John McCain

John McCain's Cross to Bear

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The blogosphere is Huffin' and puffin' over whether John McCain's anecdote about a Vietnamese prison guard silently drawing a cross next to him in the dirt–a story he retold at this weekend's religion debate–is either A) ripped off from Alexander Solzhenitsyn, B) a case of co-opting a story that happened to some other prisoner, C) some weird Chuck Colson story as transmuted somehow from Jesse Helms to Mark Salter; or D) the truth, just fuzzed by memory as to whether the cross was drawn by a foot or a stick. Having been in diapers at the time, I cannot claim expertise on the matter.

However. Along the way, many have noticed that this moving and memorable incident was somehow nowhere to be found in McCain's otherwise exhaustive 12,000-word essay for U.S. News & World Report in May 1973 about his Vietnam experiences, most of which ended up in his 1999 memoir Faith of My Fathers. In fact, as I mention in what is reportedly "the best short biography of the man":

McCain's snap take on events, as captured in his U.S. News essay, contained plenty of analysis and depictions that went missing in his subsequent statements about Vietnam. Among the more trivial of these were his observations that "a lot" of his captors "were homosexual, although never toward us"; that "the Oriental, as you may know, likes to beat around the bush quite a bit"; and that "you never can fathom the 'gooks." More substantively, he gave hawkish testament to the "caliber" and "courage" of President Nixon in mining Hanoi Harbor and bombing Cambodia, acts he credited with ending the war. "He has a long background in dealing with these people. He knows how to use the carrot and the stick," he wrote. "We're stronger than the Communists, so they were willing to negotiate. Force is what they understand. And that's why it is difficult for me to understand now, when everybody knows bombing finally got a cease-fire agreement, why people are still criticizing his foreign policy."

The most interesting of the details McCain left out of all subsequent interviews and books was his anecdotal evidence lending support to the controversial domino theory-the notion that once Vietnam fell, the communists would sweep through the rest of southeast Asia. It was one of the main justifications for the war, and especially for staying in it long after success seemed unlikely. In the essay, McCain claimed that two separate Vietnamese generals in May 1968 told him following: "After we liberate South Vietnam we're going to liberate Cambodia. And after Cambodia we're going to Laos and after we liberate Laos we're going to liberate Thailand and after we liberate Thailand we're going to liberate Malaysia, and then Burma. We're going to liberate all east Asia." What was McCain's interpretation of these politically convenient quotes? "Some people's favorite game is to refute the 'domino theory,' but the North Vietnamese themselves never tried to refute it. They believe it….This is what Communism is all about-armed struggle to overthrow capitalist countries."

If any of these stories is a lie, I hope it's the ol' cross-in-the-dirt number. I wouldn't want to think that any American hero came home and announced to a deeply skeptical public a totally made-up story about how not one, but two different "generals" spelled out a Domino Theory that McCain himself would later recognize as being bogus.

UPDATE: Lefty blogger Steve Smith reminds us that John Kerry (remember him?) got raked over the coals over some Vietnam memory-discrepancy, and he (Smith) tells a poignant tale about his own childhood meeting with Robert Kennedy that never took place. Me, I'm lucky to remember much of any of my time overseas, and exactly none of it was spent being tortured.

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  1. This is the Ayersgate of the left. Nothing to see here. Move along.

  2. McCain’s Christian? Huh. I thought he worshiped Mithras, like all Roman soldiers.

  3. I don’t mean to burst your little bubble here, Matt, but if you had the slightest grasp of Christian history, vis-?-vis believers during times of religious persecution, you would learn that drawing the cross in the dirt and then sweeping it away, is a practice that goes back two thousand years. Solzhenitsyn’s recounting of his specific experience was not a one-time thing. Look it up.

  4. This is what Communism is all about-armed struggle to overthrow capitalist countries.

    Of course Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand had almost none of the protections in place to be considered capitalist, but then again neither did the Republic of Vietnam.

  5. Wait, why would a Communist Party member (where materialistic atheism is a membership requirement) be a practicing Christian?

    Particularly in a country (Vietnam) where Christians are a minority?

  6. McCain plagiarized the story from a Russian writer, there is no doubt about it at this point.

    The first time McCain mentions the cross story is in his 1999 book “Faith of My fathers”.

