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There are two very good diaries on the Rec List discussing the possibility that John McCain's story regarding the Vietnamese guard was concocted.  At this point, in my view, there is evidence pointing toward that possibility, but the story could be true.  While John McCain's policies are wrong, that does not necessarily mean he's not telling the truth here.  We don't know.

What I wanted to do is recap what others have researched, giving links to their work, and discuss further research possibilities.  I think a fair reading of the evidence is that there is reason for further research.  It's such a strong charge to make that I believe we ethically need to be sure.  

After the fold, a recap.

  1.  John McCain told a story about a Vietnamese guard who made a sign in the cross in the dirt while he was a POW.
  1.  The story is very similar to a story about Alexander Solzhenitsyn from his times in the Soviet Gulags.

This story was actually excerpted from "The Gulag Archipelago" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, which was released in the US in 1973.

Cross in the Dirt" story stolen from Solzhenitsyn (updated X2), by rickrocket

  1.  Faith of my Fathers, John McCain's 1999 book uses the story (THIS APPEARS TO BE THE FIRST MENTION OF THE STORY.  NEEDS VERIFICATION.  WAS THIS STORY EVER MENTIONED BY MCCAIN PRIOR TO 1999)

After one difficult interrogation, I was left in the interrogation room for the night, tied in ropes. A gun guard, whom I had noticed before but had never spoken to, was working the night shift, 10:00 p.m. to 4 a.m. A short time after the interrogators had left me to ponder my bad attitude for the evening, this guard entered the room and silently, without looking at or smiling at me, loosened the ropes, and then he left me alone. A few minutes before his shift ended, he returned and tightened up the ropes...

One Christmas, a few months after the gun guard had inexplicably come to my assistance during my long night in the interrogation room, I was standing in the dirt courtyard when I saw him approach me. He walked up and stood silently next to me. Again, he didn't smile or look at me. He just stared at the ground in front of us. After a few moments had passed he rather nonchalantly used his sandaled foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We both stood wordlessly looking at the cross until, after a minute or two, he rubbed it out and walked away. I saw my good Samaritan often after the Christmas when we venerated the cross together. But he never said a word to me nor gave the slightest signal that he acknowledged my humanity. (Pages 227-228)

by Visualarts101

Same gun guard.

  1. (a)  McCain ran for President in 2000 and the book was published as part of his campaign effort.  He also had reason to want to appeal to Christian fundamentalists in the Republican primary.  Some motive, but quite far from being dispositive.  It's equally possible that he decided to tell a true story when it could help him.
  1.  In 1973, McCain writes

"a detailed 12,000 word report of his experiences that was published in US News and World Report.

Even though McCain goes into a lot of detail in that story and mentions religion a few times, there is no mention of the cross in the sand story, even though it would have fitted in well with the whole narrative."

No "cross in the sand" for McCain in 1973 [Updated] Story unlikely to be true , by Calouste

  1.  A guard is mentioned in the detailed 12,000 word report by John McCain of his experiences that was published in US News and World Report:

It was also in May, 1969, that they wanted me to write—as I remember—a letter to U. S. pilots who were flying over North Vietnam asking them not to do it. I was being forced to stand up continuously—sometimes they'd make you stand up or sit on a stool for a long period of time. I'd stood up for a couple of days, with a respite only because one of the guards—the only real human being that I ever met over there —let me lie down for a couple of hours while he was on watch the middle of one night.

No "cross in the sand" for McCain in 1973 [Updated] Story unlikely to be true , by Calouste

But no story of the cross is mentioned, even though it's the same gun guard.

  1.  Between the first incident of the gun guard unloosening McCain's ropes and the same guard's cross in the dirt, McCain had been transferred to another camp:

 

Even so, that was May 1969, so the next Christmas, according to John McCain above, this guard draws his cross in the sand, right? Except that:

In December of 1969 I was moved from "The Pentagon" [he means "The Plantation" camp] over to "Las Vegas." "Las Vegas" was a small area of Hoala Prison which was built by the French in 1945.

No "cross in the sand" for McCain in 1973 [Updated] Story unlikely to be true , by Calouste

  1.  From fro:

He went back to the "Hanoi Hilton" (1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:TomP
It wasn't just "any camp"!

http://en.wikipedia.org/...

It's very doubtful his guard would follow him back there... I'm sure.

