Sunday, August 24

Sympathy for the POW

He was a prisoner of war. OK. I'll say straight out and with meaning, "That's very unfortunate, and I'm sorry to hear it. I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone."

He was a prisoner of war who shunned receiving an earlier release than his fellow prisoners. That leaves me speechless. I guess I've always had a hard time understanding blind loyalty. I mean, it's great for dogs, but I highly recommend intelligence as a basis for human decision-making processes in general.

Granted, there are a few circumstances in which primordial instinct overcomes any rational thought. Mothers, of nearly any species with brains bigger than acorns, defending their offspring. People under physical attack by nearly any species bigger than a squirrel. People reading consecutive anonymous mass-generated e-mails proclaiming 1) that Obama is a radical Muslim intent on overthowing Christendom and 2) Obama is a follower of a radical black Baptist separatist intent on overthrowing conservative white Baptists. Sometimes our instincts take over the habitual restraint of rationality.

Neither being a POW nor voluntarily remaining a POW seems to be to have anything to do with Presidential qualifications. What being a POW does mean is that one was captured and held in captivity by an enemy. What refusing early release means is that one prefers captivity to freedom. Yes, I know that sounds ruthless, but it's true. There may be reasons one prefers captivity, but still, one is preferring captivity. Being captured is no more assurance of Presidential fitness than being old is. Oh. Did I say McCain is too old?

He is too old and white and wealthy and his definition of loyalty apparently never extended to his wife. He doesn't want me to have health coverage, but he wants me to pay for his Medicare, which he collects even though he's a millionaire married to a millionaire and God forbid they should show us her tax forms or his medical forms. He was, after all, a POW, and he called Georgian President Saakashvili not only once, but several times during the armed conflict between Russia and the U.S. in South Ossetia. Oops. Did I say the U.S.? Meanwhile, Saakashvili was asking Senator Joe Biden to come to Georgia to aid in diplomatic dialogues. Or was that Vice Presidential candiate Joseph Biden?

John McCain was a POW. That doesn't mean a thing as far as his qualifications or readiness or appropriateness to assume the mantle of the U.S. presidency. Senator John Kerry was a soldier and the Republicans scorned his service record. Our present President managed to somehow dodge all verifiable service even in a peacetime National Guard stint. John McCain served. That's honorable. John McCain was a POW. I'm sorry for that, Senator McCain, but I'm deeply concerned that you seem to think that's proof of your readiness to sit in the great Oval Office. Tell me how I can afford to buy health insurance of my choice. Tell me how I can afford to go to the dentist or to insure the car I can't afford to fill with gas. But don't tell me about your sense of loyalty. I have a dog for loyalty. What I want from you is intelligence and leadership and a sense that you care about repairing the great divide that's widened in our country, between those like you, who have so many houses they can't count them, and people like me, who can't pay to heat the one house that they finally saved enough to buy. I want you to fix what's so broken. I want you to give me the thousands of dollars you collect in Medicare every year at one of your seven houses so maybe I can go to the doctor when I get sick.

Thanks for listening, John. And I really am sorry you were imprisoned all those years. Really.