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John McCain - Republican U.S. Senator from Arizona

John Sidney McCain was born in a Naval hospital on August 29, 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone. Following in his father’s and grandfather’s tradition of honor, McCain went to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis at age 17. McCain graduated in 1958, and soon started training to become a Naval aircraft carrier pilot. To keep with the family wartime tradition, McCain requested to go to Vietnam.

The Forrestal Disaster

McCain became Lieutenant Commander aboard the USS Forrestal, which was stationed off the coast of Vietnam. On July 29, 1967, as McCain was preparing to take off, a missile in a plane along side his accidentally fired. The fuel tanks on McCain’s plane were hit. McCain managed to climb on to the nose of his plane and drop to the deck. McCain was blasted several feet when eventually more bombs exploded. There is a video of the event, and it is truly amazing to see a future Senator climb from a burning plane. After a full day of fighting the fire, 134 were dead, it was recorded as the worst non-combat-related accident in American Naval history.

Although McCain was offered a trip home after the disaster, he wanted to stay. He transferred to the USS Oriskany.

The Hanoi Hilton

Three months after the Forrestal disaster, McCain went on his 23rd bombing mission into North Vietnam. His target was a power plant deep into Hanoi. McCain’s right wing was ripped off by a surface-to-air, and McCain ejected. He was badly injured, both arms were broken, as well as one leg. McCain landed in a lake and angry mob dragged him out. The mob beat him, breaking his shoulder and stabbing him with bayonets.

McCain was delivered to the “Hanoi Hilton” (a Vietnamese POW camp) and was denied medical treatment. Although his condition was deteriorating, his fellow POW’s managed to slowly improve his health with care.

A few months after McCain was captured, his father, Admiral Jack McCain, was appointed commander of all U.S. forces located in the Pacific. In an effort to look compassionate, the North Vietnamese offered McCain an early release. In a most chivalrous manner, McCain refused, citing a code of conduct that POW’s should be set free in the order that they are captured. McCain was so set in his decision that he denied the offer even while being beaten.

John McCain spent five years as a prisoner of war, two of which he spent in solitary confinement.

The End of the War

McCain was released with over 600 other POW’s in 1973. McCain went through long and intense physical rehabilitation to regain his flight status. McCain became a Captain and appointed to be the Navy’s liaison the U.S. Senate. He then met his wife, Cindy Hensley, they were married and moved to Arizona.


Always willing to serve his country, McCain became a candidate for the Arizona House position in 1982. McCain worked harder than his opponents and campaigned nonstop. McCain won the election and made it a practice to return home to Arizona every weekend. McCain’s devotion to his state won his reelection.

In 1986, Barry Goldwater retired from the U.S. Senate, and McCain was elected as his successor. McCain was in line with Goldwater’s tradition of independence and plain-talk conservatism. McCain was reelected in 1998 with 70% of the vote, garnering even 40% of Democrats.


McCain retains typical conservative polices, fighting for smaller national government and lower taxes. Pro-small business and opportunity. Unlike some, McCain acts on his polices, which earned him the nickname “The Sheriff.” McCain wishes to get rid of both the death and marriage taxes. He also prides himself on protecting children, whether it be from internet porn, or giving them the education they deserve.

McCain believes most strongly that nothing can take place before campaign and finance reform.

Despite his amazing repertoire, some do criticize McCain for his “moderate Republican” views, which leave him with two wings at his throat.

Election Results

    1998 General
  • John McCain(R) 696,577 68.7%
  • Ed Ranger (D) 275,224 27.2%
  • John C. Zajac (LIBERT) 23,004 2.3%
  • Robert "Bob" Park (REF) 18,288 1.8%

    1998 Primary
  • John McCain (R) unopposed
    • Previous Winning Percentages
    • 1992 Senate Election 56%
    • 1986 Senate Election 61%
    • 1984 House Election 78%
    • 1982 House Election 66%

Works Cited:

Encyclopedia Britannica Online. (www.eb.com)
Senator John McCain. (http://mccain.senate.gov/biography.htm)
Senator John McCain. (http://www.senate.gov/~mccain/bio.htm)
Straight Talk America. (www.straighttalkamerica.com)

Republican US senator from Arizona; good people. His POW horror-stories from Vietnam prove neither side was Good. A rare quixotic man in Washington, DC: he (with Russ Feingold) has been trying to get real campaign finance law reform, honest penance for having been mired in Keating Five scandalia. A former boxer, he is also trying to reform the boxing industry. Good luck. Now jumps through hoops in The Money Primary. Good luck. Shunning the Iowa Straw Poll showed class.

