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On Washington: John McCain Isn’t Ready to Wave a White Flag Just Yet

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WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain wasn’t interested in getting the last word on his decades at the center of American political life. He was interested in getting thousands of them.

In a new 380-page memoir written as he confronts brain cancer and his mortality, the occasionally ornery maverick Republican from Arizona looks back on a series of major episodes from both his own history and the United States’.

He recounts his presidential runs, his leading roles in fights over immigration, campaign finance, health care and foreign policy. He takes a few shots at President Trump, talk radio “blowhards” and House backbenchers. He says he would like Americans to “recover our sense that we are more alike than different.”

True to his nature, John McCain is not one to go quietly.

“It should be required reading for anyone who wants to lead in a democracy,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and Mr. McCain’s best friend in the Senate. He sees the book as a call to arms around the idea that “America’s values make us better than our enemies.”

Mr. Graham visited Mr. McCain on Tuesday in Arizona, where they watched their favorite western, one that features an idealistic senator: “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” Mr. Graham found Mr. McCain upbeat and gaining strength.

“I hope he has another run in him,” said Mr. Graham, reflecting a sentiment shared widely in Washington.

Written with his frequent collaborator Mark Salter, a former aide and longtime adviser of Mr. McCain’s, the book is titled, “The Restless Wave,” in a nod to the long naval tradition of the McCain family.

It is reminiscent of the 2009 valedictory “True Compass,” written by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who died of cancer shortly before its publication. The form of glioblastoma that claimed Mr. Kennedy and is now putting Mr. McCain in peril is just another of the ties between two larger-than-life figures in a Senate that has fewer and fewer of them.

In the pages of his memoir, Mr. McCain doesn’t surrender to the disease, but he clearly accepts that his time may be short.

“Like my friend Ted, I might have fought my last immigration battle,” Mr. McCain writes, noting that though he sponsored a new measure with a Democratic colleague, “I’m not as sure that I’ve sufficient time left to see it all the way through. That, alas, isn’t my call to make.”

One question arising from Mr. McCain’s illness and his


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