On Saturday, 25 August 2018, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) succumbed to his battle with brain cancer, at his home outside Phoenix, Arizona, just four days before his 82nd birthday. The six-term senator, a former Republican nominee for president, had garnered a reputation as a maverick nonpartisan, a truthful, principled political actor who chastised his fellow Party members as freely as the opposition. A naval fighter pilot who was shot down over Vietnam and spent five years in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” internment camp, McCain had the opportunity for earlier release, based in his family connections (both his father and grandfather were Navy Admirals), but refused to leave until more senior prisoners had been freed. Injuries sustained from the torture he received then prevented him for the rest of his life from being able to raise his arms high enough to comb his own hair.
As such, McCain certainly qualifies as a war hero (at least, to everyone but President Trump). He parlayed that visibility and popularity into a career of political service lasting more than 30 years. A viable contender against George W. Bush’s nomination in 2000, McCain’s candidacy then was sunk in South Carolina by a vicious campaign of innuendo and smear, but he came back in 2008 to win his Party’s nomination for president, albeit at the cost of elevating his running mate Sarah Palin to national prominence.
McCain’s legislative legacy is considerable, and highlights his bipartisan approach to politics. He seemed to have an affinity for colleagues who were Massachusetts Democrats, teaming with Senator John Kerry, who began his political career by criticizing the US Vietnam policy, to give cover for a draft-dodging Bill Clinton to restore formal diplomatic relations with that country. He worked extensively with Senator Ted Kennedy, with whom he became close friends, on such issues as immigration and education. In one of life’s many ironies, both men died of the same form of brain cancer, exactly nine years apart to the day.
McCain also worked with Democratic Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold on the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act, which attempted to reform campaign finance; with Democratic Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman (whom he later considered asking to be his running-mate in 2008) on the legislation which created the 9/11 Commission; and Democratic South Carolina Senator Fritz Hollings on the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, which federalized airport security. An outspoken critic of the Bush policies on waterboarding and other quasi-torture interrogation methods, McCain also broke Party solidarity by voting against several Bush tax cuts and supporting comprehensive immigration reform. In August 2017, shortly after his cancer diagnosis, he cast the deciding vote in the Senate to squash the Obamacare repeal.
McCain never directly addressed Trump’s appalling smear, early in his presidential campaign, that John McCain was only a war hero “because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” But the antagonism between the two was clear, with McCain openly criticizing Trump’s methods, decisions and style on numerous occasions, including excoriating him for his abuse of a Gold Star Family who spoke at the Democratic National Convention in July 2016, in support of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. As recently as two weeks ago, Trump dissed McCain by refusing to so much as mention his name at the signing of the military appropriations bill named in his honor. And although the flag at the White House flew at half-staff when he died, it did so for only one day, and the President quashed a more fulsome statement lauding McCain’s lifetime of service to his country, in favor of a Tweet merely expressing condolences to his family. Can that small, small man at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue get any smaller?
Finally, after two days of pressure applied to the President by the groundswell of foreign and domestic tributes for McCain, juxtaposed with his own silence, on the Monday the White House issued an anodyne statement acknowledging his service, calling him a hero, returning its flag to half-mast position until his funeral, and according full military honors for his interment at the Naval Academy. But this official recognition came only after three earlier opportunities that day to answer Press inquiries about McCain, which the stony-faced Trump, arms petulantly crossed, refused to answer.
Born 29 August 1936 at 6:35 PM EST on a naval base in Colon, Panama (Rodden Rating AA), John McCain’s pull toward national service and the US capital can be seen in the conjunction of his 6 Virgo Sun with asteroid Washingtonia at 11 Virgo, with asteroid McCann (closest match to McCain) at 17 Virgo, reinforcing that connection and establishing the family history of service. Neptune also here at 16 Virgo, opposing Saturn at 20 Pisces, suggests a career at sea, but a loose Grand Trine of asteroids America and Whitehouse at 10 and 13 Scorpio, with Saturn and asteroid Johnny at 3 Cancer, proved a stronger pull toward public service on a national level (America), including those two runs for the Oval Office (Whitehouse). Johnny is also sextile to the natal Sun, a common type of contact for one’s own PNA. Asteroid Senator at 9 Aries is inconjunct the Sun, depicting his eventual job title, and forms a Yod, or Finger of Destiny, with that America/Whitehouse pairing. Senator is also in a Grand Trine with Mars at 12 Leo and Jupiter at 15 Sagittarius, showing the military background (Mars) that propelled his political (Jupiter) career. Jupiter on the 10 Sag MC is another indicator of a career in politics.
Mars itself squares Uranus at 9 Taurus, perhaps the source of that famed temper that made itself known in flashes of anger and a generally curmudgeonly attitude, moderated with an equally famous sense of humor and self-deprecation. But perhaps more than these, McCain was known as a truth teller unafraid to break ranks and speak from his heart what he knew to be honest, correct and honorable. His campaign bus for the 2000 presidential primary was blazoned with the logo, “Straight Talk Express”, and his perceived honesty and straightforwardness was an invaluable asset in public life. This accent on veracity can be seen in the close square from asteroid Truth at 5 Gemini to his 6 Virgo Sun – truth was, quite simply, an inherent part of him. Also here is asteroid Victoria, named for the Roman goddess of victory, at 6 Gemini, squaring the Sun; from his first congressional contest in 1982 to the end of his life, McCain never lost a race (except of course his 2008 presidential run). Further reinforcing the truth vibe in a career context is asteroid Veritas, Latin for “truth”, which conjoins natal Saturn from 27 Pisces.
In addition to Washingtonia, other place name asteroids with significance in McCain’s bio show prominently. On the move constantly as a military brat and naval officer, McCain chose Arizona as his primary state of residence after his marriage to Cindy Hensley in 1980, going on to represent his adopted state in DC for 35 years. Asteroid Arizona at 29 Capricorn is closely conjunct the Moon at 2 Aquarius, ruling home and domestic life, and semisquare Jupiter, ruling politics generally and the Senate specifically, at 15 Sag. So Arizona was a likely landing place after his life at sea, and the connection to politics via that location was built into his psyche. McCain spent more than five years in durance vile in Hanoi as a POW; asteroid Hanoi at 18 Libra is in a Grand Trine with Damocles, the doom hanging unseen overhead, at 22 Aquarius, and Nemesis, that point of undoing, at 19 Gemini.
There is no asteroid Cindy, but there is a Cynthia, from which Cindy is a commonly derived nickname (though in this case, Mrs. McCain’s given name is Cindy). Asteroid Cynthia at 24 Sagittarius is squared Venus, goddess of love, at 23 Virgo, forming a T-Square with Saturn at 20 Pisces. By all accounts this was a love match, and while Saturn may argue for some incompatibility, it also shows endurance. Incredibly, McCain is survived by his mother Roberta, aged 106. Asteroid Roberta at 17 Cancer is semisquare his Sun and trine Saturn, ruling parents and longevity or old age.
According to the official notice from his Senate office, John McCain passed away at 4:28 PM MST on 25 August 2018, at his home in Cornville, Arizona. Asteroid McCann had been opposing Pluto, ruing both cancer and death, for weeks; now at 22 Cancer and conjunct asteroid Osiris, named for the Egyptian god of the dead, at 26, its opposition to Pluto at 19 Capricorn straddles the Horizontal Axis, with the Ascendant at 16 Capricorn and Descendant at 16 Cancer.
Asteroid Johnny at 5 Taurus hugs the 6 Taurus IC, providing angular force and power in the moment. Johnny conjoins Uranus at 2 Taurus, and opposes a pairing of Atropos and Rip at 0 and 1 Scorpio on the 6 Scorpio MC. Uranus here likely reflects McCain’s reputation as a maverick, one who politicked to the beat of a different drummer, but there was also a somewhat unexpected quality to the timing of his death. Although his diagnosis was a year old and his decline obvious, his end inevitable, it was only the day before that the family announced that he had refused further treatment, and most people expected he would linger longer than he did. Atropos is named for the Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death, while Rip has its death connection via the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription. These provided a double dose of death-related energies in intimate contact to a PNA for McCain’s first name, again with angular force behind them. So all four angles are covered for this incident, two with PNAs for the deceased, and two with images of death itself. Johnny is slowing to station, and will turn retrograde a degree later, exactly conjunct the IC of this chart, on September 4th. And within orb of Johnny and the IC is asteroid Senator, McCain’s job title for thirty years, at 12 Taurus.
A conjunction of Mercury and asteroid America at 14 and 15 Leo is inconjunct Pluto, and just within orb of asteroid Johney, another John variant, at 23 Leo, bringing the nation (US) news (Mercury) of the death (Pluto) of McCain (Johney). Johney also squares both Jupiter at 16 Scorpio and exactly squares Anubis at 23 Scorpio, named for the Egyptian deity governing funerary rites, again linking McCain with celebrity and politics (both Jupiter) and death (Anubis). This Jupiter-Anubis extended conjunction, though separating now, has been in effect all summer, since the suicide deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain in June, and can be sourced to any number of celebrity deaths during that period. Jupiter, of course, also squares that Mercury/America conjunction, and a T-Square is formed with Senator in Taurus, yet another sky picture of the event.
Since it’s so close to McCain’s birthday, his natal 6 Virgo Sun is highlighted by the transit Sun at 2 Virgo, running now with asteroid Requiem, named for the funeral mass for the dead, at 7 Virgo, and Arizona, the state he represented, at 5 Virgo. The transit Sun is even more tightly conjoined McCain’s natal asteroid Rip, at 1 Virgo. Also squared both natal and transit Suns is asteroid Lachesis, named for the Fate who determines the span of life, at 2 Gemini, and asteroid Grieve, for the mourning process, at 0 Gemini. And in trine to both Suns is transit Saturn, ancient lord of death, also ruling government employees, at 2 Capricorn, also slowing to station, from where it will turn direct on September 6th. Saturn opposes natal Johnny at 3 Cancer, which is itself conjunct Lachesis at 4, further personalizing this event to McCain. With Saturn, and also trine both Suns, is centaur Hylonome at 7 Capricorn, a point associated with grief. There is a Grand Trine in the sky formed of the transit Sun/Requiem/Arizona combination, Saturn and Johnny.
Asteroid Cynthia at 0 Aries squares Saturn, identifying Cindy McCain as the bereaved spouse (Saturn rules spouses and official consorts as well). With Cynthia is Chiron at 1 Aries, showing a wound to Cindy, but also the death (Saturn) of the “Maverick” (Chiron) of the Senate.” Asteroid Graves, yet another point related to death and funerals, at 10 Aries closely conjoins natal asteroid Senator at 9. Lastly, transit Mars, about to turn direct from 28 Capricorn two days later, is conjunct McCain’s natal Arizona at 29 Cap, and exactly opposing natal Pluto at 28 Cancer.
There was very little on which John McCain and I agreed politically, but I respected him as a principled, honorable public servant, genuinely trying to contribute and improve the lot of his countrymen. His particular brand of compromise and willingness to find bipartisan solutions, as well as his readiness to speak truth to power, of whatever political stripe, will be sorely missed in Washington.