John McCain made an unexpected return to Congress in July 2017, right after undergoing brain surgery. But few knew he was risking his life in the process.
The detail was revealed in a new HBO documentary on Memorial Day, “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls.” The filmmakers embarked on the project the day that McCain’s cancer diagnosis was made public – hoping to finish the documentary in time for McCain to watch it.
You may remember McCain flew back to D.C. for an important vote on Obamacare repeal (the so-called “skinny repeal”). McCain says he voted against the skinny-repeal because the thought the bill was just as rushed-together as Obamacare itself. That sounds reasonable enough, but his travel was done against the wishes of his doctor, and daughter, according to the new documentary. Indeed, daughter Meghan was begging him to stay home and not risk his life.
As reported by The Daily Mail:
Meghan McCain has revealed how she once got into a shouting match with her father Senator John McCain just after his brain surgery.
‘He said, “I have to get back for the healthcare bill” and I said, “What could possibly happen if he gets on a plane?”‘ Meghan, 33, recalled in the film.’The doctor said he would like hemorrhage and it can be dangerous if he still has air in his brain, and all this crazy stuff,’ Meghan said.
‘So I freaked out and I screamed at everyone that he couldn’t get on the plane and that I didn’t agree with it,’ she continued. ‘And my dad snapped at me and said, “It’s my life and it’s my choice.”‘
The film’s closing moments include McCain’s deciding vote against the GOP’s health care bill and his Senate speech before departing for Arizona. Clearly the filmmakers saw that defying vote as significant, as did McCain. “I think the Republicans felt that he had marshaled all of his physical strength to come back after the surgery and that naturally he would vote with the Republican Party,” former Democratic senator Joe Lieberman told the filmmakers. “But they totally misread John,” Lieberman says. “He came back for a different reason. He came back to do the right thing and to send a message to his colleagues and to the country.” Obamacare would later end up being effectively repealed, with the repeal of the individual mandate in December of 2017.
The film made it evident just how serious McCain’s condition truly is, and voters in Arizona are preparing for his passing. McCain has held his Senate seat since 1986, and his most likely replacement will be Cindy McCain, his wife.
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