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October 07, 2008

Why McCain Shafting our Vets is Important
Posted by Moira Whelan

I meet vets on a pretty regular basis who tell me they’re skittish about going after McCain on his failure to support our troops. Most vets don’t like complaining about these things because they’re not the types to ask for handouts. They are not the people who ask things from their country. So here’s what I tell them: What John McCain has done for you—or in this case hasn’t done for you—tells Americans what kind of treatment they can expect from him. If you want to help other Americans in making a decision about this election, then just be honest about him, and let them judge for themselves.

In their annual Congressional Report card, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has done just that. They give John McCain a “D” in his commitment to our troops. (Obama and Biden, FWIW, each get “B”s.)

But this is not the first time John McCain has been judged to be inadequate by his peers. If you remember, a vet not long ago questioned him about his lack of commitment to veterans issues, and John McCain couldn’t give a straight answer.

At a very basic level, John McCain’s effort to dodge the responsibilities to veterans he has as a U.S. Senator are disrespectful. As a veteran himself—and his subsequent efforts to deny that he has not fulfilled his commitments—his actions are dishonorable.

Now,  I know John McCain was a POW. He and Sarah Palin tell me all the time. For that, we’ve all given him well deserved admiration. It may seem like political posturing, but it’s not. I do respect him for this, and can’t begin to comprehend how that shaped him as a person.
But then he and Sarah tell me they don’t use this political gain and that he never mentions it. The pictures, the stories about the Green Bay Packers (or Steelers if he’s in Pittsburgh), the book his daughter wrote, the book HE wrote, the drinking games played across America when “POW” is said…all of that has nothing to do with politics? Sorry. I don’t believe it. It is for political gain. But hey…he’s entitled to that. It’s his story.

But it’s also part of his story that he hasn’t put his money where his mouth is. He has been more committed to his service than he has to the service of Americans who put on a uniform because they admired guys like him. John McCain tells these stories about himself because he wants us to think he cares about the troops and understands them. He wants Americans to see him as an extraordinary hero who’s never stopped giving.

When I look at his treatment of vets over the years, however, I see something completely different: Hubris and Indifference.

It’s not that I think John McCain doesn’t think vets from these wars deserve the same care and thanks from their country that other vets were given. It’s that it’s not important to him to stand up and tell America that. It’s not important for him to be responsible to the men and women in uniform who believed that having a POW in Congress would help make sure they took care of their own. Instead—as with the case of the GI Bill vote this year—it’s more important to him to be at a fundraiser and on the Ellen show. His politics are more important than his honor to service. Furthermore, John McCain gets mad when people suggest that his record is less than stellar. HE thinks that he’s done enough. What kind of message does that send to men and women who are just now coming home? Isn’t “I’ve done my part” the opposite of what John McCain wants us to know about him?

So when he says he cares about the middle class, when he says he cares about people losing homes and jobs, can you really trust him? This is the same guy who doesn’t show up to care about his friends. This is a guy who counts on the support of people who were like him 20 years ago, but whom he’s forgotten today.

I’m not a vet, but am a proud brat and a friend…one who sometimes says things on behalf of others who are too proud to say it for themselves. I’ve learned one thing…forgetting, and not being there when you’ve got the opportunity to serve your brothers in arms, is the greatest of wrongs to those who’ve served. Since serving in Vietnam, John McCain has enjoyed a privilege few other vets do: he has a chance to take care of those who still need him as a US Senator. And when it’s come down to it, he doesn’t even bother to show up.

What’s the guy gonna do about people he doesn’t care about? How will they matter? I mean, if this is how you treat your friends…


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When McCain says "Country First," apparantly he does not mean those who served it.

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