Documentary Reveals What Kind of Man John McCain Was… and Is

No matter what any of us thinks about John McCain’s politics, here’s a fact that tells us what kind of a man he was and is.

During the late Sixties and early Seventies, he was a North Vietnamese prisoner of war. He suffered multiple broken bones and a bayonet wound to the groin.

McCain was beaten several times a week. He wasted away for 5½ years in that hellhole, all for the “crime” of faithfully serving his country.

Both his father and grandfather were four-star admirals. That’s how someone was able to pull enough strings to finally get him released in a bargaining arrangement.

McCain wanted nothing more than to go home and finally receive the medical treatment he desperately needed. But he refused to be released. He chose to stay until other American prisoners who had been there longer than he were set free.

His Life Is Winding Down

McCain has been a U.S. Senator from Arizona since 1986. But no one knows how much longer he will hold that position.

He has had Stage 4 brain cancer for about a year. Chances are he doesn’t have a lot of time remaining.

HBO decided to take advantage of some of the time McCain has left to produce a documentary featuring his life.

It’s titled John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls. Ernest Hemingway’s novel by that title is said to be McCain’s favorite book.

The documentary first aired in May 2018. No doubt it will air many more times. Especially following his death.

Naval Career Described

McCain is apparently satisfied with how the documentary turned out. It delves into his controversial political career and it focuses on his many years of service.

This film traces McCain’s life. Starting with his 1958 graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.

It continues with his years of service in the Navy. He was an aviator who flew ground attack aircraft from aircraft carriers.

McCain was nearly killed in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. Later that year, he was shot down during a bombing mission. Then he was imprisoned in the “Hanoi Hilton.”

30-Plus Years in Politics

He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981. He then moved to Arizona and began a long political career.

That career has included the U.S. House of Representatives (1983-87) and more than 30 years as a Senator.

He also served as the Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee. And the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee.

Fellow Politicians Praise Him

John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls is produced and directed by six-time Emmy Award recipient Peter Kunhardt. Along with Emmy recipients George Kunhardt and Teddy Kunhardt.

It includes interviews, commentary and speeches by McCain. Plus archival newsreel and television footage. And previously unpublished home movies and photographs.

The documentary also features interviews with a number of politicians. They express how much respect they have had for McCain. Even when they disagreed with his decisions and policies.

Those politicians include former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Also, former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.

McCain Earned Respect

Also interviewed were friends, family members and political colleagues. Missing from the documentary is President Donald Trump.

McCain and Trump have obviously had major differences. Filmmakers decided they did not want to “politicize” the documentary.

McCain was the Republican nominee for president in 2008. His politics have been mostly conservative throughout his career. But he is known for “crossing the aisle” to gain bipartisan support for key issues.

John McCain is liked and disliked for his political views. And he is liked and disliked for his political decisions.

But most of all, he is respected by nearly everyone. And this documentary shows why.


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