    In 2000 he gave a speech and told the story in the third person.

    He was a big fan of the Russian writer and actually co-wrote a book talking extensively about him. He also scolded another Senator prior to the time he wrote the book telling him he should read the specific book the Russian writer wrote that tells this story.

    This is not a coincidence and there can be no doubt about this now. The question becomes if McCain will be questioned about his story by the MSM as many Christians on the web are now calling for.

  7. Look it up.

    I suggest you do so yourself. The most common Christian symbol to be drawn in dirt as a signal was a *fish*, not a cross.

    Not being Christian, I can’t bring myself to care one way or another whether the story is heart-warming and true, or just a cute plagiarized anecdote. It might have something to do with not being the intended audience.

    On the other hand, if I were Christian and this was airy bullshit, I’d be pissed.

  8. I don’t mean to burst your little bubble here, Matt

    Huh?

    Wait, why would a Communist Party member (where materialistic atheism is a membership requirement) be a practicing Christian?

    That was part of the point of the story — that even here in commie Vietnam, two adversaries could share a common humanity in their mutual faith in Christ.

  9. McCain plagiarized the story from a Russian writer, there is no doubt about it at this point.

    I don’t think that’s true at all.

    In 2000 he gave a speech and told the story in the third person.

    When I’ve read him talking about it in the third person, there was no question but that it was a literary device meant to indicate himself.

    He was a big fan of the Russian writer and actually co-wrote a book talking extensively about him.

    He co-wrote a book that had one chapter out of many that discussed the writer.

  10. Matt Welch is talking about McCain? No way!

  11. Or E) the prison guard was making an ‘X’ for ‘none of the above’.

    Yawn.

  12. If only Fred Thompson had won the nomination!

  13. According to one of McCain’s fellow POWs, Orson Swindle (interesting name, that), McCain first told the cross in the dirt story to Swindle in 1971 when they met as prisoners in the Hanoi Hilton.

  14. Have been reading the blogs/comments etc. Some say that we should honor what the man had to say, as well as Swindle who has deep ties within the Republican party, simply because they were POW. I am afraid to inform them, if this is true, it should work both ways.

    Older veterans remember well how John McCain and John Kerry shut down all further investigation into remaining MIA/POW in order to open up trade with Vietnam. They remember full well how these families were treated and talked to by John McCain. They also remember how John McCain’s father-in-law immediately opened up a beer industry in Vietnam.

    If anyone wants to add honor as a reason to believe the cross story, I suggest they start with their research here:

    http://www.aiipowmia.com/testimony/

  15. See, Hillary would have reached out to the disaffected POW groups (like the poster above) and swiftboated McCain’s to everyone’s great entertainment by now.

  16. YOU’RE MISSING ONE

    “Some new wrinkles have come in from Hilzoy, who notes that in a 1995 book that details the three Christmases McCain spent with 5 other captives, titled The Nightingale’s Song, there’s no mention of McCain’s story.”

    http://news.aol.com/political-machine/2008/08/18/did-mccain-make-up-the-cross-in-the-dirt/

  17. Vietnam is about %8 Christian.They are probably more common than homosexuals, and McCain reportedly met a lot of those during his captivity.

  18. Yeah, but Communist Christians SIV? I guess its possible, but still. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

  19. Since McCain has collaboration from Swindle, I’d say this is a non-story.

    Ayers, though, seems like a real story to me. If McCain was pals with (and tried to “reform” the education system with) a Marxist revolutionary, wouldn’t that be a story?

  20. “I suggest you do so yourself. The most common Christian symbol to be drawn in dirt as a signal was a *fish*, not a cross.”

    There were many secret symbols used besides the fish.

  21. Ayers can’t be a story.

    Has the potential to make Obama look bad.

    Although, you’d think association with a genuine 1960s radical would add some street credibility to Obama, so why not embrace Ayers and his past fully?

  22. Townhall.com has info that says that one or several of Mccain’s fellow prisoners remember this story as Mccain tells it. This is a pure leftist fever bullshit non-story and it is a disgrace that magazines like Reason would treat people who blog on Daily Kos as some kind of responsible investigators.

