Sen. John McCain is in all likelihood on his last legs and may pass away soon. He leaves behind a career in which he was a war hero, but also one in which he was a U.S. senator who did some awful things.
When someone as famous as McCain dies, the go-to function for the mainstream press is to paint a gauzy, nonsensical, ahistorical view of that person. I think this is wrong.
It isn’t that I think when he expires I believe the press should say “and I hope he burns in hell,” but the man was a major national figure for over 50 years. He came relatively close to being elected president.
He wasn’t an angel on the way there.
So yes, there should be massive coverage of his bravery while being held captive in the Hanoi Hilton, and for sure his occasional deviations from party orthodoxy are worth including.
But McCain also reduced the idea of bombing a sovereign Middle Eastern nation, Iran, down to a Beach Boys parody as he sung “Bomb Iran.”
McCain was a central figure in the “Keating Five” scandal, in which he pressured regulators to back off financier Charles Keating, who was a major donor to McCain’s campaign.
McCain voted against making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday.
And time and time and time and time and time again, McCain has advocated a military response to international issues.
He has pushed for war with both Democratic and Republican presidents in the White House. Advocating for war has easily been his most infamous and go-to position, with little public concession to the carnage those actions would entail.
McCain’s closest friends – Sens. Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman – have effectively bonded with McCain thanks to all three men really loving war.
Those factors (and I’m sure others) should come into play when the media is covering McCain’s passing.