Thinking vs. feeling

Terry Garlock's picture

Why is it that so many Obama supporters seem to reach their decision by feelings while so many McCain supporters seem to reach their decision by thinking?

I’m sure my liberal friends will accuse me of being a shameless McCain hack, but intellectual honesty compels me to admit McCain wouldn’t be my first choice because he’s more like a Democrat than a Republican to me. I would rather vote for Mitt Romney, more of a true conservative.

My friend Jim Warner knows McCain well, spent five years as a POW with McCain in North Vietnam. Like me, Jim will vote for McCain but would rather vote for Romney. Jim tells me he gives McCain grief about his politics at every opportunity.

McCain is proud of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform bill of 2002 that severely limits the use of money and advertising in a presidential election as election day nears; that piece of anti-free speech legislation gave rise to 527 groups to circumvent the legislation’s intent.

Jim Warner wrote at length discrediting that legislation in “The Triumph Of Hope Over Experience: The Campaign Finance Reform Act Of 2002 and The First Amendment,” an article appearing in the Winter 2003, George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal.

While Jim opposes some of McCain’s politics, he also knows much about the man, and he gets pretty angry when McCain critics spread false rumors about his years as a POW, like the one saying he accepted special favors from his North Vietnamese captors. Here’s the way Jim tells it.

One of the false rumors was that the North Vietnamese brought women to spend time with McCain. Jim was very near McCain most of the time and in the same cell part of the time, so he jokes with McCain, asking why the hell he never shared his women!

McCain was appointed as a stand-in chaplain by Bud Day, the senior officer POW at the time. Day had a special fondness for McCain. After Day had escaped and was recaptured, one of his captors broke his arm and told him, “I told you I would make you a cripple!” When he broke Day’s arm he left part of the bone sticking out and put it in a misshapen cast, trying to maximize permanent disability as it healed.

Bud Day says McCain collected pieces of bamboo from the prison courtyard to use as a splint, then he put Day on the floor of their cell and used his foot to brace Day while he jerked his arm to set the broken bones in place. Years later, military doctors told Day his captors had done a good job treating his broken arm, and he corrected them, since McCain deserves the credit for his arm healing properly, allowing him to return to flight status when he came home.

Bud Day appointed John McCain to help administer religious services to other POWs, and remembers that at time he sounded like a real preacher. One of his sermons was about each man being responsible to conduct himself honorably while a POW, not expecting God to set them free.

Jim says there were times when captors forbade such services and McCain went ahead anyway, leading the men singing hymns, and the guards would come to drag some away to beat them, but they would all sing again when they returned, bloodied and bruised.

One story McCain tells himself is about the Pledge of Allegiance and what it meant to them to say it every day while facing a small flag sewn by a cellmate named Mike Christian, from Selma, Ala.

Mike had been allowed a small care package containing some scraps of colored cloth, and with a bamboo needle he crafted himself, he sewed a likeness of an American flag on the inside of his shirt. Every afternoon before their bowl of soup, they would hang Mike’s shirt on the wall and say the pledge together.

One day the guards searched the cell and found the flag inside Mike’s shirt. They beat him senseless, McCain said, for about two hours before dumping him back in the cell. His cellmates cleaned Mike up as best they could, and after the excitement passed there was Mike, sitting on his bunk with his well-hidden bamboo needle and more scraps of colored cloth, sewing another flag into another shirt, squinting to see through eyes nearly swollen shut, doing what he knew was important not for himself, but for all of them, to keep their spirit up through love of their country.

McCain was himself treated badly. His captors used his wounds when he was captured to torture him, not treat him. Later, they would tie his head between his ankles with his arms behind him, leaving him for hours. His shoulders became so damaged that to this day he can’t raise his arms over his head.

Warner tells about his own treatment, and his stark terror when in 1971 his captors showed him a newspaper photo of John Kerry and the accompanying story about Kerry’s testimony about American troops committing widespread daily atrocities in Vietnam and raping the countryside like Genghis Kahn. Jim still finds Kerry’s lies to be unbelievable.

When his captor said about Kerry, “This American officer says you deserve to be punished!” Jim’s blood ran cold. He hastened to tell me, since thinking should be accompanied by honesty, that his captors had stopped the systematic torture nearly two years prior, in late 1969 when Ho Chi Minh died, although individual beatings and other inhumane treatment continued sporadically.

Jim thinks they stopped because they could see the negotiated end of the war coming as American resolve weakened and the North Vietnamese didn’t want walking, talking evidence of their bad treatment trotted out before the world press.

For one three-month period of Jim’s captivity one of his captors, the one he called Rat, was trying to force Jim to confess to having an escape plan. He didn’t have a plan, but fed the Rat several false scenarios to play with his head. The Rat put Jim in a box in the sun for a month chained to ankle irons. The box was too small to stand, no room to sit; he could only squat, and the steel door to the box was so hot from the sun he couldn’t touch it. His ankle flesh was so swollen the irons disappeared under his inflamed flesh, and Jim still limps today from that month.

Jim tells me McCain was completely faithful to their code, established by Jim Stockdale, senior officer at the time. Their code acknowledged that every man breaks under torture, but each man was to hold out as long as he could, every time.

