John McCain has passed from this life. Peace be unto him, and those who love him.
I’d never met McCain when I was hired on as senior policy adviser for his 2008 campaign. I knew him only a little when the campaign ended. But I had a front row seat to watch as he navigated one of the most unforgiving public environments, the glare of a presidential campaign he lost. I never saw him miss the opportunity to be kind to unimportant people or give courage to those shouldering the burden of their beliefs, and I never saw him falter in his conviction that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.
People were awed by his courage as a prisoner of war, but he understood from his experience that all people have a breaking point. He had lived the challenge of making brave choices despite painful consequences, and it engendered in him a profound admiration for others who ran those risks—soldiers, missionaries, journalists, human-rights campaigners, political activists.
McCain drew from his captivity the contagious power of obduracy toward evil. He gave his benediction to any who attempted it, championed their causes, recklessly invested himself in their success. He railed against President Barack Obama’s threats to abandon Iraq and Afghanistan unless leaders stepped up, because he understood the psychology of people in desperation.