The way McCain’s people are now compulsively using his POW experience as an all-purpose shield, the question: “How many houses did John own?” must inevitably link back to his time as a prisoner.
So, either the question is an insult because he served his country in captivity and, thus, doesn’t deserve to be subjected to such (gotcha) questions, or else his time spent as a prisoner in Hanoi must contribute to the confusion as to where he’s lived otherwise, and for how long.
One thing today’s McCain housing controversy also does is clarify an important element regarding McCain’s domesticity and sense of place. If you follow the accounts, you’ll see that the real estate in his second marriage, including its acquisition and its disposition, has been uniquely controlled by Cindy. As Politico quotes from a June article from Vogue (and pay special attention to the personal pronouns):
“When I bought the first one, my husband, who is not a beach person, said, ‘Oh this is such a waste of money; the kids will never go….'” . Then it got to the point where they used it so much I couldn’t get in the place. So I bought another one.”
With McCain spending the bulk of his time in Washington with the homes primarily Cindy’s, questions about where McCain lives, exactly, and how strong his emotional tie remains to his five-and-a-half year Hanoi “residence” really aren’t that far-fetched.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that John McCain has been “all over the place.” McCain was stationed in Meridian, Mississippi when he married Carol in July ’65, who was then living in Philadelphia. Going back-and-forth, McCain then transferred to Jacksonville in September ’66, the month his daughter Sidney was born. He then deployed to Vietnam in mid-’67 and was captured in October.
In ’73, after he was released, the itinerant, Canal Zone-born McCain lived with his first wife in Jacksonville. That summer, he moved to Washington to attend the National War College at Fort McNair. In the fall of ’74, he returned to Jacksonville where his marriage fell apart. In early ’77, he moved to Washington to work in the Navy’s Senate Liaison Office in a job involving constant travel (including trips to Arizona and South Florida to rendezvous with Cindy.) Then, in 1980, he got divorced, married Cindy and, in March of ’81, he moved to Phoenix where he initially worked for the Hensley family before getting elected to Congress in ’82, commencing a life, to this day, lived in multiple place.
Given that story, this shot of McCain in 2000 showing the prison to his son, Jack, evokes just how much the Hanoi Hilton — where McCain dwells so often in his speeches and his anecdotes — actually does seems to resonate as a “primary residence” — those cell walls representing the last, longest home that McCain could call his own.
(image: David Guttenfelder/AP. Hoa Lo prison, Hanoi. April 26, 2000)