FROM vietnam prisoner of war to an elder statesman of American politics, Senator John McCain’s passing leaves a huge void which exposes President Donald Trump’s lack of statesmanship. A maverick politician who enjoyed an extraordinary life of service, he always tried to pursue a bipartisan approach in an age of division.
Not afraid to take on the Republican leadership of his own party, one of his last acts was to use his vote to block attempts to repeal the healthcare reforms that had been passed by Barack Obama. Perhaps it explains President Trump’s charmless tribute.
Yet, while Senator McCain lost the 2008 presidential election to President Obama, their respect was mutual – what a contrast with the ugly and demeaning 2016 campaign – and they showed how such campaigns should be conducted. When one of Senator McCain’s own supporters questioned his opponent’s trustworthiness, and heritage, he replied: “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”
And, when he spoke at a Republican rally after the result was confirmed, he had the composure to deliver a gracious concession speech in which he appealed for unity and said: “America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.” They are words of human decency which reveal the extent to which politics has denigrated since a landmark election just 10 years ago.