John McCain, former POW

His prison camp experience was honorable, but it hasn’t prevented him from acting dishonorably since.

Years ago, I heard two horseplayers talking about a race where one of them had won money by betting on a horse whose grandsire was a locally famous champion. “How could you bet against a grandson of Ovation?” demanded the winner. The loser replied, “He was a grandson of Ovation last week, wasn’t he? And he ran dead last.”

I think of that conversation every time the McCain campaign plays the POW card. “He couldn’t have cheated on the Saddleback rules; he’s a former POW.”

Yes, McCain is a former POW.

McCain was a former POW when he cheated on his wheelchair-bound wife and then dumped her for the younger, prettier, able-bodied heiress to a beer fortune.

McCain was a former POW when he voted with the Naval brass and bureaucracy and against the national security by opposing the Goldwater-Nichols military reform bill.

McCain was a former POW when he helped Charles Keating (who was partnered with McCain’s wife and father-in-law on a real estate deal) bilk the taxpayers out of $3.2 billion.

McCain was a former POW when he illegally made public a serivceman’s psychiatric records because the serviceman had reported the misconduct of McCain’s friend John Tower.

McCain was a former POW when he said (as a “joke,” of course) “You know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly? Because Janet Reno’s her father.” And he was still a former POW when he apologized to Bill Clinton but not to Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, or Janet Reno.

McCain was a former POW when he screamed an obscenity at his wife in public.

McCain was a former POW when he showed a profile in cowardice over the Confederate flag issue in South Carolina.

McCain was a former POW both when he denounced the “agents of intolerance” and when he embraced them.

McCain was a former POW when he denounced Swiftboating and attack ads, and remains a former POW as he embraces them.

McCain was a former POW both when he surrounded himself with lobbyists and when he denounced lobbyists as “birds of prey.”

McCain was a former POW when he reversed his positions on abortion, tax cuts for the rich, and immigration reform.

The lies of John McCain, the evasions of John McCain, the bad temper of John McCain, the senior moments of John McCain, the self-righteousness of John McCain, and the overwhelming ambition of John McCain are the lies, evasions, bad temper, senior moments, self-righteousness, and overwhelming ambition of a former POW. So what?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: