Several of the Tim Russert tributes and remembrances I’ve read since his death on June 13th have not only provided insight into his upbringing, education and beliefs; a few also included photos of Russert as a young man.

This got me thinking – prompted in part by Russert’s obvious excitement with the current Presidential race – about the candidates, wondering if there are any readily available childhood photos of McCain and Obama on the internet. Perhaps a few photos from their early years could provide some insight into their personalities and upbringing, and a new angle from which to better understand them.

Up First: Obama

A quick Google search was an instant success, offering several links to a number of photos of a young Barack Obama…

Obama Google search

Terrific! A couple of additional clicks and I was able to easily find about a dozen or so candid shots from Obama’s childhood. It didn’t hurt that his campaign had released several of the photos, but I really didn’t care; I was simply looking to learn a little bit more about the candidates’ early years.

Here are several of the Obama pics; in this one, an obviously very happy Barack on a tricycle at (guessing) age 4 or so:

Obama on tricycle

Here young Barack is seen with his step-father Lolo Soetoro, his sister Maya Soetoro and his mother Ann Dunham:

Obama boyhood photo with parents

Barack comes off as a happy, well adjusted young boy…

Obama childhood pics

Barack, 3rd from the left in the top row, from a 5th grade class picture taken at the Punahou School in Hawaii:

Obama childhood class picture

Posing with his maternal grandparents:

Obama with maternal grandparents

Like the rest of us who are old enough to remember, Barack wasn’t able to escape the wide lapels favored in the 70’s. Nice ‘fro, by the way!

Obama class portrait

All in all, there are several images of Barack Obama from his childhood and young adulthood. Although I know that the Obama campaign released some of these photographs, I was nevertheless struck by how happy he seemed in virtually all of them.

Next: McCain

Next on to John McCain. I ran exactly the same search, of course with McCain’s name:

Googling McCain childhood photos

Huh. What’s this? The first picture is a shot of McCain’s grandfather, Vice Admiral J.S. McCain Sr., and McCain’s father, Commander J.S. McCain Jr., taken at the end of World War II. Er, OK, that’s great, but how does this particular Google search come up with this image?? It gets weirder. The second image is a contemporary photo of McCain speaking on a cell phone. And the third looks like a standard photo from the campaign trail.

After my success searching for Obama childhood pics, this seems a bit odd. McCain has spent so much of his life in the public eye, you’d think at some point pictures of him as a youngster would have been made public.

Undeterred, I then searched for “John McCain childhood,” “John McCain the early years,” “John McCain class photos,” (one of the resulting thumbnails was a picture of the USS John S. McCain launching a missile – fascinating stuff, but hardly a “class photo.”) I was getting discouraged. This seemed preposterous. Surely there are childhood pictures of McCain on the internet! Finally, one last attempt… “John McCain boyhood photos,” and this is what I get:

Why are there no McCain childhood photos???

Holy crap! What is going on here? The earliest pictures I can find of him are from the Viet Nam war era, and include a picture of his capture and return from captivity. Really, I’m dumbfounded. There’s plenty of information about McCain out there, but in about 20 minutes of searching I couldn’t find a single childhood pic. Frustrated, I gave up and went to bed.

I ended up tossing and turning for hours, wondering why my search was fruitless. Did I use the wrong search terms? That makes utterly no sense – it worked just fine for Obama. Perhaps I should use “John McCain III” or “John McCain senator” plus the other search terms. I get up at 3AM and try this variation. It doesn’t work.

Finally, a plausible theory!

Finally at around 5AM I figure it out. Of course!! How stupid of me! I should have realized this a LONG time ago!!!

I jump (well, stumble) out of bed and get on my computer. Just two more quick Google searches and I’m sure I can prove out my theory. Here’s the first:

Hmmm… I see a reference to 1888 and another for the 1660’s. 1888 seems reasonable, but I’m not too sure about the 1600’s. I mean, I know McCain is old and all, but he couldn’t have been born in the 17th century, could he????

John McCain's birthdate

Aw hell, there goes that particular theory. I’d just assumed the camera hadn’t been invented until after McCain’s childhood. I need to get some sleep!

