By Mick Holien
While many have their own interpretation there just is not a single adjective to describe John McCain.
The Arizona senior senator who died Saturday at his home was a significant factor in whatever he endeavored although while recognizing what he described as many faults and mistakes.
But maybe the former Vietnam Prisoner of War most effective trait was his ability to communicate.
And even since his diagnosis of brain cancer, ironically a fatal malady shared with his good friend Ted Kennedy, he continued to the end as a political factor, like it or not, in a country so in need of his passion. Ironically they died on the same day and of the same disease.
No I never met McCain but there are several reasons why his political and Senatorial presence was noteworthy to me
While after intense pressure the North Vietnamese were successful at getting McCain to sign a statement condemning U.S. activity, he took that guilt that he felt he caved to his grave.
Yet when he was offered early release because of his Admiral father’s rank and role and while even injured from more than five years of torture during imprisonment, he refused citing the Armed Forces code that Prisoner of War release is to be done in the order of capture.
Such a dichotomy is a reflection of his life’s conflicts?
His father and grandfather both were graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy and achieved the rank of Admiral and while McCain went to Annapolis he did not graduate with distinction instead near the bottom of his class describing himself as a “goof off.”
You see McCain led an imperfect life.
One of McCain’s significant traits IMO was his recognition of the importance of the First Amendment and the need for an open and aggressive press.
And those who covered the five-term Senator said the relationships he built with them, and vice versa were important communicative tools.
He answered tough questions not with party talking points but with honesty and candor. Thus he was a frequent guest on the Sunday shows and for example the most booked on Face the Nation.
He of course cared deeply about veteran’s issues and had the ability to communicate and legislate across party lines.
His sense of humor was widely recognized but so too was his anger tendencies.
You see this imperfect life was lived by an imperfect man.
And no matter what you feel about his politics, John McCain was a statesman in the day of few others, a decorated warrior both during a time of war and later in the halls of Congress, yes a politician who on two occasions lost his Presidential bid who will be remembered as a leader when there were few.
And I think a common man with an uncommon spirit that will be deeply missed.