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PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:58 pm 
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I see your point solicitr although I think my comparison is more on the money that you think.

My point is not equating one thing with the other as the decisive determiner of all that is good and right --- only that a record is important. And in the case of John McCain, a large part of his successful elective career as a politician is dependent on his record as a war hero.
That record, especially the public record, must be open for examination, even critical examination.

I think if the same had been done with our current president, some national pain may have been spared.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 12:04 am 
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However, SF, his continued re-election has more to do with the fact that Arizona voters happen to agree with McCain's positions on the issues. I doubt he would have been elected in Massachusetts. I doubt Kerry would have been elected in Arizona.

And I still don't understand what you mean by a "public examination" of McCain's war record. It's hardly a secret. Are you claiming he's lying about something?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 12:25 am 
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Well, I was not impressed by the Butler article, and I don't intend to vote for John McCain either. It did sound like sour grapes to me - how come you're the one who got famous?

There was nothing in there about McCain's school days that the public didn't already know, and I've never heard McCain hint that he was the only hero POW. That's just nonsense.

He's gonna drop dead any minute? Pullease ... so we look at the VP choice more carefully than we might otherwise would. And you know what, we have to do the same for Senator Obama too, because in a country with a gazillion guns and a gazillion bubbas to go with them, we can't ignore the possibility that the first Black president will be assassinated. To be dismally frank, I think that John McCain enjoys the better odds in that comparison.

So, he takes issue with McCains stance on the Iraq war. That's what it boils down to. And soli is right that there is nothing surprising about a prominent member of VoP being against the Iraq war, and therefore against McCain's anticipated policies. Nothing revelatory here.

I can flip the message of the article and say that even people who don't like John McCain have good things to say about his conduct in the service, because that came through louder to my ear than anything else in the article. If he could have found something to criticize, he would have, but he coudn't find it.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:02 am 
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A lot of this for me is a deep and abiding resentment of the opposite of the self made man. The son of the prominent man - regardless of what field it may be in - who has the skids greased for him and still does everything to blow that opportunity. He succeeds in spite of himself. Everything I read about McCain screams "family privilege" to me.
His enrollment at an expensive private high school which had to tolerate his bully behavior was the start. His gaining admission to a prestigious military academy based on his father and grandfather and not his own merit continued the trend. His graduation from that military academy despite a four year career or bottom of the barrel academic performance combined with terrible personal behavior that would have gotten a lesser connected student thrown out on their behind now became a familiar pattern.

When I hear that he crashed airplanes and it was due to "engine failure" or something else not attributed to him, I am less than a true beleiver that that is the actual reason. The man has had his behind wiped by others for so long, I would not be surprised to find he got the benefit of the doubt in those situations also. Or worse.

He is George Bush all over again.

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There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.... John Rogers


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:11 am 
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So I take it you also despise Prince Albert Gore? How about JFK?


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combined with terrible personal behavior that would have gotten a lesser connected student thrown out on their behind


Do you know that to be the case? McCain was by no means the only 100-demerit Middie to muddle through to commissioning (BTW, you do know the kind of chickens**t that gets you demerits at the Academy?).

Myself I'll take the assessment of his naval character not from assorted bloggers with agendas, but from Commander Paul Galanti, a squadronmate of my dad's who spent those years in the Hanoi Hilton alongside McCain, and who considers McCain one of the finest men he has ever known.


EDIT: The US Navy lost 282 A-4s in Vietnam, but only 195 (70%) to enemy action. The J-65 engine was notoriously prone to flameout, and if that happens in a single-engine aircraft there's no option other than punching out.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 2:36 am 
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I have no doubt that Charles Keating felt that way once also. One of the very best politicians that money could buy.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 2:39 am 
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My nephew complained about this vociferously when he was flying F15s over Iraq ... (he's permanently disabled now, thanks to a screw up by a clerk in medical records). He said the Iraqis didn't have anything on the ground that could touch an F15 in the sky, but he was grounded a couple times because of equipment malfunction. Once it was his instrument panel that caught fire. His biggest concern was going down over the desert because of something like that; his least concern was enemy fire. (And in the end, it was his own side that got him after all.)

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 12:33 pm 
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The main thing I picked out of the Butler article was that someone who knew him intimately agreed that he was too hot-tempered to be President, and that he was entitled and a poor student. And those criticisms can't just be dismissed because the two have policy differences.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 2:06 pm 
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I was an officer in the Army. My husband was too. We went to school together, and I got top grades and he got mediocre grades.

However, when it came to leading people and winning their hearts and minds, he was head and shoulders above me in talent. The unit he lead loved him and when he left the service, they made him a huge elaborate plaque with his and all their names burned into it and little engravings of parachuting people. When I left, despite getting walk on water evaluations by my superiors, I didn't get any recognition. The battalion executive officer gave me the small standard plaque they give all outgoing officers, but neglected to even get my name put on it, much less anyone elses.

Leadership cannot be measured by school grades, and leadership ability is what counts executive positions.

I heard a very interesting story on public radio this morning about McCain. After getting rehabilitated from his treatment in Vietnam, he was given command of a large squadron and took a miserably performing unit and wrought a remarkable transformation on it. Six months after he was reassigned, they slipped back into mediocrity again. It's really quite an impressive display of leadership:

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McCain's First (And Only) Military Command
by Scott Horsley

Morning Edition, July 8, 2008 · When John McCain was finally released, after five-and-a-half years as a POW in Vietnam, he was anxious to get back in the cockpit and resume his Navy career. It took grueling physical therapy to repair his broken body. But eventually, he was cleared to fly again. And in the summer of 1976, he was given command of the Navy's largest air squadron, based at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Fla.

