BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Senator John McCain, why does courage matter?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), AUTHOR, "WHY COURAGE MATTERS: THE WAY TO A BRAVER LIFE": I think it matters if we want to live a life that is beneficial to ourselves, our families and our fellow Americans and fellow members of the world community.
LAMB: Where did you get the idea for a book like this?
MCCAIN: Our publisher, Jonathan Carp (ph) at Random House, after /11 suggested that Mark Salter and I write it. People were afraid to fly, afraid to go shopping. Some were duct-taping their homes. And so he suggested that we write a little bit about courage and why it matters and how you can have a braver life.
LAMB: You write, "There is only one thing that we can claim with complete confidence is indispensable to courage, that must always be present for courage to exist -- fear." Why?
MCCAIN: Fear is not a reason for either depression or delusion. Fear is the reason for courage. In other words, all of us are rational human beings, and it`s natural for us to be afraid. It`s natural for us to be afraid of the school bully. It`s natural for us to be afraid of an abusive boss. It`s natural for us to be afraid after watching the horrific events of September 11. So the key is to overcome fear. It`s a vital ingredient to attaining courage.
LAMB: Can you remember when you were the most afraid?
MCCAIN: Several times, I have been very afraid in my life. Probably, when I was in prison, that was probably the time I was most afraid. I wasn`t so much afraid of dying, I was afraid of disgrace. And that was when I was undergoing rather severe treatment, which then meant I was going to confess to war crimes and violate the code of conduct which governs our conduct as prisoners of war.
LAMB: So what did you do?
MCCAIN: In one instance, I failed. I failed, and thanks to the encouragement and love of my fellow prisoners after I came back to my cell, encouraging me, lifting me up, giving me sustenance and strength, I was able to fight them another day.
LAMB: In this book, you profile a bunch of folks. Unless I missed it, in your profile on Pete Salter (ph), you don`t tell us who he is and his relationship to your co-author.
MCCAIN: It`s Mark Salter`s father. Mark was very interested in his dad`s life. His dad was a very interesting, in some ways ordinary American, who had an opportunity to serve in the Vietnam -- in the Korean war and had a tremendous experience. He was very reticent about it during his life. And Mark began to investigate, talked to people who were there, and rebuild sort of the series of events that led up to an incredible act of courage on his father`s part.
And I thought, frankly, that Mark should write an entire book about it, but the problem that he had -- and that I had, as well, but that he had -- was that so many people are no longer around and finding people who were there at the battle because that was a terribly confused time. It took place when the Chinese came across the Yalu and drove the U.S. Army back hundreds of miles, back to south of Seoul before they regrouped and fought back.
And that same kind of scenario, the Chinese attacks at night, the bugles, the retreat, and some cases rout, with the very heavy casualties, in incredibly severe weather -- I mean, my God, it was, you know, many, many degrees -- we all who are students of history -- and I hope all Americans, but at least history remember "frozen Chosin (ph)," the Chosin reservoir (ph), and the Marines who successfully retreated with their wounded and with their dead. Unfortunately, on the other side of the mountains, the Army didn`t achieve that degree of success, and there were horrible experiences of the Chinese just basically forcing them into headlong retreat. And it was made worse because a South Korean army component also experienced the same kind of disaster.
LAMB: Pete Salter still alive?
MCCAIN: He`s passed away.
LAMB: How long ago?
MCCAIN: About five years ago.
LAMB: What did he do that was courageous?
MCCAIN: Well, he was moved to courage by the example of Red Cloud, Mitchell Red Cloud, who had basically decided that he was going to sacrifice his life so that others could retreat. Pete and a friend of his with their web belt tied him to a tree. And he had a Browning automatic rifle, and he was holding off the Chinese while they tried to escape down a gully. And as they came across some other Chinese -- because the Chinese tactic was to frontal attack but also to come around behind. And he managed to kill two Chinese with his bare hands, which is a remarkable act of courage.
LAMB: Did he ever tell his son, Mark?
MCCAIN: No. No.
LAMB: So how did Mark find out?
MCCAIN: Well, he just started investigating and writing to people. And his father had told him the bare outlines of it. It wasn`t that he didn`t tell him anything, but he certainly didn`t tell him the entire sequence of events. He had to find that out from others. His father was a very modest man.
LAMB: Where was his father from?
LAMB: Where is Mark from?
MCCAIN: Iowa. He grew up in Iowa.
LAMB: And we have a picture of him because it`s not -- you don`t have it in the book. And -- because he plays a role in -- you`ve got -- we`ve got three books here that you`ve written since 1999. And he`s always listed as, "with Mark Salter." Who he is?
MCCAIN: Well, first of all, it should say Mark Salter with John McCain because he`s an incredibly talented writer. He and I have been together 15 years, and we are more like brothers than any other relationship that I can describe. He`s incredibly talented. The speeches I have been given from time to time that have received some applause have been written by Mark.
And it`s a little bit eerie because we have come so close in many respects, we think and talk alike. So when he sits down and we sit down together, it`s kind of a symbiotic relationship which is really quite remarkable because we`re together every day and we have interface with each other every single day. And in the evenings, when we`re writing one of these books, we sit down, we talk, we put it on tape, we go over it. But his is really, in my humble opinion, a remarkable talent for writing.
If I may tell a quick story? After he graduated from Georgetown, he went to New York to work at the U.N., and his first job was to clip newspaper clippings for Jeane Kirkpatrick, when she was ambassador to the United Nations. And he ended up writing her speeches, came down to Washington and was at the American Enterprise Institute when a friend of mine, Torie Clarke, the famous Torie Clark of the Pentagon, was friends of his and recommended him. And he came to work with me, and we`ve been together for 15 years.
