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McCain's Military Record Shows He Is Unfit To Be President
There is now no doubt that John McCain will be the Republican candidate for President of the United States. For years, McCain has coasted on his reputation as a war hero and a “maverick Republican”, the kind of Republican that even decent people could vote for. Now that he’s in the running for the most important job in the world, however, it’s important to look a little more critically at his past.
 Hidell   27 Feb 2008 10:54
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Most of the major media outlets find it impossible to publish a story about McCain which doesn’t include the phrase “war hero” in it somewhere. If you know anything about John McCain, it’s that he’s a war hero. But is he?

McCain’s reputation as a war hero rests on the sum total of 20 hours in combat. That’s right. McCain spent only 20 hours in combat in the entire war. He flew 23 missions. He got 28 medals. In other words, he got more medals than he had missions. Not bad. It should be noted that none of McCain’s medals related to anything he did in combat. They were given for the supposed bravery he displayed after he had been shot down and captured.

It’s appropriate to ask whether McCain’s shoot-down was caused by bad luck or simple incompetence on his part. Of course, there is no way to answer definitively. But we can form an assessment based on the rest of McCain’s military record. At the Naval Academy, McCain graduated almost bottom of his class. He was 790th out of 795. McCain lost many aircraft over the course of his military career – five in total. He admitted himself that he had a "reputation for mayhem". One of these incidents, on board the USS Forrestal, involved the death of 144 sailors and was the most serious "accident" the navy had experienced since the Second World War. It appears that McCain's incompetence played a significant part in increasing the severity of the incident when, in a frightened scramble to get out of the aircraft, he pressed the bomb release button by mistake, dropping a bomb from his aircraft onto the burning fire. It detonated one minute later, killing many people. After escaping from the aircraft, McCain shamefully left the deck and hid below, then, within hours, flew to Saigon for some "R n' R" while funeral services were still being arranged for his shipmates. Most pilots who lost aircraft in the way and at the rate McCain did would have been kicked out of the service. But McCain had protection from up on high. His father was an admiral. He was an untouchable. So McCain blundered his way through his military career until he was finally shot down.

Despite constantly harping on about his military experience, McCain has refused to release his military records. All he has released is a list of medals.

McCain claims that he was tortured while in custody. There were no other American witnesses to this torture and some former POWs doubt that it happened at all. Former North Vietnamese military personnel have also insisted that McCain was never tortured. In fact, McCain himself admitted in a 1973 interview with the magazine US News and World Report that he volunteered to give military information in return for medical treatment, even before being subjected to any torture.

There are two ways to look at the torture claims. Either McCain is lying about it – in which case he’s unfit to be president; or he’s telling the truth – in which case he’s unfit to be president. Why? Because torture is one of those experiences, like being abused as a child, which inflicts permanent psychological damage.

Many of America’s veterans from the Korean and Vietnamese wars suffered lingering psychological trauma from their wartime experience. The rate is even higher among former prisoners of war (POWs). One study found that 85% of POWs who had been tortured experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Was McCain one of the 85% or was he one of the lucky 15%?

There is every reason to suspect that McCain suffered deep-seated psychological trauma while a prisoner of war. He himself says that he was “reduced to an animal” and “broken”. He signed confessions – “I am a black criminal and have performed the deeds of an air pirate” - and made broadcasts denouncing his own country and its actions in the war. In fact, so great was his propensity to be friendly with his captors that, in the camp, McCain acquired the nickname of “Songbird”.

Bear in mind that McCain’s medals were awarded for resisting torture. Yet where was the resistance? Perhaps it is this gulf between the perception and the reality of John McCain that explains why so many Vietnam veterans’ groups openly despise him.

However much pity we might feel for a prisoner of war subjected to such intense pressures, the record is clear : McCain was no war hero. He was, rather, a coward, an incompetent, a collaborator and a traitor.

You don’t have to subscribe to the fully-fledged “Manchurian Candidate” hypothesis to fear that the long term psychological effects of McCain’s imprisonment make him unfit to be president. In McCain’s own words from his book Flags of our Fathers “solitary confinement causes some mental deterioration in even the most resilient personalities”. McCain later admitted that he was so ashamed of his own capitulation that he tried to commit suicide twice. Psychologists who evaluated McCain upon his return said that he had grown used to living in a fantasy world. When the camp guards came with food, he “was often so much in his private world, that he strongly resented their coming around and bringing him back to reality by intruding. He was enjoying his fantasies so much.”

So did McCain suffer psychological damage from his experience? To answer this, we’d need full access to McCain’s medical records, including the psychological evaluations he was subjected to after returning from Vietnam. Unfortunately, that access has never been granted. During his previous unsuccessful run for the presidency, the McCain campaign allowed only a few select journalists to briefly have access to a partial and redacted version of McCain’s medical history.

For years McCain has been known for his powderkeg temper. Many people, including even his own Republican colleagues, have seen the dark side of the man, which tends to manifest itself in the form of an almost hysterical anger, as he shouts and curses at those he disagrees with. Sometimes, McCain returns afterwards to apologise for his outbursts, showing that he had lost control of himself. Passion is no doubt commendable in a presidential candidate. But is that all it is? It seems much more likely that his angry bursts of temper are really manifestations of the lingering psychological fractures he suffered in the Vietnam war. Does America really need an unstable, psychologically stressed “war hero” to have his finger on the nuclear button?
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 What thought-provoking comments. I served in the military (drafted in '65) so I guess what I have to say has some weight. So much of what I see about Mr. McCain's dubious past is almost exactly what George W. lived--trust fund flunkies who had the way paved for them. I heard them say on TV the other night that McCain's arms were broken as a result of being ejected from his aircraft when he was shot down. I also recall the aircraft carrier incident and his reputation as a screw-up. As for me, it's just not right to allow some spoiled incompetent to replace the one leaving office. I'm dying to see how the Bush legacy will be told in the history books. Aren't you? And, AND I'm really hoping that an Obama presidency will tone down racial tensions and bring us all just a tad closer together. He's a bit too far to the left for me, but I'm going to cross my fingers and vote for Mr. Obama anyway. It can't get much worse.
by  mtatom
 04 Nov 2008 21:57
 You're exactly correct Veritas177. This whole article is tripe full of inaccuracies. This author should recant this story!
by  Richdoode
 30 Oct 2008 15:45
 Do any of McCain's major contributors either build, own, or profit from nuclear power plants?
by  mh
 23 Oct 2008 04:19
 Has anyone other than Mr. McCain ever graduated as low as fifth from the bottom of his class and then been allowed to fly a jet in a combat situation, or fly a jet in any situation?
by  mh
 23 Oct 2008 04:15
 As the son of a military officer, I can say that McCain career as a pilot would never have happened had it not been for his fathers position. He is in my opinion a "no class" character that we
can't afford to let run our country. He was a flunkie in school and was a flunkie as a military officer. His involvement with Keating tells me his character is less then honorable. Had he not been a POW and a traitorists one at that he would never be where he is today. He is untouchable by the press because of his supposed "War Hero" , The real war heros would turn over in there graves
God rest there souls if they knew this man had a shot at the Presidency. His lies about his opponent reenforce my belief that he is an unfit candidate and a human being.
by  abracobab
 22 Oct 2008 02:35
 I have never served in the military. I have never experienced combat. I have never been a POW. However, I am a human being with the capacity to somewhat grasp the essentials of these things, and to understand the courage necessary to perform in these conditions. I honor our military above all other things in their service to me and our country. However, I do not honor a man who not only was hopelessly incompetent in his career as a Navy pilot, crashing planes right and left, actually personally caused the deaths of many men on the Forrestal while he ran for cover, and attributes his physical disabilities to "torture" when they were actually the result of landing pretty hard when he bailed out of his crippled aircraft. His betrayal of his country was in exchange for medical treatment, not the result of prolonged and exhaustive physical torture, under which better men died with their honor intact. His fellow inmates have said that they observed no torture and no evidence of torture; why would they lie? After his release and being hailed as a returning hero, he went on to the equally inglorious act of divorcing an invalid wife and taking a trophy bride, who incidentally was worth about a hundred million. Since then his life has been pretty much an open book filled with chest-thumping self importance. I do not want this man sleeping in the White House....not even as a guest.
by  Beverly54
 12 Oct 2008 16:21
 Regarding this comment posted by reader 'joewolf': "You people should be ashamed of yourselves. This paranoid, hate filled, delusional vomit is beneath contempt", I find it disheartening that someone can be so unwilling to accept what has been, far as I can tell, fairly rational observations about the desirability and fitness of McCain as President. I am not a veteran, so there are many who would dismiss any anti-McCain comment I make (so much for free speech in America). Dick Cheney is not a veteran either, and except for a technicality, neither is George W. frankly, and yet so many Americans have happily hung their fate on the chest-thumping words they speak. There are others, however, who do not believe McCain's status as POW make him an instant hero - one of them being a former Air Force Lieutenant Colonel by the name of John Dramesi, who was also captured by the North Vietnamese, and who really was honestly horribly tortured. He never signed anything and attempted escape twice. He wrote a book several years ago about his experience and that of other fighting men in that war. Well worth reading. McCain himself was once quoted as saying that Dramesi was the toughest man he ever met. I especially liked someone's observation here that there are many Vietnam veterans with 1000's of hours of combat experience who never received more than a service bar.

