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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/6/08

The 'Songbird' as President?

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   17 comments
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John McCain's partisans make reference to his service to the nation by almost daily reminding us of, or somehow touting, the Arizona Senator's supposed war hero status dating from his five and a half year captivity in the Hanoi Hilton. Yet few have been able or willing to look beyond McCain's manufactured image as war hero POW to the reality of what lies behind this man's character.McCain is billed as 'veteran, experienced, maverick politician who is supposed to have stood up to George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential primary.' 

These and other front images have smoothed the way to his candidacy for the presidency, and have contributed to the public believing a largely false idea of who the real John McCain is.  Most people refuse to examine McCain's military and political history for their less than savory aspects. It is as if it were taboo, somehow, to be critical of a national icon and former prisoner of war.  But inquiry is merited because John McCain has got a well documented history of deception: from his numerous flip-flops, to hiding his ties to insider-lobbyists, to secret influence peddling, to turning against friends and allies, to just plain blatant political pandering when it suits his purposes to get ahead politically.

McCain's war hero image is fair game too in this presidential election year and needs to be challenged as well, especially since the Senator beats his chest as the self-appointed arbiter of national military honor and homeland security.

The history has been well documented that John McCain received special treatment when he was prisoner of war in Hanoi, in exchange for making over 30 propaganda commercials for the North Vietnamese. In fact, fellow POW's have testified that McCain was considered the best candidate for these films by the North Vietnamese, because he was willing to do anything to avoid torture. They note that the communists even called him "THE SONGBIRD". 

Ted Sampley, founder of 'Swiftboat Veterans for Truth' and now one of the founders of 'Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain', has stated on their website that even after McCain came home from his captivity  he went so far as to deny that MIA's might even still be in Vietnam alive.  McCain had the audacity to criticize and ignore the very same people who fought to bring him home from his imprisonment.  And since then, during his subsequent political career, when he was in a position of power sufficient to aid in such inquiries into the POW/MIA problem, Senator McCain ignored the pleas of POW/MIA family members for him to use his political clout to help them. He  even verbally abused POW/MIA family members in public and private and tried to negatively influence those who testified before the 1992 Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs.

The good Senator from Arizona has also  watered down legislation that would give oversight and protection to the families and dismantled protections toward any future servicemen that go missing. 

Yes, John McCain, the American presidential candidate 'war hero' and the man who sets himself up as the arbiter of security and military honor; the man whom many think of as a 'straight talker and straight arrow" is, according to the Vietnam Veterans Against McCain and others who know him more intimately,, actually not a war hero but a big fat zero. They maintain that McCain was, while prisoner in North Vietnam, far from a hero, when he behaved as  a communist collaborator and a personal coward who would rather have made commercials for the North Vietnamese  than to have risked torture.  

Even today, within the small circle of the POW/MIA community, McCain is viewed on the same level of disdain as is John Kerry, that other Vietnam hero who dared to turn anti-war protestor (whom many in the POW community see --i.e., Kerry-- as 'treasonous'--. In fact, in the eyes of this same community their opinion of John McCain is as bad or worse than it is of John Kerry. They consider McCain a traitor and a backstabber.

So, it is ironic and smacks of a national double standard that John Kerry got "swiftboated" in 2004, and yet this undeserved dishonor which stuck to Kerry like glue in the public mind from then on, has not been applied to John McCain. Hypocritically and most unfairly, the very same Republican party that defamed John Kerry for supposed misconduct which is not even based on fact, ironically considers John McCain "untouchable" when his collaboration with the communists is a documented fact.  We all know the mythology and the hype during this presidential campaign year.

Many McCain supporters attempt to cite the fact that McCain was offered an early release by the Vietnamese but didn't take it as some sort of shining example of his patriotism and his dedication to his fellow POWs.  Not so fast. There is another spin on this that few consider:  McCain would, had he taken the release, have been considered a traitor by his fellow POWs and might even have faced a court martial over taking an unauthorized (by the U.S. military) release, not to mention over the 30 plus propaganda films made for the enemy during his captivity.  Moreover, there is another little mentioned fact that  sheds some possible light on McCain's refusal to take early release. Among fellow POW's in these prisoner of war camps,  there was a chain of command wherein  the senior American POW (officer) had to be the one to make the policy decisions  and serve as the ad hoc governing body of POW affairs while in captivity. There was an immutable practice in place that no one was to take early release unless ordered to do so by that senior commander.  Additionally, it is strange that during his captivity, McCain, when also granted multiple interviews with foreign correspondents, appeared well kept, jovial and enjoyed cigarettes, coffee and tea while chatting with the visiting reporter. I dare anyone to ask others being held at the time if they ever enjoyed such luxuries as POW's under the North Vietnamese?

There are more discrepancies in John McCain's book, "Faith Of Our  Fathers" vis a vis the official US government  documents. And certainly in many of those news articles that visiting journalists generated, the accounts at the time made little or no mention of McCain  being beaten or tortured. 

What really irks people like "Swiftboat" founder Ted Sampley, is that McCain, as a POW himself, has in subsequent years as U.S. Senator, evidenced a hatred for POW/MIA families that many would consider nigh impossible to believe. He has referred to fellow POW's and their families as 'zealots', 'conspiracy theorists' and so on. There isn't a need here to go into details of those discrepancies. They can be found all over the Internet. 

 The question becomes, then:  how come this former POW would function as a barrier rather than an advocate for the family members who were not as fortunate as his own family? And why would he attempt to water down legislation that would help POW/MIA Families? Why does he continue to vote down benefits and protections for veterans even to this very day, as in his vote against the recent GI bill?

John McCain has, in so many ways, a history of lying, treachery, deceit and crude behavior, not to mention being an outright demagogue. And part of that demagoguery has been to cover up his own past while he points his self-righteous, crooked finger in accusation at the Democrats.

How many people in the country are aware of the "Songbird's" commercials for the North Vietnamese? Some in the POW community believe McCain was so badly brainwashed by the communists that it destabilized his personality and they point to signs of an unhinged psyche in McCain's erratic outbursts as typical of people who have been subjected to mind control drugs and techniques. Some even think his brainwashing makes him a possible "Manchurian Candidate" who could subvert the US government from within, but I think it is more likely that it did contribute to McCain's instability of temperament and very possibly should call into question his fitness to be Commander in Chief.  

So now we come to the question and the irony. In this presidential campaign,  just WHY does John McCain get to call the shots regarding national campaign issues, and especially those of  patriotism, military readiness and fitness to lead the country in time of war?  Why does this "Songbird" get to denigrate and question Barak Obama's patriotism and define Obama's supposed lack of readiness to be Commander in Chief? And why does the mainstream press give John McCain a FREE PASS  on his multitudinous flip flops, gaffes, treachery, insider- dealings, etc,  but, at the same time, the national newsmedia  microscopically examine and parse Barack Obama's every move and statement?

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I live in the Pacific Northwest and I am interested in current affairs.
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