Last night on the Tonight Show, Senator McCain was jokingly asked by Jay Leno how many houses he owned. The senator turned serious, and sadly, couldn’t resist the urge to play the POW card yet again:
“Could I just mention to you Jay, that in a moment of seriousness, I spent five and a half years in a prison cell, I didn’t have a house, I didn’t have a kitchen table, I didn’t have a table, I didn’t have a chair,” said McCain, citing his history as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. “I spent those five and half years not because I wanted to get a house when I got back home.”
McCain has come under criticism after he confessed he didn’t know how many homes he owns with his wife Cindy. The source of the family’s wealth is a Phoenix beer distributorship launched by her father.
“I’m very proud of Cindy’s father,” McCain said. “He’s a guy who barely got out of high school, fought in World War II in the Army, came home and made a business and made the American dream.”
His father-in-law “made the American dream” with his business success and has a long history of generosity to charities, McCain said.
“We spend our time in a condominium in Washington, a condominium in Phoenix, some time over here in the state of California and then we have a place up in northern Arizona,” said McCain, seeking to deflect Democratic criticism that he’s out of touch with working families.
“And my friends I’m proud of my record of service to this country, and it has nothing to do with houses,” he said.
The sad thing about this is, if you take out the first paragraph, it’s actually a well-thought out, strongly worded and intelligent response to the question. However, by invoking his former POW status up front in his reply, McCain is clearly attempting once again to use it as a way to deflect criticism. And using it in such a trivial instance as this is just sad. Is this how he wants his military record to be remembered, as a catch-phrase or worse, a punchline for stand-up comedians?
I don’t think so. He should really quit now, before he damages his own credibility beyond repair and cheapens the experiences of his fellow Prisoners of War.