Also, we know enough about that prison to be able to prove for sure whether there was even a "dirt courtyard" or not in 1969.

by Fro on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 02:31:04 PM PDT

[ Parent | Reply to This | RecommendHide ]

Fro

  1.  From a comment below by turing:

Mccain speaks in 1974 at a prayer breakfast with then-Governor Reagan, tells a stirring story about seeing words about Christ while a POW, but fails to mention the very relevant cross in the sand story:

* [new] Here's McCain's first draft of the story... (3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:maracuja, TomP, DEQ54
It's another very touching religious moment in McCain's captivity which he also did not mention in the 12,000 word 1973 recollection, but this one he had made up as early as 1974.  Exceprt:

Reagan was Governor of California in 1974, when he invited McCain to a prayer breakfast in Sacramento. McCain has never been a particularly reverent guy; but that morning he found himself telling the silent crowd about a discovery he made when he was thrown into solitary confinement in a 6-ft. by 9-ft. hole in the ground. On the wall was etched a testimony, scratched into the stone by a previous occupant: "I believe in God, the Father Almighty," read the jagged writing. The words sustained him, McCain told the crowd, through his 2 1/2-year solitude. When he finished, the audience, including the Governor, was sobbing. "I realized," he says now, "it wasn't really me that moved them. It was the Story that did it."

snip

http://www.answers.com/...

by Turing on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:07:44 PM PDT

The cross in the sand story would have been worth mentioning as well.  It fit perfectly.  This story also is not mentioned in the 1973 article by McCain.

  1.  Also, throwing stones has a diary in whichs/he identies a discrepency from the campaign ad last year and McCain's story:  

McCain lies, contradicts himself on Cross story. With evidence, by Throwing Stones

The version that he gives in his book "Character is Destiny," is different than the dramatization from a primary campaign commercial he released in 2007, where the guard uses a stick to draw a cross

It's either a sandal or a stick.  Not a lot by itself, but more data.

Great work by Calouste, rickrocket, and Visualarts101. (and fro, turing and throwing stone)

But we need to know when the story first was mentioned.

It's worth investigating more and keeping an open mind as evidence accumulates.  It may be nothing, or it may be something.  

Please tip and recommend Calouste, rickrocket, and Visualarts101.

This is just a recap so people can see what's there.  

Update: BonnieSchlitz provides a google timeline of "cross in the dirt"

And here's a nifty google timeline (11+ / 0-)
for "cross in the dirt." The first mention and possible origin of the legend is Pizarro's assassination in 1541. The first mention of it alongside McCain's name is in the March 1 issue of the Boston Globe recapping a speech McCain gave in Virginia Beach on Feb. 28, 2000. One year after he and Mark Salter published 'Faith of My Fathers.'

by BonnieSchlitz on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 05:04:40 PM PDT

Originally posted to TomP on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 02:54 PM PDT.

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  •  Give tips to (264+ / 0-)
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    Calouste, rickrocket, and Visualarts101.

    "The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels." Al Gore, 7/17/08

    by TomP on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 02:56:25 PM PDT

  •  This is what the netroots is all about (28+ / 0-)

    fact checking candidates on things that the MSN would never touch.  Keep it up Guys!

    I'm a slut. I give my blogging away for free. Strategy '08.

    by smash artist on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 02:58:05 PM PDT

  •  the doubt was good enough for me..... (8+ / 0-)

    I copied and pasted from the couple of diaries and sent it to a few right wingers that I know.  I am so sick of the shit they email me, so it felt good to zing them with a story about McCain.

    •  Here, send them this one too (9+ / 0-)

      Phillip Butler, POW.

      Here's an interesting tidbit on the 1969 period:

      1. Was he tortured for 5 years? No. He was subjected to torture and maltreatment during his first 2 years, from September of 1967 to September of 1969. After September of 1969 the Vietnamese stopped the torture and gave us increased food and rudimentary health care. Several hundred of us were captured much earlier. I got there April 20, 1965 so my bad treatment period lasted 4 1/2 years. President Ho Chi Minh died on September 9, 1969, and the new regime that replaced him and his policies was more pragmatic. They realized we were worth a lot as bargaining chips if we were alive. And they were right because eventually Americans gave up on the war and agreed to trade our POW's for their country. A damn good trade in my opinion! But my point here is that John allows the media to make him out to be THE hero POW, which he knows is absolutely not true, to further his political goals.

      A ship adrift in a sea of rhetoric & recycled clichés.

      by Terre on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 04:21:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting point too (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ilyana

        Wasn't that change right around when McCain had the opportunity to go home early?  He made a big deal of, gee if I'd only known the war was going on for another 3 years.  My point is, did he forego the chance to leave before his turn after the torture stopped, and he (especially he, with his famous name) had some assurance that the NVietnamese regarded their prisoners as valuable assets, who therefore should be kept alive?

