Speed Reads


John McCain, accepting the Liberty Medal, slams 'half-baked, spurious nationalism,' naming no names

On Monday night in Philadelphia, the National Constitution Center awarded Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) the Liberty Medal "for his lifetime of sacrifice and service." Former Vice President Joe Biden presented McCain with the medal.

In his acceptance speech, a sometimes emotional McCain mixed self-deprecating humor with a strong endorsement of American leadership and participation in "the international order we helped build from the ashes of world war," in what was widely seen as a rebuke to President Trump, whom he did not mention. America has become more just and prosperous for having "shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make another, better world," he said, adding pointedly:

To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain "the last best hope of Earth" for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems, is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history. [John McCain]

McCain clearly wanted that line to stand out. He also unsubtly took a swipe at neo-Nazis and white nationalists, saying "we live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil," and ended on the valedictory note of an elder statesman battling aggressive cancer. Former President Barack Obama tweeted his gratitude and congratulations to his 2008 presidential rival. You can read McCain's speech or watch the entire ceremony.