There is no better example of political doublespeak than those who choose to take pot shots at Sen. John McCain.
We saw that this week when Sen. Ron Johnson questioned McCain’s mental state following the Arizona senator’s surprising vote on the Senate bill to repeal Obamacare.
In a radio interview concerning McCain’s vote on Obamacare, Sen. Johnson said of McCain: “He has a brain tumor right now -- that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning, some of that might have factored in.”
The backlash Sen. Johnson received over that statement resulted in an about face one day later when he said, “I was just expressing sympathy for his condition. Again, I’ve got the greatest respect for John McCain. He’s not impaired in any way, shape or form.”
Johnson’s McCain doublespeak is reminiscent of President Donald Trump’s 2015 statements concerning McCain’s status as a war hero: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
Later, after taking a public relations beating for his statement, Trump relented and said, “If somebody’s a prisoner, I consider them a war hero.”
It’s one thing to challenge Sen. McCain on his voting record. Taking shots at his personal motivation, integrity or his judgment doesn’t sit well with many Americans no matter their political leanings.
Few Americans have persevered in the face of adversity as boldly or consistently as has McCain over the past 60 years. He spent five-and-half years in the North Vietnamese “Hanoi Hilton” prison camp where he was repeatedly tortured, including two years in solitary confinement. He never allowed himself to be a victim and dedicated his professional life to “heal the wounds that exist, particularly among our veterans, and to move forward with a positive relationship” with North Vietnam.
When McCain found himself on the losing end of a one-sided presidential election to Barack Obama in 2008, McCain did not fade away in the sunset. Instead, he took the defeat in stride and immediately went back to work in the U.S. Senate.
And, just recently, shortly after having a cancerous tumor removed from his brain, McCain showed his moxie by showing up to cast his vote in the contentious repeal of Obamacare. That in itself was a bold move, but even more noteworthy was McCain’s choice to cross party lines and oppose his GOP colleagues. He defended his vote as “the right choice.”
McCain’s consistency at standing tall in the face of adversity clearly defines the man’s character.
Politicians who want to take pot shots at the man need to keep that in mind before they open their mouth.