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Opening Arguments

The guest returns

I've always thought it would be interesting to visit Vietnam as a tourist. Strange and unsettling, maybe, but interesting. I can't imagine what it took for John McCain to go back to the Hanoi Hilton:

He pointed to another tiny cell -- about 6 feet by 3 feet (1.8 meters by 0.9 meters) -- with nothing more than a bed frame with no mattress, just a straw mat. He told his colleagues it looked much like the one in which he was held.

"They kept the shutters closed," McCain said. "It was very hot in there."

During his captivity, McCain twice tried to hang himself using his shirt as a noose, but he was caught by guards who then beat him.

"I couldn't control my despair," McCain wrote in his autobiography. All my pride was lost, and I doubted I would ever stand up to any man again. Nothing could save me."

One way to measure a person is by what he holds on to and what he is willing to let go of. During the visit, he praised Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, who beat back both the French and Americans, as a military genouse, and he wrote "Best wishes" in the guest book. He was a leading and early advocate for normalizing relations with Vietnam.