On my way home from work every day for years, I passed by a house bearing a huge POW flag. Those people had not forgotten. They had not simply moved on. I was thinking of them today when I read Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Sydney Schanberg's article, "McCain and The POW Cover-up." If you haven't read it you should.
Personally, I have respect for McCain's service, capture and suffering during the Vietnam War and much of what he has done since. But this unsettling article raises the question of his commitment to those left behind. It addresses, too, the unwillingness of the press to investigate McCain's treatment of POW/MIA families and his dismissal of their concerns as the "bizarre rantings of MIA hobbyists." He even brought one grieving woman to tears before angrily turning his back and walking out because she was, by searching for her brother, "denigrating" McCain's "patriotism."
Yet McCain told us in his convention speech that after being a POW, he was never the same selfish man again; "I wasn't my own man anymore; I was my country's."
After reading Schanberg's article, it's difficult to believe that McCain had such an epiphany, as it was his own reputation that he seemed most concerned about when reacting to the efforts of those trying to learn what happened to the people they love -- left behind in Vietnam.
In my most recent blog, I described the existence of a wide variety of lies that those proficient at their application can use to dupe the rest of us. I studied deception myself as part of writing my first book on persuasion and since for my work on politics and negotiation. You simply can't persuade or negotiate if you don't know whether the other side is lying.
Schanberg has unearthed a lie of major proportions if indeed McCain did not do all he could do to locate those still missing after his return from Vietnam. Whether he did or not, we need to know. It does not mean he did not serve his country honorably in the Navy. It does mean he may have done less than he could have done when he returned. It may mean that he was abusive to people who deserved better.
Few of us expect him to have been a perfect prisoner. Who knows what any of us would do under such circumstances? But he is home now and has been for some time. We can judge him on what he has done since and whether he has told us the truth. That's why it's important to read Schanberg's article and for us as a nation to get to the bottom of what he says of John McCain, especially this:
Throughout his Senate career, McCain has quietly sponsored and pushed into federal law a set of prohibitions that keep the most revealing information about these men buried as classified documents. Thus the war hero people would logically imagine to be a determined crusader for the interests of POWs and their families became instead the strange champion of hiding the evidence and closing the books.
Dr. Reardon also blogs as bardscove.
How will Trump’s administration impact you? Learn more