On the EDge: RIP, Sen. McCain, you were a national treasure

John McCain, date and location unspecified | St. George News

OPINION – Thank you, God, for Sen. John McCain.

You couldn’t have picked a better time to lend him to us.

And, thank you for his life of service.

You almost took him from us twice when he was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy, flying ground-attack missions over Vietnam. There was the horrible fire on the USS Forrestal he survived on July 29, 1967, that took 24 hours to control and snuffed the lives of 134 sailors. Three months later, McCain’s plane was shot down over Hanoi. He broke both arms and a leg when he ejected from the aircraft, was taken prisoner and beaten so regularly and so severely during his six years of captivity that his arms were permanently damaged.

But, you knew we needed him and saw him through the danger and torture.

He went on to represent Arizona in the House and Senate, where he continued a remarkable life of service.

And, we are grateful.

John McCain was a man of courage and honor and through his life and service, taught us some important lessons, lessons valuable to us all whether we live along the Beltway or Southern Utah.

He valued honor.

He valued service.

He honored truth.

He was an enigmatic politician, unafraid to challenge his own party when he thought it appropriate and unafraid to cross the aisle to work with the Democrats. It wasn’t lip service, it was a genuine interest in putting aside the political aims of the party for the good of the nation.

That’s why it was not surprising for him to support the Bush tax cut extension in 2006 while working with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy on immigration reform that included legalization, guest worker programs and permits and legislation for a number of border enforcement laws.

He challenged escalation of the Iraq War.

He voted to convict President Bill Clinton of perjury and obstruction of justice during his impeachment.

He stumped for campaign finance reform.

He supported the line-item veto.

He was the point man on veterans issues.

He opposed the practice of waterboarding and called for civil treatment of prisoners of war captured by American and allied forces.

That earned him the reputation for being a maverick willing to stand alone on principle if need be. So, while our politics often conflicted, I developed a deep and abiding respect for the man.

His need to be true to himself outweighed the blind loyalty so many politicians have for their party.

As McCain so readily admitted on numerous occasions, he was, like all of us, also a flawed person.

All of this made him a complex and interesting man.

“Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended,” said former President George W. Bush. “Some voices are so vibrant, it is hard to think of them stilled. John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order. He was a public servant in the finest traditions of our country. And to me, he was a friend whom I’ll deeply miss.”

There was a sense of elegance and grace about McCain.

He wasn’t a bully, he wasn’t a braggart. His humility grew with each passing year and although a fierce proponent of traditional conservatism – an old-school Republican, in other words – his gracious demeanor shone through, even in defeat.

When some internet meme-driven neo-conservative aimed false and malicious charges at Barack Obama, his opponent during the 2008 presidential election, McCain refused to wallow in the mud when a woman attending one of his rallies said that she did not trust Obama because “he’s an Arab.”

“No ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues,” McCain abruptly replied.

Although it didn’t sit well with party leaders, it was an indication of his desire for civility in American politics, something that, despite his differences with others in subsequent years, remained a part of him until his death. He could be firm, he could be passionate, but he was never cruel, never a mudslinger, never vindictive.

It was particularly evident in his concession speech the night he lost the election.

Sen. Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed,” McCain said. “No doubt many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

“I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.”

On his passing, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said that the nation lost “an important voice for national unity.”

All it takes is a quick glimpse at the comments section of our Facebook page or those attached to the pieces we write to see that as a lesson that has been largely ignored, that the civility McCain so passionately tried to achieve in word and deed is lacking from the national and local conversation where civility has been abandoned. Of course, McCain did not fit neatly into the radical conservatism that has such a stranglehold on Southern Utah where, because of his independence and because he maintained traditional Republican virtue, he was cast as an unpopular figure.

Our nation hasn’t seen this much discord and upheaval since the Civil War.

This does not mean we should extinguish the fire in our bellies and the passion for that which we believe. In fact, the times demand courageous and righteous acts of the heart.

But, the times also demand that we listen and act in the best interests of the nation, not the best interests of the party, otherwise we are doomed to more anger, more divisiveness, more hate.

So, whether we live on the Beltway or in some small outpost in flyover country, we must adopt the principles and character of John McCain, a true American hero and unquestionable patriot.

