If you don’t have time to watch the family’s spokesman read it in the clip below, you can read it yourself right here. Fun fact about that spokesman, Rick Davis: In addition to managing McCain’s two presidential campaigns, he’s best known for the consulting firm he co-founded with — ta da — Paul Manafort. The distance between McCainWorld and TrumpWorld is less than it might appear.
Have other politicians written farewell letters to be read on the occasion of their deaths? I can’t remember one, not even by McCain’s pal Ted Kennedy. Then again, many pols die suddenly. McCain’s long final ordeal with cancer gave him an opportunity to reflect that not everyone gets.
The first half of his statement is an expression of love and gratitude to his family and his country. The second half is basically the case against Trumpism, replete with an allusion to walls.
We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic. A nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the progress. We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been. We are 325 million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates.
But, we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country, we’ll get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do. Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening. I feel it powerfully still. Do not despair of our present difficulties, we believe always in the promise and greatness of America because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit, we never surrender, we never hide from history, we make history. Farewell fellow Americans. God bless you and god bless America.
His optimism about the country’s future is wildly misplaced but you can’t begrudge a man that when he’s at death’s door and consumed with his legacy. To be pessimistic at that moment would be to admit that, in some small way, your life’s work was for nothing. And it would send you off into history having left an unhappy aftertaste in the public’s mouth. No one wants bitterness to be their last experience of someone whom they admired. You owe your acolytes hope and the conviction that victory is inevitable, however unlikely that is. McCain did his duty, as he always did.
The American Legion petitioned POTUS earlier today, successfully, to re-lower the White House flag to half-staff in McCain’s honor. Trump must be under a *lot* of pressure to have given in on that after McCain jabbed at him in his farewell letter:
— Bruce Leshan (@BruceLeshan) August 27, 2018
The press corps has been badgering him to say something complimentary of McCain at every White House photo op today and Trump has stuck to stony silence so far. If he ends up relenting, it’ll probably only be because even his cronies — even Ivanka — have felt moved to praise the deceased, making Trump’s refusal seem that much more petty by contrast. Republican voters who admired McCain (not that there were that many by the end) are likely to notice. More importantly, so are McCain’s friends in the Senate, whose support Trump still needs. They’re not going to kill the Kavanaugh nomination over this but if a chance arises to spite the White House on a lower-stakes vote as payback, they’ll take it.
Exit question: Why did Ivanka break with dad to say something nice about Maverick? Was it sincere admiration? Damage control on the White House’s behalf? The Kushners wanting to show their friends in New York that they’re not with Papa Trump on this one?