John McCain's disability pay: Raise your hands if you object

Go ahead, raise your hands above your head if you object to John McCain’s disability pension. John McCain can’t do the same, thanks to the damage inflicted by Vietnamese torturers in Hanoi. He has constant pain in his knee and his back as well, significantly limiting his mobility. However, unless the Presidency requires a successful completion of an obstacle course every day, the Los Angeles Times’ questioning of his physical fitness for office seems ludicrous:

Sen. John McCain has long said he is in robust health and is strong enough to hike the Grand Canyon, but he also is receiving what his staff Monday termed a “disability pension” from the Navy.

When McCain released his tax return for 2007 on Friday, he separately disclosed that he received a pension of $58,358 that was not listed as income on his return.

On Monday, McCain’s staff identified the retirement benefit as a “disability pension” and said that McCain “was retired as disabled because of his limited body movements due to injuries as a POW.”

McCain campaign strategist Mark Salter said Monday night that McCain was technically disabled. “Tortured for his country — that is how he acquired his disability,” Salter said.

Certain types of military and veterans pensions are either partially or completely tax-exempt, depending on the seriousness of the disability. In McCain’s case, the exemption is 100%.

The LAT seems a little confused about this disability. Ralph Vartabedian doesn’t seem to know whether to complain about McCain having a 100% disability even though he can still walk, muse over its tax-free status, or suggest that a disabled man cannot handle the Presidency. As a result, the article meanders through all three issues and never really reaches a conclusion.

Let’s try addressing all three:

  1. The 100% disability from the military doesn’t mean that the person cannot work any longer at all, although in some cases it’s certainly true. It comes from a medical calculation of mobility and loss, handled by the Department of Defense. POWs who had been tortured certainly would have received a generous evaluation.
  2. The tax status of his disability pay is a rather stupid topic. He’s obviously not dodging his tax responsibilities. If the exemption exists, what’s newsworthy about it?
  3. Vartabedian might want to look back in history to another President with much more profound disabilities to determine whether McCain can fulfill his duties. FDR served three full terms and part of a fourth, mostly confined to a wheelchair, and he all but won a two-front world war.

Next foolish meme, please?

Update: Michael Koolidge interviewed McCain’s fellow POW, Joe Crecca, on the kind of torture and abuse received by McCain, Crecca, and others in Hanoi.  Take a listen to all three podcasts to discover why McCain has this disability pension.