John McCain: "inspired" by Reagan?

02/03/2008 10:14 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

McCain has been running ads talking about how Reagan had inspired him. Richard Greener, a friend of a friend, just wrote this interesting piece on whether Reagan was even visible enough before McCain's overseas deployment and imprisonment for McCain to know of him. It's true that Reagan was active on the right wing speaking circuit for a while before his 1966 election as California governor. And his attacks on the Unversity of California for coddling student activists were a center-piece of his campaign. Still, the piece raises the real possiblity that Reagan wasn't even on McCain's horizon till years later--that he's simply pledging allegiance to prove he's part of the team.

John McCain: "Inspired" by Reagan?

By Richard Greener

Here in Atlanta, John McCain is running a TV commercial in advance of next Tuesday's
primary. In it, McCain says, "I was a great admirer of Ronald Reagan" and goes on to
say that Reagan inspired him "when I was a POW." The TV images are, of course,
brutal POWish as McCain credits Ronald Reagan with comforting him while a prisoner
of North Vietnam.

Perhaps it's just me, but I was immediately reminded of the story about Hillary
Clinton telling Sir Edmund Hillary (in the early 1990s) she had been named for him
because her mother was such a fan of his achievement of climbing Mt. Everest. Mrs.
Clinton actually got away with that one, at the time. The only problem was she was
born in 1947 and Sir Edmund scaled Everest in 1953.

Now, back to McCain.

Reagan was elected governor of California in November 1966 and took office the
following January. He had never held public office before and had been a registered
Democrat. If John McCain had been impressed by Ronald Reagan prior to 1967, it had
to be from his acting, or his television commercials. Since McCain was shot down in
October1967, and had been on an aircraft carrier and in Asia for months before that
day, it's unlikely he could have kept abreast of Gov. Reagan's new administration.
In 1967 there were no TV or radio satellites; no cable TV; no wireless telephone
communications and no Internet. And, why would McCain have any interest in what the
Governor of California was doing in 1967 - whomever that Governor might be?

But, give McCain the benefit of the doubt and say he managed to overcome the
technological obstacles and somehow did find out what California's new Governor was
doing. From a conservative's point of view, Reagan's first year in office, 1967, was
a disaster. He supported and then signed the first bill making abortion legal in
California. He enraged conservatives across the country. He acted almost as if he
was a liberal Democrat. In later years he renounced that bill and said he should not
have signed it - in later years - not at the time.

If California's new Governor did anything to mark himself as a conservative, no less
acted in a way to inspire a young man halfway around the world, it's news no one
reported back then in 1967. And had it been reported, how would McCain have known?

And, how could McCain be "inspired" by Reagan while he was a POW? It's been plainly
reported that those in the "Hanoi Hilton" had no contact with the outside world.
They were all held in isolation and had to tap on the walls to communicate with each
other. They didn't even know what the date was. Do you believe, for a second, that
the name Ronald Reagan was ever heard in that prison?

So........ here I am, in the comfort of my living room, watching "The Straight Talk
Express" (McCain's term for himself!) lie about his time as a POW just to impress
people too ignorant to know what he's saying doesn't and can't compute, and
wondering where the "straight talk" was.

Have they no shame? Will they (and I include more than McCain in this) say anything
- really, ANYTHING - to get elected?

Richard Greener
Roswell, Georgia

Richard Greener is a "scientific born-again" - he had a heart transplant two years ago
- and a novelist, author of "The Knowland Retribution" and "The Lacey
Confession," which offers a unique solution to the JFK assassination,
and the soon to be released "Eighteen And A-Half," which answers the
question: What's on the 18 1/2 minute gap on the Nixon tape of June 20,