“The noble simplicity of sentiment in [Senator John] McCain’s tweets [about American troops] is a world removed from [President Donald] Trump’s gaudy and boastful displays. And McCain’s demonstration of character and courage is a far more reliable guide to American greatness than the pronouncements of a president who speaks of it nonstop and embodies it not at all.”—William Kristol, “True American Greatness,” The Weekly Standard, July 31, 2017 issue
Over the years, I have often disagreed with Senator McCain, and occasionally felt dismayed by him. But I have never doubted the value of his courage--unlike our current President, who famously said in his campaign last year that he liked "people who weren't captured."
You can often gauge the measure of a man by the cruelty of his enemies. In McCain's case, it's not enough to point just to the North Vietnamese who tortured him nearly 50 years ago.
Nearer to hand are members of the alt-right (discussed in this Newsweek article by Alexander Nazaryan) who see McCain's brain cancer as evidence of "godly justice" for the Senator's criticisms of Trump, as well as his 2016 primary rival Kelli Ward, who, in urging him to resign because of his diagnosis, allowed that she could fill his seat very nicely, thank you very much.
In 2008, McCain sounded one of the few grace notes I have heard over the last decade from any politician when he reproved a voter who saw Barack Obama as "an Arab": "No, ma'am. He's a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign's all about."
The GOP nominated McCain in 2008, but the party's heart wasn't in it. He made mistakes, but not when it came to what Abraham Lincoln once called "the better angels of our nature." The alt-right and the President it now supports without qualification cannot say the same thing.