All seriousness aside, it was fun to see pictures from Obama’s childhood, and I wish some were readily available from McCain’s early years. If anyone has found any McCain childhood photos on the internet, let me know. I don’t know about you, but I’d pay money for a picture of a young McCain with an Afro.

-kc 6/22/08

P.S.: Full Disclosure: I’m a registered Republican. I have nothing to do with either campaign. I think McCain is a genuine hero. Too, I find Obama’s story very compelling, and after 8 years of Bush, a change would be welcome. But I am a bit concerned about Obama’s record. Finally, I’ve by no means made up my mind. This post started with a simple Google search because I was curious, and developed (pretty much) as described above.

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9 Comments on What is John McCain hiding?? Googling “childhood photos” – McCain vs. Obama smackdown!

  1. Amy says:

    Try googling young McCain. It comes up with a few that were on the CNN special about him.

    [Reply]

  2. oftherock says:

    Great article! I was laughing at the “invention of the camera” part.

    I called myself a Re-mocrat right after the DNC.

    But after the RNC – I am a full pledged republican now.

    Unfortunately, I am not an American. Hehehee

    [Reply]

  3. curious_too says:

    I got here from Google = “john s mccain iii childhood”

    Nice post! I especially like the part “when was the camera invented!”

    I am looking for a bio of John McCain’s childhood years. So far, I can find little more than his birthdate (8/29/1936) and birthplace (Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone). I also found this regarding his childhood, from http://www.biography.com/featu.....hn-mccain/:

    “McCain spent his childhood and adolescent years moving between naval bases in America and abroad. He attended Episcopal high School, a private preparatory boarding school in Alexandria, Virginia, graduating in 1954.”

    I want to know what makes him tick, why he seems so out of touch with the majority of Americans. I thought that maybe some photos of him or a bio might offer some clues. I’m still looking…

    [Reply]

  4. curious_too says:

    There’s a pictorial review of both McCain and Obama at

    http://www.boston.com/bigpictu.....l_can.html

    Here’s the caption on the only photo of McCain taken before he was at the Naval Academy.

    “This 1936 file photo, provided by the McCain Presidential Campaign, shows Republican presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the arms of his grandfather, John Sidney McCain, right, in the Panama Canal Zone. His father John Sidney McCain Jr. is at left. (AP Photo/McCain Presidential Campaign)”

    [Reply]

  5. Johnny Putt says:

    No: You’ll not find many photos of young John. Back when he was a kid
    there was an economic depression followed by WW-ll. Johnny’s dad and
    grandad were top dogs in the US Navy and young Johnny was kept away
    from regular pukes who did things like take snapshots.

    Talk to an old military man sometime. You’ll find that the families
    of high ranking officers wear their stars and eagles and are above
    most of us. Yup! Poor John was made a Naval Officer the day he left
    the womb.

    [Reply]

  6. Joe Erwin says:

    I am very impressed by the fact that Obama lived in multicultural Hawaii and in Indonesia. I am also impressed by his descriptions of visiting his Luo kin in Kenya. His descriptions in DREAMS FROM MY FATHER ring very true, and he has clearly expressed some of the ways he was influenced by his early life experiences.

    I wondered whether McCain also had experienced exposure to other cultures, and I was aware that he was born on a US base in Panama. I wondered if he lived abroad in other places where he had exposure to other cultures. All I could find was that he lived in various naval base sites in the US and “abroad.” But WHERE abroad? Did he have any real cross cultural exposure? Why is this information not READILY available?

    [Reply]

  7. Kevin says:

    Joe,

    Thanks for commenting. What started as a lighthearted post about the scarcity of McCain childhood photos has raised a few interesting questions. I imagine that McCain has had quite a bit of exposure to other cultures and ways of life, given his lengthy political career and military travels. Thx again.

    Kevin

    [Reply]

  8. Ann Enberg says:

    I always figured he probably didn’t have many childhood photos to share. Hell, my own grandmother (born the same year) has only a couple of photos of her when she was a child, and they’re not very good pics either. Taking childhood photos would have probably been easier in Barack’s generation.

    Ah well. McCain was fine as heck when he was older, though ;)

    [Reply]

  9. […] is riddled with unanswered questions about the most rudimentary aspects of his elementary years. One such inquiry turned humorous, when one¬†googler attempted to locate childhood photos of McCain and — […]

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