In-between throat clearings, Fred Thompson spoke last night at the RNC. For several minutes of the speech I thought Fred was reading from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs instead of the teleprompter. But I was wrong. The Mel Gibson-grade torture porn Fred was spouting was actually a recounting of John McCain’s experience as a POW in Vietnam.
The truly curious thing about this speech is that it doesn’t present McCain the strong, McCain the Top Gun pilot, McCain the patriotic hero; rather, it presents McCain the victim, McCain the martyr, McCain the lying in his own feces. I assume that this is all about getting the attention of the Christian right, for whom Thompson’s speech will read like a fifth gospel.
The Gospel of St. McCain begins on October 26, 1967, high above the dense jungle of North Vietnam. It was on that day that “a surface-to-air missile slammed into John’s A-4 Skyhawk jet, blowing it out of the sky.” During the escape from the plane, McCain broke “his right leg, his right knee, his left arm and right arm in three places.”
As Thompson relates, what greeted him on the ground was even worse:
An angry mob got to him when he fell to the ground. A rifle butt broke his shoulder. A bayonet pierced his ankle and his groin. They took him to the Hanoi Hilton, where he lapsed in and out of consciousness for days. He was offered medical care for his injuries if he would give up military information in return.
John McCain said, “No”.
I’m sorry, but there is something in the description of the bayoneting of McCain’s ankle and groin — and the refusal of succor — that sounds a bit too much like the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The only difference is that while Jesus got a postmortem spear in the side, McCain got a bayonet in two places — and one of them was the crotch. Which is like one-upping the suffering of the Son of God. In short, Jesus was a pussy. And probably a community organizer.
Anyway, thank God McCain didn’t die. Just think of the theological confusion this would have created. Who would I worship then?
After days of neglect, covered in grime, lying in his own waste in a filthy room, a doctor attempted to set John’s right arm without success and without anesthesia. His other broken bones and injuries were not treated. John developed a high fever and dysentery. He weighed barely a hundred pounds. Expecting him to die, his captors placed him in a cell with two other POWs who also expected him to die.
At this point, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Nothing makes a Republican misty-eyed like the story of a man who can’t get adequate health care or one who experiences arbitrary imprisonment and senseless torture.
But Fred Thompson was just clearing his throat:
John McCain fought on. He persevered. So then they put him in solitary confinement for over two years — isolation, incredible heat beating on a tin roof, a light bulb in his cell burning 24 hours a day, boarded-up cell windows blocking any breath of fresh air, the oppressive heat causing boils the size of baseballs under his arms, the outside world limited to what he could see through a crack in the door.
For five-and-a-half years this went on. John McCain’s bones may have been broken, but his spirit never was.
We hear a lot of talk about hope these days. John McCain knows about hope. That’s all he had. [. . .]
He’d smile and give ’em a thumbs-up.
The guards cracked ribs, broke teeth off at their gums. They cinched a rope around his arms and painfully drew back his shoulders. Over four days, every two to three hours, the beatings resumed. During one especially fierce beating, he fell, again breaking his arm.
John was beaten for communicating with other prisoners. He was beaten — beaten for NOT communicating with so-called peace delegations. He was beaten for not giving information during interrogation. [. . .]
Whenever John was returned to his cell — walking if he could, dragged if he couldn’t — as he passed his other fellow POWs, he would often call out to them.
Sleep deprivation, stress positions, beatings, isolation. What horrible, subhuman savages could do this to another human being?
Obama can form the word “hope” with his mouth. But it’s a mouth that hasn’t been repeatedly kicked by the boot of Charlie. And that makes all the difference. McCain has suffered more than Obama. Perhaps more than Jesus. Therefore, we can be sure that God favors him to lead our nation.
I can’t wait for Mel Gibson to buy the rights to this story.