Tales from the Trail

McCain the reluctant hero inspires young

June 13, 2008

mccain-hero.jpgNEW YORK – Republican John McCain, who spent several years in a prison camp in Vietnam and declined offers to be released before his comrades, said on Thursday he did not consider himself a hero. 

Modesty? Say what you will about the Arizona senator, but he appears to sincerely feel that way. 

Which is why the question continues to come up. At fundraisers and town hall meetings, supporters — especially younger people — ask the 71-year-old why he doesn’t spend more time talking about his own personal story.

“I don’t consider myself a hero,” McCain said at a televised campaign event on Thursday night, when told by one audience member that many young people were unaware of the senator’s military history. 

“The great honor of my life years ago was in a North Vietnamese prison camp to serve in the company of heroes. I observed a thousand acts of courage and compassion and love,” McCain said.

Supporters would like to hear more about that. But the candidate is reluctant. 

“I’ve been an imperfect servant of this country,” he said, saying he did not put himself in the same category as those who served with him in the war.

Many beg to differ. Even Barack Obama, the Democratic White House candidate, regularly refers to McCain as an American hero — before ripping into his policy proposals and tying him to unpopular Republican President George W. Bush.

McCain acknowledged that his story inspires, and promised to tell it to younger voters, whose support he is competing for. 

“It took me a long time til I was in a prison camp in North Vietnam, and I figured out that there’s nothing nobler than to serve a cause greater than your self-interest, and sometimes when I talk to young people they say those stories inspire them,” he said. 

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

- Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (McCain puts his hand to his head as he speaks to the National Federation of Independent Business).

Comments
8 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

I am confused: why is McCain considered a “hero”. 1) he got shot down 2) he got captured 3) he did not escape as required (did he even attempt?).

OK, I couldn’t either; I couldn’t’ even get into the jet. But to call him a “hero” because he fu%ked up, but was marginally able to survive is a stretch. We’re talking HERO here , not VICTUM.

(and I do like him)

Posted by Will | Report as abusive
 

As an ex military pilot myself I certainly admire the pluck it must have taken to go along with the order for POWs to refuse to be sent home before everyone was sent home. A small number of POWs disobeyed the order and did go home early, although most did as McCain. But regardless of any of the above, I am not sure I see what bearing any of this has on McCain’s candidacy.

Taking a beating as a POW is not a qualification for President of the US. Neither is being shot down an act of heroism. McCain is going to continue the destructive policies of Bush and that is a certainty. The idea that lowering taxes somehow reduces the Federal deficit has been shown over and over again to be simply untrue. We need to invest in infrastructure, education, manufacturing facilities, etc., and we can’t do that by borrowing even more money from China. In addition the war in Iraq was a collosal mistake (maybe lie is a better word) and no amount of money and lives is going to change that fact. Staying in Iraq until we achieve a “victory” is as unrealistic an idea as paying off the deficit by borrowing more money. I hear some news people saying that McCain has the clear “National Security” credentials, but I am not sure I understand what they are talking about. Anyone who understands the politics of the Middle East and the state of our military knows that the war in Iraq is both unwinnable and unsustainable. Iran, Syria, and even Russia and China will never rest as long as there are American troops in Iraq. We will have dead soldiers and huge financial costs for as long as we stay in Iraq. In the mean time every third world country is building nuclear weapons since they know we haven’t the spare soldiers to do anything about it.

Be inspired by McCain’s POW experience but don’t vote for him for President.

Posted by captbilly | Report as abusive
 

A careful reading of the story shows that there’s absolutely nothing in that story which indicates that there is any substance to the hypothesis of the headline that “McCain Inspires Young People”. The only one claiming that he inspires young people is McCain, in the last paragraph. That would make this a propaganda piece.

The only ones with a real youth audience are Ron Paul, and Barak Obama. The youth are NOT McCain voters, even if they were to hear his story.

But the reason that he doesn’t spread it around so much is for one simple reason: it’s not something he’s proud of, because the story is bigger than the fact. In 1994 Senator John McCain and Senator John Kerry SHUT DOWN hearings into Vietnam MIA/POW, leaving the families without hope of finding out what happened to their loved ones. Information was readily available, but McCain’s file was going to be released, too. McCain flew to Vietnam and violently threatened the government there not to release his file. Vietnam Veterans hate him. Vietnam Veteran’s families hate him.

McCain’s full of it. Unfortunately, so is Obama.

 

Yes, I personally find that a lengthy career of bribery and corruption makes a great hero.

We can teach our children how to heroically kick our crippled wife to the curb so that we can marry a younger, richer woman. We can teach our children how to take bribes from savings and loan executives. We can teach our children how to enthusiastically support torturing prisoners of war, like McCain has done.

What a great hero. All he needs is to kill some puppies and he’ll truly be worthy of emulation.

This article is sad. McCain “supporters” (i.e., his campaign manager, sitting in the audience) beg him to tell us more about his heroism… he demurs… they beg some more… they beg some more… he oh-so-reluctantly complies… the noble hero, dragged out of retirement to serve his country once more… what a great image. Too bad the reporter is too stupid or callow to recognize a PR narrative when it is slapped in his face.

Posted by CaptBob | Report as abusive
 

Will,not sure about you, but captbilly you should know. He put himself in harms way as he was trained to do in his duties for our country (never mind the politics at the time) and was shot down…this wasn’t because he f’d up…it was because he was in a war. And I don’t think he was marginally able to survive…I think he was heroically able to survive. Obviously you have never been in that position nor do I think you would have survived with dignity. He is a hero because of what he did for our country and how he conducted himself in the worst of circumstances. From what I am reading from the both of you, something neither of you could have done.

Whether he is a good candidate for Presidency or not, please do not denigrate him for his service. Vietnam Veterans have been abused and insulted enough

 

Yeah….McCain sucks.

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive
 

I’m confused – I just found this on the NY Times, which came from Reuters – “Obama has a lead in the polls going into the general election campaign for the November election and may not want to get in the boxing ring over and over again with McCain to reduce the chances of making a mistake that would make him look inexperienced.”

Does that sound impartial? And this article – “McCain inspires the Young.” Is Reuters tied to McCain somehow? Anyone else picking up on this?

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive
 

In response to Matt, yes… Reuters is heavily tied to McCain. Their recent article was something about the Reuter’s Summit and their belief that McCain was better for the economy because of larger tax cuts for the wealthy as well as corporation tax cuts.

This is nothing more than a biased blog post. It is not journalism.

Posted by Sylvia | Report as abusive
 

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