What About McCain's Association With David Ifshin Who Denounced America From North Vietnam? Somervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


 
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What About McCain's Association With David Ifshin Who Denounced America From North Vietnam?
 


5 October 2008 at 5:45:26 PM
salon

Seems to me that John McCain has a few hypocrisy skeletons in his own closet

The McCain campaign shows no shame in engaging in a tired guilt-by-association tactic as Sarah Palin accuses Obama of "palling around with terrorists." This desperate calumny derives from Obama once serving on the same non-profit board as former 60's radical Bill Ayres, one of the founders of the Weather Underground.

But what about McCain's own associations with former 60's radicals. Indeed, until just a few years ago, McCain openly boasted not only about his passing friendship but also his deep collaboration with one of the most prominent of Vietnam-era student radicals, David Ifshin. The same David Ifshin who denounced America on Radio Hanoi as McCain sat locked up as a POW.

I met Ifshin about the same time he came into McCain's life. But under very different circumstances. In 1970, as president of the left-leaning National Student Association, Ifshin traveled to North Vietnam with other anti-war radicals and it was then that he went on Radio Hanoi to denounce his own country's war effort. That broadcast was piped directly into POW McCain's cell in the Hanoi Hilton and he was understandably enraged by what he thought was a traitorous act by a fellow American....But until the day he died, at age 47 in 1996, Ifshin never renounced nor apologized for his youthful, radical past

I take issue with that last statement, keep reading. I do think Ifshin always thought the Vietnam war was wrong and a mistake.

Ishfin, incidentally, was also the man who set up that notorious incident where Jane Fonda met with the North Vietnamese.

In the course of my reporting, I came across the tale of McCain and David Ifshin. Those with long memories may recall Ifshin as the "Tokyo Rose" of the Vietnam War—the antiwar activist who traveled to Hanoi and gave the enemy aid and comfort by denouncing the U.S. military from Vietnamese soil. As I remember it, it was Ifshin who set up Jane Fonda's notorious visit to the enemy, where she posed at a North Vietnamese antiaircraft battery—the kind of guns that were shooting down guys like John McCain. For the POWs who endured torture because they would not denounce their country, Ifshin was fit to occupy a special place in hell.

But then this.

As recently as two years ago, speaking at Columbia College, McCain affectionately and warmly recalled his relationship with Ifshin saying:

"We worked together in an organization dedicated to promoting human rights in the country where he and I had once come for different reasons. I came to admire him for his generosity, his passion for his ideals, for the largeness of his heart, and I realized he had not been my enemy, but my countryman . . . my countryman ...and later my friend. His friendship honored me. We disagreed over much. Our politics were often opposed, and we argued those disagreements. But we worked together for our shared ideals."

More from the Times Online UK

And yet he did. The young radical Democrat never repented of his opposition to the Vietnam War, but he came to regret his broadcast bitterly. He came to understand his country's big heart, its generosity. And so one day, at a Washington event, Ifshin approached Mr McCain and asked to be allowed to apologise. Mr McCain decided to let him. And extraordinarily the two became friends, campaigners together for human rights in Vietnam. Said the senator: “I realised he had not been my enemy, but my countryman.” He added: “His friendship honoured me.”

I was interested in the fact that, despite the actions that Ifshin did that were clearly, at the time, considered treasonous, John McCain said about him at the Liberty University (Jerry Falwell) Commencement Address.

A few years later, he had moved temporarily to a kibbutz in Israel. He was there during the Yom Kippur War, when he witnessed the support America provided our beleaguered ally. He saw the huge cargo planes bearing the insignia of the United States Air Force rushing emergency supplies into that country. And he had an epiphany. He had believed America had made a tragic mistake by going to Vietnam, and he still did. He had seen what he believed were his country’s faults, and he still saw them. But he realized he has -- he had let his criticism temporarily blind him to his country’s generosity and the goodness that most Americans possess, and he regretted his failing deeply. When he returned to his country he became prominent in Democratic Party politics, and helped [elect] Bill Clinton President of the United States. He criticized his government when he thought it wrong, but he never again lost sight of all that unites us.

Interesting to note that just today Heather Wilson of NM implies that any criticisms of the Bush administration's policies are unpatriotic. Does McCain agree with her?

