In Praise Of Rolling Stone’s McCain Expose

He called his second wife a “cunt” in plain view of reporters.  His high school nicknames were “Punk” and “McNasty”.  He graduated near the bottom of his class (894th out of 899 students).  He crashed several fighter planes while serving in the Navy.  He’s had a “volcanic temper” since he was a child.  When he doesn’t get his way, he can be vicious, particularly to women who turn down his advances.  For years, he has been a womanizing, boozing, self-absorbed jerk who always puts himself before his country.  And he’s not above changing his political positions for the sake of his own personal advancement.
This is the real John McCain, the one the media, for the most part, refuse to discuss.  All of these tidbits, some previously known, others shockingly new, are noted in a superb Rolling Stone cover story by Tim Wilkinson.  Entitled “Make Believe Maverick”, it’s an astounding piece of journalism.  For those eligible voters still unsure of who to vote for, if this doesn’t send you running into the Barack Obama camp, nothing will.  For those who still stubbornly support McCain, prepare to have your faith shattered, unless you’re too stubborn to see reason.
In paragraph after paragraph, the Republican Senator from Arizona comes across as a man with such serious character flaws that were it not for his nepotistic safety net there’s no question he would be nowhere in his life, not unlike President George W. Bush.  This is a fairly lengthy piece (10 Internet pages) but so thoroughly well written and fascinating that it’s worth savouring every word.  This is the best article about McCain I’ve ever read.
Of all the startling details discussed in the piece, there are two such moments that stand out the most.
Senator McCain loves to bring up his Vietnam experience, particularly the five and a half years he spent in captivity as a prisoner of war.  There’s no doubt he was tortured but his conduct has been less honourable than we’ve been led to believe.  Wilkinson mentions how American POWs are supposed to act in accordance to an “incredibly rigid” Code of Conduct.  Although “few soldiers lived up to its dictate that they ‘give no information . . . which might be harmful to my comrades,'” and are “bound to give only their name, rank, date of birth and service number — and to make no ‘statements disloyal to [America].”, according to Wilkinson, McCain was willing to offer his captors “military information if you will take me to the hospital” “[s]oon after” his aircraft “hit the ground in Hanoi”.
Furthermore, although he suffered greatly for two years, once the Vietnamese knew that “his father was a Navy admiral”, his torture ended.  How did they learn this vital bit of information?  According to Wilkinson, McCain told them.  That’s not all:
“Only two weeks after his capture, the North Vietnamese press issued a report — picked up by The New York Times — in which McCain was quoted as saying that the war was ‘moving to the advantage of North Vietnam and the United States appears to be isolated.’ He also provided the name of his ship, the number of raids he had flown, his squadron number and the target of his final raid.”
Then, there’s the famous story of how McCain could’ve come home early but refused to leave until all his comrades were released as well.  Not quite:
“What McCain glosses over is that accepting early release would have required him to make disloyal statements that would have violated the military’s Code of Conduct. If he had done so, he could have risked court-martial and an ignominious end to his military career.”
Besides, as a fellow POW told Wilkinson, “Many of us were given this offer…[but] I, like numerous others, refused…John allows the media to make him out to be the hero POW, which he knows is absolutely not true, to further his political goals…John was just one of about 600 guys. He was nothing unusual. He was just another POW.”
Then, there’s the story that Wilkinson tells at the start of his article.  It’s 1974.  McCain is back in Washington, D.C., a free man.  He has a conversation with John Dramesi, “an Air Force lieutenant colonel who was also imprisoned and tortured in Vietnam.”.  Dramesi, who McCain described as “one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met”, was the opposite of McCain in terms of military service:
“There’s a distance between the two men that belies their shared experience in North Vietnam — call it an honor gap. Like many American POWs, McCain broke down under torture and offered a ‘confession’ to his North Vietnamese captors. Dramesi, in contrast, attempted two daring escapes. For the second he was brutalized for a month with daily torture sessions that nearly killed him. His partner in the escape, Lt. Col. Ed Atterberry, didn’t survive the mistreatment. But Dramesi never said a disloyal word, and for his heroism was awarded two Air Force Crosses, one of the service’s highest distinctions.”
Back to 1974: 
“McCain is studying at the National War College, a prestigious graduate program he had to pull strings with the Secretary of the Navy to get into. Dramesi is enrolled, on his own merit, at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in the building next door.
On the grounds between the two brick colleges, the chitchat between the scion of four-star admirals and the son of a prizefighter turns to their academic travels; both colleges sponsor a trip abroad for young officers to network with military and political leaders in a distant corner of the globe.

‘I’m going to the Middle East,’ Dramesi says. ‘Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iran.’

‘Why are you going to the Middle East?’ McCain asks, dismissively.

‘It’s a place we’re probably going to have some problems,’ Dramesi says.

‘Why? Where are you going to, John?’

‘Oh, I’m going to Rio.’

‘What the hell are you going to Rio for?’

McCain, a married father of three, shrugs.

I got a better chance of getting laid.'”

Does that sound like someone who puts their “Country First”?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, October 9, 2008
3:45 p.m.
Published in: on October 9, 2008 at 3:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

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