December 10, 2005


Christmas at the Hanoi Hilton: Sen. John McCain of Arizona remembers hell on earth, as for five and a half interminable years as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese, he and his fellow prisoners existed from one nightmarish day to another (those who didn't die, that is). But then came one unforgettable Christmas Eve . . . (Sen. John McCain, Focus over Fifty)

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant …

We sang little above a whisper, our eyes darting anxiously up to the barred windows for any sign of the guards.

Joyful and triumphant? Clad in tattered prisoner-of-war clothes, I looked around at the two dozen men huddled in a North Vietnamese prison cell. Lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling illuminated a gaunt and wretched group of men — grotesque caricatures of what had once been clean-shaven, superbly fit Air Force, Navy and Marine pilots and navigators.

We shivered from the damp night air and the fevers that plagued a number of us. Some men were permanently stooped from the effects of torture; others limped or leaned on makeshift crutches.

0 come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem. Come and behold him, born the King of Angels. …

Still burning in our memories was the time, almost a year before, when North Vietnamese guards had burst in on our church service, beaten the three men leading the prayers, and dragged them away to confinement.

What a pathetic sight we were. Yet here, on this Christmas Eve in 1971, we were together for the first time, some after seven years of harrowing isolation and mistreatment at the hands of a cruel enemy.

We were keeping Christmas — the most special Christmas any of us ever would observe.

There had been Christmas services in North Vietnam in previous years, but they had been spiritless, ludicrous stage shows, orchestrated by the Vietnamese for propaganda purposes. This was our Christmas service, the only one we had ever been allowed to hold, though we feared that at any moment, our captors might change their minds.

I had been designated chaplain by our senior-ranking POW officer, Col. George "Bud" Day, USAF. As we sang "0 Come, All Ye Faithful," I looked down at the few sheets of paper upon which I had penciled the Bible verses that tell the story of Christ's birth.

He's the Christian conservative who can stop Giuliani.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 10, 2005 9:22 PM

He's a telegenic zero, like Dole. People who think TV doesn't matter, figure war hero senators are shoe-ins. They're not -- no matter how much you like his hermaphrodite third-way straddling.

Posted by: Palmcroft at December 10, 2005 9:35 PM

He'd be president now but for having to face the best politician of our generation. With W gone and Jeb not running it's a cakewalk to 1600.

It has nothing to do with the war, but even Dole won the nomination.

Posted by: oj at December 10, 2005 9:43 PM

He's Harriet Meier with a disfigured face. He will finish a poor third in the cumulative primaries to ... just about anyone.

He is a hero. God bless him. Let's just watch him try to earn his way to a nomination. He will not be competitive.

Posted by: Palmcroft at December 10, 2005 9:50 PM

Harriet Mier would have won if you put it to a party vote. McCain will too, rather handily.

Posted by: oj at December 10, 2005 9:56 PM

Sorry, but anyone with such unalloyed contempt for the First Amendment and with such a hyperactive tendency to make federal issues out of professional athletes' drug abuse is no conservative in my book.

Posted by: Axel Kassel at December 10, 2005 10:06 PM

McCain has one problem Giuliani doesn't: McCain is not trustworthy.

Furthermore, I do not think he has the wisdom to hold such power. Folly naps in his heart.

Posted by: Hanoi Hilton bellhop at December 10, 2005 10:32 PM

I'd vote for The Mayor over the War Hero without thinking twice.

Posted by: obc at December 10, 2005 11:05 PM

. . . although I'd prefer George Allen over both.

Posted by: obc at December 10, 2005 11:22 PM

George Allen has to get his campaign going. He needs a more public face. And he needs to become pro-life.

Posted by: pj at December 10, 2005 11:27 PM

Two words end McC's run:

Tor. ture.

Oh wait, that's one.

He's grandstanded one too many times.

Can you imagine the adds Guiliani will run on this issue alone.

The Mayor is the heir apparent.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at December 10, 2005 11:30 PM

Rudy has a tremendous advantage - he doesn't have to do anything. He just has to meet with people, visit with them. Network. Campaign. He doesn't have to vote on anything.

