“Senator Russell was a well respected man from the South and up here too,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), adding that he was “a man of his time.”“He was a well-respected senator,” Shelby said. …“If you want to get into that you have to get into George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and all of our — most of our Founding Fathers, maybe with the exception of Hamilton,” he said. “It’s easy to prejudge what they should have done.”
That’s aside from the fact that Washington and Jefferson were giants, albeit flawed, in the development of our democracy. And Shelby isn’t alone in clinging to the memory of a man who stood in opposition to laws that would have given meaning to Jefferson’s words (“all men are created equal …):
Georgia Sen. David Perdue — a Republican and close ally of [President] Trump — touted Russell’s Senate work, saying on Tuesday that he was a “stalwart” of the military and involved in the Great Society, referring to the domestic program of former President Lyndon B. Johnson.“This is a guy who was a giant of the Senate,” Perdue said. “So this renaming thing because of one issue, you know, is somewhat troubling. The fact that it’s been brought into this John McCain thing I think is inappropriate.”Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told reporters that he would prefer to “find another way” to honor McCain.“What I don’t want is to establish a precedent so that something named after John McCain is named after somebody else in the future,” Cassidy said.
Let me get this straight: Perdue, a rock-ribbed Republican who would repeal Obamacare, is crying crocodile tears over a Democrat for his defense of the Great Society, which he and many of his colleagues consider a dismal left-wing failure?
One wonders whether these Republicans are listening to their staff-written speeches lionizing McCain. They obviously haven’t learned a damn thing about McCain, especially his insistence on protecting the dignity and worth of every human being. The senators, like so many Trump cult-followers and the likes of Corey Stewart (the race-baiting GOP Senate nominee from Virginia who wants to preserve Confederate statues), instead advance the notion that whites are historical victims, entitled to their anti-black heroes.
Here is what McCain said in 2017 after a neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville and the killing of an anti-Nazi protester:
Our Founders fought a revolution for the idea that all men are created equal. The heirs of that revolution fought a Civil War to save our nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to that revolutionary proposition.Nothing less is at stake on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, where a violent attack has taken at least one American life and injured many others in a confrontation between our better angels and our worst demons.White supremacists and neo-Nazis are, by definition, opposed to American patriotism and the ideals that define us as a people and make our nation special.As we mourn the tragedy that has occurred in Charlottesville, American patriots of all colors and creeds must come together to defy those who raise the flag of hatred and bigotry.
A batch of his Senate colleagues still do not get it, do they?
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) spoke on the Senate floor on Tuesday, one of many Republicans, to honor McCain. He announced that McCain wouldn’t have liked his name on a building anyway. (Really? Did the two of them discuss the matter?) Sasse, renowned for his witty tweets and dearth of concrete action to thwart Trump, declared, “We ought to pass a piece of legislation that we wouldn’t have passed absent this moment.” He thinks McCain would have appreciated something that would make “both political parties really uncomfortable.”
That’s tough, because Republicans are uncomfortable with a lot of things Democrats are not uncomfortable with — removing the name of a proponent of Jim Crow from a building, legalizing “dreamers” brought here illegally as children, denouncing Trump’s attacks on the free press, beginning hearings on credible evidence that Trump enlisted his personal attorney to break campaign-finance laws and so on. And Democrats are uncomfortable with a lot of things Republicans are not uncomfortable with — leaving more than 500 children as orphans after the disastrous family separation policy, excoriating our NATO allies, allowing Trump to keep ownership of his businesses and receive foreign emoluments in violation of the Constitution, etc.
At any rate, here are a few suggestions:
- The McCain Full Disclosure Act: Mandate that all presidents release 10 years of tax records.
- The McCain American Values Act: Double spending on foreign aid and international democracy-support efforts.
- The McCain Free Flow of Information Act: Modeled on past proposals to adopt a federal shield law affording protection to journalists.
- The McCain Anti-Corruption Act: Disallowing receipt of foreign emoluments and mandating full liquidation of a president’s holdings that receive foreign monies.
- The McCain Anti-Jim Crow Act: Barring naming of any federal property or building for a Confederate official or for a proponent of Jim Crow.
- The McCain Simple Human Decency Act: Allow those with Temporary Protective Status to remain in the United States, until their home countries are safe and inhabitable.
Well, I suppose none of those would fly with a whole bunch of Sasse’s Republican colleagues. Incidentally, if you rubber-stamp everything Trump wants, criticize nothing he says (or tweet and do nothing) and want to preserve the legacy of Richard Russell, you have no business singing McCain’s praises. You’re the sort of political hack whom McCain despised.