The DIY canonization of John McCain originated in Phoenix and will end in Washington, DC. McCain methodically planned this week-long funerary. John McCain took his funeral on the road to great effect, launching his campaign for the Mid-Terms, with several guest stars on the bill.
McCain wanted his funeral to be a bipartisan celebration of his life, and it has lived up to its billing. It’s fair to ask what motivated it.
While it is true that he crossed the aisle from time to time, he voted with his Republican caucus 87% of the time. That’s slightly less than the average senator. He voted against his caucus in certain congresses and for certain issues.
For example, he was more of a maverick during 43’s first term, deviating over the administration’s infatuation with torture, than he was during the Obama years. He voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2009. But then in 2017, he rose from his sickbed to cast the deciding vote against its repeal. He opposed the bill because his GOP colleagues rammed it through the Senate without a single hearing.
McCain was never a champion of civil liberties. A Goldwater Republican, he was critical of Trump’s attack on the Gold Star parents of a slain Muslim soldier Yet, he has branded journalists as the enemy of the people”and also supported the Citizens United decision allowing as free speech anonymous and unlimited political contributions. After all-nighter patriotism and libertarianism are strange bedfellows.
If the Maverick’s positions are incongruous it’s because there is no unified theory for his his voting record. He liked to cross the aisle, especially when there was a strong headwind.
McCain’s life is being celebrated as a model of the civility that used to mark the relationship among Senators. George W. Bush and Barack Obama, two people of significantly different views and who defeated McCain, will deliver addresses to the crowd. At the Washington road production of The Funeral, McCain wanted to show that a Republican and Democrat can share a podium without staging a smack down. They also can reject party line voting and find middle ground. That’s what this centrist nation needs. This is McCsin’s point.
It takes a healthy ego to run for President. It takes even more than it does for planning one’s send-off. A large ego can be tolerated when it is engaged in service of the better angels of our nature. McCain believed that the grandiose rights were justified—and necessary.
Give McCain this much: His final public act is unabashed. It’s a timely reminder to Congress and the citizenry to put country ahead of party by voting to put the brakes on the advancing dark age.