June 30, 2008
McCain, My ManBy Kyle-Anne Shiver
I woke up this morning, took at long, hard look at myself, and decided that it's high time I came out of the closet on John McCain. I'm ready to stand front and center now, dear readers, and admit that I voted for John McCain in the 2000 Republican primary.
I had just finished reading John McCain, an American Odyssey, by Robert Timberg, and at that time, was completely enamored by the true American hero's tale. Of all the accounts offered by Timberg, one stood out for me, and made such an impact that I haven't forgotten it a single day, even when I wanted to personally wring John McCain's neck for some odious, legislative compromise he was making with the loathsome liberals in Congress. This one account earned my vote for John McCain in 2000.
The time was April 1972. For me, it was truly the best of times. For John McCain, it was the dark, dark night of the soul.
I had been married already for two years to a Georgia Tech football player. He was quite a catch and I was more than happy to tag along on the good-times life offered to gridiron guys everywhere. We were both still in college and living a pretty high life, safely ensconced in married housing, partying at the SAE house every weekend, and otherwise enjoying a very charmed existence. Graduation and cushy corporate jobs were in easy sight.
The Vietnam War was as far removed from us that year as was any responsibility whatsoever, past pleasing our professors and deciding who would get the beer. My guy had that college deferment, a very, very high lottery number, and the hippie-communists up north and in Berkeley were beating their breasts against the war loudly enough for our whole generation.
I went to a few anti-war demonstrations to please my lefty professors and prepared myself to vote for the only acceptable youth candidate that year, George McGovern. I was doing it, I believed, to help our troops come home and get out of that hellhole in Southeast Asia.
I had never heard of John McCain or the Hanoi Hilton. I knew the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong communists down South were holding a lot of our guys, mostly pilots shot down in the swampy jungles over there. And, though I'm certainly ashamed now to admit it, I didn't give them all that much thought. Those guys were out of sight and out of my mind. The only thing getting any sway by Walter Cronkite et al were the body bags and the words, "quagmire," "unwinnable," "Peace, Peace, Peace," and "make love not war." And I was quite happy to oblige, spoiled utterly rotten as I was then.
That same April 1972, in a faraway, alien place named Vietnam, President Nixon had resumed the bombing of Hanoi, hoping to force the communists to the bargaining table with more than the bunch of carrots LBJ had offered. John McCain had been a prisoner of war, being treated with less than Geneva Convention hospitality at the Hanoi Hilton, for nearly 5 whole years. He was shot down over a small lake in the middle of Hanoi on October 26, 1967.
In the years that John McCain was being routinely tortured by brutal communist atheists, with only himself, God and some other American brave ones for company, I had graduated from high school, started college, gotten married and didn't have a single scratch on my lovely little head.
John McCain and his fellow prisoners in the Hanoi Hilton were actually cheering the bombing of the very city where they were imprisoned. I was attending a few anti-war demonstrations and passing out a flyer for my political science professor, demanding that Nixon be tried for crimes against humanity.
John McCain and his buddies had it right; I had it wrong.
My own life of leisure and affluence had been bought and paid for, time and time again throughout our Nation's history, with the blood, limbs and lives of heroes like John McCain, but I was too blinded by ease to give it much thought. My freedom to pursue my studies, to play and party hard, and even to protest a war I didn't understand, was being protected, guarded and defended each moment by men willing to do worse than even die for it.
These men were willing to withstand the most abhorrent degradation, inhumane treatment and torture, all to the backdrop of massive hippie-communist temper tantrums back home, the news of which was splashed in their faces daily by their gleeful captors. But I didn't give them a thought, nor even many of my self-centered prayers, which I usually aimed at my piddling personal needs or at the meaningless catchall, "world peace."
While my husband and I were counting down to graduation and having our last spring fling in Daytona Beach, John McCain and his fellow captives were cheering the Nixon I thought should be tried for war crimes.
As John McCain retold it to his biographer years later:
Even though the bombing was President Nixon's decision, John McCain's own father, Admiral Jack McCain, CINCPAC, was the man who actually issued the orders that resumed America's bombing of the city in which his son was held captive. Such a burden for a father to bear, I simply cannot imagine.
And perhaps, when I read McCain's biography, it was this strange irony of Providence that caused me to remember the account and its meaning so vividly. Admiral McCain's wife, Roberta, spoke to the biographer about her husband's anguish years later too. She recounted that her husband didn't speak too much about the possibility that his own orders could kill their young son, but that instead of talking about it, the Admiral retired to his study for an hour every morning and night, on his knees, to read the Bible. "He was," she said, "in agony." (John McCain, an American Odyssey; p. 106)
While I was sunning myself in Daytona Beach that April of 1972, John McCain and his family were intricately engaged in a fight for my right to self-indulgence. But at age 21, when I cast my first vote for a new "peace-loving" Commander in Chief, I had no concept of the cost that must be borne by those willing to ensure peace and freedom, instead of just talking about it and chanting nifty slogans.
By the year 2000, though, I had gotten a pretty thorough education about such things, not by going to war myself, but through the rigors of hammering out a long-lasting marriage in the face of great odds, and raising our children through many harrowing nights, days and tragedies. That's why when I finally did read of John McCain's American Odyssey, I was prepared to accept the gift of his many sacrifices for our Country and more than ready to turn over the reigns of power to his tried-and-true hands.
In the end, of course, John McCain did not win the nomination in 2000, and George W. Bush became President. History, I believe, will judge President Bush in an admirable light, and will find in retrospect that much of his unpopularity has been driven by a media elite intent upon having one of their own in the White House. Whether John McCain would have handled the aftermath of 9/11 better than W, is something we will never know.
What I do know now, however, is that in the current election, which pits the character and proven integrity of John McCain against the nifty slogans of an upstart, with nothing but fancy colleges and few hoity-toity political gigs on his resume, there is truly no contest. There is only one real man running this year, only one man capable of bearing the defense of this Nation in a time of war.
And hands-down, with no buts, whims or exceptions, that man is John McCain, my man.
This is Part One of a five-part series on John McCain, My Man.
Kyle-Anne Shiver is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. She welcomes your comments at http://www.kyleanneshiver.com/