Senator John McCain Dies At 81

Senator John McCain has died at the age of 81,

One day after his family announced that he was ceasing medical treatment, Senator John McCain has died at the age of 81:

John S. McCain, the proud naval aviator who climbed from depths of despair as a prisoner of war in Vietnam to pinnacles of power as a Republican congressman and senator from Arizona and a two-time contender for the presidency, died on Saturday at his home in Arizona. He was 81.

According to a statement from his office, Mr. McCain died at 4:28 p.m. local time. He had suffered from a malignant brain tumor, called a glioblastoma, for which he had been treated periodically with radiation and chemotherapy since its discovery in 2017.

Despite his grave condition, he soon made a dramatic appearance in the Senate to cast a thumbs-down vote against his party’s drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But while he was unable to be in the Senate for a vote on the Republican tax bill in December, his endorsement was crucial, though not decisive, in the Trump administration’s lone legislative triumph of the year.

A son and grandson of four-star admirals who were his larger-than-life heroes, Mr. McCain carried his renowned name into battle and into political fights for more than a half-century. It was an odyssey driven by raw ambition, the conservative instincts of a shrewd military man, a rebelliousness evident since childhood and a temper that sometimes bordered on explosiveness.

Nowhere were those traits more manifest than in Vietnam, where he was stripped of all but his character. He boiled over in foul curses at his captors. Because his father was the commander of all American forces in the Pacific during most of his five and a half years of captivity, Mr. McCain, a Navy lieutenant commander, became the most famous prisoner of the war, a victim of horrendous torture and a tool of enemy propagandists.

Shot down over Hanoi, suffering broken arms and a shattered leg, he was subjected to solitary confinement for two years and beaten frequently. Often he was suspended by ropes lashing his arms behind him. He attempted suicide twice. His weight fell to 105 pounds. He rejected early release to keep his honor and to avoid an enemy propaganda coup or risk demoralizing his fellow prisoners.

He finally cracked under torture and signed a “confession.” No one believed it, although he felt the burden of betraying his country. To millions of Americans, Mr. McCain was the embodiment of courage: a war hero who came home on crutches, psychologically scarred and broken in body, but not in spirit. He underwent long medical treatments and rehabilitation, but was left permanently disabled, unable to raise his arms over his head. Someone had to comb his hair.

His mother, Roberta McCain, Navy all the way, inspired his political career. After retiring from the Navy and settling in Arizona, he won two terms in the House of Representatives, from 1983 to 1987, and six in the Senate. He was a Reagan Republican to start with, but later moved right or left, a maverick who defied his party’s leaders and compromised with Democrats.

He lost the 2000 Republican presidential nomination to George W. Bush, who won the White House.

In 2008, against the backdrop of a growing financial crisis, Mr. McCain made the most daring move of his political career, seeking the presidency against the first major-party African-American nominee, Barack Obama. With national name recognition, a record for campaign finance reform and a reputation for candor — his campaign bus was called the Straight Talk Express — Mr. McCain won a series of primary elections and captured the Republican nomination.

But his selection of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate, although meant to be seen as a bold, unconventional move in keeping with his maverick’s reputation, proved a severe handicap. She was the second female major-party nominee for vice president (and the first Republican), but voters worried about her qualifications to serve as president, and about Mr. McCain’s age — he would be 72, the oldest person ever to take the White House. In a 2018 memoir, ”The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights and Other Appreciations,“ he defended Ms. Palin’s campaign performance, but expressed regret that he had not instead chosen Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-independent.

At some McCain rallies, vitriolic crowds disparaged black people and Muslims, and when a woman said she did not trust Mr. Obama because “he’s an Arab,” Mr. McCain, in one of the most lauded moments of his campaign, replied: “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.”

Analysts later said that Mr. Obama had engineered a nearly perfect campaign. And Mr. McCain confronted a hostile political environment for Republicans, who were dragged down by President George W. Bush’s dismal approval ratings amid the economic crisis and an unpopular war in Iraq.

