Thursday, August 07, 2008

Carol McCain

All this will probably come out as the election progresses so I thought it might be a good idea to look at the story of John's first wife Carol.

Before John McCain's tour of duty in Vietnam, he married Carol Shepp, a model from Philadelphia. On his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam in 1967, McCain was shot down and captured.

While he was imprisoned, Carol was in an auto wreck (1969), thrown through her car's windshield and left seriously injured. Despite her injures, she refused to allow her POW husband to be notified about her condition, fearing that such news would not be good for him while he was being held prisoner.

When McCain returned to the United States in 1973 after more than five years as a prisoner of war, he found his wife was a different person. The accident "left her 4 inches shorter and on crutches, and she had gained a good deal of weight."

Yearning to make the grade of admiral, McCain enrolled in the National War College at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. and underwent physical therapy in order to fly again. The Navy excused his permanent disabilities and reinstated him to flight status, effectively positioning him for promotion.

In his book, The Nightingale's Song, Robert Timberg chronicled McCain's post-Vietnam military assignments and some of his "adulterous" behavior leading to his divorce from Carol and marriage to Cindy Hensley.
Well that is going to look bad. In fact it is bad. Of course the counter to that is our previous Democrat President. Bill Clinton.
In 1979 at a military reception in Honolulu, McCain met Cindy Hensley, an attractive 25-year-old woman from a very wealthy politically-connected Arizona family. Cindy's father, Jim, founded the Hensley and Company, the nation's third-largest Anheuser-Busch distributor.

McCain described their first meeting, "She was lovely, intelligent and charming, 17 years my junior but poised and confident. I monopolized her attention the entire time, taking care to prevent anyone else from intruding on our conversation. When it came time to leave the party, I persuaded her to join me for drinks at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. By the evening's end, I was in love."

While still married to Carol, McCain began an adulterous relationship with Cindy. He married Cindy in May 1980 -- just a month after dumping Carol and securing a divorce. The newlyweds honeymooned in Hawaii.

McCain followed his young, millionairess wife back to Arizona where her father helped catapult McCain into politics.
That is pretty romantic. Except that he was married.

Subsequently McCain divorced Carol and married Cindy. So how did John treat his ex-wife in the divorce settlement? To get the dates right consider that this was written in 2000.
John McCain gave up his interest in two homes and agreed to pay $1,625 a month in alimony and child support when he divorced his first wife 20 years ago, court records show.

The senator and Republican presidential candidate divorced his wife Carol in 1980 when he was a Navy captain with a home of record in Orange Park, Fla., about 12 miles south of Jacksonville.

McCain, 63, gave her his interest in homes in Alexandria, Va., and South Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., according to records of the divorce settlement obtained by The Associated Press and other newspapers.

The Arizona senator agreed to give her their furnishings, $1,325 a month in alimony, $300 in child support. He also agreed to pay an additional $500 monthly if she couldn't find a job.

She was subsequently employed in the Reagan White House, according to George "Bud" Day, McCain's attorney during the divorce. Day also was one McCain's cellmates when they were prisoners of war in Vietnam.

Carol McCain, who has remained friendly with her former husband, did not immediately return a phone call to her Virginia home Thursday seeking comment.
So how does Carol feel about John these days?
Another friend added: ‘Carol didn’t fight him. She felt her infirmity made her an impediment to him. She justified his actions because of all he had gone through. She used to say, “He just wants to make up for lost time.”’

Indeed, to many in their circle the saddest part of the break-up was Carol’s decision to resign herself to losing a man she says she still adores.

Friends confirm she has remained friends with McCain and backed him in all his campaigns. ‘He was very generous to her in the divorce but of course he could afford to be, since he was marrying Cindy,’ one observed.

McCain transferred the Florida beach house to Carol and gave her the right to live in their jointly-owned townhouse in the Washington suburb of Alexandria. He also agreed to pay her alimony and child support.
I don't know if this will rank up there with Obama's divorce of the revered Wright, his long associations with terrorist Bill Ayres, his seeking out Marxist professors, or his learning a social conscience from Communist Frank Marshall Davis, but it is going to hurt.

One way to neuter this would be for him to bring Carol along with him for a while on the campaign trail. I hope he does. She deserves it.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


Pal2Pal said...

Carol McCain was very active with the POW/MIA movement during her husband's captivity. But as a 26 year veteran of Navy wifedom, I can tell you that long deployments do not a strong marriage make. I once had a period where I only saw my husband 31 days in 36 months.

The hardest part of readjustment after a long deployment is getting back to joint authority in the home. You have been running the show lock, stock and barrel and being both Mom and Dad, usually also working outside the home, developing a social structure, etc. all as a single person and then hubby comes home and wants to jump back in as head of household.

When you make that separation 6 or 7 years, you have two individuals who probably hardly recognized each other, had all those years where they were not making common memories, and then adding in the burden of both of them physically and emotionally handicapped, it is more like two strangers uniting.

It doesn't mean that either party is a bad person.

I once said to an unmarried friend, "what if someone told you that you have to go back to your boyfriend of 7 years ago, someone you had not seen in all those years, someone you barely recognized after so much time, and told you you have to live with him, take care of him, and take a back seat to him?"

At some point, many military wives and husbands must face the fact that if they met their spouse that day, they would not give him or her the time of day. There would be no spark, no common interests, etc.

It may seem unfair, but it is hard to get over the feelings of abandonment and rejection when your spouse is constantly away. It is hard not to feel they are escaping their home duties as spouse and parent for the spouse left at home. And it is darn hard to maintain being that fantasy woman your spouse built up in his mind during those long deployments or imprisonments. While you have been dealing with broken down washing machines and cars, kids mouthing off or getting in trouble, trying to pay all the bills and put your own needs aside, and knowing you have aged beyond his fantasy picture, while he is fantasying about his "ideal" woman, that you never were, but became in his mind to make it all bearable.

It is a fine line that military couples have walked for probably all of time. It is also why alcoholism, divorce, and other problems are so prevalent. Carol and John McCain's problems were magnified, but really not much different from thousands of others. Some try to keep it going for the kids, others are more practical, others, like me, hang in there for 32 years as a duty/guilt thing, and then wake up one morning and realize you don't know the person on the other side of the bed, have nothing in common, and wouldn't even date the guy if you were single and find out he feels the same way about you.

M. Simon said...


I don't disagree with any of that. I wrote this piece because I saw a negative comment on another blog about the events in question. And the dumping Carol for a rich trophy wife will come up.

Those of us who support McCain should have answers. Better yet if McCain can get Carol on the stage for the convention. Think of that as a spoiler attack.

linearthinker said...

That's a great comment above, and it only tells part of the story.

If your suggestion happens, Simon, I'd hope they pull it off with grace respect for Carol, and not give the impression she's just being used. I'd like to think it could be done, but knowing the media, you can be sure they'd find a way to try to cheapen the gesture.

Thanks, Sara.

linearthinker said...

...with grace [and] respect for Carol...

M. Simon said...


When he does the convention thing with his whole family on the stage including his adopted sons he could have Carol there too.

reunionpi said...

See who the first wife of John McCain is working for now and who she contributed to