        •  According to Wikipedia (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sharman

          here it appears his early release was offered in or around June, 1968.

          A ship adrift in a sea of rhetoric & recycled clichés.

          by Terre on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 06:28:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Are you suggesting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Scubaval

          that refusing to go home was easy because the torture had stopped after two years, and he was given "increased" food and "rudimentary" healthcare?  Because if you are, that's pretty close to the Republican argument that Guantanamo Bay is "Club Gitmo", where prisoners get three meals a day and great medical care in a tropical paradise.  

      •  I think that's revolting. (0+ / 0-)

        We're splitting hairs over who is the bigger hero POW?  John McCain will be a disaster as president.  He's willing to be a tool of the neocons and he's a warmonger.  But like it or not, he's a war hero.  Period.  He enlisted.  He was a POW for 5 1/2 years.  He was tortured.  He refused early release.  For that, he's owed our sympathies and our gratitude, even if he's done nothing else to earn them.

        Arguing that 2 years of torture is not as bad as 5 is incredibly petty.  

        •  I'm not going to argue with you (0+ / 0-)

          but I will say that I don't think you read the whole piece by Mr. Butler in context.

          The reason I quoted that part was due to the dates, and was my response to a previous comment.

          A ship adrift in a sea of rhetoric & recycled clichés.

          by Terre on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 07:49:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Fair enough (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Terre

            and truthfully I was pissed off over another comment.

            I recognize that McCain allows the legend to grow, so to speak, if it benefits him.  The trouble is that the facts are pretty damn impressive on their own.  I fear that arguing over 2 years vs. 5 years of torture, and whether there really was one "human" guard or two or zero is just arguing over details.  

            If we're going to paint McCain as a liar, I want it to be over something important.  Whether someone made a cross in the dirt 40 years ago doesn't feel terribly important to me.

            •  We pretty much agree then (0+ / 0-)

              but if one lies about one thing (no matter how trivial you may think it is) to prop up their own self-importance, even to the point of pandering, what's to say they won't have a problem doing the same exact thing in the future?

              I, for one, am tired of lies from politicians - even so-called trivial ones.

              A ship adrift in a sea of rhetoric & recycled clichés.

              by Terre on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 08:58:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the recap, Tom (13+ / 0-)

    I'm interested to see what more comes out of this, but I think it would serve us well to hold fire until there is more evidence.

    One failure after another and the final result is anarchy. -edscan

    by BoiseBlue on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:01:42 PM PDT

  •  Add that (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tikkun, trashablanca, TomP, DEQ54

    The Hoala prison is the infamous "Hanoi Hilton", and bold "the only real human being that I ever met over there" in #5 and you've got it.

  •  Nice recap (6+ / 0-)

    And way to keep that objective perspective.  I like how you don't necessarily assume there is a smoking gun here... even though there might be.  go where the evidence takes us.

  •  Dont forget Throwing Stones' diary (10+ / 0-)

    check it out.

    more support with evidence he should answer to.

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    McCain - Voted Worse Than Bush in 2000

    by Mr Magu on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:02:14 PM PDT

  •  This is great. (13+ / 0-)

    Let's keep cool heads about this. Circumstantially, this sounds bogus. But it could be true. I think one of the tests will be if McCain supplies any contemporaneous accounts to back up this story--people he told at he time or shortly after his release.

    If this were a Democrat doing this, the VRWNM would be in full echo mode. It would be treated like the biggest case of plagiarism since, well, I don't know. But it would be B-I-G!!!

    Keep up the good work, but don't overhype it. We don't know how it's going to turn out.

    "Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole. Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole."

    by homogenius on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:02:26 PM PDT

  •  He started it, opened the can of worms with his (19+ / 0-)

    "The One" ad, impugning Obama as having a Messiah complex.

    It's a karma thing, using religion in vanity purposes, and it will bite the baptist beer baron in the butt.

