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The Politics of McCain’s Passing

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Personally, I have nothing but respect for the military service of the late Senator John McCain of Arizona, who passed away Saturday after a long battle with brain cancer. And I don’t have anything to say about the way his family is mourning his death, people should be given as wide of a berth as they need to handle losing a loved one. It’s the reaction of everyone else in the political sphere with which I take issue.


Feel free to call me a jerk, but when he wasn’t criticizing Republicans, no elected liberal or leftist journalist had anything good to say about the man when he was alive, so it’s a bit odd to see Democrats clamoring to honor him.

Senate Democrats want to rename a Senate office building in his honor. While that may sound nice, it’s opportunistic going into election season for Democrats to be seen as calling for something “bi-partisan” before people vote. They’ve done nothing but obstruct and delay everything they could, now they want to come off as willing to work across the aisle. There was no similar push or non-stop media coverage when Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye died in 2013 and he won the Congressional Medal of Honor and lost an arm in World War II.

In a joint statement, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and retiring squish Senator Jeff Flake said, “Renaming the Russell building in his honor ensures that his story will be told with the hope that inspiration becomes motivation and future leaders emerge with his brand of courage and commitment.”

I get that you say nice things about someone when they pass, but Schumer is playing a game here. He wants to stick this in the eyes of Republicans by forcing them to support a Democrat-led action or oppose something honoring McCain at a time when the nation is paying attention. Flake just wants to flip the bird one more time to President Trump, who is the reason he’s not seeking reelection.

Some senators are saying it’s time to pump the brakes on this rush, that they’d be happy to honor McCain somehow, just not right now and not by renaming one of the three Senate office buildings. Journalists, who also only had nice things to say about McCain when he was bucking GOP leadership, are cheerleading this push. They will go wall-to-wall with the coverage of his memorial service and funeral procession, not acknowledging how they demonized him in 2008 when he dared to run against Barack Obama and introduced Sarah Palin to the national scene.


In 2008, Congressman John Lewis compared McCain to racist Democrat George Wallace, now Lewis is singing his praises. The hypocrisy is too much for me. John McCain loved our country and served it his whole life, but you can be a hero without being a saint. And none of us are saints.

I voted for McCain in the 2000 Michigan primary, I found him to be honest and a refreshing change from politics as usual. By 2008, I don’t remember who I voted for in the primary and only voted for him because the alternative was Obama. His most widely-known piece of legislation was the campaign finance law McCain/Feingold. I thought it was unconstitutional and done out of spite over the outside groups that mobilized against him in the 2000 fights against George W Bush. The Supreme Court agreed.

When it comes to honoring McCain, I have no problem with the concept, but I do have an issue with naming buildings after politicians in Washington, DC. If the states senators represented want to honor them by naming anything after them, I’m all for it, and if the Navy wants to name a ship after John McCain (like they have his father), I’m all in. But the names should be stripped from federal buildings.

Times change, what was once acceptable becomes unacceptable as society advances. Senator Richard Brevard Russell, whose name now adorns the building they’re pushing to rename, was a staunch Democrat who opposed civil rights legislation. Why did they honor him in the first place? Who cares? In 50 years people would be wondering why they honored McCain and there will be a push to change the name again. It’s the “circle of politics.”


It’s time to stop. Members of Congress are temporary representatives of “we the people.” They aren’t better than anyone else, and Lord knows they aren’t our moral superiors. If the people in the states they represented want to honor them, good. But no one senator or congressman represents the whole country, no matter how they are portrayed in the media.

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