McCain has to raise money (while in office, which means skirting his own legislation). He has to try to be the BMOC of the Senate. He has to modulate. And he has to play the press.

Rudy can go to the right and be genuine about it; McCain will never have that connection. He has tacked the other way too often.

If the magic number is 59 million, either of them could win in November 2008. If it needs to be 62 million, well.....I would give Rudy the edge.

Rudy may not have the Moral Majority talk down, but his appeal transcends those issues. And his liberal views (and his marriage problems) don't hurt him because he doesn't attack conservatives the way McCain has.

People voted for W in the 2000 primaries because he seemed to be more down to earth, more neighborly, and more 'in tune' with GOP cultural issues than McCain. Rudy will get many of those same votes. McCain is going to have to fight for them, and his pugnacity (which would do wonders in a general election) will hurt him in a primary, just like last time.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 10, 2005 11:37 PM

rudy will get w's backing and will crush mc cain.

Posted by: noam chomsky at December 10, 2005 11:50 PM


Heck, I'm a (small-c) conservative (big-c) Christian, and I'd vote for The Mayor over the War Hero without thinking twice too.

How anybody, regardless of their particular religious situation, can think the Despiser of the First Amendment is anything but a disaster is beyond me.

Posted by: Kirk Parker at December 11, 2005 1:31 AM

Bush has already dubbed McCain his successot. McKinnon is already working for him. Rove will.

Posted by: oj at December 11, 2005 7:41 AM

People voted for W because he was a hard core social conservative and it was his turn, while McCain played to the Left gallery. In this race McCain is W and Rudy is McCain.

Posted by: oj at December 11, 2005 7:44 AM

The WoT won't even be much of an issue by '08.

Posted by: oj at December 11, 2005 7:57 AM

What's Allen's name recognition? 1%?

Posted by: oj at December 11, 2005 7:58 AM


Of course you would, most of the blogosphere would.

Posted by: oj at December 11, 2005 7:59 AM

Rudy's vengeful ex-wife might differ on the trustworthiness angle....

Posted by: oj at December 11, 2005 8:00 AM

"trustworthiness angle"

Maybe Rudy was too honest with his wife about her monologuing vagina?

Posted by: h-man at December 11, 2005 8:50 AM

McCain's not running. Rudy can't get the nomination. No political party will win or deserves to win if it doesn't nominate an arguably centrist Southern governor. If they have a big state Southern governor, particularly one who can appeal to Catholics and Hispanics, then he's the obvious candidate. A candidate with good ties to the current administration, who could be positioned as W's heir, would be perfect.

The GOP has three such governors, the Dems have none. Unfortunately, only one of the three can actually win.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 11, 2005 10:00 AM

vengeful ex-wives will be more of a description of hillary in 2008, after bill stiffs her for the last time (an almost shakespearean denouement). rudy has the mojo and is going to be a steamroller. mc cain is a turd circling the bowl, on his way out to sea. good bye johnny, you coulda been a contender, instead of a bum, which is what you are.

Posted by: othello's toe at December 11, 2005 11:32 AM

McCain is the Republican my dad, a straight line, patriotic, old time Democrat* would vote for. Toss Condi in as VP and watch the donkey go hooves-up.

*Born 1930. Definitely pro-union, support the little guy, America over any other nation, HST-type Democrat. Still quite a number out there, though they dwindle as a %age of the population.

Posted by: Mikey at December 11, 2005 11:54 AM

and Rudy is the kind of Republican a Republican will vote for. winning the mayor of nyc twice proves that Rudy has mass appeal. McCain is a tool of the msm, a kind of Trojan horse; let him in the gates at your own peril.

Posted by: othello's toe at December 11, 2005 1:21 PM

Allen is pro-abortion? So in what way is he the conservative alternative? If we are going to nominate a pro-abortionist, then Rudy is the guy. At least he is good at TV, unlike Allen who has the charisma of my shoe.

McCain has to be the favorite as of now followed by Rudy. No one else has a chance.

McCain's age/health may stop him from running in the end but if he does mCcain-Feingold will not hurt him at all. Who else but liberatarians gives a s**t?

