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John McCain, longtime Arizona senator, dead at 81

U.S. Sen. John McCain, who outlived the odds time and again, died Saturday afternoon, a day after his family announced that he had halted treatment for aggressive brain cancer. "The progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict," his family said.... Read more»

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Aug 25, 2018, 7:56 pm
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By disposition and experience, John McCain was uniquely suited to represent the Grand Canyon state. As prickly as the saguaro and stubborn as the desert itself, McCain’s reputation as a thorn frustrated both Democrats and Republicans alike. This same reputation belied the true decency of the man, possessed of a fundamental humanity that never seemed to waiver in his ascent of the American political field. In an age where the Republican brand of patriotism is measured by clickbait and phobia, John McCain represented the common-sensed, reality-based conservatism that not all of us rooted for, but most of us could respect. He wasn’t immune to political wind and he wasn’t perfect, but he left little doubt about where his priorities stood; to the end, he was an outspoken proponent of American ideals and in the age of “MAGA,” what real American greatness could mean. Arizona lost a Titan today, that’s true. But if the star on our flag flickered this afternoon, it wasn’t Arizona alone that noticed. We’ve lost something larger than the Maverick; we’ve seen the death of a higher standard in American politics. The party that once exulted the bravery, patriotism and dedication of men like John McCain have glued themselves to its moral antithesis, willing to forego any national humiliation or indignity in the expectation that it might advance their own positions by a millimeter or two.

A reckoning will soon come, and McCain’s former colleagues will be forced to answer for what they did and didn’t do as the Maverick, hobbled by cancer and abandoned by those around him, rose nearly alone to stand against the decline of his party and the degradation of his country’s standing in the world. When that time comes, we can all hope that those who remain will look to the legacy of John McCain as an example of civic rightness and the true, deeper meanings of patriotism and service. He was a once-in-a-generation political figure, who’s actual service was praiseworthy enough; unvarnished, imperfect but steadfast until the end.

Arizona lost a Titan today, its true. But we can all learn from the legacy he leaves, and we can all - on both sides of the aisle - benefit from his example.

Aug 25, 2018, 8:00 pm
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I have to admit that I was not a fan of Senator McCain, yet there is still much to admire about him. When I worked on the Rez, I found that there was a lot of good feeling toward him, not just for his war record, but also because he was one of the few federal electeds who gave more than lip service to tribal issues. A lot of folks say they have sympathy for the problems of tribal communities, but McCain actually did his homework and showed substantial leadership in this regard. In those days, his crusade was reform of the Indian Reservation Road system, which was not an issue which was going to get him votes, headlines, or the undying loyalty of the precinct committeemen.

His staff was always diligent, helpful and sincere. In a better world, this would not be notable, but considering that certain other federal legislative staffs that I worked with as a member of the legislature were partisan, dismissive and condescending, it was outstanding. There was no practical reason for them to be so gracious to me. The culture of his office says a lot about the Senator and his regard for public office as a public trust.

There is no doubt that he could be calculated, petty and partisan at times, but these are faults common to most elected officials, or anybody in working life, and he showed a great capacity to rise above these things at critical times. If anything, he was a man who took his job seriously. Again, I suppose, in a slightly less grim historical moment, this would seem the least we could expect, but in today’s thin era it is downright heroic.

Rest in Peace, Senator. Say hello to Mark, Henry, Carl, Ernie and Barry for me.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

McCain in Nogales in 2014.


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