Heroic Benavidez, big-hearted McCains

“All Americans can be proud that Roy Benavidez was one of us.”

I’d never heard the astonishing story of this Vietnam-era Medal of Honor winner, Roy Benavidez, until today. You hear the story – of his almost unbelievable heroism in war, and his spirit of volunteerism in civilian life – and ponder his attitude of service, and you wonder…why doesn’t Hollywood tell this story?

It sounds like it could be very inspirational. Nothing wrong with being inspired by substance.

We’ve just seen an entire week of breathless reporting on what amounted to a whole lotta nuthin’” but a story like this – a bit of background, as it is – is shrugged off.

I)n 1991 Cindy McCain was visiting Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh when a dying infant was thrust into her hands. The orphanage could not provide the medical care needed to save her life, so Mrs. McCain brought the child home to America with her. She was met at the airport by her husband, who asked what all this was about.

Mrs. McCain replied that the child desperately needed surgery and years of rehabilitation. “I hope she can stay with us,” she told her husband. Mr. McCain agreed. Today that child is their teenage daughter Bridget.

…(T)here was a second infant Mrs. McCain brought back. She ended up being adopted by a young McCain aide and his wife.

“We were called at midnight by Cindy,” Wes Gullett remembers, and “five days later we met our new daughter Nicki at the L.A. airport wearing the only clothing Cindy could find on the trip back, a 7-Up T-shirt she bought in the Bangkok airport.” Today, Nicki is a high school sophomore. Mr. Gullett told me, “I never saw a hospital bill” for her care.

Do you think if the Democrat nominee – any Democrat nominee had done this, it would not be a prime-time news feature and a film on HBO?

Our priorities are really screwed up.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Terrye

    Not long ago McCAin did an ad for hispanic veterans like this one. His ad focused on men who died in Viet Nam. He mentioned their heritage and said that we should be proud of their citizenship and sacrifices. I was told by several people on the right that McCain was “pandering” to hispanics by making such an ad. They started talking about how he made them look bad by inferring that they were racists or something. I thought good Grief people, the men whose names are on that wall have nothing to do with illegal immigration issues. The truth is they made themselves look bad by making an issue of it. I am sure McCain is sincere about his admiration for such men.

  • Zorro

    I believe Mother Teresa is a Saint now. And May God Bless Cindy McCain for her sincere compassion.

  • rcareaga

    The story of the McCains’ adopted children is not a new one. In the 2000 primary season, prodigious efforts were made to publicize this episode, or at least certain aspects of it, to the voters of South Carolina, who were being asked to evaluate the rival candidacies of Senator McCain and then-Governor Bush hard upon the former’s upset victory in New Hampshire:

    Dadmag: During your campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination Bridget became something of an issue in South Carolina didn’t she?

    McCain: Yeah. There were some pretty vile and hurtful things said during the South Carolina primary. It’s a really nasty side of politics. We tried to ignore it and I think we shielded her from it. It’s just unfortunate that that sort of thing still exists As you know she’s Bengali, and very dark skinned. A lot of phone calls were made by people who said we should be very ashamed about her, about the color of her skin. Thousands and thousands of calls from people to voters saying “You know the McCains have a black baby” I believe that there is a special place in hell for people like those.

    While acknowledging a lingering rancor toward the President in earlier interviews, the Arizona Senator now says that he has “moved on,” which suggests that we may add forgiveness to the list of his other sterling attributes. Or perhaps…Paris vaut bien une messe.

    [Let me address what you so adroitly leave unsaid. In the past 8 years, with all of the many vile things said about President Bush, the one thing no one says (Kanye West excepted) is that he is a racist. On the contrary, when some tried to play that card after Katrina, even his opponents - those not completely mad with hate - pooh-poohed it and said he a truly colorblind individual.

    Those people who made a negative of McCain's daughters race displayed reprehensible behavior...but then...reprehensible behavior knowns no race, no creed, no gender, no sexual orientation...it is common to all extremists, in all groups, don't you think? - admin]

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender B. Rodriguez

    At the risk of raining all over John McCain, yet again, let me suggest that the pro-McCain people pushing this episode does not necessarily prove his virtuous character, much less pro-life bona fides, as much as some folks have advocated.

    Gateway Pundit declares, “Obama Talks About Lifting a Child In Bangladesh From Poverty… John McCain Already Did” Well, the truth is, not really. It was Cindy who brought Bridget home. It was Cindy who brought Nicki to America. It was Cindy McCain who lifted these children from poverty, not John McCain.

    Newsweek’s story on Cindy McCain gives a few more details
    In 1984 Cindy was on a scuba-diving trip in Micronesia when a friend was injured and had to be taken to the hospital. She was sickened by the filthy conditions in the ER: “There were cats in the operating room and rats everywhere,” she says. When she returned home, she began collecting medical supplies and sending them to the hospital. “Finally, the hospital called and said, really what we need is a good orthopedic surgeon,” she says. “So I called some friends and we planned a trip … I don’t know what made me do it.”

    She named her charity the American Voluntary Medical Team. In 1991, she camped in the Kuwait desert five days after the end of the gulf war to take medical supplies to refugees. That same year, she visited Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where she saw 160 newborn girls who had been abandoned. The nuns handed her a small baby with a cleft palate so severe that the infant couldn’t be fed. Another baby, also just a few weeks old, had a heart defect. Worried they would die without medical attention, Cindy applied for visas to take the girls back to the United States. But the country’s minister of Health refused to sign the papers. “We can do surgery on this child,” an official told her. Frustrated, Cindy slammed her fist on the table. “Then do it! What are you waiting for?” The official, stunned, simply signed the papers. “I don’t know where I got the nerve,” Cindy told Harper’s Bazaar.

    When she arrived in Phoenix, she carried the baby with the cleft palate off the plane. Her husband met her at the airport. He looked at the baby. “Where is she going?” he asked her. “To our house,” she replied. They adopted the little girl and named her Bridget. Family friends adopted the other little girl.

    That says a great deal about Cindy’s compassion and virtues. As for John? Both Karl Rove’s WSJ op/ed and the Newsweek story make clear that John knew absolutely nothing about Bridget’s existence, much less her plight, until Cindy carried her off the plane, and he had absolutely nothing to do with bringing the children to the United States. It was all Cindy, Cindy, Cindy.

    Now, it is a very admirable thing that he did say “yes” when his wife went to the trouble of bringing the girls home. But could he realistically have said “no” to her when Cindy had already told him that Bridget was going home to their house? Yes, he gets credit for acquiescing in Cindy’s wishes, but Cindy is the real hero here.

    As for who raised young Bridget after John agreed to her adoption — “For most of the 20 years we’ve been married, he’s been in Washington all week while I’m in Arizona with the kids,” she told The New York Times. . . . [After Cindy suffered a stroke in 2004,] she fretted about who would take care of her kids. Her friend Sharon Harper told her she should leave town and focus on recovering. That summer, Cindy moved to San Diego, and rented a condo on Coronado Island. Friends looked after her sons and young Bridget. Again, it has been Cindy for the most part playing the hero at home, being the one taking care of the kids, Cindy and Cindy’s friends, while John has been “wrapped up too much in Washington and [his] ambitions” (John McCain’s words, not mine).

    OK, maybe I suffer from John McCain Derangement Syndrome. Maybe I am totally irrational and my dislike for him is so great that I can never admit to any good that he has done (at least since returning from Vietnam), and maybe folks are sick and tired of me being a “maverick” against the McCain love train and always bad-mouthing McCain — maybe that is all true. But in any event, it is Cindy who is to be admired on this count. She’s the one who deserves the credit.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender B. Rodriguez

    As for McCain’s oft-repeated accusation that the Bush campaign or Bush supporters made vile racist telephone calls about daughter Bridget, before automatically accepting it as fact, and thereby castigating Bush and his supporters for it, it should be kept in mind that it is quite likely that the claim is untrue.

