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McCain Doubling Down On Military Service

Posted by: David Kiley on June 6, 2008

John McCain has begun to respond to Democratic attacks that he a candidate more about war than peace.

This new ad, titled: “Safe,” includes biography about the McCain family’s long military service, including the Senator’s own five year captivity.

It seems a bit odd to spend 30 seconds talking about military service to try and make the point that “I hate war.” But the emphasis on military service is aimed squarely at Hillary Clinton supporters who said they would not vote for Barack Obama. Those voters are overwhelmingly white, working-class men with whom the McCain campaign believes the candidate’s military service and family tradition will resonate.

It’s a risky creative strategy. I would like to see McCain delivering the same message, while, perhaps, walking with a playground of children in the background. The message of the ad is that McCain will keep us safe. But the emphasis on military service feels out of step at a time when it is being proven that the country with the biggest army and the most bombs and tanks doesn’t necessarily win in 21st century.

Talking about military service experience in a vacuum, staring statically into the camera, doesn’t quite make the point.

Reader Comments


June 6, 2008 2:49 PM

What is wrong with McCain,How can he does not like war but he has been the biggest support of bush's war.


June 6, 2008 2:49 PM

Thank God we have a warless minded future President of these our United States of American. So what's so wrong with that. Gandi was a man of peace, Budha, Jesus and others come to mind. Shame on McCain to think that sitting in a cell for 5 years means peace is not a consideration for this new country's future young. Stop putting down the Love of our sisterhood and brotherhood.


June 6, 2008 2:50 PM

Obviously he hates war. He was not a particularly good military man, finishing 890 out of 895 in his class at Anapolis going on to crash 4 planes.

Just who we need for president to keep the peace.


June 6, 2008 2:54 PM

How can McCain does not like war but he has been the biggest support of bush's war.


June 6, 2008 2:57 PM

This is really just communication !
The republican, nor the democrat are against war.If they are, they should demonstrate it by dismanteling all the armies and subvert war crappy operations.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” — President Dwight D. Eisenhower


June 6, 2008 3:00 PM

Wow. I'm surprised and concernec about the language he uses here. I don't like war either, and I wan't out of Iraq. I don't see a problem with putting clear plans in place for getting us out of there. Of course we would have to set milestones and dependencies, but we still need a real plan. I don't want to abandon Iraq. But I also know that I want to rebuild my own country too. And i want a timeline so that I know what to expect. War can not go on forever. That would be the worst thing for our country.


June 6, 2008 3:00 PM

I think Mccain is wise to use this strategy, but nevertheless if hillary is on obamas ticket Mccain doesn't have a chinamans chance in hell of being elected:0)

Steve Ogbone

June 6, 2008 3:04 PM

John McCain is working against two forces (the war lovers and the peace-makers)The Bush philosophy (war)and the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton (peace). If he (McCain) follows the out-dated way of life (war)he will see more of such ads. Change is the word Obama/Clinton ticket will not only bring peace but economy upliftment to Americans and the rest of the world. Let us support the new "Change" vote Obama for president.


June 6, 2008 3:10 PM

Don't be sexist...white women might also be interested in his message. I am going to listen to his message now that Obama is the nominee.

Philippe Rousset

June 6, 2008 3:12 PM

So far, Senator McCain has spent much time talking about Senator Obama, but has given little reason(s) to vote for him. Modern day Republicans are little more than organized gun dealers (wars) drug dealers (Afghaninstan opium growers enjoy military portection) and slave traders (import more Mexican who, with little or no english and no immigration status, languish in limbo) who import prostitues, criminals and body parts). And that is perfectly fine with the Republican who believe that Jesus is coming to save America, any minute now!?

tom cook

June 6, 2008 3:13 PM

Poor John is younger than I am, a Korean Vet, but I think his brain is turning to jelly. He would not be good for this great country. He is not the only vet who hates war, but he has a strange way of supporting that view.


