Trump, McCain, and What’s a War Hero, Anyway?


– 20 July 2015 –

C. F. van Niekerk:

150708-van-NiekirkAs inane as the whole spat between Donald Trump and John McCain may be, I think it brings up a valid question regarding what makes someone a war hero.


In a July 16 article at the New Yorker, John McCain expressed his dismay over Donald Trump’s July 11 rally in Phoenix, Arizona. The 15,000 people who attended don’t share McCain’s enthusiasm for illegal immigrants. McCain referred to these people as “crazies” and complained that he’s been fighting for years to keep them from influencing the state’s Republican Party, with some success. He prefers to follow the way that the wind blows, meaning the direction of the foul wind emanating from the open bowels of progressives and degenerates.

Later that day, Trump responded to McCain’s attack on Twitter with somewhat childish taunts, including calling McCain a “dummy”.


On July 18 at the eight-hour-long Family Leadership Council Summit in Ames, Iowa, where eight other Republican candidates also spoke, the host asked Donald Trump about whether it was very presidential of him to call McCain a dummy.

As Trump explained his case he mentioned, offhand, that his enthusiasm for McCain had diminished after he lost in 2008, “because I don’t like losers”.

The host protested that “He’s a war hero! Five and a half years in a POW camp!” to which Trump quipped “He was a hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured, okay, I hate to tell you.”

“Do you agree with that?”

“He’s a war hero because he was captured, okay. And I believe,”—Trump shrugged—”perhaps he’s a war hero…” and he continued with his story, eventually answering the host’s question about whether he acted presidential.

“I want to make America great again. We want to get down to brass tacks. We don’t want to listen to his stuff with being politically correct… We have a lot of work to do… We have people, Christians, having their heads cut off in the Middle East. We have people dying all over the border, where I was right, one hundred percent. We have all of this, like, Medieval times and she [Hillary Clinton] said ‘I didn’t like his tone’…What does it have to do with tone? We want results!”



Trump makes a good case, and I frankly don’t care about whether he thinks McCain was a war hero or not. McCain’s heroism is a valid question, just like it is for any politician who uses it to advance his career, such as John Kerry back in 2004.

The fact is, there isn’t anyone in the limelight who is standing up to the shrieking paper tiger of political correctness like Trump is. The rest of these sniveling, back-biting Republican candidates, with the notable exceptions of Cruz and Huckabee, have rushed to condemn Trump. They know that Trump’s stance on immigration is very refreshing to many conservatives who have grown absolutely incensed over the lying, smiling, groveling phony Republicans whom they have repeatedly elected to no avail.

Is Trump for real? Nobody really believes so, and I’m one of the doubters.

My best guess is that Trump is deliberately acting as a foil to draw media attention and criticism away from the establishment-favored candidate, probably Jeb Bush.

If this is really a deliberate strategy, it’s very clever. During the 2012 primaries, the media kept “pumping and dumping” one Republican idiot after another, from Rick Perry who couldn’t remember what federal department he would scrap, to the buffoon Herman Cain’s 999 Plan, to Gingrich’s moon base, and Santorum’s overall goofyness. Perhaps some Republican strategist has persuaded Trump to keep the media busy while the unpopular and liberal real nominee, maybe Bush III, builds momentum with his 15 percent slice of the electorate. But this is only a guess.

poll collapse

Pump and dump during the 2012 primaries. One loser candidate was pumped up by the media and then dumped a few weeks later as another fool was inflated. It’s possible that Trump is an agent to foil to this game.

Certainly Trump used to be a Democrat who lavishly supported candidates like Hillary Clinton. In the past he has expressed left-wing opinions on abortion, universal healthcare, and gun restrictions. There is no reason why he wouldn’t switch again, or no reason to believe he believes what he says. In electoral politics, a candidate’s past gives a more reliable indication of future performance than what the candidate says.

Could I vote for Trump in the 2016 primary? I live in Indiana and our primary is in May; usually the nomination is all-but cinched by March. It’s hard to tell what hare-brained tack I will take next year, but at this point, it’s easy to throw my vote away for a middle finger to the liberal establishment when I don’t believe the vote really matters anyway. So maybe I will vote for Trump if he’s still running by then. On second thought, probably not.

