Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How Offensive Can They Get?

Apparently, pretty offensive. The Los Angeles Times ran an article today on John McCain. They questioned whether he should be elected because he receives a disability pension. As Ralph Vartabedian writes,

The fact that he is legally designated with a disability pension may raise further questions.

"It is a legitimate question to ask about the commander in chief: Is he fit to serve," said Robert Schriebman, a senior Pentagon tax advisor and tax attorney who recently retired as a judge advocate for a unit of the California National Guard.
Isn't that nice. McCain is not fit to serve because he has a disability pension from the U.S. government as a result of wounds he sustained while serving in combat.

Mr. Vartabedian, not content to say that a person suffering from a disability should not serve as the President, then argues the other way. He puts forth the idea that if he is receiving a disability pension, then why is healthy enough to hike the Grand Canyon.

Now, McCain apparently receives a pension that falls into the category of "combat-related special compensation." has a good explanation of what it means. Simply put, it looks like McCain definitely qualifies. He served more than twenty years in the U.S. Navy (1958 through 1981); has a VA disability rating of greater than 10%; and presumably receives military retired pay; and the military retired pay is reduced by VA disability payments. As a result of his injuries sustained when he was shot down by enemy fire, he had to spend the better part of a year in rehab once he was finally released by the North Vietnamese. It looks like McCain's disability would be covered by 38 U.S.C. section 1114. Judging on what they say happened to him, multiple fractures which were essentially unattended, it sounds like he fits all the definitions of disabled. Like him or not, agree with his politics or not, but the man sustained some serious wounds.

Apparently, to Mr. Vartabedian, in order to receive disability payments, one must be completely disabled and unable to do anything but sit and vegetate. Unfortunately, that's not how disability payments work, even when the rating in 100%. Even if it was simply a civil determination of disability, he would probably still qualify as disabled. In California, the standard is whether the condition impairs a major life activity (i.e. blindness, certain chronic illnesses, etc). Would Mr. Vatabedian suggest that some who is, perhaps legally blind, is not fit to serve as the Chief Executive?

But apparently Mr. Vartabedian seems to have forgotten that perfect health is not a pre-requisite to being the President of the United States. If it was, we never would have had one one of the greatest presidents in our history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, nor one of the most popularly rememebered, John F. Kennedy. (Not to mention Woodrow Wilson who may have suffered 3 strokes prior to becoming president, or Dwight David Eisenhower who had Crohn's as well as suffering a heart attack while in office.)

FDR suffered from polio, hypertension, heart disease, left ventricular cardiac failure, and bronchitis when he began his campaign in 1944. He was in a wheel chair! And he fought to restore the national economy during the Great Depression and then orchestrated the alliance which destroyed Facism (which in 1941 was poised to eliminate freedom, democracy, and anything else which did not appeal to Herr Hitler, Mussolini, or the Japanese Empire).

JFK had a bad back, partly due to his service in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War. In fact his back problems were so bad, he had to wear a backbrace. He also suffered from colitis, Addison's disease, prostatis, and possibly an untreated venereal disease. The list of medications which he regularly took is said to include: cortisone, lomotil, paregoric, phenobarbital, testosterone, trasentine, Tuinal, and amphetamines. And he did not do too bad a job running the country despite the fact that healthwise, he was complete disaster.

Like him or not, don't judge McCain on what you may think you might know about his health. That is just fear mongering from a politically motivated hack. Look at the candidates, all of them, to make your decision.

A person suffering from a physical disability may not be able to do everything the rest of the "non-disabled" world can do, but they can still do a lot. And given what we already know about McCain's health, there is nothing to say that his condition would leave him unable to function if elected as president.

And if you want to see a less restrained take on this, here is another view.

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