Who Is John McCain?

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We know a lot about Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)... His military service, the time he spent as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, his tenure as a senator from Arizona, his candidacy for president in 2000 — and of course in 2008. He talks often about his policies, and his platforms, but what about the man himself? What are the experiences and influences that shaped the candidate?

Today, we'll talk with people who knew McCain at various stages of his life, and with one of his biographers.

What questions do you have about John McCain... Not about policy, but about his character and personality?



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John McCain spent his whole life in the Navy or in Congress. Therefore, he has never worried about losing his job, never worried abut paying back a student loan, never worried about having health insurance and never worried about his pension. These things re exactly what average Americans are worried about. How can he have "values" that relate to these things since he has never experienced them?
Bill in Jacksonvile

Sent by William Raser, FL | 2:17 PM | 8-21-2008

I remember that John McCain pocketed Money during the Ssvings and Loan fiasco. Did he ever give it back? This will tell us something about his character.

Sent by Eileen Swider | 2:24 PM | 8-21-2008

"McCain's ghostwriter shills for his subject" should be the description provided. What a lame excuse for news!

Sent by C T Wallace | 2:30 PM | 8-21-2008

I understand that John McCain was in his "maverick" mode when he was shot down. The other pilots who were with him followed orders and went home. Is that true?

Sent by Phyllis | 2:34 PM | 8-21-2008

Socially vibrant instead of hell-raiser; blew off classes he didn't like instead of finishing 4th from last out of 899? And we are supposed to be comforted because his conduct pulled down his academics. McCain spoke at my son's university in May and made light of his collegiate experience by telling the students not to worry about their own mediocre or worse performances in college because he was a perfect example of how it doesn't really maatter. This is not the kind of leadership or example that I think today's youth need. As to his POW experience for which I have the highest respect, of the about 600 Americans who had POW experience, many were tortured and many were offered early release and also refused. Decorations awarded have recently to those POW's include the following: Medals of Honor - 8, Service Crosses - 42, Silver Stars - 590, Bronze Stars - 958 and Purple Hearts - 1,249. He is a hero from this time among several hundred and his experience in the war alone does not qualify one for the presidency and some of his actions and positions including his treatment of his first wife and his involvement in political scandal since then disqualify him in my opinion.

Sent by H.Stancil | 2:35 PM | 8-21-2008

How does John McCain's attitude toward education differ to that of George Bush, in that they both were legacies of their school (one the son of a president, and the other the son of an admiral) and they both tried to label themselves as different by not succeeding in their forums to their full potential? Why should we respect an attitude to be mediocre in order to be different?

Sent by Phil | 2:35 PM | 8-21-2008

Given that Senator McCain was a POW, does he Senator suffer from PTSD? If elected to be the president, would this affect his ability to lead the nation?

Sent by Juan Euvin | 2:36 PM | 8-21-2008

I heard a story about an accedent on an aircraft carrier that occurred due to John clowning arround hitting an afterburner on his jet which caused another jet to drop its bomb on the deck of the carrier.
Is there any truth to this?

Sent by Greg Shemp | 2:39 PM | 8-21-2008

Is there a chance that McCain might "snap" because of his five years of captivity? Would he be able to effectively and objectively deal with Vietnam if there were a military or social crisis?

Sent by Patrick Lambert | 2:41 PM | 8-21-2008

I wanted to know about an incident that happened with john mccain, in which him and his wife were at a sporting event. His wife had leaned over and told him that he was getting a little lite up top (balding) and he responded with, at least i don't cake on the makeup you **** - -and this happened on national tv-if he would say that to his own wife it shows his temper and lack of respect for woman

Sent by jon | 4:29 PM | 8-21-2008

What's with the John McCain love fest that the media has engaged in the past several weeks? I would not have expected NPR to join the bandwagon. There was little unbiased or balanced information in the piece you presented today. If John McCain were to make a sudden stop your guest would suffer a broken nose! You spent much of the segment reenforcing the the war hero theme and trying to trivialize or dismiss McCain's major shortcomings. Is there an effort afloat to hard sell the country on another mediocre to poor performer for the highest office in the land? Haven't we learned our lesson with George W. Bush?
Wake-Up America!!!

Sent by Ray L. | 4:31 PM | 8-21-2008

This powderpuff piece on McCain is just as "fair and balanced" as items on Fox News. Every guest gushed and glossed over episodes that demonstrated lack of character. Aside from the comment of one, possibly two, callers, there was nobody to offer an alternative view of history. Still worse, the hard-right turn that McCain has taken to woo the base, which explains more about his character than any other event in his life, was just barely mentioned. And the straw that surely broke this "fair and balanced" story was the section on torture, which never mentioned the candidate's complete reversal on the issue, as he voted to support the Bush Administration's twisted arguments for the treatment of Guantanamo detainees. Shame on NPR.

Sent by Virge Lorents | 6:10 PM | 8-21-2008

Little of what I've heard so far is relevant to McCain's qualifications for the presidency, but does much to paint the same kind of superficial, Good Ole Boy image that served Bush so well in 2000 and 2004. It's irresponsible media coverage that distracts from the important issues we should be considering -- not the "aw, shucks" anecdotes about McCain's youth, but what a McCain victory in November might mean to the future of the economy, the environment, U.S. foreign relations, and any number of other truly pressing issues. NPR should be above this.

Sent by Joel Blum | 4:35 AM | 8-22-2008

I think he's my father reincarnated.

Why can't he just go away to one of his houses he can't find and live out his retirement years in peace, leave us alone. If he's the best the GOP has to offer then this nation has bigger problems than anyone thought possible. Are we willing to be bored to death? As a vet I don't give a poop if he spent 20 years as a POW, in fact I'd be leery of that qualification...

Sent by gungadin | 2:01 PM | 8-23-2008

As an adult I want and adult as President, which is why as a Libertarian I feel McCain is the one who can win. Yes, he is flawed but we all are. I do like his wife Cindy who for me is what Proverbs 31 in the Bible speaks of. She has her own money and investments, and I like the fact she isn't seeking the limelight but is there supporting her husband. And being from a family that has been here in the West for seven generations I like McCain because he understands states rights, gun rights and other Constitutional rights we hold dear. And unlike the Obama-Biden bunch he wants me to keep more of my hard earned money which I can spend as I want, whereas the Obama-Biden bunch wants to take more of my money and spend it as they want.

Sent by MotherLodeBeth | 2:23 PM | 8-25-2008

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