LAMB: The three books -- when did you decide -- `99 was the first one -- that you wanted to use that medium? And how did you go about it with Mark Salter?
MCCAIN: Well, you know, a lot of people said for years, You have a remarkable story and a remarkable family. And many, many people said, You ought to write about it, not just you, but your father and your grandfather. They both had very exemplary military experiences. And so it was sort of an idea that was thrust on us, and we started talking about it and wrote about it and put it together. And folks at Random House and Jonathan Carp published it, and it did extremely well, as you know. It`s the first time that a book by a politician, a pure politician, has been on the best-seller list for -- I think we were on the best-seller list for 27 weeks.
LAMB: Here`s the second book, "Worth the Fighting For." What was this one about?
MCCAIN: A continuation of my life and experiences. "The Faith of My Fathers" ends the day I left prison, and that sort of picks up after that. But that also is a lot more about political philosophy, about people that I have known and admired in politics, Barry Goldwater, Morris Udall, John Tower, people who have had an effect on my life that I -- that we wrote about in "Worth the Fighting For."
And a line is from -- "Worth the Fighting For" is from my favorite novel, "For Whom the Bell Tolls." I picked it up when I was 13, and I was engrossed by -- Robert Jordan was everything I ever wanted to be in my life, from beginning to end. I thought Robert Jordan was the epitome, a man who fought for a cause greater than himself, even if that cause was a failure. And at the end of Hemingway`s famous book, he says, you know, It`s a great -- it`s been a great life and worth the fighting for. And so that`s why we plucked that phrase to use out of it.
LAMB: This picture -- what do you see in this picture?
MCCAIN: I see my father there in the admiral`s uniform, and me. I was a lieutenant at that time. And we`re standing next to a plaque that says McCain Field, which was named after my grandfather, who was one of the early Naval aviators. Actually, he didn`t get his wings until later in his career, but he was a Naval aviator and commander of the carriers under Admiral Hallsey in the Pacific. I was an instructor at the Naval Air Station in Meridian at that -- in that year. I think it was around 1963, I think that picture was taken. And my father came to visit. He was -- I don`t remember, it was some official duties, and he and I had that picture taken under the plaque that was in the operations tower, naming the field after my grandfather. The field`s still there. And I happened to be an instructor there at the time.
LAMB: Your father served in the Navy for how many years?
MCCAIN: From 1931, when he graduated from the Naval Academy, he retired in 1972, so it was 41 years.
LAMB: You write in all these books a little bit about your personal life and about things like the following -- and it goes back to your title of your book, Courage." And I want to ask you how you`ve gotten through this stuff. Your father was a alcoholic.
LAMB: Did he ever admit that himself?
MCCAIN: Yes. Never to me. He was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and he prayed on his knees every day to have the strength not -- he was very religious -- not to have a drink, and that was the struggle of his life, was against alcohol.
LAMB: How did he do when he was out at sea?
MCCAIN: At sea, he would do fine. It was when he was not. And he would go through periods, long periods, a year, two years, three years without having a drink. And then, as is the case with alcoholics, when they fall off the wagon, they fall hard. And my mother, God bless her -- she`s 93 now -- took care of him and was devoted to him and successfully hid this problem, although there was a generation of Americans that grew up in the `30s, in the `20s and `30s, where alcohol was very, very much of social life. I mean, people drank, and they drank heavily. I mean, we all know that. And I believe that that was a partial contribution.
If I could just mention one other thing? My father was a submarine commander in World War II. Part of the time, he was out of the island of Midway. It`s a small island -- sand, buildings, airstrip. And they would go out for 60 days on war patrol and come back for 30 days. They`d come back for the 30 days while the submarine would be refitted and get new torpedoes, et cetera. They`d put them in this BOQ, called bachelor officers` quarters, and there would be all the booze they could drink. So for a month, they would drink and drink heavily. And in the early stages of the war, there was very high loss rates in submarines. And then they`d go back out again. And so if someone had a weakness for alcohol, you can imagine that would certainly exaggerate it.
LAMB: Did you ever...
MCCAIN: I`m happy to tell you that the Navy, sometime in the 1970s, the late `60s, early `70s, maybe post-Vietnam war, there began a change and a real discouragement to drinking. When I was a young Navy pilot, every Friday afternoon, happy hour. Happy hour, you know? I mean, that was just part of our existence.
LAMB: Did you ever see your dad with too much to drink?
LAMB: Did his men ever see him with too much to drink?
MCCAIN: No. No. Unless it was in World War II, when everybody -- but not -- no, not -- no, not later on.
LAMB: What was the most courageous thing about your father?
LAMB: Your father.
MCCAIN: Oh, I think he was totally devoted and dedicated to the United States Navy. There`s a wonderful book by Herman Wouk called "Winds of War," and that book talks about the military prior to World War II. All the military officers came from West Point and the Naval Academy. They all knew each other. And I think the most courageous thing he probably ever did was -- I wrote about in our first book -- was they were under constant depth charge for about 36 hours. The air was bad. And they were -- they decided -- and they did it democratically -- to surface and fight it out with the Japanese on the surface. Fortunately, by the time that that decision was made, the Japanese had gone. I think that was very courageous. But I also think he was courageous in his battle against alcohol because he never gave up.