On Election Day, Mr. McCain lost most of the battleground states and some that were traditionally Republican. Mr. Obama won with 53 percent of the popular vote to Mr. McCain’s 46 percent, and 365 Electoral College votes to Mr. McCain’s 173.


With the rise of Donald J. Trump, the Republican flame thrower who steered American politics sharply to the right after his election in 2016 as the nation’s 45th president, Mr. McCain was one of the few powerful Republican voices in Congress to push back against Mr. Trump’s often harsh, provocative statements and Twitter posts and his tide of changes.

In his end-of-life memoir, Mr. McCain scorned Mr. Trump’s seeming admiration for autocrats and disdain for refugees. “He seems uninterested in the moral character of world leaders and their regimes,” he wrote of the president. “The appearance of toughness or a reality show facsimile of toughness seems to matter more than any of our values. Flattery secures his friendship, criticism his enmity.”

Long before Mr. Trump was criticized as setting new lows for public discourse, Mr. McCain himself had used coarse language and blunt insults, although they were far less assertive, and he often used them in jest. He called Secretary of State John Kerry, a Democrat, “a human wrecking ball,” and the right-wing Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky “wacko birds.”

Personal animus between Mr. McCain and Mr. Trump arose in the Republican presidential primaries in 2016. After months of boasts by Trump about his wealth, celebrity and deal-making as qualifications for the White House, and his dismissive capsule characterizations of climate change as “a hoax” and the Iraq war as “a mistake,” Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney, with standing as the previous two Republican presidential nominees, denounced Mr. Trump as unfit for the presidency.

Saying Mr. Trump had neither the temperament nor the judgment for the White House, Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney called him ignorant on foreign policy and said he had made “dangerous” statements on national security. They warned that his election might imperil the United States and its democratic systems.

In a venomous response, Mr. Trump denigrated Mr. Romney as a “failed candidate” and “a loser” beaten by Mr. Obama. He had little to say about Mr. McCain. But months earlier, Mr. Trump, who had never served in the military (or held public office) had derided Mr. McCain as a bogus war hero and made light of his years of captivity and torture.

“He’s a war hero because he was captured,” Mr. Trump said. “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Mr. McCain held his fire. But the nation was shocked. An avalanche of denunciations tumbled from editorial boards and political leaders, but the outrage faded into the tapestry of Mr. Trump’s provocations against Mexicans, Muslims, women and black and Hispanic people. Trump supporters, who were mostly white, said his biases showed a refreshing willingness to disregard political correctness.


John Sidney McCain III was born on Aug. 29, 1936, at the Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, one of many posts where his father, John Sidney McCain Jr., served in a long, distinguished Navy career. He was the middle sibling of three children. His mother, born Roberta Wright, was a California oil heiress. His parents eloped to Tijuana, Mexico, to marry in 1933.

With his older sister, Jean Alexandra (who was known as Sandy), and brother, Joseph Pinckney McCain II, John grew up with frequent moves, an often-absent father, a rock-solid mother and family lore that traced ancestral lineages to combatants in every American war and to Scottish clans. There were also highly dubious family claims of having descended from Robert the Bruce, the 14th-century king of the Scots.

The patriarch of the 20th-century military family was John’s grandfather, Adm. John Sidney McCain Sr. A pioneer of aircraft carriers, he led many naval and air operations in the Western Pacific in World War II, covering Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s invasion of the Philippines and inflicting heavy losses on the enemy in the war’s final stages. He was in the front row of officers aboard the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese signed the documents of surrender in 1945.

John’s father was a decorated submarine commander in World War II. In Washington, the elder Mr. McCain was influential in political affairs as the postwar Navy’s chief information officer and liaison with Congress. Senators, representatives and military brass were often guests at his home. Raised to full admiral, he was the commander of American naval forces in Europe and, from 1968 to 1972, of all American forces in the Pacific, including those in the Vietnam War theater.

