Tag Archives: POW

Sen. McCain got the sendoff he deserves

It’s been said over the past few days that the pomp, circumstance and pageantry associated with U.S. Sen. John McCain’s funeral is reserved usually for presidents of the United States.

Well, to my mind, the senator deserved all the tributes — and the accompanying ritual — that he received.

The great man’s six decades of public service all alone was worthy of the salute bestowed to him.

The eulogies delivered in Phoenix by former Vice President Joe Biden and in Washington by former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush spoke volumes about the nature of the ceremony that the late U.S. senator planned for his farewell.

It was Vice President Biden who introduced himself to the crowd assembled by saying, “I’m Joe Biden; I am a Democrat: and I loved John McCain.”

And so it went as the nation poured out its heart to memorialize the iconic Republican lawmaker.

I was glad that the ceremonies didn’t dwell too heavily on the single aspect of McCain’s service to the country — his five-plus years as a Vietnam War prisoner. But it was there. It was impossible to set that part of his sacrifice aside.

The last public figure to get this kind of sendoff was President Ford, who died in 2006. Then it fell to others to deliver such a heartfelt salute to a man who fought a valiant battle against disease.

He already had battled his wartime captors. And he won that fight.

Sen. John McCain was the rare public figure who emerged even bigger after he lost the toughest political battles of his life: his unsuccessful campaign for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000 and his losing bid for the office in the 2008 election against Barack Obama.

With that, the nation has bid farewell to a gallant warrior and a true-blue American hero.

May this sometimes irascible man rest in peace.

As he said of himself, Sen. McCain “lived and died a proud American.”

The country he loved and served with honor and distinction is better because he came along.

Why praise someone on the other side?

Roger Kimball, a conservative writer for The Spectator, thinks the New York Times’s praise of the late Sen. John McCain rings hollow.

Indeed, he takes aim at liberals for their high praise of the senator, given his own conservative voting record in the House and the Senate over more than three decades.

Well, I beg to differ with his assertion about the hollow ring of such high-minded rhetoric.

Read Kimball’s essay here.

I consider myself a liberal. Or a progressive. I have stated on this blog many times that I didn’t vote for Sen. McCain when he ran for president as the Republican nominee in 2008. I have opposed his policy and have challenged his constant griping against the man who thumped him in that landmark presidential election a decade ago.

However, the man’s public service is worthy of salute and high praise. His courage in the face of his hideous captivity during the Vietnam War is as well. Sen. McCain’s dignity during his valiant but futile fight against the cancer that took his life commends high praise.

I have been saddened in the extreme by Sen. McCain’s death. He was a man of deep courage, conviction and dedication to his country. He paid a huge price for his service when he was shot down in 1967. He endured more than five years of captivity, came home and continued to serve his beloved country.

Sen. McCain said it well himself by declaring that he “lived and died a proud American.”

How can a liberal look away from such dignity?

White House makes a mess of standard tribute

Let’s call it what it appears to be: a major-league clusterf***.

Someone at the White House — where Donald J. Trump resides with his wife and young son — lowered the flag atop the building to half-staff immediately after U.S. Sen. John McCain’s death this past weekend.

Then the flag went back to the top of the staff.

And then it came down again today. The president issued a “thoughts and prayers” statement to Sen. McCain’s family initially, and then issued a statement saying that despite the two men’s differences over “politics and policy,” the president said “I respect his service” to the country.

Gosh. Overwhelming, yes? Well … no. It isn’t. But you know that already.

Read CNN.com’s report here.

Actually, the president has yet to make any kind of statement saluting the late senator’s enormous contributions to his nation, his 60 years of public service — including his more than five years as a Vietnam War prisoner as a captive of North Vietnam. Trump denigrated McCain’s war service and the heroism he displayed while being held captive. And as McCain fought the cancer that killed him, Trump continued to blast the senator over his “no” vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Of course, McCain issued a directive that the president shouldn’t attend his funeral. Instead, the senator asked former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to deliver eulogies in his honor. And, yes, Vice President Mike Pence — a former congressional colleague of Sen. McCain — will represent the Trump administration.

Dear reader, we are witnessing yet again the clumsiness and ineptitude of the Donald J. Trump administration over a ceremonial duty that should be second nature.

Shameful.

Wishing this prediction had panned out

I’m in a strange mood this evening. I am feeling a bit of a mea culpa urge entering my aching body.

A little more than three years ago, I “predicted” the demise of the Donald John Trump’s presidential campaign after he uttered the infamous phrase that U.S. Sen. John McCain was a war hero “only because he was captured” and that he he liked “those who aren’t captured.”

