The Restless Wave
by John McCain and Mark Salter
We are more alike than different…
There’s so much wisdom in this book, The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations, about choosing what’s right and honorable over party, over personal gain… Of choosing what is good for our country over what gains political clout or financial reward. Frankly, I don’t know that much about John McCain, but the sentiments in this book are truths. McCain is closer to death than ever before, and that’s a freeing place to be. He doesn’t need to worry about what we think of him or if he’ll get re-elected. He seems to be honest about errors and regrets, admitting to multiple misjudgments and mistakes that he’s made over the course of his life.
This book isn’t getting the air or attention that Trump’s book did. Sadly. It’s not a fluff piece; it’s a long, hard read. I found myself crying more than once over the circumstances of an interrogation, a battle, the image a POW sewing an American flag inside his shirt… I guess that’s what I take from this book the most, that John McCain is a patriot who values what that flag stands for, and he’d like us all to remember to be patriots above all.
McCain would like us to behave with honor toward our countrymen, to our friends, and to our enemies. He’d like us to place human rights first, even when our lives are at risk: “I want to urge Americans, for as long as I can, to remember that this shared devotion to human rights is our truest heritage and our most important loyalty.”
And I think that’s where this book really shines, where McCain reminds us that our country needs us to hold our government and leaders to the ideals it was founded upon. We cannot let fear change us. “We’re not always right. We’re impetuous and impatient, and rush into things without knowing what we’re really doing. We argue over little differences endlessly, and exaggerate them into lasting breaches. We can be selfish, and quick sometimes to shift the blame for our mistakes to others. But our country ‘tis of Thee.’ What great good we’ve done in the world, so much more good than harm.” And he points out where our country has harmed its reputation and its integrity by denying others their rights simply because they’re different or we think they’re the enemy. He points out what went wrong after 9/11 with the treatment of prisoners and what’s been done since to correct that. We can only pray that nothing like that ever happens again.
He admits that we haven’t always been in the right, but that when we were wrong, it was because we were denying the rights of others, even to the point that things were happening so against the Geneva Convention that in McCain’s view, we were acting worse than the Vietnamese acted toward him and his fellow POWs. That’s pretty sad, when we do worse than those we hold up as despicable.
“Will we act in this world with respect for our founding conviction that all people have equal dignity in the eyes of God and should be accorded the same respect by the laws and governance of men? That is the most important question history ever asks of us. Answering in the affirmative by our actions is the highest form of patriotism, and we cannot do that without access to the truth. The cruelty of our enemies doesn’t absolve us of this duty. This was never about them. It was about us.” We cannot allow our enemies to change what our country stands for.
The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations is a tome with much attention to detail, fascinating in its coverage of the various areas of conflict, the strategies, the personalities, successes, and errors. It’s refreshing to be reminded of how many times McCain voted against party line, worked with Democrats, and was friends to those on both sides of what has become a crippling divide in our country. And how many times he tried to do the same in other countries where we were involved in conflict. I hope there are many others who are trying to cross divides to meet the other side so that both sides can win.
I would have liked to see John McCain or anyone, actually, elected and acting as a true bipartisan president. I’d like to think someone could do that. We could use one.
In this candid new political memoir from Senator John McCain, an American hero reflects on his life—and what matters most.
“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here. Maybe I’ll have another five years. Maybe, with the advances in oncology, they’ll find new treatments for my cancer that will extend my life. Maybe I’ll be gone before you read this. My predicament is, well, rather unpredictable. But I’m prepared for either contingency, or at least I’m getting prepared. I have some things I’d like to take care of first, some work that needs finishing, and some people I need to see. And I want to talk to my fellow Americans a little more if I may.”
So writes John McCain in this inspiring, moving, frank, and deeply personal memoir. Written while confronting a mortal illness, McCain looks back with appreciation on his years in the Senate, his historic 2008 campaign for the presidency against Barack Obama, and his crusades on behalf of democracy and human rights in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Always the fighter, McCain attacks the “spurious nationalism” and political polarization afflicting American policy. He makes an impassioned case for democratic internationalism and bi-partisanship. He tells stories of his most satisfying moments of public service, including his work with another giant of the Senate, Edward M. Kennedy. Senator McCain recalls his disagreements with several presidents, and minces no words in his objections to some of President Trump’s statements and policies. At the same time, he offers a positive vision of America that looks beyond the Trump presidency.
The Restless Wave is John McCain at his best.