There have been recent reports that while being held captive in a Vietnamese prison camp, John McCain broke under barbaric torture, agreeing to make propaganda for his captors. Some who are upset at the McCain campaign's unsubstantiated, repeated attacks on Senator Obama have been urging Obama to use this against McCain in his own attacks. They argue that Obama is not being "tough enough," and that he is giving McCain a "free pass."
I don't like John McCain. I think he has all the markings of a first-rate warmonger. I think his presidency would be an utter disaster. I think the fact that he graduated nearly last in his class at the Academy showcases his ignorance. I think the fact that he crashed nearly every plane he ever touched shows that he was an awful pilot.
But that's enough. There is no need to say anything about what he might or might not have done to avoid torture while being held in captivity. Even if it was his own fault he got his butt shot down, he was still there serving his country. If he was tortured, and all reports indicate that he was, there can be no blame laid upon him.
Not one of us can say that we would not break under torture, because it would be a lie. EVERYONE BREAKS. There are no exceptions. If they use enough care to make sure you don't die first, you will break. Period.
With as many experts who have stated this fact when discussing the torture of detainees in Bush's criminal "war on terror," this fact is completely beyond dispute.
There are plenty of things to attack about McCain. Obama can "get tough" on plenty of other issues. Even his votes and stance on the prisoners that might have been left in Vietnam is fair game. But there is simply no room for criticizing a man for not being able to stand up to sustained and repeated torture. None.
John McCain is not the same John McCain that spent six years in brutal captivity. There is no need to disparage the John McCain that endured all those years in a prison camp. That McCain was a hero. Just as the American serviceman who is captured and tortured in Afghanistan or Iraq is a hero. Even if he breaks under that torture (which every single one of us would do), he is still a hero. Even if we don't approve of the war he has been thrust into by Washington politicians, he is still a hero. Even if he made a mistake that caused his own capture, he is still a hero.
Does that mean that today's McCain is a hero? No. He was once a hero. He was a hero once. Just as he was once a pilot. Just as Jimmy Carter was once a president. Just as Nelson Mandela was once a prisoner. The memory of the hero John McCain should not be attacked and eviscerated because the present John McCain is what he is, just as the hero McCain should not be construed to be synonomous with the present McCain.
It's not about "tit for tat" or "tough politics," it's about right and wrong. It is just as wrong as when John Kerry was "swiftboated." When it is completely without doubt that not one of us possesses the capability to withstand prolonged and repeated torture, it is completely without justification, completely without sincerity, completely without honesty to condemn someone else for being incapable of withstanding it.
If that is what it takes for Obama to win, why even bother at all? Obama is doing the right thing by not adopting the unprincipled tactics of the enemy. That's George W. Bush's philosophy, and it will forever stain his legacy.
If McCain made propaganda videos for the North Vietnamese in a desperate attempt to avoid more agonizing torture, who among us could cast that stone? Who among us would be so brazen as to call someone a traitor for that?
For goodness' sake, not I.