IMAGE: James Stewart playing Senator Jeff Smith in the film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”
War hero John McCain is no country bumpkin or a naïve senator, like the fictional character in the film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” But there are some similarities; they both portray servants of the people. Senator McCain also plays a real life story, his own, that of a man whose integrity and true grit has given some of us hope, that not everything is broken in Washington. Recently, he joined two fellow republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, both of equal integrity and grit, to defeat the passing of a senseless bill called a “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
There’s no doubt that the gallant stand of the two women senators will be forever inscribed in the annals of congressional debate. They both bravely stood their ground and said “no” when a “no” was required. They acted with courage and sanity, with the people they serve in mind, regardless of threats and the spiteful words hurled at them by a turbid, clueless and vengeful president. Trump said afterwards that the three, McCain, Collins and Murkowski, along with the democrats in the Senate, had “let the American people down.”
The defeat of the last-ditch maneuver to at least pare the current health care act was a huge blow to some, but perhaps not so much to a number of timid souls on the republican side of the Senate aisle. They probably welcomed the acts of the three that broke rank with the party. My take is that many unprincipled GOP senators dodged the proverbial bullet. They didn’t have to own a do-nothing and ominous bill that if it ever became law, would come back to haunt them and perhaps derail their political careers.
McCain’s “no” was the surprise. He was expected by his Senate cohorts to follow suit, to go with his party’s majority and approve the skinny repeal. They should have known better. He had announced his position days before when he returned to the Senate floor to try to inject some sense into the health care reform discourse.
“I hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us,” Senator McCain said. He talked about working together, about reaching across the aisle and about coming up with viable solutions for the problems of the country.
“What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? We’re not getting much done apart,” he added. For sure, not many dry eyes remained in that hall of Congress after McCain spoke. Not many across America either, or at homes and at places of business. It was a great speech; it was uniting oratory that made sense. Then again, John McCain has often made sense.
Unlike Senator Jeff Smith, the fictional character played by James Stewart in the movie previously mentioned and in which Mr. Smith launches a filibuster to attempt to derail an appropriations bill, Senator McCain returned to Washington not to talk forever or to try to thwart a political cause. He went there to tell us all that America and everything that is good about America must survive. He reminded us that we need to mend our ways and to work together again, not against each other.
He didn’t say the following, but I believe he meant it: If we don’t do it, our nation as we’ve known it, won’t be around for long.
John Sidney McCain III knows about surviving and about America. That’s a given. We know of his POW past and about being beaten, both physically and mentally, by the Viet Cong. We also know of his political survival. It hasn’t been easy for him, mainly because of his tendency to break with his party and do what is good for the people and for America. That’s why he voted against the skinny repeal bill.
And that is why he returned to Washington last week, less than two weeks after undergoing a serious surgical procedure. Senator McCain returned to deliver for all of the people. And for our country.
AUTHOR: Pedro Chávez