LAMB: You say that it -- when it was -- when he was -- time in the Navy was up, he almost had nothing to -- his life just...
MCCAIN: His life was over. He was so devoted and dedicated to the Navy, as was my grandfather. These generations of people -- remember, he entered the Naval Academy -- that`s my grandfather...
LAMB: What was his name?
MCCAIN: His name was John Sydney (ph), but his nickname was Slew (ph). You can see that hat that he has on. He was one of the most non-regulation Naval officers that ever lived. That was -- that hat was made for him by one of the aviators` wives and sent it to him. I mean, totally unacceptable. Rolled his own cigarettes with one hand, constantly smoking, very great difficulty not using curse words because he used them with great frequency.
If I could mention that picture on the right there of my father and my grandfather -- that was taken on board a submarine tender in Tokyo Bay the day of the peace signing on the Missouri. And my father, who was still a submarine commander, had escorted a Japanese submarine into Tokyo Bay. They didn`t want the Japanese submarines just coming in by themselves, so they sent out American submarines, join up with them, escort them in.
So they had lunch that day. The peace signing was in the afternoon. If you ever see the famous picture on the Missouri, my grandfather`s standing in the front row. He left then and flew home, and it took about three days to get home, to Coronado, California, where my grandmother lived. They had a big reception for him. He came in, and he said he was feeling sick, went upstairs and died. So my grandfather never went through the...
LAMB: Literally went upstairs and died?
MCCAIN: Yes. Went upstairs, lay down, had a heart attack and died. And so he left this world, you know, when he left the Navy -- or when he was about to leave the Navy.
LAMB: How old was he then?
MCCAIN: He was in his 60s. He was, like, 63, 64. It was awfully hard on those people in World War II. It was very great strain, and I think it aged him dramatically. In later years, in the last few years, I`ve heard that some people thought that he was quite not in good health for the last year or so.
LAMB: But you also tell how your dad died.
MCCAIN: Yes. My dad was on a flight back from -- they were on a military flight back from Europe. They were on a C-5.
LAMB: Your mom was with him.
MCCAIN: My mom was with him. And he had a seizure and -- which I think was a kind of a stroke, and died on the airplane.
LAMB: How old was he?
MCCAIN: He was in his late 60s.
LAMB: You are?
MCCAIN: I`m 67.
LAMB: Back to the courage thing. Your cancer.
LAMB: When did you have the latest round of your cancer?
MCCAIN: During the presidential campaign, I had a spot on my forehead, and I didn`t pay a lot of attention to it. And it was a little bit red. And fair-skinned people like the two of us have to be very, very careful. It`s the curse of having our ancestors living for centuries in Northern Europe under clouds. And it got a little worse, and then I went to the Mayo Clinic, and they took a biopsy and they said, It`s a malignant melanoma. I`d had many cut off my face and body, just these basal cell things. And so they had to do a rather extensive operation, which meant taking the skin from here and putting it all the way up to here because they`d had to take out a large segment of skin. And so it was a long operation, and they did a great job.
LAMB: And how did you deal with that? I mean, were you -- did you have fear in this case?
MCCAIN: No. No. I didn`t have fear. I really didn`t. I`m a kind of a fatalist, Brian. I really do think I am. Whenever I`m in an airplane, since I crashed four of them, and Cindy`s with me or someone in my family -- Don`t worry. Nothing is going to happen. I`m going to die in bed. I will not -- we will not die in an airplane. And I am kind of a fatalist. I think that it`s not that I would welcome -- I don`t know how we got into this -- not that I would welcome death, but it`s not something that I fear, I guess because I`ve seen so many people die. Really. I...
LAMB: ... I`ve seen so much.
MCCAIN: I`ve seen so much. I am the most fortunate man that ever lived. I`m the luckiest person that -- you can`t imagine how fortunate I am to have had the full and rich life and experience the things that I have in my life, and having had the opportunity to know and live with people who are so wonderful. You`ll never know a person who is as fortunate and as experienced and as rich and full life as I have.
LAMB: All right, let me -- let me also ask you about something that goes way back in your past that you write about in one of those books, and it`s your first wife. And what I want to ask you about is -- and I`ve seen this written three or four times, but I`ve never seen it explained. While you`re in prison, five-and-a-half years in Vietnam, she has an automobile accident.
MCCAIN: Yes. And A very serious one.
LAMB: Where was it?
MCCAIN: It was in Philadelphia. And it was -- I believe it was around Christmastime 1968, I believe.
LAMB: When did you get out of prison?
MCCAIN: In 1973.
MCCAIN: It could have been `69.
LAMB: What I want to ask you about, though, is it`s always referred to -- and you say it in your book -- that she had four inches taken out of each leg.
LAMB: How did she have that done? And how does she walk today?
MCCAIN: She walks with a limp, and it was just because some of the bones were so shattered that they just removed them. And it made her shorter of stature.
LAMB: How did she deal with it?
MCCAIN: Very well. She`s very brave. She is a wonderful person. She is probably the -- she`s just a magnificent person. And she raised three children extremely well. She is of enormous courage.
LAMB: In your book on courage, you write this near the end of your book. "When your children see you choose without hesitating, without remark, to value virtue more than security, to love more than you fear, they will learn what courage looks like and what love it serves, and they will dread its absence." Amplify that.
