The 80-year-old McCain had been welcomed back to the Senate for the first time since his devastating brain cancer diagnosis with a standing ovation, following an outpouring of goodwill toward him from across the nation. He was mobbed by colleagues, Republicans and Democrats alike, in a rare show of shared bipartisan sentiment.
It was a speech that harkened back to a forgotten and perhaps mythical age of compromise and comity in the Senate, reminding the nation of the bedrock importance of its founding political principles at a moment of extreme national political stress and recrimination.
True to his reputation, McCain scolded Democrats and Republicans alike, but he also admitted that at times he had erred himself by prizing political victories above the common good.
He said both sides had erred by trying to remake health care on a purely partisan basis, and without open debate. “I don’t think that is going to work in the end, and it probably shouldn’t, …
“The success of the Senate is important to the continued success of America,” he lectured.
“This country — this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, restless, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, great, good and magnificent country needs us to help it thrive.”
“We are the servants of a great nation.”
‘We don’t hide behind walls, we bridge them, we are a blessing to humanity.”