McCain and Trump: What it Tells us About the Nation

The Vietnam war was a contentious time for the country. The war started on a lie, the Gulf of Tonkin. We now know this. The president of the United States avoided service, like many well connected and well-heeled men of his generation. He should have been in the field, with those of lesser means. However, we designed a draft system that allowed the well connected to buy their way out of service, in the case of Donald J Trump by bone spurs. For those of lesser means, there was Canada, and many took that route instead of trying to declare themselves conscientious objectors. Some became professional students, as a way to avoid the service. In an era when college was not that expensive, it was a real choice.

This meant that most of the fighting was done by poor white, black and Latino youth, who served in the bloodiest battles of the war. They were led by middle-class officers, who many times were made such after a short officer leadership course. Many of the officers were not graduates of the service academies. They did the best they could, and some didn’t make it home because they were terrible leaders, and the troops took care of the problem. This is one of those dark secrets that people hardly speak off, but fragging was a real problem.

Then there were people like John McCain. He and others came from families with a tradition of service. He went to a service academy, in his case the Naval Academy. He became a fighter pilot in the Navy and was shot down. Here is where his story turns to the heroic. Mind you, heroes are not born, but circumstances make them. He was the son of a United States Navy Admiral. He was tortured like many others at the Hanoi Hilton. He was offered a way out. He refused and decided to stay until all the rest of the prisoners were sent home.

It matters little if he believed in the mission, or not. Or whether we agree with the war or not. The fact is that him remaining in prison when he had a way out, was something that military personnel appreciates. One of the standards of the military is that none stays behind and none is left behind. This is why the idea that we may have left people behind became the basis for things like Rambo, and why recovering those troops is always emotional. This is why we have a DNA testing lab in Hawaii.

McCain was involved in one of the worst missions of the war, meant to break the will of the Vietnamese people. Rolling Thunder was ultimately a failure. Yet, that does not diminish his actions in prison. As a senator, many years later, his record is mixed, It ranges from the Keating five, all the way to his vote not to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, due to his problems with how it was done.

There was one thing that none doubted about McCain, he loved his country.

Enter Donald Trump.

However, his father Fred sent him to a military prep school where he learned a few things. He learned to shite boots, make his bunk and march in close order. That is the extent of his military training. These schools sometimes teach about honor, but we know Trump did not learn that lesson. He learned that he could indeed game the system for his own benefit. That is who Trump is.

His attacks on Senator McCain and he is losing this battle with a dead man, come out of envy. McCain is the real article. He did serve, with honor. He refused to leave his mates behind. He lived to the unwritten code of the military. Trump would have taken the easy way out. That is who Trump is. Why he says he is not a McCain fan, or ever will be. McCain is all that Trump could never be.

And yes, there were a lot of problem with the Vietnam war. But there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that Trump is jealous, and will never put his country ahead of himself, He will never put anybody ahead of himself. These attacks on a dead man diminish him even further. And by doing that he lessens his country.

As we speak, Trump continues his litany of personal grievances, because it is all about himself.

It is also telling about the nation. People still believe Trump is great, never mind that he has no love of nation. Why? I suspect that many of those who love him hate the changes we are undergoing as a nation. They fear immigration, they hate the changes occurring in the nation. And they would love to cheat the system just as Trump has done all his life.

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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