I wouldn't have told that brother -- First Congressional District Candidate Bill Gillespie bashes John McCain's military record.
In talking with him in Macon I learned that he served 23 years in the U.S. Army, having retired as a Lt. Colonel. During that time he served in Iraq with the Third Infantry Division, and during his career taught for a while at West Point.
He does not have the outgoing personality of Rep. Jack Kingston, but given the national -- and I also believe Georgia -- anti-GOP sentiment this political season, Gillespie could be a serious candidate, even though he faces Kingston who has been the incumbent since 1992. (Kingston went in two years before Newt's Contract with America group, and thus was grandfathered from the term limits part of the contract that of course has been ignored.)
But something I read in the Savannah Morning News this week by that newspaper's astute political writer and my friend Larry Peterson gives me pause about his candidacy and his campaign strategy.
Having been a Captain in the United States Army myself, I am all the more proud that my father served during World War II, and that my father-in-law -- as did McCain -- attended the Naval Academy, was a Navy pilot taking off from and landing on carriers, and after a distinguished Navy career, retired from the Navy as a Captain. (The rank of captain in the Army, Marines and Air Force is well below that of a captain in the Navy.)
But Gillespie sees it differently. In Savannah this past Monday Gillespie noted that McCain was the son and grandson of admirals and called him part of the "Navy royalty."
"Admirals' sons," Gillespie said, "were treated like royalty. They were privileged people. They were given a silver spoon. Their careers were prepared for them."
Go figure . . . Why not point out McCain's role in the Keating Five scandal of the 1980s. And if he just had to malign McCain's military career, maybe even point out that McCain was right at the bottom of his class at Annapolis (894/899) as compared with Obama's high class standing.
But to attack his military career and note that having had a father and grandfather who were admirals in the Navy [meaning they had four stars] gave him a silver spoon and be treated like royalty befuttles me.
Why didn't Gillespie tell those who might not know that while in captivity, McCain's father was named commander of all U.S. forces in the Vietnam theater, and McCain was offered early release. The North Vietnamese wanted a worldwide propaganda coup by appearing merciful, and also wanted to show other prisoners of war that persons with family military connections like McCain were willing to be treated preferentially. But McCain turned down the offer of repatriation; he would only accept the offer if every man taken in before him was released as well.
Mr. Gillespie, as a fellow Obama supporter, I know you are trying to advance his candidacy as well as your own. But please, you are hurting him I assure you. For as you know, Obama has said he respects McCain's service as a decorated former pilot who spent five and a half years in a North Vietnamese POW camp.