  23. …and bombing Cambodia, acts he credited with ending the war.

    Whatever one might say about them, Operation Menu, etc. did nothing to end the war since they were ineffective in undermining the NV supply, etc. lines.

  24. Since McCain has collaboration from Swindle, I’d say this is a non-story.

    I don’t think that’s the word you wanted to use.

  25. Communist Christians?
    The world is full of them. Liberation Theology Marxists in Latin America,our own National Council of Churches….

  26. This election just keeps. Getting. Dumber.

  27. Yeah, but Communist Christians SIV? I guess its possible, but still. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

    Marxist Christians are oxymorons.

    Communist Christians are kickin it old school.

  28. Big difference between Kerry and McCain: Kerry said he committed war crimes.

  29. “Big difference between Kerry and McCain: Kerry said he committed war crimes.”

    Well, that and the fucking gaping disparity in their service. Kerry cut himself shaving … meanwhile, McCain spent years in a POW camp after being nearly killed when was shot out of the sky over North VietNam.

  30. wayne and all others…

    The fucking Navy does not hand out Silver Stars and all the lesser bling Kerry got for “cutting himself shaving”…

    I don’t like Kerry, but whiney fucking boo-boo…buck up. If it was good enough for Kerry, then McCain can take it too.

    Is P.O.W. McCain’s Giuliani= 9/11.

    I seen more excusing of McCain from his spokes people always dropping the “P.O.W.” card. It will get tiring. McCain, A P.O.W. would NEVER do that kind of thing, etc, etc…

  31. “Well, that and the fucking gaping disparity in their service.”

    Like the gaping disparity in the service between Kerry and Herr Bush and Cheney? Ouch. Gotta watch those general principles before you throw them out there, they might come back to bite your biased ass.

  32. “Big difference between Kerry and McCain: Kerry said he committed war crimes.”

    Yes, one of them came to question the militaristic bullshit they were told was their “duty” and just “part of war” and then tried to speak out against it.

  33. “Communist Christians?
    The world is full of them. Liberation Theology Marxists in Latin America,our own National Council of Churches….”

    Around these parts, where expressing support for the Post Office can get you branded a socialist and a marxists, it’s no surprise that the clergy are seen to be rife with commies…But yes, many Christians take all those passages about seeing to the poor, and the injustices of the wealthy, and the communistic sharing of the early Christians, and Jesus skewering the idea that some people “deserved” more because they had worked harder or better, all too seriously…I guess that makes them Marxist Communists or something…

  34. McCain was not in a position to commit war crimes.
    And another thing… Has anyone looked into exactly why his plane was hit when he was flying over N VN? I know it could have been just random, but I think somebody somewhere should have some backup documentation that he was not doing something foolhardy as a pilot. After all, it would have been “in character” for him.

  35. And another thing… Has anyone looked into exactly why his plane was hit when he was flying over N VN

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McCain

    boy you’re a lazy one

  36. You know, I remember hearing Rush Limbaugh (back when he hated McCain– I haven’t listened to Limbaugh in a decade so I don’t know what is opinion on McCain is now) surmise that if McCain ran for president, we’d hear all kinds of stories about McCain’s time in Vietnam that we’d never heard before.

    Could this be the beginning of that?

    but I think somebody somewhere should have some backup documentation that he was not doing something foolhardy as a pilot.

    David,

    Foolhardy acts that are successful get medals. It’s a fine line.

  37. David
    Are you saying aerial bombing cannot be a war crime? Or that the bombers cannot be guilty of such?

  38. Paul
    Ol’ Rush would surely see it as his duty to fanatically argue against anyone who now raised such issues…Part of why the man is such a worthless hunk of humanity.

  39. Me, I’m lucky to remember much of any of my time overseas, and exactly none of it was spent being tortured.

    Matt, perhaps that’s why.

    Ol’ Rush would surely see it as his duty

    MNG:

    You’re probably right. Small government conservative -> big government conservative with no sense of irony, I suspect.

  40. Paul
    I think it’s more like Rush knows his audience. They don’t want honest intellectual discussion, they want to hear the Democrats and liberals whom they hate be criticized. It’s like the old SNL Da Bears show, but with conservatives (or rather the GOP) as Da Bears.

