What kind of a world is it, when a creep like Trump feels free to fling such trash at honorable men?

Jack Van Loan in 2006.

Jack Van Loan in 2006.

After posting that Open Thread with the item about what Trump said about John McCain, I went to the movies with my son to see “Ant Man.” Pretty good flick.

But while there, I missed a call from my friend Jack Van Loan. When I saw he’d called, I had a pretty good idea why.

And it made me feel sick to know that when Trump attempted to besmirch the honor of McCain, he was also throwing his trash at Jack. Which is beyond disgusting.

Jack left this message, obviously choosing his words carefully:

Brad, this is Jack Van Loan, calling you at 6:25 on Sunday. I’m terribly disappointed in my friend, uh… (long pause) that shot his mouth off about John McCain. John served awfully, awfully well, did a hell of a good job under terrific pressure – torture, etc., etc. — and I’m very disappointed that anybody would pick on him.

I’ve tried to get hold of your editor, and evidently I don’t have the right number. But if you would call me…, I would appreciate you telling him what I really think, OK.

Give me a call; thank you.

I tried to call him back, but missed him. Since he wanted to talk to someone at the paper, I called Executive Editor Mark Lett and left both of the numbers I had for Jack. I hope they have better luck reaching him than I did.

I didn’t reach Jack, but I’ll share with you a column I wrote when someone else attacked his friend John’s record, in January 2008 — the month of the South Carolina primary:

Editorial Page Editor
ON MAY 20, 1967, Air Force pilot Jack Van Loan was shot down over North Vietnam. His parachute carried him to Earth well enough, but he landed all wrong.
“I hit the ground, and I slid, and I hit a tree,” he said. This provided an opportunity for his captors at the prison known as the “Hanoi Hilton.”
“My knee was kind of screwed up and they … any time they found you with some problems, then they would, they would bear down on the problems,” he said. “I mean, they worked on my knee pretty good … and, you know, just torturing me.”
In October of Jack’s first year in Hanoi, a new prisoner came in, a naval aviator named John McCain. He was in really bad shape. He had ejected over Hanoi, and had landed in a lake right in the middle of the city. He suffered two broken arms and a broken leg ejecting. He nearly drowned in the lake before a mob pulled him out, and then set upon him. They spat on him, kicked him and stripped his clothes off. Then they crushed his shoulder with a rifle butt, and bayoneted him in his left foot and his groin.
That gave the enemy something to “bear down on.” Lt. Cmdr. McCain would be strung up tight by his unhealed arms, hog-tied and left that way for the night.
“John was no different than anyone else, except that he was so badly hurt,” said Jack. “He was really badly, badly hurt.”
Jack and I got to talking about all this when he called me Wednesday morning, outraged over a story that had appeared in that morning’s paper, headlined “McCain’s war record attacked.” A flier put out by an anti-McCain group was claiming the candidate had given up military information in return for medical treatment as a POW in Vietnam.
This was the kind of thing the McCain campaign had been watching out for. The Arizona senator came into South Carolina off a New Hampshire win back in 2000, but lost to George W. Bush after voters received anonymous phone calls telling particularly nasty lies about his private life. So the campaign has been on hair-trigger alert in these last days before the 2008 primary on Saturday.
Jack, a retired colonel whom I’ve had the privilege of knowing for more than a decade, believes his old comrade would make the best president “because of all the stressful situations that he’s been under, and the way he’s responded.” But he had called me about something more important than that. It was a matter of honor.
Jack was incredulous: “To say that John would ask for medical treatment in return for military information is just preposterous. He turned down an opportunity to go home early, and that was right in front of all of us.”
“I mean, he was yelling it. I couldn’t repeat the language he used, and I wouldn’t repeat the language he used, but boy, it was really something. I turned to my cellmate … who heard it all also loud and clear; I said, ‘My God, they’re gonna kill him for that.’”
The North Vietnamese by this time had stopped the torture — even taken McCain to the hospital, which almost certainly saved his life — and now they wanted just one thing: They wanted him to agree to go home, ahead of other prisoners. They saw in him an opportunity for a propaganda coup, because of something they’d figured out about him.
“They found out rather quick that John’s father was (Admiral) John Sidney McCain II,” who was soon to be named commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific, Jack said. “And they came in and said, ‘Your father big man, and blah-blah-blah,’ and John gave ’em name, rank and serial number and date of birth.”
But McCain refused to accept early release, and Jack says he never acknowledged that his Dad was CINCPAC.
Jack tries hard to help people who weren’t there understand what it was like. He gave a speech right after he finally was freed and went home. His father, a community college president in Oregon and “a consummate public speaker,” told him “That was the best talk I’ve ever heard you give.”
But, his father added: “‘They didn’t believe you.’
“It just stopped me cold. ‘What do you mean, they didn’t believe me?’ He said, ‘They didn’t understand what you were talking about; you’ve got to learn to relate to them.’”
“And I’ve worked hard on that,” he told me. “But it’s hard as hell…. You might be talking to an audience of two or three hundred people; there might be one or two guys that spent a night in a drunk tank. Trying to tell ‘em what solitary confinement is all about, most people … they don’t even relate to it.”
Jack went home in the second large group of POWs to be freed in connection with the Paris Peace Talks, on March 4, 1973. “I was in for 70 months. Seven-zero — seventy months.” Doctors told him that if he lived long enough, he’d have trouble with that knee. He eventually got orthoscopic surgery right here in Columbia, where he is an active community leader — the current president of the Columbia Rotary.
John McCain, who to this day is unable to raise his hands above his head — an aide has to comb his hair for him before campaign appearances — was released in the third group. He could have gone home long, long before that, but he wasn’t going to let his country or his comrades down.
The reason Jack called me Wednesday was to make sure I knew that.

Campaigning with McCain in 2007.

Campaigning with McCain in 2007.

82 thoughts on “What kind of a world is it, when a creep like Trump feels free to fling such trash at honorable men?

  1. Scout

    Trump appeals to the baser instincts by rationalizing hate. What’s disturbing is that so many people are taken in and don’t see it for what it is.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Yes, Andy Borowitz commented about how Trump’s followers wouldn’t even mind what he said. Truth in comedy…

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        People are writing Trump’s political obituary prematurely. If you are a huge enough asshole to support Trump up to this point, why would you stop now?

        1. Bryan Caskey

          I can understand someone supporting Trump because they’re fed up with politicians in general. Regardless of what you think of Trump, you have to acknowledge that he is doing a very good job of portraying himself as being outside and apart from the regular political order. That’s very attractive to a large group of people.

          Even established politicians usually like to portray themselves as outside of the established “Washington culture”. Trump is doing that in spades. Accordingly, I can understand someone supporting Trump as a sort of protest vote against politicians in general.

          I can also understand someone supporting Trump simply to push the issue of illegal immigration to the forefront of the debate, since that seems to be his major issue, and maybe not supporting Trump in general.

          What I can’t understand is someone looking at Trump’s overall history and deciding that Trump would be a good President.

          To me, Trump is a symptom, not the root problem.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Yeah, he’s “outside and apart from the regular political order,” because his behavior makes him completely unacceptable in what we used to call polite society.

            He’s an outsider the way a homeless guy who screams obscenities on a street corner is an outsider, the way a serial killer is an outsider.

            People who like his brand of outsiderness are people with antisocial tendencies.

  2. Doug Ross

    There isn’t a whole lot of difference between the bombastic statements Trump makes and those McCain has made on a regular basis over the past decade. When he is in angry old man mode, he’s just as unbearable. I don’t give him a pass because of what he endured 50 years ago.

    1. Doug Ross

      As recently as May 31, he referred to his Senate colleague Rand Paul as a “wacko bird”. He’s a mean old guy who got his butt kicked in 2008 due to his own mismanagement and poor decision making.

      1. SBS

        No — the wacko daddy bird (Ron Paul) was a spoiler candidate and lost the election for the Rs.

        I know, because I stood in line for 3 hours to cast a vote for Chuck Baldwin [Ron Paul’s appointee] to punish John McCain for picking Sarah Palin over Mitt Romney for veep. How dumb was that? We do indeed get the government we deserve.

        1. SBS

          The seven-year wacko’s itch is now upon us. The new generation is flocking to baby bird — whose wife cut the heads off her barbies.

      2. Barry

        Rand Paul is a “wacko bird” 10 times over.

        Wacko birds can be honorable people- they just have really goofy ideas.

