Now I greatly appreciate the sacrifices that McCain had to make while a POW and thank him for his service to our country. I can't even imagine the suffering he must have gone through, and hope that none of our brave service members will have to go through what he did.
But he cannot continue to use his POW status to hide behind legitimate criticisms or score political points. It cheapens and devalues the sacrifices that other POW's have made.
Here's some of the instances I had found of him using the POW excuse on topics that have no relation to being a POW. There are very few, if any, reasons to bring it up, other than possibly if there is some issue specifically related to torture. But using it to (incorrectly) explain your musical tastes? That's exploiting POW status for political gain.
- On deflecting criticism about him not being able to remember how many houses he owns:
"This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison,"
- And later on explaining he hasn't always had 7 kitchen tables:
I spent some years without a kitchen table, without a chair...
- For explaing why he couldn't have possibly cheated by hearing the questions at the Saddleback forum beforehand:
"The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous."
- On explaining away cheating on his first wife with a woman 18 years younger than him:
“know that John McCain’s faith and character were tested and forged in ways few can fathom.”
- On opposing universal healthcare:
[Edwards] noted that he'd always enjoyed government health benefits, McCain responded that he knows what it's like to get inadequate care -- ``from another government.'
- On criticizing a museum dedicated to Woodstock:
McCain criticized Sen. Hillary Clinton for proposing funds for a museum celebrating Woodstock. He didn't know what there was to celebrate, he said, because he was "tied up" during the music festival.'
- And even on explaining his musical tastes:
Explaining that his favorite song was "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, he offered that his knowledge of music "stopped evolving when his plane intercepted a surface-to-air missile." Dancing Queen, however, was produced in 1975, eight years after McCain's plane was shot down.
And in spite of all this, the McCain campaign still feels they have "under used" his POW status. If you try to claim that McCain is not using his time as a POW for political gain, then how could his campaign claim he is under-using it?
Of course McCain himself said back in 2004 that he was "sick and tired of re-fighting" Vietnam.
"I'm sick and tired of re-fighting the Vietnam War. And most importantly, I'm sick and tired of opening the wounds of the Vietnam War, which I've spent the last 30 years trying to heal.
McCain said Kerry may have opened himself to criticism by focusing on Vietnam. In his own primary campaign in 2000, McCain said, he didn't have to because everyone knew he'd been there. For Kerry, "it's clearly a tactical or strategic move" to shield him against "charges of being too liberal and soft on defense."
I suppose this is yet another example of the old McCain not even being able to recognize the 2008 version.
And then here's one of the veterns getting pissed off about McCain's tactics:
When he uses his status as a veteran to deflect legitimate questions and concerns, it devalues not just his service to our country but ours as well.
So today, we ask not as Veterans for Obama, but as Veterans of America that Sen. McCain respect the service of his fellow POWs and combat veterans, and stop cheapening their service by hiding behind his own.
And I completely agree with Maureen Dowd's editoral, that it's important to ask if his POW status has altered his world view in ways that are dangerous for the leader of our country.
People are quick to explain away his bias when he said:
"I hated the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live."
And I can fully understand why he would feel that way, and that in and of itself does not make him a bad person. He later explained he was referring to just his prison guards. But then why use a racial epithet that is demeaning to all Asians?
The more important issue is if these kinds of prejudices are something we want in a president. I know I feel uncomfortable knowing that his judgment isn't unbiased and rational in regards to east Asia because of his experiences. And I fear how that would affect the foreign policy decisions he would have to make as president. It seems to have affected him quite a lot in other areas of his life as shown in the quotes above. Add to that his hot temper, and it could be a recipe for disaster.