Best Speech at the RNC: Cindy McCain
September 5, 2008 2 Comments
via CBS News on September 4, 2008, this is a clip of Cindy McCain’s speech:
I have been witness to great service and sacrifice – to lives lived with humility and grace.
In World War II, my father’s B-17 was shot down three times. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
But he was quiet about that… and never claimed to have done more than his small share.
This is the most beautiful thing said at the Republican National Convention. Especially when this statement was followed by the line “Just like my husband.”
We all know that John McCain has built his presidential campaign on his military service. We know that John McCain doesn’t see his time as a prisoner of war as simply doing his “small share.” Even in his speech at the Republican National Convention, John McCain described his time as a prisoner of war as a transformative experience:
I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn’t my own man anymore. I was my country’s.
Throughout the Republican National Convention, we were told repeatedly, often in graphic detail, about McCain’s military service, particularly his time as a prisoner of war. It is an inescapable part of his campaign, as Lt. General Robert G. Gard, Jr. (Ret.) points out on August 21, 2008:
We obviously honor and respect McCain’s service and the five-and-a-half years of horror that he went through at the hands of the North Vietnamese; but it’s not an excuse for everything. He has already used it to explain away his infidelities in his first marriage. He’s used it to defend his healthcare plan. He just the other day used it to deflect accusations of having skirted the rules of the Saddleback forum.
It’s time for the Senator to stop cheapening the war experiences of thousands of vets and his fellow POWs, and his own as well, by stretching the boundaries of logic to make his POW status a wild-card rebuttal to all accusations or an answer to all difficult questions.
It is clear that John McCain considers his experience as a prisoner of war to be far more than “doing his small share.” Now that Cindy McCain has pointed out her father’s humility and respect for his military service, it provides a stinging contrast with how John McCain presents his military service.
It is hard to critique a former prisoner of war and condemn John McCain for a lack of humility about his service. I certainly do not mean to belittle John McCain’s military service and the unimaginable hardships that he endured. Cindy McCain called attention to how unbecoming it is use “POW” as a basis for a presidential campaign, and how dishonorable a tactic it is. As TPM notes:
You would never know it from the media coverage but John McCain is not one of America’s greatest war heroes. He is a former POW who survived, heroically. He deserves to be honored for that heroism.
But one thing distinguishes McCain from other war heroes, the kind whose heroism changes history rather than their life stories.
America’s two greatest war heroes were Ulysses Grant and Dwight Eisenhower. Grant saved the union. And Ike saved civilization.
And neither one ever bragged about their experience.
The dishonorable tactics of the McCain campaign are not limited to its exploitation of the sacrifices made by our military. As noted by TPM, This is a campaign that also chose to use footage of the September 11 attacks in a video at the convention:
ST. PAUL — One of the most enduring taboos in American politics, the airing of graphic images from the September 11 attacks in a partisan context, died today. It was nearly seven years old.
The informal prohibition, which had been occasionally threatened by political ads in recent years, was pronounced dead at approximately 7:40 CST, when a video aired before delegates at the Republican National Convention included slow-motion footage of a plane striking the World Trade Center, the towers’ subsequent collapse, and smoke emerging from the Pentagon.
The September 11 precedent was one of the few surviving campaign-season taboos.
Cindy is right. John McCain’s campaign has no honor.