Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cindy is the hero in the adoption of daughter Bridget, not John

At the risk of raining all over John McCain, yet again, let me suggest that the pro-McCain people pushing the episode about the adoption of Bridget does not necessarily prove his virtuous character, much less pro-life bona fides, as much as some folks have advocated.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed entitled, Getting to Know John McCain, Karl Rove reports that
in 1991 Cindy McCain was visiting Mother Teresa's orphanage in Bangladesh when a dying infant was thrust into her hands. The orphanage could not provide the medical care needed to save her life, so Mrs. McCain brought the child home to America with her. She was met at the airport by her husband, who asked what all this was about.

Mrs. McCain replied that the child desperately needed surgery and years of rehabilitation. "I hope she can stay with us," she told her husband. Mr. McCain agreed. Today that child is their teenage daughter Bridget."
Accordingly, Gateway Pundit declares, "Obama Talks About Lifting a Child In Bangladesh From Poverty... John McCain Already Did" Well, the truth is, not really. It was Cindy who brought Bridget home. It was Cindy who brought Nicki to America. It was Cindy McCain who lifted these children from poverty, not John McCain.

Newsweek's story on Cindy McCain gives a few more details:
In 1984 Cindy was on a scuba-diving trip in Micronesia when a friend was injured and had to be taken to the hospital. She was sickened by the filthy conditions in the ER: "There were cats in the operating room and rats everywhere," she says. When she returned home, she began collecting medical supplies and sending them to the hospital. "Finally, the hospital called and said, really what we need is a good orthopedic surgeon," she says. "So I called some friends and we planned a trip … I don't know what made me do it."

She named her charity the American Voluntary Medical Team. In 1991, she camped in the Kuwait desert five days after the end of the gulf war to take medical supplies to refugees. That same year, she visited Mother Teresa's orphanage in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where she saw 160 newborn girls who had been abandoned. The nuns handed her a small baby with a cleft palate so severe that the infant couldn't be fed. Another baby, also just a few weeks old, had a heart defect. Worried they would die without medical attention, Cindy applied for visas to take the girls back to the United States. But the country's minister of Health refused to sign the papers. "We can do surgery on this child," an official told her. Frustrated, Cindy slammed her fist on the table. "Then do it! What are you waiting for?" The official, stunned, simply signed the papers. "I don't know where I got the nerve," Cindy told Harper's Bazaar.

When she arrived in Phoenix, she carried the baby with the cleft palate off the plane. Her husband met her at the airport. He looked at the baby. "Where is she going?" he asked her. "To our house," she replied. They adopted the little girl and named her Bridget. Family friends adopted the other little girl.
That says a great deal about Cindy's compassion and virtues. As for John? Both Karl Rove's WSJ op/ed and the Newsweek story make clear that John knew absolutely nothing about Bridget's existence, much less her plight, until Cindy carried her off the plane, and he had absolutely nothing to do with bringing the children to the United States. It was all Cindy, Cindy, Cindy.

Now, it is a very admirable thing that he did say "yes" when his wife went to the trouble of bringing the girls home. But could he realistically have said "no" to her when Cindy had already told him that Bridget was going home to their house? Yes, he gets credit for acquiescing in Cindy's wishes, but Cindy is the real hero here.

As for who raised young Bridget after John agreed to her adoption --
"For most of the 20 years we've been married, he's been in Washington all week while I'm in Arizona with the kids," she told The New York Times. . . . [After Cindy suffered a stroke in 2004,] she fretted about who would take care of her kids. Her friend Sharon Harper told her she should leave town and focus on recovering. That summer, Cindy moved to San Diego, and rented a condo on Coronado Island. Friends looked after her sons and young Bridget.
Again, it has been Cindy for the most part playing the hero at home, being the one taking care of the kids, Cindy and Cindy's friends, while John has been "wrapped up too much in Washington and [his] ambitions" (John McCain's words, not mine).

OK, maybe I suffer from John McCain Derangement Syndrome. Maybe I am totally irrational and my dislike for him is so great that I can never admit to any good that he has done (at least since returning from Vietnam), and maybe folks are sick and tired of me being a "maverick" against the McCain love train and always bad-mouthing McCain -- maybe that is all true. But in any event, it is Cindy who is to be admired on this count. She's the one who deserves the credit.

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