McCain Doesn’t Like to Mention His POW Status and We’re Not Sick of Him Doing It. Meanwhile, Back in Reality…

POW Week continues with an exhaustive expose of POW excuse exhaustion.

McCain, in a sad attempt to suck wind from Obama’s sails and blow smoke up the right wing’s ass, brought up – betcha didn’t see this coming – his POW status:

“My opponent had the chance to express such confidence in America, when he delivered a much anticipated address in Berlin. He was the picture of confidence, in some ways. But confidence in oneself and confidence in one’s country are not the same. And in that speech, Senator Obama left an important point unclear. He suggested that the end of the Cold War proved that there was, quote, ‘no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.’ Now I missed a few years of the Cold War, as the guest of one of our adversaries, but as I recall the world was deeply divided during the Cold War — between the side of freedom and the side of tyranny. The Cold War ended not because the world stood “as one,” but because the great democracies came together, bound together by sustained and decisive American leadership.” [emphasis eye-rollingly added]

There was a little myth going around that said McCain “only reluctantly” brings up his history as a POW. This will become an urban legend on par with alligators in sewers and hooks hanging from car doors.

McCain’s never been reluctant to scream “POW!” He did it years ago to snow Arizona voters into thinking he was a man worthy of their affections:

When he first ran for Congress in Arizona nearly three decades ago, John McCain had one clear liability: he wasn’t from the state, and he could count the number of years he had lived there on a couple of fingers.

So his primary opponent, state senator Jim Mack, attacked him as a Johnny-come-lately. To counter the charge, at a candidate forum, McCain offered a decidedly pointed response. “I wish I could have had the luxury, like you, of growing up and living and spending my entire life in a nice place like the first district of Arizona, but I was doing other things,” he said. “As a matter of fact, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi.”

Don’t this just sound eerily similar to the McCain we know and loathe today? The only difference between then and now is that he wasn’t using POW as a panacea for every woe from Abba to zings over his houses.

There are plentiful signs his POW bucket is springing leaks. There’s the above TIME magazine article, whose title, “Is McCain Overplaying the POW Card?” speaks volumes. When even conservative-loving TIME decides their bestest hero evah McCain is getting repetitive, you know the magic’s worn off.

Rachel Maddow got huge rounds of applause for taking McCain to task. One of his fans is sick to death of his constant yawping. And Jimmy Carter would like McCain to understand that although POW shares two letters with “cow,” he should stop fucking milking it:

DENVER — Former president Jimmy Carter called Republican presidential candidate John McCain a “distinguished naval officer,” but he said the Arizona senator has been “milking every possible drop of advantage” from his time served as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

[snip]

He said he was bewildered by McCain’s performance at the Saddleback Presidential Forum hosted by pastor and author Rick Warren in Lake Forest, Calif., earlier this month.

Carter said that whether he was asked about religion, domestic or foreign affairs, every answer came back to McCain’s 5½ years as a POW.

“John McCain was able to weave in his experience in a Vietnam prison camp, no matter what the question was,” Carter said. “It’s much better than talking about how he’s changed his total character between being a senator, a kind of a maverick … and his acquiescence in the last few months with every kind of lobbyist pressure that the right-wing Republicans have presented.”

All but the most rabid of McCain’s MSM fans are starting to get that. McCain doesn’t have anything else – no fresh policies, no realistic plan to rescue America, nothing to offer the country except a POW card. “Vote for me – I’m a war hero!”

There are too many voices being raised now, not only in the liberal blogosphere, but in the hallowed, hollowed halls of the MSM, for that card to work much longer. It’s never a good idea to run a campaign on victimhood and the sympathy vote. Americans don’t like whiners. Sympathy and admiration can turn to outrage all too easily if the hand is overplayed.

I have a feeling McCain’s going to be throwing down that trump card at every opportunity next week during the RNC. And I have a feeling that America’s going to take a collective look at it for the 10 billionth time, look him in the eye, and give him some straight talk: “So fucking what?”

He has no ace in the hole. And I for one will be thrilled to see Obama lay down the royal flush and rake the pot in.

(Disclaimer: I am no poker player, so that metaphor may be completely fucking wrong. I’ll admit that, and play no victim card to excuse my appalling ignorance.)

Vets to McCain: Shut the Fuck Up

POW Week continues with a chorus of vets speaking out against McCain’s shameless POW peddling. I’m turning the Smack-o-Matic over to them for the evening.

Our first wielder, Valtin from Daily Kos, isn’t a vet, but works closely with them and thus belongs in this lineup:

I have never been tortured. But I have worked clinically with those who have, including U.S. POWs. I can tell you it breaks the mind and the body, the soul and the spirit, in a way that can never be forgotten.

Now John McCain cites his experience as a POW and torture victim as an anodyne to every mildly injurious political attack. While his painful experience as a POW matters in the history of the man, in our nation’s history, what matters now is that McCain has betrayed that experience, and the lives of thousands he could both know and not know. In doing so, he also betrayed the ideals of American fair-play and justice, going back to George Washington (who forbid his revolutionary army to engage in torture, even if the British did). As everyone should know, those ideals were not realized fully, and we are still fighting for them today. But McCain has trampled them in the mud.

What follows in regards to McCain’s enthusiastic support of torture leaves the Smack-o-Matic steaming. We’ll let it cool down a moment before we pass it on to our next wielder. Vets have been burned enough by McCain without us adding to the agony.

Right, then. C76 from Vet Voice – you’re up:

To the DNC and Senator Obama:

We all know that John McCain served in Vietnam and that he was a POW. We know it because the McCain camp reminds us of his sacrifice at every available opportunity. He uses it to explain away his fits of rage and the fact that he is so wealthy that he doesn’t know how many houses he owns or what kind of car he drives. It’s a cheap and easy way to extract himself from trouble, and the senator has shown absolutely no reservations about exploiting his service in an effort to explain away his mistakes. I find it crass that he chooses to use his military service as a crutch and a cudgel, but I suppose that it’s his right to whore out his time in prison as he sees fit.

The McCain campaign slogan might as well be “Fuck you: I was a POW.” It is their rallying cry and I’m surprised they haven’t had it trademarked. Even though it is both boorish and illogical, exploiting McCain’s service has allowed him to gain ground on Obama. Because of that fact, the Obama campaign and its surrogates absolutely must stop prefacing their remarks with variants of the phrase “I honor John McCain’s military service, but…” [emphasis added]

Daaamn. I especially love the blistering McDonald’s-Burger King analogy that follows. I think the Smack-o-Matic’s nearly reached the melting point.

Still got a few good whacks in it. Neil Riley from Vet Voice, get your elbow into it:

To the Senior Senator from Arizona:

Apparently you don’t read the diaries on Vetvoice. It’s OK and I’m not at all surprised. You haven’t been listening to the needs and concerns of this country’s veterans for sometime now. I am writing you in response to your extremely troubling appearance last night on Jay Leno’s program. When questioned on the number of homes you own (or really your wife), you dodged the question and again played the POW card.

[snip]

What does that have to do with the question at hand?

Excellent question. The short answer: absofuckinglutely nothing. And Neil doesn’t stop pounding there – he goes on to contrast McCain’s POW playing with POWs who kept their honor. Nice one. The Smack-o-Matic is quickly headed for total meltdown.

Brandon Friedman from Vet Voice doesn’t even wait for it to cool:

The fact is, John McCain’s service during Vietnam was honorable and he sacrificed a great deal. But his service to the country carries no more weight than that of any other POW. Likewise, while McCain has given so much to his country, thousands of veterans–past and present–have given as much or more. In this war alone, thousands of troops have lost limbs, been paralyzed, and been burned beyond recognition. So to see McCain resort to playing the POW card when answering legitimate questions, in my mind, cheapens that experience. And by cheapening his own experience in war, he degrades all of our experiences in war. He turns the horrific incidents we’ve all seen, touched, smelled, and felt into a lame excuse to earn political points. And it dishonors us all.

Thank you, Brandon. Just chuck the Smack-o-Matic into that ice bath, thank you kindly. I think we’ve increased global warming by a factor of 6,000 tonight. Holy fucking shit.

These are brave men, good men, and honorable men. McCain might as well be spitting in their faces.

Remember them every time he pulls out his trusty POW card to buy his way out of a gaffe. If he’d treat them with such disrespect, just imagine what he’ll do to regular people.

Way to Cheapen the Sacrifice, John

POW Week continues with the latest in exploitive fuckery.

It appears John “Did I Mention I’m a POW?” McLame’s staff was serious when they proclaimed they weren’t abusing using the POW theme enough.

It turns out being a POW is now considered an excuse for piss-poor taste in music*:

When CNN’s Walter Isaacson confronted John McCain about his professed love of the band of ABBA, which of course was a lame attempt to cater to “disaffected Hillary supporters” as his blogger Michael Goldfarb made clear, McCain (you guessed it) whipped out the trusty ol’ POW card to explain:

“What were you thinking?,” Isaacson asked him, looking incredulous.

“If there is anything I am lacking in, I’ve got to tell you, it is taste in music and art and other great things in life,” McCain joked. “I’ve got to say that a lot of my taste in music stopped about the time I impacted a surface-to-air missile with my own airplane and never caught up again.”

Okay. Let’s unpack this a bit. McCain wants us to believe that he got stuck in a forty fucking year time warp because he hit a SAM and ended up lodged in the Hanoi Hilton for five and a half years.

Fine. Say it’s true. Say that he’s so trapped in that moment that four decades hasn’t been enough for him to recover and catch up on pop culture.

Taking that as a given, answer me this: Do we really need someone that fucking psychologically damaged as President? The point of personal tragedy, what truly makes it noble and honorable, is not simply surviving it. It’s being able to overcome it and become a whole human afterward, complete with the capacity to enjoy the wonderful new things of the present and look forward to a future filled with exciting and novel things. I’m not dissing those who haven’t been able to move past the worst moment of their lives. But I am saying that such people are not emotionally healthy enough to take on the extremely stressful and supremely challenging job of POTUS.

And I think that would be a good point – if McCain’s claims were true. However, as in so many other areas of his sordid political career, he appears to have lied about this as well:

But, as Spencer Ackerman was quick to point out:

What? McCain was shot down in 1967. ABBA began making music in 1972. Don’t try this sh** on me, McCain! Your POW experience has nothing to do with your Partridgey musical taste.

A hit. A very palpable hit! Once again, McCain goes down in flames. (Why, yes, I can see his crass and raise him one odious pun. Why do you ask?)

As low as that is, can’t McCain do us one better? Can’t he drag his celebrated status just that much further through the mud? Why yes, yes he can:

Well McCain went on Leno (known to we Letterman fans as “that hump” Leno) and the macro was hit:

Leno: “For a million dollars, how many houses do you have?”

McCain: “Could I just mention to you, Jay, that, at a moment of seriousness. I spent five-and-a-half years in a prison cell. I didn’t have a house. I didn’t have a kitchen table. I didn’t have a table. I didn’t have a chair…

Holy. Fucking. Shit. I never thought anyone could so cheapen something as harsh as having been a prisoner of war in Vietnam, but he did it. He not only made it cheaper than a counterfeit imitation Rolex, he exceeded the cheap-drunk “Oh woe is me!” quotient by a factor of 10,000,000,000. Can’t you just see his little lip quivering?

I’m not sure how much lower he can go with this, but I’ve no doubt he’ll demonstrate, seeing as how his staff’s already gone there when defending his Leno lamentations:

On Morning Joe today, Mika Brzezinski called it “an awkward moment” and Joe Scarborough said it reflected Maureen Dowd’s point that McCain’s “going to the well a bit too often.” But McCain spokesperson Nicole Wallace disagreed, saying, “it’s not a talking point, it’s a fact.” “It’s not thrown out there in anything other than an explanation,” said Wallace.

You know something? It’s a damned good thing I sold my beautiful birdseye maple desk when I moved up here. I would’ve just split it in half hitting my head against it.

Being a Former POW is No Excuse

For years, I begged my father to watch Full Metal Jacket with me. He claimed it was the only Vietnam movie that ever got it right. Anyone who wanted to know about Vietnam was told to see the film, and they’d know exactly how it was. But he refused to watch it with me, and he refused to let me see it. “You wouldn’t understand,” he’d say in gruff, very final tones whenever I asked. “You’re not old enough.”

He’d let me see any other Vietnam flick. Platoon – no problem, once I’d hit my teens. We saw Born on the Fourth of July together. He laughed his ass off at all of the people who said how authentic it was. Those weren’t real Vietnam movies. They were just fantasies, and that’s probably why he let me see them.

He even encouraged me to read Run Between the Raindrops, which he said was the best book ever written about ‘Nam. He gave me a list of names to take rubbings of when the Traveling Wall came through town. He started telling me more than just the funny stories: he told the tragic ones. But he still refused to watch Full Metal Jacket with me. I began to think we never would.

And then, one night a few months after I was raped at knifepoint, he sat me down. Very grave, very serious, with a video in his hand. “Honey, you’re a survivor now, just like me. Now, you’ll understand.”

I swear to you, I thought he’d lost his fucking mind. I’d been in fear for my life for all of ten minutes, until I figured out who the asshole behind the ski mask was and realized that whatever other indignities I might suffer, death wasn’t even in it. I grant you, it was the worst experience of my life, and one it took a long time to come back from, but for fuck’s sake: one bad morning compared to a year of getting shot at? Spending over a hundred days wearing boots because every time you took them off, you came under mortar fire and thus started getting a tad superstitious? Earning a passel of purple hearts because you took shrapnel from a grenade and got shot in the face? And not Dick-Cheney’s-friend shot, either. This wasn’t a little peppering of birdshot fixed up by a few bandages – my dad’s jaw was shattered. He’s still got shrapnel working its way through his body. I’ve seen the bumps on his chest where it’s coming to the surface. Just for the sake of comparison, it started its journey in his ankle.

Those incredible people he’d fought beside, who had kept me amused on many a storytelling evening: a lot of them had been killed. I took their names off a stark black wall. My father still couldn’t face seeing them there.

And he wanted me to believe that what I’d experienced compared. He believes that himself. Who was I to argue? Fuck, if it meant we were finally going to watch Full Metal Jacket together, hell yes, I’m just like a Vietnam vet! Totally similar experiences. You betcha.

I will use my father’s verdict on the comparability of experiences once again in order to comment upon John McCain’s unrelenting fuckery, and the gulliable patsies who let him get away with it. I will tell you what being a rape survivor does not let me get away with, and since this is analogous to the horrors of Vietnam, these things must also hold true for McCain. QED.

Being a rape survivor does not make me an unimpeachable expert on rape, the combatting thereof, and all things remotely related to it. Being a POW does not make John McCain an expert on war, the fighting thereof, and all things remotely related to it. It apparently doesn’t even make him an expert on torture, because if it had, he wouldn’t have worked so hard to allow America to engage in it. (Imagine me redefining my rape as somehow “not rape” so that sexual violence could be legally perpetrated against women. Morally repugnant? I think so. But that’s essentially what McCain has done.)

Being a rape survivor doesn’t make me any less of a nimrod when I get geographical facts wrong. My teachers didn’t forgive my errors of fact by virtue of my elevated status. When McCain says Czechoslovakia still exists and moves Iran out of the way so Pakistan can border Iraq, despite the fact he’s a POW, he’s still a fucking nimrod. I didn’t get any free passes in college. He shouldn’t get free passes in this race.

Being a rape survivor doesn’t put my integrity beyond reproach. If I lie, sling mud, or cheat, I can’t use the rape survivor shield to fend off criticism. So why does McCain get to be a lying, cheating, mud-slinging asshat and still be thought of as an honorable, straight-talking maverick just because he’s a POW? What happened to us once when we were younger cannot and should not be used to excuse the reality of who we are now.

Being a rape survivor does not mean I get to claim that I’m a better person than my opponents because I survived rape and they didn’t. McCain is no better than the people he smears – in fact, he’s far less of a good man than they are. If we’re going to be claiming higher ground by virtue of our travails, we’d better be fucking standing on it.

I can’t use my status as a rape survivor to disclaim responsibility for the actions I take, the things I say, the people I hurt, and all my many failures. It infuriates me that McCain thinks this status as a POW allows him to do all of that and so much more.

Let me paraphrase Terry Pratchett here: “Just because someone’s a POW doesn’t mean he’s not a nasty, small-minded jerk.”

McCain is.

There are plenty of vets who don’t milk their status for all its worth, good men who don’t believe that Vietnam gave them a free lunch for life card. Take my father, for instance: he could have parlayed his status as a vet into a college education, housing assistance, and health care, to name a few of the benefits available. He didn’t. He refuses to apply for veteran’s benefits. This man was fucking drafted, his life was totally derailed, his college career ended, and yet he thinks his country doesn’t owe him jack fucking shit. His country called on him to serve, he served in a war he despised, and he believes it was no more than his responsibility as a citizen.

He never, not once, has used Vietnam as an excuse for anything more than the reason why he’ll ask me to move my seat so he’s not sitting with his back to a door in a restaurant. That’s it.

McCain spits on people like my father whenever he expects his status as a POW to put him on a shining pedestal, without doing one damned thing to earn it. He spits on people like me when he uses it to excuse his moral, political and human failings. He spits on us all when he uses his status to get ahead.

It’s time we stopped letting him get away with it.

It’s POW Week at the Cantina

McCain doesn’t think he talks about his POW status enough. Oh, noes! People might not realize he’s a really-real super duper war hero if he doesn’t bring it up at every single solitary opportunity! Quick: let every sentence be a noun, a verb, and POW!

This is an invitation I cannot resist.

Especially since I already have four out of the seven posts that would be necessary to have a POW Week. I’m sure, in light of what McCain believes, I’ll have no trouble filling in the rest.

But why should we stop with just a few potshots at his ridiculous overuse of his history?

Why not open this up to you, my darlings?

Can you think of contests? Polls? Shall we start a list, with my crack army bringing back war trophies from their favorite political sites?

McCain wants to trivialize and debase his sacrifice. In the process, he trivializes and debases the sacrifices of so many other POWs, who served with as much (or more) honor, who came home and didn’t spit on honor by turning their status into a cheap political trump card. It’s fucking outrageous, is what it is. It shows us exactly what sort of man McCain is.

He wants it brought up more? Fine.

We’ll bring it up.

Fucking endlessly.

And while we will never trivialize what these brave soldiers endured, we will most fucking certainly trivialize the use to which John “Exploiter” McLame has put it to.

Game on.