AMERICA mourns the passing of Senator John McCain — war hero, six-term senator, a true statesman, patriot and public servant.
Amid all the tributes to McCain’s heroism and dedicated service to America among his colleagues, constituents, family, friends, world leaders, and Americans — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents — it was painful to watch the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, staring at reporters during a news conference with stern eyes, arms crossed and held tight against his chest, when asked several times if he could say something about the passing of McCain, if he thinks he was a hero, if he could honor McCain for his service to America.
His silence revealed more than his words could ever say about what is really in his heart.
After all, he denigrated McCain when the latter was alive just because the good senator had the moral and testicular fortitude to stand up to the president who has an insatiable need to be adored and have everything his way even if it would not be for the good of the country.
Trump could not handle dissent, and as the most successful businessman and reality show superstar he claims to be, the word “accountability”, “rule of law” and owning up responsibility when he makes a mistake are alien to him. His mantra is to win, to make a profit, to benefit from whatever he gets into — and he would do anything and everything he could to make that happen, no matter what the cost.
Because McCain is not consumed and motivated by political expediency, he did not have to swallow his principles just to massage Trump’s ego, agree with him in policies, programs and legislative agenda of the president he did not think would be in the best interest of the American people.
And so this was the root of the animosity between Trump and McCain. The president even insulted McCain and other prisoners of war (POWs) when he said McCain was not really a hero because he was captured. These words from a man who dodged being drafted to do his duty to defend the country.
Trump hated McCain because he was afraid people may one day realize that he, Donald J. Trump, was not really a true and real leader when compared to McCain.
John Sydney McCain was an embodiment of the virtues of a truly decent, respectful public servant, that was why he earned the respect of his colleagues in office and of the American people, even during the times when we disagreed with his stand on some fundamental issues. Because we know that his heart was in the right place. Because we know that his life had been dedicated to causes bigger than himself— and that is to serve the country we all love. Because he exemplified what it is to be a true civil servant — “Public Service is a Public Trust” and he had always been accountable for his actions to deserve that trust.
Trump hated McCain because he could not reconcile with the TRUTH, especially when the TRUTH becomes a road block to his way to victory. I remember how much I respected McCain during a 2008 town hall meeting McCain had and a woman in red told him that she doesn’t trust Obama because he is an “Arab”. McCain shook his head, grabbed the mike from her and then said, “No ma’am…He’s a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”
Remember McCain’s concession speech?
“Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.
These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.
I urge all Americans … I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.”
Trump hated McCain because he was afraid that people might soon realize that behind that facade of a “strong” leader that he hopes to project to the public, he is just a shallow petty celebrity figure whose aspirations, motives, and actions are all about Donald J. Trump — his image, his fame, his fortune. It was all about how the government and the people of America would serve and defend him, and not the other way around.
McCain left a farewell letter to the American people that really touched my heart. I hope we will all be reminded of what to expect from Trump and all of our public officials. I hope we will all be moved to discern what it is to truly be a good and responsible citizen of this great nation:
“My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans,
Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.
I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for ten satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else’s.
I owe that satisfaction to the love of my family. No man ever had a more loving wife or children he was prouder of than I am of mine. And I owe it to America. To be connected to America’s causes – liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people – brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.
‘Fellow Americans’ – that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the process.
We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.
We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.
Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with the heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening. I feel it powerfully still.
Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.
Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you, and God bless America.”
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos