McCain's War

Sunday's New York Times carries a fascinating front-page story on the National War College thesis written by then-Navy Cmdr. John McCain. He finished the paper in 1974, following his release from five years of captivity in North Vietnam. And it comes to the Times via Matt Welch, who just published an excellent and provocative biography of McCain.

Most notable about this paper is the insight it provides on how McCain forged his views on war in Vietnam and carried those views forward once he came home. His central argument contains a view of national purpose and perseverance that is at the heart of his message today for Iraq.

According to the Times:

About a year after his release from a North Vietnamese prison camp, Cmdr. John S. McCain III sat down to address one of the most vexing questions confronting his fellow prisoners: Why did some choose to collaborate with the North Vietnamese?

Mr. McCain blamed American politics.

"The biggest factor in a man's ability to perform credibly as a prisoner of war is a strong belief in the correctness of his nation's foreign policy," Mr. McCain wrote in a 1974 essay submitted to the National War College and never released to the public. Prisoners who questioned "the legality of the war" were "extremely easy marks for Communist propaganda," he wrote.

Americans captured after 1968 had proven to be more susceptible to North Vietnamese pressure, he argued, because they "had been exposed to the divisive forces which had come into focus as a result of the antiwar movement in the United States."

To insulate against such doubts, he recommended that the military should teach its recruits not only how to fight but also the reasons for American foreign policies like the containment of Southeast Asian communism -- even though, Mr. McCain acknowledged, "a program of this nature could be construed as 'brainwashing' or 'thought control' and could come in for a great deal of criticism."

There is a very powerful idea here. In writing about his own survival in Nazi concentration camps, psychologist Viktor Frankl emphasized the importance of "purpose." In short, he who has a why can endure just about anything. For Frankl, that purpose was living to publish his story and his psychological insights on the camps. McCain argues that his purpose was to support American foreign policy and the containment of Communism -- and that knowing this purpose and believing in it was crucial for his survival.

He also writes about the importance of national unity and universal support for the troops, which he suggests are necessary bedrocks for the morale of men and women in combat. (Particularly those in the crucible of a POW camp, where faith in one's cause matters so much.) He singles out war protesters and critics for undermining the will of the troops and hurting their ability to persevere.

Fast-forward 30 years. His view doesn't appear to have changed. He concurs with military officers of a certain age that if only we'd had the popular will and the gumption to persevere in Vietnam, we would have won there too. Similarly, he believes in staying in Iraq as long as necessary, and committing whatever resources necessary, in order to win -- whatever that means. And, as he wrote in 1974, he feels that dissent and criticism undermine today's mission, embolden our enemies and hurt troop morale.

But is that right?

Should we offer our unconditional, unwavering, unquestioning and blind support for the troops -- and the administration which sent them into war? Is that our role in the American democratic system? Does "support the troops" literally mean support their mission no matter what? Or is there another way?

I fundamentally disagree with McCain's thesis and broader argument. Our Constitution gives the ultimate say in matters of war and peace to the people -- through their election of the president and Congress and their ability to shape political decisions through popular will. This is an imperfect system, as we have seen in both Vietnam and Iraq. Unpopular wars take a long time to bend to popular opinion. But, it is our system, and our Constitution, and it demands a type of engagement from the people that is the antithesis of what McCain describes.

Support for the troops does not mean unquestioning and unconditional loyalty to the cause, whatever the cause may be. Rather, we support the troops by doing our duty as citizens, by being engaged, by caring about the war (and the troops who come home), and by making the best decisions we can about war and peace. This requires a healthy dose of skepticism and independent thinking. Some of our enemies might look at this dissent and take comfort. They would be wrong. Our democracy's ability to allow dissent, and form national policy on the basis of citizen engagement, is one of our greatest strengths.

(Standard disclosure: I've advised the Obama campaign on national security issues, however, the views presented above are mine alone.)

By Phillip Carter |  June 15, 2008; 8:00 PM ET  | Category:  Civil-Military Relations
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John "Baghdad Bob" McCain wears the American flag pin and declares that veterans should not be entitled to the new and improved G.I. Bill before Congress. In McCain's recent TV ads he states "I hate wars", but not too long ago he made statements to the effect we could stay in Iraq 100 years and also the Iraq war was of little concern to him. He certainly painted the other POW's in Vietnam with a very broad brush and puts himself in a very positive light. Why?????

Posted by: ghostcommander | June 16, 2008 1:15 AM

McCain's thesis assumes that the "selling" of foreign policy to the military will be 100% successful. This is a very questionable assumption, as it presupposes that any foreign policy is able to stand without question if it is simply articulated thoroughly enough. There is almost a hint of presidential infallibility in this logic, something which GWB does seems to embrace.

An even more telling look into McCain's thoughts on this is the final paragraph where he is quoted:

"Some of my fellow prisoners sang a different tune, but they were a very small minority," he added. "I ask myself if they should be prosecuted, and I don't find that easy to answer. It might destroy the very fine image the great majority of us have brought back from that hellhole."

Does this mean that the application of the law is subordinate to "image"? Is truthfulness the enemy of "image"?

I have no doubts that any POW has strong feelings arising from his or her captivity. I am not sure that I wish this experience to distort how we do our day to day business. What McCain misses is that foreign policy can change and does change. Does the military gin up a "re-education" program with these changes?

Our military should be a technically and tactically proficient instrument of our nation's foreign policy. The senior leadership should be willing and able to offer objective counsel as to the use of military force in a given foreign policy issue. It's members must be committed to "faithfully carrying out the lawful orders" issued by their lawfully determined superiors. Heaven help us if we allow them to enter, as a part of their service, into the debate.


Posted by: Aviator47 | June 16, 2008 3:08 AM

I believe that John McCain is still fighting a war within himself and is dealing as a POW - his thinking is that of a man under personal siege. It is understandable and worth our empathy. It is NOT however a siren that we should incorporate within our thinking.

If a debate within a democracy causes more pain within a man held captive by an enemy, well, that sould give him comfort for that is what he is defending. If torture causes the POW to make statements that are repugnant, well, that is why we give NO, even if reported by NPR or other media, merit to extracted news or statements what so ever.

Admiral Stockdale, who received the Medal of Honor for his resolve in the Hilton, was much more appreciation of the moral reinforcement necessary to sustain self in this dire environment. He pushed renewed understanding of classical philosophies and other intellectual literature that underpins western liberal democracies. He placed this in the ciriculum of the Naval War College sometime after John must have written his paper.

