It takes the UK’s Daily Mail to report on the presidential campaign story the US media refuses to cover:
McCain likes to illustrate his moral fibre by referring to his five years as a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam. And to demonstrate his commitment to family values, the 71-year-old former US Navy pilot pays warm tribute to his beautiful blonde wife, Cindy, with whom he has four children.
But there is another Mrs McCain who casts a ghostly shadow over the Senator’s presidential campaign. She is seldom seen and rarely written about, despite being mother to McCain’s three eldest children.
And yet, had events turned out differently, it would be she, rather than Cindy, who would be vying to be First Lady. She is McCain’s first wife, Carol, who was a famous beauty and a successful swimwear model when they married in 1965.
She was the woman McCain dreamed of during his long incarceration and torture in Vietnam’s infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison and the woman who faithfully stayed at home looking after the children and waiting anxiously for news.
But when McCain returned to America in 1973 to a fanfare of publicity and a handshake from Richard Nixon, he discovered his wife had been disfigured in a terrible car crash three years earlier … In order to save her legs, surgeons had been forced to cut away huge sections of shattered bone, taking with it her tall, willowy figure. She was confined to a wheelchair and was forced to use a catheter.
Through sheer hard work, Carol learned to walk again. But when John McCain came home from Vietnam, she had gained a lot of weight and bore little resemblance to her old self.
And so McCain did what any honorable, loving, family man would do: he immediately started cheating on his faithful wife before eventually dumping her to marry a beautiful heiress 18 years his junior.
For her part, Carol McCain sounds philosophical:
“My marriage ended because John McCain didn’t want to be 40, he wanted to be 25. You know that happens…it just does.”
But former friends and acquaintances are not so forgiving….
They portray the politician as a self-centred womaniser who effectively abandoned his crippled wife to ‘play the field’. They accuse him of finally settling on Cindy, a former rodeo beauty queen, for financial reasons.
Of course this is America, where everyone has the right to pursue happiness, and if McCain couldn’t be happy married to a woman who wasn’t tall, beautiful and wealthy, then perhaps it was best for him, Carol and their children to end the marriage. But really… enough of this family values character crap for a man who abandoned his crippled wife when she needed him most. One can assume the only reason he’s remained married to Cindy this long is that she’s managed to retain her height, looks, wealth and bladder.
In the words of Ross Perot (who paid Carol’s extensive medical bills while her husband was a prisoner of war):
“McCain is the classic opportunist. He’s always reaching for attention and glory,’ he said.
“After he came home, Carol walked with a limp. So he threw her over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona. And the rest is history.”
A history most Americans will never learn.