We met some years later. He approached me and asked to apologize for the mistake he believed he had made as a young man. Many years had passed since then, and I bore little animosity for anyone because of what they had done or not done during the Vietnam War. It was an easy thing to accept such a decent act, and we moved beyond our old grievance.

Is this true only in times when Mr. McCain is not running for political office?

We worked together in an organization dedicated to promoting human rights in the country where he and I had once come for different reasons. I came to admire him for his generosity, his passion for his ideals, and for the largeness of his heart, and I realized he had not been my enemy, but my countryman, my countryman, and later my friend. His friendship honored me. We disagreed over much. Our politics were often opposed, and we argued those disagreements. But we worked together for our shared ideals. We were not always in the right, but we weren’t always in the wrong either, and we defended our beliefs as we had each been given the wisdom to defend them.

It's interesting to note that Ifshin's story is different than McCain's.

Ifshin's version of their story differs from McCain's in its important details and in its spirit. The way McCain tells it, Ifshin is the hero: he decided he'd made a mistake and bravely took responsibility for his actions. The way Ifshin tells it, McCain is the hero. As I listen to him I realize that this is the reverse of the usual Washington investigation, in which the reporter visits each interested party to collect the dirt on the adversary. Here is a case where each is needed to explain the other's nobility of spirit. I have never heard two political allies, much less two political opponents, cast each other in a more flattering light.

"I had always wanted to apologize," Ifshin begins, "but did not know who to apologize to." His moment to act, he decided, came at an aipac meeting around 1986 at the Washington Hilton. Ifshin spotted Senator John McCain at a distance and decided that he was the man who deserved the apology. "I hoisted my courage up and went over to him," recalls Ifshin, "and before I could get a word out McCain said, I owe you an apology.'" A couple of years earlier, during the 1984 presidential campaign, McCain had given a speech in which he attacked Ifshin's war record. "Basically someone had handed him a script," said Ifshin, "and he read it. He was sorry he did it and said he wouldn't do that kind of thing again. Then he asked me to stop by his office, which I did. And normally wouldn't do. It was blind fate, I told him at that time. I said, I owed you an apology, and you robbed me of the chance to make it'--and he was characteristically modest and humble about it." Later that year McCain and Ifshin, together with a Vietnamese emigre named Doan Van Toai, established the Institute For Democracy in Vietnam.

At what point will we give it a rest about Vietnam? I put in a video recently (and may highlight it again) where Cindy McCain said in the year 2004 that we need to put Vietnam behind us. The US was bitterly divided in sentiments pro and con during the Vietnam War and it certainly was the right of those who disagreed with the war to speak up and do what they thought was right to try to bring it to an end. I don't agree with deliberately giving the enemy a video or audio propaganda tool, nor of course, was the Weather Underground right to engage in bombings. (Nor, as a side note, is it right for christian terrorists to bomb abortion clinics). But it's interesting that the John McCain who was so willing to overlook and work with David Ifshin despite what he did, is so willing to try to trash Barack Obama, who isn't even as closely connected to William Ayers as McCain was to Ifshin.

That John McCain is unrecognizable from the man who today stands behind the scurrilous attacks suggesting that Barack Obama pals around with terrorists because Bill Ayres - when Obama was literally eight years old--stupidly fancied himself an armed revolutionary.


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Comments!  
1 - heehawpa   6 Oct 2008 @ 1:33:40 AM 

Hey, what do you expect? John McCain is not a black man, therefore anything he does is easier for people to overlook. Really, it's not that most people believe Obama is "good friends" with Ayers or condones his actions from decades passed, but more so that it has always been effective and acceptable to plaster negative labels on black people. OK, now when you look at it that way, then you have to think implementing this tactic only makes sense. Look, John McCain didn't make the rules; he's just doing what society has done to minorities for centuries. Now, is this the Christian thing to do? I tell you what, God will be the judge of that.



2 - salon   6 Oct 2008 @ 10:22:11 AM 

I certainly hope you were saying all that tongue in cheek. I don't disagree that in some places, like the South, it's more acceptable with some to be racist. And this tactic, appealing to some people's racism, may work for McCain, but it's a disgusting, unprincipled, and particular for him who was originally smeared by Bush, dishonest and cowardly way to proceeed.