Debate is the fundamental life blood of democracy.

McCain is pandering to those who would believe otherwise. He is their prisoner, still.

Posted by: Bill Keller | June 16, 2008 6:22 AM

The real problem is the so-called "Code of Honor" which establishes the standards for POW behavior. It was written because of the way our troops were treated when captured by the North Koreans (Chinese). It defines anything more than identifying yourself (rank, name, service number) as treason.
In actual practice this becomes a cross on which the captor can crucify our people. If the captor can get a POW to admit he is from Houston, then the code has been broken and it is merely a case of "in for a penny, in for a pound." The only section of the code that should be preserved is the prohibition against betraying fellow prisoners. We should inform the world that in order to preserve their lives and limbs we permit our people to say and do whatever is necessary and that the "confessions" and "atrocities" should be looked upon as the statements of people under extreme duress. Tactical intelligence about what is going on on the battlefield has a very short half-life. When someone goes missing under circumstances that make capture likely the command authority assumes that the enemy knows everything they know and makes adjustments to negate the value of that intelligence.
In these times there is very little personal information that the enemy can't find out by googling, so what is the point of making a captive undergo torture to preserve a worthless secret like his hometown or even his unit. Hell, most fighter pilots wear their unit patch on their chest pocket so the enemy doesn't even have to ask if they can read.

Posted by: Bob Vitray | June 16, 2008 9:35 AM

Look. I'm not calling McCain a Nazi but one cannot escape the conclusion that this is precisely the defense Nazi war criminals used in their trials at Nuremberg. Again, McCain seems to be infected with the notion that America is exceptional and that the exceptionalism implies that the rules established in the aftermath of the holocaust do not apply to us.

This is an insiduously dangerous view. Does John McCain actually believe that America could have bombed its way out of Vietnam if only those anti-war elements in this country could have been neutralized by essentially propagandizing our troops?

McCain is not George W. Bush. Bush was simply a gullible idiot who was easily manipulated into his committment to an unwinnable scenario. McCain is worse than Bush. He really does believe in this neoconservative voodoo. Bush only saw it as a way to get his insignificant hiney reelected. I would not at all be surprised to see him pick Joe Lieberman as his VP. Yet another gullible idiot.

Posted by: Jaxas | June 16, 2008 10:10 AM

I'll repeat what I said many times on the old Intel-Dump: The question of what to do in Iraq should serve regional US interests. Staying or withdrawing in a strategy, but what is the goal and how does it promote US interests? One gets the sense that on the question of Iraq McCain and Obama's positions are based more on domestic political calculations rather than a rational foreign policy vision. I'm still waiting for one of the candidates to explain their vision of the US role in the ME and precisely how their particular Iraq policy furthers that vision. Instead we get vague notions of "victory" from McCain and unsupported assertions from Obama that withdrawal will bring reconciliation. Consider me skeptical on both counts.

Posted by: Andy | June 16, 2008 10:23 AM

Bob Vitray: "The real problem is the so-called "Code of Honor" which establishes the standards for POW behavior. It was written because of the way our troops were treated when captured by the North Koreans (Chinese)."

Actually, Bob, it was titled "Code of Conduct" and came into being because of the considerable number of US POWs who "collaborated" or just gave up. Some simply rolled over and died. In short, it was not due to treatment, but the response to that treatment.

The notion was to have a code that would build the character and faith in country necessary to survive honorably in captivity. From it's promulgation in the 50's, following Korea, all serving members of the Armed Forces were to be able to recite it from memory. It was taught to new recruits and second lieutenants, and then refreshed annually in unit level training. Posters, with stirring pictures, were displayed in unit areas. I don't remember when it fell from use.

Many of us serving at that time were somewhat offended by it, seeing it more as internal propaganda than anything else.

Posted by: Aviator47 | June 16, 2008 10:46 AM

oh good idea, John, put a poltical officer with every platoon to monitor ideological purity within the ranks. That way, anyone who isn't on board with the philosophy espoused by the current commander in chief can be disciplined for their failings.
These Political Officers would report to a... oh lets call him a commissar at the battalion level who would monitor the ideological purity of the commanding officers as well as organize "reinforcement training" for the troops.
On the home front, the secret police can suppress dissent, round up ring leaders for shipment to secret prisons and insane asylums while shutting down dissenting press.
Sounds like a wonderful idea, Comrade, I'm surprised nobody ever thought of it before.

Posted by: dijetlo | June 16, 2008 11:01 AM


The Code of Conduct is still in active use. All enlisted and officers get training upon induction into the armed services and then refresher training is provided annually. This is also sometimes called SERE level A training. Level B expands the code of conduct to provide training and guidance in resistance techniques as well legal guidance on hostage and detainee situations. Level C is what pilots and special forces get through the "fun" of SERE school.

Posted by: Andy | June 16, 2008 11:30 AM

I am sorry so many of you have to suffer so. Living in the US is so difficult and any loyalty to it is to be inherently suspected.
gheezz!!!!!!!!!!! get you heads out of you asses and go home.

Posted by: raheggemann | June 16, 2008 12:02 PM

I really didn't think this argument was central to McCain's thesis, actually.

That said, however, one way in which the fact that he missed the late 60s was clear, on reading this, was the idea that what was needed was for the government to explain its policy to the troops. I don't think there was any absence of attempts to explain; the problem was that the government's explanations had lost all credibility.

Posted by: hilzoy | June 16, 2008 12:25 PM

The significant limitations of actual psychoanalysis are magnified manifold by psychoanalysis conducted at a distance and without direct access to the subject.

Then-Commander McCain's 1974 paper dealt explicitly with his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and is directly relevant to military policy with respect to personnel who might find themselves in a similar predicament. His views are interesting in that context. Those who seek in them some kind of key to his views on the Iraq war now are not engaged in analysis, or even interpretation. They are guessing, and in Philip Carter's case extrapolating from their guessing.

McCain's own record with respect to Iraq has numerous departures from "...unconditional, unwavering, unquestioning and blind support for the troops -- and the administration which sent them into war." His public statements about former Sec. Rumsfeld and at least one senior military officer closely associated with the Iraq war have sometimes crossed over the line into open contempt. The view of the Obama campaign, and coincidentally of some Obama supporters, is that none of this matters because McCain supports the policy being pursued in Iraq now. Psychological explanations of that support need not take into account McCain's earlier criticisms of administration policy in an election that is really about nothing less than the meaning of our Constitution and the future of independent thinking. Sure it is.

