Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - McCain, war hero and political maverick, dead at 81



McCain, war hero and political maverick, dead at 81

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
US senator John McCaini died on Saturday after losing a battle to brain cancer, his office said. AFp

McCain, war hero and political maverick, dead at 81

John McCain, a war hero and towering figure in US politics known for reaching across the aisle in an increasingly divided nation, died on Saturday following a battle with brain cancer. He was 81.

The senator’s passing marked the end of a 35-year political career that brought the independent-minded Republican within reach of the White House as his party’s presidential nominee.

“It’s been quite a ride,” McCain, who was tortured during five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, wrote in a memoir published in May.

“I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war and helped make peace. I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.”

McCain, who was being treated at his ranch near Sedona, Arizona, was surrounded by his wife Cindy and his family during his final hours.

“He was a great fire who burned bright, and we lived in his light and warmth,” said Meghan McCain, one of the late senator’s seven children – three of them from a previous marriage.

Near the driveway to his ranch a sign read “Sen McCain, thank you for your service”.

In Washington, flags on Capitol Hill and the White House were lowered to half mast in his honour.

McCain’s body will lie in state in the Capitol rotunda ahead of a funeral ceremony at the National Cathedral, the New York Times reported.

He will then lie in state in the Arizona state capitol and be buried at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Dates for the events have not yet been announced.

McCain made it known that he did not want Donald Trump to attend his funeral, US media reported.

President Trump, who once mocked McCain’s war record, said he sent his “deepest sympathies and respect”.

A rare Republican critic of Trump, McCain accused the president of “naivete,” “egotism” and of sympathising with autocrats.

He cast a decisive vote last year that killed Republican attempts to repeal Barack Obama’s health care reforms, something Trump never forgave.

All living former US presidents lined up to praise McCain’s deep integrity.

“We are all in his debt,” said Obama,

the Democrat to whom McCain lost the presidency in 2008.

“We shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher – the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched and sacrificed.”

McCain “was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order,” said Republican president George W Bush (2001-09).

The late senator requested that both Obama and Bush deliver eulogies at his funeral, US media reported.

Democrat president Bill Clinton (1993-2001) praised McCain, saying he “frequently put partisanship aside,” while Republican president George HW Bush (1989-93) hailed him as “a public servant of the rarest courage.”

McCain “was a man of honor, a true patriot in the best sense of the word,” wrote Democrat president Jimmy Carter (1977-81). “Americans will be forever grateful for his heroic military service & steadfast integrity.”

‘Atlanticist’, Israel supporter

McCain spent more than three decades in the Senate, looming large in debates over war and peace and the moral direction of the nation.

Earlier he served as a US representative 1983-87.

McCain had been away from the Senate floor since December, remaining at his ranch for treatment of glioblastoma – the same form of brain cancer that took the life of another Senate giant, Democrat Ted Kennedy, in 2009.

Two former senators who became vice presidents, Democrats Al Gore and Joe Biden, praised McCain respectively as someone who would “work to find common ground” and “a friend” who “will be missed dearly.”

Sarah Palin, whom McCain plucked from obscurity to become his 2008 White House running mate, described him as “an American original” and “a fighter, never afraid to stand for his beliefs.”

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said he would seek to rename a Senate building in his honour.

From abroad, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said McCain’s “lifetime of public service” was “an inspiration to millions,” while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised him as “a great American patriot” whose “support for Israel never wavered.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said McCain would be remembered as an “Atlanticist” and NATO supporter, while Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he “stood for an America that is a reliable and close partner ... that takes responsibility for others out of strength, and stands by its values and principles.”

The China Daily referred to him as a “titan of American politics” and “conscience of the Republican party.”

Praise for McCain however was not universal: comments on the far-right Breitbart website slammed him for voting against the Obamacare repeal. Some even revived a debunked smear that McCain divulged secrets when he was a Vietnamese prisoner and participated in propaganda films.

Chinese social media users called him an “enemy of China” for his hawkish foreign policy views.

“Another anti-China warrior is down, godspeed, you can finally rest, there’s no China in heaven,” wrote one user on the Twitter-like Weibo.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42