  41. as much as i think kerry was a general douche, the whole “cut himself shaving” meme is pretty fucking gay.

    I mean, even if (and I dont know or care) the guy lied his ass off about whole reams of shit and turned out to be a whining jerk, the basic facts are that the dude had his ass shot at more often than 99% of Washington DC, aside from the crack dealers behind the capitol. The fact he’s got a born on the fourth of july (the tom cruise version) political narrative is one thing, but it doesnt entirely remove “once killed a guy and took away his rocket launcher” from his resume.

    Eight days later, on February 28, 1969, came the events for which Kerry was awarded his Silver Star. On this occasion, Kerry was in tactical command of his Swift boat and two others. Their mission included bringing a demolition team and dozens of South Vietnamese soldiers to destroy enemy sampans, structures and bunkers. Running into an ambush, Kerry “directed the boats to turn to the beach and charge the Viet Cong positions” and he “expertly directed” his boat’s fire and coordinated the deployment of the South Vietnamese troops, according to the original medal citation (signed by Admiral Zumwalt). Going a short distance farther, Kerry’s boat was the target of an RPG round; as the boat beached at the site, a VC with a rocket launcher jumped and ran from a spider hole. While the boat’s gunner opened fire, wounding the VC on the leg, and while the other boats approached and offered cover fire, Kerry jumped from the boat and chased the VC and killed him, capturing a loaded rocket launcher.[23][24][24]

    ….

    as a side note whats the consensus on people like “iraq veterans against the war”, etc? Are they baby killing commie appeasers too? I’ve never heard the defacto REAL AMERICAN response to these guys yet.

  42. Perhaps the answer for why the guard would make the sign of the cross is not to be found in the guard’s convictions, but in the fact that McCain was being tortured.

    It’s a documented interrogation technique to alternate threats and abuse (the stick) with rewards (the carrot). Usually the reward is something like food or maybe a cigarette. Why not the sight of a cross? It would mean nothing to the atheist guard, but might cause the prisoner to identify with his captors and, in theory, give up information.

  43. Maybe the prison guard read Solzhenitsyn?

    Just sayin’..

    -jcr

  44. Yes, there are communist Christian movements, no, not in Vietnam in the 1960s. The communist Vietnamese were anti-Christian as part of their general anti-French, anti-colonial ideology.

    That’s a great piece by Steve Smith. Stephen Ambrose talks about interviewing veterans, and how they are absolutely certain of events that can be proven to have never taken place, such as the Americans who described landing on Normandy beach on D-Day and fighting tanks. No Americans who landed on the beaches on D-Day fought tanks, but these guys would swear up and down. The conflated two events, both of which actually happened.

    But Smith is wrong about this: he claimed to be on the border on Christmas, 1968, listening to South Vietnamese shooting off rockets to celebrate the holiday, when his own diary placed him hundreds of miles away that day His diary placed him exactly where the story says, upriver in Cambodia, on Christmas Eve (not Chirstmas). He describes exactly the events in the diary he described in the Senate speech, and going back on base. Then immediately below those paragraphs is the paragraph the Swift Boat liars excerpted, when he describes a nice little Christmas scene at base. Then, in the next paragraph, he talks about how weird it was to do both of those things in the same day.

  45. I’d assume this story was perfectly innocent, except for one thing: McCain already got caught telling his “named the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers” story, which was in his book, but saying “Pittsburgh Steelers” to an audience in…wait for it…western Pennsylvania.

    So, we know he does this stuff about his POW stories.

  46. joe give it up

    Everything the Swiftboat Veterans claimed checks out as either fact or their individual opinion.
    They have never been “debunked” or proven liars or whatever it is your team claims. Maybe there is something in Kerry’s military records that could vindicate him?

    After the Rick Warren appearance are you Dems having serious “buyers remorse” yet?
    I guess we don’t have to worry about using the racist codeword “articulate” anymore, LOL.

  47. Jeffersonian | August 18, 2008, 6:57pm | #

    Townhall.com has info that says that one or several of Mccain’s fellow prisoners remember this story as Mccain tells it. This is a pure leftist fever bullshit non-story and it is a disgrace that magazines like Reason would treat people who blog on Daily Kos as some kind of responsible investigators.

