Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Noun, a Verb and POW

In the Democratic debates, Joe Biden famously dismissed Rudy Giuliani with: “There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11...there’s nothing else."

Now, Biden may have the chance to do the same for his Senate friend as John McCain's campaign reflexively parrots POW to any questions raised--about how many homes McCain owns, about whether or not he was in a "cone of silence" at the Saddleback Forum, even the gaffe of suggesting his wife Cindy enter the topless Miss Buffalo Chip contest.

As Maureen Dowd puts it, "His campaign is cheapening his greatest strength--and making a mockery of his already dubious claim that he’s reticent to talk about his POW experience--by flashing the POW card to rebut any criticism, no matter how unrelated. The captivity is already amply displayed in posters and TV advertisements."

Giuliani abruptly discovered a voter expiration date for cashing in on 9/11. Will McCain's campaign discover that it is, in the World War II term, "a bridge too far" from the Hanoi Hilton to the White House?

"While McCain’s experience was heroic," Dowd asks, "did it create a worldview incapable of anticipating the limits to US military power in Iraq? Did he fail to absorb the lessons of Vietnam, so that he is doomed to always want to refight it? Did his captivity inform a search-and-destroy, shoot-first-ask-questions-later, 'We are all Georgians,' mentality?"

McCain has opened the door to such questions by putting his POW experience so close to the center of his campaign. He suffered for his country three decades ago, but does that qualify him to end its pain here and abroad in 2009?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

McCain is veering too close to the edge. When he was a captive, he broke down in a matter of days and began saying whatever his captors wanted. His fellow POWs have been highly critical of what they saw as his weakness and cowardice. There is videotape that shows McCain singing like a canary, and he kept it up for quite a while.
If John Kerry can be painted as a coward with an artfully designed, albeit fraudulent, TV ad, how long will it be until someone puts together an ad showing McCain promoting the North Vietnamese line, along with other POWs who say how disgusted they were by how quickly McCain broke down and how quickly he let himself become a poster boy for 'the other side'.