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Unexamined Premises

John McCain, American ‘Hero’

March 7th, 2013 - 4:16 pm

Almost all of McCain’s political reputation is based on the noblest thing he’s ever done in his life: refuse an out-of-sequence release from the Hanoi Hilton, despite enduring savage beatings from his captors. No one will ever be able to take that away from him, although you can read both the pros and cons of McCain’s actions during his captivity here. But like all torture victims, he eventually broke and signed a forced “confession,” as he recounted to Mike Wallace during a 1997 60 Minutes broadcast: 

WALLACE: (Voiceover) People who know McCain well say he can hold a grudge. He also has a legendary temper. But if McCain can be hard on his friends and even harder on his enemies, he can also be very hard on himself.

Sen. McCAIN: I m–made serious, serious mistakes and did things wrong when I was in prison, OK?

WALLACE: What did you do wrong in prison?

Sen. McCAIN: I wrote a confession. I was guilty of war crimes against the Vietnamese people. I intentionally bombed women and children.

WALLACE: And you did it because you were being tortured…

Sen. McCAIN: I… 

WALLACE: …and you’d reached the end of the line.

Sen. McCAIN: Yes. But I should have gone further. I should have–I–I never believed that I would–that I would break, and I did.

Maybe this, more than anything, explains why John McCain and his Mini-Me, Lindsey Graham, had dinner with his erstwhile “opponent,” Barack Hussein Obama II, rather than standing with Rand Paul.

While Paul was conducting his filibuster, McCain and Graham were among a group of Republican senators having dinner with Obama at a Washington, D.C. hotel.

Graham scoffed at Paul’s question about whether Obama thinks he has the authority to kill a noncombatant American citizen on U.S. soil.

“I find the question offensive,” Graham said Thursday on the Senate floor. “As much I disagree with President Obama and as much as I support past presidents, I do not believe that question deserves an answer.” Paul’s question, the South Carolina Republican said, “cheapens the debate.”

Even after losing the 2008 election,  the senator (R.-Media) felt compelled to stand again in 2010, defeating J.D. Hayworth in the primary and easily winning re-election in the general.  For McCain, there was no penalty for failure — as there never has been, throughout his life. (In this, he is eerily like Obama, the living embodiment of the Peter Principle.) After all, with a net worth of at least $20 million, whatever fire McCain may have had in the belly had long since been extinguished by the good life:

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The GOP cannot hope to win another national election unless and until it retires flawed, easily caricatured men like John McCain – and never nominates them again.

Also see: Tweets Of The Day-McCain And Graham Clown Car Edition

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I gotta tell you, this whole article struck me as horribly mean-spirited and nasty. I'm not the biggest fan of John McCain's politics, but he served his country honorably while Mr. Walsh and the rest of us (I was just too young for Viet Nam, but never did serve in the military) sat on the sidelines and watched. It's very nice for Mr. Walsh or whoever to tell us what their draft number was...but McCain went to Annapolis, which means he more or less volunteered.

The first section, critiquing his career as an aviator, is just bad writing, with lots of 20-20 hindsight and hand-wrining. Being a Naval Aviator and regularly flying off an Aircraft Carrier is one of the most dangerous things service personnel do, in any branch of the service. Planes crash now, and 50 years ago the safety procedures were much less stringent, and "hotdogging" was something that was expected of pilots. You mentioned the fact that he was the son and grandson of admirals, but you failed to note that this would be both good and bad for him. His peers and especially subordinates probably felt considerable resentment towards the "Admiral's kid" who was expected to be an admiral himself, and perhaps promoted when he didn't deserve it. I've always felt that his failure to achieve high rank probably had something to do with this. As an aside, the Forrestal fire (which can be blamed on him not at all) was an epic incident, several men were killed, and there's even a book about it. Just because he was involved isn't a reason to hold the thing against him. Oh, and he lost the plane he was shot down in, too...did you include that?

The second part is equally weird. OK, so he had an exotic Brazilian girlfriend. I'm not sure what the point is here. She still regards him fondly...jeez, that's weak.

