I realize these aren't completely parallel, but it's still worth comparing McCain's trying to make political hay out of Obama's connection to William Ayres with McCain's personal decency toward another one-time radical of the era, David Ifshin. Here's a 1996 Margaret Carlson column that touched on the McCain-Ifshin relationship:
It took 16 years for them to be friends. But last Thursday, when Senator John McCain eulogized a former enemy, David Ifshin, who died at age 47 after a five-month battle with cancer, the two had long made their "peace together." McCain may be our most famous prisoner of the Vietnam War; Ifshin, the most famous protester to go to Hanoi (save Jane Fonda). Ifshin's antiwar sentiments were piped into McCain's cell repeatedly via Radio Hanoi. McCain, who was left hanging by his broken arms for hours a day, shriveled to less than 100 lbs. during his five-year imprisonment. Both men would end up in Washington in 1984: McCain, by then a Congressman sharply critical of Ifshin's antiwar politics; Ifshin, a lawyer working on the Mondale presidential campaign. Two years after that, Ifshin saw McCain at a Washington event and the two men made up. Over the next months, the two set up the Institute for Democracy in Vietnam.
Two weeks ago, McCain visited Ifshin, his wife and three young children. "I thought, thank goodness we didn't waste any more time in anger. You can't put off setting your life right." In his eulogy, the Senator from Arizona remembered defending Ifshin, the former general counsel of the Clinton campaign, in the Senate after demonstrators assailed the lawyer's patriotism at a Memorial Day speech by the President. "I wanted the protesters to know that they were bearing false witness against a good man. That this small gesture that meant so much to David meant even more to me. David Ifshin was my friend. His friendship honored me and honors me still."
I'm not saying McCain and Ayres should be friends; and Ayres's radical past is certainly more troubling than Ifshin's (making bombs trumps visiting Hanoi, plus Ayres has remained unrepentant). But, once upon a time, McCain was the sort of pol who seemed more interested in healing these wounds rather than exploiting them.