You know what he has in his favor. He's gentleman Johnny McCain, hero, maverick. He has more knowledge on national defense in his pinky than the others will have, after four years in the White House, in their entire bodies. He's the one who should be answering the phone at 3 a.m
S'FUNNY how things work out sometimes. For example, I doubt Peggy Noonan had an inkling that she was writing this on the fifty-fourth anniversary of the siege of Dien Bien Phu, in which a Western force led by a former POW and victim of torture, which was executing the strategy conceived by a career intelligence officer and veteran of two World Wars, was humiliated by an insurgent force led by a guy who'd been a journalist and a school teacher.
And it's not as if this is a minor curiosity; the minute the French realized les couilles were caught in a wringer they paid a visit to the man who'd been bankrolling their noble recolonization efforts, who just happens to have been the most knowledgeable modern President of the United States on national defense by at least a factor of ten, one Dwight David Eisenhower. With the able assistance of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, a man whose experience almost matched his own, Ike decided the United States would undertake to prop up the shabby remnants of an effete French empire after it had been defeated. Operation Vulture! And towards that end we aided their puppet emperor in selecting as Prime Minister a thuggish religious zealot whose murderous treatment of his own people made Saddam Hussein look like Marcus Aurelius.
I suppose we--let alone the Vietnamese--ought to be grateful that Ike's experience didn't result in the use of tactical nuclear weapons that Dulles and Admiral Arthur Radford, the highly-experienced chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, urged on him.
(Other curio collectors might want to note that the White House meeting with the French chief of staff took place six months after these geniuses overthrew Mosaddeq.)
Experience seems to have taught John McCain some of the same lessons: that it's better to placate domestic crackpots than confront cold realities, better to have an international bogeyman on hand than a sound strategic doctine, better to win elections than tell the truth. That sort of experience runs you about a nickel a gross, plus deposit; having a lot of it is like cornering the market on ragweed.