In Memoriam: John McCain

BY JACK MORGENSTEIN

Senator John McCain died of a brain tumor at the age of 81 on August 25, 2018. Looking back on his life, many will recall a seasoned hero and Vietnam veteran who served our country for 23 years, or perhaps a six-term conservative “maverick” from Arizona. But the true John McCain was much more than that; he was a family man with a loving wife and seven children, a man whose passion for life earned him respect across party lines. To understand the international respect for McCain, one must look at the extraordinary life of a man who was deeply loyal to his country and beliefs. When John McCain followed in his four-star Admiral father and grandfather’s footsteps and enrolled at the Naval Academy in 1954, he never could have known the impact he would have on our country and the world throughout his long military and political career. At the Naval Academy John McCain earned the respect of his classmates, not through his stellar academics (he graduated 894th out of 899) or familial connections, but through his sense of duty and leadership.

After graduation, John McCain was commissioned by the Navy to be a naval aviator. Although McCain would eventually rise to the rank of captain, it wasn’t due to any natural talent passed on from his veteran father and grandfather; during his training as a pilot, he crashed two of his flight missions and collided with a power line during a third. An instructor rated him as “sub-par,” but McCain refused to let this get in his way; less than a year later he was marked as a “good flier.” In the Vietnam War McCain was assigned to Operation Rolling Thunder. (His deep-rooted sense of duty compelled him to specifically request a combat assignment.) During the infamous fire on the U.S.S. Forrestal, where McCain was stationed, he put himself in harm’s way and saved the lives of multiple fellow pilots.

On John McCain’s twenty-third bombing mission, he was shot down by North Vietnamese troops and placed in Hoa Lo Prison, the infamous P.O.W. camp that became known as the “Hanoi Hilton.” Even with a fractured arm, a bayonet wound, and a crushed left shoulder, he received no medical attention and was beaten and interrogated daily. John McCain’s patriotism (and quick-thinking) showed when, instead of telling the North Vietnamese the names of his fellow pilots, he gave the names of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line. In 1968, a prison doctor told John that his wounds were fatal and that he had less than a week to live. He not only lived but helped other prisoners, even though this brought the risk of more beatings. In early 1969, when the Vietnamese learned his father was the commander of U.S. Vietnamese forces, John McCain was offered release, but he refused, requesting that every soldier before him be freed first. The torture inflicted on McCain would leave him unable to lift his arms above his head for the rest of his adult life. But actions like these, putting the lives of other Americans before his own, are what make John McCain an American hero. He embodied his belief that “it is your character, and your character alone that will make your life happy or unhappy.”

Despite an offer to be honorably discharged from the Navy, McCain continued to serve the military until 1981, when he decided he could do more good from the Senate. McCain’s military decorations and awards included the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze Star Medals, two Purple Hearts, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and the Prisoner of War Medal.

McCain’s first foray into public office was a race for the House of Representatives seat in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He narrowly won the seat and was reelected in 1984. With rising ambitions, McCain ran for and won a Senate seat in 1986. Although he suffered greatly as a prisoner in Vietnam, McCain visited multiple times, advocating for peaceful relations with Vietnam. In his own words, “no just cause is futile, even if it’s lost, it makes the future better than the past.” McCain was never afraid to speak his beliefs—even when it went against the party line, such as when he openly opposed the US’s military involvement in Lebanon in the mid 1980’s. This willingness to act on his beliefs and go against his party throughout the 90’s and beyond earned the nickname “maverick.” McCain had a deep desire to make the world a better place, which inspired him to run for President in both 2000 and 2008. Despite being political adversaries, McCain earned not only the respect, but the friendship of the these two eventual presidents due to his passionate, thoughtful nature.

John McCain went on to serve six consecutive terms in the Senate before his death. During that time, his bipartisan “Gang of 14” in Congress solved a crisis over judicial nominations, and he became chairman of the Senate’s Armed Service Committee. While his congressional accomplishments were incredible, it was his clear passion for life and willingness to stand up for his beliefs, no matter the cost, that earned him the respect of his fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. At McCain’s funeral in 2018, former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama delivered eulogies, and former President Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as numerous other public figures, were in attendance. John McCain was an American hero whose accomplishments weren’t measured in laws but in people he helped and lives he touched. Perhaps a quote from the dearly departed senator himself sums his life best: “courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity for action despite our fears.”

 

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The Way-Too-Early 2020 Democratic Nomination Power Rankings

BY STEPHEN ATKINSON

 

While there are still another two years before the Democrats officially face-off with President Trump, hopeful Democratic politicians are already hitting the road in early primary states like New Hampshire and South Carolina. Here’s a ranking of potential nominees for the Democratic party and how their chances stack up for primary season.