    That’s a joke, right?

    You start off with “Townhall.com has info…” and three lines later, in the very next sentence, you write “it is a disgrace that magazines like Reason would treat people who blog on Daily Kos as some kind of responsible investigators.”

    Dry, man. That’s dry.

  48. Can we please not re-live 2004? Again, I’d like to forget 9/12/2001 through spring 2005.

  49. Me, I’m lucky to remember much of any of my time overseas, and exactly none of it was spent being tortured.

    Obviously your Prague experience was better than mine…

  50. Can we please not re-live 2004?

    We aren’t reliving 2004
    joe is having one of those false memory syndrome flashbacks about evil lying Swiftboat Veterans stealing Ohio’s electoral votes for Diebold or something.

  51. “joe is having one of those false memory syndrome flashbacks about evil lying Swiftboat Veterans stealing Ohio’s electoral votes for Diebold or something.”

    Once again, can we PLEASE not re-live 2004?

  52. David
    Are you saying aerial bombing cannot be a war crime?
    …….
    Mr. Nice Guy,
    For purposes of discussing the presidential election in the US, aerial bombing will not be a war crime.

  53. Who here likes Huey Lewis and the News?

    Just trying to switch to a different decade…

  54. Didn’t some of the Swiftboaters get awards based from the same report as Kerry’s award?

  55. McCain is not above borrowing from other sources as evidenced by his theft of Jackson Browne and John Mellencamp songs, and stealing his foreign policy speeches right off the pages of Wikipedia.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/08/jackson-browne.html

    http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/94652/did_mccain_lift_his_russia-georgia_speech_from_wikip

    edia/

    Regarding honor among POW, McCain lost his many years ago when he worked to shut down all further investigation of remaining MIA/POW in order to open up trade with Vietnam. His father-in-law immediately opened up a beer industry there.

    http://www.aiipowmia.com/testimony/

  56. Come on, If your really upset that Kerry was awarded a metal for his actions you should really be pissed of when someone gets the Silver Star for being shot by his own men.

  57. McCain is not above borrowing from other sources as evidenced by his theft of Jackson Browne and John Mellencamp songs

    Wow, his iPod must really suck.

  58. Nice post, Welch!

    Oh — have you asked the people from Laos about the Domino theory?

    What about Cambodia?

  59. McCain’s website released a response saying Swindle remembers the McCain cross story.

    One problem, Swindle is not telling the truth.

    Get this Politco ran a story about McCain’s cross story April the 4th 2008 and Swindle was specifically interviewed on the story.

    “I don’t recall us talking specifically about our faith,” says Orson Swindle, one of McCain’s closest friends and a fellow POW. “We talked about our friends, families, our resistance posture, and that our country didn’t seem to have the will to win.”

    Belief in a higher power helped them survive the routine torture and daily indignities, Swindle says.

    “It would help us endure what we had to endure. But we knew God wasn’t going to come down and wave a magic wand.”

    http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=1372E056-3048-5C12-00A06112B1C61A64

    McCain is going to have to do better than Swindle on this one.

  60. When I was on a mission in Bahgdad in ’03 a group of very young school girls came up to me and gave me a little picture of “christ” (typical long hair white guy) They were catholic students and saw my rosery hanging from our humvee mirror. Aperantly there are catholics in Iraq, including the pre-war vice president. I have the picture right here in my cigar box full of war crap. I have never told this story to anyone becuase it is not that intresting. A comie who was an underground christain is not that intresting either, unless your telling stories to a fundy preacher. I give McCain the benifit of the doubt. In 7 years of captivity I would be surprised if someone didn’t try and reach out to him like this.

  61. Deward Bowles says no doubt, that means no doubt. end of discussion.

  62. And why would the communists saying that was there goal make that goal any more realistic? That was Mao’s goal, too, and though he has literally the whole of China at his command, he couldn’t even produce a functioning nuclear weapon.

    It’s one thing to want to take over the world (in fact, it’s something that I’ll bet most human beings would desire to do if they could). It’s an entirely different matter to attempt it and come within anywhere near success.

