Will John McCain be remembered as a great American?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 26, 2020 01:21 PM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 26, 2020 01:21 PM

(A2A) – Note: most of the quotes below came from Wikipedia article on McCain.


That’s the way Americans like their heroes: imperfect, blemished, even defective. Unexpected. Underrated. Improbable. Merely mortal. Human.

Consider Ulysses S. Grant: an average student (at best), a failure as a farmer, bill collector, clerk and businessman. A man who wore “an expression as if he had determined to drive his head through a brick wall, and was about to do it.” Later revealed to be a brilliant general – he was as honored as Lincoln by the end of the Civil War.

On the big screen, Humphrey Bogart comes to mind: short, far from handsome, rugged – “his entire film career was to rest on a single … prolonged piece of miscasting.” But surrounded by ravishingly handsome leading men, he projected “a brand of hard-bitten, rueful integrity,” Rick in the Café Américain – a diamond more shining for the corrupt world it is set it.

John McCain.

In school: “insolent attitude … determined to assert … crude individualism … [ever] more unrepentant pain in the neck.” As written by … “Johnny” McCain. At the Naval Academy, he was given over 100 demerits every year: shoes unshined, room a mess, talking out of place. Low class rank … sloppy … rebellious “always had trouble with regimentation.” All 5′7″ of him … boxed like “he didn’t have a reverse gear.”

And “a leader among his fellow midshipmen.”

As an officer, drank too much, drove his Corvette too fast and dated “Marie the Flame of Florida.” Age 24, he “lost track” and crashed his plane into Corpus Christi Bay, the following year damaging another plane flying too low into power lines.

With war on, he volunteered for Vietnam, where as part of the dangerous Rolling Thunder campaign (more than 30% of his squadron were killed or captured) he was described as a pilot who “garnered the reputation of a serious aviator,” though he tended to “push the envelope” and “volunteered to fly the … most dangerous missions right away.” All this in spite of seeing the horrors of war up close when a rocket inadvertently hit next to his plane on the aircraft carrier he was on, causing an explosion that killed 134 sailors.

One can add little that has not already been said about McCain’s 5½ years of captivity in North Vietnam. “Wars do not make men great, but they do bring out the greatness in good men.” Who would have thought that out of “crude individualism” an “unrepentant pain in the neck” would be the prisoner who turned down an early release – leading to 5 more years of horrendous prison – because it would have been unfair to his fellow prisoners.

Every Christmas, his admiral father visited the American troops closest to the DMZ, where he would take a minute, “stand alone and look north, to be as close to his son as he could get.”

“I arrived a rebel without a cause, and left much the same. But I would discover that a sense of honor had been imparted to me here that would speak to me in the darkest hours.”

The year before McCain was released from captivity (1973), Jim Croce wrote:

“You don’t tug on superman’s cape

You don’t spit into the wind

You don’t pull the mask off that old lone ranger

And you don’t mess around with Jim”

John McCain would be the first to admit that he did not always fly right after returning from Vietnam. His friend said about him: “He failed a lot, but he never quit.” In his own farewell letter: “I have made mistakes” (previously citing things like voting against the Martin Luther King holiday, or not calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Capitol building) “but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them” and “I have tried to serve our country honorably.”

“I don’t mind a good fight … I’ve had quite a few tough ones in my life … in the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the real test.”

John McCain fought to “tug on superman’s cape,” to “pull the mask off that old lone ranger” and was never afraid to “mess around with Jim.”

His most important fight of all may well be that he messed around with a modern “Jim,” knowing he couldn’t win, but reminding us that “What you fight for is the real test.” The traits that Americans peculiarly value in a hero … flaws and all … the “secret sauce” of American democracy – that there will always be some “maverick” who will “tug on superman’s cape” and not let this country slide into dictatorship.

My prediction is that it is what John McCain ultimately fought for that will make folks name schools and other buildings and warships after him.

An African proverb goes: “You don’t die as long as someone is telling your story.” We may all be surprised by how long Americans will continue to tell McCain’s story.

Mudassir Ali
- Feb 26, 2020 01:22 PM

He will for a while, because Americans worship the military and love their national myths much more than they care about the deaths of a few hundred thousand brown people. Americans crave mythic figures like these more than ever, as a contrast to the current occupants of the White House.

Unlike most of my compatriots, I don’t reflexively eulogize national figures who do horrible things, and I don’t engage in the kind of moral calculus that leads people to essentially argue that murdering people is balanced out by giving to charity.

I’m not trying to spit on anyone’s grave, but let’s be honest.

Here’s a short list of some of the underrated horrible things John McCain said and did.

Threatened North Korea with “extinction.”
Famously sang about bombing Iran; he also joked that maybe cigarettes could be used to kill Iranians. I guess the joke is funny when you’re talking about killing Middle Easterners.
Aside from Iran and North Korea, wanted interventions in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Kosovo, Nigeria, Bosnia, Cambodia, Sudan, Yemen, and Mali. I’m sure I’ve missed some. The word for this is “imperialism.” He also used dangerously escalating rhetoric against Russia. This is particularly relevant, as such a war would probably lead to omnicide. Together, the wars he (though not only he) supported have resulted in the deaths of millions of people and the displacement of millions more.[1][2]
Unrepentantly used the word “gook,” which might add some context to his apparent willingness to commit genocide in North Korea.
In Arizona, underhandedly worked to give public land sacred to the Apache to a foreign mining company. [3] This, after he received more money than any member of Congress from the group that owns this mining company in 2014 and another sizable donation in 2016[4] . He was also literally chased off of Navajo land.
Opposed MLK holiday (though he later reversed this when it was politically convenient) and civil rights legislation.
He called activists who protested Henry Kissinger—a genocidal war criminal who should be, at the very least, in prison, and not chilling out at home or advising world leaders—“low-life scum.” I’m happy to return the favor.
Met with Ukranian neo-Nazis at least twice.
Went around the executive branch to to arm in Ukraine for a proxy war with Russia.
Received more money from the NRA than anyone in Congress (nearly $7.74 million). Some people won’t see this as a negative, but I certainly do.
Gave Sarah Palin, who is similar to DJT in more ways than I care to name, a decent shot at becoming the most powerful person in the world.

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