It will be a long goodbye to one of America's favourite sons. The feisty Republican Senator pulled the plug on himself medically and decided to call off all treatment for his brain cancer. At a time when medical facilities pad bills by prolonging the inevitable and using the ‘ventilator’ option to create a pretense of life, McCain just walked away. That’s it Clyde, better hit the road.
Within a day he was gone.
It is said that greatness sometimes nudges you but won’t stay over. McCain had that relationship with greatness for she came, she stopped but she wouldn’t give him the key. It is really a question of timing and he could well have owned the Oval Office for eight years but it just never happened.
Just as he has been in life, a gutsy, scarred veteran of battle, a war hero and POW in Vietnam, who suffered five years in prison, was incarcerated in the infamous Hanoi Hilton and came out with broken limbs and shoulder after being tortured, McCain also became an impediment to the Trump cavalcade, taking on the President and wrecking his attempt to derail Obamacare with his vote.
His legendary takedown of Trump — in which McCain described the Trump-Vladimir Putin news conference during the Helsinki summit in July — will be on every obituary. McCain had called the news conference as "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory." He had also said that Trump was "not only unable but unwilling to stand up to Putin".
Even as he went 'gently into the night' and did not fight against the 'dying of the light' national grief over McCain's death will hurt an already beleaguered Trump even more for the USA will step out to salute this all American hero for this is the stuff of top guns.
The media will be fulsome in praise for the fallen hero and the mourning will be genuine and cut across party lines. Tawdry in comparison will be the sort of mocking comment Trump made about him: "I like people who did not get caught (in war)."
As the family gathered for the final hours it has to be said that even in this last act McCain has placed on record the need to recognise futility and walk away from life, thereby establishing a precedent that at some point medical science is a waste of effort, money and time. That a man has to do what a man has to do and let that bed go free for someone who still has a chance.
Six-time Senator from Arizona, McCain's passing will be an emotional watershed at a time when political heroes in the US government are a rare breed. The Hall of Fame’s walls are bare of those one can look up to for inspiration and the nation faces the possibility of an impeached president.
McCain's death will underscore up there on Capitol Hill the huge gap between the real guts and glory of men of honour and the tinsel toy soldiers who guard the Alamo today.
In the last few months, Americans at all levels have been a part of his fight against this particularly aggressive cancer. They have watched him come out punching straight from the hospital, come to work with scars visible and pain in his eyes. Cried with him this April when he tweeted to his son-in-law to take care of his daughter. His recently published book, The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations, has received powerful reviews.
His closest friend, Vice President Joe Biden, who lost a son to cancer told McCain’s daughter, "Your dad is one of my best friends. Your dad goes after me hammer and tongs. We're like two brothers who were somehow raised by different fathers because of our points of view."
And that love will endure. Even as one of the last is laid to rest.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Aug 26, 2018 14:42:17 IST