Double Standard on McCain's Past

When we talk about John McCain's past, we are supposed to focus on his bravery under horrible circumstances in Vietnam. And, in fact, John McCain was tortured and held captive for many years in Vietnam. How that makes him a military leader is something beyond me and something that Wesley Clark has effectively countered, even if it did end his chances of being VP. So, every Democrat and every Republican points to John McCain's past and says that we must bow down to his high moral standards and internal fortitude - because of his past actions.

Well, then, I ask you. What about his absolute lack of morals and internal fortitude in the past? Should we not be discussing that?

John McCain must be the person that is most troubled by John Edwards infidelity. His cheating on his wife has effectively ended his political career, because we must believe that a person who cheats once does not have the high moral standards to serve his country. So, what then of McCain?

...a frustrated Navy officer wrestled with friends over what to do with his life...his personal life was a mess: Although he was still living with his wife, he was aggressively courting a 25-year-old woman who was as beautiful as she was rich...In just a few years from those times of soul-searching in his office as Navy liaison to the Senate, Mr. McCain would have a new wife, a new home state and a bright new political star as president of the class of newly elected Republican members of the House of Representatives.

For a candidate running on character and biography, it is also an awkward time to remember: Mr. McCain abandoned his wife, who had reared their three children while he was in Vietnamese prisons, and he then began his political career with the resources of his new wife's family.

This does not even tell the whole story, you see while John was off being held prisoner in Vietnam, his wife was in a crippling accident. She would spend the rest of his life crippled and in pain.

His wife, Carol, a tall, slim woman who had once been a model, had nearly died in a car wreck in 1969. H. Ross Perot, the businessman and advocate of prisoners of war, had paid for her medical care, but the injuries left her four inches shorter and on crutches, and she had gained a good deal of weight...
Mr. McCain has acknowledged running around with women and accepted responsibility for the breakup of the marriage, without going into details. But his supporters and his biographer, Robert Timberg, all suggest that the marriage had already effectively ended and that the couple had separated by the time he met Cindy, his present wife.

That might be the most soothing way of explaining a politician's divorce from a disabled wife and his remarriage to a wealthy heiress, but it does not jibe with accounts of family members and friends.
''For somebody to say that they were separated or at each other's throats is just nonsense,'' Mr. Smith said.

Yet at precisely the time that Mr. Smith was a guest in what appeared to be a happy household, in April 1979, Mr. McCain accompanied a group of senators on a trip to China. The Navy threw a big cocktail party for the group during a stopover in Honolulu.

''John and I were talking, and then somebody tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around and exchanged a few words,'' said Albert A. Lakeland, then a Senate staff member. ''When I turned around, John was gone. I looked around, and he was making a beeline for this very attractive blond woman.

''He spent the whole party talking to her, and he kept avoiding me when I approached,'' Mr. Lakeland said. After the reception, Mr. McCain and the young woman, Cindy Hensley, went out to dinner, and the romance blossomed.
Some family friends were appalled that a man who seemed so decent, so full of compassion for anyone who needed help, could treat his own wife in a manner they regarded as brutal. But Mr. McCain gradually won everyone around again, with the same traits he now displays after making a mistake: a combination of charm and penitence.

So, that's it. We are supposed to make hay that John McCain was a man of high morals and internal fortitude when faced with imprisonment and torture in Vietnam; but, we are supposed to forget that he was a philandering, cheating husband who left his crippled, possibly drug-addicted wife for a new trophy bride that could help him climb the ladder to success.

Why? Because he is charming and disarming?