McCain's character, style make Congress stronger

Add our voice to the flood of hope-filled and heart-felt expressions of support that continues to rush westward to Arizona’s senior U.S. Sen. John McCain, diagnosed this week with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a progressive Democrat from Cleveland, wrote, “John has more fight in him than anyone I know, and I look forward to having him back in the Senate soon. Connie [his wife] and I are thinking of John and his family as we wish him a full recovery.”

Likewise, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a conservative Republican from the Cincinnati area, also publicly wished McCain well: “Jane & I are sending our love and prayers to @SenJohnMcCain & Cindy [McCain’s wife] tonight. We know he will prevail in this fight.”

The nearly identical respect and admiration shown by Brown and Portman toward McCain, the Grand Old Party’s 2008 presidential nominee, serve as an apt microcosm of the broad-based nationwide outpouring of respect and sincere good wishes for the senator and his family at this most difficult time.

The otherwise hearty 80-year-old was hospitalized July 14 for treatment of a blood clot. During that treatment, doctors detected the brain cancer and performed emergency surgery to successfully remove it. But McCain is far from out of the woods.

That ruthless and unforgiving brain cancer oftentimes returns, as it did in 2009 with U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy and in 2015 with Beau Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden, before ultimately taking their lives.

Yet in the true indomitable McCain spirit, the senator will have none of any doomsday talk. In a Twitter posting on Thursday, in fact, he warned his fellow members of the upper chamber of Congress: “I greatly appreciate the outpouring of support – unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress, I’ll be back soon, so stand-by!”

That in-your-face retort typifies McCain’s firebrand demeanor of fighting tooth and nail for something he believes in. It complements his other productive qualities of maturity, cooperation and resilience.

Sadly, those critical prerequisites for successful statesmanship have been sorely lacking in recent years from Congress and the entire Washington power structure. The sooner McCain recovers sufficiently to return to Capitol Hill, the sooner his status as a role model for true bipartisanship and patriotism can resume.

Take his maturity. Unlike many of his colleagues on both sides of the political aisle, McCain rarely stoops to ad hominem attacks and juvenile name-calling. When he disagrees – and he disagrees often – with Democrats and those of his own party, he generally does so with logic, reason and civilized discourse. His numerous biting criticisms of President Donald J. Trump’s behavior and style serve as foremost cases in point.

That quality feeds directly into his spirit of compromise and bipartisanship. Though he will battle vociferously for causes he believes in, he also will – when appropriate for progress – sit down with opponents and forge plans based on give and take.


Finally, take McCain’s resilience. Perhaps nothing better illustrates that trait than his grueling military service. As many recall, the former U.S. Navy aviator was shot down, seriously injured, and captured as a prisoner of war by the North Vietnamese in 1967. For the next 5 1/2 years, McCain was subjected to unrelenting torture yet refused an offer to be freed early out of fairness to his other captured comrades.

That same resilience and sense of fairness has served him and the nation well in his 34 years in the U.S. Congress.

Though we have not always agreed with the policy directions that McCain has driven, we have long respected his stature as a hero and a statesman. Even in our October 2008 endorsement of his Democrat opponent Barack Obama for president, The Vindicator offered this noteworthy concession: “John McCain has performed with distinction in military service and in Congress.”

Few could disagree that Congress today desperately needs that distinctive brand of bipartisanship and maturity to move forward. As such, we wish McCain Godspeed and look for his signature fighting spirit to once again marshal the requisite will and strength to conquer this latest adversity to cross his path.

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