McCain warns of 'half-baked spurious nationalism' in award speech

By Sara Shayanian
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill on May 25. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill on May 25. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 17 (UPI) -- In receiving a lifetime achievement honor, longtime Sen. John McCain signaled a dissatisfaction with aspects of the U.S. government -- warning against what he called "spurious nationalism."

McCain, the six-term senator from Arizona, didn't mention President Donald Trump by name during his speech at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Monday night, but some of his words appeared to refer to the president's national and international leadership.


"To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems, is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history," McCain said.

"We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil."

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"Blood and soil" is a Nazi slogan, referenced at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August.


McCain, who received the center's Liberty Medal for his lifetime of achievements, said the United States has a moral obligation to continue international leadership -- and "we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don't."

The award was presented to McCain by former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who noted the former Navy pilot's time as a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam and described him as an inspiration.

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"Everybody talks about these virtues, but this is what the guy did," Biden said of McCain. "Duty. Duty. Duty. It's the marrow running through the solid steel spine of this guy."

Diagnosed with brain cancer in July, McCain said it has been a privilege for him to serve the United States, militarily and politically, for 60 years.

"We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause," McCain added. "We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn't deserve to."


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