John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer


This deserved is own thread.


Looking back McCain vs Obama 2008 seems like a golden age. Principled candidates on both sides (if you squint enough to forget Palin…)

Sure hope he sticks around.


It was. For years I saved the Economist cover which features McCain and Obama, with the headline America at it is best, and they weren’t being ironic.

The brain cancer McCain has is the same type that killed Ted Kennedy in just over a year, and much younger Beau Biden in just over two. For all the happy talk about how tough a man John McCain, the odds are bad. I don’t really believe cancer gives a shit about how principled a man is or how courageous he is.

I worked on McCain 2000 campaign, and I talked to a number of (mostly military) folks that knew him well. He was the real deal. I didn’t do much for him 2008, mostly wrote a few checks made a few phones calls.

I guess I had premonition last night. I spent several hours looking for a complete copy of the late David Foster Wallace fabulous reports he wrote for the Rolling Stone magazine for the 2000 campaign. (He wrote a short book, the McCain Promise which I have.) It is little scary how temporary stuff is on the internet. The best I could find is the is link

The end has some terrific writing and I think it reflects John McCain at his best.

Among the techs and non-simian pencils, the feeling is that McCain’s single finest human moment of the campaign so far was at the Warren MI Town Hall Meeting on Monday, in the Q&A, when a middle-aged man in a sportcoat and beret, a man who didn’t look in any way unusual but turned out to be insane—meaning literally, as in DSM IV-grade schizophrenic—came to the mike and said that the government of Michigan has a mind-control machine and influences brainwaves and that not even wrapping roll after roll of aluminum foil around your head with only the tiniest pinpricks for eyes and breathing stopped them from influencing brainwaves, and he says he wants to know whether if McCain is president he will use Michigan’s mind-control machine to catch the murderers and pardon the Congress and compensate him personally for 60 long years of government mind control, and can he get it in writing. The question is not funny; the room’s silence is the mortified kind. Think how easy it would have been for a candidate here to blanch or stumble, or to have hard-eyed aides remove the man, or (worst) to make fun of the guy in order to defuse everyone’s horror and embarrassment and try to score humor points with the crowd, at which most of the younger pencils would probably have fainted dead away from cynical disgust because the poor guy is still standing there at the mike and looking earnestly up at McCain, awaiting an answer. Which McCain, incredibly, sees—the man’s humanity, the seriousness of these issues to him—and says yes, he will, he’ll promise to look into it, and yes he’ll put this promise in writing, although he “believe[s] [they] have a difference of opinion about this mind-control machine,” and in sum he defuses the insane man and treats him respectfully without patronizing him or pretending to be schizophrenic too, and does it all so quickly and gracefully and with such basic decency that if it was some sort of act then McCain is the very devil himself. Which the techs, later, after the post-THM Press-Avail and scrum, degearing aboard the ghastly Pimpmobile, say McCain is not (the devil) and that they were, to a man, moved by the unfakable humanity of the exchange, and yet at the same time also impressed with McCain’s professionalism in disarming the guy, and Jim C. urges Rolling Stone not to be so cynical as to reject out of hand the possibility that the two can coexist—human genuineness and political professionalism—because it’s the great yin-and-yang paradox of the McCain2000 campaign, and is so much more interesting than the sort of robotic unhuman all-pro campaign he’s used to that Jim says he almost doesn’t mind the grind this time.

Maybe they really can coexist—humanity and politics, shrewdness and decency. But it gets complicated. In the Spartanburg Q&A, after two China questions and one on taxing Internet commerce, as most of the lobby’s pencils are still at the glass making fun of the local heads, a totally demographically average 30-

something middle-class soccer mom in rust-colored slacks and those round, overlarge glasses totally average 30-something soccer moms always wear gets picked and stands and somebody brings her the mike. It turns out her name is Donna Duren, of right here in Spartanburg SC, and she says she has a fourteen-year-old son named Chris, in whom Mr. and Mrs. Duren have been trying to inculcate family values and respect for authority and a noncynical idealism about America and its duly elected leaders. They want him to find heroes he can believe in, she says. Donna Duren’s whole story takes a while, but nobody’s bored, and even out here on the stanchion’s monitors you can sense a change in the THM’s theater’s voltage, and the national pencils come away from the front’s glass and start moving in and elbowing people aside (which they’re really good at) to get close to the monitors’ screens. Mrs. Duren says that Chris—clearly a sensitive kid—was “made very very upset” by the Lewinsky scandal and the R-rated revelations and the appalling behavior of Clinton and Starr and Tripp and pretty much everybody on all sides during the impeachment thing, and Chris had a lot of very upsetting and uncomfortable questions that Mr. and Mrs. D. struggled to answer, and that basically it was a really hard time but they got through it. And then last year, at more or less a trough in terms of idealism and respect for elected authority, she says, Chris had discovered John McCain and, and got interested in the campaign, and the parents had apparently read him some G-rated parts of McCain’s Faith of My Fathers, and the upshot is that young Chris finally found a public hero he could believe in: John S. McCain III. It’s impossible to know what McCain’s face is doing during this story because the monitors are taking CNN’s feed and Randy van R. of CNN is staying hard and steady on Donna Duren, who appears so iconically prototypical and so thoroughly exudes the special quiet dignity of an average American who knows she’s average and just wants a decent, noncynical life for herself and her family that she can say things like “family values” and “hero” without anybody rolling their eyes. But then last night, Mrs. D. says, as they were all watching some wholesome nonviolent TV in the family room, the phone suddenly rang upstairs, and Chris went up and got it, and Mrs. D. says a little while later he came back down into the family room crying and just terribly upset and told them the phone call had been a man who started talking to him about the 2000 campaign and asked Chris if he knew that John McCain was a liar and a cheater and that anybody who’d vote for John McCain was either stupid or un-American or both. That caller had been a push-poller for Bush2000, Mrs. Duren says, knuckles on her mike-hand white and voice almost breaking, distraught in a totally average and moving parental way, and she says she just wanted Senator McCain to know about it, about what happened to Chris, and wants to know whether anything can be done to keep people like this from calling innocent young kids and plunging them into disillusionment and confusion about whether they’re stupid for trying to have heroes they believe in.

