The general problem with considering the contributions of individuals in the public sphere is that for some reason, many seem compelled to want to render his or her entire life down to a single word. “Honorable”. “Hero”. “Charlatan”.
Reality is that each public individual’s life is an opus of work. And just as Mozart wrote a few stinkers alongside masterpieces, each of those works in a person’s life somewhat stands alone. So, to Mr. McCain:
- Your personal military service to this nation was honorable. Thank you.
- Your time spent in a prison camp, by all accounts, was noteworthy and courageous. Thank you.
- In the view of free speech conservatives, your co-sponsorship of campaign finance reform with Russ Feingold was traitorous. It was a bill that tried to take on the Constitution, and as a result, it was overturned by the SCOTUS. You were wrong.
- You ran a decent campaign in 2000. Thanks.
- You opposed the Bush tax cuts. This turned you into a darling (for a short time) of the liberal media. You were right to oppose those tax cuts in light of 9/11 and the new spending we had to engage in, but you allowed yourself to be used by the liberal media to stir up angst against Mr. Bush that was not warranted. This was not honorable.
- You never saw a war you didn’t like. For some reason, you believed that the only view of the world that made sense was yours, and you insulted fellow republicans publicly if their world view was different than yours. Again, this was not honorable.
- You refused to engage on key personal issues with Mr. Obama in 2008 that went to Mr. Obama’s character, or lack thereof. You took the moral high road, which I suppose is to your credit, but you lost a winnable election because of that, your admittedly poor understanding of economics, and by allowing the GOP to take the blame for the events of 2008, when in fact the seeds of the meltdown were bipartisan and were sown over previous decades.
- You spent the Obama years as another liberal media friend, to the detriment of your party. You insulted publicly the small-government centrists that arose in 2008, and refused to work with them. Again, this was not honorable.
- When the GOP President wrongly insulted you, you didn’t take the high road; you took the low road. Not honorable.
- You’re dying of cancer, and have been for some months. Yet, you haven’t relinquished your seat. Why? This has caused a problem with your party, as they work around the fact that you’re not there to vote.
So, McCain, like all of us, is a mixed bag. Very mixed.