2
   

I Spent Years as a POW with John McCain, and His Finger Should Not Be Near the Red Button

 
 
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 12:32 pm
I Spent Years as a POW with John McCain, and His Finger Should Not Be Near the Red Button
By Phillip Butler, Military.com.
Posted August 21, 2008.

A fellow Vietnam POW of McCain's warns of the candidate's "quick and explosive temper" and suggests McCain is exaggerating his imprisonment.

John McCain is a long-time acquaintance of mine that goes way back to our time together at the U.S. Naval Academy and as Prisoners of War in Vietnam. He is a man I respect and admire in some ways. But there are a number of reasons why I will not vote for him for President of the United States.

When I was a Plebe (4th classman, or freshman) at the Naval Academy in 1957-58, I was assigned to the 17th Company for my four years there. In those days we had about 3,600 midshipmen spread among 24 companies, thus about 150 midshipmen to a company. As fortune would have it, John, a First Classman (senior) and his room mate lived directly across the hall from me and my two room mates. Believe me when I say that back then I would never in a million or more years have dreamed that the crazy guy across the hall would someday be a Senator and candidate for President!

John was a wild man. He was funny, with a quick wit and he was intelligent. But he was intent on breaking every USNA regulation in our 4 inch thick USNA Regulations book. And I believe he must have come as close to his goal as any midshipman who ever attended the Academy. John had me "coming around" to his room frequently during my plebe year. And on one occasion he took me with him to escape "over the wall" in the dead of night. He had a taxi cab waiting for us that took us to a bar some 7 miles away. John had a few beers, but forbid me to drink (watching out for me I guess) and made me drink cokes. I could tell many other midshipman stories about John that year and he unbelievably managed to graduate though he spent the majority of his first class year on restriction for the stuff he did get caught doing. In fact he barely managed to graduate, standing 5th from the bottom of his 800 man graduating class. I and many others have speculated that the main reason he did graduate was because his father was an Admiral, and also his grandfather, both U.S. Naval Academy graduates.

People often ask if I was a Prisoner of War with John McCain. My answer is always "No - John McCain was a POW with me." The reason is I was there for 8 years and John got there 2 1/2 years later, so he was a POW for 5 1/2 years. And we have our own seniority system, based on time as a POW.

John's treatment as a POW:

1) Was he tortured for 5 years? No. He was subjected to torture and maltreatment during his first 2 years, from September of 1967 to September of 1969. After September of 1969 the Vietnamese stopped the torture and gave us increased food and rudimentary health care. Several hundred of us were captured much earlier. I got there April 20, 1965 so my bad treatment period lasted 4 1/2 years. President Ho Chi Minh died on September 9, 1969, and the new regime that replaced him and his policies was more pragmatic. They realized we were worth a lot as bargaining chips if we were alive. And they were right because eventually Americans gave up on the war and agreed to trade our POW's for their country. A damn good trade in my opinion! But my point here is that John allows the media to make him out to be THE hero POW, which he knows is absolutely not true, to further his political goals.

2) John was badly injured when he was shot down. Both arms were broken and he had other wounds from his ejection. Unfortunately this was often the case -- new POW's arriving with broken bones and serious combat injuries. Many died from their wounds. Medical care was non-existent to rudimentary. Relief from pain was almost never given and often the wounds were used as an available way to torture the POW. Because John's father was the Naval Commander in the Pacific theater, he was exploited with TV interviews while wounded. These film clips have now been widely seen. But it must be known that many POW's suffered similarly, not just John. And many were similarly exploited for political propaganda.

3) John was offered, and refused, "early release." Many of us were given this offer. It meant speaking out against your country and lying about your treatment to the press. You had to "admit" that the U.S. was criminal and that our treatment was "lenient and humane." So I, like numerous others, refused the offer. This was obviously something none of us could accept. Besides, we were bound by our service regulations, Geneva Conventions and loyalties to refuse early release until all the POW's were released, with the sick and wounded going first.

4) John was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart for heroism and wounds in combat. This heroism has been played up in the press and in his various political campaigns. But it should be known that there were approximately 600 military POW's in Vietnam. Among all of us, decorations awarded have recently been totaled to the following: Medals of Honor -- 8, Service Crosses -- 42, Silver Stars -- 590, Bronze Stars -- 958 and Purple Hearts -- 1,249. John certainly performed courageously and well. But it must be remembered that he was one hero among many -- not uniquely so as his campaigns would have people believe.

John McCain served his time as a POW with great courage, loyalty and tenacity. More that 600 of us did the same. After our repatriation a census showed that 95% of us had been tortured at least once. The Vietnamese were quite democratic about it. There were many heroes in North Vietnam. I saw heroism every day there. And we motivated each other to endure and succeed far beyond what any of us thought we had in ourselves. Succeeding as a POW is a group sport, not an individual one. We all supported and encouraged each other to survive and succeed. John knows that. He was not an individual POW hero. He was a POW who surmounted the odds with the help of many comrades, as all of us did.

