MAGA and McCain

Many people have a “defining moment” and John McCain’s was when he refused an early repatriation offer while confined as a prisoner during the Vietnam war.

He was a prisoner of the North Vietnamese for seven years, enduring torture and deprivation.

That refusal, when most would have given in, showed an uncommon commitment to a sense of duty even when the going was fiercely tough for him.

It required him to overcome the ravages of both physical and mental anguish.

In 2015, then candidate Donald Trump belittled and ridiculed McCain, when, referring to his time as a POW, Trump said he “preferred people who weren’t captured.”

John McCain

This was an early indication that Trump would gleefully trample and destroy the norms and ideals of American life.

That trampling has a name, “MAGA” or make America great again, which is irony of the highest order.

In the pre-Trump age, military service, especially including combat and certainly those who became a prisoner, was an absolute indicator that you would be accorded the respect, veneration and honor you deserve.

Not any more.

MAGA types routinely attacked McCain, spreading false and vicious rumors about his war-time bravery.

Oddly, they have done it in service to Trump, a “man” who evaded service in the war with a series of cowardly deferments for bone spurs.

The MAGAs wish to convince us that they are the only true Americans, standing four-square to protect our precious ideals from the scourges of immigration and liberal thought.

John McCain embodied many of the most priceless human values so attacking him unmasks the attackers as hypocrites or worse.

They feared McCain because his brand of American conservatism included a respect for others, including his opponents, because he understood that such values as dignity and truth transcend naked power and greed.

Speaking of irony, it is apparently true that McCain requested that Trump not be a part of his final rites and that instead, former presidents Bush and Obama speak.

It’s fitting (and just) that he make his final political act one of bipartisanship, reaching out to men on either side of the aisle whom he could both be at odds with and also respect.

In doing so, McCain reminds us of all the big lessons he knew and lived by, lessons Donald Trump could not care less about.





  • Alan says:

    It is the undeniable litmus test of their authenticity in what they claim as their motivations. It then takes no giant leap to get to the real answer: fear, bigotry, greed… and, above all, a level of self-centerness only seen in organized religion and cults – “I will take care of my own, ignore all facts that don’t support my positions, and everyone else can die for all I care.”

  • Smitty Connolly says:

    I have not been a fan of John McCain from an ideological perspective, however, no one with any sense of moral decency could fail to appreciate the decency and honor McCain embodied. Ironically, it is Donald Trump’s loathsome pettiness, egotism, self-centeredness, and bullying behavior that has helped me appreciate and respect John McCain all the more.

    What was great about America (MAGA) that we truly should try to recapture was not the horrific vision that Trump and his followers have, it was the honesty, integrity, courage, and kindness that John McCain embodied. It is truly sad that he has passed when we need him so very much today.

    Thank you for writing this.

  • Pete Gorman says:

    MAGA- My Attorney Got Arrested.

  • Eric Lamar says:

    Thanks, Smitty. The MAGA hate for McCain is the ultimate hypocrisy.

  • Victoria Huckenpahler says:

    I agree 100%. Trump lost me when he made those ridiculous remarks about McCain. The latter embodies honor — a word that has practically gone out of our vocabulary in recent times. The courage he showed in not coming home from Nam early is something I can’t wrap my mind around. I sincerely doubt I could do something like that. May his future journey be a wonderful one!

  • Art Martynuska says:

    The Master in Chief of Distraction doesn’t come close to having one iota of the selfless determination that McCain possessed. While his political positions were frequently in conflict to those espoused by folks of our ilk, he was a true believer in what our country is and should be, unlike the schmuck we’re stuck with.

  • McCain was dishonorable on Palin, during and after the campaign. Him choosing her was the best choice he could make, if he wanted to win. Nothing he could do after the huge 2008 Financial Crisis to win, so his choice mostly didn”t matter for winning. Palin got bigger crowds than McCain did – Palin became, thanks to McCain”s choice, an early Trumpist-America First populist. That was not then, nor ever, McCain”s style. Nor was McCain willing to align with the very normal conservative Tea Party voters, an elitist GOPe attitude shared with the even more honorable Romney. Hmm, honorable McCain, even more honorable Romney – both losers to dishonest Obama. After these losses, I prefer a Rep to win, even if less honorable. Sad for Palin”s kids having problems.

    • Eric Lamar says:

      Like so many others you frame your response to McCain’s death based on your political views.

      McCain’s politics are anathema to me but that is totally beside the point.

      He is to be admired for his service to the country, especially during the Vietnam war.

      In choosing to disqualify him based on your perception of his political shortcomings you betray the American ideal of service to country.

      By the way, while we are here, the concept of American Populism and “America First” has time and again been shown to be foolhardy, ignorant and short-sided.

      All the way back to the Know Nothing Party, America Firsters have been shown to be motivated by fear, prejudice and stupidity.

      How little things change.

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