Long time friend of the blog TBOGG breaks the sad news that beloved Fenway is no longer with us:
I always wish there was something I could say or do to help when people lose their pets, but really all you can do is tell them how sorry you are.
Statues are powerful things. When we cast figures in bronze, we immortalize their contributions to history.
It took far too long for Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to join Central Park's 23 male statues, but I'm so glad we're finally here. https://t.co/JEL8MbhcUc
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 23, 2019
New York’s Central Park to erect first sculpture honoring women https://t.co/oPFswerkZP
— The Guardian (@guardian) October 21, 2019
[The 19th Amendment was passed in 1919, but not ratified until August 1920.]
… [A] city commission voted on Monday to erect a monument depicting three pioneers in the fight for women’s rights: Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth.
The likeness of Truth, an escaped slave and abolitionist, was belatedly added to the sculpture in response to criticism that African American suffragists were initially excluded.
“This statue conveys the power of women working together to bring about revolutionary change in our society,” said Pam Elam, president of the monumental women not-for-profit of volunteer advocates, historians and community leaders, which has gained key support from the Manhattan borough president, Gale Brewer.
The organization’s statue fund privately raised $1.5m to create and maintain the new monument and for an associated educational program.
The work will be dedicated in August 2020 on the Mall, an elegant park promenade lined with American elm trees. Next year marks 100 years since American women won the right to vote…
Barack Obama on Elijah Cummings: "His life validates the things we tell ourselves about what’s possible in this country — not guaranteed, but possible … We have the capacity, the chance, as individuals and as a nation, to root ourselves in good soil."
Via CBS pic.twitter.com/6E90sRIhrz
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 25, 2019
My friend @DreadScottArt got sick of civil war reenactments, and decided to stage a slave rebellion reenactment.
On 11/8-9, hundreds of reenactors will march on New Orleans and recreate the the largest slave rebellion in US history. https://t.co/VsNEiNMDJ1
— Molly Crabapple🇵🇷 (@mollycrabapple) October 26, 2019
Well, this is bloody awful news.
Since the President’s horrendous decision to pull US Special Forces, as well as the US Marine Corps artillery batteries supporting them out of Syria, a cottage industry has sprung up among the President’s supporters and defenders that this is really the fault of President Obama because President Obama and his administration either had no Syria strategy or they had a bad one. And that this is the ultimate driver of the President’s betrayal of our Syrian Kurdish and Arab partners in the Syrian Democratic Forces that has enabled Erdogan to begin a campaign that will likely include an attempted ethnocide of Syria’s Kurds.
Some of these defenders would not know, let alone understand, low intensity warfare and/or strategy and policy if it walked up and bit them. Some actually know better. But all of them are actually grappling with a strawman. President Obama and his administration had two different, but related strategies regarding Syria. The first was to quite simply not get sucked into the Syrian Civil War. Humanitarian assistance would be provided to refugees seeking shelter in adjacent states, internally displaced Syrians that made it to where the US was operating along the Syrian-Iraqi border or within Syria would be provided for and protected, but the US would not get pulled into the Syrian Civil War, and the underlying proxy wars by regional powers that had been partially driving it, and risk escalating that conflict as it would have regional consequences. Frankly, from a semi-informed observer as this was playing out, this drove a number of President Obama’s actual advisors and senior national security officials nuts as several of them wanted the US to intervene because of the humanitarian crisis being created by the Syrian Civil War. Instead President Obama opted for what was, essentially, a containment strategy of trying to keep the Syrian Civil War and the proxy wars being fought by Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran under its cover contained within Syria so as not to destabilize the rest of the region.
