It Wont Be Pretty? No Kidding!

Once again, Donald J Trump has attacked John McCain. A sure way to push my buttons.

Here are the lead paragraphs of the Washington Post story this morning on the attack.

“President Trump promised retribution against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for his opposition to several GOP health-care plans and his comments implicitly criticizing Trump’s views and leadership on Monday night.
“People have to be careful because at some point, I fight back,” Trump said in an interview Tuesday with WMAL, a D.C. radio station.
“I’m being very nice. I’m being very, very nice. But at some point, I fight back, and it won’t be pretty,” Trump said.”

You, Donald J Trump, a man who never faced Soviet Surface to Air Missiles, who never spent a day in an enemy prison, who never served a day in the military , you dare threaten John McCain with a fight???

No, it wouldn’t be pretty. It won’t be close.

In History’s eyes, this fight of  Trump vrs McCain, the coward whose every action portrays a person interested only in himself as against the hero whose public career shows a deep concern for others will be judged a “no contest! Why Trump would pick a fight he  can not possibly win is just another example of his stupidity.

Let me tell you why I am so strongly in McCain’s corner. It is not just because of his wartime heroism, or his public service (I disagree with some of his views and his congressional votes) but as a reporter who talked to him over the years I came to respect the way he treated people, including me. Mind you, we are not social friends, have never been to each other’s house for dinner, but in my work I have had the chance to take his measure and liked what I found.

In 1989, five Senators banded together to talk to Federal regulators on behalf of Charles Keating, whose Lincoln Savings and Loan Company, an Arizona based Company, was under investigation. McCain was one of the five.

After an initial meeting, two of the Senators, McCain and another American hero John Glenn backed away from any effort to intervene on behalf of Keating (whose Company ended up causing the biggest  individual loss to taxpayers in the Savings and Loan scandal).

McCain consented to an on-camera interview with me during which he made no excuses, offered no “fishy” explanations for his initial participation in the so-dubbed “Keating Five,” simply said he showed up at the request for help from an Arizona constituent but when it became apparent the meeting was not called for the purpose of getting information but for putting pressure on the regulators he withdrew. He said he realized his mistake for attending and could blame no one but himself for making it.

Four years later I was back looking at McClain. A Whistle Blower had put us onto  the fact that the U S Navy’s long time base on Bermuda (so important during World War II and even during the early  days of the cold war with the Soviet Union) no longer had any functions except to service the civilian airport for the British and maintain VIP cottages located on the U S Naval Base. It was costing U S taxpayers about thirty three million dollars a year to keep  the base open for those two purposes. We, of our ABC magazine program Prime Time Live, were delighted to investigate.

Part of the story was the fact that U S VIPS could visit the Island and stay in the luxurious Naval Guest Houses for “pennies” what it would cost them in regular civilian spas. One such VIP who had done this was Senator John McCain. On his trip, he had taken eleven family members including the children’s nanny. Wow, did I want to get McCain on camera and roast him over this!

So, one afternoon at Washington’s National airport (now Reagan National) I was lurking in the parking lot with a camera crew when McCain headed for his car after a trip back from Phoenix, pulling his roller bag.  When I jumped him, he stopped pulling his roller bag and dodged as best he could my questions and my roasting. No complaints to me. Big boys and girls in Harry Truman’s political kitchen “take the heat.”

When I got back to the office I got a call from McCain’s press  secretary wanting me to explain my “ambush” interview. I told him I thought McCain wouldn’t agree to an interview and that was the only way I would get to talk to him about this subject that was clearly embarrassing to him.

The press secretary said if I had asked McCain would have seen me in circumstances that didn’t make it look to viewers he was trying to avoid talking (when you “ambush” someone that is often the impression left) and would I come up right now for a more formal interview. I agreed that was the fair thing to do and did it, McCain answered all  my questions saying when informed the Guest House was available to him as it was to any other member of Congress he hadn’t thought about the ramifications of privilege that other American vacationers  would see.

And guess what? later as a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee McCain helped shut down that U S Naval Base and its Guest Houses as a wasteful spending of taxpayer’s money.

Again, in 1999, as he prepared  an unsuccessful campaign to secure the GOP presidential nomination, he admitted in an interview with me that in the Vietnamese prison under torture he had signed a paper denouncing U S involvement in the war. Easy enough not to bring it up since I didn’t know about it.

He said when he and the other prisoners were freed he was worried that his father, the Admiral who was in charge of all U S forces in the Pacific ,would want nothing to do with him because of that. Instead, his father embraced him when he got off the plane and called him the hero he is.

Tip O’Neal, the great Speaker of the House, used to say that “all politics is local and personal” and perhaps that is also true of relationships. I got to know John McCain in my professional dealings with him as an honest,  “straight shooter,” a man flawed as are we all but a man to be admired.

Consequently, when it comes to a fight with Donald J Trump, I’ll he in McCain’s corner.

And I’ll cover all bets!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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