The Restless Wave
John McCain
Contributed by Nina Calhoun
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Senator John McCain can be argued to be the most polarized political figure in the modern age. He is a man who does not only shy away from voicing his opinion in any situation, but he is a man who always has the interest of the country at heart. The intention of his book is best captured in the closing chapter when he asserts most emphatically, “I’m freer than colleagues who will face the voters again…. I can speak my mind without fearing the consequences much.” When politicians make statements, even banal ones, there is always a tendency to believe that they are in their typical political element. Mostly, politicians are fond of lacing their statements with deceit and populism for overall approval. Thus, when McCain declares that there is no threat of political consequences, one is compelled to listen.

Unlike McCain’s previous books, this one was not written for the voters. In this book, the Arizona Republican seeks to set the record straight. He profiles himself as a man of courage, whose commitment to his country is unwavering and unrivaled. There were specific events surrounding the political life of the senator that astounded both friend and foes alike. The senator takes time to explain his side concerning some divisive moments during his career. In 2007, when there was a lot of pressure from both the public and political class to pull the U.S troops out of Iraq, McCain was one of the lonely, yet loud voices that called on the soldiers to ‘surge' into Iraq and complete the mission. Perhaps being a former military officer, McCain might have deemed it a failure for the team to pull out before achieving its objectives.

The 2008 decision to partner with Governor Palin is perhaps one of the most intriguing choices that McCain made in his political career. The senator thoroughly explains the circumstances that led to his choice. While the senator did not previously admit that he made a mistake by choosing Palin, an error that might have cost him the presidency, he eventually shows his regrets for the decision. He admits that he ignored an enthusiastic persuasion from his close friend, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), to choose their close friend, Joe Lieberman, as the running mate. McCain says that his decision to pick Palin was influenced by the significant amount of people in the GOP who were not in support of Joe Lieberman. This lack of support was due to the assumption that he could have been a source of division among the rank and file of GOP. Besides, there was a widespread belief that the choice of Sarah Palin was likely to counter Barack Obama's idea of progressive politics. The choice of Palin appears to have been critical in McCain's loss to President Barack Obama. It is important to acknowledge McCain’s act of responsibility in taking a portion of the blame.   

The alleged interference by the Russians on the American election process is one of the most recent democratic puzzles that the country is yet to unravel. However, Senator John McCain is at the center of it all. In the 2016 election, an opposition researcher compiled the ‘dossier,' concerning the alleged interference by the Russians. McCain picked it the ‘dossier’ and forwarded it to the FBI for investigation. The former FBI Director, James Comey, picked up the document and sought to analyze the extent, if at all it was true, of the Russian involvement in the presidential election. Although many individuals were opposed to this line of thought, McCain is unapologetic about the course of actions that he took. He exclaims that "Anyone who doesn't like it can go to hell."

McCain portrays President Trump as a man who is either aloof or in denial about what is really going on in the geopolitical arena. He frets that “Trump seems to vary from refusing to believe what President Vladimir Putin of Russia is doing to just not caring about it.” That perhaps lends credence to his arguments that Vladimir Putin had a role in Trump’s ascent to the most powerful political seat in the world. Therefore, Trump owes Putin and would have to exercise restraint while dealing with the Kremlin. McCain also calls out Republican legislators for apparently exploring their conspiracy theories rather than dealing with the most immediate threat to the country. McCain appears to be agitated by the little activity going on with regards to an objective inquiry on the Russians’ role in the presidential elections. As a leader of the Republican Party, McCain takes it upon himself to explain the tectonic shifts within the GOP and their effect on the governance of the country.

McCain seems to be frustrated with a wide range of political institutions in the country. While appreciating that there are effective structures in place to address the problems facing the country, there appears to be a weak link in the form of the political players in the country. He invites the House Freedom Caucus to take a position and avoid any temptation of rejecting everything, however promising they may look. He describes the caucus as “the say-no-to-everything crowd.” Essentially McCain views that America still has the potential to grow to higher scales and achieve the American dream if the political classes become honest and objective. Just like any politician may seek to self-Mythologize, McCain uses this book to advance his maverick brand. He spends a significant amount of time narrating the job he has done for Americans. Perhaps the book is aimed at entrenching his maverick brand in the heart and minds of Americans.

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