Sometimes it is important to see someone through anothers eyes. I am not soloiciting support here, just passing along info about what appears to be a fine, moral ,and decent man. I was once told that character is defined by how people act when no one is looking, if that is so, then this guy has plenty.
Getting to Know John McCain By Karl Rove The Wall Street Journal
It came to me while I was having dinner with Doris Day. No, not that Doris Day.The Doris Day who is married to Col. Bud Day, Congressional Medal of Honorrecipient, fighter pilot, Vietnam POW and roommate of John McCain at the HanoiHilton. As we ate near the Days' home in Florida recently, I heard things about Sen. McCain t hat were deeply moving and politically troubling. Moving because theytold me things about him the American people need to know. And troublingbecause it is clear that Mr. McCain is one of the most private individuals torun for president in history.When it comes to choosing a president, the American people want to know moreabout a candidate than policy positions. They want to know about character, thevalues ingrained in his heart. For Mr. McCain, that means they will want to knowmore about him personally than he has been willing to reveal. Mr. Day relayed to me one of the stories Americans should hear. It involves whathappened to him after escaping from a North Vietnamese prison during the war.When he was recaptured, a Vietnamese captor broke his arm and said, "Itold you I would make you a cripple." The break was designed to shatter Mr. Day's will. He had survived in prison onthe hope that one day he would return to the United States and be able to flyagain. To kill that hope, the Vietnamese left part of a bone sticking out ofhis arm, and put him in a misshapen cast. This was done so that the arm wouldheal at "a goofy angle," as Mr. Day explained. Had it done so, henever 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 touse as a splint. Mr. McCain put Mr. Day on the floor of their cell and, using his foot, jerkedthe broken bone into place. Then, using strips from the bandage on his ownwounded leg and the bamboo, he put Mr. Day's splint in place. Former POW Earnest Brace describes conversations with John McCain <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120965615907859607.html?mod=Commentary-US> through the walls of a Hanoi prison. Years later, Air Force surgeons examined Mr. Day and complimented the treatmenthe'd gotten from his captors. Mr. Day corrected them. It was Dr. McCain whodeserved the credit. Mr. Day went on to fly again. Another story I heard over dinner with the Days involved Mr. McCain serving asone of the three chaplains for his fellow prisoners. At one point, after beingshuttled among different prisons, Mr. Day had found himself as the most seniorofficer at the Hanoi Hilton. So he tapped Mr. McCain to help administerreligious services to the other prisoners. Today, Mr. Day, a very active 83, still vividly recalls Mr. McCain's sermons."He remembered the Episcopal liturgy," Mr. Day says, "andsounded like a bona fide preacher." One of Mr. McCain's first sermons tookas its text Luke 20:25 and Matthew 22:21, "render unto Caesar what isCaesar's and unto God what is God's." Mr. McCain said he and his fellowprisoners shouldn't ask God to free them, but to help them become the bestpeople they could be while serving as POWs. It was Caesar who put them inprison an d Caes ar who would get them out. Their task was to act with honor. Another McCain story, somewhat better known, is about the Vietnamese practice oftorturing him by tying his head between his ankles with his arms behind him, andthen leaving him for hours. The torture so badly busted up his shoulders that tothis day Mr. McCain can't raise his arms over his head. One night, a Vietnamese guard loosened his bonds, returning at the end of hiswatch to tighten them again so no one would notice. Shortly after, on ChristmasDay, the same guard stood beside Mr. McCain in the prison yard and drew a crossin the sand before erasing it. Mr. McCain later said that when he returned toVietnam for the first time after the war, the only person he really wanted tomeet was that guard. Mr. Day recalls with pride Mr. McCain stubbornly refusing to accept specialtreatment or curry favor to be released early, even when gravely ill. Mr.McCain knew the Vietnamese wante d the propaganda victory of the son andgrandson of Navy admirals accepting special treatment. "He wasn'tcorruptible then," Mr. Day says, "and he's not corruptibletoday." The stories told to me by the Days involve more than wartime valor. For example, in 1991 Cindy McCain was visiting Mother Teresa's orphanage inBangladesh when a dying infant was thrust into her hands. The orphanage couldnot provide the medical care needed to save her life, so Mrs. McCain broughtthe child home to America with her. She was met at the airport by her husband,who asked what all this was about. Mrs. McCain replied that the child desperately needed surgery and years ofrehabilitation. "I hope she can stay with us," she told her husband.Mr. McCain agreed. Today that child is their teenage daughter Bridget. I was aware of this story. What I did not know, and what I learned from Doris,is that there was a second infant Mrs. McCain brought back . She ended up beingadopted by a young McCain aide and his wife. "We were called at midnight by Cindy," Wes Gullett remembers, and"five days later we met our new daughter Nicki at the L.A. airport wearingthe only clothing Cindy could find on the trip back, a 7-Up T-shirt she boughtin the Bangkok airport." Today, Nicki is a high school sophomore. Mr.Gullett told me, "I never saw a hospital bill" for her care. A few, but not many, of the stories told to me by the Days have been writtenabout, such as in Robert Timberg's 1996 book "A Nightingale's Song."But Mr. McCain rarely refers to them on the campaign trail. There is somethingadmirable in his reticence, but he needs to overcome it. Private people like Mr. McCain are rare in politics for a reason. Candidates whoare uncomfortable sharing their interior lives limit their appeal. But if Mr.McCain is to win the election this fall, he has to open up. Americans need to know abo ut his vision for the nation's future, especially hispolicy positions and domestic reforms. They also need to learn about the momentsin his life that shaped him. Mr. McCain cannot make this a biography-onlycampaign Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but he can't afford to make it a biography-free campaigneither. Unless he opens up more, many voters will never know the experiences ofhis life that show his character, integrity and essential decency. These qualities mattered in America's first president and will matter asAmericans decide on their 44th president.
Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to PresidentGeorge W. Bush.