POW as Crutch

| Tue Aug. 26, 2008 2:47 PM EDT

Tell me how McCain's response here is in any way relevant to the question:

JAY LENO: Welcome back, Sen. McCain, for one million dollars, how many houses do you have? (Laughter)
JOHN MCCAIN: You know, could I just mention to you, Jay, and a moment of seriousness. I spent five and a half years in a prison cell, without—I didn't have a house, I didn't have a kitchen table, I didn't have a table, I didn't have a chair. And I spent those five and a half years, because—not because I wanted to get a house when I got out. And you know, I'm very proud of Cindy's father, he was a guy that barely got out of high school, fought in World War II in the Army Air Corps, came home and made a business and made the American dream...

That is just so bald! So shameless! The gall it takes to invoke something so serious and so redoubtable simply to avoid a politically difficult question is truly astounding.

We've been here before on MoJoBlog, but I don't have faith that the rest of the Left will join me in talking about McCain's exploitation of his POW experience. In 2004, the Right took John Kerry's frequent invocation of his Vietnam service as license to criticize an aspect of Kerry's candidacy that Kerry had hoped to turn into a major strength. I would argue that McCain has given the Left the same opportunity. The Right used lies and smears and I would never suggest the Left do the same. No one needs to claim that McCain left other prisoners behind, for example. But pointing out that John McCain's willingness to exploit his imprisonment in Vietnam for political gain is a sign of character strikes me as entirely within acceptable bounds.