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      That’s a false equivalence. Trump, a chicken hawk who avoided service, is casting aspersions on McCain’s valor. Even if you see that his heroism is not in “getting caught,” you’d have to be all kinds of creep to fail to recognize that someone of McCain’s class could have easily gotten a sweetheart place in lieu of flying risky combat missions from whence he was captured. You’d have to be blithely ignorant of McCain’s unwillingness to take the sweetheart offer of release.
      I am no fan of McCain’s bombast, either, but I doubt he has said anything quite so tone deaf. He did okay Sarah Palin as running mate, but….

      1. Doug Ross

        I don’t have the time to research all of the dumb things McCain has said over the past decade but the list would be extensive. He was his nastiest self in the Republican debates in 2008 going after Ron Paul claiming that there was no evidence that the economy was in trouble. McCain and Trump are much closer in temperament than McCain’s acolytes want to admit. McCain’s “Straight Talk Express” was no different than Trumps foolish talk. He likes to use the terms crazies, wackos, etc. to describe people who disagree with him. When a supporter called Hillary a bitch in a forum, he laughed first and then caught himself went into phony politician blather.

        1. Doug Ross

          Remember these from McCain?

          “Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno”

          “I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.”

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            And when McCain says something he shouldn’t, he apologizes.

            There is no, repeat, NO comparing the two.

            With Doug, one is not honorable if anything can be found to reproach you with. Which means, of course, that none of us are honorable…

            1. Doug Ross

              So all it takes is an apology? The character flaw that allowed McCain to say what he said don’t go away after the apology. Will McCain also apologize to the 15,000 people he called crazies for disagreeing with him on illegal immigration?

              Two angry old guys with huge egos get into a war of words. Neither one is honorable. Take your military goggles off, Brad.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            By the way…

            I was able to find reliable documentation for the Chelsea Clinton joke. But the only references to the “gooks” comment seem to be on blogs. I thought I’d found something reliable — a reference in The Guardian — but it was part of an ideological rant, including a link to an extinct site.

            And yet of the two, that’s the more believable. Just as there were no doubt men in the previous generation who would always hate “Japs” and “krauts,” it’s believable that a man who had suffered at the hands of the North Vietnamese the way McCain did would harbor such feelings (although unusual that he would admit to them).

            But I still was unable to find an original, credible source for it, much less context. Anyone know where it came from?

          3. Pat

            McCain’s reference to Chelsea Clinton was definitely out of bounds, and he can definitely be rude and crude, but McCain is on target that Trump brings out the crazies. Trump continues to perpetuate the birther lie and presents himself as a business genius while having 4 bankruptcies on his resume.

                1. Bryan Caskey

                  “I think it’s kind of like being captured.”


                  Ding! You can close this thread now, Brad. Scout has the winning comment right there. Thanks for playing, everyone else.

        2. Scout

          The point is not just lack of tact, although tact is rather important and a lack of it may well be a trait he and McCain both share – an equally important point, for me, is the overall intelligence of the ideas that are expressed with no tact. Trump fails big time there. To me it seems, he is just not a very smart man, in addition to not being a very nice man or a very tactful man.

          McCain certainly has his faults, but anything to do with his military service is not one of them. It comes across as if you are holding a special grudge against him for attacking your pet candidate.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            I’m not sure how much of his wealth is a result of inherited advantages and how much is actually due to some smarts, but given his background of privilege, he hasn’t needed much tact. According to Wikipedia, while his grandparents were immigrants, his father was wealthy enough to send little Donnie to private school, where his father was a trustee, and where little Donnie was kicked out anyway at 13 for behavior issues. All of the money, none of the noblesse oblige.

            1. Doug Ross

              Yay, privilege! Can’t go a day without using that word. I will make sure to flog myself today for being born white.

              1. Doug Ross

                Trump has a B.S. in Economics and Anthropology from the Wharton School. He has somehow managed to fail upward over the past few decades. Funny how that happens for lucky people.

                Considering McCain’s lineage, he started on third base as well.

          2. Doug Ross

            Funny how the measure of the intelligence of the ideas is higher those that sync up with your own beliefs. One could argue that ignoring the rule of law regarding illegal immigration is the less intelligent position. But that’s just me – I’m a dummy who believes the laws should be enforced.

