McCain likes to illustrate his moral fibre by referring to his five
years as a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam. And to demonstrate his commitment to
family values, the 71-year-old former US Navy pilot pays warm tribute to his
beautiful blonde wife, Cindy, with whom he has four children.
But there is another Mrs McCain who casts a ghostly shadow over the
Senator’s presidential campaign. She is seldom seen and rarely written about,
despite being mother to McCain’s three eldest children.
And yet, had events turned out differently, it would be she, rather
than Cindy, who would be vying to be First Lady. She is McCain’s first wife,
Carol, who was a famous beauty and a successful swimwear model when they married in 1965.
She was the woman McCain dreamed of during his long incarceration
and torture in Vietnam’s infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison and the woman who
faithfully stayed at home looking after the children and waiting anxiously for
But when McCain returned to America in 1973 to a fanfare of
publicity and a handshake from Richard Nixon, he discovered his wife had been
disfigured in a terrible car crash three years earlier. Her car had skidded on
icy roads into a telegraph pole on Christmas Eve, 1969. Her pelvis and one arm
were shattered by the impact and she suffered massive internal injuries.
When Carol was discharged from hospital after six months of life-saving surgery, the prognosis was bleak. In order to save her legs, surgeonshad been forced to cut
away huge sections of shattered bone, taking with it her tall, willowy figure.
She was confined to a wheelchair and was forced to use a catheter.
Through sheer hard work, Carol learned to walk again. But when John
McCain came home from Vietnam, she had gained a lot of weight and bore little
resemblance to her old self. Today, she stands at just 5ft4in and still
walks awkwardly, with a pronounced limp. Her body is held together by screws and metal plates and, at 70, her face is worn by wrinkles that speak of decades of
For nearly 30 years, Carol has maintained a dignified silence about
the accident, McCain and their divorce. But last week at the bungalow where she
now lives at Virginia Beach, a faded seaside resort 200 miles south of
Washington, she told The Mail on Sunday how McCain divorced her in 1980 and
married Cindy, 18 years his junior and the heir to an Arizona brewing fortune,
just one month later.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Who Is This Woman? Answered
Who is that woman, I asked? She's in a better position to tell us about John McCain's Family Values than anyone.