Back in the day I hosted a fundraiser for Senator John McCain when he was truly a maverick, a Republican who had an independent streak on issues like immigration reform and gays in the military where he supported lifting 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'
On both issues he displayed a refreshing ability to get beyond the catch cries and actually study the issue deeply.
He reminded me somewhat of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who, while they were associated with one party, still managed to win friends across the aisle because they were such original thinkers.
America has far too little of that.
When I interviewed McCain for my magazine, Irish America, I found him a very refreshing change from the politics as usual, from whatever party.
He had retained a very human core, and was able to empathize with those in America who did not have people speaking up for them in powerful places I think in part because of his searing wartime experiences .
He was, in short, a remarkable man, true to his own vision of where true north was on his compass.
He could bring an audience close to tears talking about what he saw in the Arizona deserts where abandoned children were left to die by heartless smugglers and other such travesties.
This was a human being first, a politician second I always thought.
Then something happened.
The John McCain I saw yesterday voting against DADT and the DREAM act to help young kids who were brought here illegally to this country through no fault of their own, was not the John McCain I had known and respected. The humanity is gone.
In his place is this crotchety naysayer who has lost all track of his better self and his better angels.
Dan Milbank in the Washington post has a revealing article about McCain's antics on the floor as DADT passed.
Its at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/18/AR2010121802738.html?hpid=topnews
Milbank surmises and I agree that It must have been the defeat by Barack Obama that has set him off and it must really have devastated him.
Since then he has lurched to the far-right and is completely unrecognizable from the Barry Goldwater-type independent Republican he once was that we all admired.
Somewhere on the campaign trail John McCain lost his mojo and his soul and it doesn't look like it is coming back.
It is sad to see because for America's sake we need that independent voice.
Let's hope it is not too late for him to find it.