  3. Jeff Mobley

    Sure McCain says all kinds of stuff (in fact, one reason Trump was mad at McCain was that McCain had called Trump’s supporters “crazies” or something like that), but what Trump did at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames Iowa was insult all prisoners of war, suggesting that if a soldier/sailor/airman was unfortunate enough to be captured, then he/she doesn’t derserve to be called a hero. It was completely absurd, and some of the candidates that spoke after him, including Rick Perry and Lindsey Graham, correctly denounced those comments.

    I would encourage anyone who has the patience to go to http://www.c-span.org, where you can still find video of the candidates that appeared at this event. If you watch Trump’s appearance, you’ll see more red flags than just his awful comment about McCain.

    A lot of folks out there are sick of political correctness. But the problem with political correctness is not that it keeps us from treating each other like jerks. The problem with political correctness is that it sometimes keeps us from being honest with each other. It seems to me that if you want a candidate who’s not a politician and who eschews political correctness, then the obvious choice is Ben Carson. Now, I’m not saying he’s my pick for 2016, but he’s way better than Trump.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      What the heck is wrong with political correctness? It’s simply treating others who may not have had your advantages with courtesy and respect.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        No, that’s chivalry, which is now frowned upon.

        Political correctness is something else. It has to do with adhering strictly with the currently fashionable taboos.

        Treating people with courtesy and respect is a timeless value, and it doesn’t change from generation to generation. Being PC is very, very different from that.

        Not that I like the term. It’s sort of hackneyed. The trouble is, we don’t really have another good term for it. Sometimes I say “ideologically correct” to express something like it…

        1. Kathryn Fenner

          Political correctness is a subset of courtesy and respect. It’s recognizing that blacks, women, the disabled, religious minorities, sexual orientation minorities, etc. deserve just as much respect in language and thought.

          1. Jeff Mobley

            When I think of political correctness, I think of a long list of rules regarding what we shouldn’t say, lest we offend. I think of a lexicon of banned words (like, say, “bossy”).

            What we need instead of political correctness is a recipe of mutual respect, good faith, the benefit of the doubt, honesty, thick skin, and free speech.

          2. Doug Ross

            Political correctness is filtering one’s speech without filtering the beliefs that go behind it. It’s allowing others to define the meaning of your words no matter what you believe.

          3. Brad Warthen Post author

            The campaign against “bossy” as the new “b word” was a moment when the PC phenomenon really kicked into overdrive.

            Again, to me, what Kathryn describes as PC is simply a matter of being a gentleman or a lady. It’s gentility. PC is something else…

        2. Scout

          I think it is seen as sanitizing the message so as not to offend anybody at all.

          Even though the deeper reasons behind it in a lot of cases may be what Kathryn says (treating others who may not have had your advantages with courtesy and respect) , people who don’t see that deeply or objectively into things just think it is taking the easy way out and not sticking your neck out for what you believe – like you are a wimp for not being able to deal with offending some people.

          It’s probably both at different times. I do think that people who have trouble looking at things objectively never get it sometimes – you have to be able to look objectively at a situation in the first place to acknowledge that someone else didn’t have your advantages – and some people never ever get there.

          1. susanincola

            A lot of the time it’s called PC if I think what bothers you is stupid, and courageous if I agree with you.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      And Jeff, yes, you’re right about the range of people Trump has insulted.

      First, I was outraged on McCain’s behalf.

      Then, I was outraged on Jack’s behalf.

      Then, I realized he was also insulting my late father-in-law, who was captured at the Battle of the Bulge — he was a member of the ill-fated 106th Infantry Division, which was on the front line at exactly the point where Hitler’s unsuspected army concentrated its attack there in the Ardennes. His best buddy, a guy from back home, was hit and fell dead in the snow beside him before they were captured. He spent the rest of the war in a German Stalag…

      Donald Trump needs a good slap upside the head. He’s needed it for years. For once in his life, he should see that words have consequences.

      1. Doug Ross

        It wouldn’t be America 2015 if everyone didn’t find something to be outraged about on a daily basis.

        Donald Trump will never be President. Ignore him. And ignore John McCain while you’re at it. One is a foul mouthed, angry rich guy and the other is Donald Trump.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        That’s the terrible thing, though, Doug. Trump is leading the polls at the moment.

