U.S. Senator John McCain, in a farewell memoir as he battles brain cancer, lashes out at President Donald Trump as failing to uphold American values.
“He has declined to distinguish the actions of our government from the crimes of despotic ones,” the 81-year-old McCain said of Trump in an excerpt from his new book, The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations.
“The appearance of toughness, or a reality show facsimile of toughness, seems to matter more than any of our values,” McCain wrote.
McCain, a one-time prisoner of war in North Vietnam in the 1960s, the losing Republican candidate for the presidency in 2008 and six times elected as a senator from Arizona, says he has no regrets as he serves what his illness has forced him to admit, that it is his last term in the Senate.
“‘The world is a fine place and worth fighting for and I hate very much to leave it,’ spoke my hero, Robert Jordan, in For Whom the Bell Tolls,” McCain says in his book.
“And I do, too,” he continued “I hate to leave it. But I don’t have a complaint. Not one.I t’s been quite a ride. I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make a peace.I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.”
He wrote, “I’m freer than colleagues who will face the voters again. I can speak my mind without fearing the consequences much. And I can vote my conscience without worry.”
“I don’t think I’m free to disregard my constituents’ wishes, far from it,” he said.” I don’t feel excused from keeping pledges I made. Nor do I wish to harm my party’s prospects. But I do feel a pressing responsibility to give Americans my best judgment.”
He decried the “decline in civility and cooperation, and increased obstructionism” he has witnessed in Congress and politically fractious Washington. He said there are government officials and lawmakers who are “committed to meeting the challenges of the hour. They might not be the most colorful politicians in town, but they’re usually the ones who get the most done.”
“Before I leave I’d like to see our politics begin to return to the purposes and practices that distinguish our history from the history of other nations,” he wrote. “I would like to see us recover our sense that we are more alike than different.”
“We are citizens of a republic made of shared ideals forged in a new world to replace the tribal enmities that tormented the old one,” McCain said. “Even in times of political turmoil such as these, we share that awesome heritage and the responsibility to embrace it.”
The outspoken McCain has had a contentious relationship with the Republican Trump. During Trump’s long run to the presidency, he belittled McCain’s 5 1/2 years in captivity in North Vietnam after the naval fighter pilot was shot down in a bombing run over Hanoi.
“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
Last year, McCain defied Trump and cast the deciding vote against the Republican plan supported by the president to repeal national health care policies that had been championed by Trump’s Democratic predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
Since December, McCain has undergone treatment in Arizona, occasionally offering his commentary on national and international issues, but staying away from Washington.