First he was quoted in a Daily Mail article, called The Wife U.S. Republican John McCain Callously Left Behind, last Sunday that flew around the political blogs and internet.
H. Ross Perot, a billionaire Texas businessman, future presidential candidate and advocate of prisoners of war, paid for her medical care.
When McCain – his hair turned prematurely white and his body reduced to little more than a skeleton – was released in March 1973, he told reporters he was overjoyed to see Carol again.
But friends say privately he was ‘appalled’ by the change in her appearance. At first, though, he was kind, assuring her: ‘I don’t look so good myself. It’s fine.’
He bought her a bungalow near the sea in Florida and another former PoW helped him to build a railing so she could pull herself over the dunes to the water.
‘I thought, of course, we would live happily ever after,’ says Carol. But as a war hero, McCain was moving in ever-more elevated circles.
Through Ross Perot, he met Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California. A sympathetic Nancy Reagan took Carol under her wing.
But Ross Perot, who paid her medical bills all those years ago, now believes that both Carol McCain and the American people have been taken in by a man who is unusually slick and cruel – even by the standards of modern politics.
‘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.’
It was discovered that those last Perot quotes were lifted from a Jonathan Alter piece, When Ross Perot Calls.... in Newsweek printed January 18, 2008:
Perot's real problem with McCain is that he believes the senator hushed up evidence that live POWs were left behind in Vietnam and even transferred to the Soviet Union for human experimentation, a charge Perot says he heard from a senior Vietnamese official in the 1980s. "There's evidence, evidence, evidence," Perot claims. "McCain was adamant about shutting down anything to do with recovering POWs."Okay, so there was THAT.
Then, Russert died and everyone recalled his pivotal interview with Perot and those charts, about which Russert's friend David Broder wrote:
When "Meet the Press" went to Texas in 1992 to interview Ross Perot, the wealthy businessman-turned-independent presidential candidate took strong offense to Russert's aggressive questions and threatened to walk out halfway through. Tim stared him down, and the interview ran its full course.And then in today's Washington Post, Broder writes about a new Perot comeback:
In recent weeks, when I have found myself in conversations with David Walker and other economists who know how grim the long-term budget picture really is, I have mused aloud, "We need Ross Perot back." Turns out, he was quietly preparing his return. He took some of the basic work done by Walker and others, and had professionals turn it into 35 very clear charts and link them on a Web site with an equally simple narration.You can see it here - www.perotcharts.com. Actually, this could be a good thing; as Broder notes, Perot did quite a nice job of raising awareness and helped set the stage for Clinton's fiscal responsibility. The public was ready for it.
That's a lesson, in my view, Obama has learned well. The power of words on that presidential platform (if not charts).