        No, he won’t be president. One hopes. But either a Democrat or a Republican is going to be president, and I’d prefer that neither nominate anyone totally out of bounds. Because weird things can happen. I’d rather they not have a chance to happen.

        1. Pat

          You know, Trump is leading out of a kazillion candidates. If you lump all their percentages together, many more Republicans prefer someone other than Trump. His numbers don’t look so good that way.

          1. Doug Ross

            But as we go from 15 to 10 and then 5 candidates, the numbers consolidate. In six months, we’ll be down to Rubio, Bush, Paul, Walker, and one more. Can Trump make the final five? Convince me that he can’t win delegates in Florida, New York, New Jersey, etc. The thing with Trump is that we already know all the bad stuff about him. His negatives aren’t going to go much higher.

            1. Barry

              His negatives will go higher when more more people start paying attention – and realizing he’s a blow-hard who they would never want to be near the White House at all.

              Trump has failed at many things. That can be a positive. The problem with Trump is – he doesn’t think he’s failed at anything.

              1. Doug Ross

                Who doesn’t know Donald Trump at this point? He has more name recognition than any other candidate not named Clinton or Bush.

    3. Bryan Caskey

      Didn’t the French capture George Washington at Ft. Necessity?

      Also, I’m pretty sure ol’ Andy Jackson was captured when he was a boy and then famously refused to clean a British officer’s boots. Senator McCain may take the high road with Trump, but I’m pretty sure ol’ Andy would have challenged Trump to a duel by now.

      There were certainly some downsides, but dueling definitely had the positive aspect of keeping people polite or obtaining apologies.

      1. Scout

        My opinion of Andrew Jackson is about as high as my opinion of Trump. They have some similarities now that you mention it. That was a stellar presidency: bank failure, looting of the white house, and exiling a race of people. I’m fine with letting NC claim him.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yeah, I’m having trouble seeing a downside. Oh, yeah: 🙂

          And yes, the Code Duello would eliminate a lot of the more offensive elements of modern life. If men knew they’d have to stand behind their words in that manner, they’d be a lot more polite. It would, to a large extent, reform politics as we know it today — not just Trump.

          Wait, I did think of a downside — what if it turned out that Trump was really, really good at dueling, and not only got away with shooting his mouth off, but killed better men along the way?

          Must give us pause. In fact, I’m ready to take a stand right now — I think I am opposed to dueling. Don’t tell any of my male ancestors; I wouldn’t wish to shame them. But yes, on the whole, I don’t think it is a good thing, since one can’t guarantee that the more gentlemanly party will survive.

          I’m not quite there yet on cockfighting — sorry to offend my bird-loving friends, but I can’t work up as much indignation over chickens. Dogs, yes; chickens not so much. And I’ll confess I still like boxing — I had an awesome time that night we went to see Muay Thai in Bangkok. But I am ready to take a stand with the reformers on dueling.

          We were talking earlier about political correctness. Does this mean I am now officially PC? Have I arrived?

          1. Karen Pearson

            It seems to me that PC arose out of an effort to remove offensive labels. For example, “idiot” became “retarded” became “developmentally disabled.” The problem is that people take words that are perfectly ok when used descriptively, and use them pejoratively. Thus, the term itself begins to become insulting. Of course, people went overboard with it. I think Trump exhibits traits of narcissism and sociopathy, but if I were debating him I’d try to speak to the subject and avoid any insults (at least until he made me so mad I lost it).

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          And by the way, I’m totally with Scout on Jackson. As I’ve said many times before here, the republic pretty much went to pot when he won the election over John Quincy Adams.

          That was the precedent that led inevitably to Trump.

          In fact, I would not be at all surprised to find that there is a huge correlation between the people choosing Trump in polls, and direct descendants of those who voted for “outsider” Jackson over Adams….

  4. Bart

    PC language. Watch George Carlin’s routine on words. Great example of how things change over the years when it comes to sparing the feelings of anyone who might be offended by the use of certain descriptive language. I.E., “shell shock” became “battle fatigue” became “PTSD”. Is the word “retarded” insensitive or is it that people don’t like to hear the word used to describe a loved one?

