I know it’s odd to hear from me. I was not your biggest fan when you were alive. I always recognized and appreciated your time in the military, both as combatant and prisoner of war. I also appreciated your efforts on behalf of the military after you reached Congress. But I attacked you, too.
I attacked you for years, in fact. That “jobs Americans will not do” rubbed me the wrong way, and seemed especially tone-deaf at a time when Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs” was airing on television. The fact was that there are jobs Americans won’t do for pathetically low wages. Leaving that last bit out insulted Americans and simultaneously indicated a willingness to keep immigrants working at those low prices, which would be unfair to them. That was offensive on both levels… but it was also a great love song to the free market.
In a time where we have had successive Presidents attacking the free market, that’s an odd breath of fresh air.
I know President Obama wasn’t exactly a full-on free trade person – he had his markets that he loved and those he tried to actively destroy – and you spoke highly of him anyway. Some of that effusive praise was another thing you did that rubbed me wrong. But President Trump has attacked free trade in a way few others in American history have done. Things are getting worse, not better. Maybe you felt we could ride out Obama and get back to Republican control. If so, your statements would have been more about maintaining national peace than playing to the media. I’ll never know what was in your heart.
Oh, I also disagreed with you on the prosecution of the Iraq war. I felt, and still strongly feel, that the Geneva Conventions do not encourage both sides to act in a humane way if one side is expected to hold to them even as the other side does not. I think that if one side refuses to agree to the ultimate oxymoron of a humane war, then both sides should attack with only their national morality guiding them. You, on the other hand, weren’t merely a veteran but a tortured prisoner. I understood the rationale for your balking, and I could not fault you personally for it.
But Trump will also never know what was in your heart, nor was he a war prisoner… and that brings me around to the point of this letter.
You’ll have noticed that President Trump has recently taken to attacking you on the campaign trail. This, despite you being dead.
After all of his self-described “counterpunching” that his fans cheer about, where he swears he never attacks first, I’m eager to hear them explain how he was attacked first by a man who died of brain cancer months beforehand.
He’s been attacking you for your vote on Obamacare in particular, but segueing from that to other things. He’s decided that due to the displeasure some (like me) had about your policy decisions while on Earth, you’re an easy scapegoat for some of his many failures as President.
Some people view you as a great national hero. I admit, I share that view but not to the extent that they do. I recall and honor your actions in war and I appreciate your early votes in Congress, but I think you went afield in your final decades.
What you did not do, however, was abandon your appreciation for America. Not America as “John McCain’s America” but America as it was founded and developed. Our history. To hear you reviled by a man who dodged military service is obnoxious. That he would use your policy choices as an excuse to demonize you is obscene.
This is a man who was pro-choice up to and including partial-birth abortion for most of his life and continues to fund Planned Parenthood. This is a man who echoed your line about jobs Americans won’t do on the campaign trail ten years after you’d been getting grief about it, and after you’d long since stopped repeating the line. He’s lived a life of sleaze, dishonesty, theft, and disparagement. He’s embodied each of the “seven deadly sins” even as you. like most people, worked hard to reject them.
I understand that it may be difficult watching your friends and family deal with his attacks. I ask you to be mollified by the knowledge that in the span of a few short years, you will likely never have to encounter the man again. I will not speak for his eventual repentance, but considering his insistence to this day that he has never done anything requiring forgiveness, I find it difficult to imagine he will be joining you in Heaven.
P.S. On the subject of those friends… for years, I thought you were dragging Lindsey Graham away from originalism. It’s become apparent in the last year or so, however, that you were likely the only reason he maintained any degree of sanity. I wish to apologize for my mistaken comments in that regard, and give you a bit of retroactive thanks. Rest well.