John McCain is a tough individual. He spent five and a half years in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp, enduring routine torture. Sheer resolve enabled him to survive, returning to the United States to eventually become a US senator now serving his sixth term.
No matter how much progressives may disagree with McCain, he has also lived up the “maverick” moniker. He has broken with his party on a number of issues. His approach to gun control has been sensible compared to the 2nd Amendment fundamentalism of his peers. No doubt inspired by his own experiences in Vietnam, McCain has long denounced the use of torture against terror suspects and enemy combatants.
Now, the 80 year old faces a new, trying battle: brain cancer.
McCain was absent form the senate this week, recovering from a surgery that removed a blood clot above his eye. His convalescence was an initial reason why the GOP’s disastrous Senate healthcare bill didn’t come to floor for debate (though enough GOP senators have now broken with the party to doom Mitch McConnell’s ill-conceived legislative designs).
During McCain’s procedure, doctors uncovered a glioblastoma, a type of malignant brain tumor. The Mayo Clinic where he is being treated is now weighing potential options with McCain’s family, including potential chemotherapy.
During the tumultuous jockeying over the healthcare bill during McCain’s absence, an RNC member retweeted an article calling for the ailing senator’s death, writing “Amen” in response. Though the GOP operative named Diana Orrock deleted the tweet, the internet does not forget so easily:
— The Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) July 20, 2017
This brutal remark is a harrowing reminder of the extremist drift of the GOP, and further underscores the import of the moderate approach McCain has exercised during his political career. What the GOP turns into, time will only tell.