FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

John McCain in a New Context

by PATTY O'GRADY

Did you know that when John McCain was away from home for extended periods of time working as a U.S. Senator, Mrs. Cindy McCain would tell her children with his acquiescence that he was “deployed” and imagined herself just another lonely – albeit very, very wealthy – naval wife?

As a military wife and daughter I don’t think living in D.C. – wining and dining lobbyists – is the equivalent of deployment to Afghanistan, Iraq or Vietnam.

Why is this story worth repeating? The Cinderella quality of such imaginings provides a telling context – revealing the man and his presumptions hiding behind the mask of war hero.

In this election season, understanding the full context of presumptions is very important. My husband, also a former Vietnam Prisoner of War (1970-1973), spent time in both the “Hanoi Hilton” and a secondary camp -“Plantation Gardens” – as did John McCain who never mentions time spent in the latter. I am also the daughter of Colonel John F. O’Grady who was known to be a POW captured on the border of Laos and Vietnam in 1967 and who never returned. Like John McCain, John O’Grady was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (1952). John O’Grady earned 7 military commendations for heroic service including the Silver Star and two Distinguished Flying Crosses.

There were many heroes in Vietnam – and there are many freshly bloodied heroes returning from new wars started by old men – and John McCain’s claim is tarnished by long forgotten historical facts that few are brave enough to proffer today for fear of vicious attack on their “patriotism”. My father’s legacy protects me from such attack and so demands that I ask the unspoken questions and remind voters of the forgotten history.  When the Vietnam POWS came home in 1973, President Nixon traded a small group of them celebrity status – anointing them as “heroes” – for political support of his failed war policies. John McCain was one of the anointed heroes while others were virtually discarded in exchange for their continued support of the false Nixon plan of “peace with honor” in Vietnam.

Politics can magnify or ignore heroism as it suits. In turn, the select POWS were introduced to very wealthy and influential members of the Republican Party, their records were elevated over other POW heroes with more compelling stories, and many difficult questions were not asked of them.

Today, some of those same POWS are employees of the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute and many others have profited greatly from their staunch affiliations within the Republican Party.

In 1973, “patriotism” was traded like a commodity and heroes were used as political props. Essentially, the architects of both Vietnam and Iraq (Cheney, Rumsfeld, et. al.) launched a highly successful propaganda campaign (remember the Private First Class Jessica Lynch POW shameful sequel) using Vietnam POWS – at least the ones that were willing to be used wittingly or unwittingly – in an attempt to prop up the failing Nixon administration. Yet, if Mr. McCain is now intent on running on his character and his war record almost – because he has nothing else to offer – while suggesting that others do not care about their country as much as he does – then the wife and daughter of two other Vietnam heroes has a few questions for him:

In the interest of full disclosure why do you refuse to release your Department of Defense POW debriefing?

In the interest of full disclosure why have you failed to release all military medical records including psychological studies – 1973-1993?

Why do you only reference the time spent as a prisoner in the Hanoi Hilton”?

When will you provide details about the time spent in the prison referred to as “Plantation Gardens”?

Did you ever receive any preferential or atypical treatment while a POW in any location where you were held? How soon and when did you reveal your true identity to your Vietnamese captors – did you simply give name, rank and serial number?

Has any other former Vietnam Prisoners of War or Vietnam veteran questioned the record that you claim particularly your claims of “torture”?

What was your connection to the “Peace Committee”?

Have you ever referenced the “blue files” in any speech that you have given? What are the “blue files”? Where are those files housed? Why do you not want those files released?

Have you ever lost your temper with military families who challenged your position?

Have you ever acted in an inappropriate way or in a less than gentlemanly manner with any female spouse of any active duty military personnel member?

Why not let citizens, who know the personal and painful history better than anyone else, ask the questions? Why not let these questions prompt more thorough investigation and scrutiny and less shilling by the press? Why shouldn’t change really mean accountability as framed by ordinary people who also made an extraordinary sacrifice? The answers might provide all citizens the context needed to fully judge some less than credible claims that have aged into myths over time.

There is always the context to consider…

Patty O’Grady, Ph.D., teaches in the Department of Education at the University of Tampa.

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
Farhang Jahanpour
America’s Woes, Europe’s Responsibilities
Joseph Natoli
March Madness Outside the Basketball Court
Bill Willers
Volunteerism; Charisma; the Ivy League Stranglehold: a Very Brief Trilogy
Bruce Mastron
Slaughtered Arabs Don’t Count
Pauline Murphy
Unburied Truth: Exposing the Church’s Iron Chains on Ireland
Ayesha Khan
The Headscarf is Not an Islamic Compulsion
Ron Jacobs
Music is Love, Music is Politics
Christopher Brauchli
Prisoners as Captive Customers
Robert Koehler
The Mosque That Disappeared
Franklin Lamb
Update from Madaya
Dan Bacher
Federal Scientists Find Delta Tunnels Plan Will Devastate Salmon
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Gig Economy: Which Side Are You On?
Louis Proyect
What Caused the Holodomor?
Max Mastellone
Seeking Left Unity Through a Definition of Progressivism
Charles R. Larson
Review: David Bellos’s “Novel of the Century: the Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables”
David Yearsley
Ear of Darkness: the Soundtracks of Steve Bannon’s Films
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail