Saturday, February 16, 2008


something's been bothering me for a while, a long damned while, really, but it's only become bothersome in the past couple weeks. since super tuesday, actually. i've mentioned it in passing conversation to one or two friends maybe, i don't know, damned vicodin anyway, but as i'm still healing, and sneezing not-quite non-stop today, i thought i'd look into the subject that's gotten under my skin lately: "hero."
as with all really thorough internet research, i begin with a google search. today. i typed "hero" and did a google image search. they display twenty images per page, and appearance is in order of "most frequently visited." in fifteenth position, page one, was an image of barack and hillary side-by-side, with a portion of caption below, reading "japanese town of obama has new hero." i clicked to the next page, and the next, and the next, until stopping when, on page ten, i'd examined the top-200 images of "hero." number 200 was ted kennedy. the irony was too great to continue 200 images more.
so what's bugging me? it's this:
what exactly DID john mccain do back in the jungles of vietnam which gives him a seeming lifetime to all things under the adulation of "hero." my daughter told me that she'd seen an interview with an old vietnam vet in texas who was asked who he was going to support for president, in the upcoming texas primary. "john mccain. hell, he went, was a p.o.w., and now wants to be president. i say, let him; that's good enough for me."
according to the information i was able to find, nearly 3000 american military and civilian personnel were held prisoner during america's involvement in vietnam from 1959 through 1975; fewer than 600 were returned from capitivity. by that's guy's logic, we've got quite a few people in line ahead of all but one of the folks that have given it a shot this year.
but since pulling ahead of mitt, and now being the very gracious presumptive republican nominee, our friend senator john mccain is invariably introduced as a hero. in one rather painfully written and more painfully delivered speech by mccain, he referred to his perspective on hope and optimism by saying that he alone has been tested in such severe ways that no one else can imagine blah blah blah.
with all due respect.
i'm not volunteering to be tortured, don't get me wrong--although i am a bicycle rider, which many motorists will attest gives them a right to torture me. but just the same, it sounds to me like there are maybe nearly 3000 other fine americans who CAN imagine what the arizona maverick means.
but i found this rather interesting article today. it's a long read, but quite well worth it. it answered many of the questions i had, but curiously, it raised many more incredibly disturbing issues. some were answered, but many are not. and by the actions of senator mccain himself.
here are some brief excerpts:
In Congress, colleagues and staffers who have seen him erupt — in the open and, more often, in closed meetings — profess themselves confounded by his behavior. Insisting upon anonymity so as not to invite one of his verbal assaults, they say they have no easy way to explain why a former POW would work so hard and so persistently to keep POW/MIA information from coming out. Typical is the comment of one congressional veteran who has watched McCain over many years: “This is a man not at peace with himself.”
Some McCain watchers searching for answers point to his recently published best-selling autobiography, Faith of My Fathers, half of which is devoted to his years as a prisoner. In the book, he says he felt badly throughout his captivity because he knew he was being treated more leniently than his fellow POWs owing to his propaganda value as the son of Adm. John S. McCain II, who was then the CINCPAC — commander in chief of all U.S. forces in the Pacific region, including Vietnam. (His captors considered him a prize catch and nicknamed him the “Crown Prince.”) Also in the book, the Arizona Senator repeatedly expresses guilt and disgrace at having broken under torture and given the North Vietnamese a taped confession, broadcast over the camp loudspeakers, saying he was a war criminal who had, among other acts, bombed a school. “I felt faithless and couldn’t control my despair,” he writes. He writes, revealing that he made two half-hearted attempts at suicide. Most tellingly, he said he lived in “dread” that his father would find out. “I still wince,” he says, “when I recall wondering if my father had heard of my disgrace.”
[NOTE: mccain's father and grandfather were both admirals in the navy--the mostly rev]
McCain stood out because he always showed up for the committee hearings where witnesses were going to talk about specific pieces of evidence. He would belittle and berate these witnesses, questioning their patriotism and otherwise scoffing at their credibility. All of this is on record in the National Archives.
Other than the panel’s second co-chairman, Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., not a single committee member attended this public hearing. But McCain, having been advised of Alfond’s testimony, suddenly rushed into the room to confront her.
His face angry and his voice very loud, he accused her of making “allegations … that are patently and totally false and deceptive.” Making a fist, he shook his index finger at her and said she had insulted an emissary to Vietnam sent by President Bush.
He said she had insulted other MIA families with her remarks.
And then he said, through clenched teeth: “And I am sick and tired of you insulting mine and other people’s [patriotism] who happen to have different views than yours.”
Brought to tears By this time, tears were running down Alfond’s cheeks. She reached into her handbag for a handkerchief. She tried to speak: “The family members have been waiting for years — years! And now you’re shutting down.” He kept interrupting her. She tried to say, through tears, that she had issued no insults. He kept talking over her words. He said she was accusing him and others of “some conspiracy without proof, and some cover-up.” She said she was merely seeking “some answers. That is what I am asking.” He ripped into her for using the word “fiasco.” She replied: “The fiasco was the people that stepped out and said we have written the end, the final chapter to Vietnam.”
“No one said that,” he shouted. “No one said what you are saying they said, Ms. Alfond.” And then, his face flaming pink, he stalked out of the room, to shouts of disfavor from members of the audience.
As with most of McCain’s remarks to Alfond, the facts in his closing blast at her were incorrect. Less than three weeks earlier, on Oct. 23, 1992, in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, President Bush — with John McCain standing beside him — said: “Today, finally, I am convinced that we can begin writing the last chapter in the Vietnam War.”
read the article, follow the links.
this is one fucked up candidate, my friends.


the mostly reverend said...

sing along here, for karaoke mccain style:

you'll feel like a hero, too!

Pete Basso said...

Kim, I'm just curious, which candidate is not f'd up in your opinion?

POW Warrior said...

Just in case you need to hear it straight from the POW/MIA Family members themselves ... John McCain systematically saw to it that the truth was kept from family members.

The POW Warrior