Intro from b. traven: When I think of John McCain, I think of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous observation from one of his published notebooks: “Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.” McCain was really a simple, down to earth guy who grew up in a privileged military family but was ill prepared for the fame that his suffering in Vietnam helped in shaping his later life. I liken him to Jim Morrison of the Doors who also came from a military family (his father also was a naval admiral) and was ill prepared for the success his talent brought him.
Amongst all of the accolades of “straight talking”, etc. heaped on McCain, his limitation showed itself early in his political career when he became an outspoken Senate supporter of, and receiver of support from, Charles Keating, who ran an investment scam which cost thousands of investors (including me) their money. Keating was ultimately sent to prison and McCain had to apologize, but came out politically unscathed.
Unlike many of his peers in the Congress, McCain had a forgiving nature. In spite of the brutal years he spent as a North Vietnamese POW. We must remember that he played a key role later in opening the door to normalizing US relations with the government of Vietnam. That took a lot of forgiveness on his part.
When it came to domestic and foreign policies McCain seemed to lack a moral compass. He became more of a Republican “go along” guy. In spite of his own experience of the immorality and horror of torture his opposition to our government’s torture program was not robust. In his final days he had the unique opportunity to cement a legacy of true independence and care for the future of our country and failed when his crucial vote helped pass Trump’s massive tax cut for the rich.
Throughout his entire political career McCain was a leading war hawk, robustly supporting virtually all of our wars of choice and using his military experience to dull opposition. These wars of choice, not necessity, have all been astounding failures leaving only chaos in their wake. In seventeen years we have squandered our national wealth and international reputation creating chaos in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, all under the guise of fighting “terror.” These wars have also given our politicians the cover to shred our Constitution and the rule of law.
There is no greater grief than a mother’s over the loss of her child. Cindy Sheehan’s loss of her son in the Iraq war has given her a seat at the table in discussing John McCain’s legacy of support for our wars of choice. Her voice is strident but it is the voice of a grieving mother that must be heard. Below is a shortened cry from a mother questioning the accolades that a dedicated war hawk has received on his death. Life is not simple.
(I confess that I supported McCain in the primary when he ran against Bush. I met him on several occasions at his fund raisers and gave him my two cents, along with some dollars.)
Of “Heroes” and “Communist Dictators”
The following is a slightly shortened version of a post on Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox blog, dating from when McCain’s cancer was first diagnosed.
The first time I met Senator John McCain, I was still under the false impression that, even though he was a Republican, he was still slightly independent and not entirely reprehensible.
The occasion was the now infamous meeting our family had with then president George Bush in 2004, about six weeks after Casey was killed in Iraq.
Our family was invited for a “sit-down” with Bush at Ft. Lewis up near Seattle. The government was paying, so we agreed. We had some things we wanted to “chat” with him about, also.
Along with about 16-17 other families in the same piteous situation, we cooled our jets for awhile in a waiting room at the base hospital. After a bit, we were ushered into a small curtained room to wait for 43. While we were waiting, the curtains parted and in walked McCain. I did mention to him that he had been a POW in another immoral war and I asked him why my son had to die. His response: “Well Cindy, if we don’t win in Iraq, then I am afraid for nothing.” After McCain left, we all wondered if he had been the “opening act” for Bush.
Fast forward six months to inauguration day for 43’s second term.
By that time, I was now very active opposing Bush and the wars and had founded Gold Star Families for Peace. I was invited to appear on Good Morning America (from the Library of Congress) early on the morning of the inauguration. After the interview, I was leaving and John McCain walked in to be interviewed—I reminded him that we had met at Ft. Irwin and I told him what I was up to. His response (which he later denied in our 3rd meeting) was: “The country needs people like you, too.”
After I protested Bush and the wars at Camp Casey in Crawford in August of 2005, I went to Washington DC for a huge antiwar rally in September and I met with many reps and Senators and John McCain was one of them. I reminded him that he had encouraged me to protest the war back in January and he said, “Why would I do that, I support it?” On the way out, he said, “Good luck, Cindy.” I said, “Thank you, you are wishing me luck to end the wars.” He said, “I take it back, then.”
