For decades, John McCain actively cultivated the image of a “warrior” and “war hero,” the genuine article, toting that carefully crafted impression around like a Louis Vittuon carry-all. The problem is that the supposedly genuine Vittuon actually is a cheap knock-off, a piece of counterfeit luggage that has no more in common with the genuine article than I have with McCain himself.
After years of McCain perpetuating the myth, it’s time someone publicly calls McCain what he is: An exaggerator of his military experience and fabricator of his status as war hero.
To bastardize a distasteful line he unwrapped this week, McCain would rather win a campaign than be honest about his wartime experience.
In fact, the record shows that the Man Who Would Be President was a not-very-good Naval Academy student who preferred parties to studying and graduated in the bottom five of his Annapolis class; a mediocre pilot who crashed three jet fighters during training before being shipped out to ‘Nam where he crashed a fourth; an insubordinate junior officer who got shot down over Hanoi because he disobeyed direct orders to abandon his 23rd mission and return the A-4 Skyhawk he flew to the USS Forrestal; and, as a POW, willingly provided so much intelligence – admittedly, bits of it false – and co-operated so extensively with the North Vietnamese in exchange for favourable treatment over a three year period that his fellow prisoners at the Hanoi Hilton gave him the derisive nickname “Songbird.” In propaganda aimed at the US, the North Vietnamese even used his nickname in a news release about McCain, not understanding it was an insult by prisoners who were disgusted with his behaviour.
Put bluntly, the closest John McCain has ever come to a war hero was when he sat on his grandfather’s lap as a child. The first John McCain commanded naval aviation at the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. The candidate’s father, also an Admiral named John, commanded American forces in Vietnam for a time.
In other words, John McCain III (or “Johnny Three Sticks” as a Republican Senate aid called him when being interviewed for this post) not only changes his positions on substantive issues in the campaign, he totally changes the reality of his “service to my country.” No wonder he seems to have so much trouble staying on message as a candidate; he can’t keep the story of his life straight.
In the process of repeatedly violating the Military Code of Conduct while a POW, he placed other naval airmen in jeopardy. Unclassified North Vietnamese and Pentagon records confirm that he provided Hanoi with detailed information about the number of airplanes on the Forrestal, flight paths into and out of North Viet Nam, how targets were selected, the positioning of rescue ships and the success rate of attacks from fighter-bombers based on his carrier. As far as can be discovered, the only thing he deceived the North Vietnamese about was the names of the pilots with whom he flew, for which he substituted the names of the Green Bay Packer’s offensive linemen. McCain has dined out on the Green Bay Packer story for decades, omitting the other, less noble, portions of his captivity.
If the fact that his father and grandfather were Annapolis grads kept him from being booted out of the Navy, then his family background also contributed to McCain being awarded 28 medals including a Silver Star, a Legion of Merit for Valor, a Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze stars, two commendation medals, and a dozen other service medals. But he only flew 23 missions – which amounts to a medal-and-a-half for roughly every hour he flew in combat.
“There were infantry guys – grunts on the ground – who had more than 7,000 hours in combat,” explains Bill Bell, a veteran of Vietnam and former chief of the U.S. Office for POW/MIA Affairs – the first official US representative in Vietnam since the 1973 fall of Saigon.
“I can tell you that there were times and situations where I’m sure a prison cell would have looked pretty good to them by comparison,” Bell states. “But the question really is how many guys got that number of medals for not being shot down."
Eventually, even the Navy was on to McCain. He left the service after being told twice that he would not be made an Admiral like his father and grandfather.
For years, McCain has been an unchecked master at manipulating an overly friendly and oft-times biased news media. The former POW turned Congressman, turned U.S. Senator, turned Presidential candidate, has managed to gloss over his failures as a pilot and his collaboration with the enemy to become America’s POW-hero presidential candidate.
UPDATE: To see what would happen, I posted this as a comment to a posting about McCain's war record at RedState.com, the conservative blog. Not surprisingly, my comment was deleted (and my account closed) within 90 minutes of when it first appeared on RedState.
This says mountains about the right wing.
Why do we see conservative rebuttal comments on sites such as Huffington Post, AlterNet, Daily Kos etc., but conservative sites censor anything that factually challenges their unfounded rants?
Oh, wait. In the question lies the answer.
Viet Nam Veterans Against McCain provided some research for this item.
*When I was young, oh so much younger than today, I believed that the United States would become completely unhinged at some point in my lifetime. This...