Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Why is Donald Trump deliberately picking a fight with the ghost of John McCain? It might seem he has nothing to gain and much to lose from this battle.  Therefore many believe this is just more evidence of his narcissism, impulsiveness, and thoroughly nasty personality.  Beware of underestimating Trump’s skillful and devious political acumen.  As often, the president is speaking in coded language to his base, which regards McCain as the Judas who betrayed all those thousands of American POWs left behind in Vietnam.

In public culture, especially in the corporate media and on the national political stage, John McCain is almost universally acclaimed as a great “American hero.”  Why?  Traditional American heroes in our wars engaged in some heroic combat action.  Sergeant Alvin York, the most celebrated American of the First World War, saved his squad from German machine gunners, personally killing twenty enemy soldiers, including six he shot with his .45 pistol when they charged with bayonets.  The most decorated American of the Second World War was Audie Murphy, who at the age of 19 single-handedly held off an entire company of Nazi soldiers for an hour and led a counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition.  Growing up in World War II, I knew the names of these heroes.  Do you know the name of any authentic American hero of the Vietnam War?   How about Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, who landed his helicopter in My Lai,…

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