John McCain: A Champion of Compromise

The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal Media. The opinions expressed below are the author's own.

John McCain, 81, has announced that he is in his last term as a Republican senator for his home state of Arizona, reports a article published today.

"This is my last term. If I hadn't admitted that to myself before this summer, a stage 4 cancer diagnosis acts as ungentle persuasion," he wrote in his book, "The Restless Wave," according to the excerpt published on Apple News.

McCain, who calls himself a champion of compromise, went on to say of the U.S. and her citizens, "I would like to see us recover our sense that we are more alike than different. We are citizens of a republic made of shared ideals forged in a new world to replace the tribal enmities that tormented the old one. Even in times of political turmoil such as these, we share that awesome heritage and the responsibility to embrace it."

Such eloquent words form a positive, elder statesman-like vision of McCain. But McCain is not without a history of faults and blemishes. He has plenty of both. Among them:

During the 1980s, McCain was one of five United States senators comprising the so-called Keating Five and was accused of corruption. During a five year period, Charles Keating Jr. of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association gave him $112,000 in "lawful" contributions.

Then, there’s the story of how McCain callously treated his first wife, Carol—granted, after he returned to the United States following five and a half torturous years as a POW.

Yes, both of those examples are from long ago. But just Google “John McCain’s many mistakes,” and you’ll find a number of other, more recent examples of his sometimes questionable character and decision-making ability.

But despite some less-than-glowing examples of McCain’s behavior over the years, he has also made commendable decisions:

In 1989, McCain repaid the $112,000 Charles Keating Jr. had given him. In 2001, the Senate passed a broad overhaul of the U.S. campaign finance system. It was a bill that McCain had labored over for six years in cooperation with Wisconsin Democratic Senator Russell Feingold. The New York Times reported at the time that, “Central to the McCain-Feingold bill was a controversial ban on the unrestricted contributions to political parties known as ‘soft money.’” The law was then narrowly upheld by the Supreme Court in 2003.

Then, there was the time McCain was hosting a town hall in Lakeville, Minn., during his 2008 presidential run against Barack Obama. “During the town hall, several members of the audience were screaming "terrorist" and "liar" every time McCain mentioned Obama,” Politico reported.

"I have to tell you, Sen. Obama is a decent person and a person you don't have to be scared of as president of the United States," McCain told one member of the crowd who said the prospect of an Obama presidency scared him.

“When a woman told McCain that she couldn't trust Obama because ‘he's an Arab,’ the Senator took his microphone back and spoke out against the conspiracy theory that had spread during the campaign.

"No, ma'am," McCain said. "He's a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign's all about.”

An Inc. article probably best sums up my perspective on McCain: "Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, and whether you agree with McCain on policy issues or not, he's a role model and a public servant who has served his country for more than 60 years--as a Navy officer, a prisoner of war, and a United States senator and presidential nominee."

McCain himself says of his life: “I don't have a complaint. Not one. It's been quite a ride. I've known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make a peace. I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times."