The one candidate in the [2000 -ed.] US presidential election that would have actually changed things for the better. Unfortunately, he's not running anymore. I'll vote for him anyway.

He also was the only major candidate not afraid to express what he really thinks. George W. Bush seems to change his political affiliations weekly. I can't say I know his stances. Al Gore used to be a pro-life tobacco farmer before he realized he would never get Democratic votes that way. Both of them are really sad. They just pander to the masses instead of standing up for true beliefs.

That being said, at least Bill Clinton will be gone. Unfortunately, neither of these two clowns are the kind of man that will be able to bring back any sense of honor to the White House.

Thank you for trying, John McCain. Unfortunately no one feels ready for real change.

Update: Since ending his campaign, McCain has gone certifiably insane in an attempt to hold on to the attention of the media. I can't say I like that part of the man. His Cromwellian campaign against corruption is beginning to eat itself. Well, it was fun while it lasted. I wound up voting for Bush, once McCain threw his support behind him.

    Declining to offer details about his misspent youth, George W. Bush commented,
    "When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible."

    His Republican presidential rival John McCain takes a slightly different tack:
    "Let me tell you about when I was young and irresponsible."

Fortunately I was spared the assault of the media portraying the plights of the American POW’s in Iraq. Personal experience tells me it surprises many to know that those who were raised in khaki suffer painful memories from the many-sided and diverse shocks brought about by war. Fathers, brothers, best friends and boyfriends who one week lived up the street or rode school buses playing pranks slipping silly little love notes in a girl's notebook were suddenly dead eight days later blown to bits and pieces while sleeping in a bunker half way around the world. His kid sister Nancy Cryderman's hysterical screams ringing off the locker-filled high school hallways shattering the noisy buzz and hum into an all too familiar brittle silence will shriek in many minds for decades.

In the course of my lifetime, John McCain stands out far and above most men as embodying the true spirit of an American hero because of his extraordinary frankness and independence. His book Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir (1999) reveals a genuine expression of a remarkable personality:

    McCain followed in his father's and grandfather's footsteps in more ways than one. He, too, finished in the bottom tier of his class, graduating 894th out of 899 in the class of 1958. It was not that he was such a poor student; his rebellious streak saw him rack up demerit after demerit, but always short of the number to be kicked out.
    "I hated the place, but I didn't mind going there," he said.

    When he graduated, the academy superintendent told his father that McCain was one of his two biggest disappointments at the academy. But the younger McCain, too, was to prove that you do not have to graduate at the top of your class to become successful in the navy.
    "I'm the guy that stood fifth from the bottom of his class," he would say years later.
    "If my old company officer had contemplated that I would make a serious bid for the presidency of the United States, he would have probably had either me or himself committed."
    (Excerpt University of Arizona Press, paraphrased)

The Faith of My Fathers novel spans his vocations in relation to the Naval Academy, Vietnam, and the Reagan era. McCain scrutinizes his personal history in the more private context of his family's military tradition ending in 1973 when the POWs returned home. Since then this defiant character has considerably enlivened Republican politics. He has since followed up with his most recent book Worth the Fighting For: What I've Learned from Mavericks, Heroes, and Politics (2002). He lists other individualists who have motivated him through the years — Ted Williams, Theodore Roosevelt, farsighted aviation proponent Billy Mitchell, Marlon Brando in Viva Zapata! , and, most lastingly, Robert Jordan. It was Jordan, Hemingway’s central character in For Whom the Bell Tolls, who showed McCain the ideals of “heroism and sacrifice, stoicism and redemption, and why certain causes, despite the costs, are . . . worth the fighting for " Writes McCain: “A rebel without a cause is just a punk. Whatever you’re called—rebel, unorthodox, nonconformist, radical — it’s all self-indulgence without a good cause to give your life meaning.” In addition to his books Senator John McCain has delivered a number of memorable speeches in many arenas across the United States. Many of his speeches have been added by Ahab to the database that you may be interested in reading:

  • John McCain speech on Religious Right: Delivered on February 28, 2000 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Irate with the Christian Coalition McCain coins a new phrase ….
      "political intolerance by any political party is neither a Judeo-Christian nor an American value. The political tactics of division and slander are not our values.

  • John McCain on Bill Clinton's Legacy: A signature quote cited in the July 2000 issue of Esquire Magazine predicting the historical assessment of the Clinton presidency:
      "I think historians will look at Bill Clinton with puzzlement and make the following judgment: that it was a great waste."

