Sometimes, when true believers come up to me and ask if I “Know Jesus Christ as my personal savior”, I answer: “Know Him? I almost got my a** shot off for him”.

That usually confuses them and shuts them up long enough for me to get away.

But my point was that words are cheap, and that anyone can spout religious cliches when they live in a rich country attending a multimillion dollar megachurch. But it is another thing to wrestle with one’s beliefs in the darkness of the night, when God is silent and you are surrounded by sorrow and danger.

Obama, a self proclaimed “idealist” with “new” ideas that anyone over the age of 50 recognizes as the Great Society redux, faces questions if he has the ethical and moral strength to be president.

It’s not “patriotism”, it’s moral character that is his problem.

So we see how the counter attack is going.

It started with Senator Rockefeller. From the Boston Herald opinion page:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller: “McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when (the missiles) get to the ground? He doesn’t know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues.”

General Clark, a possible Vice presidential choice for Obama, astounded even Bob Schiefer by saying: “I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president,” Clark said on CBS.

James Webb, another possible VP choice for Obama, who was elected as a “Blue dog” Democrat partly because of his own service record, echoes the calumny to his own shame, saying

He did not see the ground environment, how difficult things really are on the ground. He did not really see how bad this country was torn apart by the war, for the unfortunate reason that he was in prison.

In the meanwhile, CBS reports that liberal bloggers have taken up the chorus, and to make things look like balance, mention some paleoconservatives who hate McCain for cooperating with his captives in a single incident, followed by rejection and resistance that resulted in more years of suffering.

 The Politico summarizes the approach, comparing McCain’s immediate rebukes to those trying to smear Obama and his wife to the organized campaign by Obama operatives.

Rockefeller’s smear was the first salvo in a pattern of attacks meant to insinuate that McCain’s Vietnam experience not only shouldn’t count as meaningful “experience,” but rendered him psychologically unfit for presidential office. In May, Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin said of McCain, “Everything is looked at from his life experiences, from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous.” Over the weekend, retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark said that McCain is “untested and untried,” and elaborated that, “I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.” Clark, you may remember, ran for president in 2004 on his record as a career military officer, so his comment, which he has not retracted, was not just morally offensive but self-discrediting.

All of this is politics, of course, but a lot of the commentators are ignoring a more obvious point: his history not about military service, nor even about patriotism. It is about character.

From CBS NEWS:

Navy aviator from a military family, he was shot down on his 23rd sortie over Vietnam … After being tortured there, he participated in some Vietnamese propaganda efforts.

“I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine,” he later wrote.

But he later defied his captors by refusing to meet with anti-war delegations from abroad, he wrote, and also refused the most valuable special treatment he was offered: Early release.

So what is the biggest lesson that McCain learned from his years as a POW? That every man has a breaking point, but that certain things are right or wrong, and that one can come back from despair and continue to hold fast.

It is not the fact of his experience, but the lessons of wisdom he learned from his experiences that is being dismissed by those who should know better but prefer to sell out their souls for short term gain.

But there is another incident that showed the character of McCain that is related to his experience in Viet Nam.

Many years later, it was Senator McCain who assisted President Clinton to reestablish ties with Viet Nam, which after years of famine and ethnic cleansing, recognized that communism didn’t work and was trying to normalize things for it’s people. McCain’s help not only silenced many on the right who hated Clinton,  but it also inspired many Viet Nam veterans to forgive and be healed.

How many people could forgive and help the ones who harmed them? Especially since it made many in his party angry?

In Asia, Confucian values  teach us to value the elderly for their wisdom. Not all the elderly are wise: some become petty and self centered. But Asians know that the elderly have learned the lessons of life, and their judgement is better than the young who think they know everything and follow the enthusiasms of the moment.

Which again brings us to character.

While perusing  these stories, I noted that two major American media outlets had photos of Obama to headline a story about both candidates.

And not ordinary photos, but propaganda photos: anyone with even an elementary school knowlege of art history would recognize them: “Let the little children come to me” and the messiah receiving power from the father. Both photos are on articles about both candidates, but guess who gets the photo?

So expect the MSM to go Lala about Obama’s speech on Patriotism.  We will hear lots of flowery commentary about it in the next few days.

Which is probably fine with McCain, who doesn’t have to give flowery speeches about patriotism. He’s had his A** shot at, he doesn’t need to “prove” his patriotism.

As for those bozos who say spending six years as a POW doesn’t qualify a person to be president, they are being ingenuous.

McCain’s time as a POW proves his character: His twenty years in the US Senate are what qualifies him to be president.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is MakaipaBlog.

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