As for right now, I can’t help but enjoy Trump’s rhetoric, especially against John McCain whom I despise, and that includes Trump’s scoffing at McCain’s hallowed war hero status.


John McCain has capitalized greatly through the years on his perceived status as a war hero. It helped him to enter national political office. When accused of being a carpetbagger during his 1982 campaign for the US House in Arizona, McCain responded:

Listen, pal. I spent 22 years in the Navy. My father was in the Navy. My grandfather was in the Navy. We in the military service tend to move a lot. We have to live in all parts of the country, all parts of the world. I wish I could have had the luxury, like you, of growing up and living and spending my entire life in a nice place like the First District of Arizona, but I was doing other things. As a matter of fact, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi.

And I’ll say that’s a damned impressive reply! It surely won McCain that election. Too bad he couldn’t have roused any of this famous temper against Obama in 2008!

Since winning his Arizona Senate seat in 1987, McCain has spent his entire career straddling the political fence, a “maverick” in the mushy middle. McCain would rather attack his own side and work “across the aisle” with Democrats than support his party’s base, whom he now calls a bunch of “crazies”. This attack-from-behind strategy has worked well for McCain, giving him lots of favorable media attention, and he managed to win the 2008 Republican presidential nomination because his moderate slice of the Republican electorate wasn’t as sub-divided as the other, more conservative, slices.

McCain’s 2008 campaign against Obama was a joke. He refused to confront that despicable scarecrow Obama over his radical Leftist past, choosing instead, “my friends”, to politely discuss dreary issues like social security and taxes. After he lost miserably, McCain gave such a fawning concession speech that I have no doubt that he had voted for Obama instead of himself.

McCain certainly fought harder and dirtier in 2010 against J. D. Hayworth during his primary campaign for re-election than he ever did in 2008 against Obama, demonstrating that he would rather see Obama in power than those nut-jobs who oppose illegal immigration!


“You’re the dumbest man in Congress, Hayworth!” McCain fought harder and dirtier for the 2010 Arizona primary than he ever did in 2008 against Obama.

What’s a War Hero, Anyway?

But back to John McCain’s status as a war hero.

What is a war hero? Maybe it’s a subjective matter, but I say that a war hero is someone, military member or not, who deliberately acts above and beyond the call of duty, at risk to one’s own life in circumstances of immediate danger, to save the lives of others during war or to support the military mission of their side.

Just because a pilot is shot down and captured doesn’t make him a hero. In itself, there is no valor or heroism in accidentally getting shot. And, despite the humble sincerity of well-meaning conservatives, someone is not a hero just because he served honorably in the military. I think we’ve gone way too far in our military worship.

So what about John McCain?

I tried really hard to find fault with his service, mostly because I don’t like him.

After he was released from captivity but before he ran for public office, McCain was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. This medal was awarded because:

Although his aircraft was severely damaged, he continued his bomb delivery pass and released his bombs on the target [in Hanoi]. When his aircraft would not recover from the dive, Commander McCain was forced to eject over the target.

The Distinguished Flying Cross is awarded “for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.” It was given to Charles Lindbergh for his trans-Atlantic flight, for instance, so it’s not necessarily a recognition of heroism. However, in McCain’s case, it is clear that he was recognized as a hero for going above and beyond his duty to complete his bombing mission.

What about McCain’s heroism for being a POW? I don’t believe that all POW’s are heroes just because they were held in captivity. Once again, any poor soul can get captured and held by the enemy whether he was a hero or not.

But when McCain’s captors offered an early release in 1968 because his father had become naval commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, McCain refused to leave unless his fellow prisoners were also released, causing him to remain captive for another four and a half years. I think we can give McCain the benefit of any doubts over whether this would qualify as heroism.

So I must admit that John McCain was a hero during his military service, much as I really can’t stand the guy.

But this really doesn’t affect my opinion of Donald Trump one way or another.


Patulcius-sqHow mighty big of you, C. F.


Leave a comment


  1. I figured Trump was just making noise, but your idea is seems plausible and worrisome.


    • I admit that I’m very confused about why more and more candidates keep entering the Republican race. I can’t help but think that it has something to do with selling Jeb Bush to a Bush-wary public, but perhaps I give his team too much credit.



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