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John McCain’s Image: True or Tainted?

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Senator and Republican presidential candidate John Sidney McCain III spends much of his stump time regaling his devotees with stories of how he is – at least since his release from North Vietnam's "Hanoi Hilton" prison – a genuine military hero who has always put "country first." To the contrary, there is evidence that he has always put John McCain first.

A recent Rolling Stone article written by Tim Dickinson, "Make-Believe Maverick", goes some distance in casting a shadow over the Arizona Senator's supposed hero status.

McCain freely admits that he led a lackluster youth, much of it spent carousing and womanizing, and that he was a poor student at the Naval Academy graduating fourth from the bottom of his class. However, he rarely, if ever, has mentioned how he repeatedly took advantage of his family ties — both his father and grandfather were Naval admirals. It was his family connections that got him into the Naval Academy in the first place, something that he likely would not have otherwise accomplished. It was through his father's intervention that John III was saved from expulsion from the Academy on more than one occasion. He used this same influence in obtaining most of his assignments during much of his military career.

Nor does he mention that he was a less than able pilot. Beside the A4 jet lost when he was shot down over Hanoi, McCain managed to lose no fewer than three other planes owing to his lack of piloting skills. None of these incidents involved combat.

Dickinson includes statements from a number of former fellow Navy colleagues and other acquaintances who claim that McCain was a short-tempered, spiteful bully and misogynist both before and after his time as a POW.

Much has been made of John McCain's POW experience in Vietnam during the last several months of campaigning for the presidency. No one will dispute that it was an horrific experience. But Dickinson claims there are issues regarding McCain's version of events during the five-plus years of his captivity. McCain claims that he was tortured and pretty much left to die until his captors discovered that he was the son of an American admiral. What he doesn't relate is that it was McCain himself who informed the Vietnamese of his family ties. According to some fellow POWs, McCain rather readily gave up much more than his name, rank, and serial number while held captive.

To be fair, very few POWs actually manage to adhere strictly to that code. However, according to fellow POW, Air Force Lt. Col. John Dramesi, McCain's behavior as a prisoner, while certainly not dishonorable, was also not exceptional. He managed generally no better nor no worse than the average POW. He did what was necessary to survive. There is certainly no dishonor in that. But, that McCain has chosen to highlight this experience and create the sense that his conduct was exceptionally heroic, leaves a bad taste in the mouth of many former POWs. McCain has and continues to use his POW experience expressly to further his political fortunes.

There is a great deal more to discover in Dickinson's article. McCain's propensity to promote John McCain above all else continues throughout his political career. Dickinson notes that despite what a number of his fellow Senators may say, McCain has few true friends. He is just not a particularly likable guy. The portrait Tim Dickinson paints of John McCain is far different than the one the Arizona Senator would like you to see.

About Baritone

  • moon

    I didn’t like the phrase, and let me explain WHY:

    1. Quintessential is a word absent from her vocabulary. (No point in insulting someone if they don’t understand you.)

    2. Calling her Mediocre is extravagantly overestimating her skills and personality.

    3. And I THINK, based on her primary skill–picking up dollar bills without using her hands–that she is female–or at least NOW she is (there was that rumor started by someone that she had a sex change operation in Thailand about 18 months ago)….

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Dave Nalle hopes no one will challenge this, but…

    Why on earth would I hope that? The statement is so obviously true that challenging it does seem uniquely pointless, though.

    As someone already pointed out, Colin Powell supported the invasion. So did Donald Rumsfeld, who you have to admit had experience in national defense. So did most of the Republicans and Democrats in congress, including a number of veterans and members of relevant congressional committees. You either forget or are trying to be a revisionist about how wide spread support for the invasion of Iraq actually was.

    Dave

  • moon

    Let’s cut to the chase here: ALL of the neocons supported the invasion of Irak.

    They thought it was going to be a piece of cake.

    The fact that they were wrong just shows you how easily led gringos are. The word lemming comes to mind.

  • John

    Dave says:

    “Colin Powell supported the invasion. So did Donald Rumsfeld, who you have to admit had experience in national defense.”

    Iraq had nothing to do with national defense, so whatever experience Rumsfeld had, other that being a Washington insider for most of his life (when he wasn’t promoting aspartame to the FDA), was of little consequence. And even if it was relaated, Rumsfeld is hardly someone the country can trust.

    “So did most of the Republicans and Democrats in congress“

    Bush creaated FEAR in the populace. And we know what FEAR does to both Republicans and Democrats in congress just before election time.

    So did a “number of veterans and members of relevant congressional committees.”

    Of course, you can fool some of the people some of the time…

    “You either forget or are trying to be a revisionist about how wide spread support for the invasion of Iraq actually was.’

    Any support was built on a series of lies.

    It’s amazing how much Condi Rice’s depiction of Iraq’s imminent nuclear attack against the US was — unless the US acted immediately, and how the MSM promoted it. This affected even those who normally are sane. However, most other countries didn’t drink from that polluted bottle.

  • Baronius

    Cindy, could you back up comment #98? Specifically, that Palin is a racist?

  • Cindy D

    Baronius,

    I’ll elaborate. I think this is the comment you mean.