    Byron York reports

    Nearly a week after McCain’s initial accusations [that the Bush campaign had spread negative personal information about McCain in telephone calls], the Los Angeles Times looked into the matter. The paper found voters who had received the “advocacy” calls, but none who had received a call [saying that McCain was a cheat and a liar and a fraud]. . . .

    The lack of evidence, while not proof that the call story was untrue, is nevertheless telling. Republican strategists point out that in controversies over mass callings, there has almost always been a tape of the calls, usually made by the answering machines of voters who received them. . . .

    “If those calls took place, then where is the tape?” asks one GOP strategist. “You can’t make more than five phone calls and not have it end up on somebody’s answering machine. They’ve never been able to produce the individual who made the calls, they’ve never been able to produce the phone vendor who made the calls, and they’ve never been able to produce a script or a tape recording.”

    The same was true of rumors of other “push poll” calls that allegedly claimed that McCain had fathered an illegitimate mixed-race child. Although later commentary has simply accepted the existence of such calls as fact—in January of this year, National Public Radio’s Linda Wertheimer reported that “mysterious callers posing as pollsters asked voters how they felt about John McCain’s black child”—there is no hard evidence that the calls occurred.

  • Regina

    It occurs to me that Obama’s handlers either(1) are very stupid/ignorant (don’t know) or (2) think we are. Why would they specifically use Bangladesh as an example if they knew the McCains have walked the walk while Obama’s just talking the talk?

    Is this evidence of a gaffe or imperiousness?

  • Donna

    Why won’t Hollywood film the Roy Benavidez story? Simple. To the Left, the only heroic vets the Vietnam era produced were those like Kerry who came home and joined the anti-war movement. The others? Well, doesn’t everyone know they all killed babies and behaved like the hordes of Genghis Khan? Then they came home and sank into a hopeless haze of dope and booze to deal with their guilt. In other words, they were heartless murderers who then became drug-addled losers. All except for those who redeemed themselves by cozying up to Jane Fonda.

    Since Vietnam, the left can deal with veterans only as victims, never as heroes.

    Regarding the McCain adoption: well, Cindy made a big mistake, didn’t she? She didn’t take an entourage of photographers and flacks with her to the orphanage so we could all see pictures of Cindy Being Compassionate. She didn’t know what Obama (and most politicians) have figured out: no point in doing something nice for someone if you don’t make it into a photo op.

  • newton

    “OK, maybe I suffer from John McCain Derangement Syndrome. Maybe I am totally irrational and my dislike for him is so great that I can never admit to any good that he has done (at least since returning from Vietnam)[...]”

    It’s time to certify it: the first totally known case of McCain Derangement Syndrome. Might as well admit it, Bender.

    I might want to remind you, also, that Bridget is not the first case of a McCain adoption. He also adopted the sons of his first wife from her previous relationship. As far as I have read, one of them works for his campaign. So, Cindy isn’t the only one to get credit here.

    I heard once that “It takes a man to be a dad.” You might be too bind to see that McCain has proven that in spades.

  • Pingback: Amused Cynic » Blog Archive » Parting thoughts…

  • ViolaJ.

    The story of Benavidez is amazing. You are right, Hollywood should make a movie about him. Amazing!

  • Gayle Miller

    Why is it necessary for one candidate to be the reviled bad guy in order to be able to describe your preferred candidate in glowing terms? Why has our political process started to demand vile and incendiary rhetoric in our political campaigns? Why would ANYONE be proud that they are afflicted with “_________ Derangement Syndrome”. Do you not understand that it is a serious and destructive illness and nothing to joke about?

    The shooting yesterday in the church by someone who “hated liberals and gays” is a primary example of the climate political rivalries are exacerbating (at the very least).

    If I prefer John McCain over Barack Obama, why should I feel the need to vilify Senator Obama in horrendously denigrating terms. Why is it not enough to say that “I prefer to vote for John McCain and these are my reasons” without ripping Senator McCain’s opponent to shreds verbally.

    The only way this kind of vicious sniping can be stopped is for each of us to do our part.