    As for Donald Trump. He is his own greatest promoter and he is enjoying the attention by making comments and statements that provoke a strong response from his critics. This is what he does. When Koch was mayor of NY, Trump would hire actors to pose as city workers and they would sit on buckets doing nothing but drinking coffee with tools laying around for the public to see just to irritate Koch.

    Trump knows he can’t win but he doesn’t care as long as he can stir up a controversy and keep his name in front of the public. The problem is that there are all too many who actually believe and support his efforts because of the way public discourse has devolved into name calling, uncivil remarks, and hostility between differing ideological factions.

    The Democrats, liberals, and left are having a field day with the idea that Trump is involved in the race as a Republican. He is the best thing that could ever happen to Hillary. She should invite him to her inaugural when she is sworn in as president.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Karen’s point is that using the term “retarded” to describe someone of normal intelligence, but who is acting otherwise, or to describe some bad situation, is denigrating to those who have mental retardation.
      It’s like calling something or someone “gay” as a term of denigration, not to truthfully describe their sexual orientation.

      1. Bart

        Thank you for the clarification. However, I do understand the difference. I was referring to the use of “retarded” when it comes to a person who actually is, not when it is meant as an insult.

        Parents who resent the word when used to describe a child or loved one who actually is retarded and insist on “mentally challenged” instead was my point.

        1. Karen Pearson

          There used to be an Association of Retarded Citizens,” composed of folks who functioned well enough to speak for themselves. When I started working with the developmentally disabled, that was the appropriate term.

            1. Bryan Caskey

              Ooooh, I like this topic. What are the top names your inner monologue calls bad drivers?

              For me, it depends on the speed: If you’re a bad driver going faster than me, you’re a “maniac”. If you’re a bad driver going slower than me (or simply inattentive), you’re a “moron”.

              1. Norm Ivey

                Butt bite. Except I use another word in place of butt. I’m not even sure what it means, but it’s what I say.

            2. Bart

              “Moron” is very mild when my daughter is driving and another driver does something “stupid”. Wait a minute, is saying someone is “stupid” allowed? 🙂

        2. Kathryn Fenner

          Well, I agree with you that using a euphemism becomes possibly worse. William F. Buckley compared these things to men’s bikinis, which “accentuate the very thing they purport to conceal.”
          In Britain, they say spastic, crippled, etc. Straightforward language.
          One thing that I am ambivalent about is the concept of putting people first, as in “person with visual impairment”—it’s awfully clunky, but it does clarify that a persons who cannot see are still a persons, rather than “the blind”……

          1. Bryan Caskey


            We can’t say “the blind” anymore? As in, “Our goal is to provide exemplary service for the blind.”

            I think I missed the meeting when that was put up for a vote.

  5. bud

    Trump is just a much cruder form of the typical Republican. Saxby Chambliss famously slandered Max Cleland’s service record. Tammy Duckworth lost 2 legs while serving her country but that didn’t stop her Republican opponent, Joe Walsh, from attacking her in a most repugnant manner: From Wiki: “Walsh generated controversy when in July 2012, at a campaign event, he accused Duckworth of politicizing her military service and injuries, saying “my God, that’s all she talks about.” Then of course was the worst of all, the disgusting Swiftboating of John Kerry in 2004. That thoroughly discredited nonsense was generally supported by the GOP establishment including Jeb Bush. http://crooksandliars.com/2015/07/jeb-bush-sent-swift-boat-vets-letter-2005

    So while I condemn Trump for his outrageous comments I have to wonder why the press is making such a big deal out of this. After all, it’s just Republicans being Republicans.

    1. Barry

      you can always count on Democrats to get nasty too Bud – don’t leave them out in your partisan attacks

      You mean like when Senator Rockefeller (Democrat) disparaged Senator McCain’s service as a fighter pilot in the 2008 campaign?

      “What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground?” he asked. “He doesn’t know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues.”

      Of course Rockefeller looked like a complete fool with those comments.

      The newsletter CounterPunch published in April an article by Doug Valentine headed “Meet the Real John McCain: North Vietnam’s Go-To Collaborator.”

      Valentine suggested McCain contemplated suicide — something the candidate has written about, and attributed in part to his guilt at not withstanding torture — because he was a “war criminal” whose bombs fell on civilians.

