Dear Senator McCain

Dear Senator McCain,

One of my father’s prized possessions was a picture that he had taken of him with your predecessor Senator Barry Goldwater. It’s important to note that my father was a big old liberal and, as chip off the old block, I couldn’t figure out why he would so proudly display a picture of him and a scary Arizona Republican. My dad told me that politicians by and large were “bootlickers,” and that while he disagreed with most of the positions Senator Goldwater held, he was no “bootlicker.” When my dad ran across Senator Goldwater in the late 1980’s at a Phoenix restaurant he was able to tell the senator just that. According to my dad Senator Goldwater responded, “I don’t think anyone has ever given me a better compliment.”

It seems that a prominent politician who once suggested your weren’t a hero has now taken to mocking you again. To be honest, it’s not sitting well with me. In an era when the First Lady’s primary platform is to combat bullying, how is it that her husband does nothing but bully those who would dare to disagree with him? I feel this incredible need to rise up in defense of you, but then I think, I doubt you need a sweaty, overweight, middle-aged high school band director to defend you. You are a bona fide war hero. You have served your country as a Naval officer, a U.S. Representative, a U.S. senator, and as a candidate for president of the United States. You don’t need anyone to come to your defense at this stage of your career. What you need is our thanks and our appreciation.

In a recent speech to the Senate you said this, “I’ve known and admired men and women in the Senate who played much more than a small role in our history, true statesmen, giants of American politics. They came from both parties, and from various backgrounds. Their ambitions were frequently in conflict. They held different views on the issues of the day. And they often had very serious disagreements about how best to serve the national interest. But they knew that however sharp and heartfelt their disputes, however keen their ambitions, they had an obligation to work collaboratively to ensure the Senate discharged its constitutional responsibilities effectively.” You are telling your colleagues, and the rest of us, that we have to work together to solve the challenges that face us as a nation. Sadly, no one seems to be listening.

I have looked at my father’s photo with Senator Goldwater in recent days and thought of you Senator McCain. In an era when politicians of both parties are turning bootlicking into an art form, you continue to resist it. In the midst of your battle with cancer you continue to be a “maverick.” While it doesn’t seem like it should be extraordinary for a politician to act on principle on a consistent basis, in today’s landscape it is extraordinary and it should be applauded. It is unlikely that I will run into you in a Phoenix restaurant, so let me take this opportunity to say this to you, Senator: Thank you.


Patrick J. Kearney