Captain Bringdown: John McCain's Booklist

If you wonder why everyone who knows John McCain hates his guts, a good place to find out is last Saturday/Sunday's Wall Street Journal. In the Pursuits section, he lists his five best "books about soldiers in wartime."

They are:

For Whom The Bell Tolls

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

This Kind of War: A Study in Unpreparedness

Hell in a Very Small Place

All Quiet on the Western Front

Here's what you have to admit about John McCain: That's not a stupid list. Three classics, one semi-classic, one obscurity. Two novels, three histories. The author of the obscure one politically reliable, the other four securely dead.

Not one of them Battlefield Earth.

Here's the spooky thing about McCain: Out of the entire literature of men and arms, he's chosen five books, all of them told from the side of the losers. The Republicans in Spain, the Germans in World War One, the French in Vietnam, the Americans in Korea, the Romans everywhere. It's not important to McCain what you're fighting for, just as long as you're trounced.

No wonder he loves Iraq.

And here's the nettlesome thing about McCain: He's an actual hero - he suffered heroically -- but he talks like one of those hateful legion hall blimps who strongly believe no one who wasn't in their platoon really served. Here:

"Hemingway himself was not a veteran, but he saw war up close..."

Hemingway's not a real veteran because ambulance drivers don't count. (Even if they get blown up.) And neither does fighting in Spain. Or sub-hunting with a dopey sailboat. Or being in a landing craft on D-Day. Or liberating Paris.

If Papa's so tough, why didn't he bomb Vietnam from an airplane?

If John McCain thinks Hemingway isn't a real veteran, how can he hug George W. Bush?

It's almost like he's crazy.