MCCAIN: If -- we`re all taught -- we`re all born with a capacity to love. And if we`re taught to love those things that are virtues, that are good and decent in life, recognizing that we`re far from perfect, then we`ll be willing over time to place those virtues in a position where we`re willing to defend them, where we`re willing to stand up for them and sometimes willing to sacrifice for them. I believe that the characters or the people that we write about in the book basically have one common thread, whether it`s Aung San Suu Kyi, the great Nobel Peace Prize winner, or John Lewis, the Civil Rights leader, Hanas Anash (ph), is that they love something greater than themselves. And that to me is the embodiment and vital ingredient associated with courage.
LAMB: You have seven kids, they always say. But it`s complicated.
LAMB: Your first wife...
MCCAIN: Had two sons by a previous marriage, whom I adopted.
LAMB: And their names are?
MCCAIN: Doug and Andy.
LAMB: And where do they live and what do they do?
MCCAIN: Doug is an American Airlines pilot, had been in the Navy, a Navy pilot. Andy works with the company that my wife is with, Anheuser-Busch, in Phoenix, Arizona, went -- he attended Vanderbilt University, and Doug attended the University of Virginia. My daughter, Sydney (ph), is presently in Toronto, Canada. She works for a record company there. She was in New York for a long time. She went to Southhampton College. And she`s doing fine.
LAMB: Let me ask you about her name. It`s John Sydney...
MCCAIN: Yes, my middle name.
LAMB: ... McCain III.
MCCAIN: Yes. She has my middle name.
LAMB: And all of your -- your grandfather and your father all had Sydney for a middle name.
MCCAIN: And it goes back even further than that. There were several John Sydneys before that. They just didn`t tack the name on. Going back -- my family, militarily, goes back to the Revolutionary War. My great, great, great was a captain on General Washington`s staff. I had a great-uncle who was adjutant general of the Army in World War I. I had another great-uncle, my great-great-uncle was in World War I. My great-uncle was named Bill, "Wild Bill McCain." He was a West Point graduate, a cavalryman, and then ended up in the supply corps from injuries. So there`s a long line of military people in my family.
LAMB: As long as you mention the past, let me just ask you about a story that popped up during the 2000 campaign. Someone told you for the first time in your life that your family owned slaves.
LAMB: Where was it? And what did you find out about it?
MCCAIN: In Mississippi. I should have known it. I mean, I knew that my family were plantation owners, so I should have known it. It was given to me by a reporter. He said, We dug into these records, and here`s -- it was a voucher-like thing, and it said, Male, female, male, female -- you know, that was -- like you`d get out of an old accounting ledger. And you know, he said, What do you think? And I said, Well, I think that slavery is horrible. I think it`s terrible. But I shouldn`t be too surprised that my family were slave owners in the 1800s.
LAMB: Anybody, you think, in your family -- your father, your grandfather -- any of them know about it?
MCCAIN: My grandfather must have because, you see, he was from that plantation in Mississippi and he was born in the late 1800s. So he had to. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1906, so he had to have known about it. I just never thought about it.
LAMB: You married Cindy what year?
MCCAIN: In 1965.
LAMB: In `65? You don`t mean `65. Carol (ph)...
MCCAIN: Oh, Cindy McCain? In 1980.
LAMB: How many children?
MCCAIN: Three. Four.
LAMB: And they are?
MCCAIN: They are Jimmy, Jack, who are the two boys, Megan (ph), who is the oldest, and Bridget (ph), who is our adopted daughter.
LAMB: And Bridget is from where, originally?
MCCAIN: She`s from Bangladesh.
LAMB: When did you adopt her?
MCCAIN: In 19 -- well, she`s 12 now, and she was five weeks old, so it was 12 years ago.
LAMB: And with all these kids, what was the reason for an adoption?
MCCAIN: Cindy was in Bangladesh with a medical team. They were helping out, as they do. And she was with this group of doctors, and she went to Mother Teresa`s orphanage in Bangladesh, in Dacca. And there were two little babies there, girl babies, who were very ill, just very young, five weeks, four or five weeks old. And both of them weren`t going to live. One, our daughter, had a very severe cleft palate, and the other one had a very severe heart difficulty.
So the nuns talked to Cindy and said, Would you bring them to the United States on a medical kind of thing because they just can`t care for everybody in these -- or certainly, they can`t give them the care they need when they have these kinds of medical difficulties. So Cindy brought these two babies home. Another couple, friends of ours, adopted Nicki (ph), and we have Bridget. And she`s doing fine. She has had a number of operations on the cleft palate that she had. And she`s very feisty and she`s very tough.
LAMB: So Jimmy, Jack, Megan and Bridget.
MCCAIN: ... oldest.
LAMB: And what -- what do they -- how old are they and what do they do?
MCCAIN: Megan is 19. She just finished her first year at Columbia University. My son, Jack, just graduated from high school, from Brophy (ph), a prep school, a Catholic school in Phoenix, Arizona. And he is going to a Naval Academy prep school in a month or so, which is a year -- if he completes that year, he`ll be accepted at the Naval Academy. And my son, Jimmy, is entering his second year in high school.
LAMB: Do you talk about this kind of thing with them, courage?
MCCAIN: Yes. All the time. But I try to tell them stories. That`s one reason why we put it into stories. If I tell them, if I sit down and say, Now, look, it`s important you be brave today, that`s one thing. But if I tell them about people who I knew were brave and how they were brave and why they were brave and why they displayed courage, then they get interested.
LAMB: What do you tell them about Congressman John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia?