Jeb will be the VP for either McCain or Rudy.

Posted by: Bob at December 11, 2005 2:20 PM

Mayor of NY is hardly the template for a SC GOP primary winner.

Posted by: oj at December 11, 2005 2:51 PM

Neither Mayor of NY (nor Senator of NY State) hasn been the template for President period. Well OK, maybe FDR.

Seems my earlier post, given in the interest of a BALANCED view of the candidates has strangely reconfigured itself, so I guess I won't mention the possibility of a First Lady who is a drug addict.

Posted by: h-man at December 11, 2005 4:51 PM


She's talked about that--it's a political plus. you don't have to go to conspiracy sites.

Posted by: oj at December 11, 2005 4:57 PM

a republican that can win in nyc, which is heavily democratic, has proven cross-over appeal.
and mayor of nyc is an executive position that carries more "weight" than most state govenors.
mc cain's appeal to republicans is in serious doubt, much less his appeal to democrats.

anyone who thinks a camera hound senator from podunkizona is the better candidate than the hero of 9/11 really shouldn't be handling the family finances.

Posted by: tammany hall at December 11, 2005 5:49 PM

How'd John Lindsay do in the GOP presidential priumaries?

Posted by: oj at December 11, 2005 6:06 PM

Don't compare John Lindsay with Rudy. They're planets apart.

Posted by: erp at December 11, 2005 6:21 PM

In what way? They're both just social liberals.

Posted by: oj at December 11, 2005 7:18 PM

Rudy will have to modify a few position. Shouldn't be too difficult

"Even after Giuliani climbs into a waiting SUV, three Mercer students are knocking on the tinted window. Rudy rolls the glass down and signs scraps of paper for each of the young women, the last girl holding out her pen and jogging nimbly beside the gold Chevy as it pulls away. Why was she so determined to get a souvenir from Giuliani? The eyes of Michelle Elsey and her friends all widen as if Im an idiot. Why? she repeats. Hes a hee-row!

From Macon Ga.

Posted by: h-man at December 11, 2005 8:05 PM

how'd McCain do in 2000 ? 2004 ? guffaw.

Posted by: right back at December 11, 2005 8:49 PM

Well for one, Giuliani isn't a low-brow playboy.

Posted by: erp at December 11, 2005 9:50 PM

McCain is a Senatorial baron. Rudy was 'the mayor' and a former federal prosecutor. As the proprietor here has written many times, Senators don't go very far. They get vapor lock and sputter.

That said, I would vote for either against any Democrat in 2008, and everyone who reads this blog should do the same. Prissiness and provincialism are not electoral options. Look at IL and CA and you will see the future of the GOP if we go that route.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 11, 2005 10:18 PM

Senators win the GOP nomination when it's their turn. Since he'll be running against a Senator he'll win.

Posted by: oj at December 12, 2005 7:44 AM


His women hardly impress, nevermind sharing Gracie Mansion with a gay couple.

Posted by: oj at December 12, 2005 7:46 AM


In 2000 he clinched his spot in '08 and in '04 he campaigned with his predecessor.

Posted by: oj at December 12, 2005 7:48 AM

in 2000 he crumpled like a used kleenex and in 2004 he did what he was told -- not exactly Reaganesque, is he.

Posted by: right back at December 12, 2005 12:47 PM

Reagan had to lose in '68 and '76 before it was his turn too.

Posted by: oj at December 12, 2005 2:10 PM

oj. Rudy didn't share Gracie Mansion with a gay couple. He moved out of the mansion and left it for his wife while the divorce was proceeding. If the accounts of his wife's behavior are only 10% accurate, she must be a world class, rhymes with, witch.

A wealthy gay couple (I think they were fairly elderly) who were long time friends took him in a clucked over him like a couple of sitting hens. They were able to smooth over a period that was very awkward for Giuliani.

Odd remark about his women not being very impressive. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

I'd only vote for Rudy only as the lesser of two evils. I think he's be a far better CIA or FBI director.

Posted by: erp at December 12, 2005 4:26 PM


By the time you've explained all that he's Harold Stassen.

Posted by: oj at December 12, 2005 6:21 PM