Rest in peace, Sen. McCain.

You were a national treasure.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • AnnieMated August 28, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Well said, Ed. Well said. ❤

  • Redbud August 28, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    McCain got exactly what he deserved for hating on Trump. McCain will not be missed. He is awarded no points, and we are all dumber for having listened to him. He sweet-talked all the snowflakes into believing he was a saint, when he in fact was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    • Striker4 August 30, 2018 at 10:07 am

      You will get what you deserve when you die to and hopefully people will make rude and ignorant comments about you as well and I won’t miss you

      • Redbud August 30, 2018 at 12:33 pm

        I don’t care if people make rude comments about me when I’m dead, at least I know I lived a great life supporting Trump! That’s all that matters. No one will miss you either so don’t think you’re all that and then some.

        • Striker4 August 30, 2018 at 5:56 pm

          Oh I am and more …..have a nice day

          • Redbud August 30, 2018 at 9:14 pm

            Fake news.

  • Jmfixitman August 28, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Yes, he was a treasure right up until he stuck it to the country with Obama Care, over a juvenile spat with the president…

  • Red2Blue310 August 28, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    McCain will be missed. He told truth to power. As a war hero McCain makes Trump look silly with his “bone spurs” hoax excuse. Trump deserves to choke on a chicken bone, his kind of meal. Chicken. God bless the McCain family in their grief.

    • Redbud August 28, 2018 at 10:16 pm

      Not only will McCain not be missed, he’s already been forgotten. M – A – G – A! The swamp is draining as we speak!

      • Red2Blue310 August 29, 2018 at 8:10 am

        You suffer. Its call Trump delusion.

        • Redbud August 30, 2018 at 12:34 pm

          You need to be submissive and obey Trump!

      • Striker4 August 30, 2018 at 5:57 pm

        Yes the swamp is being drained and you will be gone

  • mesaman August 28, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    I liked the part where Mr Ed was conversing with God and that’s the most endearing comment I can make on him. As for Red2blew, No one, even Mr Ed is arguing that McCain had an horrific military career, at least on this blogsite, and your comments on Trump choking would put you high on the list of bumpkins and scurrilous twits that call the lefist socialist party their home.

  • commonsense August 28, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    John McCain was pompous and narcissistic. He lost in 2007 to BHO because voters couldn’t relate to him. He couldn’t recall during an interview how many homes he owned. Lately he became obscessed with his hatred of Trump, two big egos colliding. He recently hurt Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare and enact other important legislation.
    His moral compas was driven by politics and ego. The conservative state of Arizona will be well served by two new senators.

    • Redbud August 28, 2018 at 11:15 pm

      Well said comments, I agree!

    • tcrider August 29, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      The reason John McCain did not win presidential run, was because of the gops’ choice of the
      sarah skanklin, the skankiest stupidest candidate besides the pos trump. The skankster should of
      been trumps running partner.

      • Redbud August 30, 2018 at 9:16 pm

        He never had a chance anyways, even if she had not run with him.

  • Diana August 28, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    Really? Have some respect, people! A man just died from battling brain cancer. Shame on you!

  • Redbud August 29, 2018 at 1:34 am

    Karma has no respect. You reap what you sow. He had no respect for Trump, so he deserves no respect in return! By blocking the Obamacare repeal, he himself makes other people who have cancer suffer in return. His legacy is failing the American people on health care.

    • iceplant August 29, 2018 at 5:56 am

      “Karma has no respect. You reap what you sow.”

      Oh, how those words will come back to haunt you. Karma loves people like you.

      • Redbud August 29, 2018 at 12:12 pm

        Iceplant, I show respect to people who deserve respect. The only karma that will come back to haunt me, is good karma, so I say bring it! You should be the one who is worried.

        • AnnieMated August 29, 2018 at 5:42 pm

          It’s cowardly scumbags like you that give humanity a bad name.

          • Redbud August 29, 2018 at 11:28 pm

            Annie, no one wants to read your comments, so do yourself and everyone else a huge favor and just remain quiet. You are part of the swamp, so you already know what happens next, and we all have Trump to thank for that. You should be ashamed for not respecting our President. You bring shame to the entire country and your community.