Evidently McCain's position on Iraq (maintain the effort in Iraq until conditions there improve enough to justify reducing it) is not different enough from Obama (reduce the effort in Iraq unless conditions there deteriorate enough to justify maintaining it) to be critiqued entirely on its own terms. It must be understood as a product of his experiences 40 years ago. To call this unpersuasive would be to indulge in conspicuous understatement.

Posted by: Zathras | June 16, 2008 12:36 PM

mad dog mc c ain's distorted view of reality as exposed in the war college paper should have caused his release from the military when it was written. given the fact that we now are able to view this fantasy novel for the first time, it is ample evidence that he should not be a senator let alone elected president.

Posted by: blue 111 | June 16, 2008 2:06 PM

I've always appreciated John McCain's straight talk. That doesn't mean I don't disagree with him or that I think I should not speak to my disagreements with him.

He has grown more frightening as he has campaigned. What is worrisome is that, still, over 40% of the American voters still feel enough connection to his stated beliefs, they will vote for him.

He is a warrior. For him going to war is the answer and his mind is closed to anything to American victory. He continues the Viet Nam War and wants to step back in time and win that one. He compares Al Qaeda to Nazi Germany. That's a stretch. And he compares our occupation in Iraq to our having a presence in Japan and Korea, etc. He has no sense of reality when he reviews for the public how we got to those places that we continue a presence and an influence. He's pathetic in his campaigning. He loses all sense of intellectual thinking and he's in with the politics of the past of "winning no matter the fictions you perpetrate."

He is another Bush with less a TV cowboy (pretend John Wayne) look but more of a hawk look (coming close to real Goldwater.)

The campaign to this date has proven McCain to be a threat to American security in the future.

Posted by: Ann Yurek | June 16, 2008 2:26 PM

I will take Sen John McCain's experience anyday over a phony such as Barack Obama, of whom has nothing of significance that would even suggest that his is qualified to hold the most powerful office in America and the world. He is however the first African-American to be the choice pick for the Democratic party elite. We should never base this election on race, or gender but on a candidate who has a record and has made sigificant contributions to this nation thought legislation and policy. A mover, and a shaker' I'm quite sure if elected Barack Obama's strings will be pulled by those who will lead him down the trail of a displaced and subdued America. Not a lot of choice this year for me, except Sen. McCain has earned his dues, and Sen Barack Obama has circumvented due process and is trying the 'shortcut. No NO NO!

Posted by: Margaret Hood | June 16, 2008 2:30 PM

Interesting article here, Mr.Carter.

McCain's thesis about why some American POWs collaborated with their North Vietnamese captors sound quite a bit like similar arguments made about why some Korean War American POWs collaborated with their Chinese and North Korean captors during that conflict.

Was McCain's thesis and those earlier ones true???

Perhaps, but I think probably only to a certain extent.

Either way, such lines of reasoning were used by segments of the American Right in the 1950s and '60s to essentially call for a far more authoritarian conception and practise in American politics and society, and also calumnnified those Korean War POWs, whether they'd collaborated with their captors or not.

Will have to read McCain's thesis, to which you've kindly provided the link, but am with you in saying that the conclusions McCain drew in those areas are perhaps both wrong and politically dangerous.

Posted by: Donald Rilea | June 16, 2008 2:42 PM

I am a WWII GI by Act of Congress.
The 2 things I learned are that a Democracy can only fight a defensive war and the "professionals" cannot make policy, nor can war be an extension of foreign policy in America.
McCann has never lived in the real world, son & grandson of military ewverything was always covered by the tax payers, housing,health care & food.
When he came home he wanted a new younger wife.

Posted by: Paul H Rivet | June 16, 2008 2:49 PM

I will wait for the articles that detail Obama's 20 year indoctrination in the Trinity United Church, Rezco, William Ayers (sp?) radical Chicago left wing nuttery.

McCain stands on a spine of steel forged in the hell of a prison camp where he was tortured. I have one thing to say to you lefties who dare to make assumptions about this man's character, you are a bunch of wimps who would be the first to fold under, oh probably five minutes of hard questioning, let alone five years of torture.

As Obama says everytime he throws another 20 year friend under the bus along with his grand mother (typical white person) "this is not the American I know"

There has to be old line Russian communists saying if we could have lasted 10 or 15 more years we could have rolled over these wimps.

Posted by: bobbymike | June 16, 2008 2:51 PM

The Presidency is not something to be earned by actions however heroic occurring decades ago. This is not a standard applied against any contender since Carter. It was not applied on behalf of HW against Clinton or McCain against W. It is a herring used on convenience. Presidential elections are competed upon our baser instincts - Economy, security, change and pathologies. McCain is working for the manipulation of pathologies cabal. He is their Trojan Horse. Heroics have long since been sold for New Mexican considerations like beer rights.

Posted by: Bill Keller | June 16, 2008 2:51 PM

The thesis implies that troops should be able to opt out of any war they don't believe in. (Assuming the proposed "training" doesn't convince them.)

I certainly agree with Zathras that this paper doesn't (necessarily) tell us anything about Mccain's ideas on the present war or future ones.

Posted by: rps | June 16, 2008 2:54 PM

Are there no POWs around, or still alive, that were held in the POW camp with McCain, they are certainly heros also. I haven't heard from any of them. How come?

Posted by: marg | June 16, 2008 2:59 PM

Is this the source of the foreign relation experience that John McCain has (and reminds of often) and Obama doesn't have? If it is, I'll go with Obama.

Posted by: Dave, Allentown,PA | June 16, 2008 3:09 PM


Thanks for the update. Went thru several SERE type programs over the years (USMC, SF and Aviation), but we weren't so elegant as to define "Levels". Ain't progress grand?


Posted by: Aviator47 | June 16, 2008 3:14 PM

Didn't the old Soviet Union squelch all decent and require complete acceptance and conformity to the government's mission? Yet, from building a modern economy to subjugating Afganistan, the Soviets failed utterly in virtually all their endeavors.

Why does McCain think that adopting the tactics of the Cold War losers will lead to victory?

Posted by: Gadfly47 | June 16, 2008 3:44 PM

The NY Times article portrayed two interesting aspects of John McCain's character: (1) No amount of pain or suffering will force him to compromise his love of America; (2) He is a forgiving person who will put behind him old wounds and move on to the future when it is to the benefit of the nation. These are obviously traits which are admirable and desirable in a President.

