Senator John McCain, a pilot tortured during the Vietnam War, a White House candidate and a maverick figure in American politics, died Saturday at the age of 81, of brain cancer.
The Republican Senator’s office announced Saturday night that he had died in the afternoon, surrounded by his wife, Cindy, and his family.
“At his death, he had faithfully served the United States of America for sixty years,” the office said in a statement.
John McCain had been treated since July 2017 for glioblastoma, a very aggressive form of cancer with a very low survival rate. His family had announced Friday that he had decided to stop treatment, in the face of the inexorable advance of the disease, in the next day he died.
Immediately, the reactions flocked to greet the memory of this republican monument, which was angry with many people including within his political family, but whose patriotic devotion was recognized by all.
“John and I came from different generations, had completely different origins, and we clashed at the highest level of politics,” said former Democratic president Barack Obama, who had defeated him in the presidential election 2008.
“But we shared, despite our differences, a fidelity to something higher, the ideals for which entire generations of Americans and immigrants fought and sacrificed themselves.”
Senate Democratic Opposition Leader Chuck Schumer proposed renaming the Senate building where John McCain had his offices in his name.
President Donald Trump, who was in conflict with the Republican senator, tweeted a short message of condolence, without a word about the career and life of the man.
“My condolences and my most sincere respect for Senator John McCain’s family, our hearts and prayers are with you!” Wrote Mr. Trump.
Conversely, most elected and former US officials issued a statement in the minutes following the announcement of the death, former President George W. Bush hailing for example a “man of deep conviction and a patriot to the highest degree”.
Former Democratic President Bill Clinton also praised the memory of John McCain, stressing that “he had often put aside partisan affiliation” to serve the nation.
And another Democrat, Al Gore, vice president under Bill Clinton, went in the same direction. “I always admired and respected John” because he always worked to “find common ground, as difficult as it is,” he said.
For Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, “America and Liberty have lost one of their greatest champions”.
Contempt for Trump
Veteran’s daughter Meghan McCain posted a text on her Twitter account saying that she stayed with her father until the end, “just like he was with me when I started”.
John McCain was cared for in his state of Arizona, where his friends and colleagues had been marching for months to say goodbye, aware that the end was near.
Despite his treatment and absence from Washington since last December, he remained relatively politically active. In the summer of 2017, he had challenged President Donald Trump, for the ways and ideas of which he never concealed his contempt, by voting against his reform of the health system.
He criticized him openly, calling him “misinformed” and “impulsive”.
And in memoirs published in May 2018, “The Restless Wave”, he again denounced the apparent sympathy of the US President for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president who fought John McCain since the Senate.
He himself was sanctioned by Russia in retaliation for Washington sanctions, a source of pride for the old senator, who often joked about it.
John McCain, son and grandson of admirals, was first a fighter pilot, engaged in the Vietnam War where he was wounded and imprisoned for more than five years.
He was tortured by his jailers, and during his political career became a fierce opponent of torture, denouncing the CIA for its “muscular” interrogation practices under the presidency of George W. Bush.
After his return to the United States at the end of the Vietnam War, he was elected to the House of Representatives, then elected senator in 1986, a seat he has kept since, his last re-election in November 2016, having been the most difficult, as part of the conservative electorate did not forgive him for criticizing Donald Trump.
He has long cultivated the image of an outspoken independent Republican, but he fails the Republican primaries in 2000 against George W. Bush. In 2008, he won the nomination of his party this time, but lost to Barack Obama.
He then stayed in the Senate, his second home for over thirty years.
Considered an interventionist in foreign policy, convinced that America had to defend his values around the world, he had been one of the fiercest supporters of the Iraq war, and continued to promote a strong US military role in the United States. foreigner, marginalizing himself over the years in a republican party eager to refocus on domestic priorities.
In the 2010s, he was dismayed by the rise of the Tea Party movement within his party, which he could not contain. He tirelessly defended an increase in the military budget and led the Armed Forces Committee of the Senate until his death.
Other causes have spurred his career, including the reform of the immigration system, and electoral financing.
Culled from Washington (AFP) – © 2018 AFP