As to whether this is Christian or not, that's not the point, or shouldn't be, when it comes to poliics in the United States, since we have separation of church and state. God may judge him for what you and I believe is distinctly unchristian, but in the here and now we can not vote for such a scoundrel.


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3 - heehawpa   6 Oct 2008 @ 9:21:12 PM 

Duh.... I was being sarcastic.

Also, pleasing God will always be the main point in my life.



4 - salon   6 Oct 2008 @ 9:48:18 PM 

I figured you were, just making sure. :)


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5 - jane   7 Oct 2008 @ 3:19:54 PM 

The difference between Mr. Ifshin and Mr. Ayers is that mr. Ifshin came to see America as capable of great kind things.  Mr. Ayes is quoted as saying that he regrets he didn't do more and wrtoe a book which Senator Obama endorsed that compared the US justice system to that of South Africa.

The only law Mr. Ifshin broke was in visiting Vietnam.  Mr. Ayers tried to kill people and the only reason he is not in jail today is the the high priced lawyers his family bought for him to get him off because the evidence was not obtained properly.

That a presidential nominee would owe his start in politics to such a man is shameful.



6 - salon   7 Oct 2008 @ 5:23:09 PM 

Both Ifshin and Ayers never regretted their opposition to the Vietnam war, and I have seen Mr Ayers comments that he beileves he was taken out of context. No idea how old you are, so you may not recall the virulent anger against Ifshin and Jane Fonda for what many viewed as propaganda opportunities for the North Vietnamese. (Some probably still despite Fonda for that).

Here's what Obama's campaign spokesman said today about Ayers. And I agree that McCain, who has plenty of his own odious associations, as does Palin, would like to keep the conversation OFF the economy.

ON FLIGHT TO NASHVILLE -- Reporters pressed Barack Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod on when the senator became aware of William Ayers' radical past during the flight from Asheville, NC to Nashville for tonight's debate.

When asked to clarify when it was that Obama learned about Ayers' history of planning bombings to protest the Vietnam War, Axelrod said it was some time after their first meetings but that he did not know the exact moment.

Axelrod said that Obama was similar to a lot of people who did not live through that era in Chicago.

"I mean when he [Obama] came to Chicago, Ayers was advising Mayor Daley on school reform issues and that was his profile was that he was an expert on education issues."

Axelrod reiterated his earlier statement that Obama had not known about Ayers' past when the college professor hosted a meet-and-greet for him early in his political career, but said no one was suggesting that he never knew. 

In previewing tonight's town hall debate, Axelrod said Obama was prepared to talk about Ayers and would not shy away from talking about the Keating Five issue, but that he hoped and expected much of the focus to be on the economy.


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7 - dan   8 Oct 2008 @ 7:53:15 PM 

Perhaps we need to ask if McCain is still in his right mind? Contrast the old McCain with the new, the serious lapse in judgement in picking a VP with close ties to an anti-American secessionist group, the rages, the forgetfulness--is he showing early signs of senile dementia?



8 - steven   14 Oct 2008 @ 11:05:17 AM 

Jane,

In what way is starting a career with help from anyone shameful?

You have no doubt had help in your life from people who have lied, cheated, or had affairs, for example, maybe even people who have broken laws, driven drunk, etc.  Is it shameful that you met these people and they helped you or you happened to serve on the same board, team or in the same group?  Just what is the connection?  Should we, then, say that YOU are a cheater and drunk driver because you had some loose association with these people?



9 - salon   20 Oct 2008 @ 1:03:15 PM 

One more thing on Ifshin and McCain from Joe Klein

I’ve told this story many times, especially to veterans groups, because it says so much about the importance of forgiveness, of reconciliation. But, in the heat of the campaign, I’d forgotten about it…until the past weeks, when Obama’s passing relationship with the radical Bill Ayers—not nearly as close as McCain’s friendship with David Ifshin—became news, and has been relentlessly exploited by John McCain and his campaign, most recently in robo-calls that flagrantly distort the nature of Obama’s relationship with Ayers.
If you want to know why I—like so many others--held John McCain in such high regard for so long, it had a lot to do with David Ifshin. And if you want to know why my opinion of him has plummeted, it has something to do with William Ayers.


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