On the other hand, I was dismayed by the uselessness of enduring so much agony in defense of the US's clearly misguided policy [R. McNamara:"In Retrospect".] Those who collaborated with the meaningless Vietnamese propaganda machine and got home sooner had the opportunity to contribute to the nation in far more significant ways than enduring torture.

Posted by: Charles | June 16, 2008 4:09 PM

Egads, the war in IRAQ is an UNJUST war, period. People need to understand this basic premise.

We went to war in IRAQ for the vast oil fields over there. It's that simple.

Follow the money. Do you really think McCain cares about us or democracy? McCain is about money, power, and control -- period.

Posted by: Concerned and not Dumb! | June 16, 2008 4:31 PM

I hope Obama, whom I enthusiastically support, listens carefully to Carter, because Carter is right and McCain dead wrong. We were beaten in Viet Nam because the Viet Cong reflected their peoples' desire for freedom, and America represented continued Western control. Our cause was unjust; theirs was (at least to most Vietnamese), just. In Iraq our cause has been unjust and contrary to the wishes of the Iraqi people, and we stay mired down. If there were popular support for the Iraq war among Americans, we still could not win in the long run because we are fighting for our goals, not theirs. Both Vietnam and Iraq have shown the correctness of the Constitution: the people sometimes have greater wisdom than the power structure.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2008 4:42 PM

Let's compare his words from the past and ask about support for those troops today, given McCain's refusal to support the GI Bill.

Also ask yourself of this war, what is his definition of "winning"? I have yet to see in print or uttered from his or Bush's mouth how they determine when they have won.

Absent some goal how to you prepare to win?

Posted by: Paul Kruger | June 16, 2008 5:10 PM

A lot of people talk about war in Iraq, but it's shocking to see a virtual Iraq in the US.

I saw a documentary trailer about an Iraq training simulation facility right in California. I couldn't believe what I saw. I've seen plenty of films about Iraq taken in Iraq, but this is something about right at our home in the US!! It's called Full Battle Rattle:

Posted by: Matt | June 16, 2008 5:36 PM

Those who remember the discussion following the return of POW from Korea will recall the sense that, in many instances, those who were led to denounce the United States or their comrades were persuaded to do so by "interrogators" who capitalized upon their lack of knowledge of American political, social, or economic institutions and their lack of understanding of U.S. objectives in Korea. Assessments of contemporary high school (and college) graduates suggest that this ignorance is a continuing fundamental weakness.

Many of us who served in Vietnam accept criticism of the war and the national policy that led to it. However, we continue to reject the self-serving cowardly calumny heaped upon those who served by some of those in the "peace movement" who ran, rather than serve or accept the consequences of nonservice. While many in the current peace movement have at least become more politic than to call returning soldiers "baby killers," they're not all so circumspect. (Witness the "General Betray Us" advertisement.) What is "unjust" about overthrowing a gang of murderous thugs (Mr. Hussein, his sons, and his flunkies)? No, though the occupation has been terribly botched, the war was not "unjust."

I believe that Senator McCain is correct. Since the educational system is unable (or, worse, unwilling) to provide its graduates with an accurate, tough-minded and (yes) patriotic sense of American history and politics, the military owes this to them as citizens and soldiers. To do less is the psychological equivalent of sending them to war with no protective gear.

Posted by: Old Prof | June 16, 2008 6:31 PM

"McCain stands on a spine of steel forged in the hell of a prison camp where he was tortured. I have one thing to say to you lefties who dare to make assumptions about this man's character, you are a bunch of wimps who would be the first to fold under, oh probably five minutes of hard questioning, let alone five years of torture."

Sadly - and I guess this is something people like you don't quite understand - you can't judge a person entirely for what happened to them thirty years ago. Yes, he withstood torture. That was brave. But since then he has done many things that show him to be a man of a very flawed character.

Yep, I'm a leftie. And yes, I can judge that. Like it or not. Regardless of how long you think I can withstand torture (cute ad hominem, however.) Suggesting you can't criticize someone because they did something brave once, and that we should (I guess) just fall down at their feet worshiping them for that action is a fairly un-American attitude (though I'm sure it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside for bringing those cowardly, wimply commies, I mean "lefties" down a notch or two as you defend that brave and honorable and moral and hero of yore after they used such ignorant and cowardly tactics such as citing history and facts and actual statements to attack that man of American Joy. You've exposed us for what we really are!)

Though of course, I'm very confident that you wouldn't use the same argument for the "lefties" who withstood torture. But I guess you'd rather just wish all those types of lefties out of existence. (Or perhaps lefties can't judge the brave and strong - but righties can do it just fine, because their political ideology makes them brave and strong and of impeccable character, unwavering in the face of evil and the leftie threat, just like McCain.

Posted by: The One And Only | June 16, 2008 6:44 PM

>>>We were beaten in Viet Nam because the Viet Cong reflected their peoples' desire for freedom, and America represented continued Western control.

Off track, but bears correcting. The Viet Cong slowly ceased to exist after 1968. In the ensuing years the NV starved the VC because they realized they were making no progress and were in fact losing ground especially after TET. It wasn't the VC that overran SV and Saigon. It was the NVA regulars. There weren't any VC. Why were they regulars and why did they have such an easy time of it? Because Congress wouldn't fund any support. The Chinese were funding the NVA. Simple power relationship. Did we win? Is there a current communist threat to overrun the world? Would the fall of the Soviet Union happened without Vietnam? Does Islamofasicism carry the seeds of its own destruction? Interesting times.

Posted by: Panhandle Willy | June 16, 2008 8:00 PM

>>>We went to war in IRAQ for the vast oil fields over there. It's that simple.

This bromide is proven false everyday...but yet it still persists. Where is all this oil? If we went for the oil, how come it isn't here? How come we don't own the fields and aren't pumping them dry into tankers bound for the US? If we're only in it for the oil, how come we haven't fenced off the fields and surrounded them with soldiers and let the rest of the country do whatever? How come we're chasing down bad guys in Mosul and working with the tribes in the western desert where there is no oil? How come Iraqis are paying for cheap gas and we aren't?

Personally I'd love it if we were pumping the hole dry and storing the oil for later use here. It ain't happening so I guess 'we just did it for the oil' is way off.

