A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rove's piece on McCain. . .

. . .in today's Wall Street Journal contains some details that I never knew about the senator. I am far from an expert on McCain, but I thought I at least had a pretty good handle on the what he experienced as a POW. If there is much more to his story that resembles what Rove shared in his column today, it would be a crime to allow this great man to lose to either one of the pikers currently flaying one another trying to grab the top spot on the opposing ticket.

Here's a particularly poignant passage:
Mr. [Bud] Day relayed to me one of the stories Americans should hear. It involves what happened to him after escaping from a North Vietnamese prison during the war. When he was recaptured, a Vietnamese captor broke his arm and said, "I told you I would make you a cripple."

The break was designed to shatter Mr. Day's will. He had survived in prison on the hope that one day he would return to the United States and be able to fly again. To kill that hope, the Vietnamese left part of a bone sticking out of his arm, and put him in a misshapen cast. This was done so that the arm would heal at "a goofy angle," as Mr. Day explained. Had it done so, he never would have flown again.

But it didn't heal that way because of John McCain. Risking severe punishment, Messrs. McCain and Day collected pieces of bamboo in the prison courtyard to use as a splint. Mr. McCain put Mr. Day on the floor of their cell and, using his foot, jerked the broken bone into place. Then, using strips from the bandage on his own wounded leg and the bamboo, he put Mr. Day's splint in place.

Years later, Air Force surgeons examined Mr. Day and complimented the treatment he'd gotten from his captors. Mr. Day corrected them. It was Dr. McCain who deserved the credit. Mr. Day went on to fly again.

I won't deign to speak for others, but the discipline and "testicular fortitude" required to force a bone into its proper alignment for someone you care about, without the aid of painkillers of any kind, is of a kind I cannot imagine in myself. I suppose under the given circumstances -- which I have no way of ever being able to fully grasp -- anything is possible. But, as I sit here and think about what it must have been like for him to do that, I can't help feeling like a much, much smaller man than the Republican nominee.

Yes, it had to be hell for Col. Day to endure. I know what a severely broken bone feels like, having crushed my wrist in the past. But, the kind of psychological and, yes, moral strength required to do what McCain did in the name of camaraderie and respect strikes me as almost superhuman. I'm sure he would say that it was "just something he had to do". Somehow, that doesn't cover it for me. Not even close.

For all the puling and carping coming from the outer reaches of sane conservatism over this man being the Republican nominee, for me, it will be an unvarnished honor to pull the lever in his name this November.

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