(Two Navy destroyers were named McCain, for the senator’s father and grandfather, the first father-and-son full admirals in American naval history.)

Whipsawed by family relocations, young John attended some 20 schools before finally settling into Episcopal High School, an all-white, all-boys boarding school in Alexandria, Va., in the fall of 1951 for his last three years of secondary education. The school, with an all-male faculty and enrollments drawn mostly from upper-crust families of the Old South, required jackets and ties for classes.

But the scion of one of the Navy’s most illustrious families was defiant and unruly. He mocked the dress code by wearing dirty bluejeans. His shoes were held together with tape, and his coat looked like a reject from the Salvation Army. He was cocky and combative, easily provoked and ready to fight anyone. Classmates called him McNasty. Most gave him a wide berth.

“He cultivated the image,” Robert Timberg wrote in a biography, “John McCain: An American Odyssey” (1995). “The Episcopal yearbook pictures him in a trench coat, collar up, cigarette dangling Bogey-style from his lips. That pose, if hardly the impression Episcopal sought to project, at least had a fashionable world-weary style to it.”

John and a few friends often sneaked off campus at night to patronize bars and burlesque houses in Washington. He joined the wrestling team — a 127-pound dynamo, he once pinned an opponent in 37 seconds, a school record — and the junior varsity football team, as a linebacker and offensive guard. His grades were abysmal, except in literature and history, his favorite subjects. He graduated in 1954.

More from The Washington Post:

Sen. McCain, 81, died Aug. 25 at his ranch near Sedona, Ariz., his office announced in a statement. The senator was diagnosed last July with a brain tumor, and his family announced this week that he was discontinuing medical treatment.

During three decades of representing Arizona in the Senate, he ran twice unsuccessfully for president. He lost a bitter primary campaign to George W. Bush and the Republican establishment in 2000. He then came back to win the nomination in 2008, only to be defeated in the general election by Barack Obama, a charismatic Illinois Democrat who had served less than one term as a senator.

A man who seemed his truest self when outraged, Sen. McCain reveled in going up against orthodoxy. The word “maverick” practically became a part of his name.

Sen. McCain regularly struck at the canons of his party. He ran against the GOP grain by advocating campaign finance reform, liberalized immigration laws and a ban on the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” — widely condemned as torture — against terrorism suspects.

To win his most recent reelection battle in 2016, for a sixth term, he positioned himself as a more conventional Republican, unsettling many in his political fan base. But in the era of President Trump, he again became an outlier.

The terms of engagement between the two had been defined shortly after Trump became a presidential candidate and Sen. McCain commented that the celebrity real estate magnate had “fired up the crazies.” At a rally in July 2015, Trump — who avoided the Vietnam draft with five deferments — spoke scornfully of Sen. McCain’s military bona fides: “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Once Trump was in office, Sen. McCain was among his most vocal Republican critics, saying that the president had weakened the United States’ standing in the world. He also warned that the spreading investigation over Trump’s ties to Russia was “reaching the point where it’s of Watergate-size and scale.”

In both of his own presidential races, Sen. McCain had dubbed his campaign bus the ”Straight Talk Express.” To the delight of reporters who traveled with him in 2000, he was accessible and unfiltered, a scrappy underdog who delighted in upsetting the Republican order.

“He was always ready for the next experience, the next fight. Not just ready, but impatient for it,” said his longtime aide Mark Salter, who co-authored more than a half-dozen books with the senator, including three memoirs, the final of which included a stinging critique of Trump. “He took enjoyment from fighting, not winning or losing, as long as he believed he was fighting for a cause worth the trouble.”

So broad and party-bending was his appeal that Senate Democrats in 2001 quietly tried to persuade him to become one of them. In 2004, Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry, a Senate colleague who later became Obama’s secretary of state, considered offering Sen. McCain the second spot on his ticket.