Posted by: Panhandle Willy | June 16, 2008 8:09 PM

As an aviator faced with the prospect of assignment to Vietnam, I went to the USAF survival school during the 1960's. Part of the program consisted of a amassing significant fatigue followed by confinement in a mock prison camp with isolation, sensory deprivation and overload, mild physical abuse, and interrogation. Hardly terribly rigorous, you might say. But it certainly gives me the ability to guess at what John McCain endured, and to appreciate his conclusion that a captive who does not see a purpose in why he has been sent to war is less likely to resist co-operation with his captors. I don't think Mr. McCain's conclusion indicates some rigidity, much less some unreality, in his thought processes. As to McCain's position on remaining in Iraq "for a hundred years", he has never proposed that we FIGHT for 100 years. We have been in Iraq five years, half the length of the Vietnam war; we have lost 4000 soldiers in Iraq, versus 58,000 in ten years in Vietnam. We have to fight the terrorists somewhere; better to do it in Iraq and Afgahanistan than on US soil. In the five years of the war in Iraq, we have had no more terrorist attacks on American soil because we are fighting the bastards on Iraq's soil. We are nearing a conclusion in Iraq as it now stands; Iraq is asking the US to be an ally. This will help stabilize against incursions by Iran.

Posted by: justareader | June 16, 2008 8:13 PM

1. The Code of Conduct told us how we were expected to behave. A simple concept but one that lefties can't grasp because everything is relative to them.
2. The guerilla components, viet cong, were of little consequence after a very short period of time. Most of the heavy lifting was done by NVA regulars. The Republic of Vietnam held out for 2 years after we left and fell only we cut off funding for supplies while the NVA were supplied by the USSR up to and beyond the capitulation. Tanks are not a guerilla weapon and tanks were used in the fall of Saigon and the push south byt the NVA. Read a little and stop believing all the crap and disinformation.
3. The administration and the military may have botched the aftermath of the invasion but the idea that we went into Iraq for oil is absurd. We could much more expediently drill ANWAR and the Gulf of Mexico, oops, I forgot we need to preserve that "pristine" wasteland and it's perfectly ok for China to drill 90 miles off the coast of Florida but not us.
4. So it was unjust to rid a nation of a tyrant who thought nothing of killing children and raping daughters and wives in front of their husbands and children? The Iraquis cheered nus as we entered Baghdad, did you forget that? It may have been less than advisable to releive the Iraqui People of saddam and company but it was not unjust.
5. What exactly shows McCain to have a "flawed" character? Better look at Obama's lies and misdirection before you accuse McCain.

Posted by: wpapke | June 16, 2008 8:18 PM

Supporting the troops means getting them the proper body and vehicle armour. Giving them more financial support like Webbs GI Bill. Keep everything else out of it. It's not their choice whether they go to war or not or where they go to war now. I'm sure most of them would probably serve in Afghanistan and not Iraq. Their mission is a political decesion, at least Iraq war is a political decesion. Supporting the troops means taking care of them when they come home injured or with PTSD. Bush and McCain and failed miserably on these topics.

Posted by: Arny | June 16, 2008 8:41 PM

At least John McCain HAS a code of conduct in which he believes. Try getting that from the slithery Obama, whose supporters would have wet pants if they were yelled at much less captured prisoners who had to subscribe to a code of conduct. Clearly, those obamatrons who are posting can't seem to even understand the concept of a code, or honor or courage. No surprise there.

Posted by: Judy Gee | June 16, 2008 9:29 PM

I realise most posters haven't been around as long as whoever the "old prof" is; but all it takes to understand where he's coming from is a willinness to put aside time to read and [far more importantly] put aside our comforting prejudgments.

Name, rank and serial number limits to what you told your captors was standard practice in many armies long before some of your posters seem to imagine. The effectiveness of Korean brainwashing varied significantly from one nationality to another. It worked well on Americans, had a minimal effect on Australians, and was absolutely useless with Turks. What was the Korean's devilish tool? Lessons in [reasonably accurate] American domestic History. U.S. prisoners were shocked, even when the History was accurate. Australians [who had carried much more of the burden in the Sth Pacific in W.W. II until late 1943 and (in most cases) were hardly likely to be shocked by unpleasant aspects of U.S. domestic history] were largely immune. As for the Turks, what did they care about the unsavoury manner in which those 'wonderful' American philanthropists had actually accumulated their wealth?

I'd suggest anyone who doesn't believe that what an army feels about its own nation is important read military historian Eric Bergerud's account of U.S. forces in the South Pacific during W.W. II --- "Touched with Fire". It ended up a very different book from the one he set out to write, and if you're able to understand WHY this change occurred, you just might begin to comprehend how irrelevant the shibboleths employed by all sides in the current 'debate' really are.

First, however, we need to overcome the effects of cognitive dissonance which impair our ability to conduct rational analysis of ANY position dear to our self image. Sadly that's all too often a bridge too far, a process too painful for us to bear.

Posted by: Norman Hanscombe | June 16, 2008 10:18 PM

At least he has something to base his opinins on. Obama doesn't.

Also, McCain has something to base his ideas on to get over the hostilities and move on. Obama doesn't.

Posted by: Katherine | June 16, 2008 10:38 PM

McCAin will win in Novemember because he is a normal guy.

Obama is a strange man that was raised in Indonesia until he was 8 years old. His brother and sisters are practicing Muslims. Obama lived in Hawaii. He went to Columbia Univerisity and then Harvard.

Obama was a slumlord in Chicago and a drug dealer. His fund raisers are criminals like Syrian Tony Rezko, Iraqis Nadhmi Auchi and Alsammarrae who took billions from Saddam Hussein.

I am a devoted Democrat. It is my duty to vote for a true American. I am part African American and graduated from the same university as Obama.

Obama scares Americans like me and we are voting for McCain. He is imperfect and American.