I find it pathetic that there are so many who are unwilling to hear negative truths about McCain, and so many who claim his 'experience' alone qualifies him to lead this country. Experience was certainly not an important issue to them when they voted for George W. Like a few others here, I was once more inclined to think McCain was good for this country, but his actions over the last two years make it plain that he is, while not necessarily unstable, an opportunist who is now so blinded by the nearness of the ultimate 'command' position, that he easily rationalizes the most vile and bizarre campaign techniques and political positions since...well, George W. And yet we Americans are so afraid of our own great shadow, that 50% of us are willing to entrust this fragile freedom of ours to a man who has sunk to this level: (News item from 10/09) McCain berates Obama for voting for a bill containing a 3 million dollar earmark to pay for an "overhead projector". Truth is that the 'projector' is a complex device designated for a planetarium in Chicago - a favorite venue for students and astronomy teachers, and part of a 10 million program being funded mostly by private donations. Gov. Palin on the other hand, never said "Thanks but no thanks" to the 330 million earmark for Alaska's bridge to nowhere. The bridge project was scrapped because it was so obviously unecessary, but the state took the money anyway. She never tells this part of the story and neither does McCain. McCain also continues to claim his 'maverick' status despite the recent blatant fact that the economic recovery bill he so loudly voted for contains......earmarks. I'll go with Obama's calm and unflappable leadership anyday over these hypocrites.
by  cyranob
 11 Oct 2008 03:29
 In the recent PBS program "CARRIER" there was a pilot who essentially washed out for crashing one single plane. How could McCain have crashed over and over without being tossed out of his unit unless he was protected by political favoritism?
by  Duneboy28
 09 Oct 2008 15:25
 I find it curious that someone who has served his country should be so degraded. He was said to be a playboy while at the Naval Academy (I to like female companions), graduated at nearly the bottom of his class, was a son of privledge, and flew "only" 20 hours of combat before being shot down and taken prisoner. His detractors say he gave up information (where did this come from?). He held his own.

If there was anyone doubting his grueling experience wasn't enough, we now pile on. Because he was tortured he is unfit as President because of his experience. Really? It comes down to mearly putting words on paper from a cush office. Live it! Could you do it?

We have a choice in this election. Do we select a person who has lived a life with some imperfections, or choose a young personable man who has rocketed to the top. He touts "change" (what does that mean?). He has gone to Harvard Law School and sat in the Senate voting "present". When the bombs are dropping, I want a president that is more than present!
by  rcb
 23 Sep 2008 21:18
 For one thing, i think that this article that Hidell wrote is a bunch of cr*p! Most of the people commenting on this article are making it sound as if you have to have a clean, perfect military record to be president. So what if you made a mistake or 2? As a 19yr old in a military family ( which is proud to say that we have many military heros in our family, which also has a family member that served in this current war) i say " 23 missions in a total of 20 hours earning 28 medals, lets see you do that!". I don't know if Hidell has actually seen Mccain's military records. I recently( about an hour ago) looked at an article released by the NYdaily news website, talking about Mccain's military records. It states that Mccain's plane was badly damaged but yet he continued to fly to his target and drop the bombs in order to complete his mission. He completed his mission, but afterward he had to eject from his plane(over the target he just bombed, knowing that he mostlikely would be captured)Question is Would you have turned around to save your butt? or Would you have done what he did? Here is a link to the website http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2008/05/08/2008-05-08_navy_releases_mccains_military_record_.html
The whole thing about Military Veterans suffering from lifelong mental scaring ,from the experiences the had to suffer through in war, effecting the decisions they make in thier daily lives, my grandpa fought in the Vietnam war, was shot next to the left eye, minutes after being shot he had his stomach blown open by a mine. Yes he was traumetized by the wounds he had, and by the fact that he had to kill people in order to live afterwards didn't help that much either, but face it, who wouldn't be traumetized by that? My grandpa has to live with that every day, and has nightmares at night, but yet he is one of the smartest people i know, and very rarely does he make a bad decision (non that i know of). As a soon to be member of the U.S. Military and a current member of a military family, i am completely insulted by the fact that someone would go as far as to go into someone's military records and bash them over the head with it and call them a traitor! There is no record of him giving in to 6 yrs of torture! I absolutely hate the fact that someone would go into a man's military record and call them a liar about the things they had done and criticyze them about it. He served his country, was tortured, all for you, and you call him a traitor? One thing i've learned, before you decide to bash someone, learn your facts. I strongly recommend that you read the article from the NYDaily news
by  ckell663
 23 Sep 2008 08:16
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