MCCAIN: I tell them that he`s one of the great American heroes. You know, it`s one thing, like -- as in my case, where you have somebody come and you know he`s going to beat you up and there`s nothing you can do about it. It`s another thing to kneel, to kneel, knowing that somebody`s going to club you in the head -- in his case, in John Lewis`s case, fracture your skull. I mean, he and his comrades went willingly -- went willingly into punishment. I never willingly -- I never asked for a guard to come and pound me around. But John Lewis and his friends, in the cause of social justice -- that was their cause, and they were willing to do whatever was necessary. And to hear those boots on the asphalt and the whips and the -- you know, it must have been an incredible experience, summoning a person to the highest level of courage.
LAMB: Have you ever talked to him about this?
MCCAIN: No. But my daughter, Megan, came to town a couple years ago, and I took her over to meet him. And I want my sons to meet him, too.
LAMB: You write, "When I have experienced difficult times or been in situations that portend uncertain or intimidating consequences, I usually find a little false bravado, a little affected fatalism, helpful. Somewhere in the course of my life, I picked up an incantation of my own, a made-up quotation that I attribute to Mao Zedong for reasons I have forgotten long ago." Quote, " `Remember the words of Chairman Mao, `It`s always darkest just before it`s totally black.` " What do you mean by that?
MCCAIN: I mean -- you try to inject a little humor. For a long period of my life, you know, we knew about the sayings of Chairman Mao, the Little Red Book and all that, which to me were all nonsense. So I -- quite occasionally, when we talk about how tough things are and how bleak they are and everything, you know, I say, It`s always darkest before it`s totally black. One of my favorite stories about prison, the first prisoner captured was Everett Alvarez, the first one in North Vietnam who was captured, there was one other. Everett Alvarez, of course, was an example to all of us. He went down in August of `64. I didn`t go down until October of `67. Finally, when the treatment improved, we were all together in a big room, there were about five guys sitting around, and I said: "I want to get out of here, it`s terrible, it`s terrible." One of the guys said, wait a minute, look, we shouldn`t be feeling sorry for ourselves. If Alvarez has been here since -- since -- since 1964, we shouldn`t be feeling sorry for ourselves. The other guy says, you`re right. Quiet minute. "The hell with Alvarez, I want to get out of here."
LAMB: How often do you think about those days?
MCCAIN: Not much. I love and cherish the people I served with. I can`t tell you the bond that exists between those of us who were there. It`s natural and obvious, but it`s really remarkable. The love and affection is one thing, but they literally saved my life, the people I was in prison with. They literally saved my life.
MCCAIN: Well, first of all, I was so badly banged up when I first was in prison. They took me out of the hospital and put me in with "Bud" Day, later Congressional Medal of Honor winner, and Major Norris Overly. And both of them believed that they put me in with them to die because of my situation. I didn`t know that at the time. They nursed me back to health.
Then there were other occasions, when I would get beaten, when I -- particularly the one time when I signed the war crimes confession, I was so low and so despondent and so ashamed, and these taps on the wall would come, and -- you know -- it`d pick you up. It`d pick you up, and carry you. And so, I always, always will cherish the memory of those -- of those friends of mine. And, you know, they are the ones I know most -- know best and love most.
LAMB: Aung San Suu Kyi you write about. Who is she? And why did you write about her?
MCCAIN: You know, I wish more Americans knew about her. She is the daughter of one of the revolutionaries that fought for independence for Burma. I refuse to call it Myanmar. And her father was assassinated. She lived overseas, married a British citizen, had two sons. And there came a time when she was called back to her country to lead the movement for freedom. She won an election and her party won an election, which she led, hands down. The thugs that now run Burma were a bunch of generals and drug dealers and everything else, negated their election, killed thousands of her followers, imprisoned others, kept her under house arrest. She`s been under house arrest for 10 -- I have forgotten how many years now. And among other things, for example, her husband in England was dying of cancer. They told her: "Yes, you can go be with your husband, but you can never come back." Her husband died without her being there to be with him.
I was in Burma some years ago. I met her at the American embassy there. She is elegant, she is like a beautiful flower, and yet beneath that beauty and that charm and that nobility is a tough, hardened, steel conviction and dedication to the freedom and independence of her people. I don`t think I have ever met anyone like her. I know I have never met anyone like her.
LAMB: Where is she now?
MCCAIN: She`s still under house arrest. Recently -- or I guess it was about a year ago, they let her out. She was in -- she was traveling around the country, and some thugs attacked the group of cars that she was -- stopped them, and then killed numerous ones of her followers. She stayed, I think, like three days in her car. Finally they took her back into house arrest. There`s been sporadic efforts to get -- free her from -- from her house arrest and give some kinds of road map maybe towards some free elections, et cetera.
I grow despondent. I think that the only thing that`s going -- that`s going to make these people turn around is severe sanctions on the part of ASEAN(ph), and unfortunately, I don`t think the ASEAN is going to do that.
LAMB: World War II battle of Peleliu island. Why did you write about that?
MCCAIN: Because it was such incredible bloodletting, and so many -- so much heroism on a small island that nobody remembers. That it was -- the Marines thought it would take two days -- excuse me, two weeks to subdue the entire island. Some, I believe 8,000 Japanese were killed, and 1, 500 Marines were killed on an island that`s so small that it`s unbelievable. And the Japanese had dug way into the coral caves, and there were several Congressional Medals of Honor. There was incredible heat, incredible sacrifice, and the Marines fought with great courage, and later the Army that came in and relieved them.
I just thought it was such an interesting little -- and it was unnecessary. Because they figured this island hopping that they wouldn`t even had to go there in the first place.
