Hate John McCain if you want. Call McCain a traitor, even.
I look at John McCain and marvel at his strength. Many do.
Everyone knows about McCain being shot down over Vietnam and spending 5 years in a POW camp. But most people don’t know about the deep emotional scar McCain brought home with him. And that emotional scar undoubtedly drives him to his fits of anger and telling lies about people he doesn’t like.
When you hear the reason for McCain’s anti-social behavior, you might not hate him so much. Maybe you’ll feel sorry for him.
Senator McCain has a long reputation as a petty, bitter, and vindictive man. He is prone to act out of envy and jealousy. By accusation and by his own admission, Senator McCain was a reckless Navy pilot. He tells people he crashed “six or eight” planes in a short period of time. After years of denial, Senator McCain finally admitted that, as a POW, he voluntarily recorded a propaganda broadcast for his North Vietnamese captors. By accusation and by his own admission, Lt. Cdr. McCain accepted favors from his captors in exchange for his cooperation in violation of the Armed Forces Code of Conduct for prisoners of war. But before accepting those favors, McCain rejected an offer to be released from POW camp. So let’s not exaggerate his cooperation.
Imagine how guilty you’d feel if you had made a propaganda recording for the enemy. I would feel very guilty. And I know that when I’m feeling guilty, I often find fault in others. Sometimes I find faults that don’t really exist. But finding petty faults with others makes me feel better about myself when I’m feeling guilty.
So maybe McCain handles his guilt a lot like I handle mine. (Not that I ever did anything as serious as recording a propaganda recording for the enemy during war.) When McCain goes to Europe to badmouth his President, he’s acting out of guilt. When he goes on Sunday talk shows and falsely accuses his President of stifling the press, he’s probably doing so under the duress of extreme guilt. Think about this: his Silver Star medal was awarded for resisting enemy offers. He must have felt very guilty when President Nixon pinned that medal on his chest, knowing about that recording.
And Senator McCain probably feels more guilty now that this propaganda recording finally surfaced in 2016. McCain denied its existence for years, and no one could find a copy of it until last year.
When he volunteered to make that recording, he probably thought he was actually helping our side. It seems reasonable that McCain thought soldiers battling in the jungle would find comfort knowing the North Vietnamese would care for their wounds if they were captured.
It’s harder to explain why McCain called himself a war criminal, but maybe he accidently bombed friendly villages before he was shot down. Bombing the wrong target would probably create a lot of guilt. It’s possible that McCain’s reference to wounding and killing Vietnamese people was his way of apologizing for errant bombs. As we’ve heard, he wasn’t a particularly good pilot by is own admission. It makes sense that he’d want to get that off his chest right away.
And there’s always the possibility that McCain agreed to make the recording to help his fellow POWs. Maybe the North Vietnamese offered his comrades relief from torture in exchange for McCain’s cooperation. Anyone might violate the Code of Conduct to protect their friends.
If you’re wondering why I would mention John McCain’s propaganda recording at all, I’ll explain. Senator McCain is now calling our President a dictator and accusing the President of stifling the press. McCain’s accusations are laughably false, but the leftist press is eating them up. A lot of my friends seem to hate John McCain now, but they might not be considering the incredible guilt McCain lives with every day.
While I condemn John McCain’s despicable conduct, I also feel bad for him and his copious guilt. I think calling McCain a traitor is a bridge too far, too. I see John McCain as someone who did his best under horrible conditions. And it seems that his best, in his own eyes, was less than necessary. That creates tremendous guilt which he tries to assuage by finding even worse shortcomings in other people.
Remember that McCain wasn’t the only one to crack in a POW camp. Others did worse in Vietnam and other wars. I accept that. And I’m glad I never had to live through his experience. I don’t know if I would have conducted myself any better. And if one of my kids made a similar recording as a POW, I’d still consider him a hero. But I’d also understand how, later in life, his feelings of guilt might cloud his judgment and lead to reckless behavior.
I think it’s best to just ignore Senator McCain as he works through with his guilt.
Also published on Medium.