Goodman: A patriot leaves us, when we need patriots the most

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), then the Republican presidential nominee, arrives onstage for a campaign event in Scranton, Pa., on Sept. 22, 2008.
(Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

Of course John McCain would leave words of inspiration.

At this moment in American history when the nation is riven into increasingly warring camps, the heroic former POW, Arizona senator and almost-president said this in his recently published book, The Restless Wave:

“Before I leave, I’d like to see our politics begin to return to the purposes and practices that distinguish our history from the history of other nations. I would like to see us recover our sense that we are more alike than different. We are citizens of a republic made of shared ideals forged in a new world to replace the tribal enmities that tormented the old one….

“Whether we think each other right or wrong in our views on the issues of the day, we owe each other our respect, as long as our character merits respect, and as long as we share, for all our differences, for all the rancorous debates that enliven and sometimes demean our politics, a mutual devotion to the ideals our nation was conceived to uphold, that all are created equal, and liberty and equal justice are the natural rights of all….

“I want to urge Americans, for as long as I can, to remember that this shared devotion to human rights is our truest heritage and our most important loyalty.”

I didn’t agree with McCain on political positions. But I thought the world of him as a man. And I cherished how he practiced his patriotism.

He grew up with a heightened sense of duty, the son and grandson of U.S. Navy admirals. He bore torture as a POW. Yet after the war he sought common ground with the Vietnamese people and with American dissenters, like his fellow senator, John Kerry, who spoke out as a leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War while McCain was a captive.

In the Senate, he evolved from uncompromising conservative to a man who looked beyond labels and caricatures to become close friends with liberal lion Ted Kennedy (who died of the same brain cancer exactly nine years before McCain’s passing on Aug. 25) and ally with Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold on campaign finance reform.

During his 2008 bid for the presidency, he famously defended his opponent Barack Obama when a woman at a campaign event called him “an Arab.”

“No, ma’am,” McCain interrupted. “He’s a decent family man and citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”

That moment said volumes about McCain’s character. And it shows how far, 10 years later, his Republican Party has veered from that generosity of spirit. Now the party’s leader does all he can to inflame white-identity anxiety and fan fears of the “other.”

Last year he interrupted his treatments for glioblastoma to make that dramatic appearance on the Senate floor and give thumbs-down, literally, on the Republicans’ attempted repeal of Obamacare. With a doctor’s scar prominent over his left eyebrow, he addressed his colleagues and, just for a moment, restored a long-lost dignity to the U.S. Congress.

“I hope we can again rely on humility,” he said, “on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us.

“Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood.”

In mourning McCain, I’ll be mourning not just a man but a sensibility. A man who exemplified the highest calling of citizenship is gone. Let the rest of us follow his lead.

Should the U.S. rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

WEST PALM BEACH: President Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump arrive with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe on Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport for a weekend together at Mar-a-Lago resort on Feb. 10, 2017. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

With Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, coming back to Palm Beach for talks with President Trump Tuesday, it’s a good time to ask if the U.S. should rejoin the multi-country trade agreement.

In a head-spinner of a reversal, Trump on Thursday said he was looking into rejoining the TPP. Tearing up the pact was one  of his bedrock campaign promises and first acts as president.

Back then, he denounced the deal as “a rape of our country.” But now many farmers, business people and Republican lawmakers are worried about threats of tariffs and trade barriers.

Trump made the comment to a gathering of farm-state lawmakers and governors, so maybe this was mind-boggling idea that evaporates as soon as the intended audience leaves the room, like the time he seemed to side with Democrats on DACA or that moment when he embraced universal background checks on gun purchases.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, forged during the Obama administration, was to unite 12 countries,  representing 40 percent of the world’s economic output, in a trading bloc. The hope was to strengthen economic ties by slashing tariffs and writing policies and regulations — and to counter China’s dominance in Asia.

Critics on the left, as well as Trump-supporting nationalists, assailed the pact as costing U.S. jobs and said it was developed with too little transparency.

So what do you think? Is the U.S. better off outside the TPP? Or should we get back in?

Munoz: Ariana Grande, my town’s world-famous star, helped a shattered city heal

Singer Ariana Grande is overcome by emotion at the One Love Manchester tribute concert in Manchester, England, Sunday, June 4. (Dave Hogan via AP)

By Valeria Munoz

Palm Beach Post Intern 

For many, Ariana Grande is just another pop star, a distant face on TV or magazines, but having grown up in Boca Raton and seen her rise to fame, I feel a certain connection to the star who shares my hometown.

Her favorite hangouts are the same ones my friends and I visit. Whenever she comes to town, it seems my school is the first to know. Many of my friends attended her Miami concert in April.

Thus, when tragedy struck during her Manchester, U.K., concert, it hit close to home.

Upon hearing about the 22 who lost their lives on May 22 and the almost 60 wounded, I remembered the concerts I had attended. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept. I thought about how most had been Arianators (Ariana fans, like me). I thought of all of Ariana’s dancers. And finally I thought of Ariana, who had grown up in the neighborhood a few streets from mine. And although I couldn’t imagine her thoughts, I felt overwhelming emotions.

Grande certainly considers Boca Raton her home, still. Since the attack, she sought the support of her friends and family in the very place she began her career.

Boca Raton fans of Ariana, known as the Boca Babes, gathered at Patch Reef Park on Sunday, May 28, to honor the 22 lost.

While Grande was planning the benefit concert, her fan base across the world organized meetups, gathering in locations where they released light pink balloons in the memory of those who lost their lives in Manchester.

Allan Alvarado, co-owner of the Ariana fan account @yallneedbutera on Instagram, organized the meet-up in the artists’ hometown in Patch Reef Park on May 28. A friend of Alvarado’s, Randi Cass, 16, from Stuart, also created shirts with Ariana Grande’s ribbon that has become synonymous with Manchester. Her goal was to sell 50 shirts, but she has sold 750 thus far and raised $7,270.

The t-shirt designed by Randi Cass, 16, of Stuart.

Although some people criticized Grande for leaving Manchester, Y100 Miami reported that, at first, she and her dancers were distraught and confused as to what had occurred. Her mother, Joan Grande, took several fans backstage and as a result saved their lives. The team’s exit wasn’t an act of indifference or selfishness but rather of precaution and safety.

Like many fans, I expected Ariana Grande to go on hiatus to overcome the difficulty of the bombing. However, she handled the situation with such strength and grace by taking the stage only a week after the attack at the exact venue.

The performers who joined her did a sublime job, but nothing compared with Ariana’s entrance. Accompanied by her dancers, Grande and her team held hands to symbolize their unity with the Manchester crowd. There was so much courage and reassurance in that small act of community.

In that moment, as she sang “We’re Gonna Be Alright,” I could only imagine what the little girls sitting in the Manchester hospital felt, witnessing it on TV. It’s not easy to see an idol’s vulnerability, but it is events such as these that make us realize that celebrities are human.

To see her come back, standing tall and proud, singing her hits, I felt an indescribable amount of appreciation and respect for Ariana Grande. Through her performance in Manchester, Grande has demonstrated a level of grace, proving she has since matured from the donut mishap of a few years ago.

As she said: “The kind of love and unity you’re displaying is the medicine the world needs right now.”

For young girls who attend concerts all around the world, “we’re going to be alright” is just the message they needed to hear. Grande spread a message of love through music, a language that continues to be universal.


Valeria Munoz, a graduate of Boca Raton High School, is a journalism major and currently an intern with the Palm Beach Post.