This strategy was really an assumption of risk strategy in order to buy time. The US, as the leader and largest and most militarily powerful member of the multinational coalition operating in the area, would assume the risk that the Syrian Civil War and the proxy wars for regional hegemony subsumed within it, would and could be kept within Syria. That they would not spill out and over its borders and negatively impact Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel. And that they wouldn’t negatively effect the two sets of high level diplomatic negotiations being undertaken in the region: the Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative of 2014 and what we now know were the JCPOA+5 negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear energy and weapons programs. President Obama had decided to play for time. To assume the risk that either the Syrian Civil War, the proxy wars for regional hegemony taking place within it, or both wouldn’t blow up into a larger conflagration, spill over Syria’s borders, and engulf the entire region.
It is also important to remember that in 2013, when Bashar Assad’s chemical attack on his own citizenry crossed the red line that President Obama had unequivocally stated, there were calls for both a retaliatory strike to punish and deter Assad and for Congress to weigh in before any action was taken, President Obama did, in fact, seek Congressional approval for such a strike. The majority Republican House of Representatives refused to provide President Obama with the authorization to make that strike and enforce the red line he had set. Congressman Paul Ryan, the chair of House Budget Committee at the time, went so far as to assert that the called for strikes would not achieve US strategic objectives and that they would be “feckless show of force” that would “only damage our credibility”. A New York real estate developer and reality TV star named Donald Trump tweeted that “The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria, fix U.S.A.” As a result of Congress denying him explicit military authorization to engage Syrian military targets outside of the Authorization for Military Force for the global war on terror, President Obama did not order a strike.
The Obama administrations’s second Syria strategy was for pursuing the campaign against ISIS. Specifically to apply low intensity and unconventional warfare doctrine to reduce ISIS’s physical caliphate that spanned Iraq and Syria’s shared border, and, ultimately, to reduce ISIS. This is the “by, with, and through” strategy that I’ve referenced here before and that you may have seen mentioned or referred to in news reports and other analyses. Simply put the “by, with, and through” strategy focuses on finding reliable host country partners who are willing to fight on their own behalf and then sending the US’s unconventional warfare specialists, the Green Berets (Special Forces) to embed with them in a train, advise, and assist mission. This is a very, very light footprint strategy. Small teams of US Special Forces known as Operational Detachments Alpha (ODAs), with specific enablers from other elements of US Special Operations Forces and, most likely some of the CIA’s paramilitary operators at the outset, as well as a small support element were sent into Syria to identify, recruit, and vet local Syrians that would then be trained, advised, and assisted with operations against ISIS. Eventually a small contingent of US Marine artillery were also moved into the US led Coalition’s theater of operations in Syria to provide fire support for the ODAs and their host country partners they were embedded with.
Train, advise, and assist has a very specific meaning here. Training means that the Soldiers on the ODAs would teach the Syrian Kurds and Arabs that are known as the Syrian Democratic Forces how to fight more effectively against ISIS. These host country fighters didn’t need to be taught how to fight, both the Syrian Kurds and Arabs have their own ways of war. What the Special Forces Soldiers on the ODAs did do was to teach them to fight more effectively at the tactical and operational levels against the specific type of enemy that is ISIS within the theater strategy that was established based on the US’s national strategy against ISIS. Training blends into advising and assisting, especially in regard to logistics and planning. As the Syrian Democratic Forces became a more effective host country fighting force, especially within the context of the type of campaign that had been designed to reduce ISIS’s physical caliphate, defeat them, and then retard their ability to continue to terrorize and destabilize the region*, the US Special Forces would do less assisting in the actual combat operations. Part of the assistance was also air support. The US led Coalition flew sorties day and night as necessary to degrade ISIS targets on the ground. Here is the link to the continually updated list of these sorties and strikes.