    “She is a usurper of rights (unless you happen to be white).”

    Alaska Native Americans are disregarded and their federal rights are attacked in court by Palin. She prefers to expand commercial fishing. She owns a commercial fishing license which brought her over $46k in income last year. Her total income was at least $230k.

    1. Palin has attacked Alaska Native Subsistence Fishing
    2. Palin has attacked Alaska Native Subsistence Hunting
    3. Palin has attacked Alaska Tribal Sovereignty
    4. Palin has attacked Alaska Native Languages

    She also spurns Alaska’s black community.

  • Cindy D

    Baronius,

    I can back up any of it. let me know what you need.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Bush creaated FEAR in the populace. And we know what FEAR does to both Republicans and Democrats in congress just before election time.

    Nice repetition of talking points. But in fact, Osama and the 9/11 attack created fear in the populace. If anything Bush worked to create a false sense of security.

    Of course, you can fool some of the people some of the time…

    And some people are just fools.

    Any support was built on a series of lies.

    Actually, it was a combination of lies, truth and spin. Mostly truth and spin when you get down to it. Very few actual lies.

    It’s amazing how much Condi Rice’s depiction of Iraq’s imminent nuclear attack against the US was — unless the US acted immediately,

    You might want to go back and read those statements again. They were full of qualifications and didn’t say anything about an imminent nuclear attack, though they did overstate the likelihood of Iraq developing full nuclear capability if it got weapons grade fissionables. Always in there was the caveat that they did not have and could not produce weapons grade plutonium. No plutonium. No bomb.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    Powell, Rumsfeld, etc., only supported the invasion after the fact. Out of loyalty, one supposes.

  • Baronius

    Cindy, you know what? I was trying to write a reply to your comment, and I just lost heart. If you think that an administration taking a legal position on the subject of tribal rights, and lack of participation in Alaska’s biggest African-American holiday, is proof of racism, then I give up. If words have no meaning, why should I type?

  • Cindy D

    Baronius,

    Whoa…I didn’t say she was a racist. I almost made a second post to clarify that. But, I thought that repeating what I actually did say was enough. I said:

    “She ignores or resents the “other” in her community. She is a usurper of rights (unless you happen to be white).”

    In other words, She is fighting to take away rights of the Alaskan natives indigenous to their land (some of the few peoples who were not moved from their original land), while seeking to expand commercial fishing rights (i.e. what white people do, what she does).

    She ignores the black community and fails to connect with them. They contact her about concerns and she disregards them not even calling back. She disregards their most important event. One that is traditionally recognized by the Alaskan Governor.

  • Cindy D

    It is also traditional for the Alaska Governor to meet with the Leaders in the Black community.

  • Cindy D

    I found this parody of McCain’s responses pretty funny:

    It was written by a commenter regarding an entry an the L.A. Times blog called Countdown to Crawford.

    Background: As Countdown to Crawford noted in an earlier post, London’s Telegraph captured this shift with its headline: “We’re All Socialists Now, Comrade.”

    On Sunday, Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked McCain about whether he’s as much a socialist as the rest of us.

    Palin & McCain: Obama wants to redistribute wealth, so he’s a Socialist!!
    Wallace: But didn’t you vote for the bailout? In essence, a resolution to redistribute tax payers’ money to financial institutions and for government to take ownerships of some banks? Isn’t that Socialism?
    McCain: Yeah, but I HAD to. There was a crisis. We need government to help those who can’t help themselves!
    Joe Taxpayer: By redistributing my tax dollars to give to banks who are under NO obligation to start lending again? Didn’t you say they are the greedy ones who started all this?
    McCain: Um, yeah. But Obama wants to change tax laws for the wealthy and redistribute their money for poor people!
    Joe Taxpayer: Isn’t Obama trying to change the tax laws that allowed corporations to get rich while working families lost their homes?
    McCain: I want the government to buy people’s homes! That will solve it!
    Joe Taxpayer: Government ownership of citizens’ homes. Is that considered Socialism?
    McCain: Um…. did I say Socialist? I meant… um… Obama is WRONG! And I don’t have to explain why! You people with your questions….!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Bliffle @ #109: Powell, Rumsfeld, etc., only supported the invasion after the fact.

    As Secretaries of State and Defense respectively, I suspect that Powell and Rumsfeld were the last to learn of the invasion…

  • Cindy D

    Ruvy,

    I’m a syndicalist socialist – and always have been.

    Anarcho-syndicalism, libertarian socialist, etc. Like the when the kibbutzim were started.

    I hope we can chat about that sometime. :-)

  • moon

    Maybe Cindy doesn’t want to say that Palin is a racist, but I have no qualms whatsoever about saying that she is.

    Never met a gringo that WASN’T.

  • Jack McEncroe

    I served with John McCain and I know him to be a Patriot, an honorable man, courageous under fire, kind and considerate to women, a good father, and a great friend. I base this on a 43 year friendship. I have no idea where you all get your information but Tim Dickinson is misinformed and his claims are baseless.
    Thank you,
    Jack McEncroe
    Former Marine Fighter Pilot
    Vietnam 67 – 68