Friday, April 25, 2008

John McCain: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

It sort of bugs me out when I hear people ragging on Senator John McCain about things which are irrelevant to political issues and politics. When I hear some of the things said about McCain, it’s sometimes hard to remember that most people are able to separate political differences from personal attacks. The most scurrilous personal attacks are from those who give lip service to an expected cant just before they launch into the basest litany of pejoratives against the presidential candidate. I expect the worst come from people who not only don’t know McCain, they know nothing of public service. Most people do know that McCain had been a prisoner of war for many years, and many rue the fact because it provides a certain stature, implies an unquestioned heroism, shows a fierce determination and capacity to face adversity. These things give you an advantage in leadership which some may interpret as political. It seems to me that sometimes McCain spends too much time apologizing for being a real live American hero, and seems to do so even in his own books. But lots of people won’t buy any of McCain’s books to learn more about him, preferring newspaper headlines read to them by television pundits, and so I will plagiarize an excerpt from “Faith of My Fathers” and hope that Random House, the publisher, considers this “fair use.”

“Shortly before eleven on the morning of July 29, 1967, on Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf, I was third in line on the port side of the ship. I took my helmet back from Tom, nodded at him as he flashed me a thumb’s up, and shut the plane’s canopy. In the next instant, a Zuni missile struck the belly fuel tank of my plane, tearing it open, igniting two hundred gallons of fuel that spilled onto the deck, and knocking two of my bombs to the deck. I never saw Tom Ott again.”

McCain dives into the flames and seconds later one of his thousand-pound bombs explodes, followed by other bombs. Pilots in nearby planes eject into the conflagration. All told, 134 men are dead and dying. Within weeks, and with the Forrestal badly damaged, McCain has volunteered for another squadron on the Oriskany, a ship desperate for aviators, with a reputation for success in destroying targets and losing planes and pilots.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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