U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reacts as a lightning hit a nearby building while answering to questions from students of the Japan-America Student Conference (JASC) at the Tokyo American Center in Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. McCain on Wednesday called on US officials to use their influence over Egypt, as members of Congress remain spilt over whether to cut off military aid to the country. (AP Photo/Franck Robichon, Pool)

John McCain: A Good Man & Good Public Servant?

As soon as John McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer, a bipartisan chorus of praise for the career politician emerged.

Whether McCain is the good man and good “public servant” that he is now being made out to be are empirical questions. The evidence with respect to both is overwhelmingly in the negative.

Since a disastrous public servant is and must be a person with bad character, i.e. not a good person, we needn’t even look at McCain’s private life in order to see that he is neither a good man nor a good public servant.

Let’s take his foreign policy “achievements” alone.

No one, including McCain himself, denies that he is a war “hawk.” Indeed, as can be gotten readily enough by sites like Geopolitics Alert, one would be hard pressed to find an American military conflict or potential conflict on behalf of which McCain did not advocate vigorously. Whether it was in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya or Iran; Nigeria, Sudan, or Mali; Bosnia, Kosovo, or Ukraine; Russia, North Korea, and possibly even China—McCain’s has been among the loudest and most influential of voices calling for military action in each situation.

It is not an exaggeration to say that had McCain’s foreign policy not prevailed, literally hundreds of thousands and possibly more human beings around the globe would have been spared the incalculable suffering that they in fact were made to endure. A substantial number of these people would not have lost their lives.

In Iraq alone, at least 200,000 or so Iraqis, the majority of whom were noncombatant civilians, were killed. Some estimates place the number of Iraqis killed at one million. Doctors and teachers were either murdered by insurgents and criminals or forced to flee. The majority of children (70 percent) suffer from trauma and as many as 800,000 children under 18 have been orphaned. Ancient Christian communities and those of other religious minorities have been decimated and their inhabitants displaced.

Of course, it wasn’t just Iraqis whose lives were ended or damaged. Thousands of American soldiers who would have otherwise been alive today were killed. Thousands of American families that endured the agony of losing loved ones would have been spared this fate. So too were journalists, contractors, and relief workers killed in Iraq.

Thousands of young Americans lost their lives in McCain’s wars, and well over 100,000 Americans who served in Iraq returned home maimed and severely traumatized.

Anyone who maintains that McCain is a good man is in the unenviable position of having to explain how a man who has been as instrumental as McCain in facilitating this much death, pain, and misery can possibly be good.

And anyone who maintains that McCain is a good public servant is in the no less difficult position of pointing out to those millions of us who remain unconvinced of the invaluable services that he allegedly provided.

But, his defenders will argue, McCain’s intention was never to harm, much less kill, any innocent civilians. He certainly never intended for a single hair on the head of any American soldier to be harmed. However, this is war. Moreover, the wars for which McCain was such an ardent proponent were supposedly just wars, for these wars were aimed at liberating oppressed peoples from the brutal conditions under which they lived and of “protecting Americans.”

A closer look at this argument readily reveals it for the weak species of reasoning that it is.

McCain’s “intention”

For the better part of the last 2,000 years of Christian (Western) morality, it was understood that the goodness of an act is not determined by a person’s subjective intention. Even if he desired to produce a wonderful or utopian state of affairs, the means by which he pursues that end may still be immoral.

To paraphrase St. Paul’s memorable remark, we must never do evil—even if good may come from it. To put it another way, the ends never justify the means.

Yet if the only factor that is of moral relevance in judging a person’s conduct is his intention to produce a desirable outcome, then the ends do indeed justify the means. In fact, the ends always justify the means.

Outside of the context of war, most of us have no difficulty understanding this in our everyday lives. When we say of some kind of act that “it is just wrong,” or of another that there is no reason for performing it other than that “it is just the right thing to do,” we speak as if we suppose that acts are right or wrong regardless of people’s intentions and regardless of their outcomes.

For example, suppose that a dangerous convicted criminal escapes from prison. Even if this convict is threatening innocents on a crowded city street, few will deny that it would be wrong for police to shoot at him while he is in close proximity to numerous bystanders. If the police shoot and strike, say, innocent children, it will not cut it for them to respond by claiming that they never intended to shoot these innocents.

The reason for this verdict is simple: The act of shooting guns in crowded space is intrinsically reckless whether anyone is shot or not. The act intends or is oriented toward harming others.

Officers who engaged in this action would justly invite a negative moral judgment against themselves. Yet for officers who failed to learn from this one act and who continually shot and killed innocents because they were aiming for the guilty, we would reserve nothing but contempt. In reality, it’s not likely that police officers who made this mistake once would remain police officers. It is inconceivable that police officers could continually make this same kind of mistake while remaining a police officer. They would become the convicts.

