To distract voters from their disaffection with Republican policies, the McCain campaign has focussed shamelessly and brilliantly on personality and pedigree. You want a "community organizer" (boo!) or the descendant of a long line of warriors? Now even John McCain's children—like those of his running mate—have been summoned to the cause: daughter Meghan told the Today Show yesterday that only her family could understand war; and wife Cindy trumpeted the family's military tradition in a primetime convention speech last week. "Our son, Jack, will graduate from the United States Naval Academy next year—fourth generation—ready to do his service." But these polished family narratives also draw uncomfortable attention, as the Palins are discovering—and the McCains may also. For that Scots-Irish warrior spirit, somewhat mellowed in the old man, may run a little too undiluted in Jack McCain and his friends. Someone going by the name of the candidate's son called for the killing of "towel heads" on a friend's blog much as John McCain once railed against the gooks in Vietnam, as we'll show below.

Midshipman Jack McCain is by all accounts his father's son. At the Naval Academy in Annapolis he brings up the rear in the class rankings. Though Jack can't compete with his father in demerits—the troublemaking young John McCain only graduated by being hospitalized—he's been "fried" for wearing flip-flops outside and failing to shave.

It's hard to live up to a father who was once described by a classmate as "the biggest hellraiser in the history of the navy." But 22-year-old Jack been spotted by Maryland locals—at a Memorial Day barbeque in Annapolis for instance—displaying his beer-eating skills, smashing the can against his forehead until it cracks open and then shotgunning the contents. (Anyone with more details about Azita, his then-girlfriend, or Wiley Laufman, one of his hipster party buddies, please email.)


None of this is particularly scandalous. The McCains carry their academic mediocrity and rebelliousness with pride. Nor will Jack McCain's "boozehound" reputation at Annapolis do him or his father any harm. ("It's typical college stuff," says our Maryland tipster.) And Jack and his friends have rather diligently avoided leaving photographic or web evidence since John McCain began running for president. However, one of his high-school friends was less discreet.

James O'Connor was with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq and elsewhere until May 2008. Jack McCain knows him from Brophy Prep, the private Jesuit high-school in Phoenix from which they both graduated in 2004. (Incidentally, the president of Brophy Prep gave the opening invocation at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.) During 2004 and 2005, before he went on tour, O'Connor posted to a blog—tributes to Jack McCain and other friends as well as diatribes against liberal politicians and Muslim terrorists.


Bidding farewell to his classmates in January 2005, O'Connor posted up a caption next to a picture the Republican nominee's son. "Jack McCain- Fucking Drinking in Sedona, smoking cigars, strip bars, chasing ass, and making fun of your small asians cars. good luck at Annapolis." In a roundup of classic catchphrases from the departing class, Jack McCain gives advice. "Alright, James, study time is over," he tells the blogger. "But I need to study," says James. Jack McCain's irrefutable response: "Dude, she's got a pierced clit." (Not a line his father will be using in the debates, presumably.)

O'Connor had a more serious side; a few months earlier in a post entitled Killing Terrorists 2008, O'Connor celebrates McCain as one of the fellow Brophy grads "who have decided to pick up a weapon and stand a post, walk a perimeter, jump out of airplanes, bring in airsupport, and defend this country." But the patriotism of McCain's schoolmate verges on the rabid. He attacked critics of Guantanamo Bay like Senator Dick Durbin. "It's pussy
ass faggots like him that make me hate bitch politicians. It's limp wristers like him that fuck up my army. These politicians and protesters are more fucked up then two 8 year old boys eating a fuckin
bowl of dicks

Another post in the same incendiary vein defending this time Abu Ghraib rather than Guantanamo begins with a quote attributed to the candidate's son: "Allah akbar my fuckin cock." (Let's remember that Muslim protestors have taken to the streets provoked by less.) Further down, in the comments, someone signing off as Jack McCain expands on this wisdom.

"I think every one of those fucking towel heads deserves to be shown that their fucking god isnt so great, that them dying for their "god" is just a stupid bullshit way of life, that they can all go hump the sheep vaginas they popped out of. FUCK ALLAH. Allah is a son of a whore whose best parts were left on the cruddy cumstained straw mat he was conceived on. Kill all towel heads, camel jockeys, sand niggers, and dune coons."

Now there's no way to prove that the young McCain wrote that comment. Nor is he responsible for his friends' words. At the time, he was a teenager in any case: it would be unreasonable to attribute any of the son's political beliefs to the father's influence. Moreover, as HBO's Generational Kill showed so compellingly, even the smartest of young soldiers do work themselves into a hatred of the enemy. Without it, there would be no warrior tradition.

However, the photographs do show McCain was indeed friends with O'Connor. In the first, McCain is second from the left and O'Connor on the far right; in the second, O'Connor is on the far left and McCain on the far right. The author shows some familiarity with the McCain ranch in Sedona, Arizona. A Brophy website shows O'Connor was indeed in McCain's year and served in Iraq.

Political dirty tricks? It is theoretically possible that McCain's opponents fabricated the entire website at the time, but it would be impossible for the Obama campaign to have done so. The datestamp of a post on the Blogspot platform can be altered but the dates on the comments cannot. The Obama campaign can do many things but hacking into Google and time travel are beyond its capabilities.

It could be of course that a reader of O'Connor, maybe a mutual friend, signed as Jack McCain as a joke; and that O'Connor made up the allah akbar my fuckin cock quote at the start of the post. But the most likely explanation is that the Republican nominee's son was indeed a friend of O'Connor, read his blog, and was provoked once into sharing on the blog record the author's own towel-head-hating sentiments. So much for the family card.

Reaction: Jack McCain Should Probably Look into Keeping Better Company [Radar Online]