McCain criticizes draft system in place during Vietnam War


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Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," Senator John McCain’s battle with President Trump continues. Also tonight, hear how light from computer and phone screens could be harmful to your vision. And a local photographer is attempting to chronicle all of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs. That's next, on "Arizona Horizon."

"Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I’m Ted Simons. Reaction continues over Arizona Senator John McCain’s comments on C-Span this weekend regarding President Trump and the Vietnam War. McCain appeared to criticize trump's deferment from the draft during the war because of bone spurs in his foot.

We drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor to say they had a bone spur. That is wrong. And then this morning, on ABC’s "The View," McCain was asked if he considered Donald Trump to be a draft dodger.

McCain Clip: I don't consider him so much a draft dodger as I feel the system was so wrong that certain Americans could evade their responsibilities to serve the country.

Ted Simons: McCain spent six years as a prisoner of war after his plane was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967. Trump never served and had a total of five deferments during the Vietnam War. Here to talk about this latest dust-up is political consultant Stan Barnes, President of Copper State Consulting Group. Good to see you. What do you make of all of this?

Stan Barnes: I think John McCain is a man in full and is doing exactly what he wants to do as he reaches the twilight of his political career and possibly his life. I think every word out of his mouth is important now. The last sentences being written of a stellar life. We are all watching -- i am watching and am enjoying watching him as a fully liberated political figure.

Ted Simons: Has he found a new voice?

Stan Barnes: That's one way to say it. It's not so much new as every person in office long as he has and accomplished what he accomplished has to swallow back a lot of genuine opinion because you are managing a constituency with multifaceted, multicolored, multi-philosophized, so you don't generally get piercingly clear on a thousand issues. I think John McCain has personal clarity within him and at times he's shown it. Recently, we know he's not running for the senate again. He now is perfectly liberated to do whatever he would like.

Ted Simons: Catharsis, of sorts?

Stan Barnes: On a personal level, that's my guess. As a supporter of his, ally of his, friend even, it's just the way the book should be written that he be in the senate and willing to speak out the way he's speaking out.

Ted Simons: Former vice president Joe Biden saying this is serious stuff and we better focus on what is at stake here. Got a point?

Stan Barnes: He does. When McCain was back to the senate after the operation and made his dramatic speech, you could hear a pin drop and everyone supported and applauded and for a moment in Washington everyone said, there it is. This is what we are supposed to be doing. It goes back to whatever it is, self-serving, contempt for the rest of America. I don't have any fantasy that John McCain has a swan song. One candle in the darkness is what he's doing at this moment.

Ted Simons: The Philadelphia speech, this sort of back and forth with president trump. In terms of speeches this year, McCain’s kind of made them all, hasn't he?

Stan Barnes: Not only has he made 'em all, but since his diagnosis, swinging big as he ever has swung short of being nominee for the President of United States. He's had as much impact as ever and I suspect this is the way they'll go until the end.

Ted Simons: The president threatened that he will fight back and it won't be pretty. Does he think he can intimidate John McCain?

Stan Barnes: I'm channeling Donald Trump, I don't think he thinks anything other than an impulsive answer. To my disappointment, I think he could be a change president for the ages and instead is consumed in his own emotions and things, it's wrecking whatever greatness could have come from a president above it all who didn't owe anyone who had the philosophical latitude to move America forward. None of that is happening because he can't get over himself.

Ted Simons: Regarding his attitude with the military and military service, whether the gold star families or Senator McCain or threatening North Korea with an apocalyptic future, whatever, what kind of impact does that have in terms of American foreign policy and the way we are looked at as a player in the world?

Stan Barnes: Negative is my one-word reaction. We are getting number to it. The world is getting number to it. No one in the modern era spoke this way. Anytime the president does anything that feels like the strata of normal, we are so happy. Generally it's not normal and sometimes good but also bad. World leaders trying to be honest about what is happening in the world are not happy about the style of Donald Trump. The substance is separate but the style can be so off putting that his message is lost to the rest of the world.

Ted Simons: What about the trump supporters? Poll after poll say he's a rock star. What is going on out there?

Stan Barnes: I don't know, but I don't blame Trump for that question. I blame the American people. You are putting your finger on something. I label it a slow-motion revolution. There is something happening in the American electorate for good or ill. He's the vessel by which it's being expressed.

Ted Simons: Does it continue to happen? You say people are tuning out. Are they tuning out with negative reaction cemented?

Stan Barnes: My own prognosis is this continues. We are on the front end of a great divide. Part of it is geographical, west coast and east coast and the rest of us in the middle. Part of it is philosophical. For a long time people thought Washington doesn't give a dang and has contempt for regular people and I don't think they are wrong about that and have decided there is a way to express that and there is meaning. That's where Trump comes in.

Ted Simons: He has to get something done, or can he blame everyone else?

Stan Barnes: When you ask this question, he polls higher than the congress, than a lot of governors, than the media, all of the institutions that make governance go. He actually is more popular than the rest. Let that soak in as you wonder what does he have to do to get reelected? I know it's early to talk that way, but this phenomenon in which Trump is the spear point, is not going to evaporate. Bernie was on the left. This is a battle of the polar opposites we'll face in the next election.

Ted Simons: Stan Barnes, thanks for joining us.

Arizona Sen. John McCain criticized the way the draft was conducted during the Vietnam War, saying the rich could avoid being drafted using deferments not readily available to low-income people. McCain used the example of someone getting out of service for a bone spur, the reason for one of five deferments received by President Trump.

However, McCain says he is not calling the president a draft dodger.

Stan Barnes, president of Copper State Consulting Group, talks about McCain’s latest dust up with President Trump.

Barnes, who considers himself a friend of McCain‘s, thinks of McCain as a “man in full,” liberated to speak his mind in the twilight of his political career.

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In this segment:

Stan Barnes: President, Copper State Consulting Group

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