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May 16, 2018

BYRON YORK: On The McCain Controversy.

McCain’s years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam will always define his biography. He showed courage and endurance under conditions most Americans cannot imagine. He is rightly celebrated for that.

But McCain’s valor came in a war America did not win and which remains divisive to this day. And some participants in the Vietnam War are still mad at each other; for example, the retired Air Force general who called McCain “songbird,” Thomas McInerney, himself has an impressive record of hundreds of missions over Vietnam. More than a decade ago, the Vietnam fight was over John Kerry and swift boats. Divisions remain.

In politics, McCain’s political career has been marked by a sometimes testy relationship with Republican Party doctrine and voters. In the 2000 GOP presidential primaries, his defeat of then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the New Hampshire primary led to a nasty showdown in South Carolina. Bush won, McCain lost, and some in the press came away with the impression that Bush had smeared McCain. On the other hand, some Republicans came away with the impression that McCain, who styled himself a “maverick,” would go out of his way to irritate his party.

Meanwhile, McCain cultivated a relationship with the media that was so close he sometimes referred to them as “my base.” McCain knew that many press types admired him because of his fondness for sticking it to the GOP. “Loving McCain was a way of expressing a negative opinion about the Republican Party,” longtime campaign adviser Mike Murphy said of the press in an interview with the Washington Post in 2006. . . .

McCain’s final act of angering Republicans came in July 2017, when he cast the decisive vote to kill the GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Many Republicans felt it was a bad bill, and any lawmaker would have good reason to oppose it, yet some still saw McCain’s vote as a way of getting back at Trump.

So McCain has a war record of pure heroism. He has a political record of real achievement, but also perhaps more than his share of the controversy that goes with politics.

So which to emphasize in what might be McCain’s final days? Here’s a thought: Why not dwell on the good, especially since it was so good? When someone dies, it really is fitting to look at the best that person did. And John McCain lived a great, patriotic life, doing more in service to the U.S. than his critics, or almost anyone else. When he dies, why not remember that?

Good advice, but he’s not dead yet, he’s still alive and taking his own shots. And he hasn’t retired, which means he’s still in politics, not above them, even when they get nasty.