I have been in Phoenix at his office a few times opposing his bellicosity with my dear antiwar friends there.
Since my first meeting with McCain in 2004, I am under no illusion that he was “independent”. It’s normal that conservatives are praising him, but he is being lauded by liberals as an “American hero” also. That a war criminal who, with his own hands, murdered untold number of Vietnamese and with either incompetence or arrogance murdered 134 sailors on his aircraft carrier the USS Forrestal in Vietnam is considered a “hero” doesn’t say very much about this country.
McCain, who graduated 2nd to the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy used his military career to carouse and murder his way through Vietnam and with the help of his Admiral father, covered up his crimes to use his “heroic” “service” as a stepping-stone for greater political power.
If Obama and Sanders and many liberal talking blah-blah heads are praising the “American hero” McCain are they saying that the war in Vietnam was “heroic” and the millions of Vietnamese who died and continue to die from their poisoned country and landmines are just shit?
Liberals (like this clip from The View), who thought McCain was the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler when he ran against Obama in 2008, are now gushing over how McCain corrected a woman on TV who was afraid of Obama because she thought he was an “Arab.”
“No,” McCain thoughtfully and with his “great” flair of being so gosh-darned “independent” corrected the woman and said that Obama was not an “Arab,” but a “good person.” Cogitate on that for a moment—liberals are praising a deeply bigoted statement. Like the Vietnamese, do liberals consider Arabs as shit?
John “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran (and everywhere else, while we’re at it),” McCain has been one of the biggest devotees of this country’s imperial misadventures his entire life; however, the “Communist dictator” (Chavez) never once invaded or infested another country by his military. No, Chavez used Venezuelan oil and the force of his personality to not only improve the lives of Venezuelans, but to forge alliances and friendships throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Yes, even improving the lives of the poor in the United States.
I am not afraid to say that, although I am not thrilled that McCain has brain cancer, I am in no way sad about it, or conflicted about calling out the terrible crimes against humanity this man has committed in the name of American “heroism.” Illness, near death, or death itself should not confer immediate sainthood on profoundly criminal lives.
Cancer claimed the lives of my sister Dede Miller and my comrade Hugo Chavez and millions of other good people, often after torturous struggles. Now, McCain.
We should have exactly the same sympathy and compassion for McCain that he showed to all his victims–at home and abroad–which is zero.
Cancer is the deadly and too-prevalent equalizer: it takes the good and evil, alike.
One thought on “JOHN AND CINDY: A MOTHER WHO LOST HER SON RESPONDS”
I’m no psychoanalyst–indeed, I have grave doubts about that profession–but I see McCain as a severely conflicted individual. Every human being is a bundle of contradictions, but his seemed somewhat bigger than life. In the end, I think the missing moral compass Ms. Sheehan referenced led him to be a conformist, not the “maverick” he was so often touted as. (Though, again, self-contradiction: he did consistently [verbally] oppose US use of torture. Not so much the context that created it, unjustified wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) Apparently he hated going through the Naval Academy, but under pressure from his father he became a (notoriously poor, it seems) fighter-bomber pilot and, I assume, volunteered to bomb Vietnamese people who’d never committed the least crime against the USA or its citizens. Once he reached Congress, as far as I’m concerned, he helped push the Modern Republican Party toward the looney-tunes far-right end of the political spectrum. This set up the GOP to embrace the walking-disaster-for-our-nation called Donald J. Trump. Said Trump then heaped insults on McCain, during the 2016 campaign, mocking him for being shot down over Vietnam. Nor could Trump’s ego allow him to ease up even after McCain’s terminal cancer became public knowledge. I believe this is known as “reaping what thou hath sown”! Upon the Senator’s death, the first title accorded him in the NY Times headline was, of course, not “maverick” but “WAR HERO.” I knew immediately I would have to mute the audio on my TV for the evening newscasts for at least a solid week whenever the McCain story came up, lest I hurl a brick at the set. John McCain did nothing in the theater of war that I will ever accord the terms “heroic,” or “honorable” for that matter. The praise heaped upon this man for his military record is just another reminder that this nation has yet to come to terms with the reality of its genocidal crimes in Southeast Asia or the crimes committed subsequently against other peoples.