 

  1. Beto O’Rourke

Beto O'Rourke

He’s said he’s not running, he lost his Texas Senate race, and he’s relatively inexperienced. So don’t expect O’Rourke to make his presidential bid in 2020. However, if he for some reason did, his viral popularity could carry him far, and crazier things have happened.

 

 

 

 

9. Sherrod Brown

Sherrod Brown

The gravelly-voiced Ohio senator has been one of the most liberal Democrats in recent years, but as 2020 hopefuls flock to the left, there will be less and less to distinguish him from the pack.

 

 

 

 

8. Julian Castro

Julian Castro

After a rousing speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Castro was considered by many to be the party’s biggest rising star. Since then, he hasn’t generated much publicity at all, but as a young hispanic politician from Texas, Castro is still a sound option for Democrats looking for the anti-Trump.

 

 

 

7. Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomber

This mega-billionaire and former New York City mayor has flirted with presidential runs many times before. His pro-business, socially liberal brand is unique in the Democratic field, which is good in a sense… but mostly bad. It’s hard to believe the same party that propelled Bernie Sanders to national prominence would elect a centrist who also happens to be the 11th wealthiest man in the world.

 

 

 

6. Cory Booker

Cory Booker

A couple years ago Booker—a charismatic New Jersey senator—was labelled the next “rising star” of the party, but that title has since been overtaken by Kamala Harris. Booker aligns with the centrist “New Democrat” movement of politicians like Bill Clinton and Joe Biden, and that’s not where excitement in the party base lies. He even expressed staunch support for “private equity” in a 2012 interview that will likely haunt his nomination chances.

 

 

 

5. Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar

Despite her low name recognition, Amy Klobuchar is a very logical pick. In the midterm elections she won reelection in Minnesota by over twenty points. (Remember that Donald Trump’s shocking victory was largely due to his success in the midwest.) As a woman, a moderate, and a Rust Belt politician with an uncontroversial personality, a Klobuchar ticket could be the perfect concoction for a single-term Trump presidency. But is she exciting enough to win primary season? At this point, probably not.

 

 

4. Joe Biden

Joe Biden

In a recent poll by CNN testing potential Democratic candidates, Biden came out on top by far, garnering 33% to second place Bernie Sanders’ 13%. It makes sense—he’s near-universally well-liked and well-known. But is a seventy-five-year-old politically moderate white man really what the Democratic party needs right now? And Joe Biden himself still seems unsure about running. He’s acknowledged that his age should be a factor voters consider, which doesn’t sound like the type of talk from a future nominee.

 

 

3. Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

It looks like #Feelthebern is fading. Based on the 2016 elections, Bernie Sanders should be the automatic favorite for the Democratic nomination, but his momentum is sliding. He’s old, white, and male. And while the Vermont senator’s progressive socialist message may be more inspiring to younger voters, there will likely be other more polished and diverse politicians who will compete for the same voting bloc, like Warren, Harris, Booker, and Gillibrand. If Sanders does find success, it’s through the message that, unlike many of his colleagues, he’s been devoted to the same policy stances for a whole lifetime.

 

 

2. Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren

After refusing pleas to run in 2016, Warren has kept herself in the news cycle; her active social media presence and openness to the press indicates she’s likely gearing up for a run in 2020. She’s an established member of the Democratic party’s progressive wing, which looks to be gaining the most momentum after the rise of Bernie Sanders. Plus, she’s a woman (a big advantage in the #Metoo era) and a polished public speaker, which could set her apart from ally Sanders.

 

 

1. Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris is the early favorite, but keep in mind: it’s still very early. At fifty-four, she’s relatively young. She’s a woman, a daughter of immigrants, a solid liberal, and a polished orator with a confident stage presence. That crosses off just about all the possible checkmarks Democrats are looking for. While her name recognition is lower than some of the veterans on this list, it has rapidly grown as her fiery Senate speeches and savvy tweets have gone viral. She still has some potential weaknesses—her time as a public prosecutor in California and her sudden (politically motivated?) shift to the left on many issues will certainly attract criticism—but overall, she maintains a slight advantage in what looks to be a very crowded 2020 field. So crowded, in fact, that who knows what surprises could be lurking outside of this list!

The Future of Women’s Health Care Is At Stake

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

The U.S. Supreme Court now has a conservative majority that is more than able to overturn the supreme court case Roe v. Wade. The addition of Brett Kavanaugh is all that is needed to overturn the law, as he replaces the previous swing-vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy. If the case is overturned, it would give state governments the power to ban or legalize abortions. According to history, at least half of the U.S. would criminalize abortion if this occurred.

