From Military hero to political coward: John McCain’s broken promise

July 30, 2017
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Before Senator John McCain was Senator McCain, he was naval aviator John McCain. The son and grandson of four star admirals and having a family tree of military service dating back to before the American Revolution it was no surprise that he entered the United States Naval Academy to follow in the family footsteps. Footsteps that while he followed, he followed on his own less than honorable terms, graduating fifth from the bottom in a class of almost 900 midshipmen.

And while some debate his naval aviation career prior to being shot down over Hanoi, North Vietnam on October 26, 1967, there is absolutely no debate that what he and fellow inmates went through as prisoners in the “Hanoi Hilton”.  McCain’s next five and a half years was nothing less than a daily dose of hell on earth. His refusal to accept a North Vietnamese offer of early release in 1968 due to his father being Commander in Chief, Pacific Command not only left him fully vulnerable to the wrath of the barbarians, but epitomized the very essence of “duty, honor, country”.

It would not be until 1973 and the signing of the Paris Peace Accords ending American involvement in the Vietnam War that John McCain would once again set foot on American soil.

For that, I have always respected the man and honored his service. But that’s where it ends.

Because I have always found McCain the politician to be the antithesis of McCain the POW. From the Keating Five, to his McCain-Feingold attack on the First Amendment, to his pathetic 2008 run against Barack Obama, his political career has revolved around one thing and one thing only: “I was a POW in Hanoi so therefore I am untouchable”. In political reality, McCain’s mindset is no different than Hillary Clinton’s, “I’m a woman dammit and therefore I deserve”.

Yet his dramatic return from Arizona to the Senate floor last Tuesday in the shadow of a recent brain cancer diagnosis gave me a brief glimmer of hope. And when he voted to allow the motion to proceed for the Senate to at least debate the Obamacare repeal that he and his Republican colleagues had been promising for over seven years that hope got a little brighter.

But that glimmer was quickly snuffed.

For all the fanfare surrounding his flying back to do his Senate duty, in the end the military man who half a century past defied the entire nation of North Vietnam reverted back to his political core and chose publicity and his “maverick” media moniker over keeping his promise.

When he had the chance to join the ranks of the true “mavericks”, our founding fathers, on Wednesday, McCain instead voted against the bill that would have finally repealed Obamacare once and for all.  Even with a two year sunset date for smooth transition, McCain’s Hanoi courage was nowhere to be seen.

And in the early morning hours of Friday, July 28th, he sided once again with government coercion and provided the crucial 51st vote to keep the so called “skinny repeal” bill from going to conference with the earlier House passed bill.

If your heroes are liberal big government types who find nothing immoral about stealing from our children’s future to pay for political power today, than you’ve got a big beaming smile and dreams of single payer healthcare coming your way.  (I suggest reviewing the Charlie Gard case before you cheer too loudly.)

If on the other hand you understand the structural danger of leaving Obamacare in place and by proxy the federal government in charge of individual healthcare you, like myself, don’t know whether to cry or scream.

McCain and Murkowski’s betrayal of their promise to repeal means one of the largest expenses crippling state budgets, Medicaid, remains in place and growing with no reform in sight, millions of Americans are still forced to pay skyrocketing premiums for insurance coverage they cannot afford to use, and the single biggest assault on this nation’s most sacred founding principle: freedom, is left alive to wreak even more havoc.

That’s not America as founded, it’s certainly not the America I grew up in, and it’s definitely not the America I want my granddaughters to inherit.

But alas, here we are, a sad, sad day indeed.

PUBLISHER NOTE:  A version of this column first appeared in the July 30, 2017 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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