The profiled senators crossed party lines and/or defied the public opinion of their constituents to do what they felt was right and suffered severe criticism and losses in popularity because of their actions.
The book, which was published in early 1956 and won a coveted Pulitzer Prize, was claimed to have been written when Kennedy was laid low by back trouble, but it has been suggested that it was largely written by Kennedy aide Theodore Sorenson.
More important than who was responsible for writing the book, is the claim that Kennedy used his back trouble to avoid voting in the 1954 censure motion in respect of fellow Irish-American Senator Joseph McCarthy, who was admired for his stand against "communists," by Kennedy's father Joseph. McCarthy was the godfather of the first child of JFK's brother, Robert Kennedy.
As Kennedy proved himself, brave senators who preceded him and succeeded him are scarce.
One of the latter is Senator John McCain.
List of senators profiled in Profiles in Courage from Wikipedia:
- John Quincy Adams from Massachusetts, for breaking away from the Federalist Party.
- Daniel Webster also from Massachusetts, for speaking in favor of the Compromise of 1850.
- Thomas Hart Benton from Missouri, for staying in the Democratic Party despite his opposition to the extension of slavery in the territories.
- Sam Houston from Texas, for speaking against the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Sam Houston was also profiled for opposing Texas' secession from the Union. For refusing to support the secession of Texas, Houston was deposed from the office of Governor.
- Edmund G. Ross from Kansas, for voting for acquittal in Andrew Johnson impeachment trial. As a result of Ross' vote, and six other Republicans, Johnson's presidency was saved, and the stature of the office was preserved.
- Lucius Lamar from Mississippi, for eulogizing Charles Sumner on the Senate Floor and other efforts to mend ties between the North and South during Reconstruction, and for his principled opposition to the Bland-Allison Act to permit free coinage of silver.
- George Norris from Nebraska, for opposing Joseph Gurney Cannon's autocratic power as Speaker of the House, for speaking out against arming U.S. merchant ships during the United States' neutral period in World War I, and for supporting the Presidential Campaign of Democrat Al Smith.
- Robert A. Taft from Ohio, for criticizing the Nuremberg Trials for trying Nazi war criminals under what Taft considered ex post facto laws.
More often than not, the brave politician pays a big price for honesty and courage.
Senator John McCain's campaign for the US Presidency is imploding.
McCain has strongly criticised the Bush Administration's execution of the war in Iraq and as a past victim of torture, has also lambasted the tacit support of the Administration for torture of prisoners.
His son has joined the armed services as he did.
It would have been easier to join those who are calling for an early withdrawal from Iraq because of political expediency rather than principle.
As a recent Financial Times editorial noted: Sadly, the finest men do not always make the most successful politicians.
Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy: The Implosion of an Irish American Demagogue
|The Rise and Fall of an Irish-American Bully|