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.
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.
''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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