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RIP Senator John McCain

by Greg Robertson on August 24th, 2018

I don’t get too political on my blog, but I thought I would share this Twitter thread from Benjamin Wittes. I’ve made it a bit more readable below.

I want to tell a story about John McCain–a story that took place at the Polish embassy, back when Poland was still a committed democracy of the sort that would host a book party for the release of @anneapplebaum’s book, “Gulag” (which you should read).

Anne will correct me if I am misremembering the details here–as it’s been a few years. But McCain, as I recall, introduced Anne to the assembled audience, which included a large number of Gulag survivors.

His short speech moved me as much as any other speech–on any subject–I have ever seen a politician give. For starters, he had clearly read the book (you should too)–which is a bit of a project. Gulag is long. It is exhaustive. And it is brutal and unsparing.

While McCain had many thoughts about the book, he said that the part that really hit him in the gut was Anne’s description of prisoner tapping codes–by which prisoners would tap on cell walls in specific patterns to make out letters to communicate with those in adjacent cells.

He described the code as Anne portrayed the Gulag prisoners using. And then he described the modification that he and his fellow prisoners used–the Cyrillic alphabet being somewhat different from our own. Then he paused and said that he still dreamed in that code sometimes.

And then he tapped.

The room was silent.

It’s been 15 years since this happened, and as I say, I could be misremembering details. I suspect, however, that I am not the only person who recalls vividly being stunned by this speech. I have never heard another politician give a speech like that.

That’s all I got.

I disagree with our president. I think John McCain is a national hero. Rest in peace.

From → Love, Opinion

  1. Suzanne Close permalink

    I agree with you Greg. No matter what side of the political row you are on, he sacrificed much of his adult life to serve this country. I can’t say I have completely agreed with his political views, but the honesty and respect he showed for our country and its citizens was beyond reproach! Bravo to the man who believed and helped to make this country great!

  2. Juli Pleitner permalink

    Beautiful tribute. And one I hadn’t seen. Thank you so much for sharing.

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