June 6, 2008 3:13 PM

Did not care McCain said anything!!!!!!
I will vote for McCain because of DNP was unfair to woman/Mrs Bill. I will put
money/vote at Republic Party in coming
11-04-2008.Any Party have to treat
equal/respect America voter.


June 6, 2008 3:17 PM

This ad is pointless, everybody knows about Senator McCain's military service. When is he going to start talking about the trying the right our economy. Since the Dems gave him a three month head start he has had plenty of time to at least listen to some books on tape about the economy.

Besides it would be just as easy for him to keep the Bush tax cuts in place, so that he can continue the culture of Cronyism.


June 6, 2008 3:18 PM

Isn't it about time that we stop canonizing people just because they used to work for the Pentagon?


June 6, 2008 3:23 PM

McCain's military service and POW status were DECADES AGO!! How old was he anyway? What does his military service of decades ago have to do with today's policies? Times have changed drastically since the Viet Nam War in the 60s. The Military has changed as well. McCaine makes it sound like he was the ONLY hero back then! And he is trying to push it to his advantage to gain the Presidency. Thousands have served our country without expecting a "payback". From what I get from McCain is, "Look at me, I served my country, I was a POW, and now America OWES ME the Presidency"! The only reason he served his country was because his grandfather and father "PAVED" the way for him! He sure as heck was not and is not a very smart man. A con artist, yes; smart, no! We do not need a man who continually lives his past in the White House; this election, this time is about the now and the future, not the 60s.


June 6, 2008 3:30 PM

McCain has no chance this year, and definitly no chance in 4 years, after Obama proves that there is more then one way to run this country.


June 6, 2008 3:30 PM

Of course! With a nation of drug-laced, Nintendo-wired, TV-poisoned, Internet addicts who have reality interpreted for them instead of actually thinking----

...well, sure...McCain seems to have a tough that lacks the Democrat's promises of an easy life where the government will pull you out of every problem you, yourself, have opposed to one that actually places responsibility for your life's experiences where it belongs - WITH YOU.

McCain's military experience? Sadly we live an era softened by too many years of ease and propserity (of course, now starting to crumble, thanks to the WORST Congress in history - even lowered rated than the infamous pretend-GOP president...Bush)

So McCain's imprisonment & torture doesn't connect with the spoiled-brat, doped-up generation who can't understand why he even went through that in the first place. They probably blame him for doing it !

David K

June 6, 2008 3:35 PM

" is being proven that the country with the biggest army and the most bombs and tanks doesn’t necessarily win in 21st century. Talking about military service experience in a vacuum, staring statically into the camera, doesn’t quite make the point."

I disagree on multiple comments:

1. Military service is never conducted in a vacuum. Either you have it or you don't. Making comments on military strategy without serving is "thinking in a vacuum."

2. Military experience is extremely relevant to American voters with such a large capital and personnel commitment to Iraq.

3. I have yet to see "proof" that military size, armament, and technology are non-issues in winning wars. Please explain.

Side comment: Perhaps you meant to say that military armament is not as important for sustained guerilla warfare engagements? In this case I would agree, as such engagements require rotating a large number of troops through a combat area where armament is not as effective (i.e. urban warfare). However, I would still suggest that it is a military operation that can be won through size (number of troops available and capital) until a fledgling government can stand on its own and protect its people. Additionally, those tanks, planes, and bombs were essential in winnnig the first battles of the war.

From Kiley: Yes...when i say that......."it is being proven that the country with the biggest army and the most bombs and tanks doesn’t necessarily win in 21st century. Talking about military service experience in a vacuum, staring statically into the camera, doesn’t quite make the point."......

i am making the point that successfully battling guerilla insurgents in Iraq does not seem to require a greater number of tanks and missiles than the insurgents....


