Best Speech at the RNC: Cindy McCain

by twit

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.

2 Responses to Best Speech at the RNC: Cindy McCain

  1. Kyle S. Brown says:

    My wife and I found the treatment by the McCain’s and their dialogue used with respect to their adoptive daughter offensive to those of us who are not on the national political stage but have been fortunate enough to successfully complete an international adoption. Please investigate. Here are two positions posted with their respective URL’s to use to in your investigation. One is from an extreme Christian conservative and the other from an accomplished liberal physician.

    Thank you,

    Kyle & Amy Dear John and Cindy McCain,

    The Liberal Perspective on the same issue:

    Morons with a Platform: laurie September 4th, 2008

    From my wife Amy and I about this subject:

    For the sake of all adopted children throughout the world, someone should consider doing a sensitive story on this subject. We need more people all around the world to consider adoption and to know the true meaning of it. It is not about saving a child it is about adding a child to your family. The love is no different, and every adoptive parent, including the McCain’s need to be sensitive to their adoptive children’s feeling and not parade them as some kind of charity case. It unconscionable to have seen Cindy McCain with husband’s permission use her daughter as a political pawn. I feel for their daughter and all son’s and daughter’s of adoptive parents.

    Kyle S. Brown
    Chief Executive Officer
    ThermaFreeze Products Corp. (TFZP.PK)

  2. Thank you for your comments and the links. I had not considered this issue at all and I had simply been impressed with Cindy’s international community organizing.

    But as I was reading over the posts at those links, I realized that my adopted siblings would never be referred to as “rescued” and it is unthinkable that they would be presented as examples of charitable acts. And I think I understand about how hurtful it could be and why it is such a sensitive subject, especially after reading the posts at the links you provide.

    My instinct is to defend Cindy, and suggest that the campaign was beyond clumsy in how it decided to portray her biography. I agree that this could use some investigation, including past statements by the campaign to try to get a better sense of whether this has happened before. I think it would be useful to check with organizations that are involved with adoptions to see if they are making any official statements on the subject.

    I am wary of making the children of candidates subjects of political posts. It is difficult to avoid the topic when the candidates themselves bring their children into the spotlight. I’ll suggest that the way to address the issue is exactly how you have addressed it – by focusing on what the campaign has done.

    Thank you for sharing these perspectives. I can’t promise that I will post on this issue, but you have given me a lot to consider and look into.

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