Sunday, April 06, 2008

Times Draws Attention To McCain's Marine Son

The New York Times runs a feature story today by Jodi Kantor discussing how Sen. John McCain rarely discusses his son, Jimmy McCain, a lance corporal in the Marines who has served at least one tour of duty in Iraq. The story opens with a trip to New Hampshire McCain made last July to the home of a woman who had just recently lost her brother in the Iraq War. Although his 19-year-old son was just days from shipping off to Iraq and was in attendance with his father that day, Sen. McCain never once mentioned the obvious. Kantor writes:

No one mentioned the obvious: in just days, Jimmy McCain could face similar perils. “I can’t imagine what it must have been like for them as they were coming to meet with a family that ...” Ms. Flanagan recalled, choking up. “We lost a dear one,” she finished.

Mr. McCain, now the presumptive Republican nominee, has staked his candidacy on the promise that American troops can bring stability to Iraq. What he almost never says is that one of them is his own son, who spent seven months patrolling Anbar Province and learned of his father’s New Hampshire victory in January while he was digging a stuck military vehicle out of the mud.

In his 71 years, Mr. McCain has confronted war as a pilot, a prisoner and a United States senator, but never before as a father. His son’s departure for Iraq brought him the same worry that every military parent feels, friends say, while the young marine’s experiences there have given him a sustained grunt’s-eye view of the action and private confirmation for his argument that United States strategy in Iraq is working.

While Jimmy McCain’s service is a story all his own — he enlisted at age 17 — it illuminates the beliefs about duty, honor and sacrifice with which family friends say he was raised. Military ideals have defined Mr. McCain as a person and a politician, and he is placing them at the core of his presidential candidacy. Last week, he campaigned at his former stations of duty, explaining how the lessons he learned there would guide his decisions as commander in chief . . .

Mr. McCain has largely maintained a code of silence about his son, now a lance corporal, making only fleeting references to him in public both to protect him from becoming a prize target and avoid exploiting his service for political gain, according to friends. At the few campaign events where Lance Corporal McCain appeared last year, he was not introduced . . .

The McCains declined to be interviewed for this article, which the campaign requested not be published. “The McCain campaign objects strongly to this intrusion into the privacy of Senator McCain’s son,” Steve Schmidt, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement. “The children of presidential candidates in this election cycle should be afforded the same respect for their privacy that the children of President Bush and President and Senator Clinton have been afforded.” (To protect Lance Corporal McCain in case he is again deployed to a war zone, The New York Times is not publishing recent photographs of him and has withheld some details of his service) . . .

It is quite understandable why Sen. McCain doesn't want the media talking about his son Jimmy's military service. To assuage McCain's concerns, the newspaper didn't publish recent photographs of his son and says it withheld some details about his service. I think it speaks highly of his character that he has avoided exploiting his son's military service for his own political advantage. Two of McCain's three other sons also served in the military. His oldest son, Doug, 48, served as a Navy pilot. Jack McCain, 21, graduates from the Naval Academy next year. Colleagues of Jimmy McCain, who the Times interviewed for this story, speak highly of him. The story closes with a memorable line. Sen. Clinton has made the "who do you want answering that 3:00 a.m. phone call" in her campaign against the untested Sen. Obama. “I want him to represent my son at 3 o’clock in the morning,” [Cindy McCain] "said of her husband, referring to an advertisement for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York that boasts of her national security credentials."


MissouriDemocrat said...

It speaks volumes about the man that he has not used such an obvious part of his private life to extol his political one. I have said it before, and will no likely say it a lot more, no one can detract, not Rush Limbaugh or Hillary/Barack from the many sacrifices this man has made in the cause of Liberty. If the 5 years in the Hanoi Hilton had never happened he still served his nation during wartime. Nothing ever replaces understanding war from the Oval Office like having bounced about in the ocean like George H.W. Bush, or sitting in confinement like John McCain. Agree or disagree with their particular political positions you can't take that service away. For that alone I hold Geo W. responsible for the nastiness of his campaign against the Senator in 2000.

Jon Easter said...

I salute Senator McCain for allowing his son to be sent to Iraq and serve on the front lines. I doubt that if he is elected President that his son will be allowed by the Secret Service to continue in that capacity.

Regardless, part of the reason why McCain rarely talks about his son's service is that it's the McCain family business. Military service runs deep in that family.

This has also been cited as a concern by some...such as Bill Maher. I tend to agree with that to a degree.