LAMB: One of the things you write about here is the whole business of fear after 9/11. Where were you?
MCCAIN: I was in the Capitol. I was in my -- in my office in the Russell Senate Office Building. And I was watching television, and I saw it on television.
LAMB: What was your reaction?
MCCAIN: Shock. Shock, horror, then anger. Who did this? And, of course, we didn`t know that flight 93 -- American 93 or United 93 -- I have forgotten, whichever one it was, that was headed in our direction, we know now that it would have either been...
LAMB: The one that went to Pennsylvania.
MCCAIN: Yeah. That was headed in our direction. I`d like to tell one other story that I was going to put in that book. A young man named Mark Bingham, who had met me, had a picture on his wall, he worked in Wall Street, he was on that flight. He called his mother on his cell phone. He was one of those that went up and took over the -- over the airplane. And his mother called me and asked me to speak at his funeral service at the University of California at Berkeley, where he went to school. It was a marvelous experience.
LAMB: Did you do it?
MCCAIN: A great American hero.
LAMB: Did you do it?
MCCAIN: Yes. I spoke at his graduation.
LAMB: How do you get through something like that?
MCCAIN: I don`t -- it`s kind of tough. The latest, of course, is Pat Tillman, our wonderful Arizona State University and Arizona Cardinals football player who gave his life in Afghanistan. You just -- what you try to do, I think is to celebrate the magnificent lives that these people led -- as I said at Pat Tillman`s funeral, there will be a lot of us that live longer lives than Pat Tillman, but not many a better one.
LAMB: In your book on courage and your other books, you talk about politicians, and I guess my question to you is, you write about Theodore Roosevelt I know in one of your books. You write about Eleanor Roosevelt in your book on courage. Take --- put them aside for a moment, and if you were going to do a book on politicians who you think were courageous, who would it be and define when -- when a politician is courageous?
MCCAIN: You know, I`d have to go back to T.R. I`d have to go back to Teddy Roosevelt, because he was a reformer every step of the way. He fought the system every step of the way. In fact, they kept shunting him from one job to another because they wanted to get rid of him. And he stood up against the robber barons. It was the Gilded Age. There was corruption in America. And he was the first to bring any trust into being. He was the first to -- was a great conservationist. He was -- he was a great, great reformer and he had this -- and the other thing I think he had the courage to do was articulate his vision of the greatness of America.
He had a vision that America could be the greatest force for good in the world. Now, his was somewhat jingoistic, and, now, you know, a little bit imperialistic, but he had a marvelous vision of the greatness and the future of America.
LAMB: Who else?
MCCAIN: And he stood up.
LAMB: Who are others?
MCCAIN: Lincoln, obviously.
LAMB: And what does it take to be ....
MCCAIN: Harry Truman. Harry Truman.
LAMB: What it takes to be -- I mean, when would you put the label courageous on?
MCCAIN: Harry Truman when he fired MacArthur. When Harry Truman fired the most popular general probably of the entire World War II, and it`s hard for us to remember how generals were revered during World War II. He fired him. And he -- his approval rating plummeted. He was castigated. General MacArthur comes back, addresses a joint session of Congress, gives the famous statement about old soldiers never die, and historians have judged Harry Truman as being exactly right..
LAMB: Should he have fired MacArthur?
MCCAIN: Sure, he should have.
LAMB: And what was his main reason?
MCCAIN: Because -- because General MacArthur was --- wanted to use -- first of all, he was being insubordinate, but second of all, he wanted to use nuclear weapons against China. I mean -- what would -- what would that have gotten us into over time? I mean -- you know -- thank God. I think that -- that the stalemate in Korea, you can`t call it a victory, was a key element in winning the Cold War. One of the real seminal events of the Cold War was when we stopped the communists from taking over the Korean Peninsula.
LAMB: What role did the Keating five incident have on chapters like I`m looking at -- one of your books, Maverick, where it turned you into being this reformer?
MCCAIN: All my life I have been iconoclastic -- and not a conformer, whether it would be in high school, or the Naval Academy, or in the Navy. And so that`s been part of my -- what kind of person I am. But the Keating five scandal went to the heart of everything that I stood for, everything that my family believes in, everything that I had ever tried to adhere to through difficult times. It was a direct assault, and justified, on my upholding my duties, to the people of my state and my friends, my family, and everybody else. It was devastating.
LAMB: And what -- what was the charge? I mean, you took the charge was ...
MCCAIN: That I and four other senators met with regulators who were directly responsible for the fortunes of one man, whose name was Charles Keating, and even though -- even though I started out by saying I want no special favors for this man, this is not to be interpreted, blah, blah, blah, it was. It was the appearance. It was the appearance. And at the very end, after a couple of years, I was found guilty of, quote, poor judgment.
LAMB: But did that change ...
MCCAIN: That was more than -- no.
LAMB: Did that set you on a course of reform? On campaign finance?
MCCAIN: I`d always -- no, no, I`d always been a reformer. I think it probably attenuated that. I don`t think you can go through any kind of crisis in your life without it having some kind of refining aspects, but I was always a reformer. I was always believed, and -- but this was -- this is why it was so devastating to me, because I had believed that I wouldn`t do anything that would be in any way portrayed as improper behavior.
LAMB: On page 328 of "Worth the Fighting For": "Honesty obliges me to confess that there is also something in my nature that enjoys throwing bricks at customs that smack of pretension, and sometimes my behavior reveals more vanity on my part than was evident in the practice I denounce. No doubt this trait influenced somewhat my decision to offer an amendment to open the airport`s reserved parking lot to the public."
