I’m a former McCainiac from 2000 and a current Obamacon. I like John McCain and will not be crushed if he becomes our next President. However, because of my current enthusiasm for Obama, which has settled down a bit lately, I’ve been more willing to cast a skeptical eye towards McCain. This is human nature. We all want to validate our prejudices. This morning a few random mouse clicks led me to an aspect of McCain’s self image that has gone unremarked on.
In his recent Saddleback Church interview John McCain was asked what his greatest failing had been and he instantly said it was his 1979 divorce. It took place a few years after his return from Vietnam. His wife, now an ex, had been injured and disfigured in a traffic accident while McCain was a prisoner of war. He evidently lost interest in her very quickly upon his return.
I agree with McCain. This divorce is a blot on his reputation but more troubling to me is his comment about it in one of his many autobiographies. He puts his divorce in a very different light than he did at Saddleback.
“Today, in our excessively psychoanalyzed society, sharing one’s secret fears with others takes courage. So does escaping a failing marriage.”
*Source: John McCain and Marshall Salter, Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life, page 14.
So, according to McCain, while his divorce was his greatest failing it was also a sign of his courage. Yes, he abandoned his injured wife and children to marry a rich, young, woman who has made it much easier for him to realize his early political ambitions. That analysis is right up there with the Cowardly Lion’s explanation of the word. “Courage. It puts the ape in apricot.”
Loyalty to one’s nation is admirable and John McCain, like the 600 or so other survivors of the Hanoi Hilton, has it in spades. But another oath: “for better, for worse, for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health” took a back seat to his vanity and ambition. I’ll keep this in mind every time one of his ads pop up and impugns Barack Obama for being an arugula loving, media darling.