Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona describes in his new book “The Restless Wave” the way cancer freed him to take a stand against the president, speak his mind and vote for his conscience without fear of backlash or recourse.
“If I hadn’t admitted that to myself before this summer, a stage 4 cancer diagnosis acts as ungentle persuasion,” McCain wrote in his new book. “I’m freer than colleagues who will face the voters again. I can speak my mind without fearing the consequences much. And I can vote my conscience without worry. I don’t think I’m free to disregard my constituents’ wishes, far from it. I don’t feel excused from keeping pledges I made. Nor do I wish to harm my party’s prospects. But I do feel a pressing responsibility to give Americans my best judgment.”
The 81-year-old senator is currently fighting a highly malignant form of brain cancer, known as glioblastoma. Less than 5 percent of patients live beyond five years of the diagnosis, with a median survival rate of only 18 months. The same form of cancer claimed the lives of former Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and the late son of former Vice President Joe Biden, Beau.
McCain started treatment shortly after his diagnosis in July, splitting his time between Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland and the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Despite undergoing aggressive rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, the senator has managed to fulfill his day-to-day obligations in the Senate, remaining a loud and prominent voice during both the health care and tax reform debates in 2017.
McCain doesn’t shy away from taking shots at the president in his new book, either.
“He has declined to distinguish the actions of our government from the crimes of despotic ones,” McCain wrote. “The appearance of toughness, or a reality show facsimile of toughness, seems to matter more than any of our values.”
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