Richard Cohen: John McCain, a man of supreme resolve and honor – New York News




John McCain’s mother’s name is Roberta. She is 105. When I met her, she was somewhat younger and something of a mythical figure to those who knew her son. He had often told about her trips through Europe and Asia by car while in her 90s, and so one night at a party John McCain was giving I approached her, wanting to know more about her. I asked how she had weathered the five years her son had been a POW in Vietnam. She brushed it off. “We’re Navy,” she said.

She need not have said any more.

John Sidney McCain is the son of a four-star admiral. He is the grandson of a four-star admiral. He himself rose to the rank of captain, but as a Navy aviator he was shot down over Hanoi during the Vietnam War, imprisoned, and suffered two years in solitary. When he ejected from his plane, he broke a leg and both arms. On the ground, he was bayoneted. At first, he was denied medical treatment and then, when it was offered, it was rudimentary. He was repeatedly tortured, beaten every two hours, wracked with dysentery. The North Vietnamese wanted him to accept release, but he refused. The Navy had its rules: First in, first out. McCain would wait his turn even if it cost him his life. He tried suicide, but finally he broke. He made a propaganda recording.

Now McCain has brain cancer of the worst kind. The prognosis is not good and for me to write otherwise would violate the McCain spirit. His campaign bus was called the Straight Talk Express — and it was. I climbed aboard it in 2000 in New Hampshire and before I knew it, we were in California. It was the ride of my life,…

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