The US and its coalition partners had been trying to successfully adapt and implement a “by, with, and through” strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan since GEN (ret) Petraues’s revised Counterinsurgency Manual, FM 3-24: Counterinsurgency, arrived to great fanfare in the mid aughts. The key idea behind a “by, with, and through” strategy is to empower the lowest societal level you can work with, ie the population layer/element, work from that level up (work from the bottom up), and then reconcile the tactical and operations gains made with the state to state strategic efforts, such as diplomatic initiatives and the use of economic and information power, being made at the top end. This never really worked during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom (OIF and OEF) because we didn’t actually institute a true “by, with, and through” strategy. Rather, we had US Conventional Forces and our Coalition partners, also usually Conventional Forces, trying to implement and realize something that is the specialty of US Special Forces. I’m not knocking the efforts put in or the actual tactical and operational successes achieved, as there were and are many, just that the size of Iraq and Afghanistan and the need to have Conventional Forces work outside their expertise by undertaking an unconventional warfare strategy, did not lead to theater strategic success. Often because of failures at the national and theater strategic levels and despite the tactical and operational successes.
The size, scope, and scale of OIF and OEF made it impossible to let Special Forces take the lead as we simply do not have enough Green Berets to work one entire theater the size of Iraq, let alone two with the second theater being the size of Afghanistan. Even if we pulled in all the other US Special Operations Forces – SEALs, Operational Detachment Delta/Delta Force, Rangers, Air Commandos, Recon Marines, the Intelligence Support Activity (Gray Fox/Field Operating Group), Civil Affairs, and PSYOPers – and had them pick up the slack while ignoring their own missions and mission specialty areas, we still wouldn’t have had enough Special Operations Forces to do the job. There is a reason that Marines and Special Operations Forces fight battles and conventional Armies fight campaigns and wars in the Land Domain; because the former do not have the capacity to scale to the latter.
The campaign against ISIS in Syria, however, was different. The theater of operations was limited in size. We had been able to identify, recruit, vet, and then train reliable host country partners that we and our Coalition allies could work “by, with, and through”. A limited number of Operational Detachment Alphas, plussed up with personnel from other SOF elements, with a small support element and a small amount of Marine artillery batteries for fire support were tremendously successful! Perhaps beyond anyone’s legitimate expectations based on the mixed results from trying to apply the “by, with, and through” strategy during the latter portions of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. And that success carried over to maintaining the peace in the area of operations once ISIS’s physical caliphate had been reduced. About 1,000 US Special Forces and Special Operating Forces, working with the SDF, had been able to reduce ISIS’s physical caliphate to nothing because the SDF, as the host country partners, did the hard, dangerous, and deadly work. Which is why the SDF suffered over 10,000 killed in action and the US Special Forces partnering with them suffered zero KIA in this campaign.
What the President has thrown away with his rash and ill considered pull out and betrayal of our Syrian Kurdish and Arab allies, and what his defenders and supporters don’t understand in their rush to defend him by blaming all of this on President Obama and his administration, is just how successful this campaign against ISIS has been. How much reward we reaped in exchange for the amount of blood and treasure wagered and risk assumed. And how well it was working to maintain the peace in this area of Syria by preventing ISIS from reestablishing a stable physical ground base of operations from which to try to reestablish the physical caliphate.
There wasn’t one single Obama administration strategy for Syria, there were two distinct and specific strategies. The first was to assume risk by not intervening in the Syrian Civil War in order to buy time for what were considered to be other regional priorities – the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and the JCPOA+5 negotiations and the reduction of ISIS. The second was an unconventional warfare strategy to degrade and reduce ISIS’s physical caliphate and reduce ISIS’s capacity to continue to terrorize and destabilize the region. While the first strategy’s efficacy is debatable, the second strategy to counter ISIS has been successful beyond all possible expectations. And the President has thrown away all of that success and by doing so betrayed our Syrian Kurdish and Arab partners, weakened and diminished the United States power and ability to project power, and degraded our moral standing. He has further destabilized the region. He has handed the Russians, the Syrians, the Iranians, and the Turks a victory without them having to actually contest for it. And he has most likely set the conditions for Erdogan to try to finally solve his Kurdish problem.
This post is dedicated to the late Sergeant First Class (ret) Terry Caldwell. Terry was my Area Specialty Officer (ASO) and taught me everything I know about small team operations and the practical realities of asymmetric, irregular, and unconventional warfare. Rest well Old Man!
