More on Senator John McCain

March 17, 2008 at 6:00 am | Posted in Military | Leave a comment

Don’t worry- I have no intentions for this to turn into a political blog. However, I find that there is more I want to say about Senator John McCain, his experiences as a POW, and the words and actions of “supporters” of the candidates for President from the Democratic Party.

I’ve read some additional stories since Saturday’s post about his time as a POW. The ones that resonate the most with me are the ones that either quote or are written by his fellow POWs. The Hawaii Reporter published an editorial signed by nine POWs, two of whom were awarded the Medal of Honor. I also think it is important to note that one of these men, Colonel Bud Day, was a POW with Senator McCain and is identified as having been his commander while in prison. In the editorial, the former POWs state:

“Our convictions about John’s character were born in the crucible of adversity. We have witnessed his courage, integrity, character and intellect. We know and respect his sense of honor and his tenacity in the face of grave danger and prolonged hardship. These qualities, combined with his life experiences, make John ready for the enormous challenges facing the leader of our country. No one — no one — is more qualified to be president, to lead our country, to protect our nation and our children and grandchildren. We know him. We know his strengths, his love of country and his commitment to serve it. He has been severely tested, and we have witnessed him under pressure. We trust his judgment and his ability to lead our country in these difficult times.”

I don’t think that any of us can ever truly understand what the POWs experienced during the Vietnam War. They witnessed and suffered as the result of inhumane and depraved acts that the rest of us are lucky we don’t have a personal frame of reference for. These men experienced the same inhumanity and, in some cases, witnessed the torture of Senator McCain and his acts of defiance toward his captors. These men support Senator McCain and do not denigrate his actions during captivity.

As I posted on Saturday, there are some who dismiss his experiences as a POW as having no bearing on his character or fitness to serve as President while others actively question the accuracy of the reports of his time as a POW. Naomi Wolf (an Obama supporter) can be added to the list of “haters”. She went on MSNBC and accused Senator McCain of giving information to the North Koreans when he was tortured (see this for details). She wouldn’t provide any evidence or facts to support the claim.

There is no evidence out there- only rumors and innuendo. At one point Senator McCain did sign a false confession after a torture session. The article about Naomi Wolf’s statements summarized this nicely.

In another instance, after four days of constant beatings, McCain tried to kill himself rather than give in. A guard stopped him, and McCain finally agreed to sign a confession, something for which he has said that he never forgave himself for doing.

“I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pirate,” he wrote. “I almost died and the Vietnamese people saved my life, thanks to the doctors.”

Senator McCain had significant injuries, both from the initial crash and from repeated beatings. Bones that were initially broken when his plane went down were later broken during torture sessions. To this day, he can’t raise his arms above his shoulders because of the physical injuries he sustained. I just don’t see how any rational or even slightly sane person would consider signing a confession of having been an “air pirate” as an example of giving information to the enemy. In fact, his biographer has indicated that Senator McCain used communist jargon and grammar mistakes to convey that the confession was forced. In a different interrogation, when asked to name the members of his squadron, he gave the names of the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers.

I hate the way that people are trying to “spin” the facts about his POW experiences. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We weren’t there. Most of us will never have a clue what being a POW is like. A very small group of American Citizens have the history and experiences that would give them insight into Senator McCain’s experiences and the meaning of his conduct. I am not aware of any of them complaining or making any negative comments about his actions while a POW. Until someone who has actually “been there” publicly states that his actions were wrong, provided aid to the enemy, etc., and provides facts to back up the claims, these detractors can go pound sand. Getting into a pissing contest over this issue is not a smart decision on their part.

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