I loved John McCain’s speech on Tuesday.
And I am not the biggest fan of John McCain. He is personally responsible for unleashing Sarah Palin and her band of misfits on the national stage, and for that he must be held accountable, but I liked his speech anyway.
I didn’t listen to it. I read the transcript, as I almost always do. I am very susceptible to voices, and the way someone speaks and sounds can completely color my response to what they’re saying. So I prefer to read the words and know just what they meant without being distracted by oratorical flair, or the lack thereof.
Doing so, however, sometimes divorces the speeches from their context and I don’t always respond in the same way as others who have experienced a speech in real time.
I loved the way McCain made an eloquent plea for the Senate to work together and get things done, took the Senators to task for their own unpopularity as an institution, made a joke at the expense of his fellow Republicans and when only the Democrats laughed, made a joke at their expense to which only Republicans laughed, thereby summing up the current Washington situation and making his point. (The transcript I read included audience responses.)
But by reading his speech after the fact, I missed the irony that he had delivered this masterpiece of bipartisan eloquence immediately after casting a vote to allow debate on a bill that was anything but bipartisan.
So where I saw a speech about the importance of debate and discussion given after a vote to allow debate and discussion, it made perfect sense to me. And I am not his target audience.
But not everyone saw it the way I did. Some folks saw a man of considerable means receiving the finest health care available and then rising from his sickbed to fly across the country in order to cast the deciding vote to allow debate on a bill that would take health care away from millions of those less fortunate than himself.
And I can see the irony of that. What I can’t see is being upset and disappointed enough by his vote to wish him dead. And it happened. It definitely happened. All night Tuesday and into Wednesday, amidst the general wailing and gnashing of teeth of people who seemed to have forgotten he is a Republican, there were wishes that his recently diagnosed brain cancer would kill him, as it would kill many of the people who would lose their health care under the bill he wished to debate.
And that’s when I lost it.
Wishing for someone to die of brain cancer is wrong. There is no nuance here. It is wrong. And by wrong, I mean hateful, cruel and unfeeling. And not something I can accept.
Having recently lost someone I loved very much to brain cancer and still not being recovered from that loss, I can’t even comprehend how anyone with the slightest shred of humanity could make such a wish.
I saw strangers online wishing for McCain to die and it made my blood run cold, and I am no stranger to the online spewing of hateful vitriol that happens on a daily basis.
But then it got worse when I heard the same hateful ill wishes from people I know, people I respect, people whose opinion is important to me, people I like and even people I love, and I was gobsmacked by their heartlessness.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at them the same way again.
Most of my political positions are based on kindness, generosity to others and trying to aim for as level a playing field as possible. But mainly, just being nice to people and treating them well, the way I want to be treated. So I kind of assumed that people who take the same position as me are kind of on the same page with that. But that is not the case if they’re wishing for people to die. And maybe I wouldn’t be taking this so personally if I didn’t take brain cancer so personally.
Brain cancer is not fun. It is not pretty. Watching helplessly as it claims the faculties and then the life of someone you love is devastating.
So I wish John McCain the best as he battles his cancer. I feel for his wife and seven children. I know what they are going through and what they will go through, and I could never wish that on anyone.
So, Cindy, Douglas, Andrew, Sidney, Meghan, John, James and Bridget, my best wishes are with you. I hope your husband and father recovers undamaged. When I was going through as a private individual what you are going through now in the center of a public firestorm, it was very, very hard. Unbearable, sometimes. And I had the love and support of everyone around me.
Far from having that, many people are bearing actual malice toward you. Quite frankly, I don’t know how you’ll be able to manage it. But I wish you the best as you try.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.