You can skip to the end to find out what happened next.


Great story. Thanks for the link.



Sad to hear this news. It’s important to place aside partisanship and embrace the humanity that we all represent when someone is diagnosed with what is most likely a terminal condition.

Well wishes to the Senator, and prayers to his family.


Reposting from other thread:

My dad died of a glioblastoma in December 2015 at age 68. It is a terrible disease and the chance of survival (especially at 80) is less than 1%.

Incidentally, I suspect this is why his behavior seemed so erratic at the Comey hearing. I also expect him to resign within the next 2 weeks. The radiation and chemo makes normal thought process very difficult.


Yeah, I always thought the whole Diamonbacks game excuse made it even more bizarre, but I wasn’t thinking brain cancer. It’s pretty sad.


My sincere condolences to Sen. McCain, his family and his friends. From a personal standpoint, I wish them strength and courage in the months ahead, and hope for a miracle.

From a political standpoint, this is a loss both sides of the aisle can ill afford. McCain is an American hero and a statesman, he represents the best of what America can be, and he provided a voice of reason in what is an increasingly unreasonable Republican Party. America needs 100 more voices like John McCain, not 1 less.

I never voted for McCain in any of the races I was eligible to, but I have always respected the man, which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for most of the other current Republicans in Washington.


The man really is an American hero and exemplifies so much of what it is to be a public servant.


Welp. Okay. I’ll be the dick in the thread, I guess.

First, a hearty “Fuck cancer!” I don’t wish cancer on anyone. Hearing McCain has brain cancer does not make me happy. I wish he didn’t have it. I hope his family and friends are a source of strength for him.

Second, no one, and I mean no one, should ever doubt that the guy did some amazingly positive things in his life. He endured a lot and he obviously loved his country. I have zero question in my mind that John McCain got into politics because he honestly believed he could do good as part of the governing body.

However, I’m a bit at a loss on the undiluted praise for the guy. For me, the 2008 election campaign is precisely when I lost most of my respect for McCain. When he bowed to the GOP and let them foist Sarah Palin on him as his VP, that was it. Everything after that was a comedy of tap-dancing, shuffling, and doublethink. He may have once been a “maverick” but he became the epitome of a party-line yes man. Some of us are literally joking right now in one of the other threads about who will take his place in Congress as the grimacer-in-chief when it comes to Trump.

Again, just to make it clear, I hate that he has brain cancer. I just wish he’d gotten out of politics a while ago.


One useless voice of token dissent is better than zero useless voice of token dissent.


I don’t think anything he’s done since Trump came in has qualified as a genuine Profile in Courage. Words are cheap, votes less so. But, to look on the good side of his life, he served his country honorably, withstood years of torture and imprisonment, and had the moral clarity to stand firmly against torture when it reared its ugly head on our shores post-9/11. Also, his refusal to go along with that stupid woman’s tarring of Obama during his campaign showed about 10,000 times more integrity than Trump could ever muster on his best day.

I will never understand why he allowed Palin to go on the ticket. That was deeply, deeply reckless.

But he’s a better man than most in Congress these days, and even if he weren’t, I’d hope for a recovery, long shot though it may be.


She was a popular Republican governor who was a family woman, a moose hunter, and a maverick. McCain wanted to win, and his internal numbers were showing that he had no chance against Obama. All his other VP options were boring safe Republican guys, like Minnesota’s former governor Tim Pawlenty. He wanted to take a risk. Palin’s basic bullet points were solid, and she passed vetting and personal interviews by trusted members of McCain’s strategy team.

It wasn’t until after the decision was announced that they realized they made a huge mistake. But as they say, marry in haste, repent in leisure. Dropping her at that point wouldn’t have helped McCain beat Obama.

Source: I finally watched the “Game Change” TV movie on HBO last weekend.


If he’d won the nomination in 2000 I think the nation would be a in better place.

The McCain who showed up in 2008 was a man who towed the party line just when the nation was sick of the party.


Did McCain’s office release this information with his ok? I’m a bit concerned about how this information about his condition became public. HIPPA and all that.


There was a press release. His daughter also put something out there.


I saw Game Change too and I get the politics of it. I just don’t understand how a man of his experience could willingly hand the VP slot to a raging incompetent. Five minutes of conversation with her definitively shows that she shouldn’t be anywhere near the Oval Office.*

*How quaint that all seems now.


You have to pander to the base. He lost the nomination in 2000 because he didn’t, so that mistake probably tainted his actions in 2008. Usually the VP doesn’t matter and she was a conservative darling. She also happened to be an idiot, but she’d managed to avoid the spotlight outside of Alaska where most people liked her.


It’s still incredibly reckless for a candidate, especially an elderly one, to appoint an incompetent as his successor. From a standpoint of trying to win an election I get it, but that doesn’t jibe with the ‘last true statesman of integrity’ bit we’re hearing a lot of now.