By any measure, American Senator John McCain, who died over the weekend after battling cancer, was an authentic American hero. Son of a powerful admiral of the US Pacific Fleet, then navy captain McCain was shot down over Vietnam, captured, endured torture, was incarcerated for five years as a prisoner of war – and declined early release since his compatriots were not offered similar terms. In a bitterly partisan Congress, Mr McCain, a Republican, went by his conscience to vote against President Donald Trump’s attempted repeal of Obamacare. Vietnam remembers him as a powerful voice that, rather than harbour bitterness over his suffering, pushed for normalisation of US-Vietnam ties.
Such men are rare. Senator McCain had ambitions of higher office, and indeed, would have been worthy of it. The first time he announced a bid for the presidency he was bested for the candidacy by Mr George W. Bush. The second time round he got the Republican nomination but ran up against the charismatic African-American candidate, Mr Barack Obama. Hamstrung also by his choice of Mrs Sarah Palin, seen as an intellectual lightweight, as running mate, Mr McCain lost that fight. Nevertheless, in his last months he had let it be known that he would welcome the presence at his funeral of both Mr Bush and Mr Obama. Pointedly, he also let it be known that he did not wish to see Mr Trump there.
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PUBLISHED: 3 HOURS AGO
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arish A Noor
Associate Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU
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