Wednesday, April 30, 2008

McCain on Disability

One of the downsides of being the oldest man ever to seek a first term in the Presidency is that people are always wondering if you are up to the job. Rumors that Ronald Reagan was already succumbing to Alzheimer's-related dementia only make things worse for John McCain. But he has steadily proclaimed his good health and vital nature. But this may have been undermined by a new report that he is receiving Disability benefits from the Navy because of significant impairment.

On Monday, McCain's staff identified the retirement benefit as a "disability pension" and said that McCain "was retired as disabled because of his limited body movements due to injuries as a POW."

McCain campaign strategist Mark Salter said Monday night that McCain was technically disabled. "Tortured for his country -- that is how he acquired his disability," Salter said.

Certain types of military and veterans pensions are either partially or completely tax-exempt, depending on the seriousness of the disability. In McCain's case, the exemption is 100%.
Now, FDR served ably without the use of his legs and JFK served while suffering from crippling back pain. So, this is not to say that a person can not be a good president while having disabilities. But I think it is fair to ask in this case whether John McCain would truly be able to serve out his term if elected. It makes his choice of VP all the more important to his viability in the general election.


Sean said...

Since he got his disability from his time as a POW, it seems that he's been doing an admirable job of living beyond it for some time. I don't think that it's something that we need to worry about - if that is the case.

shadwomom1 said...

Disability payments are usually a reflection that you can no longer do the job you were doing when you became disabled. John McCain is unable to be a soldier. That does not mean he cannot earn a living in another job capacity.

My husband was on 100% disablity for the last two years (nearly) of his life. He had been a lawyer and could no longer do the things necessary for that job. If he had been able to work at Wal-Mart as a greeter, he would have been allowed to take that job with no reduction in disability benefits.

quizwedge said...

And remember, he did just hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim (a 3 day hike) with his son last August.

I agree with Sean and Shadowmom... I think that McCain's enemies are just trying to hit him any way they can.

Nomad said...

Honestly, I do not think this revelation in itself is a dealbreaker for McCain. But if someone was already worried about his age and health, this might be enough to push them over the edge to vote for someone else... or to not vote.

I find it interesting that no one else here thinks this is a story worth talking about other than to dismiss. We heard a lot of questions about Bob Dole's paralyzed hand in 1996, but it is unfair to mention McCain is on formal disability and can't raise his arms over his shoulders?

And again, does this NOT mean McCain MUST be extra-choosy about his VP? No one since Reagan has been more likely to die in office of natural causes, based on age and history (repeated bouts with melanoma).

quizwedge said...

I think that the disability is at best, people worried about the general age/health issue and at worst, just an attempt to discredit McCain. Given that he's released his medical records to show he's healthy, is obviously in better physical shape than me if he's able to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim, and he comes from "hearty stock" given that his Mom is still alive I think the disability is really a non-issue. That and other presidents as mentioned in your post had issues and were able to serve. The melanoma, I think, is the biggest issue. I think the disability is just trying to bring McCain down a notch.

Nomad said...

I would observe his father died at age 70 (one year younger than his current age), but then he died on a military aircraft - presumably because the plane crashed or was shot down. Not exactly something you can inherit genetically.

quizwedge said...

If he was flying a military aircraft at 70, that just shows even further that he's of genetically good stock. Not sure that he was... he could have just been riding, but if.

shadowmom1 said...

EVERY presidential candidate should carefully choose their running mate. John McCain has his age and the uncertainties of life to consider, but I fear for the other two as candidates for assasination, because there is so much hatred out there for a black president or a woman, not to mention the hatred for personalities. And there are always crazies out there, and enemies of the country who might think taking out the president would throw the USA into chaos/turmoil.

Having lived through the assasinations of the 1960s, I do think of these things.

Anonymous said...

He is not that badly disabled. I saw him walk down some stairs the other day with hardly any help from his wife. Looked almost as natural as FDR did when he used to try and look healthy.