  63. Lefty blogger Steve Smith reminds us that John Kerry (remember him?) got raked over the coals over some Vietnam memory-discrepancy

    McCain doesn’t start every sentence with “When I was in Vietnam…”

    Also, McCain is a real war hero who didn’t try to avoid combat, get himself sent home on a technicality, publicly throw his medals away, and stab his fellow troops in the back by saying they were all behaving like Jenjiss Khan.

  64. That was Mao’s goal, too, and though he has literally the whole of China at his command, he couldn’t even produce a functioning nuclear weapon.

    China conducted its 1st successful nuclear detonation in Oct 1964; first H-bomb in ’67. Mao was in charge until he died in ’76.

  65. “Yeah, but Communist Christians SIV? I guess its possible, but still. Talk about cognitive dissonance.”

    Vietnamese Christians getting by in the party by faking atheism is no stranger than American Republicans getting by in the party by faking Christianity.

  66. Maybe the cross in the sand was part of the planting of a posthypnotic suggestion.

    Quick! Someone draw a cross in the dirt in front of McCain, and see what happens!

  67. My father was imprisoned in the Hanoi Hilton. He was an outspoken agnostic. One day, a guard drew a question mark in the dirt with his foot. My father thought that this meant he would get better treatment, but the guard just shrugged his shoulders and rifle butted dad in the teeth. He kept his doubts about the afterlife to himself after that.

  68. “Like the gaping disparity in the service between Kerry and Herr Bush and Cheney? Ouch. Gotta watch those general principles before you throw them out there, they might come back to bite your biased ass.”

    cause you know, we were all talking about herr har har bush and cheney here. how does this stack up with McDonald’s service?

  69. McCain doesn’t start every sentence with “When I was in Vietnam…”

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!! Oh, no, of course not.

    John McCain was in Vietnam? Really? Gee, never heard that before.

    Oh — have you asked the people from Laos about the Domino theory?

    What about Cambodia? Seeing as how it was the NVA who overthrew the Communists in Cambodia, while there was no communist movement to speak of there before we bombed the place, the Domino Theory would seem to be pretty well refuted.

  70. Obama has long standing friendship with two unrepetant murders, Ayers and wife, and all the left cares about is whether someone drew a cross in the dirt 40 years ago. Further, John McCain defended Kerry in 2004.

    “But the 60-second television commercial, being aired in three battleground states in the presidential race, sparked a furious response Thursday from Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, who called the ad “dishonest and dishonorable” and urged the White House to condemn it.”

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/08/06/MNGUT83SS41.DTL

    Gee I wonder if Kerry will do the same here for a fellow veteran?

  71. Mark Salter: McCain Told Me the “Cross in the Dirt” Story [Byron York]

    I just got off the phone with Mark Salter, John McCain’s closest aide whom some in the blogosphere are suggesting made up, or embellished, or did something to create the “cross in the dirt” story. Salter told me that he absolutely did not do that. This is how it came about, according to Salter:

    Salter told me that when he was working with McCain on Faith of Our Fathers, “I would sit down with him about six or seven o’clock at night when the Senate was in session and interview him for a couple of hours over the course of a year.” Salter says McCain and his fellow POWs were guided by an ethic of “faith in God, faith in country, and faith in each other.” As part of the book research, Salter says, he said to McCain, “Give me personal experiences about all three categories. So he talked about a couple of Christmas services that they had, the event known as the ‘church riot,’ and the punishment cell. And he told me the ‘cross in the dirt’ story, which we used in the book and in speeches.”

    When I asked about questions of whether McCain used the story publicly before the book was published, Salter said, “McCain never told this story? In what? In a magazine piece. We did a book about his prison experience. It was 120,000 words. There are many, many stories in that book that I bet never appeared in U.S. News and World Report.”

    As for assertions that the “cross in the dirt” story was a “pivotal” experience in McCain’s time as a POW, Salter said, “That’s just plain bulls-t. His pivotal experience was his refusal of early release and the three or four days of torture he took for it, his confession, and his attempted suicide. That was his pivotal experience. He’s never represented [the “cross in the dirt” story] to be that.”

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/

    Maybe York is lying. Maybe the guy he is talking to is lying. Maybe all of McCain’s fellow POWs are going to line up and lie about this. Or maybe Andrew Sullivan is an insane wingnut and the whole thing is bullshit.