  •  Here's McCain's first draft of the story... (15+ / 0-)

    It's another very touching religious moment in McCain's captivity which he also did not mention in the 12,000 word 1973 recollection, but this one he had made up as early as 1974.  Exceprt:

    Reagan was Governor of California in 1974, when he invited McCain to a prayer breakfast in Sacramento. McCain has never been a particularly reverent guy; but that morning he found himself telling the silent crowd about a discovery he made when he was thrown into solitary confinement in a 6-ft. by 9-ft. hole in the ground. On the wall was etched a testimony, scratched into the stone by a previous occupant: "I believe in God, the Father Almighty," read the jagged writing. The words sustained him, McCain told the crowd, through his 2 1/2-year solitude. When he finished, the audience, including the Governor, was sobbing. "I realized," he says now, "it wasn't really me that moved them. It was the Story that did it."

    At least McCain's not lying about sex--he's lying about God.

    http://www.answers.com/...

  •  thx for the summary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ballerina X, TomP, Ronald Singleterry

    i was rather clueless.

  •  Can Anyone Do a Lexis Nexus Search? nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, Scubaval, Ronald Singleterry

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:15:55 PM PDT

  •  Also, note that as late as 1999 (10+ / 0-)

    McCain professed to "hate all gooks."  When pressed, he indicated that he meant only his Vietnamese captors.  He made no allowances for either the captor who did him the kindness he describes as early as 1972 nor the Christian he speaks of starting ca. 1999.  (He conflates the two thereafter.)

    Surely he needs to explain why, in the course of expressing his hatred of "gooks," he failed to except the Christian Samaritan from his loathing.

    I'll try to locate the sources of the "gook" incident.  I think it came up at least in the comments to the two great posts that began to explore this story.

    And kudos to TomP for the fine summary.

    "Your heart must have the courage for the changing of the guard" -- Bob Dylan

    by houndcat on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:16:26 PM PDT

    •  2000 (10+ / 0-)

      "I hate the gooks," McCain said yesterday in response to a question from reporters aboard his campaign bus. "I will hate them as long as I live."

      http://www.sfgate.com/...

      "Only the PTA? You know what the PTA stands for? Three things I respect and fear: Parents, Teachers, and Associations." [Rob Petrie]

      by eroded47095 on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:19:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hating his prison guards (10+ / 0-)

      A comment in the first diary above points us here.  Money quote #1:

      Several stories that ran last Friday quoted McCain as saying "I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live... I was referring to my prison guards and I will continue to refer to them in language that might offend."

      Although McCain focussed his wrath on his captors, stressing his respect for those who did him no harm, he never takes the opportunity to note that even one of his prison guards had behaved so kindly toward him.  Indeed, even as they apologized for unfairly tarring large groups with one brush, neither he nor his office bothered to note the kindness of the Samaritan.  First, McCain:

      "I will continue to condemn those who unfairly mistreated us," McCain said in a statement released Feb. 21. "But out of respect to a great number of people for whom I hold in very high regard, I will no longer use the term that has caused such discomfort... I apologize and renounce all language that is bigoted and offensive, which is contrary to all that I represent and believe."

      And his office:

      ýWe hope that people understand that the senator was referring very specifically to the men who beat and tortured him for five and a half years in a prisoner of war camp," McCain campaign spokesperson Dan Schnur said on Friday. "His language in no way represents his feelings toward the people in Vietnam or the Vietnamese American community."

      Surely recognizing the good deeds of the prison camp Samaritan would have gone a long way to reassure the public that McCain could differentiate between the good-hearted many and the few who did him such harm that they earned his eternal enmity and the name "gooks."  Either there was no such Samaritan or the good Senator's failure to cite the deeds of that brave man reflects somewhat poorly on the Senator's character and ability to articulate who the "real enemy" is.  It seems to me.

      "Your heart must have the courage for the changing of the guard" -- Bob Dylan

      by houndcat on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:34:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just to flesh out the references (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SarahLee, Blissing, TomP, OrdinaryGal, Scubaval

        The source for the quotes is AsianWeek.com from February 2000.

        The comment that flagged it and brought it to my attention is a little-noticed comment by diarist Zwoof in the rickrocket diary.

        "Your heart must have the courage for the changing of the guard" -- Bob Dylan

        by houndcat on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:47:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Good stuff (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        houndcat, TomP

        The timeline fits.  First reference to the cross in the sand is 1999, just before run for pres.  Early thereafter, he refers to guards as gooks, has to revisit and apologize for the statement, and in all that neglects to mention the fellow Xtian who shared that moment, tho as of lsat night's forum, that is a moment he'll never forget.

        Only this campaign season, as he is pandering as hard as he can for the religionists, does the cross story become such a seminal memory.

    •  I just want to know (0+ / 0-)

      how likely it would be to have a Communist Christrian North Vietnamese Prison Guard?

