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  • « Another marriage stonewall in D.C. | Main | The right-wing rationalization »

    June 15, 2008

    The 'sanctity' of McCain's marriages

    Posted by: Chris

    As we all ponder John McCain's applause line in Tennessee last week -- something about defending "the sanctity and unique status of marriage between man and woman" -- we should keep in mind how the GOP nominee himself has treated the institution.

    Johnmccaincarolshepp McCain originally married Carol Shepp, a statuesque former model. And yet already in McCain's early Navy years, according to a New York Times profile, "stories began to spread about Mr. McCain and young women, [and] McCain has acknowledged running around with women."

    Later, during McCain's four years in captivity in Vietnam, Carol McCain waited with their three children and even endured her own tragedy: a near-fatal car crash that left her slightly disfigured, four inches shorter and with some additional weight. The Times profile recounts how McCain's "supporters and his biographer, Robert Timberg, all suggest that the marriage had already effectively ended and that the couple had separated by the time he met Cindy, his present wife":

    That might be the most soothing way of explaining a politician's divorce from a disabled wife and his remarriage to a wealthy heiress, but it does not jibe with accounts of family members and friends.

    'For somebody to say that [John and first wife Carol McCain] were separated or at each other's throats is just nonsense,'' [McCain friend Carl] Smith said. 

    Yet at precisely the time that Mr. Smith was a guest in what appeared to be a happy household, in April 1979, Mr. McCain accompanied a group of senators on a trip to China. The Navy threw a big cocktail party for the group during a stopover in Honolulu.

    ''John and I were talking, and then somebody tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around and exchanged a few words,'' said Albert A. Lakeland, then a Senate staff member. ''When I turned around, John was gone. I looked around, and he was making a beeline for this very attractive blond woman.

    Mcain_cindy_john_3 ''He spent the whole party talking to her, and he kept avoiding me when I approached,'' Mr. Lakeland said. After the reception, Mr. McCain and the young woman, Cindy Hensley, went out to dinner, and the romance blossomed.

    Mr. McCain continued to pursue Miss Hensley, calling her to keep in touch. When she thanked him for sending flowers that had just arrived (signed ''John'') he said it was nothing. As she discovered years later, they were from another man named John.

    Over the next six months, Mr. McCain pursued Miss Hensley aggressively, flying around the country to see her, and he began to push to end his marriage. Friends say that Carol McCain was in shock.

    Late that year, the McCains finally separated, and Mrs. McCain accepted a divorce the next February. Mr. McCain promptly married Miss Hensley, his present wife.

    And with that, McCain discarded his wife for a younger, far wealthier model, one much better suited to his political ambitions, which -- we know now -- include defending "the sanctity and unique status of marriage between man and woman."

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    Comments

    1. Hawyer on Jun 15, 2008 9:54:21 PM:

      As House sponsor of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, a journalist once asked Bob Barr (now Libertarian candidate for President) which of his own marriages he was defending – his first, second, or third? Barr declined to respond.

      Even the canonized Ronald Regan, who rarely attended church, and had an uneven - at best - relationship with his children, became the first President to have been divorced.

      Indeed, serial monogamy seems to be the matrimonial model for scrubbed-up family-values Republican politicos.

      SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE? Give me a fucking break. At least the Mormons don't discard their successive wives like yesterday's garbage. For that, maybe Mitt Romney was - at least - less hypocritical.


    1. Tim on Jun 16, 2008 12:39:20 PM:

      You know we are all discounting the fact that he had to be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. My grandfather was in the merchant marines and confessed to my grandmother that he could not remember the first three years of their marriage because of it.

    1. Tim on Jun 16, 2008 12:40:08 PM:

      You know we are all discounting the fact that he had to be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. My grandfather was in the merchant marines and confessed to my grandmother that he could not remember the first three years of their marriage because of it.

    1. Charlie on Jun 16, 2008 3:13:07 PM:

      I don't think anyone is (or should be) judging John McCain's decisions to divorce and remarry, or his motivations for such an action. The problem is that he, like so many of his colleagues, is turning around and decrying marriage as a sanctified institution when he personally has chosen to piss all over it in the past. Why he chose to leave Carol and marry Cindy is not our business, but his current hypocritical stance on marriage is, in fact, very much our concern. And these statements, made thirty years after his divorce and almost forty since his release from captivity, probably can't be blamed on post-traumatic stress. (And if they can, well, how scary is THAT?)

    1. Charles J. Mueller on Jun 18, 2008 1:55:52 AM:

      Well, Charlie, that is precisely what we are attacking here; McCain's colossal hypocrisy.

      He (McCain) is advocating "Do as I say, not as I do."

      Fuck him and the ass he rode in on.

    1. Charlie on Jun 18, 2008 10:55:19 AM:

      I agree, Charles. I was just responding to Tim's suggestion (or my reading of it) that post-traumatic stress was a factor in McCain's divorce, or Chris' original implication of McCain's greedy motivations in swapping wives. My point was that both may be true but neither is relevant. What's relevant is that he IS divorced and so for him to grab onto this word sanctity and wave it above his head is, as you say, colossal hypocrisy. Sad, really.

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