McCain was a feisty, brave and committed political leader

Morning View
Morning View

Senator John McCain, who has died just short of his 82nd birthday, was one of the great American politicians and statesmen of the late 20th century and this 21st one.

In an age in which so many successful and talented people chase wealth or celebrity or both, Mr McCain was the ultimate public servant.

Famously, he did so first in uniform in Vietnam, being injured when he was shot down over that country and then turning down the opportunity for early release on the basis of his father being an admiral.

For decades he was a powerful elected politician, but one who spurned partisanship and the easy chasing of votes.

There are regrettably few politicians like him.

He spoke movingly the night he lost the presidency to Barack Obama about the stain that racial segregation had been on the country that he loved so much.

During his political career, as our story on page 10 explains, he helped to normalise relations with Vietnam and seems to have been held in affection there ever since. Given that that country lost a million people in the war with America, any rehabilitation in relations was a considerable feat.

Mr McCain travelled the world, including to Northern Ireland some years ago, and tried to play his part in fixing problems in many locations.

It was deeply unfortunate when President Donald Trump queried Mr Mc Cain’s war hero credentials on the basis that he was taken prisoner, when Mr Trump did not himself fight for his country. It was further regrettable that he seemed slow to pay proper tribute to Mr McCain after news of his death emerged at the weekend.

Yesterday, however, the White House was beating a welcome retreat from such churlishness as a wave of sympathy and support spread across America in recognition of a feisty politician of rare integrity, boldness, commitment and leadership qualities — a man who will be sadly missed.