The 2 Political Junkies were kind enough to find a story in the Rolling Stone I likely would have missed, which in fact made the cover of the “Rolling Stone” (like them, I couldn’t resist). I will now shamelessly comment on this story, which they did not do in their post. I basically respect the Rolling Stone when it chooses to do real journalism. This article, “Make Believe Maverick”, is an unflattering biography of John McCain. Whether it is accurate or not will be up to readers to decide, but I suspect enough of the information is basically public record that large parts, maybe most, will be hard to dispute. The tone of the article, of course, reflects the politics of the magazine.
I haven’t finished the article (I got up to McCain’s early political career), but there was a bit during the Vietnam that caught my eye. Right after a fire on the Forrestal where a F-4 “inexplicably” fired an unguided rocket that happened to go through the fuel tank of the A-4 McCain was sitting in here (no sinister suggestion on my part, but weird, right?), causing a fire McCain emerged largely unscathed from (but which killed 134 other sailors), McCain talked to a New York Times reporter. I’m sure the reporter was delighted, talking to the son of a four star admiral. McCain, for his part, liked the attention, according to the Rolling Stone. Apparently, among other things, McCain said:
“"Now that I've seen what the bombs and napalm did to the people on our ship," he told Apple, "I'm not so sure that I want to drop any more of that stuff on North Vietnam."”
McCain of course did drop more "stuff", transferring to another carrier and flying more missions, until he was shot down. And after he was freed from the POW camp, he championed the idea of continuing the war, according to the article. Still, I think the Wikipedia might have used that NYTimes story as part of their bio of McCain, suggesting he at least partially opposed the conduct of the war, during the war (like John Kerry absolutely did). Even then, McCain played to his audience.