In 2016, Texas imposed laws that forced more than half of the state’s abortion clinics to shut down. These were overturned by the Court, with Justice Kennedy casting the deciding vote. However, with Kavanaugh now on the Court, it is probable that he would allow such state-imposed restrictions to stand.

As a judge, Kavanaugh has never directly ruled on abortion. But based on prior precedent, it is clear how he would decide on the issue. He dissented on an appeals court decision that allowed a pregnant undocumented teenager in federal custody to have an abortion, which gives an indication to his views on the subject.

In addition to being anti-abortion, Kavanaugh is also opposed to birth control. One might suspect Kavanaugh would be pro-birth control, seeing that the purpose of birth control is to reduce the chances of a baby being conceived, but he isn’t. During his confirmation hearing, he described contraceptives as “abortion-inducing drugs.” It wasn’t clear which methods of birth control he was speaking of (e.g. pills, patches, and IUDs or emergency contraceptives); however, the term “abortion-inducing” represents a gross misrepresentation of contraceptives, as none can terminate a pregnancy. As Kavanaugh sits as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court for decades to come, the rights of women to health care and abortion that took so much time and effort to gain are at stake, and there is no guarantee what the future holds.

A Gross Overstepping of Boundaries

BY MATTHEW SHORB

Following a closed door meeting between Trump and Putin during the recent Helsinki summit, many liberals are calling on Marina Gross, Trump’s interpreter, to reveal what occurred in that confidential meeting. Such demands are uncalled for and dangerous to the jobs of our interpreters and American diplomatic relations.

Interpreters are hired not only for their linguistic abilities, but also for their ability to keep important matters and discussions private. As Yuliya Tsaplina, a Russian interpreter, states, “We are only as valuable as we can interpret faithfully, accurately, and keep things in confidence.” Demands for information, such as a motion from Adam Schiff — head Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee — to subpoena Ms. Gross, show a distinct lack of respect and consideration for the code of ethics and laws of labor by which interpreters function. We all are curious as to what was discussed between Putin and Trump, but liberals are targeting an innocent bystander, Ms. Gross, for simply doing her job; if information about this meeting is to be revealed, it should done by Trump himself, rather than dragging Marina Gross in front of a congressional committee and soiling the interpreting profession she has worked in for decades.

Subpoenaing Ms. Gross for information would also have unintended negative effects on our relationships with other countries. When discussing important matters and creating solutions, foreign leaders must be able to trust that ideas and discussions are kept private, and that interpreters will not disclose the content of these critical meetings America has with other foreign powers. If Ms. Gross is made to reveal the contents of Putin and Trump’s discussion, it will set a precedent for all American foreign discussions that we can not be trusted to keep things confidential. If, after every meeting a president has with another foreign leader, the discussion is blasted from the rooftops, why would other countries continue to discuss private and important matters with us? It is similar to how we Americans depend on our doctors to keep our medical ailments and confidential. If I, as a doctor, proclaimed your private personal health issues to the world, you would rightfully decide not to come to me with any other issues you might have in the future. In much the same way, foreign countries must be able to depend on the United States to keep private issues undisclosed, and if we demand information from our interpreters, this vow of privacy can not be maintained.

The pressure on Marina Gross to reveal confidential discussions reveals a dangerous precedent in the political search for information. As Trump’s presidency continues, the left continues to desperately search for evidence showing collusion between the Trump team and Russia. The pursuit of said evidence is not the problem: if information exists that shows undeniable collusion, it undoubtedly must be brought to light. The left chooses to pursue dirt on Trump recklessly, even at the cost of interpreters’ reputation and professional standing. The relentless search for scandal is not a partisan problem, however: during the 2016 presidential election, many Republicans did not care about the origins of leaks regarding Hillary Clinton, just so long as “Crooked Hillary” would appear corrupt. Did these Republicans care that these leaks came from Russian hackers and shady figures such as Julian Assange? Hardly.

In examining the lunacy of pressing Ms. Gross to divulge private foreign affairs, it becomes clear that America’s political divisions and quarrels continue without regard for how information is gathered. If we ever hope to have a country united in the pursuit of truth and facts, we must uncover conspiracies through bipartisan support and measured investigation. Trump may be wrong in keeping his Putin meeting confidential, but that does not make it right to betray the trust and ethics of others to reveal the information. If we as a country wish to reveal and remove corruption in our government and our president, we must do it together. Otherwise, our differences and disagreements are merely accentuated by the rash actions we take to bolster our own arguments.