Sen. McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign turned out to be a far more conventional operation than his first bid for the White House. He stuck to his talking points and came to represent the status quo that he had once promised to topple.

Her well-received convention speech initially gave the sagging Republican nominee a lift, and her independent streak reinforced Sen. McCain’s message and reputation. Looking back on the decision in 2012, Sen. McCain said he had been looking for “a way to galvanize and energize our campaign.”

But Palin’s performance in interviews and on the stump sowed doubts about whether she was prepared to be next in line for the presidency and, by Election Day, polls indicated that she had become a drag on his candidacy.

When he acted like an ordinary politician, trimming principles in the cause of ambition and expedience, it was all the more jarring because of the standard he had set. In the years that followed, a question often asked was: Which is the real John McCain?

He represented the end of an era during which the nation looked at wartime military experience as practically mandatory for those who aspire to high office. “McCain was part of the tradition of being able to say, ‘I did public service when I was young,’ ” historian Douglas Brinkley said.

Sen. McCain, who rose to become chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was among the Republicans’ most hawkish leaders on military matters and foreign affairs.

It was a mind-set that came, in part, from his conviction that the Vietnam War, in which he had suffered grievously, was a noble and winnable endeavor. The real failure, he believed, was that of a spineless political class.

During the Iraq War, often compared to Vietnam, Sen. McCain was an early and ardent proponent of a 2007 “surge” of troops. President Bush ultimately adopted that strategy, and it was widely credited with stabilizing Iraq, albeit temporarily.

Sen. McCain was also a persistent critic of Obama’s foreign policy.

“The demand for our leadership in the world has never been greater. People don’t want less of America — they want more,” Sen. McCain said in 2012. “Everywhere I go in the world, people tell me that they still have faith in America. What they want to know is whether we still have faith in ourselves.”

Yesterday’s announcement that McCain had ceased medical treatment made it apparent that it would not be long before he would pass away, but it wasn’t apparent from the statement that was released at that point just how close the end actually was, although one sensed from much of the news coverage of the announcement that the media had at least some sense of a “heads up” that the final days, if not the final hours, of Senator McCain’s life were at hand. There’s very little that one can add to what is not already included in the obituaries already posted at the Times and the Post, both of which cover all of the details of the sixty years that John McCain III gave to his country. Additionally, thanks to his long years in the public eye, much of his story, and most especially the details of his treatment while he was a prisoner of war in Hanoi, are well known and will no doubt receive much coverage over the coming days as the nation mourns the loss of a man who, above all else, loved his country and gave the last full measure of his duty to right to very end.

Speaking for myself, it’s safe to say that there were many times that I disagreed with the Senator on policy issues over the years, and of course, I did not know him personally. Notwithstanding those disagreements, though, it was always clear that he took the positions that he did because he believed they were in the best interests of his country and, perhaps most importantly, he was part of that generation of American leaders that was able to reach across the aisle and form bonds with everyone from Ted Kennedy, who died nine years ago today of the same form of cancer that has now taken the Senator, to former Vice-President Joe Biden, whose son Beau died in 2016 of the same form of cancer as well. As the son and grandson of Admirals, he could have spent the Vietnam War in a secure position but instead chose to be put in a combat role and, after he was captured and offered early release because of his father’s position in the American military, McCain chose to stay with his fellow P.O.W.’s until they were all released. That alone says everything that needs to be said about his character.

Thank you for your service, Senator.

Update: It has been announced that Senator McCain will lie in state at the Arizona State Capitol and the United States Capitol, this will be followed by a service at the Washington National Cathedral at which both former President George W. Bush and former President Barack Obama, the two men who defeated McCain in his runs for the Presidency, will deliver eulogies. After this, McCain will be buried on the grounds of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Additionally, since I posted this last night, a number of tributes have been posted in memory of McCain from family, friends, as well as world and national leaders, most of them to social media:

FILED UNDER: Climate Change, Environment, Obituaries, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Bob@Youngstown says:

    John McCain, STATESMAN Rest in peace

  2. Hal_10000 says:

    One of the last of the old guard Republicans. RIP.

