As Morris Udall, a long-serving Democratic Representative from Arizona, like John McCain, lay dying from Parkinson’s disease in a veterans hospital in Northeast Washington, one man would stop by to pay his respects on a regular basis:
Udall is seldom conscious, and even then he shows no sign of recognition. McCain brings with him a stack of newspaper clips on Udall’s favorite subjects: local politics in Arizona, environmental legislation, Native American land disputes, subjects in which McCain initially had no particular interest himself. Now, when the Republican senator from Arizona takes the floor on behalf of Native Americans, or when he writes an op-ed piece arguing that the Republican Party embrace environmentalism, or when the polls show once again that he is Arizona’s most popular politician, he remains aware of his debt to Arizona’s most influential Democrat.
. . . .
A nurse entered and seemed surprised to find anyone there, and it wasn’t long before I found out why: Almost no one visits anymore. In his time, which was not very long ago, Mo Udall was one of the most-sought-after men in the Democratic Party. Yet as he dies in a veterans hospital a few miles from the Capitol, he is visited regularly only by a single old political friend, John McCain. “He’s not going to wake up this time,” McCain said.
There is a term we Jews have for the type of man who does what John McCain did: mensch. I can still remember when my Dad first used the term and I asked him what it meant. It was the best compliment you could pay to a person, a fully realized human being.