* Interestingly enough the chart at the previous link is based on the four phases of conventional warfare, not the seven phases of unconventional warfare used by US Special Forces, which is the result of the commend element of CJTF-OIR being a conventional 3 star Corps headquarters. There is also a full description of the campaign at that link.
Disclosure: In May 2015 I was on site to present the kickoff and keynote briefing of XVIII Airborne Corps’ strategic assessment week and was on site throughout the week as the cultural subject matter expert/cultural advisor as their preparation for assuming command of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve. The briefing focused on the regional strategic and geo-strategic considerations of the Levantine problem set and the campaign against ISIS. It was specifically prepared for the Commanding General, Command Group, senior staff, as much of their staff as could be jammed into the auditorium, and a variety of attendees by secure videoteleconference at a number of outstations. Also in attendance were several senior leaders (general officers) from our Coalition partners who were on the Coalition senior staff. In the weeks after the briefing I prepared a strategic assessment on how to leverage the campaign against ISIS to set the conditions in the theater of operations to secure the peace after the termination of military operations. My work for XVIII Airborne Corps was as a private consultant being paid on contract. I was asked to do this work by the then Corps’ G5 (Officer in Charge of Plans), who I’d both previously worked with at III Corps and who was a student at USAWC when I was the cultural advisor at both. My civilian mobilization/appointment as a senior civil servant at both USAWC and the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue assigned to US Army Europe were not political appointments. I was not then, nor have a I ever been, part of President Obama’s appointed foreign policy, national security, and/or defense policy team, though I did provide significant support to a number of those appointees during my civilian mobilization from 2010 through 2014.
If you’ve got some free time on Tuesday October 1st and want to do a good deed, this gentlemen deserves an appropriate send off.
Veteran Edward K. Pearson who passed at the age of 80 passed without family to mourn him. He’ll be buried October 1 at 12:30 at Sarasota National Cemetery. Anyone who can attend is welcome. pic.twitter.com/2XWJumcEmY
— Chris Levesque (@Chris_Levesque_) September 29, 2019
Given his age, my guess is he’s either a Korean War or, more likely, a Vietnam Veteran (or both). The funeral home handling his interment invites anyone who is able to to attend.
Edward K Pearson
Naples – Edward K. Pearson, 80 of Naples passed on August 31, 2019, interment will be on Tuesday October 1, at 12:30 pm at Sarasota National Cemetery 9810 State Road 72
Sarasota, FL. This Veteran has no immediate family all are welcome to attend
Published in Naples Daily News on Sept. 29, 2019
So if you’re in the Sarasota area, or can get there without too much fuss, and are free or can clear some time on Tuesday in the late morning/early afternoon, I’m sure your attendance will be welcomed.
Schlemazel’s memorial service was today. His niece Laura sent me this write up to share with you all:
Schlemazel was memorialized today in the beautiful French Park in Plymouth MN. The weather was ideal, sunny and in the 60’s. Michael and Edith represented the BJ community. In typical fashion there were no green balloons to be had last minute at Cub Foods due to a shortage of time and helium. The only things left were princesses, welcome to boy or girl and one purple monkey with a banana. The only thing I could think of was the universe and Mark conspired to make a monkey of me as our family last name is Gibbons, one last joke. I had intended to put a nice little booklet together of all of the wonderful comments you all made but I’m afraid family obligations made that impossible. I did have the chance to tell his wife about how I read all 200+ comments you all made 2 nights before he died and how he both laughed and cried as I read. He fell asleep that night knowing he was surrounded by love which is all anyone can ask for. Life is short and can end abruptly and unexpectedly so you don’t get the chance to say goodbye. I am grateful I got to share this community with him and got to say farewell in the best way possible given the circumstances. I am grateful that you all gave us that gift. If you would like to set a meet up sometime in the future. I promise to find a green balloon! — Laura Too
I just wanted to put up a reminder post, before it gets driven from my mind again with everything going on, for Schlemazel’s memorial, which is tomorrow.
