Campaigns/Elections

Did McCain Raise His Hand Against a Lady in a Wheelchair?

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The McClatchy News Service today has a mostly run-of-the-mill, if thoroughly sourced, piece about John McCain's legendary temper. There was, though, one anecdote I don't recall seeing before:

In 1992, McCain sparred with Dolores Alfond, the chairwoman of the National Alliance of Families for the Return of America's Missing Servicemen and Women, at a Senate hearing. McCain's prosecutor-like questioning of Alfond—available on YouTube—left her in tears.

Four years later, at her group's Washington conference, about 25 members went to a Senate office building, hoping to meet with McCain. As they stood in the hall, McCain and an aide walked by.

Six people present have written statements describing what they saw. According to the accounts, McCain waved his hand to shoo away Jeannette Jenkins, whose cousin was last seen in South Vietnam in 1970, causing her to hit a wall.

As McCain continued walking, Jane Duke Gaylor, the mother of another missing serviceman, approached the senator. Gaylor, in a wheelchair equipped with portable oxygen, stretched her arms toward McCain.

"McCain stopped, glared at her, raised his left arm ready to strike her, composed himself and pushed the wheelchair away from him," according to Eleanor Apodaca, the sister of an Air Force captain missing since 1967.

McCain's staff wouldn't respond to requests for comment about specific incidents.

A couple of contextual follow-ups: 1) POW/MIA families hate John McCain, for his (yes) inappropriate temper when berating them as part of his career-long drive to Get Vietnam Behind Us, and for what they see as his obstructionist role in getting federal documents on POW/MIA issues made public at long last. Some of the most scurrilous attacks on McCain–that he's some kind of Manchurian Candidate, made crazy and/or traitorous in his Hanoi cell–emanate from those who have made their cause (and living?) out of believing that we still have boys back there in the jungle. 2) Six written statements is a lot more than one.

As always, stories of McCain using curse-words at fellow senators generally make me like him more, not less, though occasionally those incidents, too, reflect times when he's being accurately called out on something, and knows it. But he also has a history of unleashing McNasty onto people with less power, who have the temerity to question their government in a way that might be perceived as doubting its (or his) Honor.

I will want to hear much more about those five other affidavits, though, before believing that a sitting U.S. senator would actually raise his arm against an oxygen-sucking geriatric in a wheelchair.

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  1. POW/MIA families hate John McCain

    As do many Vietnam veterans, my father included. They really fucking hate the McCain.

  2. Well, he couldn’t have raised it very high.

    (sorry, couldn’t resist)

  3. I will want to hear much more about those five other affidavits, though, before believing that

    But I’ll pass along this rumor I feel is unsubstantiated anyway?

  4. Dan Akroyd as Bob Dole: I saw George Bush smack a senate page to the ground. . . and a female one at that.

    Dana Carvey as George HW Bush: Ahhh, she had it coming.

  5. I heard that every morning he eats a live kitten.

  6. We have here six affidavits from avowed opponents of John McCain that:

    (a) offer their interpretation of an arm motion by McCain; and

    (b) all agree that he didn’t actually hit the cripple.

    Now, as I have repeatedly said, I have little use for McCain, authoritarian asshole, etc., but could we please not use limited mediaspace on crap like this when there are scads of real stories/issues to be tracked down?

  7. But I’ll pass along this rumor I feel is unsubstantiated anyway?

    No, I’ll hopefully add some contextual value to a heavily sourced news article that’s all over the wires today.

  8. Has there ever been a shred of credible evidence of US POWs in Vietnam in the past three decades?

    Rambo doesn’t count.

  9. Sugarfree– there is that episode of the X-Files with the escaped POW tries to shoot guys who may well be McCain stand ins.

  10. “an arm motion”

    Yes, when six out of six people agree that someone raised his arm to hit somebody, it was probably fraught with ambiguity.

