By J. D. Heyes, editor-in-chief
(National Sentinel) Unmasking: As Sen. John McCain inches closer to the end of a long life, we’re learning more about the man than we ever knew.
And many of us don’t like what we see.
In recent days, there has been a slew of stories pertaining to what can only be described as McCain’s end-of-life wishes and demands.
He doesn’t want President Donald J. Trump at his funeral and wants the White House to send Vice President Mike Pence instead.
He says he regrets picking Sarah Palin as his running mate for their failed 2008 bid for the presidency and vice presidency, according to his just-released and perfectly-timed book. “It was sound advice that I could reason for myself,” he writes of advisers telling him not to pick then-Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Vt, because of his pro-life stance. “But my gut told me to ignore it and I wish I had.”
In an upcoming HBO documentary, McCain reportedly says, again, that not picking Lieberman was “another mistake” that he made in his political career.
Returning to Trump, McCain writes that the president seems to care more about “the appearance of toughness” than American values, “chiding Trump’s coziness with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in particular,” The Hill noted.
Of course, there is no evidence to support Trump’s ‘chumminess’ with Putin. In fact, one could argue that Trump — through sanctions, mostly, but also by bolstering the U.S. military and NATO to oppose Russian revisionism — has been harder on the Russian leader than Obama and George W. Bush before him.
As for Lieberman, well, we’ll never know if he would have helped McCain defeat a slick-talking, young Democrat at a time when the country was obviously tiring of Republican leadership.
But all-in-all, we’re seeing an unseemly, bitter side of McCain, petty and small — not at all the man who served his country as a fighter pilot, who endured unheard-of cruelty at the hands of the North Vietnamese as a prisoner of war, and who sought out politics, initially, as a means of further serving his country.
In attacking someone who risked every bit as much as he did in making that 2008 bid — Palin — and a president who achieved a political height that eluded McCain, the former Navy pilot and POW is showing none of the humility or deference he was shown throughout his career.
For instance, 30 years ago, he was caught up in a scandal that, frankly, should have at least ended his political career if not landed him in prison: The Keating Five savings and loan scandal. As the Arizona Republic recalled it:
The five U.S. senators were accused of trying to pressure federal thrift regulators to back off their political benefactor [Charles] Keating, whose Lincoln Savings & Loan would collapse during the savings-and-loan crisis of the late 1980s at a cost of $3.4 billion to taxpayers. At the time, Keating was an influential and larger-than-life business figure in Arizona and he generously contributed campaign cash to his favorite politicians.
McCain is the only member of the “Keating Five” who is still serving on Capitol Hill. The other four retired in 1990s: U.S. Sens. Alan Cranston, D-Calif.; Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz.; John Glenn, D-Ohio; and Donald Riegle, D-Mich.
McCain was deemed to have demonstrated “poor judgment” in meeting with the regulators — considered a mild reprimand — while DeConcini’s “aggressive conduct” was deemed “inappropriate.” McCain had taken another public blow when
The Arizona Republic in 1989 reported that McCain and his family had vacationed at Keating’s Bahamas retreat and that his wife and father-in-law in 1986 had invested nearly $360,000 in a Keating shopping-center development.
There’s a better accounting of the relationship McCain and Keating had here, which describes how the senator essentially bailed on his benefactor in a manner that made the DC Swamp swell with pride.
Scores of ordinary investors lost all they had. Keating would eventually be tried and convicted of fraud and go on to serve time in prison.
But not McCain or any of the others.
Political deftness or outright corruption within the system — you be the judge — saved his career, and he would go onto win reelection after reelection, the people of his state having their way instead of the justice system.
Perhaps that’s why he feels free even now to side with Democrats more often than with his own party to trash a political machine that, for some reason, stuck by him all these years.
The bottom line is, Sen. McCain will be sorely missed by his family and enough people in Arizona whom he owes more in gratitude than he has to give.
But considering the legacy he’ll leave behind, those he is attacking today deserve better.