On Friday, NBC spoke with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin about Arizona Senator John McCain. In recent days, McCain admitted he regretted picking Palin to be his 2008 running mate, and a White House official callously dismissed the senator and his health — but Palin’s comments were remarkably classy, respectful, and touching.

When asked about McCain, Palin said, among other things:

  • “You know, he’s been my friend, so I’m going to remember the good times.”
  • “I want to live my life without any regrets, and I hope he finds that kind of peace and contentment also to be able to look back on decisions and realize, really, things work out the way that they’re supposed to work out.”
  • “Well, I don’t lie, so I’ll tell you, [it hurt] a bit. I think I described it earlier as a ‘gut punch,’ but, again, you know, I’m going to choose to look back on the good times that we did have together, because you know a lot of that campaign really was actually fun for us personally and for our families.”
  • “I will never disparage someone who has served our country and made a lot of sacrifices as a vet now. And that’s how I look at him—as someone who served all those years. And I certainly appreciate that and many other aspects that I see, characteristics that I appreciate in Senator McCain.”
  • “I always had a lot of respect for his maverick nature… I certainly have respect for a lot of the things he’s accomplished.”

When McCain first picked Palin, I was excited about the prospect of her serving as vice president and a leader in the Republican party. I loved that she was not only sassy and unapologetic, but also accomplished and ambitious, serving first as mayor, then as a governor.

Furthermore, she was electrifying when she spoke, brought energy to the 2008 Republican ticket, and disproved the stereotype that being a conservative woman meant being old or frumpy or preachy.

Other conservative women have written about the importance and influence of female conservative role models, and Sarah Palin was no different — she was someone who inspired young conservative women.

Unfortunately, since then, she’s repeatedly disappointed me, from self-created campaign flubs, to leaving her job early when she resigned as governor, to her reality television show antics and apparent desire for fame, to going full #MAGA and jumping on the #TrumpTrain.

However, Palin’s gracious comments on Friday remind me of what I once saw in her. Many others in the Trump orbit and administration have chosen to attack or mock McCain, but on Friday Palin refused to, and I appreciate such grace from her.

Senator John McCain is not and should not be immune from criticism; during his long and storied political career, there have certainly been policy decisions of his with which I disagreed, and there is nothing wrong with saying as much. But much of the criticism being directed at him in recent weeks is either outright false, such as calling him “Songbird McCain,” or disrespectful and cruel, such as disparaging and mocking his service because of political disagreements.

McCain served his country with distinction and was held as a prisoner of war for five and a half years. He refused early release, because it meant leaving men captured before him, and returned from Vietnam with his honor and dignity intact — despite being tortured and beaten to the point that he was never able to raise his arms over his head again.

As RedState front-page contributor Kimberly Ross wrote on Friday:

It is imperative that we treat one another with decency and only focus on matters that are free to criticize. Politics are fair game. A person’s life, health, and their record as a legitimate war hero are not.

Furthermore, while speaking with NBC, Palin also brought up McCain’s family, particularly his wife Cindy and daughter Meghan, and said that she has “so much respect for his family” — serving as a good reminder that McCain’s family members are real and hurting right now, and they should not have to also deal with such cruelty during this time:

Sarah Palin took the high road on Friday when it would have been easy for her to take the low road. With her response she set an example for us all.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahmquinlan.