Obama who perhaps summed up John McCain’s legacy best when he spoke at the Senator’s memorial service.

“So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insults and phony controversies and manufactured outrage,” Obama said. “It is a politics that pretends to be brave, and tough, but in fact is born of fear. John called on us to be bigger and better than that.”

Yeah, it was probably for the best that Trump wasn’t invited.

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