From his niece Laura:
Mark’s memorial will be on Saturday September 28th, 12:00 at the Skyview shelter at French Park in Plymouth, MN. Anyone who knew him is welcome to come, and anyone who wants to write a memorial to him I will print out like I did for him at the hospital and put in a form for his family. Thanks for making such a wonderful family!
You all know what you need to do!
I meant to get to this on the 20th, but all the excitement from Infrastructure Week got me carried away with other matters.
Thirty-three years and three days ago, Neerja Bhanot, a 23 year old flight attendant, risked and ultimately sacrificed her life protecting the passengers of Pan Am 73, during an attempted and thwarted highjacking by Islamic extremists before the plane could take off from Karachi, Pakistan.
Remembering Neerja Bhanot on hijacked Pan Am Flight 73. She died heroically, saving Pan Am passengers from terrorists on Sept. 5, 1986.
Neerja Bhanot was senior flight purser on the Empress of the Seas, a Pan Am 747 hijacked at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi by four armed men from the Abu Nidal organization en route to Frankfurt and New York. During a 17-hour ordeal, she helped the three-member cockpit crew escape in order to ground the plane so it could not be flown. Bhanot hid passports of passengers so the hijackers could not determine passenger nationalities. She also managed to open the emergency door assisting a number of passengers to escape from the plane. As the hijackers opened fire on passengers and crew, Neerja Bhanot lost her life shielding three children from bullets.
In 1987, she became the youngest and first woman recipient of the Ashoka Chakra award, India’s highest civilian decoration for bravery.
In 2006 she was awarded the 2006 Special Courage Award by the US Department of Justice. (Read more at Times of India.)
In 2016 a film entitled “Neerja” was released, portraying her herioc life.
Today the Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust continues to do great work in memory of this amazing woman. You can learn about the Neerja Awards and the trust at https://www.facebook.com/The-Neerja-Bhanot-Page-109643142413675/
Here’s some more details about her in an excellent Twitter thread:
2) This week in September 1986, Flight Attendant Neerja Bhanot, 23 of Chandigarh, India, was shot dead while shielding three children on the hijacked Pan Am Flight 73.
— Terry (@TerranceCreamer) September 20, 2019
4) When the terrorists demanded to know who the Americans were on the flight so they could execute them, Bhanot gathered all the passports and hid those belonging to Americans under seat cushions.
— Terry (@TerranceCreamer) September 20, 2019
6) She was one of the last people onboard and found three children still hiding. As Neerja led the children to safety, the surviving terrorists spotted the children and opened fire on them. Neerja jumped in the way of the bullets and was mortally wounded.
— Terry (@TerranceCreamer) September 20, 2019
8) The 2016 Indian Hindu-language biographical thriller drama, Neerja, is about her life.
— Terry (@TerranceCreamer) September 20, 2019
The world could use more Neerja Bhanots!
Thread here for any remembrances, or just literary fandom.
I’ll start: the writing speaks for itself. Others speak of her unparalleled commitment to other writers, of color, of course, but also to anyone driven to the vital act of committing words to paper:
I just retweeted that one. Then there’s this:
And with that, over to you.
Images: Toni Morrison lecture at West Point Military Academy in March, 2013. photo credited to West Point.
For those who didn’t or weren’t able to donate to David’s/Scotian’s GoFundMe and didn’t get the update by email earlier today, David passed away last night. I got a text a little while ago from whom I’m assuming is his wife also informing me as I was in direct contact with him over the past week. John will be reaching out to her this afternoon and he, I, or both of us will have some updates for you later today.
Please keep David’s widow in your thoughts.
A legendary legislator has passed:
Michigan Democrat John Dingell, the longest-serving member ever of Congress who helped write most of the nation’s major environmental and energy laws, died Thursday, his wife said. He was 92.
The Dearborn statesman was a champion of the auto industry and was credited with increasing access to health care, among other accomplishments. Dingell helped write most of America’s major environmental and energy laws.
