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Rick Robinson: John McCain is a Hero and Donald Trump is a Douche

On my list of “Game Show Hosts I’d Like to See as President,” Donald Trump is now near the bottom. I’d walk door-to-door with Draft Alex Trebek petitions, before I’d consider voting for a grown man who refers to himself in the passive third-person.

Until this week, though I really didn’t have such strong feelings about The Donald. His flip-flopping positions on choice, Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s leadership abilities, taxation and universal health care are the kind of moving targets one expects from a well-funded politician trying to redefine himself as a conservative. A good politician has to find the base in order to fire it up.

For me personally, it’s far too early to get too excited about an overcrowded race still in its infancy. When asked about Trump’s chances, I generally tell folks to talk to me after New Hampshire.

Yet, a recent comment by Donald Trump stuck in my craw.

In an interview at the Family Leadership Summit, Trump was asked about comments made by Arizona Senator John McCain. “He’s not a war hero,” Trump snapped at the interviewer. “He’s a war hero because he was captured.” Then, he added in his usual arrogant tone, “I like people that weren’t captured.”

John McCain is a hero, and not because he was captured. Unlike Trump (and me for that matter), McCain wore the uniform. That’s heroic enough for me. But the story of McCain’s valor while in uniform exemplifies heroism.

In 1967, Lt. Commander McCain was on board the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal when an electrical malfunction caused a deadly fire. While assisting another pilot’s escape from the deck, a bomb exploded. McCain was hit with fragments in the chest and legs.

A year later, as a part of Operation Rolling Thunder, John McCain was shot down over North Vietnam during his 23rd bombing mission. When he ejected from the plane, he broke both arms and a leg. Locals crushed his shoulder with the butt of a rifle and stabbed him with a bayonet, before sending him to the prison known as the Hanoi Hilton.

I’ve never been to a Trump resort to enjoy their room service, but I’m guessing the service is a bit nicer than the treatment McCain received at the Hanoi Hilton.

Initially, McCain was denied medical treatment and tortured for information. When the VC discovered McCain’s elite military family heritage, they relented. But the damage was done. His injuries from the crash and torture required a body cast.

Offered an early release from captivity as a publicity stunt, McCain declined – standing by military protocol requiring release in order of captivity. His refusal resulted in him being subjected to hourly beatings while bound by ropes. When the guards returned him to the general population, other American solders didn’t expect him to last the week. He spent five and a half years in captivity, much of it in solitary confinement.

As a result of his treatment at the Hanoi Hilton, John McCain is incapable of raising his arms above his shoulders – an ailment mocked by those who impersonated him during his presidential bid.

I’m not a fan of John McCain’s politics. My Arizona gauge leans more Goldwater than McCain. But as much as anyone else in the United States Senate, Captain John McCain has earned the right to express his views.

The Donald is flip flopping on so many views these days in order to find a message that sells, I hope he considers doing the same with his basic definition of heroism.

Rick Robinson is an award-winning novelist and top-selling political humorist. Follow him on Twitter @authorRick