Next there's the Keating Five fiasco. You've conveniently included all of the contemporaneous accusations of wrongdoing, without recounting the last incident, which semi-exonerates McCain. He always insisted that he paid for the flight that he got from Keating, though no records to support this could be found, so it was deemed that he got the flight for free, and was therefore beholden to Keating. Years later, his wife was caught up in a scandal of her own, when she was discovered to be addicted to prescription medications. It turned out that she'd been running a charity that distributed such medications to needy people, and she'd been stealing some of the pills for herself. Eventually it emerged that she'd either lost the check to Keating that McCain had always claimed was there, or stolen the money, I forget which...but the point is that McCain was blameless, beyond flying somewhere on Keating's jet (though he paid for it) and not noticing that his wife was a druggie.

Finally, we come to the part where he broke down and signed the confession of war crimes tortured out of him by the Vietnamese. I gotta tell you, that's one of the most offensive things I've ever read, and I'd suspect that if you'd asked the most conservative member of the military and the most liberal, neither would have much negative to say about him breaking. He broke his back bailing out of the plane, was bayonetted and shot by Vietnamese soldiers, and then went a year without medical treatment. And you're seriously going to hold it against him that he finally "confessed"? Seriously?

I want to make this clear: I think his repudiation of Paul petty and wrong, and I think Paul was right to do what he did. I just don't think ripping McCain for a one-sided rip of his past actions is appropriate. You didn't quite go completely overboard (that would have required you to mention him supposedly calling his wife an obscenity) but you came very close, and were completely over the line.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Is there anything in Michael Walsh's piece that you can demonstrate to be factually incorrect?

Sorry, you don't have to be a cop or a soldier to evaluate the actions of cops and soldiers no matter how much they complain about being evaluated by "civilians." In fact, you shouldn't be a cop or a soldier if your job is to direct and evaluate the actions of cops and soldiers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I voted for Palin with the sincere hope that the excitement of winning would lead to his state funeral before his inauguration.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (88)
All Comments   (88)
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Ask some of the crewmembers of USS Forrestal (CVA59} what they think of John McCain jumping ship during the fire on board.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ah, yes. John "The Songbird" McCain. Enough said.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The only other person I ever met he knew McCain back in the Hanoi Hilton also despised him. For what it's worth.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There are many heroic VietNam veterans out there who live their lives without allowing the words War Hero to be continually attached to their names, much less making a lucrative living out of it. Surely there can be a statute of limitations on the free pass that McCain has been enjoying all these years, given the rotten things he has said and done to other patriotic Americans over the years. I, for one, have yet to forgive him for throwing countless innocent naval aviators under the bus during the Tailhook witch-hunt.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
At my husband's change of command ceremony, I had a fascinating conversation with the elderly father of one of a squadron mates. This man was part of the Intel team that had debriefed McCain when he returned from Viet Nam. This man...a Republican btw...despised McCain. Given his history of mishaps, only an arrogant, entitled Fortunate Son like McCain would have been allowed to retain his wings and felt no shame while other aviators were attrited for lesser mistakes.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What he did was wrong:
And if that wasn't enough, when he got back he did everything he could to stop the US govt from bringing the other POWs back
WHY? Was he afraid they'd tell what he did? Did he rat out his fellow soldiers too? I'm sure he did.
He is a slimeball. Just read this to exactly what kind of a man this RINO is:
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/mccain-and-the-pow-cover-up/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Look, its not just that he caved under duress and spilled the beans while a POW-its what he did AFTER when he got back to the US.When he got back he did everything he could to stop the US govt from bringing the other POWs back
WHY? Was he afraid they'd tell what he did? Did he rat out his fellow soldiers too? THAT was so very very wrong. He never helped give those men a chance and the rest were executed by the Vietcong when they couldn't get the US to negotiate with them

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/mccain-and-the-pow-cover-up/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
McCain is of the same class of US military pilot that took out the gondola cable in Italy some years ago, plunging a carload or two to their final sacrifice for freedom. On the ski slopes, for example, showboats like him are called hot dogs, not mavericks. A few days ago I read a bllogger's remark that McCain performs for pellets doled out by the press. Nail. Head.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I applaud McConnel for ultimately backing Rand Paul, even if a bit late. But McCain and Graham cannot be forgiven.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I still honor McCains war record. But when Rand Paul was fighting the good fight, and energizing the whole conservative movement, for an important principle, one where Rand ultimately won a rare concession from Obama, McCain and Graham were busy stabbing him in the back. That I cannot forgive.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Have you noticed how many times McCain has sabotaged the GOP since 2008?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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