  11. Who knows if there’s a shred of credible evidence, but if there’s NOT, why make such hysterical attempts to block information proving just that? I think this issue is a few rich Democrats and a 501c3/527 away from being *just* like the Swiftboat issue for Kerry. In fact, if I were the rich Democrats, I’d have the resulting ads ape the Swiftboat ads against Kerry. Even ignoring the issue of McCain’s temper, why would he act this way on this particular issue? I can’t think of any good reasons…

  12. No, I’ll hopefully add some contextual value to a heavily sourced news article that’s all over the wires today.

    OK…

    This is why no publicity is bad publicity.

    If you can get enough people to repeat the false claim, eventually it becomes common knowledge.

    This is true even if the repetition starts with some variation of “It is not true that…”

  13. Toxic,

    Well, that clears it up.

    “Mulder said it, I believe it, and that’s enough for me.”

  14. My main point, however, is that if a journalist says “I will want to hear much more…” it can be translated as “I don’t feel like doing the actually leg work to confirm/refute this claim.”

    Of course this is just a blog post…so it doesn’t matter…right?

  15. Yes, when six out of six people agree that someone raised his arm to hit somebody, . .

    If memory serves, McCain suffers from injuries that occurred during captivity. He cannot raise his hands above his shoulders and someone must comb his hair for him.

    While that does not disprove the allegation, I have some doubts that McCain actually has the capacity to actually hit anyone.

  16. SugarFree,

    Has there ever been a shred of credible evidence of US POWs in Vietnam in the past three decades?

    Yes. I’d say that it is pretty clear that US POWs remained in SE Asia following the end of the conflict. Now, whether any of them are still alive today is another matter.

  17. …limited mediaspace…

    What is this thing you speak of?

  18. JMR,

    Who knows if there’s a shred of credible evidence, but if there’s NOT, why make such hysterical attempts to block information proving just that?

    You can’t prove a negative. What evidence would convince them that their belief for the last thirty years is wrong? Is their some magical report FOIA could give them that would satisfy them?

    Even ignoring the issue of McCain’s temper, why would he act this way on this particular issue? I can’t think of any good reasons…

    I’m going to go with “asshole.” That’s why he acts this way.

  19. “Mulder said it, I believe it, and that’s enough for me.”

    It’s “I want to believe”. Get your X-files straight.

  20. Has there ever been a shred of credible evidence of US POWs in Vietnam in the past three decades?

    No. I lump the issue in with WTC 7 and the faked moon landing.

  21. J sub D,

    Since we apparently left personnel on the ground there after the close of the fighting it is nothing like WTC 7 or the fake moon landing notions.

  22. J sub D,

    By personnel I mean POWs.

  23. Seward,

    Well, that’s what I’m getting at. The VC would have killed them decades ago, if admitting they still had them would damage them internationally. Believing in POWs alive in Vietnam today is false hope run into madness.

    The MIA thing is another matter. If they know where there are bodies they should turn them over. But, at the same time, 30-40 years in the jungle in a shallow grave, if any grave at all, combined with bodies vaporized by bombs or cremated with fire. Much of the movement seems to be demanding something that doesn’t exist and information that can never be known. And not taking “nobody knows” for an answer.

    Not taking Grandpa AngryPants’ side, but if the Vietnam equivalent of 9/11 Troofers were hounding you for decades for information that doesn’t or can’t exist, you’d be pretty sick of them too.

  24. SugarFree,

    Well, that’s what I’m getting at. The VC would have killed them decades ago, if admitting they still had them would damage them internationally. Believing in POWs alive in Vietnam today is false hope run into madness.

    That’s one way to look at it. However, since it came out years later that we likely left POWs there after the close of the conflict the hope that POWs might remain a justifiable hope. One could also argue that without all the pressure on this issue we would have never known that it was likely we left these folks there.

  25. You’re being disingenuous joe. It is not “six out of six.” It is six out of [however many people were there]. Thanks for playing.

  26. So nowadays bitch slapping a cripple is a bad thing?

    What is the world coming to?

