In recent days, I've read a couple of really interesting articles on Cindy McCain. I didn't know all that much about her as a person and, since I am fascinated by the stories of peoples' lives, I am happy to read up on her.
One article by Jill Zuckman from the Chicago Tribune wrote about Cindy McCain's trip to Kosovo during Easter week. She was there to visit schools where children affected by landmines are taught. She also was there to assess the landmine situation with HALO Trust. HALO Trust is an international group that removes mines from post-conflict countries, according to the article. This trip was described as more comfortable than the typical overseas trip for Mrs. McCain. "She has camped out in rural Angola, was once left stranded when an overbearing African minister of education commandeered her charter plane, and witnessed a boy get blown up by a mine in Kuwait."
She is 53 years old and the mother of four. She worries about her son in Iraq and the one graduating from the Naval Academy this year and facing deployment himself. She has only one child left at home now, her Bangladeshi adopted daughter still in high school in Phoenix. She and Senator McCain adopted their daughter from Mother Teresa's orphanage when Cindy realized she couldn't leave the infant behind after the tour of the orphanage. And she is working on staying as healthy as possible after a stroke suffered four years ago. She does so by focusing on a healthy diet, exercise and trying to reduce stress. She took a fall in the grocery store a few months ago and had knee replacement surgery.
She's a trooper. She doesn't whine.
When approached with the thought of her husband running again for President this time around, after having a family meeting with the children on Christmas day in 2006 when they were all able to be together, she was rightfully hesitant. Cindy recounted nasty personal attacks about the adopted daughter they have, about the mental health of her former POW husband, and her recovery from an abuse of painkillers prescribed after back surgery.
Cindy McCain came to realize "with two sons in the military and a nation at war, she said she couldn't say no. "It was not only something he wanted to do badly, but we needed him for the country, " she said.
She cherishes her personal quiet time. As a busy working woman now on the campaign trail there is little of that to go around. She, as an only child, inherited one of the largest beer distributorships from her father. An Anheuser-Busch franchise. I smiled a bit about that as I, too, was raised in the adult libation world. Not beer but hard liquor and imported liqueurs.
She and Senator McCain have been married for 28 years. She was raised in Phoenix where she was her high school's rodeo queen and went on to earn education degrees at the University of Southern California, after which she became a special needs teacher. She met McCain while vacationing in Hawaii with her parents. He was separated from his first wife and they had a daughter plus McCain adopted his first wife's two sons. After the divorce was final, McCain and Cindy were married in 1980. He signed a pre-nup that Cindy's assets would remain separate. He left the Navy and went to work for her father as a public relations manager.
The McCain children remained in Arizona with Cindy as McCain continued on to Washington and a political career in 1982. They thought it important for the children to grow up outside of Washington and keep some kind of normal life.
Cindy's father died in 2000 and she didn't sell his company, as many expected at the time. "I want the employees and their families to know that I will take care of them the way my dad has. I'm not going to sell just because he died," she said at the time. She took over the strategic issues and big budget items, delegating the every day operations to upper management already in place. "I have good people in place...I trust them and I love them. I'm the ultimate person who makes the large decisions; major changes, growth decisions." The distributorship has nearly doubled under her guidance since her father's death. With 700 employees and an annual revenue of $300 million, Cindy has brought sales last year to 23 million cases of beer.
Alcohol sales are measured in cases. I still have a plaque awarded to my father for his first million case year. He was VP of sales and marketing for the distillery.
Cindy McCain owns a private jet and the McCain campaign pays to use it on the trail, according to the article in The Wall Street Journal by Monica Langley. She is an advocate for children's causes through a family foundation she began, with Senator McCain donating some of his speaking fees and book proceeds to do his part.
In 1991, during the Keating Five scandal, Senator McCain was one of five senators probed for ties with a thrift executive. McCain was never charged with any ethics violations, the only one of the five. He was represented by Bob Bennett, later of Bill Clinton impeachment trial fame and Paula Jones lawsuit. Bennett has recently published a book on his law career and has a chapter in it where he pronounces the absolute innocence of McCain. Bennett, a Democrat, recounts the completely bogus investigation with it boiling down to McCain being in the wrong place at the wrong time. McCain has apologized for the appearance of impropriety. I am quite sure he is ready for the haters in this campaign season to dredge it all up again, as though he was found guilty of anything.
During this time, Cindy had two back surgeries and he problems with addiction to painkillers began. She took drugs from her medical charity which she managed herself. In 1994 the Drug Enforcement Administration began an investigation of her and she had to agree to close the medical charity. She paid a fine, performed community service in a soup kitchen and joined Narcotics Anonymous. "I've never been secretive about it at all, because talking about addiction is part of the recovery process," Mrs. McCain said. "It's part of my life; it has made me a better person and certainly made me a better mother." Think any of those open minded 'progressives' will try to attack her husband through this? Think she's in for the Rush Limbaugh treatment from the haters?
Today Mrs. McCain is active in charities specializing in war-ravaged and developing countries. From The Wall Street Journal article, "this summer, Mrs. McCain will join an overseas mission of Operation Smile, a charity she has long supported that travels the world to perform corrective surgery on children's faces."
Cindy McCain will be another First Lady of whom we will be proud.