John McCain had a choice. He could play politics and be the darling of the right wing, or he could do the right thing.
The future of the Affordable Care Act lay in his hands.
Thing is, this likely was to be his last hurrah.
Diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, he likely has little time left to him. I was afraid the irony might be lost on him — a politician who had fought against the ACA, getting the best medical care available to anyone and able to allow tens of millions of people to keep, or lose, lifesaving access to health care.
Would be make the connection? Would he see the importance of access to care for everyone, or would he continue to play politics with people’s lives?
I was truly afraid he would stand on the wrong side of history.
He chose to be on the moral side of history.
But the beautiful story in all of this is the two Republican women who stood steadfast in the face of derision and threats.
Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska never wavered in their opposition to the theft of access to care for tens of millions of Americans.
When Murkowski was threatened with official punishment in the form of retaliatory action against her constituents, she shut down her committee’s hearings on appointments to the Department of the Interior, which was the source of the threats against her.
Sen. Capito caved. I don’t know what the enticement — or the threat — was that changed her vote, but Collins and Murkowski stood firm.
I took some heat this morning because I mentioned McCain before the women in a Facebook post. I call bullshit on that.
McCain walked the farthest in his position. Maybe it was because he wants to see the whole law repealed; maybe it was because the stark reality of his own mortality has humbled him. Whatever the reason, he has saved access to health care for tens of millions of Americans.
We knew we had the votes of Murkowski and Collins; McCain’s was the miracle vote.
And while we’re talking about heroes, Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii also has cancer — stage 4 kidney cancer. She also traveled to Washington to vote, making her every bit as heroic as McCain. The media haven’t picked up on it they way they did McCain, so we all need to thank her for her heroic effort.
I have written thank-you notes to all four senators.
But we have won just one battle. The occupant of the White House will not let this go. He has promised to attack it and kill it with a thousand cuts. We are not out of the woods.
So, let’s take some time to breathe this morning, but tomorrow we have to resume the fight. This is not over until every human being in the United States has full access to health care.