It wasn't a wartime command. And McCain wasn't responsible for ordering bombs to fall, as retired Gen. Wesley Clark pointed out last week. But the experience is instructive: It's the only period in his life when McCain actually ran something bigger than a Senate office or a presidential campaign.

"I learned a lot from him," said Ross Fischer, a flight instructor who served under McCain. Fischer now runs a charter airline based in Florida. "I run my company pretty much like John McCain ran his squadron."

Audacious Goal

Interviews with a half-dozen former subordinates suggest McCain ran his squadron with a clear goal, a lot of listening and the sheer force of his personality. There were about 750 officers and enlisted men in the squadron — VA-174. Their mission was to train pilots and crews for the A-7 light attack jet. The A-7 was plagued by maintenance problems and parts shortages in that period of postwar downsizing. When McCain took over, nearly one-third of the planes were grounded. And some senior lieutenants said there was no way to change that.

"That, of course, wasn't good enough for McCain," said former flight instructor Carl Smith. "So what McCain did was reassign those people. You could say fired them. But we say reassigned. So it was a case of bringing together new people and new ideas to change the course of the squadron."

McCain set an audacious goal of getting nearly all the planes flying again. To do so, he took the unusual step of promoting people from down in the ranks into key positions. He convinced his superiors to let him cannibalize parts from idle aircraft. And mostly, he acted as a cheerleader, egging on the maintenance crews with the same outsized personality that's helped him on the campaign trail.

"He'd usually start out by kidding the chief petty officer in there, giving him a hard time. And the guys just loved it," said Smith. "It changed the whole atmosphere of the squadron. The attitude was one of excitement. Prior to him, I think most people in the squadron had a sort of 9-to-5 mentality. But attitudes changed rather quickly."

Thirteen months later, just hours before McCain turned over the squadron, the last of the balky A-7s took off, with Smith at the controls.

Long-Term Benefits?

Meeting that goal was largely symbolic. From military records [see documents (PDF)], it doesn't appear to have translated into more pilots trained, or more hours flown. But there were some notable firsts under McCain's command, including the first woman pilot trained in a light attack plane, and the squadron's first Meritorious Unit Commendation [see document (PDF)]. The Secretary of the Navy noted that while McCain was in charge, VA-174 set a safety record for hours flown without an accident.

"He put the fear of God into his pilots, including his student pilots, and said, ''You better do it by the book. Do it safely. Because if you don't, you'll be seeing me personally," recalls Bob Stumpf, a student pilot under McCain who went on to command the Blue Angels.

Stumpf chuckled at some of the TV ads this spring asking which presidential candidate is best prepared for that "3 a.m. phone call." Once, while standing watch, Stumpf actually had to call McCain at 3 a.m.

"It had to do with one of our sailors being arrested and put in jail downtown. And I think he knew a thing or two about incarceration," Stumpf said of McCain. "He says, 'Let him stay there awhile. Go get him tomorrow.' "

The stakes are obviously higher when the phone rings at the White House. And it's harder to run a country than it is to charm a hangar full of sailors — or even a busload of political reporters. Smith hints at both the power — and the limits — of McCain's personality-driven leadership, when he says that six months after McCain gave up command, the squadron had fallen back into its old, average habits.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 2:29 pm 
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It's really quite an impressive display of leadership


It would have been rather more impressive if it wasn't dependent on his presence, as the end of the story notes. The very best leaders are the ones whose presence is felt long after they depart, because they transformed those they led.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 2:30 pm 
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They were led by someone else after he left. The whole tone of a command will change with the commander.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 2:44 pm 
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It certainly will if the people involved didn't actually change.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 5:46 pm 
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Military people get reassigned every 3 years or sooner. People are always coming and going. You rarely finish out your 3 years in one place with the same people you started with.

Just getting a command in a downsizing, peace time environment was an accomplishment- there is a lot of competition for such slots. The fact that he did well with it is cool.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 6:27 pm 
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If I were running Obama's campaign, I would stay far, far away from "character" attacks on McCain. Discuss his platform, discuss his past actions and misjudgments as a public figure, discuss his inconsistent positions—that's all fair game. But he is a war hero who served honorably, and even people who won't vote for him respect that.

(I think the Obama campaign has been doing exactly that.)

I am unimpressed with some aspects of McCain's personal life, but I remember arguing in the Clinton years that things like that, though they disappointed me, weren't relevant to his performance as president. And what goes around, comes around.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 6:57 pm 
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Maria wrote:
Military people get reassigned every 3 years or sooner. People are always coming and going. You rarely finish out your 3 years in one place with the same people you started with.

Just getting a command in a downsizing, peace time environment was an accomplishment- there is a lot of competition for such slots. The fact that he did well with it is cool.


I agree it's cool. I know some career Navy people, and the competition for any sort of command is quiet intense. I wouldn't suggest for a minute that his performance in that command wasn't satisfactory, even good: the results speak for themselves.

But there's a difference between an item on a CV and a qualification to be President. Look at it this way: are there not units in various military forces around the world with reputations for excellence not dependent on who's in command? How does that come about? Is it likely that such a process could take place for a squadron in three years? Of course not. Sun Tzu couldn't pull it off. There's a limit to personality-based leadership, as the story said, and it's usually a time-limit.

It reminds me of raising children. At some point, they have to make the transition from acting good to please someone to being good because that's how one should be--if they're going to be functional adults.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 7:06 am 
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