      •  Very plausible. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Blissing, TomP

        Catholicism was the national religion in Vietnam under the French, until 1954.

        The capital of Indo-China was Hanoi, home of the infamous Hanoi Hilton where this story purportedly took place.

        When I was in Vietnam in 2000, I could get by more easily on my French than my English. (And my French is lousy.) So the influence of the French is felt today.
        (Best coffee and baguettes in Asia, no question.)

        Vietnam also always permitted Catholicism and other religions, even under Communism. Not without state control of course, but that's another story. But it was allowed to continue.

        US Citizens can vote from anywhere in the world: http://www.votefromabroad.org

        by beijingbetty on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 10:13:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good summary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    C S McCrum, TomP

    There seems to be a lot of circumstantial evidence, but so far, nothing solid enough to really go on.

  •  McCain authored a story on Solzhenitsyn (13+ / 0-)

    The New York Sun article.

    Which you need because people will say, "I really doubt John McCain knows who Solz. is."

    "Only the PTA? You know what the PTA stands for? Three things I respect and fear: Parents, Teachers, and Associations." [Rob Petrie]

    by eroded47095 on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:17:57 PM PDT

    •  the piece you're talking about (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP

      is an excerpt from a book McCain "co-wrote" with Mark Salter...

         In 1964, he began to work diligently on The Gulag Archipelago, writing sixteen hours a day in two eight-hour shifts. He completed the second draft in two and a half months, from late 1966 to early 1967. In the spring of 1968 he wrote feverishly to finish and microfilm the work in anticipation of sending it abroad for publication. On June 2,1968, it was done. One week later a friend carried the microfilm rolled in a capsule to Paris. Five years were to pass before it was published.

         snip
         This excerpt is drawn from "Hard Call: The Art of Great Decisions," (Twelve), which Senator McCain coauthored with Mark Salter. It is reprinted with permission of the book's publisher.

      "Let us not be conservative with compassion. Be generous with compassion."

      by ilyana on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 10:04:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Who was McCain's spiritual advisor (5+ / 0-)

    between 1973 and 1999? Surely he would have told that person, if Christianity sustained him through his ordeal.

    If there is no such person, it casts doubt on the story indirectly by casting doubt on the sincerity of McCain's professions of religiosity.  Hate to go there, but this is American politics.

  •  where does this get us? (5+ / 0-)

    Yes, it questions his veracity, but makes us look petty in the process; while at the same time reminding other of his heroic stint as a POW.

    Want to do dirt? Would be better to find cases of adultery during his second marriage. A man with an extensive history as a womanizer, whose wife never moved to Washington with him; isn't going to spend his nights watching TV.

    fact does not require fiction for balance

    by mollyd on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:20:37 PM PDT

  •  So we've been following this story (4+ / 0-)

    all day, will it get beyond Kos and the Internet? There has been some SERIOUS research going on here. . .

    Whatever just happened means Obama is DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMED!

    by Muzikal203 on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:21:11 PM PDT

  •  Rec this up...it is a great summary of the (5+ / 0-)

    story to date...Leave it to Kossacks to put this together...Nice job.

  •  It's time to bring in the BIG GUN... (9+ / 0-)

    National Enquirer!!!!

    The repubs are very good at negative campaigns, but not so good at governing!!!

    by fhamme on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:26:26 PM PDT

  •  Really have to be careful. (12+ / 0-)

    Regardless of the validity of the charge, the people behind McCain would love to fight this battle on the basis of McCain's years as a POW.  Probably one of the reasons Obama did not jump to Clark's defense last month is that this is a lose/lose issue for him.  

    The American people will not tolerate any question of McCain's behavior in Vietnam.  This has been shown for years; even Rove couldn't sully it on behalf of Bush. http://www.miafacts.org/...

    There is no way we can win on this issue.  Especially if we are right and he is plagiarizing his story.

    •  You may be right there. (5+ / 0-)

      And there is no doubt McCain suffered as a POW and he chose to stay.  

      In the end, it's very hard to disprove.  

      "The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels." Al Gore, 7/17/08

      by TomP on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:30:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed, to a point (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      deben, wishingwell, cassidy3, TomP, Scubaval

      I agree that bringing this up will have the negative effect of focusing on McCain's time as a POW, which is his strong suit.

      But here's my question. Somehow Kerry's service got sullied, and I wonder if it is really impossible that McCain's turns out to have been embellished? It seems to me that if he is caught in too many contradictions about his time as a POW there might be a cumulative effect? Not to negate his war record but to neutralize its usefulness as a central campaign theme?

