I went back to this story about the normalizing of relations between the U.S. and Vietnam last night hearing about McCain’s death, thinking that though we’re now pretending the Vietnam War never happened, it might be his (and Kerry’s) most significant accomplishment as lawmakers:
In January, 1994, a Kerry-McCain-sponsored Senate resolution urged the President to lift the embargo. A few veterans mobilized in opposition, drawing the support of the American Legion and the Republican leadership. McCain’s sponsorship persuaded twenty Republicans to vote for the measure, which passed by a vote of sixty-two to thirty-eight. McCain said, “The vote will give the President the kind of political cover he needs to lift the embargo.” The fact is, however, that the President’s real cover was coming from Kerry and McCain. The one had come to represent the United States government’s long-overdue determination to tell the truth about Vietnam; the other was the military hero become a figure of healing. Together, their credibility on the question was absolute.
On February 4, 1994, a Times headline read “clinton drops 19-year trade embargo on vietnam.”