The recent defeat of the so-called “skinny version” of the Obamacare Health bill in the U.S. Senate was perhaps – not so surprising after all. The votes of Collins of Maine and Murkowski of Alaska were not unexpected. However: The “NO” vote by Senator John McCain of Arizona was truly a bolt out of the blue. It is amazing that Senator McCain was present for the vote given his aggressive brain cancer diagnosis just a few days prior.
Rewind the news tape to July 19, 2015. On that date in the early stages of the upcoming primary election, then-candidate Donald J. Trump commented that he did not consider Senator McCain to be a war hero because of his capture by the North Vietnamese during that war.
Consider this scenario: Navy pilot McCain’s fighter was hit by a SAM (surface to air missile) over North Vietnam. McCain ejected and landed in a lake, sinking to the bottom and managed to surface and was immediately captured. His leg was broken, shoulder shattered, and ribs badly damaged. Upon capture, he was beaten severely and taken to the “Hanoi Hilton” and tortured almost non-stop for two years.
The guards broke both his arms deliberately and he was beaten repeatedly during that period of time. Upon learning that his father was an Admiral, his treatment “improved” somewhat. When the peace accord was finally signed in early 1973, McCain was released and repatriated in March.
I have no knowledge of why Senator McCain voted against the bill in question. Given his current health issue, it is astonishing that he was present for the vote. No doubt he voted as he did, because at this point, he owes nothing to anyone from here on out. This is his “last hurrah” in his term as a senator. I am certain he voted on a deeply held principle, not partisan politics. John McCain has always acted on strongly held convictions. Like him or not, he is a true patriot and noble public servant.
Is it perhaps possible that lingering deep in McCain’s subconscious, that Trump’s caustic comment about his capture in the Vietnam conflict still smolders? If so, who could blame him? I have no factual premise upon which to base this conjecture. However, I cannot completely dismiss the possibility. It does cause one to wonder, does it not?
I quite by accident (but a happy one) met Senator McCain early in his first term in 1987. I was in Washington for meetings as a board member of the National Corn Growers Assoc. En route to a meeting in the Capitol, walking in a hallway on the Senate side, McCain came down a stairs as I strode by. I recognized him, paused and said “hello.” He came over to me and we talked for a couple minutes. He was most gracious and thanked me for greeting him. It’s the only time I ever spoke to him. It was a wonderful experience for this country boy then, and still is today.
Godspeed John McCain, and may God Bless You AND America. We surely need it. To me, You have always been a hero.
Dean Gordin is a local resident and guest columnist.