John McCain, nobody's hero

You can be a paragon of fortitude and courage or you can be a power-hungry party hack. But you can't be both.

John McCain puts himself first.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Has anyone in our public life cultivated an image of personal heroism more meticulously than Arizona Sen. John McCain? Soldier's son. Prisoner of war. Torture victim. Ideological maverick. Proud patriot. Honest broker. Champion of the troops. Captain of the Straight Talk Express. Bipartisan truth teller. Advocate for the honor of service and the nobility of sacrifice for a cause greater than the self.

Like pretty much everyone not named Donald Trump, I've long been moved by stories of McCain's suffering in Vietnam and by his seeming candor and courage in politics over the years. But I've also grown weary of seeing him treated like some kind of secular saint when his record over the past decade has mostly been a profile in self-serving cowardice. Again and again, McCain has placed his ravenous personal ambition ahead of the good of the country. In the process, he's done as much as anyone in his party, and far more than most, to advance the cause of the venomous populism that's now taken hold of the GOP.

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