Posted by: GRACE | June 16, 2008 10:46 PM

One cannot deny anyone--especially a man who faced the travails that McCain faced through no choice of his own-- his due respect and appreciation; and I certainly would not. But when he uses his Vietnam experience as the basis of his electability in 2008, the way Kerry did in 2004, he opens himself up...indeed he asks for....that which befell Kerry from the other people who suffered the same, if not more, at the hands of America's enemies in Vietnam. Yet I think it outrageous that a war of more than three decades ago should be used as a trophy by men seeking to command a current ongoing war. McCain would do better discussing Iraq in more depth rather than ride it as a vehicle to electability. Yes, Americans hate to lose...Yes, Americans should, if they don't, appreciate McCain's sacrifice as an aviator and POW. But no, that plus clap-trap about his photo-op Potemkin Tours of Baghdad do not add up to authority to take command. He will have to be more substantive or risk low-blow "Swift-boating" from some fellow POWs who will accept in silence anything but for McCain to use his POW days as a rite of passage to the Presidency. Nor does anyone accept his 5 1/2 years as a POW as military expertise. McCain's military expertise was academically-only acquired in the Naval Academy from where he graduated with a gentleman's pass (given his dad's name) for, as he himself admits, he was then not a very serious person, more gonadal than officer material. So now, as a much older man, McCain has nothing historical to offer as exclusive top-job qualification other than merely being three decades older than Obama.

That said, we all are ready to attentively listen to his views on our current wars-- the Iraq War, the Afghan War, the Mideast War and also the Iran War which he seeks to plunge us into....It is not because of his "military experience" (one acquires little of that as a POW) but because we assume that he acquired much maturity in a long life of political authority, period, that we are so ready to interview him so seriously for our highly prized votes. That means-- given the lower public approval of House and Senate than of Bush-- that he must show his stuff: is it the right stuff or is it just the Right-wing stuff to collar Bush's Rove-made base?

I welcome, not "town halls," but an open (uninterrupted by Narcissistic media) dialogue between McCain and Obama on where do we go next after President Dummy "decider" and VP ventriloquist leave the White House. They MUST REASON AND spin, no jingles...facts and reasoning-- GIVEN THAT...THEREFORE-- of what America would do next. That way, there's no trade of insult, no imputing character, no pretended expertise....only what, how and why, without the cheers of peanut galleries of chosen stooges from both sides. I know that it sounds Booooorrrriiiinnnggg, but I do think we owe seriousness to our dying and suffering sons in all these wars we are in and would be in. McCain/Obama, for the first time in recent history, face the actual generation that is supposed to save America from the mess my generation made so that the next generation after them can inherit something at least as good as the Great Generation of WWII bequeath to us. McCain's thesis quoted above seems to very much agree with what I'm requesting; but when he wrote that he wasn't a Wash DC politico running to move up in the political food chain. I'm ready to devote all my attention and all my maturity in open-mindedness to the dialogue. But we shouldn't allow it to be clouded up with my generation's war when Obama was just a little kid. We made that mistake in 2004 and our kids payed a heavy price for that. The issue is NOW and WHAT FOLLOWS, not Vietnam.

Posted by: DE Teodoru | June 16, 2008 11:13 PM

For his War Crimes he got what he deserved and should have gotten worse. If there is any justice he can re-live it next January, along with the Bush/Chany/Neo-con/Jews trying to ruin this country with thier talk of less Government Control. Who knows better than your leaders in our Democrat Party what is right for us to think, do and how to live and spend our hard earned money?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2008 11:38 PM

I'm seeing a great deal of reading between-the-lines here... Not surprisingly (or even wrongly), this is quite clearly on a partisan basis...

But the basic thesis seems sound: Let the people on the ground understand the WHY's of national policy that has them fighting a war. Hmmnnnn... Is there anything so wrong about this? A simple parallel, perhaps, but does anyone doubt that employees at a business cope better with company policies they may not like if they are treated like adults and at least told the reasons why? Same concept...

The only 'dangerous' element comes into play when we insist that they not only know WHY... but are forced or compelled to SUPPORT that point of view... and Mr. McCain acknowledges that danger in his paper, quite openly and honestly, as a potential pitfall...

This in turn has lead some readers to invoke Nazi Germany, etc. - as if McCain were suggesting that 'brain-washing' or forced compliance were GOOD things...

But, in reality, he merely points out that (1.) many will perform better if they UNDERSTAND their purpose, and (2.) that this does NOT mean that they should be coerced or forced to AGREE with it...

Good, sensible stuff... however horribly perverted by readers who read only whatever excerpts they can use for their own purposes...

Posted by: Jon | June 17, 2008 12:29 AM

To insulate against such doubts, he recommended that the military should teach its recruits not only how to fight but also the reasons for American foreign policies like the containment of Southeast Asian communism -- even though, Mr. McCain acknowledged, "a program of this nature could be construed as 'brainwashing' or 'thought control' and could come in for a great deal of criticism."

The weakness in McCain's premise is that not all service members will accept the reasons for a given foreign policy, just as a large number of the general citizenry did not accept the reasons for our involvement in Viet Nam. Where is the dividing line between a program intended to guide service members to accept a given conclusion, and a simply course in comparative foreign policy that allows one to make freely determined informed decisions?

McCain's thesis addresses the experiences of an extremely small portion of the military population, and an extremely smaller portion that provided political support to an enemy's propaganda effort. Is it in our national interest to "indoctrinate" every service member to achieve the purely political result a sitting administration sees as worthwhile? And, if a service member serves long enough, how many "education programs" must he or she endure as policies change?

Had political indoctrination been a part of the military experience during my time in service, I doubt I would have served for 35 years.

While I cannot accurately say what is at the emotional and intellectual root of McCain's ideas here, it can readily be construed as support for the supremacy of being a "True Believer". Such demagoguery is unsettling to me.

Posted by: Aviator47 | June 17, 2008 2:31 AM

"The real problem is the so-called "Code of Honor" which establishes the standards for POW behavior...

If the captor can get a POW to admit he is from Houston, then the code has been broken and it is merely a case of "in for a penny, in for a pound...

permit our people to say and do whatever is necessary and that the "confessions" and "atrocities" should be looked upon as the statements of people under extreme duress..."


Sorry, but you have no idea what you are talking about (you don't even know what it is called). And the last thing you ever want to do as a POW, hostage, etc, is to admit guilt, are you crazy???? Do you really want a service member on TV admitting to war crimes that he didn't do? Guess what happens when you admit to a war crime. YOU ARE A WAR CRIMINAL. Yep, that is how it works (no matter what the US Govt claims). And how is the US Govt supposed to bring you home once you've admitted a war crime (if it is even possible)? It is called significant political concessions, none of which would be necessary if you were simply a POW (under international law).

Here is a link, you can read it for yourself and determine if the only part that should be kept is remaining loyal to your fellow service members. It is a good link, it provides fairly good description of what each article means.

