Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Addressing McCain on Veterans Issues

After watching the debate I have to speak up. I am a currently serving veteran of the Iraq war who is soon to go back. Senator McCain, with all due respect, you do NOT speak for me. And just as you do not speak for me; I do not speak for all Soldiers. We all think for ourselves.

Stop implying that you are the only one who can understand our veterans, because for millions of us clearly you do not. So let me address some of the things you said during the debate.

(cross posted from various places)

McCain: Senator Obama said the surge could not work, said it would increase sectarian violence, said it was doomed to failure. Recently on a television program, he said it exceed our wildest expectations.

While our media lacks the courage to challenge this claim, I do not. The surge has little or nothing to do with the reduction in violence. The reduction in violence has come about from NON-combat related efforts. The Anbar awakening, major Shiia and Sunni militants no-longer fighting us and fighting al-Quaeda. We are even paying those who use to attack our forces. This is a temporary band-aid because, as Iraq has proven, alliances change hands faster than a hot potato. And we’re not going to be paying them forever.

MCCAIN: I’m afraid Senator Obama doesn’t understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy.

Says the guy who claimed the surge caused the Anbar awakening, which occurred months prior to the troop surge.

MCCAIN: But the important — I’d like to tell you, two Fourths of July ago I was in Baghdad. General Petraeus invited Senator Lindsey Graham and me to attend a ceremony where 688 brave young Americans, whose enlistment had expired, were reenlisting to stay and fight for Iraqi freedom and American freedom.

I reenlisted when I was in Iraq. And I think the Iraq war was a huge mistake and I am voting for Barack Obama. Let me lay down some FACTS here. We (our troops) as individuals may or may not support the Iraq war. But that does not necessarily decide whether or not we decide to stay in. IF you are going to reenlist (anyway), it is much preferable to do so while you’re in Iraq.

Fact: Reenlisting in Iraq makes your re-up bonus tax free.

Fact: Reenlisting in Iraq makes your payout lump sum, vs payments over time.

Fact: You can reenlist early in Iraq. At home you have to wait until you’re in your window. But if you’re deployed you can take advantage of a bonus by reenlisting EARLY.

So of course there’s a high reenlistment rate when Soldiers are deployed. It doesn’t mean they agree with your war (they may or may not). It just means that they’re smart and they’re going to make a sound financial decision about when and (more important) where they reenlist.

MCCAIN: I was honored to be there. I was honored to speak to those troops. And you know, afterwards, we spent a lot of time with them. And you know what they said to us? They said, let us win. They said, let us win. We don’t want our kids coming back here.

Yes, and I’m sure Soldiers would walk right up to a US Senator during a deployment and express a dissenting opinion.

MCCAIN: And also General Petraeus said the same thing. Osama bin Laden and General Petraeus have one thing in common that I know of, they both said that Iraq is the central battleground.

Patraeus actually (quoted) Bin Laden as saying that. And since when do we allow our enemies to dictate when and where we fight them? Of course Bin Laden wants to tie us up there. It distracts us from HIS HOME, it’s cost us more American lives than 9-11™ and sans the Iraq war we can more than pay for the 700 Billion dollar financial bailout.

MCCAIN: A war that I was in, where we had an Army, that it wasn’t through any fault of their own, but they were defeated. And I know how hard it is for that — for an Army and a military to recover from that. And it did and we will win this one and we won’t come home in defeat and dishonor and probably have to go back if we fail.

Are you saying you came home with dishonor? You’d rather us come home with a word General Patraeus himself said he wouldn’t use [victory]? All we are doing there is the best we can to clean up a mess that you and Bush created.

MCCAIN: And I’ll tell you, I had a town hall meeting in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, and a woman stood up and she said, “Senator McCain, I want you to do me the honor of wearing a bracelet with my son’s name on it.”

Be glad it wasn’t my mother. She wants to give you two bracelets with a chain connecting them. I’m not saying I would go that far, just if you see her you might want to do an about-face and forward march.

MCCAIN: Jim, when I came home from prison, I saw our veterans being very badly treated, and it made me sad. And I embarked on an effort to resolve the POW-MIA issue, which we did in a bipartisan fashion, and then I worked on normalization of relations between our two countries so that our veterans could come all the way home.

I guarantee you, as president of the United States, I know how to heal the wounds of war, I know how to deal with our adversaries, and I know how to deal with our friends.

All of this is evident by your treatment of Dolores Alfond, who’s brother was shot down in Vietnam.

Next up is you opposing Senator Webb’s GI Bill because you felt it was too generous for those who “ONLY” served one term, who likely served two tours in combat and many of whom have come home wounded and/or with PTSD. How many tours had you served by the time the tax payers fully funded your education?

Next up is you taking credit for the GI Bill you opposed and refused to vote on.

Next up is another veteran, like myself, calling you out on it.




    That was the first time I’ve seen the video of McCain treating Ms. Alfond horribly.  He rambled on completely off the topic for ages preventing her from speaking, then was openly rude to her and finally stormed out of the room.  What a total jerk!

