Facing down an aggressive brain tumor that's kept him out of Washington for months, John McCain appears to be taking a hard look at his own mortality vis-a-vis his forthcoming book, The Restless Wave. "This is my last term," he writes in excerpts out now, via NPR and the Daily Beast. "If I hadn't admitted that to myself before this summer, a stage 4 cancer diagnosis acts as ungentle persuasion. I'm freer than colleagues who will face the voters again. I can speak my mind without fearing the consequences much." And speak his mind he does, writing bluntly that "I don't know how much longer I'll be here. ... Maybe I'll be gone before you read this." But before that happens, McCain has "some work that needs finishing. ... And I want to talk to my fellow Americans a little more if I may." A few highlights:
- On President Trump: "He has declined to distinguish the actions of our government from the crimes of despotic ones. The appearance of toughness, or a reality show facsimile of toughness, seems to matter more than any of our values."
- On ideological divides: "We are secluding ourselves in ideological ghettos. We have our own news sources. We exchange ideas mostly or exclusively with people who agree with us, and troll those who don't. Increasingly, we have our own facts to reinforce our convictions and any empirical evidence that disputes them is branded as 'fake.'"
- On the current state of politics: "I suspect (humility has) never been in abundant supply in most human enterprises. And I don't mean modesty. Any politician worth a damn can fake modesty. Humility is the self-knowledge that you possess as much inherent dignity as anyone else, and not one bit more."
- Upset by incivility? Get off your butt: "Because I guarantee you, voters on the Far Right and Far Left are. If you want politics to be more civil, if you want Congress to argue less and get more done, then show up. Represent. Play as big a role in the mundane activities of politics as the zealots do."
- Before he 'leaves': "I would like to see us recover our sense that we are more alike than different." (McCain's son-in-law says the senator told him to "take care of Meghan.")