John McCain and the Sensitivities of Suffering

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I have enormous respect for the suffering John McCain experienced as a P.O.W. in Vietnam, and for the courage he displayed during his captivity. I remember being stunned by this article in the LA Times that described the mangling of his body:

George “Bud” Day, a Medal of Honor recipient, vividly remembers the day McCain’s broken body was brought by guards through the door of Hoa Lo prison, the infamous Hanoi Hilton.

“He had been starved,” Day said. “He was emaciated and weighed around 100 pounds. He had lost a third of his body weight. He had a fracture of his right knee that had been unskillfully repaired, as well as multiple fractures of his right arm. His left shoulder was dislocated and he had been bayoneted in the left leg. And he was filthy. You could smell him a quarter-block away.

“I expected he would die before morning,” Day continued. “I thought the Vietnamese had dropped him off with us so he would die with us and they would be able to blame his death on us. About 40% of the prisoners had some kind of a broken limb or combination of broken limbs or skull fractures. I would say John was in the top 2% of the worst-injured in the system.”

I don’t object to McCain making this part of his campaign narrative. But check out this new campaign video (spotted on The Plank), which is a solid twelve minutes of this stuff. At a certain point, you can’t help but having one of two reactions: (1) disgust at the war-porn nature of the whole thing, or (2) pity for McCain. Neither make really make you want to vote for him.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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