John McCain faced a choice that balanced friendship, party loyalty and his convictions. He made the decision some of his closest advisers expected.
Looking at the twilight of his career and a grim cancer diagnosis, the Republican senator from Arizona who prides himself on an independent streak could not be moved to go along with a last-ditch GOP push to overhaul the nation's health care system.
Those close to him say he wrestled with the choice — the legislation was championed by his best friend in the Senate — but rarely strayed from his intention to send a message to the institution where he's spent three decades.
That message was bipartisanship and what he cast...