Friday, July 28, 2017

Thank you, Ted Kennedy

John McCain & Ted Kennedy

 So John McCain has finally stepped up to the plate and done the right thing. “The Lion Of The Senate” has chosen this moment of high drama to scuttle the GOP’s evisceration of health care in this country. It was truly a moment when he showed up on the Senate floor to high applause from his colleagues, just weeks following surgery for brain cancer. I do not doubt Senator McCain’s inner constitution or his determination to serve the people of Arizona, so a question then inevitably comes: “why now?”. Why would he choose this moment, when he so easily could have deep-sixed his party’s utterly flawed and non-workable legislation at pretty much any time in the past? What is motivating him to do this now?

The answer lies, I believe, with two things. One is the cancer itself (and the stark reminder of one’s mortality that it brings), and the other is the memory of McCain’s longtime colleague, the previous “Lion Of The Senate”, the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Despite being on opposite sides of the aisle, the two men were indeed quite close and worked together many times to craft and pass legislation that was in the end for the good of the country. Kennedy was for decades the unflinching proponent for proper health care for all Americans, something that McCain respected, even if his party’s dogma would not let him accept it wholeheartedly. For all of his flaws, Ted Kennedy was a legislator worthy of such respect, and that was something McCain never forgot, as his numerous praises for Kennedy in the years following the latter’s death from brain cancer can attest to.

The fact that Senator Kennedy died from the very same form of aggressive cancer that Senator McCain was just operated on for was certainly not lost on the Arizonan. He remembers well that Kennedy was gone a mere months after his diagnosis. At eighty years of age, McCain has no doubt had to flirt with the terrifying post-surgical thought: the end is near. He knows now that both politically and health-wise, there is not much time left. He won’t be holding any more campaigns. He is no longer beholden to his party, nor to the President—a man he despises, and with good reason. It must have given him great pleasure to be able to stick the knife between the President’s political ribs and twist it (“et tu, Brute”, indeed), following the unwarranted and disparaging remarks that the orange fool gave about McCain’s military service. The only voices the Senator must listen to now are those of his constituents, and that of his conscience.

I am under no illusion that Senator McCain is some sort of saint. His approval of Sarah Palin as his VP candidate was proof that notion is a fallacy. But neither is he a devil, and as a senior citizen, he is well aware of the consequences for his age group should Trumpcare go through. He knows what will happen to their premiums. He’s seen the numbers. It is that, along with his disdain for his fellow Senators who simply go along with things just so they can lick up the President’s table scraps, his own inevitable passing, and his respect for Senator Kennedy’s decades-long fight to ensure that McCain’s fellow seniors are looked after (along with all Americans), that are driving him now, and which drove his thumb dramatically downward on the Senate floor.

So thank you, Teddy. Thank you not only for your service to the country and the state of Massachusetts, but for providing such a heroic and stalwart example for the rest of us…something that even an occasionally courageous Republican can follow.

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