At Hanoi Hilton, Klobuchar flatters McCain by mattsteinglass
April 8, 2009, 4:17 pm
Filed under: Gender, President, Vietnam

John McCain stopped by for a visit yesterday, and this morning we gentlemen of the press were graciously allowed to tag along with him on a visit to Hoa Lo Prison, known to American POWs as the Hanoi Hilton. It’s now a museum.

John McCain with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (right) points out the location of his cell at the Hoa Lo Prison Museum in Hanoi, April 8, 2009.

John McCain with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (right) points out the location of his cell at the Hoa Lo Prison Museum in Hanoi, April 8, 2009.


I’ve seen former POWs become extremely emotional when visiting the museum, but McCain has already been back a few times, and he didn’t seem particularly affected. He seemed to be mainly enjoying an opportunity to show off to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who was accompanying him on the trip, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). At a press conference yesterday afternoon (at the actual Hanoi Hilton, the hotel, that is) Klobuchar began her portion of the opening remarks by gushing over McCain:

Klobuchar: Thank you very much Senator McCain, it is an honor to be here. I’m here as a new senator, also a Democratic senator. I’m here to tell you that Senator McCain is a hero in our country, and it was an honor today to go to see his monument by the lake where he parachuted down, and to think of that moment that changed his life forever.

And there are many Americans I’ve talked to who served in Vietnam who said it’s too hard for them to return. But Senator McCain has returned again and again and again, and has devoted himself to improving the relations between our country and Vietnam.

When Klobuchar called McCain a “hero”, he grinned uncontrollably, guffawed, and leaned back in his chair. Klobuchar has a bit of the”Fargo” accent you also hear in Sarah Palin’s voice, and listening to her successfully butter McCain up, it was hard not to think of what must have been happening last summer, when McCain was interviewing Palin for the VP job.

During the visit to the prison museum, Klobuchar continued the flattery. McCain spoke in a low voice, stoically, as Klobuchar commiserated and made pointedly sarcastic remarks about the museum’s propagandistic portrayal of Vietnamese generosity towards US POWs. Then Klobuchar spotted a 35-year-old McCain in the front row of a photo of POWs marching towards the USAF transport on the day they were released in 1973:

Klobuchar: Is that you? You’re so handsome!

A minute later, McCain laughed knowingly at a display of staged photos of US POWs celebrating Christmas:

McCain: This is (inaudible) hospitality.
Klobuchar: So it wasn’t really like this all the time.
McCain: That was really entertaining. they took me to one of these, I started yelling and shouting obscenities…
Klobuchar: And they never invited you back!

You incorrigible old bad boy, you. One reads stories of how Hillary Clinton ingratiated herself with senior (male) colleagues as a freshman Senator. What hasn’t come through to me before is how sexist the process looks. Of course one assumes that Klobuchar is a smart person who knows exactly what she’s doing, and that in this sense it’s not her who’s being manipulated, it’s McCain. And at some level he surely knows this, too. Still, it’s hard to imagine the relationship between a freshman male senator and a senior female one involving anything like this sort of giggly deference.

Meanwhile, McCain completely ignored Lindsey Graham throughout the tour. Graham is an Air Force veteran who served briefly in noncombat capacities in both Iraq conflicts, but he’s also a short, somewhat chubby guy who seemed strangely ill at ease around McCain. He hung back in third place as McCain showed Klobuchar around. Towards the end of the tour he spotted a propaganda photo of POWs purportedly raising chickens, and ventured a hopeful joke in his rich South Carolina accent:

Graham: Y’all raised chickens! That’s pretty good. I didn’t know you were a chicken farmer. You still raise chickens?

McCain ignored him.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Too bad he ignored him, that’s actually pretty funny.

Comment by jsalvati

[…] May 15, 2009, 1:13 am Filed under: Human Rights and Torture Just over a month ago, as I noted at the time, I obnoxiously followed Sens. John McCain, Amy Klobuchar, and Lindsey Graham around as they walked […]

Pingback by Sen. Lindsey Graham at the Hanoi Hilton « ACCUMULATING PERIPHERALS

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