I thought at that moment that Trump had just self-immolated his campaign for the presidency.

Oh, man, was I ever wrong about that.

So, I want to send it out one more time as my attempt at self-deprecation.

Hey, no one’s perfect.

This is when Donald Trump’s candidacy died

 

 

 

McCain keeps fighting the good fight

I want to offer some kind words about John McCain.

One year ago, Sen. McCain received a medical diagnosis no one wants to hear: He had contracted an aggressive form of brain cancer, glioblastoma.

I don’t know what the docs told him about his prognosis. Sen. McCain has indicated it was grim.

But he’s still with us. For that I am grateful.

I’ll be candid about Sen. McCain. I disagree with his conservative political views. I did not vote for him when he ran as the Republican nominee for president in 2008.

However, I long have admired Sen. McCain for the valiant public service he has given to his country. It spans many decades, including his years as a Navy officer.

In 1967, the young aviator had the extreme misfortune of being shot down over Hanoi during the height of the Vietnam War. He was taken captive and held for more than five years. He was injured when he ejected from his jet fighter; his wounds never were treated properly. He was tortured and submitted to solitary confinement.

He persevered. McCain ran for Congress, being elected to the House and then to the Senate.

His courage has never been doubted. His heroism in a time of war is well-documented. I long have admired this man’s service and I have saluted him — through this blog — many times.

I just feel compelled to wish Sen. McCain well as he continues his valiant battle. I consider him a heroic figure.

To think that Trump disparages this man

I am going to post one more item about Sen. John McCain and his frigid relationship with the man who happens to be president of the United States.

Then I’ll move on. Maybe

Take a gander at the man on crutches and in the Navy whites. He is John McCain. The picture was snapped in 1973. He is shaking hands with President Nixon, who welcomed home many of the men captured by North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

McCain spent more than five years in captivity. He endured torture, solitary confinement. He was injured when he bailed out of his jet fighter in 1967, but his broken bones never were treated properly by his captors.

This is the man Donald Trump said was a hero “only because he was captured.”

And while John McCain was enduring the wrath of our nation’s enemy, Donald Trump was at home obtaining a series of medical deferments that kept him out of the Vietnam War. Something about “bone spurs,” isn’t that right?

For the president of the United States to denigrate and disparage John McCain in the manner that he is done is the height — or is it the depth? — of miserable narcissism.

POTUS is a disgrace.

Is this ex-POW also deserving of scorn from POTUS?

U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson of Plano is now my congressman. He’ll hold that title until early 2019. He will retire from Congress then and return to private life.

Johnson is a solid Republican. I am proud of his service to his country. You see, he got to Congress the hard way.

He is a one-time U.S. Air Force pilot who in 1966 had the misfortune of being shot down during the Vietnam War. He was held captive for nearly seven years. Seven years, man! He was tortured, sent to solitary confinement, denied sunlight and food.

He served heroically during his years in bondage.

And yet …

The man who would become president of the United States, Donald Trump, once said of one of Johnson’s Vietnam War colleagues — Sen. John McCain — that McCain was a “hero only because he was captured; I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

Johnson became a member of what was called the Alcatraz Gang during his years in prison. They were separated from the rest of their fellow POWs because of the resistance they mounted against their captors. They were held in a camp about a mile away from what became known as the “Hanoi Hilton.”

Johnson was kept bound tightly each night in irons in a room where the North Vietnamese kept the light on 24/7.

These men were heroes in every sense of the term. I am aware of at least two Vietnam War POWs who received the Medal of Honor for their resistance: James Stockdale and Jeremiah Denton.

Stockdale was ordered to film a “confession” in which he would admit to “war crimes.” His response was to beat himself to a bloody pulp with a table leg, making him impossible to appear in any appearance in a propaganda film. Denton submitted to a filmed interview, but then blinked in Morse code the word “torture” to his audience in the Pentagon.

Sam Johnson also resisted mightily during his years as a captive.

As for Donald Trump’s assertion about Sen. McCain, you know how I feel about how he denigrated McCain’s heroism. Sen. McCain was one of many heroes who fought the enemy while locked up.

The same can be said of Rep. Johnson.

I hope one day to meet this hero … and tell him “welcome home”

Sen. McCain shares good times and bad with his friends

I hate, despise, detest the thoughts I am about to express in this blog post, but it needs to be said that they’re talking openly about the end for U.S. Sen. John McCain.

His friends are gathering to wish the senator well as he battles a virulent and aggressive form of brain cancer. Sen. McCain is presenting a brave public front, but it is looking grim … or so it appears, according to recent media reporting.

