Fineman: McCain Is Trivializing His POW Past

Once a remarkable and respected aspect of his biography, John McCain stands on the brink of "trivializing" his past as a prisoner of war, which has become a "crutch in the campaign," Newsweek's Howard Fineman declared Thursday.

"I think they are going to it way too many times. It's the original story that defined John McCain, that still when you read it in his book 'Faith of my Fathers,' when you read about it in 'The Nightingale's Song,' you can't help but have admiration and respect for the guy. And I think he wisely for many years stayed away from it as a political tool, he really did. But now it not only defines him, it's become a crutch in the campaign. And I think he is in danger of trivializing it. By the time they get to the convention in St. Paul, there might not be much of it left to use."

Fineman's remark, made during a segment of Countdown With Keith Olbermann, came after McCain was criticized for being elitist for not knowing how many houses he owned. An aide to the Arizona Republican hit back at the accusation by evoking McCain's service in Vietnam.

"This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison," said spokesman Brian Rogers.

As the Huffington Post documented earlier, Rogers' statement is just one of several recent instances of the McCain camp playing the POW card.

Earlier this week, for instance, amidst speculation that McCain may have received advance notice of questions at a values forum, spokeswoman Nicole Wallace declared, "The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous."

When Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former Senator John Edwards, ridiculed McCain's health care policy, his aides didn't respond with a substantive retort. Rather, they declared that their boss knew what it was like to get inadequate care "from another government." Even earlier, when the topic was about earmarks, McCain criticized Sen. Hillary Clinton for proposing funds for a museum celebrating Woodstock. He didn't know what there was to celebrate, he said, because he was "tied up" during the music festival.