July 6, 2005, SAN DIEGO — Retired Vice Adm. James Stockdale, Ross Perot's 1992 presidential running mate who received the Medal of Honor after enduring 71/2 years in a North Vietnamese prison, died Tuesday. He was 81.
The Navy did not provide a cause of death but said he had suffered from Alzheimer's disease. He died at his home in Coronado.
During the Vietnam War, Stockdale was a Navy fighter pilot based on the USS Oriskany and flew 201 missions before he was shot down on Sept. 9, 1965. He became the highest-ranking naval officer captured during the war, the Navy said.
Stockdale was taken to Hoa Lo Prison, known as the "Hanoi Hilton." His shoulders were wrenched from their sockets, his leg had been shattered by angry villagers and a torturer, and his back was broken. But he refused to capitulate.
Rather than allow himself to be used in a propaganda film, Stockdale smashed his face into a pulp with a mahogany stool.
"My only hope was to disfigure myself," Stockdale wrote in his 1984 autobiography "In Love and War." The ploy worked, but he spent the next two years in leg irons.
After Ho Chi Minh's death, he broke a glass pane in an interrogation room and slashed his wrists until he passed out in his own blood. After that, captors relented in their harsh treatment of him and his fellow prisoners.
Stockdale spent four years in solitary confinement before his release in 1973.
He received 26 combat decorations, including the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest medal for valor, in 1976. The citation reads, "By his heroic action at great peril to himself, he earned the everlasting gratitude of his fellow prisoners and of his country."
He retired from the military in 1979, one of the most highly decorated officers in U.S. Navy history, and became president of the Citadel, a military college in South Carolina. He left in 1981 to become a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford.
In the 1992 presidential election, Stockdale became independent candidate Perot's vice presidential running mate, initially as a stand-in on the ticket but later as the candidate.
Stockdale gave a stumbling performance in the nationally televised vice-presidential debate against Dan Quayle and Al Gore and later said he didn't feel comfortable in the public eye.
"Who am I? Why am I here?" he asked rhetorically in his opening statement.
Toward the end, he asked the moderator to repeat a question, saying, "I didn't have my hearing aid turned on."
Stockdale came to know Perot through Sybil Stockdale's work establishing an organization on behalf of families of prisoners held during the Vietnam War.
When Perot ran again in 1996 as the candidate of his Reform Party, Stockdale had rejoined the Republican Party.
He is survived by his wife and four sons.
Note by Republicus:
The 1992 Presidential Campaign had a patriot like Stockdale (on patriot H. Ross Perot's Reform Party ticket) running against Distinguished Flying Cross WWII pilot George H. Bush for the Republicans...
...and draft-dodger Bill Clinton for the Democrats, who grew a scraggly beard, visited Russia, and organized BAFAW protest marches in Europe during the Vietnam War .
On his ticket was Vietnam "veteran" Al Gore, who went as a journalist and kept well out of harm's way, and spent most of his time with a pencil and "smoking some pot," as he put it.
And throughout the first term, since 1992, it was drummed out from the Clintonites' version of a "war room" (which was not in the Pentagon, but in a coffee & donut meeting room wherein Colonel Carville and Sergeant Stephanopoulos barked out orders as they waged war against conservative common sense and decency), that veteran status was irrelevant to governing and certainly did not indicate a greater love of country (though one should have wondered--if those were true--why then Gore's "veteran" status was inflated as a plus in 1992 and used as a counterbalance to the minus of Clinton's military evasion? Maybe because they were talking out of both sides of their mouths?).
In 1996 Purple-Hearted WWII veteran Bob Dole went up against the entrenched draft-dodger.
He, too, was defeated.
In 2000, the Republicans nominated for president former Texas Air National Guardsman George W. Bush (the son of decorated WWII pilot George H. Bush), who had went to boot camp, worn the uniform, and earned his wings, learning to fly fighter jets during the war (which is no small task, as mistake-panic-and-eject wartime pilot John McCain would attest, and mistake-panic-and-crash peacetime-pilot JFK Jr. discovered too late).
On his ticket was Dick Cheney, who received several draft deferments during the Vietnam War but who had been career public servant in the highest echelons of the federal government for several Republican administrations and who was the intrepid Secretary of Defense during Bush 41's Desert Storm.
The Democratic strategists shamelessly changed their tune, highlighting Gore's "veteran" status overseas even more so than before to put that up against the stateside Guardsmen service of W. Bush and his spotty attendance record (when the war was over) and Cheney's draft deferments.