  72. …or maybe somebody who isn’t a Republican political activist will back up the story at some point?

  73. “…or maybe somebody who isn’t a Republican political activist will back up the story at some point?”

    And being an eyewitness means nothing. You clearly know better Joe. Come on Joe, I always try to believe you are a decent person and then you do crap like this. Why do you let politics bring out the worst in you so much?

  74. Fellow POW: I Remember McCain Telling the “Cross in the Dirt” Story [Byron York]

    You’ve probably seen that there are some out there in the blogosphere questioning the authenticity of John McCain’s “cross in the dirt” story, which McCain told Saturday night at the Saddleback Summit. But there doesn’t seem much mention of the fact that McCain had a lot of fellow POWs in Vietnam, and they can be asked for their recollections. So I called Orson Swindle, a fellow POW who is campaigning for McCain, to ask him about it.

    “I recall John telling that story when we first got together in 1971, when were talking about every conceivable thing that had ever happened to us when we were in prison” Swindle told me a few minutes ago. “Most of us had been kept apart or in small groups. Then, in 1970, they moved us into the big cell. And when we all got to see each other and talk to each other directly, instead of tapping through walls, we had 24 hours a day, seven days a week to talk to each other, and we shared stories. I vaguely recall that story being told, among other stories.”

    “I remember it from prison,” Swindle continued. “There were several stories similar to that in which guards – a very few, I might add – showed compassion to the prisoners. It was rare, and I never met one, but some of the guys did.”

    As for the people who are questioning McCain’s account, Swindle said, “That’s garbage. These people are desperate.”

    08/18 04:23 PM

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/

    Also interesting how brilliant McCain must be. He made up a story in 1973 because he knew the religous right was going to be a force in the 21st Century and it would someday help him run for the Presidency. Amazing.

  75. Being an eyewitness certainly doesn’t mean you are telling the truth.

    It is odd that all of these eyewitnesses, and everybody who heard them confirm this story, happen to be conservative journalists, work for conservative lobbying shops, or otherwise are part of the conservative DC establishment, no? Almost as odd as McCain having a nearly-identical experience as a widely-read author.

    I’m not going to suspend my critical reasoning skills because you call me names, John.

  76. Swindle’s the guy who runs the anti-tax lobby shop in DC, right?

  77. I think Kerry’s problem was that the first political narrative of his war service was that he and his buddies committed war crimes, the government was evil, blah, blah blah.

    Fine. But then you can’t turn around and reuse the story for the opposite narrative of an honorable and glorious service. Not to mention he pissed off a lot of veterans by accusing them of war crimes.

    And please, accusing someone of false memory with respect to drawing a cross in the ground has no where near the traction of Kerry’s Cambodia trip “seared in his memory.”

    Worst case, McCain hallucinated as a POW. BFD. At least his message is consistent.

    The Dems keep learning the wrong campaign lessons. *That* is funny.

    McCain has plenty of holes in his resume with respect to 1st amendment issues, and in general being a douchebag senator. Too bad the Dems are running their own douchebag senator. If they had nominated a Governor, this race would be over.

    Hell, Nancy Pelosi could probably crush McCain.

  78. But then you can’t turn around and reuse the story for the opposite narrative of an honorable and glorious service.

    I think you could – talk about the evolution of your views, and what you’re still proud of, and maybe even how your experience means you can see both sides and bring people together – but it would take a lot more political skill than John Kerry and Bob Shrum could muster.

  79. McCain discusses the cross story in his book Faith of my Fathers so he didn’t just make this up in front of Warren. Considering Obama can’t locate Cambodia on a map, I wouldn’t be questioning McCain’s foreign knowledge or leadership. Most of the people couldn’t have survived a day at the Hanoi Hilton and would have been the american yelling anti-US statements over the PA system at the Hilton that McCain addresses in his book.

  80. He ran an ad about it around Christmas 2007, too, remember? It was his response to Mike Huckabee’s “floating cross” ad.

    Considering Obama can’t locate Cambodia on a map, I wouldn’t be questioning McCain’s foreign knowledge or leadership. Are you high? He lived in Indonesia for years.