  • Opening Statement on Campaign Finance Reform by Senator John McCain: Delivered to the United States Senate on March 19, 2001. McCain spearheaded a 6½-year effort on campaign finance reform. On March 27th, 2002 President Bush quietly signed a bill overhauling campaign finance regulations, prompting immediate lawsuits by conservatives claiming the new law unconstitutional.
  • Closing Statement on Campaign Finance Reform by Senator John McCain: In Washington DC on April 2, 2001 Senator McCain applauded the final vote and successful passage of the 2001 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.
  • John McCain's Commencement Speech to the VMI Class of 2001: McCain defines his ideas of national loyalty for graduates of the Virginia Military Institute on May 19, 2001:
      "Patriotism is a thing best taught by example…In America our rights come before our duties, as well they should. We are a free people, and among our freedoms is the liberty to care or not care for our birthright. But you know, as well I, that those who claim their liberty but not their duty to the civilization that ensures it live a half-life, having indulged their vanity and self-interest at the cost of their self-respect The richest man or woman, the most successful and celebrated of our citizens possess nothing of any real value if their lives have no greater object than themselves. They may be masters of their fate, but what a poor destiny it is that claims no higher cause than wealth and fame."

  • John McCain's Commencement Speech to the University of Pennsylvania Class of 2001: Titled Confronting Challenges it was the Commencement Address delivered to the graduating student body at the University of Pennsylvania on May 21st, 2001 openly forthright he encourages them that opportunity is at hand. Make the most of it:
      "All of you will eventually face a choice, earlier in life than you might now presume about whether you will become leaders in our society, in commerce, industry, government, the arts, religion, the military, or any integral part of our civilization. Or will you allow others to assume that responsibility while you attempt to reap the blessings of a prosperous country without meaningfully contributing to its advancement. …
      Once in a great while a person is confronted with a choice or a dilemma, the implications of which are so profound that its resolution might affect your life forever…
      You might think that I am now going to advise you not to be afraid to fail. I'm not. Be afraid. Failing stinks. . . . Just don't stop there. Don't be undone by it. Move on. Failure is no more a permanent condition than is success. "Defeat is never fatal,"Winston Churchill observed. "Victory is never final. It's courage that counts." …
      As blessed as we are, as empowered by liberty as we are, no nation complacent in its greatness can long sustain it. We are an unfinished nation. And we are not a people of half-measures."

  • John McCain on the Israeli - Palestinian Conflict: Published in the Rolling Stone magazine on Sept. 27, 2001. During an interview by Paul Alexander a few weeks prior to the 9/11 attack McCain discussed the actions of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton recognizing that the situation between Palestine and Israel was growing increasingly dire wonders:
      "But what are the options? More pizza parlors being blown up by terrorists, or basically separating the two sides? It's a very intractable situation. But I don't think, if Canadian citizens were coming into Niagara Falls and blowing up pizza parlors, that the American people would be very tolerant of the situation."

  • Senator John McCain's Statement Concerning the Terrorist Attack on the World Trade Center: Delivered to the United States Senate on September 12, 2001 in response to the events of the preceding day, September 11, 2001.
      "Let us go to our allies, all of our allies, to ensure them of our resolve and to enlist them in this war against our shared values and security. The Atlantic Charter claims an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all NATO members. We will expect our allies in NATO, Asia and elsewhere to respond to this attack on us as we would respond to an attack on their territory."

  • John McCain's Eulogy In Honor of Mark Bingham: Given September 22, 2001 in San Francisco, California as part of a memorial service for 31 year old Mark Bingham who died in the crash of United Flight 93 and believed to be one of the passengers who prevented the plane from being used in a terrorist attack on Washington DC :
      "I love my country, and I take pride in serving her. But I cannot say that I love her more or as well as Mark Bingham did, or the other heroes on United Flight 93 who gave their lives to prevent our enemies from inflicting an even greater injury on our country."

  • John McCain's Forrestal Lecture Series Remarks at the U.S. Naval Academy: McCain explains to the Brigade of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy on October 9, 2001:
      "The Taliban and Al Queda are not legitimate representatives of that country, they are terrorists, period, who represent evil, not nations. But whatever this war's unique attributes, it is war nonetheless, and like all wars it will require sacrifice and hardship and casualties. And like all wars it will occasion great heroism."

  • John McCain's Speech to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee: On April 23, 2002 he talks to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference about his views on the situation in the Middle East.
      " Unfortunately, when it comes to advocating freedom and opportunity in the Arab world, our values know few champions. In the monarchies and dictatorships of the Middle East, cynicism is the essence of statecraft. Americans find ourselves handicapped in our Middle East diplomacy by a native regard for moral clarity."

McCain is only just tolerated by his party's leadership, and by a hair's breadth does he conceal his disdain for Trent Lott and Mitch McConnell. He has broken with his contemporaries over campaign-finance reform, over legislation to punish cigarette makers, and over corporate welfare. Bob Dole once said of him, "You spend five years in a box and you're entitled to speak your mind.”

The Vietnam War splintered a generation. It created a gulf within that may never be bridged. John McCain in prison established an inner strength that few possess. After half a decade as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, he returned and built a remarkable political career, with a particularly fascinating maverick-like quality that appeals to many. As a senator he was one of the leaders in bringing about the US diplomatic recognition of Vietnam. What one learns most deeply is usually what one does not know they are learning at all. Senator McCain has delivered versions of a compelling and timeless story as a personal source of strength and conviction. It's the account of Mike Christian, a Navy navigator who had been shot down in Vietnam six months before McCain. Using a needle crafted from bamboo Mike took scraps of colored cloth to sew an American flag inside his shirt. McCain has related this story in the History Channel's "Prisoners of War: Code of Conduct" series, retold it several times at speeches given along the campaign trail during 1999-2000. It appears on line under various titles "Pledge of Allegiance", "What so Proudly We Hail" and "Duty, Honor, Country." It's interesting to note that the earliest recorded citation of his speech is August 15, 1988 -- well before the terrorist attacks and the "under God" debate currently making its way through the American judicial system. The one cited here was delivered to an audience of the Labetti Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Staten Island, New York on November 1st 1999.

    "As you may know, I spent five and one half years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. In the early years of our imprisonment, the NVA kept us in solitary confinement or two or three to a cell. In 1971 the NVA moved us from these conditions of isolation into large rooms with as many as 30 to 40 men to a room. This was, as you can imagine, a wonderful change and was a direct result of the efforts of millions of Americans on behalf of a few hundred POWs 10,000 miles from home.

    One of the men who moved into my room was a young man named Mike Christian. Mike came from a small town near Selma, Alabama. He didn't wear a pair of shoes 'til he was 13 years old. At 17, he enlisted in the US Navy. He later earned a commission by going to Officer Training School. Then he became a Naval Flight Officer and was shot down and captured in 1967.

    Mike had a keen and deep appreciation of the opportunities this country - and our military - provide for people who want to work and want to succeed. As part of the change in treatment, the Vietnamese allowed some prisoners to receive packages from home. In some of these packages were handkerchiefs, scarves and other items of clothing.
    Mike got himself a bamboo needle.

    Over a period of a couple of months, he created an American flag and sewed it on the inside of his shirt. Every afternoon, before we had a bowl of soup, we would hang Mike's shirt on the wall of the cell and say the Pledge of Allegiance. I know the Pledge of Allegiance may not seem the most important part of our day now. But I can assure you that in that stark cell it was indeed the most important and meaningful event.

    One day the Vietnamese searched our cell, as they did periodically, and discovered Mike's shirt with the flag sewn inside, and removed it. That evening they returned, opened the door of the cell, and for the benefit of all of us, beat Mike Christian severely for the next couple of hours. Then, they opened the door of the cell and threw him in. We cleaned him up as well as we could. The cell in which we lived had a concrete slab in the middle on which we slept. Four naked light bulbs hung in each corner of the room. As I said, we tried to clean up Mike as well as we could. After the excitement died down, I looked in the corner of the room, and sitting there beneath that dim light bulb with a piece of red cloth, another shirt and his bamboo needle, was my friend, Mike Christian.

    He was sitting there with his eyes almost shut from the beating he had received, making another American flag. He was not making the flag because it made Mike Christian feel better. He was making that flag because he knew how important it was to us to be able to pledge our allegiance to our flag and country.

    So the next time you say the Pledge of Allegiance, you must never forget the sacrifice and courage that thousands of Americans have made to build our nation and promote freedom around the world.
    You must remember our duty, our honor, and our country.

      'I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all'

Duty. Honor. Country. We must never forget the thousands of Americans who, with their courage, with their sacrifice, and with their lives, made those words live for all of us.

A moment of time can be an unpredictable voice whether it is assent, dissent or undecided. Writer Dorothy Bernard said it this way: “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” A moment of time --a moment of faith-- can be a thing too, of course and so it can also stitch significance together. McCain’s succinct point is that “by acting honorably upon inner convictions, there will be no need to worry about freedom. “


Arizona Politicians. Excerpt. University of Arizona Press:

Special Operations.Com:

Campaign Book Report: John McCain:

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