  27. POW/MIA families hate John McCain

    As do many Vietnam veterans, my father included. They really fucking hate the McCain.

    Why is that? Do they think he made his career off being a POW? Or is there something else?

  28. My main point, however, is that if a journalist says “I will want to hear much more…” it can be translated as “I don’t feel like doing the actually leg work to confirm/refute this claim.”

    So I guess I shouldn’t have poured water on the Vicki Iseman allegation when it came out, then? Because I’m supposed to corroborate every controversial piece of journalism on John McCain?

  29. Even ignoring the issue of McCain’s temper, why would he act this way on this particular issue? I can’t think of any good reasons…

    There’s an excellent reason, as pointed out at length in my book: Ever since he set foot back on terra America in 1973, John McCain was traumatized by the way the country he fought for was riven asunder by divisions over Vietnam. For the next quarter century, arguably the single-most important target of his politics was to Get Vietnam Behind Us, so that America could stop doubting herself & thereby get back to the urgent business of confidently keeping the world safe for democracy. For years, the biggest single obstacle to that goal (as expressed by normalizing fully diplomatic relations) was the POW/MIA issue. Hence, McCain, already an impatient type, was doubly impatient on this particular issue. Also, he didn’t take it kindly to have his & the government’s honor called into question by the likes of Ted Sampley.

  30. You’re being disingenuous joe. It is not “six out of six.”

    It’s six out the six people who reported what they saw.

    Writing “thanks for playing” at the end of an dodge…still leaves a dodge.

  31. Seward,

    I’m fine with people wanting to know if their loved ones were left behind there, and that it happened was pretty evil. But demanding to know the unknowable is a pretty unreasonable position to hold for three decades.

    As a related aside… conspiracy theorists everywhere seem to think they are only document away from exposing a truth that will outrage everyone. Is it even possible to outrage everyone anymore? Especially considering the horrible stuff we already know the government did and don’t seem to give a shit about.

    Seriously, imagine something definitive is found proving a CIA sniper team killed JFK under Johnson’s direct orders… After a couple of news cycles and a few “I KNEW IT!” books, what would really change on the political landscape? How many people would ultimately give a shit?

  32. It’s six out the six people avowed opponents of McCain who reported what they saw.

    And what they saw was, at worst, McCain getting his temper under control. The monster!

  33. Didn’t we send in contract killers to clean up any loose American personnel before leaving Vietnam? How were those people classified?
    Deserters,MIAs,POWs? IIRC there were quite a few of them.

  34. kinnath,

    By definition, somone who raises his had against a lady in a wheelchair because he’s pissed off is acting reflexively.

  35. And what they saw was, at worst, McCain getting his temper under control.

    IIRC, there are 1200 nuclear warheads at the president’s disposal.

    Even some of his Repblican colleagues have said they don’t like the idea of someone with his temper in that position.

  36. Hmmmm. I’d heard the reason might have had more to do with the Vietnamese beer concession. Anyway, the evidence mentioned in various URLs found above seems to be a bit beyond the “prove a negative” phase.

  37. Why is that? Do they think he made his career off being a POW? Or is there something else?

    It’s because Marines are utterly trained in “you never leave anyone behind, EVER” and even the thought of POWs/MIA causes them debilitating pain. McCain’s willingness to close the book on that pisses them off. It’s irrational, but it is part of being a Marine. The fact that McCain is a squid doesn’t help.

  38. Because I’m supposed to corroborate every controversial piece of journalism on John McCain?

    You are missing my point.

    Step One: Journalist- “I wonder if that is really true?”
    Step Two: Research and discover the truth or falsehood.
    a) talk to the six people
    b) get McCain’s side
    c) find other people who were there that did not sign an affidavit
    d)etc…
    Step Three: Report findings.

    Or you can just read the wires and give us your opinion.

  39. Pointing out sloppy language is not a dodge. Just be more accurate next time.

  40. joe,

    Your comment is like saying “10 of 10 people support McCain” while ignoring the fact that the sample is taken from the Republican convention.

