Sen. John McCain bids farewell to America, slams horrors of torture and Trump in final book - MRCAESAR.COM


Sunday, 13 May 2018

Sen. John McCain bids farewell to America, slams horrors of torture and Trump in final book

Old friends and colleagues are visiting John McCain’s Arizona home these days to say goodbye.
Old friends and colleagues are visiting John McCain's Arizona home these days to say goodbye.
The resilient Vietnam War hero and cheerfully combative six-term senator is battling brain cancer, and calmly admits this is one fight he won't win.
It was no surprise that McCain wants Donald Trump nowhere near his funeral. But before he takes leave, the senator has a few other things left to say to America.
"The Restless Wave" is the seventh and final book McCain has written with longtime collaborator Mark Salter. Focused on his past 20 years of public life and a few major topics, it's McCain on McCain, even more uncensored than usual.
Which makes it fun, no matter your politics.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz., seen in 2008) might be battling brain cancer, but he's still got plenty of wisdom left to share with America. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The press? Full of "routine liberal bias." The current President's top advisers? "Bigger misfits haven't been seen inside the White House since William Taft got stuck in his bathtub."
If you're wondering how the infamous "pee tape dossier" got out, it was McCain's doing. He heard about it from a British diplomat, sent someone to England to get a copy, and passed it to then-FBI Director James Comey.
"And I would do it again," McCain says. "Anyone who doesn't like it can go to hell."
While the old warrior settles some scores, his sense of loyalty remains ironclad.
"The Restless Wave," written by McCain and Mark Salter, is the senator's seventh and final book.
Despite all the stories during the 2008 campaign about Sarah Palin going rogue, McCain is nothing but gentlemanly about his running mate, praising her energy and charisma.
If she occasionally stumbled, "those mistakes are on me," he says. "She didn't put herself on the ticket. I did."
Although Palin gave the McCain campaign some instant buzz, she failed to provide the genuine lift it needed. The choice also seemed to bring out rabid right-wingers who accused Barack Obama of being a secret Muslim.
While the veteran Republican senator discouraged them — publicly assuring one fearful supporter that his rival was "a decent family man" — the ugliness stuck to McCain.
McCain lies injured in North Vietnam. He was held prisoner during the Vietnam War, from 1967 to 1973.
Civil rights icon Rep. "John Lewis, a personal hero of mine, accused our campaign of sowing hatred, compared me to (segregationist Alabama Gov.) George Wallace, and said that, like Wallace, we were creating the kind of political atmosphere that got four little girls killed in a Birmingham church," writes McCain.
"I couldn't believe it, and I couldn't forgive it. I still can't."
The media, McCain says, treated him unfairly, too; the press fell hard for Obama back in the primaries, and kept "a finger on the scale" going forward.
But, as McCain acknowledges, he also himself had once benefited from press favoritism. To even worry about slanted coverage now, in this new era of "crackpot websites" and Russian propaganda, "seems almost quaint."
McCain speaks fondly the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). The pair are seen together in March 2009, five months before Kennedy lost his own battle with brain cancer. (Tom Williams/AP)
While McCain's rehash of the 2008 race is only one part of "The Restless Wave," it's likely to be the liveliest for many readers. And while the book is meant to give McCain the last word, sometimes he rehashes policy debates long settled.
The book is at its best is when he speaks plainly from the heart about subjects he cares deeply about: The torture of suspected terrorists and enemy combatants, the treatment of undocumented immigrants.
McCain's interest in the humane treatment of prisoners of war isn't theoretical. He was shot down in North Vietnam and brutally abused for more than five years.
The idea that Americans are now doing to captives what the Viet Cong once did to him fills McCain with rage.
The former Navy fighter pilot (front r.) is seen with his squadron in 1965. He was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross Medal and Prisoner of War (POW) Medal. (Anonymous/AP)
He angrily recounts interrogations of Muslim suspects that included "force-feeding and hydrating prisoners anally, and rectal examinations using 'excessive force.' "
