Give McCain a Break

Hate John McCain if you want. Call McCain a traitor, even.

I look at John McCain and marvel at his strength. Many do.

Everyone knows about McCain being shot down over Vietnam and spending 5 years in a POW camp. But most people don’t know about the deep emotional scar McCain brought home with him. And that emotional scar undoubtedly drives him to his fits of anger and telling lies about people he doesn’t like.

When you hear the reason for McCain’s anti-social behavior, you might not hate him so much. Maybe you’ll feel sorry for him.

Senator McCain has a long reputation as a petty, bitter, and vindictive man. He is prone to act out of envy and jealousy. By accusation and by his own admission, Senator McCain was a reckless Navy pilot. He tells people he crashed “six or eight” planes in a short period of time. After years of denial, Senator McCain finally admitted that, as a POW, he voluntarily recorded a propaganda broadcast for his North Vietnamese captors. By accusation and by his own admission, Lt. Cdr. McCain accepted favors from his captors in exchange for his cooperation in violation of the Armed Forces Code of Conduct for prisoners of war. But before accepting those favors, McCain rejected an offer to be released from POW camp. So let’s not exaggerate his cooperation.

Imagine how guilty you’d feel if you had made a propaganda recording for the enemy. I would feel very guilty. And I know that when I’m feeling guilty, I often find fault in others. Sometimes I find faults that don’t really exist. But finding petty faults with others makes me feel better about myself when I’m feeling guilty.

So maybe McCain handles his guilt a lot like I handle mine. (Not that I ever did anything as serious as recording a propaganda recording for the enemy during war.) When McCain goes to Europe to badmouth his President, he’s acting out of guilt. When he goes on Sunday talk shows and falsely accuses his President of stifling the press, he’s probably doing so under the duress of extreme guilt. Think about this: his Silver Star medal was awarded for resisting enemy offers. He must have felt very guilty when President Nixon pinned that medal on his chest, knowing about that recording.

And Senator McCain probably feels more guilty now that this propaganda recording finally surfaced in 2016. McCain denied its existence for years, and no one could find a copy of it until last year.

When he volunteered to make that recording, he probably thought he was actually helping our side. It seems reasonable that McCain thought soldiers battling in the jungle would find comfort knowing the North Vietnamese would care for their wounds if they were captured.

It’s harder to explain why McCain called himself a war criminal, but maybe he accidently bombed friendly villages before he was shot down. Bombing the wrong target would probably create a lot of guilt. It’s possible that McCain’s reference to wounding and killing Vietnamese people was his way of apologizing for errant bombs. As we’ve heard, he wasn’t a particularly good pilot by is own admission. It makes sense that he’d want to get that off his chest right away.

And there’s always the possibility that McCain agreed to make the recording to help his fellow POWs. Maybe the North Vietnamese offered his comrades relief from torture in exchange for McCain’s cooperation. Anyone might violate the Code of Conduct to protect their friends.

If you’re wondering why I would mention John McCain’s propaganda recording at all, I’ll explain. Senator McCain is now calling our President a dictator and accusing the President of stifling the press. McCain’s accusations are laughably false, but the leftist press is eating them up. A lot of my friends seem to hate John McCain now, but they might not be considering the incredible guilt McCain lives with every day.

While I condemn John McCain’s despicable conduct, I also feel bad for him and his copious guilt. I think calling McCain a traitor is a bridge too far, too. I see John McCain as someone who did his best under horrible conditions. And it seems that his best, in his own eyes, was less than necessary. That creates tremendous guilt which he tries to assuage by finding even worse shortcomings in other people.

Remember that McCain wasn’t the only one to crack in a POW camp. Others did worse in Vietnam and other wars. I accept that. And I’m glad I never had to live through his experience. I don’t know if I would have conducted myself any better. And if one of my kids made a similar recording as a POW, I’d still consider him a hero. But I’d also understand how, later in life, his feelings of guilt might cloud his judgment and lead to reckless behavior.

I think it’s best to just ignore Senator McCain as he works through with his guilt.

Author: William Hennessy

Co-founder of St. Louis Tea Party Coalition and Nationwide Chicago Tea Party Persuasive design expertLatest book: Turning On Trump: An Evolution (2016)Author of The Conservative Manifest (1993), Zen Conservatism (2009), Weaving the Roots (2011), and Fight to Evolve (2016)I believe every person deserves the dignity of meaningful work as the only path to human flourishing.

3 Comments on “Give McCain a Break

  1. Well, McCain has certainly overstayed in the Senate. (The only job where they expect to die in office instead of retire!)

    Here we have a man whose powerful, 4-star admiral father made sure he got many undeserved breaks in life. He grew up as a smart assed, entitled brat. McCain finished 894th out of 899 at the Naval Academy. He said he enjoyed being off-duty more than flying. He drove a fast car, chased women and gambled. He fancied himself as a ‘maverick.’

    He recklessly crashed several planes because he enjoyed being a daredevil. His flying record should have gotten him tossed out of the military, but he knew he was immune due to his powerful connections. He wet-started his jet engine as a jape and it caused the plane behind him to fire a missile. McCain quickly dropped his bombs and ran below decks neverr bothering to help in the fire-fighting effort. His bombs exploded and almost sunk the Forrestal. 134 sailors were killed and a helicopter whisked McCain away because many in the crew wanted his scalp.

    He sang like a bird while being a POW in Vietnam and disclosed highly classified information to his captors. To be sure, he did suffer broken bones and was bayonetted upon his capture, but when the North Vietnamese realized they had an Admiral’s son, he received special treatment.

    When he returned to America, he cruelly divorced his wife, who was hospitalized for a long while after a car accident. He then married a rich woman who could fund his political ambitions. Once in power, he then systematically voted against veterans and MIA, and in the 1990’s, when some families finally, after years, got the Senate to convene a Special Committee to discover whether or not, there were US Military survivors and or dead still in Vietnam….Sen. McLame did everything in his power to interfere and stop that committee from discovering anything, while maintaining a seal on his personal records.

    Trump spoke out against McCain, and now the senator harbors a grudge. The anti-vet, warmongering McCain needs to retire before he causes more grief.

  2. Dave, you make some good points. I guess I try to give war veterans and POWs every possible break. And I agree that Arizona voters owe the American people an apology. McCain’s conduct since the election is dangerous, self-serving, and inexcusable.

  3. Bill,
    While I agree with much of your psychoanalysis of McCain’s feelings of guilt, I think you overlook a deeper story, namely, his decades of corruption, falsity, and self-aggrandizement. Perhaps this all started in the prison camp when he played “go along to get along” by making the propaganda recording as you describe. But I don’t think it would be correct to blame POW guilt pangs for his participation in the Keating Five or for the other foul stench surrounding his long political life. As a reckless pilot, McCain was all about McCain. Same story when he became a propaganda-spewing POW who later built his political career on a sanitized tale of his Vietnam experience. Luckily for him, he had a better story (5 years in prison) than Al Gore could ever muster about his mythologized Vietnam experience. But McCain’s incompetence and disloyalty came into full display during the 2008 election, and even though I think Obama was a disaster, I believe McCain would have been worse. Why is this guy still sitting in the Senate?

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