His longtime friends, such as former Vice President Joe Biden, have visited him. McCain reportedly has told Biden to “not give up on politics,” in what appears to be something of a tacit endorsement of him to run for president in 2020.

He has written of his regret in not selecting another dear friend, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, to be his vice-presidential running mate in 2008 when he lost the presidential election to Sen. Barack H. Obama. Lieberman has visited his friend, too, in Arizona.

There have been many others, according to The New York Times.

Then there is this stunner, as reported by the Times: Sen. McCain’s “intimates” have informed the White House that the senator wants Vice President Mike Pence to attend his funeral, but not Donald Trump, with whom McCain “has had a rocky relationship.”

Hmm. Imagine that. Trump’s disparagement of McCain’s heroic service during the Vietnam War seems to have stuck in the senator’s craw since Trump declared that Sen. McCain was a “war hero only because he was captured” by North Vietnamese. Trump, of course, didn’t acknowledge the torture McCain endured during his more than five years as a captive in Hanoi during the Vietnam War. Or that McCain refused an early release because he didn’t want to abandon his fellow POWs while giving the North Vietnamese a PR bonanza, given that McCain’s father commanded U.S. naval forces during that time.

I have grown to admire Sen. McCain over many years. I didn’t vote him for president. I don’t regret my decision to endorse his opponent in 2008, Barack Obama. Nor do I shy away from my view that McCain is an honorable man who has given far more in service to his country than almost anyone.

I want him to defeat the illness that has ravaged him. I fear he won’t.

Thus, I am preparing for some deep sadness.

McCain to Trump: Don’t go after a ‘free press’

I’ve never really considered John McCain to be a friend of the press.

Silly me. I guess I was wrong about the Republican U.S. senator from Arizona. He is now telling the president of the United States to back off from his declared war against the media, which Donald Trump has labeled as the “enemy of the people.”

“That’s how dictators get started,” McCain said.

Well …

McCain denies calling Trump a would-be dictator, insisting he’s just spelling out what has happened throughout history. Dictators seek to weaken — if not destroy — the press, giving them an avenue to complete power.

McCain detests Trump, it seems quite clear. The senator’s loathing of the president, though, seems well-earned.

Candidate Trump once declared that he didn’t consider McCain — a decorated Navy pilot and one-time Vietnam War prisoner — a “war hero.” Trump said McCain was a hero only because “he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

Some of us thought that ridiculous assertion would doom Trump’s presidential candidacy. Hah! It didn’t happen. It seemed to energize his supporters.

McCain, though, has kept up his drumbeat of criticism of Trump. I happen to applaud the senator’s verve as he challenges Trump’s ignorance about Russia and now about the dangers of seeking to weaken the Fourth Estate.

Those of us toiled in the craft of reporting and commenting on events of the day don’t consider ourselves to be “enemies” of the people. I have never thought of myself to be anyone’s enemy, although I am certain some of individuals I’ve encountered along my lengthy journalism journey perceive me as their enemy.

As Sen. McCain has noted correctly, the president ought to tread carefully if he continues this fight with the media.

Trump vs. McCain: Keep your punches up …

Donald J. Trump started the feud with John McCain.

The president vs. the senator is now getting serious. I’ll stipulate that I’m rooting for the senator who once was his party ‘s presidential nominee.

This intraparty feud could get in the way of some serious policy matters.

The president fired the first shot in the feud when he told an interview that he didn’t consider the Arizona Republican U.S. senator to be a war hero. Trump said McCain is a hero only because “he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured. OK?”

I was among those who thought that comment would doom Trump’s budding presidential candidacy. Silly me. I was so wrong!

McCain ever since has been none too bashful about criticizing Trump. McCain’s foreign policy credentials are well known. He believes Trump is too friendly with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and has said so publicly.

The feud has taken a new turn. McCain has criticized a military mission that Trump ordered. Trump and his team have said McCain should apologize for impugning the memory of a Navy SEAL who died in the operation in Yemen.

From where I sit, I didn’t here McCain disparage the gallantry of the fallen commando. It would be unthinkable for the former Vietnam War prisoner to say such a thing.

But this war of words between the leading Republicans doesn’t bode well for the new president getting much through the GOP-led Congress. It’s not that McCain is terribly popular among his colleagues; the difficulty might lie in McCain’s well-chronicled service to the country, which is infinitely greater than any such service Trump ever performed before he was elected president.

The Hill reports: “Further fights between McCain and Trump seem almost certain. Neither likes to back down from a fight, and it is hard to believe that Trump’s criticisms of McCain haven’t got under his skin.”

I am quite certain as well that Trump’s famously thin skin is pretty chapped these days, too.