One man was abused so badly that he lost an eye. Another was shown a picture of his captured pregnant wife, naked and bound to a chair, her mouth duct-taped shut.
McCain talks of sitting in a room with Vice President Dick Cheney as he defended similar, sanctioned practices, including depriving men of sleep for as long as five days at a time.
"I had a friend, a Marine, who was kept awake for a week," McCain shot back. "It almost killed him."
"She didn’t put herself on the ticket. I did." McCain speaks highly of Sarah Palin, his 2008 running mate. (Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
But the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" continued — even though, McCain argues, it went against this country's core value of protecting human dignity and ensuring equal justice under the law.
"The cruelty of our enemies doesn't absolve us . . . ," he writes. "This was never about them. It was about us."
McCain's devotion to immigration issues reflects his constituents. The state he represents borders Mexico, and has a large Latino population. He calls the idea of mass deportations cruel and unworkable. He supports protecting the Dreamers and a path to citizenship for others.
And he says many of the people opposed to that are bigots, plain and simple.
McCain is escorted by Lt. Cmdr. Jay Coupe Jr. to Hanoi's Gia Lam Airport after his release in March 1973. (Horst Faas/AP)
"They believe the President shares their prejudice, and has promised to enact it into law," he writes. "They're not only opposed to illegal immigration, they're opposed to immigration, at least immigration from south of the border, and the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa and Asia."
McCain advocates confrontation over quiet dismissal of these opinions, arguing silence will allow their "noxious views (to) spread further, and damage for generations the reputation of the Republican Party."
That straight talk is vintage McCain, and why his most conservative critics have often dismissed him as a RINO — Republican in Name Only.
Certainly, he often seemed to get along better with his colleagues across the aisle. His new book has many fond memories of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass). The two would engage in shouting matches only to later leave the Senate together, laughing.
The McCain family are seen in 2008: his wife Cindy (4th l.) stands with her children (l. to r.) Meghan, Andy, Jimmy, Jack, Doug, Bridget and Sidney. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
"A battle not joined," Kennedy used to tell him, "is a battle not enjoyed."
Kennedy, he recalls, once even tried to get him to switch parties. McCain almost crossed party lines in 2008 by choosing Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, a Democrat-turned-independent, as his running mate.
McCain's advisers were against it. After all, Lieberman was pro-choice and ran on Al Gore's ticket in 2000. Oh, and one other thing: The optics of two old, white, male, Washington insiders would only emphasize Obama's time-for-a-change message.
"It was sound advice that I could reason for myself," McCain writes. "But my gut told me to ignore it, and I wish I had."
"I hope those who mourn my passing, and even those who don’t, will celebrate as I celebrate a happy life lived in imperfect service to a country made of ideas, whose continued success is the hope of the world." (Carolyn Kaster/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
He went with Palin instead.
McCain offers fond words for the "hardworking and intelligent" Hillary Clinton, who "is also, contrary to the negative public image promoted by her detractors, very warm, engaging, considerate in person, and fun."
It would be fun if it were true, but that story about Clinton drinking McCain under the table in Estonia is fake news — and probably spread by his pal Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C).
McCain is hardly as fond of President Trump's tall tales. In fact, he's not fond of the President at all.
"Flattery secures his friendship, criticism his enmity," he observes. For all of Trump's angry tweets, he has only "a reality-show facsimile of toughness."
McCain, on the other hand, knows about true grit.
"The bell tolls for me," he writes in the book's final passage. "I knew it would. I hope those who mourn my passing, and even those who don't, will celebrate as I celebrate a happy life lived in imperfect service to a country made of ideas, whose continued success is the hope of the world."
'; (function() { var dsq = document.createElement('script'); dsq.type = 'text/javascript'; dsq.async = true; dsq.src = '//' + disqus_shortname + ''; (document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0] || document.getElementsByTagName('body')[0]).appendChild(dsq); })();