June 6, 2008 3:48 PM

McCain's modus operandi is worst then being a war monger. He is a an elitist son and grand son of admirals, who received preferential treatment all his life, with his birth in the Canal Zone Panama, neither US soil or US sovereign territory to qualify John Sidney McCain to be a "Natural Born" citizen, as required by the Constitution, a very specific qualification for the Presidency.
McCain received Preferential treatment for admission to the Naval Academy, where the elite gun ho playboy graduated at the bottom of his class.
His Navy record is full of holes and favoritism through and through. He destroyed two jet fighters during his short stint in Vietnam. When he was shot down, his was saved from drowning/beaten to death all courtesy of a poor Vietnamese farmer, that McCain the elite war hero did not even bother to acknowledge for over three decades. And as a US Senator, when he did, all he wanted was a photo op. For all his real heroism the poor farmer ever received from McCain was a cheap senate trinket. When the man died and McCain at the time was in Vietnam, neither he or his office even bothered with condolences. Some compassionate freaking war hero!
His own POW mates contend that as a son of the admiral who commanded all Pacific Naval Operations, McCain received preferential treatment while a POW.
After the war he was ushered before Nixon and the Navy contra to all regulations and protocols offered Lt. Commander McCain a assignment of his choice. He elected War college, which is limited to higher ranks and merit. McCain's merits were bottom of his class graduate, destruction of two fighter jets and 5 Years POW. After that with a rank of Capitan, he ended up as a Naval Liaison to the US Senate, where he greased his way through boozing and womanizing with the likes of Senator John Tower of Texas and Gary Hart of Colorado, but disgraced boozers and uncouth womanizers.

As a courtesy of the above two and their auspices, McCain with a new, second wife, the Arizona Beer Baron Heiress was elected a Arizona Congressman. He has done nothing but just creased his way as a pet Navy defender and his elite birth right.

Nikos Retsos

June 6, 2008 4:04 PM

There has never been such a warmongering figure as John McCain since the days of the late Barry Goldwater. Sure the late president Gerald Ford ordered air strikes in an island off Cambodia during the Mayaguez
incident, Reagan bomber Libya, and Bill Clinton bomber a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, and an abandoned Al Qaeda base in Afghanistan.

But McCain is a person who goes ballistic for the slightest disagreement with him, and 100 times more bloodthirsty than George Bush. During the bombing of former Yugoslavia, NATO
considered stopping the bombing after it had bombed a civilian train, a hospital, and the Chinese embassy. But McCain was unrepentant: "We cannot stop bombing," he said. "If we do we lose, and we cannot lose. We are a superpower." And that brings us back to his indiscriminate bombing of the capital of North Vietnam without any scruples for the civilians in the city. Ho Chi Minh was not Hitler, we were the occupiers there, but McCain instincts now and then were: "Kill anybody who opposes us; we are a superpower; we cannot lose." And that reverberates strongly today in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in his readiness to bomb Iran in a vain effort to prserve Israeli supremacy in Middle East. But that means a deluge of Iranian missiles to U.S. interests in the Gulf, destruction of pro-U.S. oil depots, gasoline prices at $15 a gallon, and a collapse of the U.S. economy.

McCain has a history of warmongering, and he cannot change that because he thinks war is a virtue if you kill everybody in the planet for the good of the U.S. That is certainly incomprehensible, but for McCain, who has encapsulated himself in the cocoon of George Armstrong Custer, that what life is all about -global hegemony at any cost. But in the 21rst century, this kind of thinking is self suicidal.
Unfortunately, he is incapable of understanding his own bloodthirsty passion and inclination.
Nikos Retsos, retired academic.

Botox McCain

June 6, 2008 4:30 PM

Botox McCain's got my vote...just not for president.


