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Reminder: Some of You Were Calling John McCain a Murderer 3 Days Ago

People you hate can do things you love

On Tuesday, in what may be one of his last major speeches, Sen. John McCain apologized for his past: “Sometimes I’ve let my passion rule my reason. Sometimes I made it harder to find common ground because of something harsh I said to a colleague.”

The 80-year-old former POW, who is battling an aggressive form of brain cancer, was understandably thinking about his legacy. But some people ignored him to focus on the other thing he did Tuesday: voted to allow debate on repealing Obamacare.

Some said he could “rot in hell.” Some said he had voted for murder.

Never mind that he also said he would vote against the actual repeal. And that he did vote against it — and killed a seven-year campaign to kill Obamacare in the process.

Even people you hate can do things you love.

When a BuzzFeed editor suggested Tuesday that people not say anything “sh–ty” about McCain, few who responded to her agreed. The replies to her tweet included some of the comments about him advocating murder, or rotting in hell.

It was wrong for some people on the right to claim seven years ago that Obamacare would lead to death panels. And it was wrong for some people on the left to say McCain wanted to kill people. If we want to de-escalate the way we talk to each other, and might want to start with fewer accusations of murder.

I disagree with McCain on an incredible number of things, but he has boundless character, and has made bigger sacrifices than most people ever will. I’m not just talking about getting shot down and in Vietnam; I’m talking about his refusal to go home until everyone captured ahead of him got to go home.

He’s a living example of why we shouldn’t turn each other into cartoon caricatures.

I interviewed him in 2013, at a party for his daughter’s TV show. Two African-American women — not exactly his key demo — walked up and told him to lay off President Obama.

In cartoon world, he would ignore them, or an argument might break out. But that didn’t happen.

McCain, who lost to Obama in 2008, had an expression I didn’t expect: He looked hurt, as if there had been a misunderstanding. He paused the interview and told the women he thought Obama was a great guy, despite their differences. He listened. Within minutes, McCain and the women were smiling together for a photo.

He wasn’t the cartoon you sometimes see on TV.

It made me wonder if anyone is.