  3. Gustopher says:

    It makes me wonder whether yesterday’s announcement was just so he could read the glowing words people wrote about him, one last time. No harm in that, I suppose, and he did like the press almost as much as they liked him.

    He wasn’t as much of a maverick as people said he was, but he did love his country and devote his life to trying to improve it. A good man with a fair number of flaws, but still mostly good.

    I hope he and his family had come to a bit of peace about what was going to happen, and that the last few months have been more family than doctors. Unless he liked the doctors better. Families can be hard.

  4. PJ says:


  5. HarvardLaw92 says:

    One of the few, if not the last, honorable Republicans left in Congress. Rest In well earned peace, sir.

    Shelo ted’u od tza’ar 🙁

  6. CSK says:


    Yesterday Senator McCain would have been well beyond reading anything; he was probably not conscious in any meaningful sense. A friend of mine died of the same disease.

    He fought a good fight, and when he died he was at home, with the people who loved him.

  7. dmichael says:

    Before any more “let’s only praise the dead” posts are made, could some of you at least read a corrective to what I expect to be effusive praises for McCain:
    Don’t just dismiss it, tell me what is wrong with it.

  8. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Tap dancing on a grave is in incredibly poor taste. Something Professor Loomis, and others, have evidently never learned.

    There might have been an appropriate time to say all of that. This isn’t that time.

  9. dmichael says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Not only did you mischaracterize what I said but failed to address it. Use of a pejorative is not argument but evasion. Negative comments in an obituary are not allowed? And when is the time?

  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @dmichael: I’ll agree with HL92 and add that the frequently snarky tone of the remembrance is off putting to me. It strikes me as undignified and there doesn’t seem to me to be any particular sense in heaping such opprobrium on someone as his family is grieving at his passing. YMMV.

  11. HarvardLaw92 says:


    No, they aren’t. Either say it while the man is alive, or leave it unsaid. At the very least, if you are just unable to avoid speaking ill of the dead, have the decency to let him be buried before you start pissing on his grave.

    The man has been dead less than 12 hours, and that screed – posting it here and writing it in the first place – were both in incredibly poor taste.

  12. Slugger says:

    @dmichael: Sen. McCain is beyond being influenced by our judgement. Bringing up his negatives can not change him; it can only wound those who love him. I see no good in hurting his friends and family at this time. He was important enough that there should be an accurate accounting of his life, but this will obviously take time. The passions of our immediate time will fade and even look foolish in a few years.
    I extend my respectful sympathies to those close to him.

  13. Bruce Henry says:

    Well, perhaps the LGM article is being written “too soon,” but the argument that what’s said in it should have been said “while the man is still alive” falls flat, because some people WERE saying it, and have been all along, only we didn’t hear it much, because of the fawning press coverage McCain always enjoyed.

    And does anyone here believe that, if Bill or Hillary Clinton were to die tomorrow, that rightwing pundits would wait until the day after tomorrow to give us a list of their failings? What did they say when Ted Kennedy or FFS Walter Cronkite died, and how long did they wait to say it?

    I myself had forgotten many of the loathsome and wrongheaded positions McCain had taken over the years, and was unaware of many others until I read Prof. Loomis’s article. It may be in poor taste, as some here are suggesting, but I think it’s necessary to leaven some of the beatification with some Straight Talk about the “real” McCain.

    I think dmichael was right to link to the article.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve always had mixed feelings about McCain, but in the end decided he was an honorable Senator, as much as he thought he could be. He may have been the least of that pantheon, but their numbers are few, and being counted among them is worth a great deal.

  15. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Bruce Henry:

    What did they say when Ted Kennedy or FFS Walter Cronkite died, and how long did they wait to say it?