Gore was a "more experienced" military man because he carried a pencil and smoked pot in Vietnam during the war than Cheney who was the Secretery of Defense during the collapse of the Soviet Union and Operation Desert Storm?
For good measure, Gore put a conservative and religious Democrat (Senator Joe Lieberman) on the ticket, and so co-opting and trumpeting the conservative values that were marginalized and even attacked (e.g. veteran status and Faith in God) for eight years on behalf of draft-dodging and Religious-Right-Hating Bill Clinton (who, upon being acquitted, was praised by the bellowing Gore himself that he would be remembered as "ONE OF THE GREATEST PRESIDENTS IN AMERICAN HISTORY!!!"
But it was too late. The damage was done (attributed not to disgust, but to the euphemistic "Clinton Fatigue"), and common sense and decency put an end to the unprincipled insanity of Clintonism and denied Gore the inheritance.
The conservative revival and the Republican sweep back into power since has been astonishing, and forced the unprincipled Left to change its color like the chameleon it is, to better blend into its environment and escape the notice of eagles.
By 2004, the shameless Democrats had changed color from blue to red, inverting their "principles" a perfect 90 degrees, trotting out the Vietnam War "battlefield heroics" of veteran John Kerry in the hopes of unseating stateside former National Guardsman George W. Bush.
The new drumbeat: veteran status was relevant to governing and certainly indicated a greater love of country!
The star-spangled banner was unfurled at the DNC. Commander Kerry took the stage, saluted, and "Reported for duty."
Disgusting. Even when feigning honor and dignity, the Democrats can't help but being snide and petty. That was a dig at President Bush's spotty post-war attendance record in the Texas Air National Guard, when he allegedly "failed to report for duty."
The crowd that went--and still goes-- wild for the draft-dodging Bill Clinton and elected him over decorated WWII veterans in 1992 and 1996, went wild for...
...decorated Vietnam War veteran John Kerry over "draft-dodgers" George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
Swiftboat commander Kerry who received a unanimous thumb's down from ALL of his military peers (except from his underlings on the swiftboat) was more qualified to lead the nation during wartime than the President who was trained as an Air National Guard pilot, had removed the Taliban in Afghanistan AND Saddam Hussein in Iraq in his prosecution of the GWOT since 9/11 as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, and Vice President Dick Cheney, who oversaw both those endeavors and was the Secretary of Defense for Operation Desert Storm, both of whom are beloved and trusted by those in the armed services, something which most CERTAINLY could not be said for Commander Kerry?!?
Kerry was the best they could do to "prove" their patriotic/conservative credentials, to prove that they did-- "
Really! Honestly! Truly! No kidding! We're serious!"-- have appreciation and respect for America's military services and martial valor?
What happened to their heated "war room" campaigning on behalf of the draft-dodger Clinton in the drive to unseat decorated WWII pilot George H. Bush in 1992, and having to marginalize the latter's war service in the process?
What happened to their heated arguments to preserve that draft dodger's power and fend off the ascension of another decorated WWII hero and life-time public servant Bob Dole in 1996, actually calling the latter's sacrifice "irrelevant" to governing?
And what happened to Vietnam War prisoners John McCain and Admiral Stockdale when the liberal/Democrat's version of a Vietnam War "hero"-- John Kerry-- speedily got three band-aids, quickly left his "Band of Brothers" behind, and came home to testify about American atrocities to the U.S. Senate before embarking on a political career (as role-modeled by his hero, JFK)?
Here's what happened:
The prison guards used his senate testimony to demoralize their prisoners, and tighten the screws on P.O.W.s like McCain and Stockdale (while the reputation of the armed services suffered for nearly a decade, until Ronald Reagan re-vitalized them and made them "Be all they could be").
In the Vietnamese Communist War Remnants Museum (formerly known as the "War Crimes Museum") in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), there is a photograph of John Kerry hanged I mean hanging in a room dedicated to the anti-war activists who aided and abetted the Viet Cong and helped them win the Vietnam War.
Meanwhile, throughout the 1970's, the typical Vietnam veteran was portrayed by the liberal BAFAW media as damaged goods, the twisted fruits of war-mongering America.
They were disfunctional, shell-shocked psychotics.
Shell-shocked by eggshells, perhaps, and by their countrymen calling them marauders reminiscent of Genghis Khan (where'd they get that idea? Kerry).
