John McCain has written a number of books or had them ghosted. Many of them were written to promote his presidential aspirations. But listening to The Restless Wave on audio, you get the impression that John McCain’s last words to the world needed to be said for a long time.
Let’s admit it. We live in a polarized time, where politics have become unacceptably personal, and those in Congress have forgotten they’re there to do a job that has nothing to do with their donors or their parties. Lots of people want to point to things McCain said about his opponents during presidential campaigns, conveniently forgetting that campaign rhetoric is largely bullshit, a necessary evil in vying for the top office in America. McCain, frankly, liked George W. Bush despite losing the 2000 GOP nomination to him, and had enormous respect for Barack Obama. And it’s telling that these two men, not the current occupant of the Oval Office, were invited to speak at his funeral.
This is an archconservative whose chief mentor in the Senate was uber-liberal Ted Kennedy (who died of the same cancer that killed McCain.) He is a former prisoner of the Hanoi government in Vietnam who led the charge to normalize relations with that same government. He found the obstructionism of the past fifteen years in Congress to be an anathema to the American ideal. A member of Congress’s job, he rightly points out, is compromise. So anyone, to his view, who says they won’t compromise is not really qualified to be in Congress.
McCain admits he has made mistakes and miscalculated. Sarah Palin, for instance, was in over her head when he tapped her for vice president in his 2008 presidential run. And he even admits he showed bad judgement during the Keating Five scandal which also snared astronaut and perennial Boy Scout John Glenn back in the eighties. But he doesn’t regret anything. Why should he if he’s fighting the good fight, often against opponents he respected and liked who also were fighting the good fight. Those fights were how work used to get done in Congress. It doesn’t seem like that anymore, and we’ve lost a voice of reason in the Senate.
Here’s hoping his final words will spark a renaissance in American politics.