    Uh, that’s the problem: the left is supposed to be better than the swampy portions of the right, it’s supposed to be better than Mike Cernovich and people like that. That’s why “both sides do it” is supposed to sound stupid.

    Besides that, something that a lot of people complain is the absence of nuance in the left. Even horrible politicians like Jesse Helms could be analysed with some nuance, and that’s something that many people in the left seems to forget.

    In the case of McCain there is a reason why everyone that worked for Ted Kennedy liked him, and there is a personal reason why beltway types love him so much.

    You can disagree with him, point out to flaws. But that would require nuance and recognizing that above all we are talking about the death of a human, that was beloved by his family and people that lived with him.

  16. Moosebreath says:

    I tend to agree with @Gustopher: above:

    “He wasn’t as much of a maverick as people said he was, but he did love his country and devote his life to trying to improve it. A good man with a fair number of flaws, but still mostly good.”

    I would add that few people ever got so much good press for so little bucking of his party, but that is more of a commentary on the so called liberal media than on McCain.

  17. Kathy says:

    @Bruce Henry:

    McCain was a flawed man who made mistakes?

    Well, I never! Why wasn’t he imprisoned for life if that was the case?

  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    We are all flawed, we all make mistakes if we live any kind of life.

    When we’re born we get our first hand of cards, our DNA. We’re born into a family and a time and a place. Luck will play its part, but it is our job as human beings to take the hand we’re dealt and play it as well as we know how. To choose is to face the inevitability of wrong choices. To act is to risk and not every risk works out the way we’d like it to. We write the books of our lives, our real-time autobiographies, with no autocorrect and no editor.

    I don’t think any human life can be without errors, not unless you’ve decided to hide under your bed. McCain made a lot of mistakes as he would ruefully acknowledge. People do that when they live a life, they make mistakes. In the end we are and should be judged by what we’ve done with the hand we we were dealt, by how interesting our story was, by the presence of integrity and the absence of cruelty in our character.

    McCain lived a hell of a life. He was brave, significant and flawed. Most of us only manage that last bit.

  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    Good speed John McCain. You were among the Senate’s last great statesman, the others preceded you in death and the remaining have put politics before honor.

  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Bruce Henry: No dog in the fight about reposting Loomis’ comment, but I worry for a society where the new standard of behavior is going to be “what would Rush Limbaugh do.” Just sayin’…

  21. Modulo Myself says:

    I’m usually someone who has no problem with grave dancing. But it’s worth pointing out that the reason real people (not the pundit cult) respected him wasn’t because he was friends with Joe Lieberman and could make things happen in a respectable way, but because he wasn’t a coward and he didn’t, even when being smeared by Karl Rove and Bush, make himself into a victim. If he went low, he didn’t whine about his treatment as he was going low. Not only was he actually somebody you wanted to have a beer with, but he didn’t seem to care about making sure you thought he was an ordinary guy who you wanted to have a beer with. He was very much like Obama, who was also likable because he didn’t give a s—t and had confidence, but wasn’t scum or a sociopath.

    If you had to write a novel about McCain, it’s definitely fitting that his daughter married Ben Domenech. This is like the Prince de Guermantes marrying Mme Verdurin at the end of the Proust.

  22. al Ameda says:

    I respected John McCain very much.
    I wish the McCain family well and peace in the days ahead.

  23. CSK says:

    Per CNN: John McCain specifically requested that Barack Obama and George W. Bush deliver eulogies at his funeral, and that Donald Trump stay away from it.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Besides that, something that a lot of people complain is the absence of nuance in the left.

    Hmmmm…. My experience is the exact opposite, that the left is too nuanced while the right is totally lacking. For example Hillary wanted to talk about the ins and outs of policy while trump’s most nuanced statement was “LOCK HER UP!”

  25. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    He was very much like Obama, who was also likable because he didn’t give a s—t and had confidence, but wasn’t scum or a sociopath.