I furthermore believe that having been a POW is no special qualification for being President of the United States. The two jobs are not the same, and POW experience is not, in my opinion, something I would look for in a presidential candidate.

Most of us who survived that experience are now in our late 60's and 70's. Sadly, we have died and are dying off at a greater rate than our non-POW contemporaries. We experienced injuries and malnutrition that are coming home to roost. So I believe John's age (73) and survival expectation are not good for being elected to serve as our President for 4 or more years.

I can verify that John has an infamous reputation for being a hot head. He has a quick and explosive temper that many have experienced first hand. Folks, quite honestly that is not the finger I want next to that red button.

It is also disappointing to see him take on and support Bush's war in Iraq, even stating we might be there for another 100 years. For me John represents the entrenched and bankrupt policies of Washington-as-usual. The past 7 years have proven to be disastrous for our country. And I believe John's views on war, foreign policy, economics, environment, health care, education, national infrastructure and other important areas are much the same as those of the Bush administration.

I'm disappointed to see John represent himself politically in ways that are not accurate. He is not a moderate Republican. On some issues he is a maverick. But his voting record is far to the right. I fear for his nominations to our Supreme Court, and the consequent continuing loss of individual freedoms, especially regarding moral and religious issues. John is not a religious person, but he has taken every opportunity to ally himself with some really obnoxious and crazy fundamentalist ministers lately. I was also disappointed to see him cozy up to Bush because I know he hates that man. He disingenuously and famously put his arm around the guy, even after Bush had intensely disrespected him with lies and slander. So on these and many other instances, I don't see that John is the "straight talk express" he markets himself to be.

Senator John Sidney McCain, III is a remarkable man who has made enormous personal achievements. And he is a man that I am proud to call a fellow POW who "Returned With Honor." That's our POW motto. But since many of you keep asking what I think of him, I've decided to write it out. In short, I think John Sidney McCain, III is a good man, but not someone I will vote for in the upcoming election to be our President of the United States.
-------------------------------------------------------------

AlterNet is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by its writers are their own.

Doctor Phillip Butler is a 1961 graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a former light-attack carrier pilot. In 1965 he was shot down over North Vietnam where he spent eight years as a prisoner of war. He is a highly decorated combat veteran who was awarded two Silver Stars, two Legion of Merits, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Heart medals. After his repatriation in 1973 he earned a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at San Diego and became a Navy Organizational Effectiveness consultant. He completed his Navy career in 1981 as a professor of management at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is now a peace and justice activist with Veterans for Peace.
 
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 12:41 pm
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
I found that very interesting, BBB.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  -1  
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 12:42 pm
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
http://images.dailykos.com/images/user/1237/Get_Out_of_Gaffe_Free_sm.jpg

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  4  
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 01:12 pm
Might as well keep Bush as elect McCain.
fishin
 
  3  
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 01:28 pm
I realize that the author of thie piece is stating his own personal views but I have to question what his point is.

The bullet points listed on McCain's treatment as a POW seem to be an attempt to say that it wasn't anything unusual. Lots of other POWs were treated badly? Ok, I'd accept that. Are any other former POWs running? Not that I know of... If another former POW were running it might make a difference how they stacked up against each other. But since another one isn't running I don't see how what other POWs were subjected to changes anything as far as the current race.

There is also a huge disconnect in logic in much of it. Many former POWs have died so McCain shouldn't be elected becuase he's a former POW? If that's the sort of standard to be applied no one should ever be elected President.

The closing paragraph is a bit baffeling:

"Senator John Sidney McCain, III is a remarkable man who has made enormous personal achievements. And he is a man that I am proud to call a fellow POW who "Returned With Honor." That's our POW motto. But since many of you keep asking what I think of him, I've decided to write it out. In short, I think John Sidney McCain, III is a good man, but not someone I will vote for in the upcoming election to be our President of the United States. "

In the end McCain is a "remarkable man", has "enourmous personal acheivements", he's "proud to call a fellow POW who "Returned With Honor."" and McCain is a "good man" but.... not good enough to be President? Seems like there's a little cognitive dissonance going on there.



Cycloptichorn
 
  0  
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 01:30 pm
@fishin,
Not if you realize that none of those qualities prepares one to be the president, which is a mental and emotional challenge that the writer doesn't think McCain is up to.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 01:31 pm
@edgarblythe,
Bush still doesn't know "our" limits both militarily and foreign relations, but he probably knows better than to use that "red" button; he hasn't used it in eight years - maybe.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 06:52 pm
After a second reading of the article, I find it despicable that John McCain would promote his own POW status as being heroic to promote himself as qualified to be the president of this country - while denigrating Obama's non-service as somehow being not qualified. The three major points of the article says much about McCain: a) he's not the only POW who survived the torture, b) he's not the only POW who earned medals, and c) McCain is a hot-head.

