It's time more veterans accepted the truth about McCain

SGM Larry A. Myers U.S. Army (Retired) has a blog, The Sergeant Major's Thoughts on That

A veteran of 27 years in the United States Army including combat tours in Vietnam, Myers has written one of the definitive veteran's  perspectives on the current legitimacy of John McCain's assertion that he is qualified to lead this country.

His diary of 9/10/08, Honor - To Have And Have Not was cross-posted to KOS and has comments nearing 300 as of this morning.

Myers says what many veterans are thinking but have not publicly acknowledged.  Honor and conscience are some of the strongest traits any soldier desires of his commanders. For years most in this country have assumed that these traits were part and parcel of what makes a military officer and a United States Senator.

There was a time in 2000 when I was seriously supportive of McCain and somewhat distrustful of Clinton and Gore. I did not know all I needed to know about McCain back then because he was BUSHwhacked out of the Republican nominating activity and became the McCain we never knew.

The McCain that brazenly stands before the electorate and lies right into our faces seems oblivious to how his image has so severely deteriorated or the vast disgust he generates daily with every public appearance.


... once one's honor was compromised it was a permanent and oft never fading blemish. ... I believe that even the most honorable and well intentioned people with the most hard earned sense of honor can fail and that they can be guilty of being dishonorable and I believe that that has happened in the presidential race.

I would go further than Myers. We assumed much about John McCain that was apparently not true and would only be revealed - as has been the case with McCain - when he is under pressure or suspects he won't be held accountable.

If I go thru the pro-forma motion of recognizing his five years POW suffering for his country, I also have the right to declare respectfully that I reject the idea that POW suffering automatically creates excellent presidential material.

Here 40+ years after his POW crucible, McCain is self-revealed as an ordinary or perhaps even typical mediocre Naval officer who did not extinguish himself as a leader of men.

There are other veteran military officers much more capable and preferable to McCain as a CIC. If  I were God and able to appoint any veteran of my choosing to be president, John McCain would not even be on my long list, let alone my short list.

Myers seems to agree with me:

... past honorable service and dedication to duty and country does not immunize one against poor judgment, failure or even from doing the wrong thing. I believe that ones honor is not something one does once and then puts it on a shelf where it shines forever. Honor is second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour and year by year. It is only as untarnished and undiminished as ones past and ones last action.

Myers goes on to say that his previously expressed disappointment and sadness with McCain lies in a conclusion that the candidate is not an honorable man today.

In my world of definitions, an honorable man is a man of class, respectful toward women and someone who refuses to be crass. In my  world of a veteran's experience, the definition of a military officer as a class act does not include the a poorly thought-out  and hasty rashness that sometimes becomes an attribute a fighter jock needs in the middle of aerial combat. As the oft-used asset of a commander of men or the chief national statesman or leader of the free world,  poorly thought-ought and hastily rash decisions are to be feared and avoided constantly.

When McCain resorts to good ole boy fighter-jock  back bar humor, he fails to be outstanding in his chosen field. He reduces himself, his candidacy, his wife and his running mate to mere props behind which he plays with his saber and pretends that the presidency is nothing more than a game of RISK.

Myers also explains how wrong it is to use lies to get somewhere with the implied promise that once elected you will not lie anymore and return to straight talk.

The reason I say this is because I am observing and hearing reported by every major news organization in this country that he and his running mate are participating in and personally articulating blatant lies. These are not the actions of honorable people. When one is aspiring to the highest and second highest public offices in the land it is incumbent upon one to speak truth and only truth and to communicate about those issues that are vital and of importance to the citizens of the nation. It is not honorable for individuals to speak lies to the citizens and make unproven accusations against those whom they oppose. When one opposes another person in vying for public office it becomes even more important to insure that one speaks the truth and deals with issues and substantive differences and not innuendo and accusation.

Most veterans know full well which officers had class and who had no need to demand respect. They also remember which officers were not classy and who those were who could get them all killed.  

Myers continues.

The fact that John McCain is a former Naval Officer and a sitting United States Senator makes this lack of honor horribly reprehensible. But I think what makes this lack of honor so disgusting and even more vile is that he would lose himself to the point of using his own sacrifice and service as a shield to commit such petit dishonorable acts of lying. Conservative, liberal, or Independent, share his beliefs or not, it would be morally reprehensible for anyone to support someone who displays so little honor.

Honor is what has been lacking from the first day of George Bush's presidency and of his Republican dominated congressional support system.

Craven is a more apt description of the Republicans in congress who rubber-stamped the Bush/Cheney/Rove definition of the political abuse and denigration of genuine patriotic American Civic participation in government.

Honor is the last thing we are seeing and have come to expect from the flag-waving pseudo-corporate patriotism sold to American's as Republican snake oil. McCain with the advice of Republican spinners is demonstrating the worst of our society at this significant moment in American History.

Myers concludes with this about honor:

Our honor as a nation is not just blemished but in tatters and we cannot endure another four or eight years of the same. If for no other reason than the fact that John McCain and his vice presidential running mate have publicly lied and continue to lie this nation needs to insure that he does not occupy the office of the president. Our nation needs honor above all else at this crucial point in our history. With honor comes respect and from these come all else.

Enlisted American veterans like me are much more numerous than retired admirals and generals. We have always been most often the first to recognize flaws in their officers primarily because they deal with them at the level of execution rather than chain of command.

These are the truths American veterans need to recognize.