  41. Neu-
    You missed ‘profit’ somewhere in there.

    No wonder newspapers are hemoraging money

  42. Gnome,

    Profit only requires…

    Step One: Publish something provocative that may or may not be true.

  43. Sugar Free, I know of two men’s remains that were returned years after this McCain incident after nearly 30 years. Found in 2000 and finally identified nearly four years later.

    So years after McCain’s alleged behaviour towards these women, remains are found. The chances are getting less and less, you are correct…just wanted to point out that it was still a viable option 1992.

  44. No, I’ll hopefully add some contextual value to a heavily sourced news article that’s all over the wires today.

    eh?

  45. Reason is more disappointing than the current candidates these days.

  46. Brian,

    That’s like almost 300 hits on google.

    300…my god.

    8^)

    (the wires are not google, but…)

  47. capelza,

    I know the remains are still coming in, and that is a very good thing. But the National Alliance of Families for the Return of America’s Missing Servicemen and Women website spends most of its time talking about POWs, living prisoners of war still in captivity.

  48. NutraSweet, why do you hate the troops?

  49. I don’t hate the troops; I find it fascinating which conspiracy theories gain enough credibility to be unquestionable.

    Show me evidence of POWs in Vietnam right now, and you have my enthusiastic support for reducing the country to rubble to get them back…

  50. The wires aren’t google, but the most, uh…mm..hmm, reputable, place I can find the story is here. It’s a great press release, mind you. Outstanding.

  51. Much ado about nothing. I do hope that McCain blows his top in front of the cameras before Nov. 4 though. My political wet dream is to have both candidatesdiscredit themselves prior to Nov. 4.

    Anybody want to lay odds?

    Seward,
    I’m still trying to figure out why the Vienamese would risk keeping POWs after a peace treaty had been signed but before it was a given that the US had accepted its loss.

    Yours and others assertations is not evidence. I’m certain they killed some POWs in custody. I might believe they killed some to cover up agregious torture after signing an agreement to release them.

    After the exchange of prisoners, there were no unwilling US servicemen in North Vietnam.

    I cannot prove a negative. All you have to do is prove a positive.

  52. “McCain stopped, glared at her, raised his left arm ready to strike her, composed himself and pushed the wheelchair away from him,” according to Eleanor Apodaca, the sister of an Air Force captain missing since 1967.

    Was the result similar to the scene in the Rocky Horror Picture Show?

  53. I do hope that McCain blows his top in front of the cameras before Nov. 4 though.

    My guess is they’ve got him on some ‘ludes or something, at least for duration of the campaign. Which is ok with me, I need ’em sometimes to. I don’t particularly trust a man who keeps it on an even keel all the time.

  54. What if someone showed evidence of POWs not right now, but well known to the US intel community at the time of the McCain/Kerry dominated hearings in question? And further, suppose the evidence, while secret at the time, was incontrovertible (say sat. photos of POWs with an “SOS” or something).

  55. “I will want to hear much more about those five other affidavits, though, before believing that a sitting U.S. senator would actually raise his arm against an oxygen-sucking geriatric in a wheelchair.”

    McCain is a big fan of the conquest of Iraq, and is pretty well known for wanting to bomb Iran. I think it’s pretty likely that some of the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people murdered with his fervent support were geriatrics in wheelchairs.

  56. “”McCain stopped, glared at her, raised his left arm ready to strike her, composed himself and pushed the wheelchair away from him,” according to Eleanor Apodaca, the sister of an Air Force captain missing since 1967.”

    CRIPPLE FIGHT!!!

    Jesus this blog sucks.

  57. I heard the reason Matt hates McCain is because when Matt was a kid McCain had sex with Matt’s mom and wouldn’t let Matt watch.

  58. “I heard the reason Matt hates McCain is because when Matt was a kid McCain had sex with Matt’s mom and wouldn’t let Matt watch.”

    I heard that somewhere too!

  59. “I heard that somewhere too!”