Why does he continue to promote himself in such ways that otherwise shows his lack of character and self-promotion that isn't even unique.
patiodog
 
  3  
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 09:38 pm
Swift boat, the sequel. New, softer, and every bit as classy.
0 Replies
 
okie
 
  3  
Reply Fri 22 Aug, 2008 11:33 pm
The last few words of the post explains the whole thing. Describing the writer of the opinion:

"He completed his Navy career in 1981 as a professor of management at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is now a peace and justice activist with Veterans for Peace."

Why isn't the article up front and admit the writer is politically opposed to McCain, based on politics. He keeps praising him personally, but about the only thing he has against him is political, and his purported temper, and in regard to temper, has he even been around McCain since the war ended? Pretty lame article in my opinion.
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  0  
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 09:24 am
@okie,
Okie, your's are big time lame excuses for McCains lack of appropriate temperment for the presidency, especially as commander in chief. We don't need a warrior-inclined president and we don't need more wars.

BBB
spendius
 
  2  
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 11:03 am
Well- I wouldn't stab an ex-pal at all never mind going to all that trouble to do it.

And it may not be all true either.

Despicable.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 11:15 am
Why am I having the feeling that Philip Butler is coming right off a swiftboat?
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 11:39 am
@spendius,
"John McCain is a long-time acquaintance of mine ..."

Not necessarily a pal, ex or present, Spendi. There's no reason that this man should keep silent about issues that are important to him. I'm sure that there'll be some research done to see if his boat floats.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  4  
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 12:10 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:

After a second reading of the article, I find it despicable that John McCain would promote his own POW status as being heroic to promote himself as qualified to be the president of this country - while denigrating Obama's non-service as somehow being not qualified. The three major points of the article says much about McCain: a) he's not the only POW who survived the torture, b) he's not the only POW who earned medals, and c) McCain is a hot-head.

Why does he continue to promote himself in such ways that otherwise shows his lack of character and self-promotion that isn't even unique.


Yeah! And it also says he acted honorably under stress that most of us, including Barack Obama, cannot even imagine.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 12:13 pm
@roger,
Sure, but does that make him suited to be president?

The sad part of McCain using his POW status as a defense is that it forces us to have conversations like this. It demeans his sacrifice, for it to be used as a shield against valid criticism.

And even politically speaking; he's going to the well too often. Reporters and pundits are starting to notice that his defense on every issue is to trot out the POW status. It's getting Giuliani-esque, and that's not a strong position for McCain to be in.

Cycloptichorn
Thomas
 
  3  
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 12:18 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:
Why does he continue to promote himself in such ways that otherwise shows his lack of character and self-promotion that isn't even unique.

It isn't entirely clear to me what the word "that" in this sentence is referring to. What is it that's not unique?

Is it self promotion and lack of character? Then you're telling me old news. Did it really take you 45 years to figure out that self promotion and lack of character is not unique in politics?

Or is the non-unique thing that he survived several years in a Vietnamese prison and conducted himself honorably? Well yeah -- it's not unique. A couple hundred other Americans did it too, out of 300 million. Isn't that close enough for you?
JTT
 
  3  
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 12:20 pm
@roger,
Quote:

Yeah! And it also says he acted honorably under stress that most of us, including Barack Obama, cannot even imagine.


You don't have the foggiest notion how Barack Obama or even you would react in those circumstances. McCain doesn't deserve a free pass just because he was a POW or even because he was tortured. He still has to tell the truth. He still has to make the grade as presidential material. With all his lies, hypocrisy and pandering, he sure ain't anywhere near presidential.

What would make anyone consider Bush2 when they're staring at the mess of the last 8 years?
H2O MAN
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 12:23 pm
@JTT,

McCain has led, Obama thinks he can lead.

If the button needs to be pushed, I don't want Obama near it.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 23 Aug, 2008 12:24 pm
@Thomas,
See JTTs response below your's. It pretty much answers the question - for me!
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

Obama '08? - Discussion by sozobe
Let's get rid of the Electoral College - Discussion by Robert Gentel
McCain's VP: - Discussion by Cycloptichorn
Food Stamp Turkeys - Discussion by H2O MAN
The 2008 Democrat Convention - Discussion by Lash
McCain is blowing his election chances. - Discussion by McGentrix
Snowdon is a dummy - Discussion by cicerone imposter
GAFFNEY: Whose side is Obama on? - Discussion by gungasnake
 
  1. Forums
  2. » I Spent Years as a POW with John McCain, and His Finger Should Not Be Near the Red Button
Copyright © 2022 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 01/21/2022 at 04:50:29