"Well, my friends, we beat you yesterday," he said. "We'll beat you today . . . And we'll beat you tomorrow!"
But that's not quite correct. What McCain really said, with a grin on his face (watch the video) was: "Well, my friends, we beat you yesterday, we beat you the day before yesterday, we'll beat you today and we'll beat you tomorrow. We won't choose to lose. We won't choose to lose this time".
This is one quote that is all about Vietnam and it is curious, but not unsurprising that a media obsessed with Vietnam doesn't report it for what it is. Maybe because it is a politically incorrect reference to an unfinished cultural conflict that didn't -- doesn't exist. The war's over, isn't it? McCain's outburst seemed to come straight from the collective subconscious that contains everything that isn't said but everything that is important. The "we" and "you" McCain refers to can be none other the enemies in the Cold War, with Code Pink implicitly in the enemy camp, right beside Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap. McCain's assertion that "we beat you yesterday, we beat you the day before yesterday, we'll beat you today and we'll beat you tomorrow" curiously juxtaposed with the apparently contradictory "we won't choose to lose. We won't choose to lose this time" is simultaneously a retelling of history; an affirmation of hostilities and it's renewal.
The Vietnam War officially ended for America in 1972. But the embers of that fire burn today. The Left declared a cultural victory for itself on that occasion, but as all would-be conquerors eventually discover, even victories are not what they seem.
Maybe the only way to understand McCain's response to Code Pink is from a story he tells about his experience as a POW in North Vietnam.
One of the men who moved into my room was a young man named Mike Christian. Mike came from a small town near Selma, Alabama. He didn't wear a pair of shoes until he was 13 years old.
At 17, he enlisted in the US Navy. He later earned a commission by going to Officer Training School. Then he became a Naval Flight Officer and was shot down and captured in 1967.
Mike had a keen and deep appreciation of the opportunities this country, and our military, provide for people who want to work and want to succeed. As part of the change in treatment, the Vietnamese allowed some prisoners to receive packages from home. In some of these packages were handkerchiefs, scarves and other items of clothing. Mike got himself a bamboo needle.
Over a period of a couple of months, he created an American flag and sewed it on the inside of his shirt. Every afternoon, before we had a bowl of soup, we would hang Mike's shirt on the wall of the cell and say the Pledge of Allegiance. I know the Pledge of Allegiance may not seem the most important part of our day now, but I can assure you that in that stark cell, it was indeed the most important and meaningful event.
One day the Vietnamese searched our cell, as they did periodically, and discovered Mike's shirt with the flag sewn inside, and removed it. That evening they returned, opened the door of the cell, and for the benefit of all us, beat Mike Christian severely for the next couple of hours.
Then, they opened the door of the cell and threw him in. We cleaned him up as well as we could. The cell in which we lived had a concrete slab in the middle on which we slept. Four naked light bulbs hung in each corner of the room. As I said, we tried to clean up Mike as well as we could. After the excitement died down, I looked in the corner of the room, and sitting there beneath that dim light bulb with a piece of red cloth, another shirt and his bamboo needle, was my friend, Mike Christian. He was sitting there with his eyes almost shut from the beating he had received, making another American flag.
"Well, my friends, we beat you yesterday, we beat you the day before yesterday, we'll beat you today and we'll beat you tomorrow."