    Is Indonesia Shiite or Sunni?

  81. i saw the forum saturday night at the saddleback church and let me just say this-i feel sorry for barack hussein obama in the debates.this guy simply got his clock cleaned.even my son who is a democrat admitted this.obama’s answers were bumbling,stumbling,rhetorical,drawn out.one always got the impression that he was “straddling the fence” on issues,that he was afraid to take a firm stance.john mc cain on the other hand was direct,to the point,said without hesitation.the audience noticed also,he recieved roaring applause while obama’s was tepid at best. mc cain 08-now more than ever

  82. So based on no facts whatsoever, many of you are calling McCain a liar. His record has shown him to be anything but liar. So his story may similar to Solzhenitsyn’s but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Many of you are too ignorant to remember Vietnam was a former French Colony and yes there where many missionaries with many converts there. Joining the communist party at the time was a means to escape suspicion of disloyalty. If you would read about former Communist countries. Christians didn’t die out they just went underground.

  83. I watched the civil forum and John McCain’s definition of what faith means to him did not satisfy me as much as Obama’s. John McCain is to reluctant to give Jesus Christ credit for his salvation. To say “I am Saved and Forgiven” is what any “RELIGIOUS” person would say. He may have satisfied the residents of Saddleback church but not me.

  84. His record has shown him to be anything but liar.

    Oh, yes. Really.

  85. McCain is an American traitor who does not deserve to be American let alone President.His disgrace to his uniform when he confessed treason to his captures and made anti-American propaganda confession.He tried to suicide but was stopped.Now for the last however many years the American public have been served by a traitor who deserves nothing but contempt and disgust.

  86. As a Vietnam combat vet, I don’t feel it necessary to bring up Vietnam in response to questions about other subjects. I also don’t feel my service qualified me for a whole lot other than shooting people from a helicopter and feeling empathy for fellow vets. Even those who are professional POWs. Tone it down, McCain.

  87. obama’s answers were bumbling,stumbling,rhetorical,drawn out.one always got the impression that he was “straddling the fence” on issues,that he was afraid to take a firm stance.john mc cain on the other hand was direct,to the point,said without hesitation.the audience noticed also,he recieved roaring applause while obama’s was tepid at best.

    He was also in an evangelical church. Had they been at an ACLU forum, their positions would have been reversed.

    Still, far be it from me to stop anyone from pumping up McCain’s position in the expectations game for the real debates.

  88. I have been copyedited by Matt Welch! *bows* Yes, I meant “corroborated.”

  89. What’s is McCain going to do in the Whitehouse that he couldn’t do with a career in the Senate?

  90. I’m sorry guys, I’m 100% liberal (and gay), but this kind of comments make me sick. How many of you would have said “no” to freedom to protect your buddies, knowing that your answer could (and did!) mean torture, harsher beatings, famine, invalidity (when he returned from war) or even your life. I’m fully for exposing hypocritical republican (that includes McCain’s!) policies, but I think this is crossing the line.

  91. “So his story may similar to Solzhenitsyn’s”

    In fact, Solzhenitsyn never told the story.

  92. “As a Vietnam combat vet, I don’t feel it necessary to bring up Vietnam in response to questions about other subjects.”

    Did you do 7 tours? Give the guy a break, he spent a great deal of his life in Nam. I think that our war wasn’t and isn’t the defining moment my life. I always feel uncomfortable around the vets that do. But in McCain’s case he had about the worest experince you can come out of halfway whole. If it didn’t effect him profoundly I would wonder what the hell is wrong with him.

  93. Clarification – I mean “our war” as me and my friends (Iraq), not you and I.

  94. “This is the Ayersgate of the left. Nothing to see here. Move along”

    Yeah because a man not previously mentioning a POW experience is the exact same fucking thing as having a close association with an unrepentant terrorist.

  95. Why all this whining about McCain’s war record? According to Bush, Rumsfeld and McCain’s own definition of “torture” (sorry, “enhanced interrrogation” or whatever lies Republicans tells themselves to sleep at night), means that McCain wasn’t even tortured when he was attempting to commit war crimes in Indonesia. No policies, no presence, no pity: it’s a wonder this flip-flopping geriatric bozo can even remember how to breathe.

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