Posted by: bg | June 17, 2008 3:01 AM


While you know that I don't support either candidate, I feel you are being a bit unfair on McCain. What he wrote 30+ years ago, shortly after an extremely traumatic experience, should be looked at extremely carefully. I know that I've written things as recently as a year or two ago that today I regret, where my views have flip flopped 180 degrees. Surely, you have done the same since you started your blog.

However, I do think that what was written 30 years ago is fair game for questioning during a debate. But I don't think it is fair to assume the answers and condemn the man without giving him a chance to either change, amplify or qualify his statements.

Just because he concurs with people who feel that we could have won Vietnam, doesn't mean that he believes we " Should offer our unconditional, unwavering, unquestioning and blind support for the troops -- and the administration which sent them into war." I think you are making a bit of an unsubstantiated leap.

Posted by: bg | June 17, 2008 3:11 AM

"Should we offer our unconditional, unwavering, unquestioning and blind support for the troops -- and the administration which sent them into war?"

Well that depends on ones memory and ability to reason. For instance if one is able to believe Saddam was a cooperative tyrant throughout the nineties, who eagerly cooperated with UN Inspectors, then sure, turn your scorn to the war that forced him into compliance.

Also, if your reasoning abilities allow you to think a contained man would corrupt the UN Oil for Food Program, then sure, turn your scorn against the war that exposed that corruption.

Fortunately, there are still some of us who are grounded in reality and ignore duplicitous political posturing by democrats.

Posted by: Nate | June 17, 2008 8:14 AM

So if you admit to something before they beat the crap out of you, you are a war criminal; but if you hold out until you have been beaten so badly that you can no longer do your job then it is OK. Anyone can be broken, it is just a matter of technique. Informing our people about why we fight is good, but it requires that we have a good reason for fighting. We did in WWII. We do not in Iraq.

Posted by: Bob Vitray | June 17, 2008 8:36 AM

Senator McCain is an honorable man. He has served his Arizona constituency to the best of his ability according to his political convictions. However, if John McCain and his followers in the nominally Christian USA were half as forgiving as the Vietnamese people were of us after their "American War", he would never have gotten as far in the presidential campaign as he has today. This observation comes from living and working for four years with the Vietnamese people in Vietnam.

It's time for the neoconstipates to remove their heads from their own backsides and walk into the light. Welcome to a world liberated from the thoughts that prevented us from working together in a constructive manner and that is, instead, defining how we can better make our way towards a true and lasting peace between everyone on this planet.

Posted by: Tom Besson | June 17, 2008 10:44 AM

Posted by: John McCain campaigns in Little Saigon in 2000 | June 17, 2008 11:11 AM

In the run-up to the 2000 election, I would have voted for McCain over either Bush or Gore (and would have voted for Bill Bradley over any of them). McCain actually did a bit of straight talking back then and I was willing to overlook his role in the S&L scandal as one of the infamous "Keating five."

But it is difficult for me to overlook his repeated sucking up to George Bush even after Bush and Rove stuck a knife in his back in the 2000 South Carolina primary. Or his caving on the torture issue. Or his sponsorship of campaign finance reform followed by his gaming of that system in the current campaign. Or his lack of support for Webb's GI bill. Or his flip-flop on the immigration issue. Or the transparent attempt to conceal the bulk of his medical records by "releasing" 1500 pages of them on the Friday before MemorialD ay and imposing these restrictions on the release:

"On Friday, the campaign will allow a small pool of reporters access to the records from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Pacific time in a conference room at the Copper Wind Resort in Phoenix, near the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale. The reporters will be allowed to take notes but not remove or photocopy the records. Campaign officials said they were imposing the restrictions to prevent the actual records from wide dissemination."

The above paragraph is from a May 22nd NY Times story at:

And then there's the character issue, primarily what he did to his wife of many years after returning from Viet Nam. He reminds me of Newt Gingrich -- someone who thinks that character is important as long as it's someone else's character that's under discussion.

And here's an interesting article on McCain's military record:

While Phil Carter started this thread on the topic of McCain's NWC thesis (and bg made excellent points about why we should not view that thesis as the complete story of McCain's current views), all these other things -- medical condition, age, political career and character -- are fair game in a Presidential Election.



Posted by: almost drafted | June 17, 2008 11:29 AM


What the code of conduct does if give service members legal authority and restrictions. It does not say, "never talk", it says"resist to the upmost of your abililty" recognizing that every one has limits. But what they teach you is that if you submit to torture once, you will forever get the treatment. The code of conduct tells you how much you should have to take, and gives you legal authority to give up info, but you are still required to resist in any way possible to discredit the propaganda value. Please read the link I sent you, I think if you give it a chance you will find it is a good ( and proven) system.

Posted by: bg | June 17, 2008 1:50 PM

Said Margaret Hood: "I'm quite sure if elected Barack Obama's strings will be pulled by those who will lead him down the trail of a displaced and subdued America"

Both candidates are are advised on matters of import. The question is, who is whispering in their ears? Frankly, the people whispering in McCain's ear scare the bejeezus out of me - basically, its the same crowd who have been whispering in Bush's ear.

We are in dangerous waters. Not because we have enemies who wish to do us harm - America has always had enemies who wish to do us harm. But because American courage is failing - people are being presented with a false choice between liberty and security and, for perhaps the first time in American history, they are in large numbers choosing security. When Americans are no longer willing to die for liberty, liberty will die instead. Indeed this essay suggests to me as much as his current words do that McCain will not act to reverse that trend.

Posted by: patriot | June 17, 2008 6:56 PM

Panhandle Willy deflects the idea that Iraq is about oil by taking a literal view (we're not getting more oil now from them).

This is ultimately deceptive.

Follow the logic. BUsh says we went to war because Saddam was an evil dictator who murdered his own people. But we did not go to war in Rwanda or Burma or North Korea. What was different about Iraq? BUsh says we went to war because the people of Iraq deserved liberty. Why did they deserve it more than the people of North Korea or Tibet or Burma or...(fill in the blank). BUsh says we went to war because Iraq had or might have or maybe could have nuclear weapons. So why didn't we go to war with North Korea, or Pakistan (where by the way, Bin Laden was actually hiding)or Russia, or China (who, by the way, also suppress liberty)?

In short, what makes Iraq different from the other nations who have evil leaders who suppress liberty, commit genocide, have nuclear weapons, etc?

Their political unrest doesnt' threaten our oil supply.

