The New York Times has given John McCain (R-AZ) quite the sendoff - detailing a trip made by Joe Biden and his wife Jill to the dying senator's Arizona ranch last Sunday where the former Vice President "wanted to let him know how much I love him and how much he matters to me and how much I admire his integrity and his courage."
The NYT's longtime op-ed writer Frank Bruni, meanwhile, lauds McCain and trashes Trump in an article entitled Battling Donald Trump With His Dying Breaths.
As Bruni makes it quite clear, McCain may be near the end of the road, he's far from done making his mark.
Mr. McCain, 81, is still in the fight, struggling with the grim diagnosis he received last summer: He has been leading conference calls with his staff in a strained voice, grinding out three-hour physical therapy sessions and rewarding himself most days with a tall glass of Absolut Elyx on ice. -NYT
Inbetween tall glasses of iced vodka, "most days," McCain also filmed a nearly two-hour HBO documentary at his Hidden Valley Ranch, and is coming out with what he acknowledges will be his last book, "The Restless Wave," both set for release this month.
The film and the book, a copy of which The New York Times obtained independently of Mr. McCain, amount to the senator’s final say on his career and a concluding argument for a brand of pro-free trade and pro-immigration Republicanism that, along with his calls for preserving the American-led international order, have grown out of fashion under President Trump. -NYT
Some highlights from the New York Times coverage:
- McCain is suffering "debilitating side effects" from aggressive cancer treatment as he spends his final days in Arizona
- He has few regrets - though one is that he chose Sarah Palin as his 2008 running mate instead of tapping Democrat-turned-independent Joe Lieberman.
“It was sound advice that I could reason for myself...But my gut told me to ignore it and I wish I had.”
He calls the decision not to pick Mr. Lieberman “another mistake that I made” in his political career, a self-indictment that includes his involvement in the Keating Five savings and loan scandal and his reluctance to speak out during his 2000 presidential bid about the Confederate battle flag flying above the South Carolina Capitol.
- McCain doesn't want Trump at his funeral - instead insisting that Vice President Mike Pence attend the service in Washington's National Cathedral.
His intimates have informed the White House that their current plan for his funeral is for Vice President Mike Pence to attend the service to be held in Washington’s National Cathedral but not President Trump, with whom Mr. McCain has had a rocky relationship. -NYT
- McCain's associates have been quietly spreading the word that they want a "McCain person" to eventually fill his Senate seat - "a roster that includes his wife, Cindy."
The matter of succession for the McCain seat — a topic of such intense discussion that Republicans officials here joke that Washington lawyers know Arizona election law better than any attorney in the state — is officially verboten among party officials and the senator’s friends. They are determined to reward him with the same good ending that his friend Senator Edward M. Kennedy enjoyed before he succumbed to brain cancer in 2009.
McCain's Dying Breaths
In a second Saturday article, Frank Bruni details the Arizona Senator's battles with President Trump - who McCain has criticized for his "half-baked, spurious nationalism."
The fight isn’t really between two men. It’s between two takes on what matters most in this messy world. I might as well be blunt: It’s between the high road and the gutter. McCain has always believed, to his core, in sacrifice, honor and allegiance to something larger than oneself. Trump believes in Trump, and whatever wreckage he causes in deference to that god is of no concern.
“Trump is in every single way the opposite of John McCain,” Bob Kerrey told me recently. “He may be the opposite of every president we ever had.” Kerrey and McCain both served in Vietnam, they overlapped in the Senate and they stay in touch. So Kerrey knows that Trump has caused McCain no small measure of anguish, but less because of Trump’s crassness and the daily tragicomedy of his administration — this, too, shall pass — than because of “the impact on democracy.” It could be enduring, and it could be profound. -Frank Bruni, NYT
Which, Bruni writes of McCain, is "why a patriot like him could never sit this one out."
Bruni also suggests that Trump is threatened by McCain's biography, then goes on to mention Trump's allegedly falsified health report, his multiple draft deferments due to bone spurs, and Trump's claim that Barack Obama was born outside the United States.
Trump jump-started his political career with the lie that Barack Obama was born outside the United States and thus an illegitimate president. During the last weeks of Trump’s presidential campaign, he branded Hillary Clinton a criminal and encouraged supporters to chant, “Lock her up.”
During the last weeks of McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, he grew so concerned about supporters’ hostility to and misconceptions about Obama that he corrected and essentially chided them. “He is a decent person,” he told a man who had volunteered that he was “scared” of an Obama presidency. When a woman at that same campaign event chimed in that Obama was “an Arab,” McCain told her that she was wrong. “He’s a decent family man,” he added. -NYT
Other choice words for the sitting President include:
- "Trump is never to blame and quick to malign onetime allies who have grown inconvenient."
- "Trump demands instant gratification."
- "Trump invites pity for all the slights he suffers plus plenty that he only imagines, and he readily boasts about achievements actual and hallucinated."
- "Such grace is unimaginable from Trump. That’s why it’s so vital that McCain is using his waning time to model it."
Meanwhile, other journalists, such as Australia's Caitlin Johnstone, can't wait for McCain to "Please Just Fucking Die Already," writing - (before his cancer diagnosis) "This evil man has supported every US military bloodbath in his obscenely long lifetime, and has been actively involved in both promoting and manufacturing support for every single despicable act of military invention throughout his entire career."
I sincerely, genuinely hope that Arizona Senator John McCain’s heart stops beating, and that he is subsequently declared dead by qualified medical professionals very soon. I don’t wish him a painful death, I don’t wish him a slow death, I don’t wish him an unnatural or violent death; I only wish that he becomes incapable of facilitating the merciless slaughter of any more human beings.
Johnstone sums up precisely why the left (in this case the New York Times) has taken up a defense of McCain in his waning years:
Like all neocons have done since the advent of neoconservatism, McCain promotes a very hawkish, anti-detente position toward Russia, which he has been advancing like a good little horseman of the apocalypse at every possible opportunity, from Syria to sanctions to NATO provocations. For this reason he has found himself in what is hopefully the twilight of his life the sudden darling of the Democratic party, which, in its relentless striving to do literally anything other than move left, has been trying to make red-baiting and McCarthyism cool again. -Caitlin Johnstone
"So yeah, if John McCain could go ahead and die sooner rather than later, that would be awesome."
Johnstone's reply to McCain's cancer diagnosis? "Good"