    Genuine confidence comes from accomplishment, from overcoming obstacles. It’s why Trump’s arrogance reads so false. You can’t build real confidence on a foundation of con jobs.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    As for McCain, I did not know the man, I did not like the man, but I damn well respected him. RIP.

  27. CSK says:

    Why do I have the feeling that Trump will schedule a last-minute rally the day of the funeral?

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Because it’s all about him? (and Kelli Ward)

  29. Ratufa says:

    @Bruce Henry:

    And does anyone here believe that, if Bill or Hillary Clinton were to die tomorrow, that rightwing pundits would wait until the day after tomorrow to give us a list of their failings? What did they say when Ted Kennedy or FFS Walter Cronkite died, and how long did they wait to say it?

    As a general rule, if you are justifying a behavior on the grounds that people you despise also do it , then you should reconsider that behavior. That rule may not apply in some competitive situations (e.g. holding a vote on a Supreme Court nomination ), but McCain’s death is not one of those situations.

  30. SenyorDave says:

    IMO, somebody has to be substantially worse than McCain was to tap dance on their grave. Case in point was Jesse Helms. I remember when he died one of my first thoughts was I don’t want to see people nominating him for sainthood given that he was racist shitbag until his dying day.

  31. Bob@Youngstown says:


    Sen. McCain is beyond being influenced by our judgement. Bringing up his negatives can not change him; it can only wound those who love him.

    it can only wound those who love him. Well said ! Amen

  32. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:


    Hmmmm…. My experience is the exact opposite, that the left is too nuanced while the right is totally lacking.

    The right is the right. But I’m not the only one that thinks that there is too little nuance on the left, specially when the issue relates do gender and race.

  33. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92: One thing that the LGM screed makes clear, which people dance around, is that McCain was — if not a war monger — really quick to advocate a military solution to a wide range of foreign policy problems.

    It’s impossible to know what his actual thoughts were — I suspect a mixture of wanting to support troops that are in the field, a desire to use the threat of force as leverage, and an actual belief that military force can solve a lot of problems.

    In the Senate, he was one voice in a hundred, albeit a powerful one. As President, he would have been the deciding voice. The Presidency might have tempered him, but it’s more likely he would have continued to advocate military solutions.

    Had he been elected President, we probably would have gone to war with Iran, and the occupation there wasn’t going to be any better than the occupation of Iraq. He would have fresh blood on his hands for decades to come, long after he himself was dead.

    I would say that he was a good man with flaws, and his rise to power stopped before those flaws were disasterous.

    Being a good man doesn’t mean that you will end up doing good.

    In contrast, Donald Trump is a horrible human being, but he has been hemmed in by the N-Party Iran Nuclear Deal, and hasn’t gone to war, at least yet.

  34. Hal_10000 says:

    The funny thing is to read descriptions of McCain as a moderate or a left or a RINO. He wasn’t. He was very conservative. But he also was willing to worth with Democrats to get things done. In today’s GOP, that is the cardinal sin to end all cardinal sins.

  35. An Interested Party says:

    Per CNN: John McCain specifically requested that Barack Obama and George W. Bush deliver eulogies at his funeral, and that Donald Trump stay away from it.

    Very magnanimous of McCain considering how Bush did him dirty in South Carolina in 2000…and speaking of Trump, I wonder how many (if any) around here will be offended when nasty screeds are written about him the day after he dies…

  36. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    The right is the right. But I’m not the only one that thinks that there is too little nuance on the left, specially when the issue relates do gender and race.

    I agree, and in their lack of nuance, in their Savonarola fury, they end up propounding fundamentally racist and sexist notions in the process of condemning same. In the rush to victimhood they (unintentionally) denigrate and belittle the very groups they see themselves as defending. They deny women agency. They deny the unique horror of our treatment of African-Americans by lumping them in with groups whose only real commonality with blacks is being non-white, and inadvertently endorse the racist ‘one-drop’ view. They insist that accusation equals guilt, oblivious to the obvious danger of overreach and indifferent to injustice. They attack and denigrate by group, by color, by religion and by gender, all while insisting that those practices are only evil when done by one group.

    Teh stupid is bipartisan, though in very different proportions. Unfortunately this is the world Trump leaves us with: nuance is gone. Honor is gone. Honest self-appraisal is an impossibility. Simple common sense is banished. This is war now, a war forced on us by American fascists. As we made a nose-holding alliance with communists to stop Nazis, we now have to make common cause with these extremist idiots because we are left with no other choice. It’s down to brute numbers now. It’s a war of attrition.

  37. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Michael Reynolds: In 2014, 2015 it was possible to see that Hillary Clinton had weaknesses as a Presidential Candidate, but no one could even talk about that in Democratic Circles. Hillary Clinton was the woman superpolitician that Democratic Men had denied their place to glory.

    There is too much things that you can’t say in Leftist circles(Specially about race and gender), and that’s after one political defeat that happens after a political defeat.

    These same people that complaining about McCain are part of the problem.

  38. JohnMcC says:

    Fair wind and following seas, John. I see you were knocked down in Oct ’67. If I’d been in country for a few more months there’s a chance I’d have been in an H-3 Jolly looking for ya. I cried bitter tears on the day you came home – for our failure to bring you home – and proud tears for the honor and courage you and your brothers showed. Despite all the disagreements I ever had with you I salute you, brother.

  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    But I’m not the only one that thinks that there is too little nuance on the left, specially when the issue relates do gender and race.

    THAT statement requires explanation.

  40. gVOR08 says:

    Atrios has a post up, Republican Daddies, that doesn’t mention McCain, but, probably not coincidentally, is quite appropriate to the issue of how to talk about McCain.

    Obviously they (the DC political press corps) aren’t all precisely the same, but there is a culture. Roughly they’re moderate Republicans in a world that doesn’t actually have any moderate Republicans aside from them. They’re Nice Polite Republicans.

    In other words, they’re just upper middle class white people who probably vote for Democrats much of the time but are desperate to vote for Republicans as soon as they can find one who knows which fork to use with the appetizer and who treats the help nicely, at least in public. Every time Fournier or Friedman or Matthew Dowd or whoever starts on the third party wank this is what they are talking about. They want politicians who pretend to give a shit, who intellectualize their racism, homophobia, and misogyny, and know who the people who really matter are.

    The issue here for Loomis and others, I think, isn’t to say something about McCain, it’s to point out the failings of the supposedly liberal MSM. There’s an off chance the MSM may learn something. And the time to drive home the point is now. There’s an off chance the MSM may learn something. Failing that, maybe the audience can learn to better recognize their BS. Don’t doubt that the MSM will be desperate to mythologize some other Republican into their moderate hero.

    FYI, a later post at LGM by DNEXON expresses deep respect for McCain’s service, while not losing sight of the fact he was basically a bog standard modern Republican, albeit with better press. We’re liberals, we do nuance, we can respect much about the man while not losing sight of the entirety of his actions.

  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “It’s impossible to know what his actual thoughts were — I suspect a mixture of wanting to support troops that are in the field, a desire to use the threat of force as leverage, and an actual belief that military force can solve a lot of problems.” [Emphasis Added]

    I wish he’d been more willing to support troops not in the field, too. My recollection, I hope I’m wrong, is that he’s been spotty on support for benefits for veterans (some people have expressed his support as “I got mine; f you”) and I was disappointed in his support for the stop loss act that reduced/eliminated benefits for service personnel whose tours in Iraq were up so that they would have a need to stay in.

    ETA: Still, I accept his assertion that he mostly tried to do the right things as he saw them and tried also to acknowledge his mistakes. I hope his passing was peaceful and offer my condolences to his family and friends.

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @An Interested Party: I don’t know that “offended” would be the right word, but I’m on record as calling Loomis’ comment lacking dignity, if that helps you any.