          • bikeandfish August 30, 2018 at 10:05 am

            So Redbud, you say out of one side of your mouth that you only “show respect to people who deserve respect” yet somehow Anniemated “should be ashamed for not respecting our President.” You can’t have it both ways. Roughly half the voting public of the US (likely more) finds Trump unworthy of respect because of his words and behavior. The office doesn’t innately bestow respect on the individual occupying it, they have to earn it.

          • Striker4 August 30, 2018 at 5:59 pm

            Redbud nobody wants to read your comments either

  • max August 29, 2018 at 11:53 am

    That is one less RINO to deal with. That would be Republican In Name Only. That is all he was

    • Red2Blue310 August 29, 2018 at 6:33 pm

      At least not a coward like so many GOP.

  • Canaanite August 29, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    Let’s not forget our hero’s involvement in the mishap which led to a fire on the USS Forrestal which killed 133 sailors, the Keating 5 Savings and Loan scandal that cheated Seniors back in the 80s. The cabal’s GOP pick to run and lose against the Manchurian Kenyan usurper, war monger of the Middle East who help create ISIS, earned the title “no name” due to his involvement (treason) with the attempted coup against the President of the United States, double crossed his constituents voting against the repeal of ACA and a pedo enabler of the human and drug conduit through AZ from Mexico.

  • Happy Commenter August 29, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Libbys are so deceived it’s almost funny! The media moves the carrot and they follow it! Truth does not matter to the left.

  • Striker4 August 30, 2018 at 6:51 am

    I got a new pair of socks last week

  • bikeandfish August 30, 2018 at 10:19 am

    I think there is a wide array of ways to honor a person for their complexity that doesn’t involve the binary choices of “national treasure/hero” and a TDS RINO scumbag. The fact is we should be cautious to lionize anyone with all of their complexities and faults. McCain survived and exhibited phenomenal courage in the face of torture and that is to be commended. He had moments of bipartisan flexibility to help govern our country and seemed to care for our country. He did show some unusual humility in his Congressional career in a field that tends to exhibit extreme arrogance.

    But his mistakes and faults were also plentiful. He was a persistent warhawk who advocated for the invasion of a sovereign nation completely unrelated to 9/11. That cheerleading and mistake alone should haunt his legacy and our country. That war led to millions of displaced citizens and 100,000-650,000 Iraqis killed (hard to pinpoint). Advocating for war comes with the consequence of accounting for the human toll and there is significant blood on McCain’s hands for a war that was not justified by the attacks on American soil. We devastated a country and its people.

    There are many damning examples but that is the biggest of our time. Instead of turning McCain into a “national treasure” we should recognize that faults of that approach and learn from the immense power our federal representatives can wield with what appears to be impunity. You don’t get to harm millions of innocent civilians in such phenomenally diverse ways and become a hero.

    • Happy Commenter August 30, 2018 at 11:21 am


    • Redbud August 30, 2018 at 12:30 pm

      McCain will not be missed at all, and your comments are not truthful.

      • bikeandfish August 30, 2018 at 1:03 pm

        Cute. Would love to see evidence of how my “comments are not truthful”.

        And clearly McCain is already missed by many so your comment is fundamentally wrong. If you meant you will not miss McCain at all then I think that message is clear.

        • Redbud August 30, 2018 at 9:21 pm

          All anyone has to do is read your comments to realize you help proliferate fake news. It’s ok because you are part of the swamp, and the swamp will be drained before you even know what happened. We will all be eternally thankful for Trump, and all the good he does in our lives. We are indebted to him for his greatness and glory.

          • bikeandfish August 30, 2018 at 11:08 pm

            Too funny. And what is fake news in my comment? Please do tell.

            Wow, just going all in on Trump the Saviour, huh? Gonna replace the Bible with daily talking points and the rambling tweets of a petty old man? Golden statue of Trump?

      • Happy Commenter August 30, 2018 at 1:42 pm

        B&F shall now give you a long winded lecture on why the air is blue…….

      • Striker4 August 30, 2018 at 6:00 pm

        You won’t be missed either

        • Redbud August 30, 2018 at 9:23 pm

          No one will rescue you from the swamp. Repent now, and Trump will save you before you sink.

    • Redbud August 31, 2018 at 11:50 am

      Fake news! The swamp is being drained. Praise Trump!

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