Weekend Open Thread: In Appreciation of John McCain and His Downturned Thumb


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This shot is taken from RedState.com, where it is labeled “Deranged John McCain.” Maybe it’s because I’m nearing the narrower end of middle-age myself, but while I can see why this image doesn’t look flattering, it does look honest as hell — an old man deeply angered (though not at all deranged) by what he sees happening in his beloved Senate. If it’s “not a pretty picture,” the health care bill he torpedoed was even less so. He earned that visage, and displayed it aptly.

Arizona Senator John McCain is ceasing his treatment for brain cancer, and so will be leaving us soon.  I’ve had some strong disagreements with his positions over the years, but he has been a brave human being and a decent Republican Senator, never more so than when he — to adapt William F. Buckley’s phrase describing conservatism — “stands athwart [President Trump’s debasement] of history yelling ‘STOP!'”  (And yes, he killed a lot of human beings as a wartime pilot, but whatever stain comes from that is less upon the executioner than on those who ordered the execution: in this case, the American people through its leaders.  Hating McCain over that misses the larger responsibility.)

His record over the past decade is mixed — we can disagree on which action describes which pole.  He ushered in the Trump Era (and the Blueing of well-educated Orange County) with his selection, ten years ago almost to the day (it was announced on Aug. 29), of Sarah Palin to be his running-mate. on the one hand.  (Remember: his preferred choice was Joe Lieberman.  Oy vey!)  On the other, there was the nineteen seconds during which he come forward and dramatically turned his thumb down, in the manner of Ancient Rome, on the nihilistic Republican “Skinny Repeal” health care bill.  (That was a year ago on July 28.  He explains that vote here.)

We’re granted perhaps a week, more or less, to state our appreciations of him (or not) while he’s alive — and if you can’t stand that, you can congratulate yourself on being to my left, or to my crazy right as the case may be — so while this week’s Weekend Open Thread may end up being about many things, it is foremost about this.  And remember: if you eventually see President Trump at his funeral, it is apparently against Senator McCain’s wishes.   That all said, talk about that and whatever else you’d like with reasonable discretion, decorum, and dignity, to the extent you can.

Update 7/25: John McCain died within a day or so of this post.  Our condolences to his family and loved ones.  President Trump praised the man about whom he once said “I like people who WEREN’T captured,” and appropriately followed that up by incorrectly coloring in the U.S. flag with a bunch of schoolchildren.  (Dear History: I am not kidding there.)


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. One of his daughters co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)