Yet this is exactly the sort of mistake that McCain has made throughout his career in calling for one failed war after the other. The only difference between McCain and our hypothetical police officers is that McCain is responsible for far more death.

Morally good ends can never justify immoral deeds. This is what most people and all good Christians have always known. However, even on the assumption that the ends do justify the means, the argument in McCain’s defense still fails. It fails on its own terms.

There isn’t a single war for which McCain has advocated that has come remotely close to making the lives of the oppressed any better. Just the opposite, in fact, is the case. Iraq is the classic textbook illustration of how McCain-style American interventionism plucks the oppressed from the proverbial frying pan and hurls them into a raging fire.

Iraq is the quintessential example of this phenomenon. Tragically, it is not the only example.

And how, we must ask, have the years of war in Iraq and in any number of other foreign lands that McCain demanded protected any Americans? Americans, specifically those soldiers who lost their lives, limbs, and peace of mind, have been harmed by it.

The families and loved ones of these soldiers have as well been harmed by McCain’s wars. No one is any safer because of them.

The original verdict stands: McCain is neither a good man nor a good public servant.


All of this being said, I wish no pain and suffering upon McCain. As a Christian, I’m called to love. In praying for others, including my enemies, I love them. God is infinitely merciful and infinitely just. I pray that God’s will for McCain be done and that he may spend the remainder of his days performing acts of a far different kind than those that he performed for most of his adult life: acts of contrition.

Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.


  1. Quoted . . . .
    The real John McCain. From a US Navy Aviator who served with McCain: TRUE!! AND. . he LIED about it!! RESPECTFULLY, you NEED to have this conversation with some Naval Aviators and officers of that era!!! *I* am ONE of those and KNOW the “true story” of Admiral McCain’s little thug son, John!

    McCain was a traitor and collaborator, while being held captive. He was given preferential treatment, due to the fact that his captors felt he was ‘royalty’, due to his family ‘connections’. They didn’t understand why someone SO ‘connected’ was putting himself in ‘harm’s way’. Different culture than ours.

    His “shoot down” was self-induced, as he DISOBEYED ORDERS and flew well below the ‘floor’, getting himself shot down. There were several other jets on that particular mission and HE was the only one shot down, because the others obeyed their orders!

    His ENTIRE life has been one of disrespect of orders and authority, believing himself bullet-proof, due to his ‘family name’ and his dad and grand dad being HIGH ranking Navy Admirals!

    His ‘nickname’ in his HS yearbook was “Punk” and he displayed that behavior as he went on to the USNA, where he robbed someone, more deserving, of a slot in his class, due to the ‘influence’ of his father.

    He SHOULD have been expelled, several times, but the folks at USNA did not want to go up against dad. He graduated FIFTH FROM THE BOTTOM in his class . . but STILL ended up going to Pensacola for flight training!@! His classmates who actually ‘made the grade’ were aghast when he showed up down there.

    His flight grades were well below acceptable and he should have been run out of there too . . he was an ABYSMAL aviator . . crashing on base leg at Corpus for carrier qualification training. Because he had been out drinking the night before and FELL ASLEEP after turning base leg and ‘configuring’ for landing . . he crashed ‘wings level’ and straight ahead into Corpus Bay . . too bad for us he wasn’t over land . . story would have ended there.

    He destroyed two other A/C after arriving in the Fleet . . before being shot down.

    His nickname in Hanoi was “Songbird”. . due to the information he willingly gave his captors. . tactical stuff. .like ‘routes, altitudes’, etc., that our guys used to fly from the boat to their targets and he got several of my fellow aviators shot down and killed. He recorded 32+ propaganda bits (a la Tokyo Rose) to be played for our enlisted troops . . to undermine their moral.

    The bogus ‘story’ about not coming home early, when he could have, is just common sense. He KNEW he would have been ‘court martialed’ IF he had accepted any kind of early release, based upon his ‘family connections’.

    After his release, his Navy ‘flying career’ SHOULD have been over, based upon his permanent injuries, but, his dad intimidated a flight surgeon and he wrongly got back his flight medical status, when ANYONE else would NOT have ‘passed’ with his ‘condition’. He was ‘awarded’ the position of XO at the Navy’s largest training squadron, VA-174 at NAS Cecil and when the CO moved on, he was ‘selected’, over MANY more qualified officers, to become CO. He used his position as XO and CO to take young (junior) female pilots on X-Country flights and screwed their brains out.

    I was in the Reserves, flying around the country at that time and it WAS the talk of the flight line !! EVERYONE knew what he was doing . . THAT is ILLEGAL in the military and he SHOULD have been convicted at Court Martial for ‘fraternization’ . .INSTEAD . .daddy got him moved out of the squadron and put in charge of the Navy’s “Liaison” in DC . . along with a VERY early promotion to Captain . . the rest, as they say, is history.

