Rolling Stone Mag: McCain's a "Make-Believe Maverick"





At Fort McNair, an army base located along the Potomac River in the nation's capital, a chance reunion takes place one day between two former POWs. It's the spring of 1974, and Navy commander John Sidney McCain III has returned home from the experience in Hanoi that, according to legend, transformed him from a callow and reckless youth into a serious man of patriotism and purpose. Walking along the grounds at Fort McNair, McCain runs into John Dramesi, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who was also imprisoned and tortured in Vietnam.

McCain is studying at the National War College, a prestigious graduate program he had to pull strings with the Secretary of the Navy to get into. Dramesi is enrolled, on his own merit, at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in the building next door.

There's a distance between the two men that belies their shared experience in North Vietnam — call it an honor gap. Like many American POWs, McCain broke down under torture and offered a "confession" to his North Vietnamese captors. Dramesi, in contrast, attempted two daring escapes. For the second he was brutalized for a month with daily torture sessions that nearly killed him. His partner in the escape, Lt. Col. Ed Atterberry, didn't survive the mistreatment. But Dramesi never said a disloyal word, and for his heroism was awarded two Air Force Crosses, one of the service's highest distinctions. McCain would later hail him as "one of the toughest guys I've ever met."

On the grounds between the two brick colleges, the chitchat between the scion of four-star admirals and the son of a prizefighter turns to their academic travels; both colleges sponsor a trip abroad for young officers to network with military and political leaders in a distant corner of the globe.

"I'm going to the Middle East," Dramesi says. "Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iran."

"Why are you going to the Middle East?" McCain asks, dismissively.

"It's a place we're probably going to have some problems," Dramesi says.

"Why? Where are you going to, John?"

"Oh, I'm going to Rio."

"What the hell are you going to Rio for?"

McCain, a married father of three, shrugs.

"I got a better chance of getting laid."

Dramesi, who went on to serve as chief war planner for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and commander of a wing of the Strategic Air Command, was not surprised. "McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man," Dramesi says today. "But he's still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in."

This is the story of the real John McCain, the one who has been hiding in plain sight. It is the story of a man who has consistently put his own advancement above all else, a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition: to become commander in chief, ascending to the one position that would finally enable him to outrank his four-star father and grandfather....


comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:


Chris Peck - 10/9/2008

This post is pure nonsense. Unforgivably biased...and I'm not a fan of McCain.


Jeff Schneider - 10/9/2008

nuff said.


Jonathan Dresner - 10/9/2008

This "blog" is part of a series of history-related news feeds which make up one of the core functions of HNN. There have, in fact, been several pieces on the "Obama is a muslim apostate" story, mostly in the Roundup feeds. Other blogs on this site (especially this one) have taken up the Ayers stories, and other anti-Obama positions.


John Dollar - 10/9/2008

This is politics disguised as history, a story with a veneer of history that serves as an excuse to promote a political point of view. The political alignment of those that control this blog is outlined both by what they post, and what they choose not to post: negative McCain/Palin stories, with few, if any, negative Obama/Biden stories.

By the way, I did not condemn the site, I condemned the blog. Your response explicitly condones their behaviour. I wonder what your reaction would be to post that promoted the idea that Obama was a Muslim by delving into the 'history' of his childhood? I would condemn that post just as I have condemened this one.


Lorraine Paul - 10/8/2008

You only have to listen to John McCain to realise that he is an unctuous twirp.

How has he got this far? If he is the best that the Republican Party can do, along with Sarah Palin, then they are a discredited, desperate party.

I wouldn't trust any of them to mind my dog!!


Jonathan Dresner - 10/8/2008

Just because it's recent history, doesn't mean that it isn't history. Just because the subject is still alive doesn't mean that it isn't biography. There's material on HNN from a fairly wide variety of political persuasions and polemical positions (as well as a few quite professional historical approaches); no one article "represents" this site.


Frank Cousins - 10/8/2008

I read the entire piece two days ago and have been trying to figure out how the whole world can view this exposure of a world class bully, liar, cheat, and insane fraud.Shame on you for cheapening an attempt to educate the innocent people that have been deceived by a dying political party.


David Covey - 10/8/2008

The article does mention McCain's refusal to cooperate with his early release from the "Hilton".

Attacking the messenger, in this case Rolling Stone, does not refute the message and is rarely helpful.


John Dollar - 10/7/2008

Of course there's no mention of the Senator's refusal to cooperate with his early release from the "Hilton".

What a disgusting piece of trash journalism. No surprise though, considering the source. I am amazed that anyone over the age of 25 considers it a viable source of political journalism, or any kind of journalism for that matter.


John Dollar - 10/7/2008

So the blog has become a tool to serve a specific political agenda? Where is the historical significance of this post?

This is a fine and valuable blog, but your are dirtying it by using it in your attempt to achieve your political goals. Shame on you.

Subscribe to our mailing list