MCCAIN: Yeah, it was a fun one.
LAMB: When did you do that?
MCCAIN: I think it was back around 1991, 1992. It was a long time ago. There is -- still is congressional parking, you know, where congressmen and women and senators and Supreme Court justices, I believe, can have a special parking space. I still to this day don`t use congressional parking. It`s my little bow to nonconformity. And so I said, look, everybody ought to be subjected to the same parking constraints. And it met with a firestorm of opposition. If I had suggested removing one of the Supreme Court justices, I don`t think it would have caught -- had the cataclysmic -- cataclysmic effect -- that my proposal to do away with congressional free parking did.
LAMB: Do you think it matters to the public?
MCCAIN: Yes, I do. I think they want us to be like us as much as possible. They know we are not exactly the same because of the lifestyle we lead, but I don`t think -- I remember seeing a young woman with two children and bags struggling across the -- across the congressional parking lot. I thought maybe she should be able maybe to park in a place a little closer.
LAMB: In the same chapter, you say, "but public cynicism will not be allayed by defending the honor of politicians. The cynicism is real, profound, and has increased every year since the turbulent `60s to the point that it no longer provokes as much public anger as it does indifference to government." Do you find it when you are traveling around the country or in your own state, and how would you define cynicism towards government?
MCCAIN: I think cynicism is that they don`t believe that we represent their interests first and foremost, that the special interests are far more represented here in our conduct of events in Washington. And when we passed the Medicare prescription drug bill, it has a prohibition of imports from Canada, and a prohibition from Medicare negotiating with the big drug companies for lower drug prices. The Veterans Administration negotiates; they save hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Then they know -- the American people are far more intelligent than we give them credit for. And I think you`re going to see a reform movement either within one or other of the major parties, or you`ll see a reform movement from outside these parties, if we don`t change the way we`re doing business.
LAMB: When will you see it? Or when will we see it?
MCCAIN: Probably sometime after this election, unless we change.
LAMB: You were a lobbyist.
LAMB: For the United States Navy?
MCCAIN: For the Navy.
LAMB: Did you dad do the same thing?
MCCAIN: Yes, he had a similar job, only he was -- had the admiral`s job. I had the captain`s job in the Senate.
LAMB: In what years?
MCCAIN: 1978 through `80.
LAMB: Recently, in "The Washington Post," Jeffrey Birnbaum wrote an article where he said, 275 former members of Congress have registered as lobbyists in Washington, D.C. since 1995. Can it work if that -- I mean -- that wasn`t the way it was years ago?
MCCAIN: Oh, no. It`s -- it`s dramatically increased and, of course, the salaries and pay of these lobbyists is incredible. And what I worry more than anything else about is this revolving door that President Eisenhower warned us about. This recent Boeing scandal, where though -- this woman who worked in the Pentagon was given salary and offers, and she was -- she recently pled guilty, as you know, and it went to the highest levels of Boeing. And it went well into the United States Air Force. The CEO of Boeing has been forced out, as well as the chief financial officer. Nobody`s been held accountable in the Pentagon yet.
LAMB: So does it ever stop? Or should it stop?
MCCAIN: It`s got to stop. And by the way, this whole Boeing thing started with a line in an appropriations bill. Never a debate, never through the proper authorization, debate, and hearing process.
LAMB: You talk about earmarks. Something that -- probably most people don`t know what they are.
MCCAIN: It`s one of those. I think they know when they read on the front page of "The New York Times" that somebody wants to build a $2 billion bridge to nowhere, and they are stuck in traffic in Phoenix or Los Angeles or Des Moines or Louisville. They know. They know that things are not right here.
LAMB: When you stand up and say something about it, don`t you get personal animosity toward you from your colleagues?
MCCAIN: Yes, I do.
LAMB: How do you deal with it?
MCCAIN: I just never attack them personally. I attack the process. The process is what`s broken. When you have got a broken process, which is what we have now, people are going to take advantage of it. I try never, ever to attack someone personally in their integrity. You can -- and I think that`s very important.
LAMB: Do they retaliate against you in the Appropriations Committee?
MCCAIN: Oh, I think they -- oh, sure.
LAMB: I mean, you don`t get your earmarks.
MCCAIN: Yeah, well, I never asked for any. If I did, I would be famous. It would be a very famous earmark if ever I asked for one. But you know, the interesting thing, Brian, is that my state is doing extremely well. It`s booming. The economy is good. We have lots of defense contracts. We have wonderful life, and other states where they get all this pork barrel stuff, don`t do so well.
The moral of the story is, if you put a state on welfare, it`s the same as if you put a family on welfare.
So I -- I continue to do everything I can to have the companies, corporations and interests in my state to be able to compete on a fair and equal basis. University of Arizona just got a major contract from NASA. I didn`t ask for that. I just asked that they be allowed to compete fairly. And they won. That`s the system that I think we`ve got to go back to.
LAMB: Recently "The Wall Street Journal" mentioned your name in an editorial and they said John McCain of the media party.
MCCAIN: Yes. My base.
LAMB: What was your reaction when you saw that?
MCCAIN: "The Wall Street Journal" has been attacking me for many, many years, and from campaign finance reform to -- they attacked me when I was going after Boeing. I still remember, it was John McCain`s flying circus, there was no justification for me to do that.
I just think you`ve got to accept that. You`ve got to understand that when you have a -- when you play a visible role, there are people who are going to disagree with you and they are going to attack you.
Let me just tell you how far I have come. When I first was a congressman, I would open my mail and I would read a letter from somebody who was very unfavorably disposed for me. I would like to find out their phone number and I would find their phone number, call them up and have a discussion with them. I really, when I was first a congressman.
Now, you just have to understand that there are people who are going to disagree with you and assume that it`s an honorable disagreement, and move on. You just can`t let these things get to you. And don`t personalize it. Don`t personalize it. I`ll have a debate later today with someone on an amendment that I have, and as long as we fight ferociously on the issue, it`s fine. But if you start questioning people`s integrity, then that`s one of the problems around here. There`s too much personalization of politics.
LAMB: Recently when Bob Schieffer introduced "Face the Nation," he said "our guest today is John McCain, this is his 51st appearance. The only man to appear more often than John McCain is Bob Dole." Now, did you make a decision at some point in your political life that you were going to do all these shows when invited?
MCCAIN: No. I would do the shows when I was invited. And Bob Schieffer and I, I think are friends. He`s been around. He was in the military. He`s a very -- I think he`s a very thoughtful and fine guy. But as much as we are friends, if there wasn`t a reason to have me on the show, i.e. viewers, then Bob Schieffer would say hello to me on the street.
I think you have to understand, the thing about Washington is, the reason why they have me on the shows is that they think it helps their viewership and it helps further the ambitions of their program. I don`t blame them for that. But you just got to realize that. There`s going to come a time where I`m going to walk down the street in Phoenix and nobody will know who I am. All the -- sic transit gloria. That`s why I go back to my friend T.R. He had a crowded hour. This is a crowded hour. You have got to make the most of it and recognize how transient all of this is.
My predecessor, Barry Goldwater, was a man of incredible stature, and I admire him as much as anybody I have ever known. There are a lot of people in my home state now, because of our dramatic growth and young people, who don`t remember him. I`ll remember him. You see my point?
LAMB: I have got in my hands "The Washington Times" editorial. And the reason I have it here, and it`s a very long editorial, several weeks ago, where they compare you with John Kerry. And the reason I bring it up is, if you read this editorial you come out rather conservative. And we talk about the media party. Did these folks in the media, who are supposedly liberals, know that you`re this conservative? And do people who support you out there on the Democratic side know that you`re this conservative?
MCCAIN: I think they do. I think in the case of the media, their job is to get news. Their job is to write a story. And so I`m accessible, and I give them my views. Well, that makes it understandable that they may have some affinity for me. But I would also argue that during the campaign, I took my hits from the media. I took some blows. And a lot of it was self-generated. And there are always going to be people in the media who for whatever reason may not be as favorably disposed.
As far as the Kerry-McCain issue is concerned, I believe that it`s mainly a symptom of the dissatisfaction of a lot of Americans with the status quo. They think we are too partisan, which we are. They think we are too fiercely fighting each other. There`s too many personal attacks. And I think a lot of people saw this as a way of putting a stop to that, and maybe some more unification of the country.
LAMB: We have talked about everybody in your family except Cindy, your wife. And talk about courage, she has been involved with trying to stop the drug thing.
LAMB: And strokes.
MCCAIN: Yes. Cindy was addicted to painkillers, and she went through a very difficult time. She`s fully recovered from that. She had a mild stroke a few weeks ago. I`m happy to say that she`s doing very well. And she continues to suffer through the difficult experience of being a politician`s wife. And she`s doing very well. She`s been involved in -- lately among other things, HALO, this landmine organization that goes around trying to fund and help the cause of landmine removal, particularly in countries like Cambodia, where there`s huge numbers of people who have -- who are amputees. That`s one of her latest issues.
LAMB: Do you separate your relationship -- she stays in Arizona, you stay here?
LAMB: And why do you do that?
MCCAIN: I come back almost every weekend to Arizona. And as you know, we have many breaks. And I think it`s because we first made the decision -- when I was first elect to the House, I was very new to my state, and it was very important to get back every weekend. But also we think it`s a much healthier environment to raise our children in Arizona.
LAMB: In your 2002 book, you hesitated at the end about whether you were going to run again.
MCCAIN: Well, I have seen, and much to my regret, a number of very wonderful men stay too long. And we remember them how they are at the end rather than how they were at their most effective period. And I don`t want that to happen to me. And I`m not going to mention any names. We know who some of these people are that stayed too long. And I don`t want that to happen to me. And I want to know when it`s time to leave. And so I certainly thought about it and reached the decision that I wouldn`t run for another term.
LAMB: The book, "Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life." If there is one last message that you want people to get in there and grab from this, what is it?
MCCAIN: A little bit along the lines of what we were saying. We only pass by one time, and particularly the longer we are here we have a better sense that we should leave something behind. In many cases, it`s our children. We want our children, who have the capacity to love, to love virtue, and then they will acquire the courage with our example and how to defend those virtues. And in all of our children, there can be a John Lewis, there can be an Angela Dawson, there can be a Hinas Anesh (ph), there can be -- people with greatness, but there can also be just wonderful citizens of this great country that we can contribute to.
LAMB: Going to write another book?
MCCAIN: We don`t have any plans to. But I certainly wouldn`t rule it out. If our publishers are foolish enough to ask us for another one, I imagine we would do it.
LAMB: Two hundred and nine pages. Here`s what the book looks like, here`s the cover. "Why Courage Matters," by John McCain with Mark Salter. We thank you very much.
MCCAIN: Thank you, Brian.
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