Location location location. If the slaughter in Rwanda threatened our oil supply, you think we would have stood by twiddling our thumbs while millions died?

Posted by: patriot | June 17, 2008 7:11 PM

John Stuart Mill wrote in "Utilitarianism" that the purpose of society is to ensure the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people. Society achieves this by amassing opinions from a wide variety of sources. This implies not that citizens should distrust their government but that the government should consider a wide range of opinions and ideas about how to achieve a certain goal or policy. This is in direct contradiction to Bush's go-it-alone style that emphasizes loyalty to an opinion, even if it isn't correct or wise. McCain should look to the philosophy of J.S. Mill if he wants to win more than 200 electoral college votes this fall.

Posted by: Jim | June 18, 2008 12:58 PM

i think mccain is right, that divided support could have caused problems for theprisoners and troops, but to me this does not mean that dissenters are unpatriotic or causing problems.

What this means to me, and we see it in Vietnam and now, is that our politicians have chosen to go to a war that is not clearly in defense of home and hearth, but rather for political purposes that are open to debate and far from clearly just.

as a result, debate ensues. For politicians to say we should give unquestioning loyaty to their war because it is a war is to try to use war to achieve political victory and shut down dissent. It is, in a very scary way, the ultimate proof of the failure of our politicians to lead the country well and only go to war when absolutely necessary.

It is, in short, proof that our politicians have failed us. If this war were really about defending the country, intelligent people would see it as such and defend it.

Posted by: charlie | June 18, 2008 5:32 PM

>>>Their political unrest doesnt' threaten our oil supply.

Iraq has never had a significant share of our oil supply--even before the invasion. Therefore Iraq was not a threat to our oil supply. Since we still don't get oil from Iraq...then we haven't 'fossily' benefitted from the invasion. So your point is not supported by the facts you claim in your favor.

>>>Location location location. If the slaughter in Rwanda threatened our oil supply, you think we would have stood by twiddling our thumbs while millions died?

We were already tied up militarily in two places (actually 5 if you count Korea, Europe, Balkans). The short answer to that is we were busy...militarily. Diplomatically we were trying hard to get somebody else to go in and do it...didn't work. Again, you fail to see reality and keep grasping for the kool-aid.

Posted by: Panhandle Willy | June 18, 2008 9:09 PM

>>>McCain should look to the philosophy of J.S. Mill if he wants to win more than 200 electoral college votes this fall.

Not just McCain...Obama and everyone else could do with a good re-read of JS Mill...especially 'On Liberty.'

Posted by: Anonymous | June 18, 2008 9:12 PM

>>>For his War Crimes he got what he deserved and should have gotten worse. If there is any justice he can re-live it next January, along with the Bush/Chany/Neo-con/Jews trying to ruin this country with thier talk of less Government Control. Who knows better than your leaders in our Democrat Party what is right for us to think, do and how to live and spend our hard earned money?

Whoever you are...I would pay to take a guided tour around your brain.

Posted by: Panhandle Willy | June 18, 2008 9:14 PM

>>>Informing our people about why we fight is good, but it requires that we have a good reason for fighting. We did in WWII. We do not in Iraq.

On the contrary...we have many good reasons for fighting in Iraq (even though we need to start winding this up).

We rid Iraq (and the world) of a really bad guy who had his two, even worse, offspring in line to duke it out after him.

We drew huge numbers of terrorists into a fight that has killed most of them...on somebody else's shores.

We highlighted how evil Al Qaeda really are...such that instead of inspiring a world-wide idolatry, they now are recognized and reviled for the murderous zealots they are...which has lead to their defeat nearly everywhere they had support. Even the Saudi government recognized them for what they are and has tracked down and killed them wholesale.

We did liberate the Shiite majority in Iraq to become full partners in a future Iraqi government. If this means more Iranian be it.

Your opinion that we don't have a good reason to fight does point out President Bush's complete failure to get the message out forcefully and frequently. I believe this is a symptom of his complete inability to speak in front of a crowd. The message was/is strong...the messenger was weak.

Posted by: Panhandle Willy | June 18, 2008 9:33 PM

I agree with Charlie. If our government took care to fight wars that were actually essential to our survival as a nation, most citizens would be willing to give their lives to ensure victory. The onus is on the politicians to make sure that wars are not fought for ideological reasons that have only a weak connection to reality (which in my view was the case with Viet Nam and with Iraq; the war in Afganistan, on the other hand, seems to be based in a real threat to the US). H. Ross Perot often said "Commit the people before you commit the troops". If the people understand and support the war, then we will fight it organically and we will win. If the people don't support the war, then the chances of success for everyone (including POWs) is much less. Indeed, even the definition of "success" is unclear. So in a sense, McCain is right. If the reasons for the war are persuasive, then everyone, including the troops, should understand those reasons, and the resulting sense of purpose will be invaluable in confronting the sacrifices that must be made. If the reasons are not persuasive, then indoctrination may help in the short term, but in the long term it will lead to disillusionment, contempt, and a weakening of the United States. Unfortunately, I have lived to see this happen because of both Vietnam and Iraq.

I agree also with those who are asking for a clear statement of the strategic role of the US in Iraq. What are our goals ("victory" is not very precise)? If we understood those, perhaps the strategy and tactics would become much clearer. I think that the US population wants to understand this more than anything, and the candidate who articulates this well will deserve to win.

Posted by: Tom Dietterich | June 18, 2008 10:20 PM

McCain was absolutely right in the need for U.S. service personnel to have a strong grounding in American institutions, history and governing philosophy. Such troops would also be considered less likely to fall prey to the machinations of hostile interrogators should they become prisoners. Further, such troops make better soldiers. In an era where young people DON'T grow up knowing these things, such troops would actually be unwelcome to far too many senior military officers and their civilian superiors because such troops might actually ask some embarrassing questions. "Why" is one of the most powerful words in the English language, and it's one that too many military officers don't like.

Unfortunately, IMO, McCain went round the bend years ago, a factor that makes just about all of the rest of his thesis a bunch of meaningless pap. The unwitting irony in his ideas is that intelligent and informed review on the part of a truly thinking populace and military would consign the rest of his simplistic prescriptions to the trash bin post haste.

"Unwitting" is a good descriptor for McCain. Right along with devious, sycophantic and authoritarian. And unstable.

All in all, a fine choice for 21st century America.

Posted by: Publius | June 19, 2008 8:57 PM

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