In a C-Span Interview which aired on Sunday evening, Senator John McCain took a long-overdue jab at President Donald J. Trump’s evasion of military service during the Vietnam War. McCain is the son of and grandson of four star admirals in the United States Navy. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He went on to complete his flight training and qualified as a combat pilot.
Combat Duty and Captivity in Vietnam
In 1967, McCain requested a combat assignment and served aboard the USS. Forrestal. On July 29, 1967 there was a fire aboard the vessel which caused a massive explosion. Lieutenant Commander McCain was in close proximity to the blast and was wounded in the legs and chest by shrapnel. When the blast occurred, he had been trying to assist another pilot’s extraction from a burning aircraft. For this act of valor, he was decorated, receiving a Bronze Star and Navy Commendation Medal.
With the Forrestal out of commission, McCain volunteered for assignment aboard the USS Oriskany, an aircraft carrier participating in Operation Rolling Thunder. During the course of his twenty-third bombing mission over North Vietnam on October 26, 2017 Lieutenant Commander McCain was shot down and captured by enemy forces. He had been severely wounded when he crashed and the two American POWs who shared a cell with him during the initial stage of his captivity later said they had not expected him to live through the week.
Upon discovering that McCain was the son of a high-ranking U.S. military commander, the North Vietnamese decided to administer medical care, keeping him alive for later potential propaganda use. In March of 1968 he was placed in solitary confinement, where he would remain for over two years. During his captivity, he was tortured repeatedly. When offered early release for propaganda purposes, McCain refused to leave his comrades-in-arms behind and opted to remain a POW.
In March of 1973, after five years as a prisoner-of-war, McCain was released by the North Vietnamese. His wartime injuries left him permanently disabled, though he remained a Naval Officer until 1981 when he retired from service. In every sense of the word, Captain McCain was and remains a true American hero.
President Trump’s Continual Maligning of Senator McCain
Infamously, while Trump was on the campaign trail he noted, in reference to Senator McCain, that he preferred soldiers who didn’t get captured. Rightfully, veterans around the country were filled with rage over the remark. McCain gave over 20 years of life in service to country, was decorated for his service, and suffered terribly during the war. The son and grandson of war veterans, he haled from a family where service and sacrifice were synonymous.
In contradistinction, our current Commander-in-Chief comes from a very different family. His grandfather, Friedrich Trump, returned to his native Germany in 1905 and attempted to reinstate his German citizenship after having been absent in the United States for a number of years. His petition was denied and he was given eight weeks to leave the country or be deported. The reason for this forced departure? Friedrich had previously evaded mandatory military service and had fled to the United States.
Our current President’s father, Fred Trump, was hauled before Congress during the WWII era and questioned for profiteering in the provision of housing for combat veterans at his Beach Haven properties. In what may now truly be deemed a family tradition, Fred also evaded military service–of course. He did, however, net a cool 1.7 million dollars plus additional commissions and fees for his epic real estate profiteering scam during the war. He also availed himself of an additional 3.7 million in federal loans. President Eisenhower referred to Trump and his ilk, specifically, as “sons of a bitches”.
President Trump has continually maligned Senator McCain. Think about it: On the one hand you have a family of generational draft-dodgers of who recognize no apparent ethical or moral standards of conduct. On the other hand, a family of those who have given their lives in service. Trump has no business questioning the patriotism of Senator McCain, period, and every single veteran in this great country should reject and revile Trump’s comments.
In the Family Tradition, Trump Sat and Talked While Others Served
Carrying on a grand family tradition of ducking service to country, young Donald Trump took four draft deferments during the Vietnam War before finally getting an exemption from service for bone spurs. His bone spurs didn’t stop him from participating heavily in a variety of athletic activities while at University. Now, many have noted that it was a common practice for sons of the wealthy to obtain exemptions from service during Vietnam, which is true. Yet, how many of those so exempted from service have gone on to lecture real war heroes about the meaning of service?
The perfect illustration of just how big of a scum-bag our current President is in this domain is the remarks he made in an interview noting that sex during the eighties represented his “personal Vietnam”. What more revealing look into what a scurrilous cad he really is might one require?
President Trump’s attacks upon a number of Gold Star families who have called him out for his dishonorable conduct and his treatment of them. Could there possibly be a Commander-in-Chief less worthy of our collective respect than Donald J. Trump?
The Enormous Restraint of Senator McCain in the Face of a True Cowardice
Imagine what it must take for Senator McCain to sit and take the crap our current President has dished out. Imagine. The current, spineless ruffian inhabiting the Oval Office demeans the sacrifice of soldiers and veterans with every breath he draws. His presence before us is an insult and he has no moral or ethical authority to lecture any of us who have served and sacrificed.
This past week, Trump was at it again. In the same vein, he mishandled a call to the wife of a Special Forces soldier who lost his life in Niger. It would be almost impossible to envision a more ham-handed and crass handling of a call to a war widow than that made by our current President. In the wake of what many saw as, at best, a very poor handling of a condolence call, Trump lacked even that modicum of decency and that measure of propriety which should have resulted in an apology. He couldn’t even muster up the personal courage for that.
In the most direct of responses yet, McCain remarked in the aforementioned C-Span interview,
“One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest-income level of America, and the highest-income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur…”
Good for you, Senator McCain, good for you! The enormous restraint it must take for the Senator to not eviscerate our current Commander-in-Chief is a thing at which we should marvel.
None of us should take the faux patriotism of the Trump clan seriously. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump stand alongside Jared Kushner as proud bearers of a vaunted family tradition; cowardice and the avoidance of service to country. Fine, do what you do. Here’s the thing, when you come from a family of cowardly sons-of-bitches who opt not to serve you don’t get to lecture those of us who have, period. Trump, like his father and grandfather before him is, in the words of Ike, a son-of-a-bitch.