The shameless and/or moronic Left, after embracing that post-Vietnam caricature of the American soldier as either a fascist imperialist deserving of hatred, a Frank Burns type worthy of ridicule, or a psycho, has now been trying to win elections during wartime and a conservative revival by dressing up those few in their party who wore the proverbial boots in Vietnam into G.I. Joes and John Rambos.
The latter, Rambo, is the fictional Vietnam vet who came home from the war to meet thrown eggs and cries of "baby killer" from his own countrymen, based on the actual and shameful cultural phenomenon that was the direct reaction to Kerry's shameless "Winter Soldier" senate testimony, in which he slandered America's military operations as being carried out by roving bands of marauding killers.
And it is that very anti-military stigma which they brought upon themselves that the Left is trying to play down now by the repeated, self-conscious assertions of "We support the troops!" -- between condemnations of the troops' mission, howls of protest against their casualty-causing performance in battle, demands for incarceration for those guarding vicious enemy combatants while on prison-duty and experiencing a slip or two in discipline in a high-stress environment, and calling for a court-martial of their beloved Commander-in-Chief.
But they overcompensate in that endeavor, to "prove" that they don't loathe the military, inverting one extreme into another, and hence the ridiculous exaggeration:
"We love John Kerry 'The War Hero'!"
"We love John Kerry 'The Warrior'!"
They're phonies. They don't care about that stuff. They hate that stuff. They still march in protest against American interests to the delight of our enemies, and decry the resurgence of patriotism as "jingoism." Oh, but but never mind that:
"We support the troops!"
When they exploded in fury because George W. Bush landed on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier-- to the great delight of the troops-- and they accused him of exploiting military imagery for his own political purposes, they were projecting. That's what they do, and they were angry that Bush trumped anything they could possibly pull off with that one.
They get angry everytime Bush invokes 9/11, as if he, the Commander in Chief, is exploiting that attack on American soil to justify the prosecution of his signature issue, the War on Terror, which was triggered by it.
Go ahead. Read that again.
And a majority of the American people know, or at least sense, that the Left's sudden appreciation of the military services and their toughguy talk on how THEY would properly utilize the military and win the war is phony.
All anyone has to do is pay attention and remember, and see the giant albatross of the draft-dodging "military loathing" (his own words) Bill Clinton hanging from their necks, but still worn proudly like a medallion.
Despite any ebbs and flows in Bush's approval ratings, in any area, even in his handling of various aspects of the War on Terror, there has been an indomitable constant: The American people trust the Republicans to do a better job of protecting them during wartime.
And so, in order for liberal Democrats to regain power in a time of war so as to enact their social agenda, they have to overcome that stigma of weakness, and hence the military masquerades.
During peacetime, Gore won the popular vote (by less than the population of NYC or LA) but lost the electoral in 2000.
During wartime, Vietnam "hero" Kerry lost both the electoral and the popular vote in 2004 when the greatest amount of democratic voters in the history of Democracy made sure to silence the charges of "illegitimacy" the Left has been hurling at Bush since 2000 (and still muttered with a wink and a smirk).
They also knew that Kerry was a liberal and, as reminded by the Swifties, slandered the military and undermined popular support for a war (and caused American civilians to hate their own military).
In other words, they knew he was a phony.
Kerry admitted--without providing specifics-- to commiting atrocities, but he shirked personal responsibility by adding, essentially, that "Everybody was doing it."
The other Vietnam War veteran the Democrats had floated was Senator Bob Kerrey, who had to quickly step aside when it came out that he machine-gunned down civilian peasants.
Who was crying loudest about the "atrocities" at Abu Ghraib and the "gulag conditions" at the Club Med of Gitmo?
The Democrats. The experts on war crimes.
So who's left for the Left?
They can't hope to recapture the White House during wartime with war criminals and on the platform of same-sex marriages and abortion rights.
Vietnam veterans Gore and Kerry are certainly fantasizing a return to the ring, biding their time and basing their hopes only on the opportunity to exploit a disaster to their benefit, but no, they're finished.
So who's left?
Why, the Clintons!
Their "Best and Brightest."
Yes, right back where we started:
Veteran status is irrelevant to governing and certainly doesn't indicate a greater love of country!
Anyway, Republicus belatedly welcomes Admiral Stockdale back to the Republican Party, where he belongs, and he welcomes him to Arlington, a resting place he has earned.
Strength and Honor. Long Live the Republic.