    And the non-answer to the Marine asking about the GI Bill.  He said he wouldn’t support it for the very reasons the Marine had just explained were not valid.  What a total jerk!

  2. GrassrootsOrganizer

    Outstanding diary!

    I watched the debate with my son, an Iraq veteran and former conservative Republican voting for Obama.

    He reacted exactly the same way to the “reelisting in Iraq” bullshat — said he almost did himself because the financial incentives were close to irresistable and he would bet his bank account that the majority who DID reelist in front of Senator McCain did so for the money and not because they supported the war.  Or, put another way, they might have supported their unit’s work in the war, but not the war itself.

    We were both equally peeved off by the “coming home with honor” line and the comparison to Vietnam.  My son is extremely proud of the work he did in Iraq. (his MP unit helped reform and restructure detention centers post Abu Graib) Staying, leaving, “winning”, “losing”, whatever happens now has nothing to do with that pride or potential “dishonor”.  

    It makes ME crazy how from the beginning Bush and Company have exploited sentimentalized notions about military service to promote their own twisted agenda.  My son is one soldier fairly vocal about allowing the military to “finish the job”.  But his opinion has absolutely nothing to do with honor or dishonor — it has to do with smart and stupid and nothing more.  If the war ends tomorrow he won’t spend the rest of his life in disgrace for having “lost” a war.  To those who have been to war it’s not like a football game — it’s a wee bit more complex than that.  

    And add me to the list of military moms that McCain is lucky to have never met.  I wouldn’t wish that year of my life on any mother even as I can’t fathom the pain of losing a loved one to war.  The mother McCain spoke to does NOT speak for me — she speaks from a political space that shapes her opinion of her loss.  Ask Cindy Sheehan.

  3. I’m sure USArmyParatrooper knows about this site, but there’s a large and growing group of Blue and Gold Star Families supporting Obama.

    Their website is

    And this, just as an example, is one of the most recent posts:

    “The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within

    what you are trying to defend from without.”

    These words were spoken by President and General Dwight D. Eisenhower. If Ike now sounds “liberal” is it any wonder we find ourselves, our country, and our “family” so far adrift?

    We are all in this together, paying with our blood. To impugne my Patriotism, or the service of my son fighting alongside yours, because of political differences does more harm to the fabric of this country than any terrorist could; destroying ourselves from within though jingoism. My kind of Patriotism, predicated upon the example of those who serve, has no place for that.

    Anne-Marie McWilliams, New Jersey

    (Actual letter sent to Senator McCain after the debate on September 26, 2008)

  4. GrassrootsOrganizer

    Well, maybe not the most, but it’s up there.

    I can’t stand how McCain presents himself as speaking for all military persons and veterans and how he holds himself up as having some unique insights into the struggles of military families.

    For one thing — his military experience was nothing if not ATYPICAL.  He was the son and grandson of admirals; his father was the THEATER COMMANDER during his time in Vietnam; he was a pilot — not a grunt on the ground; and he exited the service to a world of beautiful beer heiresses and celebrity status.

    He never had to fight and beg the VA for benefits.  He didn’t come home to a mountain of bills and the immediate need to hold a job or get an education.  He didn’t come home the invisible veteran’s struggle to keep afloat and cope with the after effects.

    Even his POW time left him far out of the mainstream for a veteran and a serviceperson.  His service while noble was UNIQUE and taught him little or nothing about maintaining morale and getting the job done under “normal” military circumstances.

    His family was anything but typical.  While he was gone they weren’t struggling to keep a roof over their heads or navigate the military maze.   And Vietnam was no Iraq for a whole host of reasons.  Even setting all that aside — how can a 72 year old man, who last served 40 years ago — claim to automatically understand the life of a serviceperson a third of his age in this day and economy?

    Nearly everything about the military is different now than it was 40 years ago — starting with it’s all volunteer and fully integrated.  The jobs are different, the command is different, the culture is completely different.  But more importantly, the TIMES are different, what you left, what you come back into, how we communicate and advance, what we believe.

    Sooner Obama understands the majority of today’s servicepersons — folks who grew up working class or poor and devised for themselves a way to escape where they came from.  McCain didn’t enlist for the money or the training and he wasn’t coming back to struggle to make ends meet.  He may better understand the culture of generals and strategic decisions, but he knows nothing of what it’s like to stand in ordinary Joe boots on the ground.  

  5. NavyBlueWife

    This ROCKS!  I am sending it on to the latest news and links for our Blue Star Families for Obama group (, and I have linked it to my blog as well (

    I found it ironic and troubling to watch McCain go after Dolores Alfond, especially his continued reference about how he does not denigrate anyone else’s opinion, especially on military issues.  There are videos and testimonials all over the place showing how he treats veterans and military families with disrespect if they do not agree with him.

    And since it is happy VP debate week, just think about Sarah Palin as Commander in Chief!  I know that I don’t want her pulling the strings with my military family.

Comments are closed.