Late Senator John McCain talked much about patriotism and values of self-sacrifice for the sake of the nation but he, like most, did not care much about these things if they contradicted his own interests, especially if it meant him becoming America’s next president.
This is what happened after he nominated Sarah Palin, then-Alaska’s governor, to be his vice presidential nominee during his presidential campaign. He chose her for one reason, to fight the glamor surrounding media fame of his charismatic rival Barack Obama.
The old McCain had history by his side but did not own the present and modern media outlets that seek today’s celebrities and not heroes of the past.
To fill this vacuum, he chose a beautiful woman that wears glamorous clothes to attract attention to his campaign and to decrease attention in his rival’s campaign. However, this proved to be a fatal mistake.
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“How can he trust someone like this naïve woman with America if something happens to him or he dies, and this is probable considering his age.” This is what McCain’s critics, including respected Republican figures like Dick Cheney, said. Cheney said that McCain’s decision to select Palin as his VP indicates he lacks prudence and shows he is not fit to be president.
It turned out that Palin harmed him a lot instead of benefiting him. She was an easy target for the liberal media, which repeatedly made her fall into traps.
For example, journalist Katie Couric asked her a simple question about the magazines she reads but Palin stuttered and didn’t answer. This showed Palin in poor light, as an ignorant woman.
McCain tried to confront these attempts to entrap her and utilized his experience in fighting with politicians and journalists but he could not get her on her feet.
Palin was a smart and opportunistic woman as she benefitted from McCain while his dream collapsed before his eyes for the second time. She used the entire opportunity to receive cheques and for magazine covers, books, programs, interviews and reality shows about hunting that brought her millions.
It is said that McCain strongly regretted his decision, which is considered the saddest stage of his life, a black mark that stained his image as a noble man who put his country before himself.
John McCain was the man of the world order. He was aware of the importance of America’s allies who contributed toward solidifying this order and brought stability and peaceMamdouh AlMuhaini
However, there are other glorious and happy phases which eventually shaped his legacy and made the news of his departure a world event.
In his early days, McCain, who was a pilot, was taken hostage in northern Vietnam, for five years. He was tortured, starved, humiliated and his hand and ribs were repeatedly broken. After being released from captivity, he was viewed as a hero in the eyes of the American people as he did not reveal any secrets and did not betray the army’s brotherhood.
He wrote about the torture methods in the Vietnamese prison and which borrowed the methods of the Middle Ages’ prisons, such as heavy chains which the prisoner drags with his feet.
His stance on the Syrian revolution is considered one of the noblest. If McCain had been president, it is almost certain that Syria would have been different from what it currently is. He was the voice of conscience, which never kept silent over the horrific massacres committed by the Assad regime and the Iranian militias.
McCain morally tormented his president Obama and reminded him of the horrific photos of dead infants wrapped in shrouds but all his attempts failed.
McCain was the man of the world order and he was aware of the importance of America’s allies who contributed toward solidifying this order and brought stability and peace and fought rogue regimes like Tehran and terror groups like al-Qaeda. Hence, we can understand his strong relationship with Saudi Arabia.
His relationship with Trump deteriorated before it even began although Trump has done almost everything he called for. He punished Assad, besieged Iran, resumed the war on terrorism and restored warmth to cold ties with friends.
On the domestic level, he decreased taxes and revived the economy. Despite that, he did not gain his respect and affection and dealt a treacherous stab to Trump when he voted against repealing Obamacare.
There are three explanations of this position. The first one is that McCain joined the group of Republicans who believe that Trump hijacked the Republican Party and tore it apart. This stance aims to maintain traditions and stop the iron-clad Trump from running over all what’s left of conservative values.
The second one is based on personal dislike between the two men. Following McCain’s sharp criticism, Trump launched a scathing attack on him and doubted his glory at the Vietnam War by saying that heroes do not get captured.
Ever since, McCain held a grudge against him and wrote in his will that he did not want Trump to attend his funeral. Let us not forget that McCain whose dream was to become president saw Trump achieve this dream.
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The third explanation is the difference between the two men. McCain sometimes appeared as a grumpy old man, as an idealistic and preaching man to the extent of intransigence and boredom. Trump, however, is realistic and loud to the extent of being rude and crude.
Due to this mutual dislike, Trump reluctantly ordered lowering the American flag. But media outlets allied to McCain’s position on Trump, focused on the president as a man who is an outcast and hated by respectable Republican figures – and not only by leftists and opposing circles.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain.