We would learn some 32 years later what McCain’s fellow prisoners during his 5 1/2 years in captivity thought of him. During the 2000 New Hampshire presidential primary, I got to meet McCain’s Hanoi cellmate, Medal of Honor recipient and Air Force pilot George “Bud” Day. He, along with Marine aviator Orson Swindle, held prisoner for six years, and Navy pilot Everett Alvarez, one of the longest-held prisoners of war in U.S. history, came to the Granite State to knock on doors and to testify to voters about McCain’s courage and character. Can we name a single friend of Trump’s with whom his relationship is not commercially transactional? I am unable.
It was not just what McCain did but what he stood for that continues to make Trump so uncomfortable, even in the presence of his memory. Consider this McCain reflection on the warrior’s life I heard him give: “Not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war. Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veteran remembers most keenly. Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war.” Then he added: “Something better can endure, and endure until our last moment on earth. And that is the honor we earn and the love we give if at a moment in our lives we sacrifice for something greater than self-interest.”
These values and words are heresy to the New York real estate mogul. Forced to confront his own inadequacies and his own selfishness, Donald Trump cannot stand to have people compare him to John McCain, alive or dead.
To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.