Nothing in this post should be construed as any sort of an attack on Sen. John McCain. In fact, we can assume he may be unaware of what is going on, which is to a large degree the real problem. Anyone who is familiar with the cruel disease he is suffering from knows certain medical facts and statistics very well. Articles that came out when Sen. McCain and his family first announced his disease last July, indicated a 95% mortality rate within 13 months of the primary glioblastoma diagnosis. If you know anyone who has been down this path with this disease then you are aware of the mental degradation when it comes to the patient’s speech and cognitive abilities, especially towards the later months. Pain levels require sedation, often complete sedation. The severe physical limitations a patient would be suffering in the disease’s late stages are often exceeded by the mental limitations. That is why each and every one of us should include Sen. McCain in our prayers — that the good Lord gives him comfort and peace and brings the same to his family.
There are those in Arizona who are unhappy their Senator is absent and not voting on their behalf. With the United States Senate so closely divided, McCain’s absence is the same as a NO vote on everything before the Senate that requires 51 or 60 votes to pass. That matters a great deal on major legislation and potentially could be a huge deal if we end up with a Supreme Court vacancy. Nevertheless, it is not unusual for elected officials with health problems to hang on to their seats while they recover. Mark Kirk was a US Senator from Illinois who suffered a stroke during his first year in office and was absent for a lengthy period during his recovery, and that is but one example. There are those who will tsk tsk any discussion of the fact that recovery is not a realistic outcome for McCain, because his lifetime of service and his status as a genuine American hero has largely earned him the right to keep his seat no matter how important an active Senator might be to the state or country.
The real problem, more accurately the likely scandal that is largely being ignored both by those close to the Senator, by virtually the entire media, and by Washington DC as a whole, is that Senator McCain is simultaneously invisible from the public for obvious reasons, while remarkably active in terms of public statements and policy positions. Again, if you know people who have suffered from this disease, you know full well that in their later months, none of them would likely be participating in philosophical or political policy debates. None of them would likely be drafting policy positions for press releases.
Which leaves two important questions:
Who is speaking for Senator John McCain?
Why is the media allowing this to go unchallenged?
Outside of a few close political friends of the senator–each of whom dutifully remarks how the senator is battling bravely and that they look forward to his return to public life–no credible unbiased person has spent any time with the Senator in quite a long while. No member of the media has recorded for public consumption any interview, either video or audio, in an equally long time. If Senator McCain is not well enough to do the job, Arizonans are largely fine with his office sitting vacant while these final months pass by. We do not expect him to show up and vote, to hold press conferences, to conduct town halls, to do media interviews, or to issue press releases.
Except “he” is issuing press releases, many of which end up on the front page of major newspapers, especially if they are critical of President Donald Trump. And virtually no one in the media is asking “Who is actually writing these press statements?”
The Senator is even more prolific on Twitter, where he routinely constructs 280 character statements on everything from foreign policy to the Mueller investigation to committee work. He retweets lengthy and weighty articles that he thinks we should all be reading. In fact he rarely misses a day without tweeting something and most days tweets or retweets multiple items.
Except everyone recognizes that he’s obviously not actually doing all of these things… He’s not spending several hours each day reading all of the publications to decide which stories are “must reads” for the rest of us, while keeping up on the inner workings of various Senate Committees, and tracking Myanmar, events in the South China Sea, and trade tariffs.
Even if the statements reflect the Senator’s likely feelings, and I believe they often do, they are quoting a man who we have little reason to believe is making such a quote, or they are written in the first person, when experience tells us that he almost certainly does not have that capability. Do most elected officials have staff help post social media content? Absolutely. But the elected officials get to decide what is said or written.
If Senator McCain is actually spending long periods of time with staff members by phone or video conference, or in person at his home, and he is describing or dictating what he wants that day’s press release to say, then he can certainly do a five-minute radio interview so that the public can hear from him and share the joy in his much improved health status.
Yet that interview has not happened, we all know why, and we’re all okay with it.
To be clear, if Senator McCain’s office was simply silent during this difficult time, most Arizonans would be more than willing to leave his chair in the US Senate empty as a tribute to his lifetime of service. He has earned the right to be left in peace.
The problem is that it is a near certainty that some unelected person is now speaking for our Senator and using his name to attempt to steer domestic and foreign policy in this country, and the media is largely complicit in this attempt.
This is unacceptable, those committing this fraud should be punished or fired, the people of Arizona should get to know who specifically has hijacked the office of their senior Senator, and the media that has played along should be embarrassed. We are all very aware of how differently they would be covering these actions if the elected official were one of their usual conservative targets.
And for those in the media who have ignored this obvious farce for this long because of your affection for the man, if you really wanted to protect him and his legacy, you would want to know who has likely stolen his identity and is putting words into his mouth. Nothing we’ve ever known about the Maverick would lead you to believe he would be happy with someone speaking on his behalf in the first person, using his name. The Senator deserves better than this, as does Arizona and the United States.