He was also absolutely hysterical on twitter, and I can only imagine how funny he was in person.
Valued commenter and member of the Balloon Juice community Schlemazel was taken off life support today and has passed. I have been chatting with his niece, Laura, for the past few days (and she is a delightful person so that bloodline has some good genes- I hope she realizes she has big shoes to fill here), and she stated that the plan was for him to be surrounded by loved ones. She broke the news earlier:
I only have a few moments for an update to all of you most wonderful people. I am sorry to break the news that his all to brief life is over. I thank each and everyone of you for the kind, funny, snarky beautiful comments. I have to believe that he heard Roger Stone was arrested but ducked out before he heard his orangeness for a final time. And OzarkHillbilly – do you have any idea how long that amount of fucks takes to read??? I think the poem I will save for his memorial. I will update more later, but know he is at peace and he went out knowing you all loved him dearly.
Take care, man, and don’t forget to feed Tunch.
Hi, everybody! Jewish Steel here. How’ve you been?
By a strange coincidence I was just watching this the other day. I was expecting some virtuoso hillbilly guitar. What I was not expecting was Steve Martinesque anti-comedy. Where there aren’t jokes necessarily, but the humor is in the stupidity, surprising turns, and flashes of insight contained in the material itself. I was kind of shocked at the sophistication of it all.
Barack Obama, quoting from 'For Whom the Bell Tolls,' McCain's favorite novel: "Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 1, 2018
Among us Celts, it’s not a real funeral until the various sub-clans start brangling over decorum and bringing up decades-old grievances, lightly coded for ‘civility’. You think ol’ John was the only dude kept an updated list of who wasn’t invited to his final planting?
This funeral has done more to make clear Donald Trump is not actually a President than perhaps any other event.
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) September 1, 2018
Literally every Washington power player — Democratic and Republican, past and present — is at McCain's funeral, except the sitting president, who is tweeting his grievances about the DOJ and FBI.
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) September 1, 2018
I think that not all of what we are hearing is subtext. It's description of a man in full, a country for everyone. It seems like subtext only because of the shrunken man in the White House and his enablers. https://t.co/z2c4UU4HnV
— Cheryl Rofer (@CherylRofer) September 1, 2018
Watching the news now, I just thought of this moment this morning, for no reason at all.
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) September 1, 2018
Sure there's a state funeral on but those paying club members holding their MAGA-themed wedding at his private golf resort aren't gonna schmooze themselves. https://t.co/TlofQyq7ka
— zeddy (@Zeddary) September 1, 2018
Obama golfed. W golfed. Clinton golfed.
Trump makes us foot the bill for trips to promote his own private chain of bribery mills.
— zeddy (@Zeddary) September 1, 2018
Jared and Ivanka making a big entrance at the McCain funeral… oh my
— Susan Glasser (@sbg1) September 1, 2018
Kissinger wrecked the 1968 peace talks so that he could help candidate Nixon win the WH for his first term. Most of the years of McCain’s imprisonment and torture occurred after Kissinger, one of the worst people who’s ever lived, carried out that grotesque act to extend the war https://t.co/J15icso6NJ
— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) September 1, 2018
Multiple speakers: [duty, family, sacrifice, character, values, patriotism]
Kissinger [oozing violated sovereignty]: MOAR CHILD BLOOD FOR THE CHILD BLOOD GOD
— LiterallySlanderHat (@Popehat) September 1, 2018
In 1999 after McCain blocked some $350M real estate tax credit scam Trump was trying to pull in Congress. I saw the video.
— Chuck Taggart, Private Eye ?????? (@SazeracLA) September 1, 2018
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) September 1, 2018
Are we talking with or without a translator? https://t.co/WZpaHHcO8n
— Dana Houle (@DanaHoule) September 1, 2018
I personally suspect McCain’s only quibble would be that Rep. Waters didn’t salute him, too… or that nobody even set fire to his casket.
Rep. Maxine Waters offers "Wakanda Forever" salute when acknowledged at Aretha Franklin funeral. https://t.co/1B5EhhR4TE
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 31, 2018
— Hercules Mulligan (@johnvmoore) August 26, 2018
Amy Silverman, in the Phoenix New Times, “He Was America’s Senator, Not Arizona’s”:
…In so many ways — throughout his life and now in his death — John McCain is an optical illusion. Look at the drawing one way, and it’s a haggard old lady. Shift your gaze and it’s a beautiful young girl.
If you liked McCain, his smile was broad and inviting, like you were in on a private joke with the guy. But if he wasn’t your favorite, that smile was a smirk, or even a sneer.
McCain, who died Saturday at age 81, was widely viewed as a maverick — and an opportunist…
He was a tireless champion of campaign finance reform who made enemies with his establishment-bucking efforts. Or he was the shyster trying to rehabilitate himself after his starring role as a member of the Keating Five, an aggressive candidate who never did stop taking millions of dollars in campaign contributions from special interests.
And then there was his complicated relationship with our state.
John McCain lived in many places after Vietnam, but for the last 36 years he called Arizona home, and represented the state in Congress — from 1982 to 1986 as a representative, and then from ‘86 to his death as a member of the United States Senate.
McCain embraced Arizona, adopting the pretty landscape of central Phoenix and Cornville, posting photos of red-rock hikes, but doing very little during his tenure to support the state. In fact, his stand against “pork-barrel politics” at a time when his colleagues in Congress were busy lining their own states’ pockets with infrastructure cost Arizona dearly while increasing McCain’s popularity as a refreshingly honest leader who turned down handouts.
In a lot of ways, it didn’t matter what state he lived in. John McCain was America’s senator, not Arizona’s, a transplant (or a carpetbagger — again, it depends on your perspective) who adopted the state as his own…
I covered McCain for this paper during the ’90s, as the local spotlight went national. The Arizona media – for which he’d never had much use – watched as the senator glad-handed Washington and New York reporters, boarding the Straight Talk Express in 2000, bound for the presidency. That job was not to be his – not in 2008, either — and in the ensuing years even the national media seemed to grow a little tired of McCain’s maverick/opportunist stands.
And then in summer 2017, beloved John McCain was back, with a diagnosis of brain cancer and – it seemed – a desire to set the record straight by saving the day. His dramatic thumbs-down on the floor of the U.S. Senate effectively ended Donald Trump’s efforts to gut health care reform (for the moment, anyway) and served as a big, satisfying “fuck you” to the president. McCain decried Trump’s pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio and his decision to dismantle DACA, criticizing the president at every turn.
Never mind that tax reform basically negated any good done by McCain’s health care vote. As 2017 ended, even some of the senator’s most devoted haters were converts.
He’d secured his spot in history, something that was definitely on his mind – or, at least, the minds of his advisers, who announced just before Christmas that McCain’s legacy would be the development of 45 miles of the Rio Salado, a grand and romantic idea (with pretty significant potential environmental impact issues). Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton named an airport terminal after McCain. Joe Biden reached across the aisle to Meghan McCain on The View, offering comfort as someone who’d seen a loved one (his son) die of cancer, and the world teared up.
But I can’t help but wonder if the long view will be quite so kind to McCain.
Will John McCain go down in history as the refreshing voice of reason, the antidote to Trump? He might.
Or history might take a different view. Will McCain instead be remembered as the man who opened the door in 2008 to Sarah Palin, simultaneously setting the table for the Tea Party and ultimately making a spot for Trump himself?
It all depends on your perspective…
I don't think John McCain cared one goddamn bit what Trump did or did not say about him before and I think a nice way to honor him would be for the rest of us not to care one goddamn bit what Trump does or does not have to say about him now.
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) August 26, 2018
Special Counsel Mueller has served our country with honesty and integrity. It’s critical he be allowed to complete a thorough investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election — unimpeded.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) March 18, 2018