Glenn Hauman: Four Or Five Moments
Even when you thought you could get away from watching the news that was on every other channel by watching a rerun of Deadpool on FX, you couldn’t get away from the concept.
Four or five moments – that’s all it takes to be a hero. Everyone thinks it’s a full-time job. Wake up a hero. Brush your teeth a hero. Go to work a hero. Not true. Over a lifetime, there are only four or five moments that really matter. Moments when you’re offered a choice – to make a sacrifice, conquer a flaw, save a friend, spare an enemy. In these moments, everything else falls away.
Which leads us to John McCain.
Asked how he wanted to be remembered, McCain said: “He served his country, and not always right — made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of errors — but served his country, and, I hope we could add, honorably.”
And he was right to criticize himself. He made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of errors. Cheating on his first wife. His time with the Keating Five. Rude jokes about Chelsea Clinton’s parentage. Picking Sarah Palin as his running mate, thereby introducing her to the rest of the world and coarsening the standards for high public service. Ditching an appearance on David Letterman’s show claiming he was needed in Washington, then staying in New York to do an interview with CBS News instead.
But still. Four or five moments. Here are some of them.
- During the Vietnam War, he was injured, captured, held prisoner, and tortured. Yet he refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer, and would not consent to release unless every man taken in before him was also released.
- When he ran for President in 2008, during a campaign rally Q&A in Minnesota, Gayle Quinnell, a 75-year old McCain supporter said she did not trust Obama because “he’s an Arab.” McCain took the mic back and replied to the woman, “No ma’am. He’s a decent family man, a citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.” He knew his base well enough to know that making that statement would cost him votes, and he made it anyway.
- When Donald Trump was elected, McCain took it upon himself personally to try and reassure world leaders, visiting multiple countries in the first six months of 2017 at the age of 80, exhausting himself before he got his cancer diagnosis.
- Two weeks after brain surgery, on July 28 of last year, he cast the decisive vote against the Republicans’ final proposal that month, the so-called “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, which failed 49–51.
Four or five moments.
Maybe it’s enough.