The code also said no POW accepts special favors from the captors, and no man accepts an early release; they would either get released in the order of longest captivity first, or all go home together, with honor.

The captors knew McCain’s father was an important U.S. Navy admiral, and they wanted the propaganda of giving McCain a publicized early release. Jim says the captors offered every POW a release if they would only acknowledge and apologize for their crimes. McCain not only refused an early release, he continually refused repeated attempts to release him and refused any special treatment while in captivity for five years.

Now this history evokes strong feelings, but I want you to think for a minute. Does military service, even service in a war, medals for valor and five years as a POW give anyone a pass to become president? No, of course not. It earns the gratitude of their country, not a pass to be president.

But do you remember during the Clinton years when pundits on TV news sat around tables and actually debated the question, “Does character matter in a president?”

Personally, I will vote for McCain because I know he is a man of strong character, with values similar to mine deeply etched in him, who has proven far beyond question his devotion to and love for America. I will yell at him on issues I differ on, like illegal immigration and drilling for oil in ANWAR. When I vote for him, I will wish I could vote for Romney, but Obama isn’t even on my radar screen like other Democrats who have earned my respect, such as Joe Lieberman.

For those of you mesmerized by Obama’s handsome face and smooth voice saying things like, “We are the ones we have been waiting for!” or “Yes, we can!” I would pose a couple of questions for you to ask yourself. I won’t even provide the answer; that’s up to you.

What do you think of the different ways these two men spent their youth?

When you examine the degree of their commitment to America, which candidate has proven himself?

Considering military service in a war, some gave a little, some gave a lot, some gave all, some gave nuthin’ and some gave aid and comfort to the enemy. Where on that spectrum does each of the two candidates belong, and does it matter to you?

If your answers tell you to vote for Obama, then by all means do it, but for Pete’s sake, stop feeling and think!

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Submitted by bowser on Sat, 08/23/2008 - 12:16pm.

"Why is it that so many Obama supporters seem to reach their decision by feelings while so many McCain supporters seem to reach their decision by thinking?"

If this is an attempt at subtle irony, it's brilliant! But somehow I doubt it was intentional.

Submitted by AtHomeGym on Sat, 08/23/2008 - 2:13pm.

You doubt it was intentional? I doubt that Terry does anything unintentionally.

carbonunit52's picture
Submitted by carbonunit52 on Wed, 08/13/2008 - 4:54am.

Why is it that so many Obama supporters seem to reach their decision by feelings while so many McCain supporters seem to reach their decision by thinking?

Terry, I believe that you have it exactly backwards. So many Obama supporters arrived at their support by thinking, and feel good about that. So many of McCain's supporters are actually Obama non-supporters, because they feel that their candidate is the not the correct one to support, and suppress their feelings, rather than feeling bad by realizing that their thinking is so distorted.
The Republicans really should have chosen Mitt Romney.

Submitted by USArmybrat on Wed, 08/13/2008 - 11:18am.

Obama's supporters HAVE to do it on emotion because the guy's an inexperienced, flip-flopping, racist-loving, anti-capitalist elitist. There is no logical reason to support him unless you are in LOVE with socialism. As far as McCain is concerned, my vote for him is definitely NOT emotion! I have some hope of him trying to nominate Supreme Court Justices that I agree with and vetoing bills laden down with pork. I have NO reason to believe that NObama will do ANYTHING that I would agree is good for this country!

NUK_1's picture
Submitted by NUK_1 on Wed, 08/13/2008 - 5:36am.

The Republicans really should have chosen Mitt Romney.

I thought Romney was a rather clear choice as the best qualified candidate in the Repub field. The fact that he may have flip-flopped on some issues over time isn't too relevant when McCain and Obama are doing it every week at this point and about every politician has over time changed their minds on certain issues. I know some of the Repub base would never vote for a Mormon, but the guy has a very proven track record of success in, out, and around government. I thought the fact that the guy truly exemplifies and lives "family values" instead of just talking about them would help overcome the Mormon issue with some of the fundamentalists, but they instead turned to Huckabee. National Review strongly endorsed Romney and I thought that might carry more weight too.

With McCain's age and health, his VP choice is a lot more significant than usual, and he really needs a VP that could lead the country as the likelihood that it could happen is definitely realistic. Romney would be an excellent choice, but I don't see it happening. McCain campaign wouldn't want someone who could upstage him on his command of the issues, especially the economy.

Submitted by USArmybrat on Wed, 08/13/2008 - 8:14am.

I think Romney's background and experience in economic issues made him our best choice. It still galls me, though, that it turned out this way with McCain. I have so much admiration for him for how he conducted himself while a prisoner-of-war and I do like his stance on pork-barrel spending but then I feel like screaming when I think about his views on illegals from Mexico and his ridiculous campaign finance reform (the stifling of our 1st Amendment rights). What's a Conservative to do, except hold her nose and vote "McCain"!?

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 08/13/2008 - 7:20am.

Now you really want McCain to be defeated. don't you?

Picking another republican "field hand"

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