June 6, 2008 6:03 PM

Shot down in a losing war , captured and held prisoner, and this guy's proud of that? Jeez what a jerk

cm grigg

June 6, 2008 7:11 PM

I'll be the jerk that bridges the subject...Looking back at McCains time in the service, was his service distinguished? He did poorly in training (borderline insubordinate by superiors admission) and then he was captured... I know some people would be outraged that anyone would question a vet but we must.. Americans must ask difficult questions because we are able to..All the service people are being given a free pass..Its not right to us or them

Joel Friedland

June 6, 2008 9:44 PM

McCain has collected a 100% disability pension from the navy for over 25 years. He hiked the Grand Canyon last year. Does he really need a 100% disability pension?

Stan G

June 7, 2008 4:39 AM

As a kid, I saw a film about Sgt. York. It was thrilling. He was a hero. He captured a whole bunch of German soldiers all by himself. I also watched Stalag 17 about a group of GIs who made a daring escape from a German prison camp. Heroes all.
I watched Jonn Wayne shoot Fokkers and Messerschmidts out of the sky.
I came away thinking that the idea was to kill or capture the enemy, and that way you got to be a hero.
For example, I don't think those guys in Guantanamo are considered heroes, no matter how much torture they are inflicted. They are the losers and the only glory they can hope for is martyrdom.
Getting shot down and spending 5 years in a prison camp does not qualify you to a job leading a squadron. Coming in next to last in your class at military academy, a hundred years ago, doesn't make you a military genius.
Now, if Eisenhauer were running, or even Colin Powell ... well, that'd be a different story.

saint peter Ii

June 7, 2008 6:57 AM

john mccain is a third generation card carrying member of the military industrial complex and it's axiomatic that he would advocate putting people in uniforms, marching them around and seeking to solve complex problems with violence. it's what the man is all about. it would be difficult for any party to come up with someone who is less qualified to deal with the shifting realities of foreign policy in a world where reliance on the sharply con-scribed limitations of military power guarantee endless unwinnable and unaffordable outcomes, but then john doesn't know much about economics.


June 7, 2008 8:17 AM

McCain is an insane PTSD sufferer with an anger management problem who should not even be running for the top job. He graduated 890 out of 895 and, inspite of this, became a Navy aviator with the help of his Admiral Father and Grandfather. He lost four planes before being shot down and captured in his fifth. He left his first wife for a hot rich 25 year old who "misappropriated" drugs from a non-profit she ran and now has brain damage. Google the facts yourself!


June 7, 2008 9:38 AM

Won't convince me. There is absolutely no way whatsoever I'll vote for a scheming hawk like McFlyboy. I'm not so sure about Obama either. What about None of the Above.

Dave Miner

June 7, 2008 10:41 PM

We owe McCain our gratitude for his service. We owe him nothing for his bad judgement as demonstrated by his embrace of George Bush Jr. and his disastrous eight years "leading" our country. Certainly not the Presidency. We don't need "the decider"II.


July 4, 2008 7:38 PM

McCain’s reputation as a war hero rests on the sum total of 20 hours in combat. That’s right. McCain spent only 20 hours in combat in the entire war. He flew 23 missions. He got 28 medals. In other words, he got more medals than he had missions. Not bad. It should be noted that none of McCain’s medals related to anything he did in combat. They were given for the supposed bravery he displayed after he had been shot down and captured.

It’s appropriate to ask whether McCain’s shoot-down was caused by bad luck or simple incompetence on his part. Of course, there is no way to answer definitively. But we can form an assessment based on the rest of McCain’s military record. At the Naval Academy, McCain graduated almost of his class. He was 790th out of 795. McCain lost many aircraft over the course of his military career – five in total. Most pilots who lost aircraft at the rate McCain did would have been kicked out of the service. But McCain had protection from up on high. His father was an admiral. He was an untouchable. So McCain blundered his way through his military career until he was finally shot down.

McCain claims that he was tortured while in custody. There were no other American witnesses to this torture and some former POWs doubt that it happened at all. In fact, McCain himself admitted in a 1973 interview with the magazine US News and World Report that he volunteered to give military information in return for medical treatment, even before being subjected to any torture.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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