Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Leave No Stone Unturned

In their determined effort to explore every aspect of John McCain's life, various MSM outlets are leaving no stone unturned.

First, The New York Times weighed in with a lengthy article suggesting that Mr. McCain had an "inappropriate" relationship with a female lobbyist almost a decade ago. Trouble was, both Senator McCain and the woman denied the allegations, and the Times account was woefully short on substantiation.

More recently, the Washington Post offered an examination of McCain's "anger management" issues. Imagine that--a politician with a temper. But, it was somehow worthy of a multi-page investigation, recounting examples of McCain losing his cool, some of them from decades ago. Funny, but we don't recall a similar piece on Hillary Clinton, whose White House tirades were the stuff of legend.

But, in this journalistic equivalent of dumpster-diving, both the NYT and the Post are mere pikers. With a piece that appeared yesterday, the Los Angeles Times can now claim top honors in the McCain expose sweepstakes.

Their sensational revelation? Senator McCain, a retired naval officer who spent almost six years as a POW in North Vietnam, gets a tax-free disability pension.

At this point, most of you are probably saying "duh." Thousands of military retirees and veterans collect disability pensions, the result of injuries or medical conditions that stem from their days in uniform. And, as the Times notes, certain types of military or disability pensions are partially or completely tax-exempt, depending on the severity of the condition.

Mr. McCain's pension, in case you're wondering, is 100% tax free.

But, according to the paper, this raises questions about McCain's fitness for the rigors of office. If he's disabled, the logic goes, then he may lack the stamina for the presidency. On the other hand, if he's healthy enough to hike the Grand Canyon (as the senator has claimed), then why is he drawing a disability pension?

Mr. McCain's chief campaign strategist, Mark Salter, offered a rather succinct response when the Times asked how McCain acquired his disability. "He was tortured for his country," Mr. Salter observed.

And certainly, no one can dispute that. Shot down over North Vietnam, McCain suffered two broken arms and a shattered knee ejecting from his crippled aircraft. Imprisoned in the infamous "Hanoi Hilton," he received no medical care until his captors learned that McCain's father was commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific. Refusing to cooperate with the enemy, McCain was subjected to torture, exacerbating his condition. After being released in 1973, he endured a long and painful rehabilitation. Today, the Senator cannot raise his arms above his shoulders, the lasting result of his injuries in Vietnam.

We'd say that Mr. McCain earned his disability pension--and its tax-exempt status.

Still, the Times managed to find an "expert" who wondered about the senator's ability to serve, or (alternately) his eligibility for a tax-free pension.

"It is a legitimate question to ask about the commander in chief: Is he fit to serve," said Robert Schriebman, a senior Pentagon tax advisor and tax attorney who recently retired as a judge advocate for a unit of the California National Guard.

If McCain can hike across the Grand Canyon, then why should he be getting disability payments from the government that are tax-exempt, Schriebman asked.

We wonder if the L.A. Times would have asked the same question in 1932, when FDR was campaigning for the White House. He was in a wheelchair.


jayemarr said...

I think Mr. McCain's inability to raise his hands above his head makes him uniquely suited to the office of commander-in-chief while there is a war on.

Dan B said...

John r. I'm LOL. Clearly he's not French!