I sometimes disagree with Senator John McCain on the issues. But I have never once doubted that he does what he believes is right for America.
He is a patriotic war hero who has not been able to raise his arms above his shoulders for the past 50 years because of the injuries he suffered in service to this country in wartime. Now, while he is battling a terrible cancer, he has had to suffer the indignity of trashy verbal attacks from a United States president who never wore the uniform a day in his life, and that president’s equally trashy staff members. These attacks have included jokes about Senator McCain’s illness and the fact that the cancer he has is considered fatal.
In all of this, Senator McCain has demonstrated a dignified and focused commitment to doing what he believes is right for America. Instead of replying with trashy comments of his own, he has kept his public comments on matters of concern to this nation.
He has voted with the president’s initiatives when he agreed with them, and voted against them when he didn’t. He has refrained from making statements that attack anyone on a personal level and kept it about what’s best for America.
Senator McCain evidently reacted to the president’s servile performance with President Putin in a manner that was similar to my own. That fact that Senator McCain is a life-long Republican and was the party’s nominee for president in 2008 speaks well of the party as it used to be.
There was a time when Republicans prided themselves on public morality and patriotism. But President Trump has degraded the Republican Party even more drastically than he has degraded America itself, and that’s saying quite a lot.
He has turned a good many otherwise fine American citizens into groupies for his trashy behavior. Many of them have fallen so low that they are willing to side with those who attack this nation, as the Russians did in 2016, rather than America.
When this nation is attacked, Americans should stand with America. The fact that President Trump and a good number of Republican elected officials are using party loyalty to convince not-so-swift American citizens to stand with those who have attacked our nation and against America, is, to me at least, mind boggling.
What good, exactly, is any political party if America itself is forfeit?
The Republic is under attack. It has been successfully attacked. If you are an American and you are not outraged by this, what’s wrong with you?
President Trump completed one of his swooping “summits” with a hostile power yesterday. This time it was with Russia’s President Putin, the same Putin who is attacking our nation so successfully.
It is important to note that the attacks President Putin authored in 2016 had, as one of their primary aims, the goal of electing candidate Trump to the presidency. That makes our president the primary beneficiary of those attacks on our nation. This is a fact. And, considering President Trump’s behavior vis a vis our allies, as well as his behavior vis a vis President Putin, it is highly pertinent.
This “summit” between the Russian president who has successfully attacked America, and who evidently continues to manipulate and attack us, was held in secret. The President of the United States refused to allow any Americans in the room when he talked to the man who has authored these attacks on our democracy.
Senator McCain, who is sick and has been reported to be planning his own funeral, made the effort to speak out against this situation. As usual, his comments were based on his personal patriotism. This is especially valuable because, ever since President Trump took office, untrammeled patriotism has been in short supply from both elected Republicans and party faithful who blindly support the Republican Party, no matter what it does.
His action reminds me of Caesar Rodney, who, in 1776, was dying from a disfiguring jaw cancer. Caesar Rodney rode 80 miles overnight in what must have been a blistering gallop to cast his vote for independence. He arrived in Philadelphia and went straight to the meeting. He cast his history-making vote for the Declaration of Independence while he was still coated with the mud and muck of his journey. This is sometimes referred to as the “little miracle” of the vote that created our country.
Here is Senator McCain’s statement, without edits.
Jul 16 2018
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement today on President Trump’s meeting and press conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki:
“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.
“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.
“It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout – as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.
“Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency. That the president was attended in Helsinki by a team of competent and patriotic advisors makes his blunders and capitulations all the more painful and inexplicable.
“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant. Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are—a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad. American presidents must be the champions of that cause if it is to succeed. Americans are waiting and hoping for President Trump to embrace that sacred responsibility. One can only hope they are not waiting totally in vain.”