    John McCain IS a scum bag . . a DISGRACE to the uniform we wore and his spots did not change when he became a politician!

    The evidence for these acts exists and is substantial. What is stranger still is McCain’s longtime war against veterans, other POW’s and their families. He has often been both verbally and physically abusive to POW families, POW activists and veterans.




  2. I have to admit I have placed him in the repugnant category for a long while. His recent remarks blaming radio and television talkers for the failures of the legislative branch to be effective as legislators raised him to Ultra Repugnant! Who with so many years, in-the-job and at 80 years of age gets away with blaming others for their multiple failures?

  3. Judas McCain earned his 30 pieces of silver from George Soros……He was pardoned by Nixon to avoid a court martial for treason…He was called Songbird by Fellow POWs…..

  4. This article was written by JJ Paul McCartney who says:
    For anyone who doesn’t know the real John McCain let me help you get to know him. And remember this doesn’t even mention his traitorous acts while he was a POW. Okay, people…before John McCain dies and the ridiculous “tributes” to the man make me vomit, let’s remember what McCain’s real legacy is: His father was the Admiral in charge of the Pacific fleet prosecuting the war in Vietnam Nam.
    Because of this McCain got preferential treatment in the Navy. He was allowed to become a Navy pilot. But he was a terrible pilot.
    McCain crashed two Navy Jets in his early career. Then while aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Forrestal, McCain got angry because he had to wait in line to take off on a bombing run.
    He shut off his engines, opened the cockpit, and in his haste to exit the aircraft to chew someone out about his having to ” wait”, he hit the button that released his live bombs onto the deck of the Forrestal.
    He took off running, as the bombs exploded, which set off a chain reaction of bombs from adjacent aircraft, and the ensuing explosions and fires killed 133 sailors aboard the Forrestal.
    While his fellow sailors were fighting the fire, McCain went to the pilot’s lounge below decks and watched the men fight the fire on closed circuit TV.
    Hours later, McCain took off with a New York Times reporter buddy of his, and went on to say that after seeing the effects of those bombs on the Forrestal, he was beginning to question the morality of dropping those bombs on the Viet Cong.
    McCain was the direct cause of 133 deaths on his own ship, and was never reprimanded. He was nowhere to be found as the Forrestal had to limp to the Philippines for months of repair work.
    McCain was married then. His wife was stricken with debilitating injuries in an automobile accident. And was hospitalized for more than 5 months. McCain was off gallivanting with anything in a skirt.
    Upon returning from Vietnam Nam, McCain found his wife was disfigured by her injuries, which included a shattered pelvis, arm, and legs. In order to save her legs, doctors performed 23 surgeries on her, and had to remove significant portions of the bones in her legs, which left he shorter, and unable to walk, and in a wheelchair, she had to use a catheter.
    McCain was disinterested in his first wife’s predicament. She had to go through grueling physical therapy to learn to walk again.
    After McCain left the Navy, he was intent on a career in politics. He and His wife Carol had gotten to know Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and McCain was eager to jump into politics.
    But he decided he needed a more visually pleasing young woman by his side. He callously divorced Carol, the mother of his three children, and immediately jumped into the sack with new wife Cindy, who was 18 years younger.
    Upon learning of this, the Reagans were shocked and angered by how he had treated Carol.
    While campaigning for congress, McCain used pictures of himself posing with Mr. And Mrs. Reagan, but there was no hearty endorsement offered by the Reagans.
    McCain’s new young wife was also an heiress to an Arizona Brewing fortune.
    And let us not forget McCain was one of the Keating 5, who had helped swindle life savings from countless Americans in the Savings and Loan scandal of the 1980’s. McCain was in it up to his eyeballs.
    Yet McCain was well-connected in Washington, and parlayed his connections into a seat in the United States Senate.
    So before the tearful tributes to John McCain, be sure you remember the facts about this self-proclaimed Maverick. The facts do not agree with that portrait of a heroic patriot and great American.
    With due respect to his family, John McCain was never the great man so many portray

  5. He lived a lie during his entire career. He was never the man we were told. The Viet Con called him Song Bird. He was a terrible pilot and was never a war hero. His family ran interference for him and kept his errors well hidden. He divorced his wife….mother of 3…when he came home because she was in a whee chair. Married a rich younger woman. He is one of the meanest nastiest men I have ever known. From Song Bird to Turn Coat….why am I surprised.


  7. He’s not a war heroe! He is a traitor who caused alot of pilots to be killed after revealing flight plans to Vietnam; he was pardoned by Nixon after his father begged for His pardon! McCain is a pos! He was a traitor then and is still a traitor!

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