Of all the acts of class that the late Sen. John McCain performed, one stands out. It occurred during his failed 2008 campaign for the presidency of the United States.
The Republican from Arizona was conducting a town hall meeting with supporters. One of them, a middle-aged woman, stood up to suggest that Sen. Barack Obama, McCain’s Democratic opponent in that year’s campaign, is a Muslim and couldn’t be trusted to protect Americans.
McCain shut her down immediately. He shook his head and told her Obama is an “American citizen,” a “patriotic American.” He said he and his foe had profound differences in policy, but said they both loved their country.
It’s the kind of response one should expect from a candidate for president, let alone from the actual president. It’s a response we haven’t heard from the current president, who’s fomented the lie about President Obama’s place of birth.
During the Al Smith Memorial Dinner in 2008, Sen. McCain referred to his opponent as his “friend and colleague” in the U.S. Senate. He battled hard for the presidency but didn’t consider his foe to be his enemy.
The man was a champion of what he called “regular order” in the Senate and sought to restore a sense of decorum and dignity in what used to be considered the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.”
John McCain left a huge footprint on the American political landscape. He was a gentleman if not always a gentle man.