Author of McCain: The Myth of a Maverick tells other McCain critics to get their facts straight, cut the cheap armchair psychological analysis:
The harsh truth is that the overwhelming majority of POWs, including McCain, “broke” under torture at some point. As would I, and certainly any writer for Rolling Stone, in about five seconds.
Although McCain has received praise for refusing early release, some critics rightly point out that he was just one of hundreds to do so. Still, this glosses over the most pertinent part of McCain’s heroism: By all accounts, his noisy resistance to everyday humiliations, and his profane outburst at a made-for-propaganda Christmas service in 1968, gave great strength to his fellow POWs. McCain was an inveterate communicator in Hanoi, tapping code like mad to keep his comrades’ spirits up and even acting as chaplain when conditions in the prisons started to improve.
As for the suggestion in Rolling Stone that Vietnam may have turned him into some kind of erratic and unpredictable rage-aholic, just know that little Johnny McCain was known for his outlandish temper at age 2 — his mom used to dunk him in a bathtub full of ice just to calm him down.