John McCain’s military service deserves the thanks and respect of the American people, especially given his time spent as a POW in Vietnam. However, the over-use of this status for political gain becomes laughable after a while, and erodes the respect with which it should be treated. It seems to be used by his surrogates to explain everything.
The other day McCain was asked about how many houses he owns (I plan to write more about this later), and he stumbled, and could not remember. As it turns out, it’s either seven or eight…no one else seems quite sure either. It took less than 24 hours for for a McCain spokesperson to invoke the POW status to explain away the housing gaffe. Brian Rogers told the Washington Post, “This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years — in prison.”
Recently at the Saddleback interviews (where McCain received Rick Warren’s questions in advance), McCain told a story about his time as a POW when a guard came to him at Christmas time and quietly used his sandal to draw a cross on the dirt floor. It was certainly a moving story, but what exactly it says about McCain I can’t quite figure out. It seems to me to say more about that guard…but the krazy kristian kooks love it. Anyway, like some of Dick Cheney’s story, it might have been borrowed.
Let’s look at the timeline. McCain came back from Vietnam in 1973, and shortly after that wrote a 12,000 word story published in U.S. News and World Report, but never mentions this incident. In 1999, McCain writes about it as his story in his book, Faith of Our Fathers. But in 2000 he talks about the story, but says it was another prisoner.
OK, so just strike it up to his age (or his previous status as a POW). Except that story appeared in the book, The Gulag Archipelago, by recently deceased Alexandrja Solzhenitsyn and published in the west in 1973. Did the same thing happen to McCain? Certainly could have, but it could have also come from a distant memory in a ghost writer’s brain…especially since McCain attributed it to someone else himself.