    Shocking story. How sad for Lil’ Matt.

  60. “I heard that somewhere too!”

    I did too. Oh, and something abot bondage.

  61. “”I heard the reason Matt hates McCain is because when Matt was a kid McCain had sex with Matt’s mom and wouldn’t let Matt watch.”

    It was in Pennsylvania if I remeber the press release.

  62. “It was in Pennsylvania if I remeber the press release.”

    I heard it was Maryland, but maybe McCain did it more than once. That McCain sure is a dog.

    Plus I heard that every morning he eats a live kitten.

  63. “There’s an excellent reason, as pointed out at length in my book”

    Please stop shilling your fucking book.

    Sorry about your mom though.

  64. “Please stop shilling your fucking book.”

    If not Matt, who?

  65. who among us has not been tempted to take a swipe at a wacko loony? i take the non-initiation of force ideal seriously, but i’m only an inperfect mortal after all. so 9/11 truthers, among others, better just frickin stay away from me. and the folks w/ all the pow/mia flags aren’t too far behind.

  66. who among us has not been tempted to take a swipe at a wacko loony? i take the non-initiation of force ideal seriously, but i’m only an inperfect mortal after all. so 9/11 truthers, among others, better just frickin stay away from me. and the folks w/ all the pow/mia flags aren’t too far behind.

    Remember this?
    Does anybody sane really blame Buzz for his reaction?

  67. This is why you’ll never see Matt Welch photogramped within arm’s reach of McCain whenever Matt is sitting down or McCain is on some kind of raised pedestal.

  68. “photogramped”

    Yearrgh!

    photographed.

  69. Seward, I read your link. It contains nothing to refute what I posted upthread.

    I’m certain they killed some POWs in custody. I might believe they killed some to cover up agregious torture after signing an agreement to release them.

    After the exchange of prisoners, there were no unwilling US servicemen in North Vietnam.

  70. “Remember this?
    Does anybody sane really blame Buzz for his reaction?”

    Been watching classic films from the 1945-1959 era. Back then, it was both common and socially acceptible for the lead to land a punch on some jerk. When did we turn into a nation of sissies?

  71. J sub D,

    Except the remarks of two members of the Nixon administration. Of course you can believe what you want to. However, I am going to give some weight to what these gentlement have said in light of how they came to their conclusion.

  72. I have read that there are still about 10,000 MIAs from WWII and 5,000 from Korea. Why don’t we hear or see protests from their families?

    The US lists a soldier as MIA if a body was not recovered. In the event that other soldiers state that a comrade was KIA they are still carried on the books as MIA untill the Army can verify the death via a body or remains.

    It is very sad that these families are being taken advantage of by people who have a political adgenda.

  73. Amid a bunch of chaff about book shilling,

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/128661.html#1075534

    seems to have been lost. Assume my hypothetical is plausible, please, someone, and tell me something I don’t already know.

  74. JMR — The S.O.S. photos, in particular, are why some POW/MIA activists hate McCain (and John Kerry) with a particular intensity.

  75. I cannot prove a negative. All you have to do is prove a positive.

    The Us government asked Saddam to prove a negative. So, I guess they must have their ways of proving negatives.

  76. The Us government asked Saddam to prove a negative. So, I guess they must have their ways of proving negatives.

    Have you considered the possibility that the present administration is not exactly rational?

  77. That’s the thing. In those hearings, McCain & Kerry managed to ask America (in pre-Photoshop days) “who do you believe, us, or your own 2 eyes.” Nobody in the media — even Stewart or Colbert — seems to be calling McCain on it. I know he’s a POW-hero, and that calling him would mean heat from the conservatives, but so what? I’ve taken heat from the left and heat from the right in the past, and I survived. And clearly credible evidence beyond photographs was available to our intel agencies, which knew Kerry & McCain weren’t telling the truth. Now, with the Vietnamese beer factory connections, you’d think the lefties would start squawking.

  78. This is interesting, I wanna hear more about it.

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