Blogging from the road as the First Mate has a regularly-scheduled visit to the doctor today for some orthopedic evaluation. I've been catching up on e-mail while we wait (and wait and wait and wait), and I'm seeing hints of a really dumb and certainly slanderous attack on John McCain. People know that I support Mitt Romney and have policy disagreements with Senator McCain, but that's all they are -- and this is particularly vicious.
The rumor mill tells e-mail recipients that McCain lost four or five airplanes as a naval aviator. One incident, though, doesn't even involve McCain except as a victim of someone else's error, and the rest of them don't provide any context at all.
Why is this important? Are we electing an Aviator in Chief or a President? I'd like to remind people of a few truths:
1. McCain put his life on the line as a combat pilot every time he climbed into one of these planes.
2. Losing planes in combat, especially in that period of time, wasn't exactly an unknown event in the military.
3. If I'd had one plane go down, I'd have become a naval train conductor instead of an aviator. Getting into another one after that sounds pretty frickin' impressive.
4. Even if one could assume that McCain was a less-than-stellar pilot, which I don't, so what? How does that disqualify him from being a good President?
Whoever's flacking this needs to stop. It's a smear and an irrelevancy, even if it were true, and it's almost certainly not. No professional campaign would be stupid enough to float this effluvium. Let's respond vigorously and reject this smear of a man who served his country honorably under extraordinarily bad conditions.
UPDATE: I see John Derbyshire at The Corner gave this a little push. Maybe he should just pull it back with some apologies and a little gratitude for McCain's service. Just a suggestion.