      “I wouldn’t characterize anybody who fought in Vietnam as a war hero,” said Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of the theatrical anti-war group Code Pink. “In 23 bombing sorties, there must have been civilians that were killed and there’s no heroism to that.”

  6. Mike Cakora

    As a Vietnam-era veteran who served six years in Europe and the US, and as a guy who has much to be humble about, I’m reminded of Henry Kissinger’s quip on the Iran-Iraq war: “It’s too bad they both can’t lose.”

    While each of these successful individuals has earned a reputation for diligence and hard work, both are intemperate bullies whom the public should ignore as such.

      1. Barry

        Most politicians are cut-throat- even more so for some of the better ones.

        This is not to take up for Donald Trump. He’s a goof-ball.

        As someone that worked 2 years behind the scenes, some “gentle” acting folks can be quite the opposite behind the scenes. There is a long, long list.

        1. Bart

          I am in total agreement with you Barry. One politician I know who is as gentle and sweet and caring in front of the camera will cut your throat with the proverbial “rusty knife” behind the scenes. And I have found that most of them actually do not know their constitutients, especially when it comes to Washington politics.

          Mostly, they listen to the few who are the most influential and the few who are most influential are the very ones with their own agendas. After being exposed on several occasions to the hypocrisy of politicians, trust is usually not in the equation.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            My experience is the opposite. Pols know their constituents very well, and if anything are TOO attuned to doing their will, often to the detriment of the country.

            Why? Because they want to stay in office.

            This brings us to the term limits issue. A lot of people mistakenly support term limits because they think it will force out-of-touch politicians to care more about what “the people” think.

            Actually, the one strongest argument in favor of term limits is that it will do the opposite. If a lawmaker can’t get re-elected, then MAYBE he’ll stop going around with his finger in the wind, worried about every poll result and every angry constituent at town-hall meetings, and focus on doing the right thing for the state or country — that is to say, the right thing instead of the popular thing.

            Whenever I’m tempted to back term limits, it’s because I’m fed up with these people being afraid of their own shadows…

            1. Barry

              As an employee at the state house for 2 years, most know their constituents well. Some don’t. It’s a good mix.

              But I’ve seen some very “gentle” public type people behind the scenes with other pols and I’ve heard them talk, and I’ve heard things said about people that would curl the hair of the average citizen.

              It’s a game to many- too many.

  7. Phillip

    Of course what Trump said about McCain is appalling. However, “honorable men” or even “heroes” are not only found from within the ranks of the military, or among those whose heroism takes the form of courage under fire or withstanding long imprisonment and physical torture, astounding as that heroism is.

    There are many other kinds of heroes, men and women, walking among us, whose heroism takes the less-publicly-noted form of trying to raise a family while working two minimum-wage jobs, or teaching within a challenging environment in an inner-city public school, or courageously trying to fight the ravages of physical illness while being unable to afford adequate health care. We all probably know some. Perhaps some of you are such heroes (not me, I admit—I’ve been extremely fortunate). And, though Trump’s outrageously dismissive comments about McCain’s genuine heroism have deserved the negative attention they have gotten, it may be as good a moment as any to note that in our political discourse, there is a lot of “flinging of trash at honorable men,” namely, those other heroes of daily existence. Those insults come both in the verbal form (“takers,” or simply writing them off as having developed insufficient “skill sets” to merit a minimally decent existence in Hobbesian-Randian America), and in policy form.

    So I hear Trump and I shrug my shoulders and say, “what else is new?”

    1. Doug Ross

      ““takers,” or simply writing them off as having developed insufficient “skill sets” to merit a minimally decent existence in Hobbesian-Randian America), and in policy form.”

      Since that is probably pointed at me, let me say that I don’t hold any negative view of people who work hard and are ethical regardless of their circumstance. But at the same time, there is nothing heroic about making choices that leave one at the mercy of government dependency. There are “takers” in this world. Millions of them. There are also people who choose a path that guarantees poverty – dropping out of school, having multiple children by multiple partners, abusing drugs, etc. We have yet to find a solution to these problems despite spending more and more tax dollars to address them. More often than not, the solution becomes the problem.

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      as several have commented, far fewer were upset when he called virtually all Mexicans rapists than when he dissed McCain////

  8. Bart

    “So I hear Trump and I shrug my shoulders and say, “what else is new?”….Phillip

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comments are closed.