Tags: john mccain | maverick | memorial | remembrance

John McCain Used His Setbacks as Stepping Stones

John McCain Used His Setbacks as Stepping Stones
People are reflected as they look at the front page of the Arizona Republic featuring a picture of late Sen. John McCain at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on August 27, 2018. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

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Monday, 27 August 2018 10:32 AM Current | Bio | Archive

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority it's time to pause and reflect."
— Mark Twain.

He was called "the Maverick." He was finally a man of the west, who carved out his own career that often defied any political party orthodoxy.

When you think of Senator John McCain you think of integrity and courage. You think of the man who championed campaign finance reform, the McCain-Feingold Act. In fact, in 1989 he was one of the so-called "Keating Five," which were the five U.S. Senators who were involved in a corrupt Savings and Loan fraud case. Charles Keating went to prison, the five U.S. senators saw their careers cut short, all that is, except for John McCain who tediously fought his way back from scandal to become one of the most admired and respected voices in American politics. He ran for president in 2008. McCain was an example of a man who did not let a setback destroy him.

I first met Senator McCain in 1989, backstage at a patriotic July 4th event in Phoenix. He has been a prisoner of war at the so-called "Hanoi Hilton" in North Vietnam. My stepmother's brother, General Robinson Risner had been held there with him. They experienced torture at the hands of their guards and the prisoners were all brothers because of it. Over the years I was able to interview the Senator on numerous occasions. He was always direct, straightforward, and unabashed.

Senator McCain, like many presidents, presidential candidates, and great men, was close to his mother and had an absent father. The senior McCain, John S. McCain, Jr., was commander of the U.S. Naval forces during the Vietnam War. When John was growing up his father was almost always gone. During the war, the North Vietnamese offered to release the son, out of respect for the father. But John McCain refused and stayed on to suffer torture with his fellow American prisoners.

The Senator survived many remarkable public political squabbles.

In 2000, the campaign of George W. Bush spread rumors before the South Carolina primary that Senator John McCain was a traitor who fathered a black child.

In 2016, Donald J. Trump attracted a crowd of 10,000 to a Phoenix, Arizona, rally. McCain called the people "crazies." Trump counter punched, saying that he preferred heroes that "weren't captured." It became a public feud that was never resolved. The McCain family announced that President Trump would not be welcome at the Senator's funeral.

On August 25, 2018, shortly before Senator John McCain's passing, President Donald Trump tweeted to the McCain family, "Our hearts and prayers are with you."

Doug Wead is a presidential historian who served as a senior adviser to the Ron Paul presidential campaign. He is a New York Times best-selling author, philanthropist, and adviser to two presidents, including President George H.W. Bush. He is the author of "Game of Thorns: Inside the Clinton-Trump Campaign of 2016." Read more reports from Doug Wead — Click Here Now.

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He was called "the Maverick." He was finally a man of the west, who carved out his own career that often defied any political party orthodoxy.
john mccain, maverick, memorial, remembrance
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2018-32-27
Monday, 27 August 2018 10:32 AM
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