      I mean, it does sound an awful lot like the story from the Soviet Union, and the odds of a North Vietnamese guard being a Christian are not high.

      "Stare at the monster: remark/ How difficult it is to define just what/ Amounts to monstrosity in that/ Very ordinary appearance." - Ted Hughes

      by MarkC on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:37:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  as long as the DNC and Obama do not touch it (5+ / 0-)

        but the netroots and the media talk about it, I think it will not hurt Obama. But Obama does need to stay far away from that as well as the DNC.

        Make it look like some eager reporters did some digging.

        The one thing we know about the McCain campaign...is that they're very good at negative campaigns, they're not so good at governing- Barack Obama

        by wishingwell on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:47:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Swiftboat history could actually work (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MarkC, AmericanRiverCanyon, TomP

        in McCain's favor, as any question of his service would be considered Swiftboating.  Kind of like how the Republican's sullied the use of Impeachment.

        Personally I think he lifted it whole cloth from a story by Solzhenitsyn related in a daily inspirational book published in 1994 http://books.google.com/... as suggested by Mimikatz in this diary: http://www.dailykos.com/...

        The contradictions would have to be pretty obvious and pretty conclusive, as I think most Americans would forgive him for embellishing any anecdote about his time as a POW.

        I'm not saying the story shouldn't be pursued, only that it should be treated very carefully as it could so easily backfire.

        •  I agree, Susan. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          beijingbetty

          It needs to be treated carefully, and we should be fair to him.

          "The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels." Al Gore, 7/17/08

          by TomP on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 06:39:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  getting a look at his book's drafts (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TomP

          could shed some light on this also.  Was it included in the first draft or added later?  I haven't seen anyone mention this, and it might be an unexplorable avenue, but this is what came to my mind.

          Also if he wrote papers on Solzhenitsyn, is there any mention of this particular event in McCain's papers?  That might prove conflation of what he read (Solzhenitsyn) with what really did/did not happen.

          Republicans: Your history has earned you a new mantra: "War and waste." ~~ Marta Jorgensen (CA-24 in '08)

          I am an Edwards Democrat!

          by Scubaval on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 09:44:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know the percentage of the population, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, beijingbetty

        ..probably fairly low, but there were and are a significant number of Vietnamese Catholics. The priest who said my parent's funeral Masses in the Cedar Rapids area is a Vietnamese immigrant.

        Another OWW4O (thanks, Cyber Kat!)

        by Ahianne on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 06:36:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  At the very least (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      deben, TomP

      McCain has to explain why he never mentioned the kindness of the alleged Samaritan when he apologized for saying he "hates gooks" and always will.  Even in that apology, he omits any mention of the Samritan.

      Either the incident never happened or the Senator missed a great opportunity to demonstrate his ability to distinguish between his friends and those worthy of his hate.

      "Your heart must have the courage for the changing of the guard" -- Bob Dylan

      by houndcat on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:51:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's about the religionists (0+ / 0-)

      They've been lukewarm on him, his POW years alone ain't getting the job done for them.  So he had to make his POW years all Christian.

      Now maybe that crowd gets lied to on such a regular basis, it's no big deal to them.  But perhaps they would mind him making up Jesus stories to get their money and votes?

      •  however (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sharman, TomP

        it's interesting to see that apparently this particular story has been told a lot already, and a lot of the religious voters aren't that impressed by it.  After all, it basically says that the guard was bold and made the sign of the cross in a hostile place.  McCain just observed.

        From this Washington Times article in March

        Mr. McCain, a onetime prisoner of war in Hanoi, was asked about his personal faith. He responded, Mr. Viguerie said, by telling us about the North Vietnamese guard who signaled his sympathy for McCain by drawing a cross in the dirt with his toes, but McCain didn't tell us anything about his own faith."

        The saddest part, Mr. Viguerie said, was that neither Mr. McCain nor his campaign advisers "realized he fumbled the ball or why."

        although it's getting late, you still have plenty of time

        by maracuja on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 06:50:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TomP

          Still, doesn't that date from the period when the religionists were very much hating McCain, resenting his victory?

          Now they're being patiently herded back into the fold.  Notably in the forum, McCain did not actually talk about faith and Christ's teachings like Obama did.  His repertoire is limited to me me me POW POW POW tax cuts tax cuts...oh sorry, different speech.

          So my point remains, if he is still a bit of a hard sell for this crowd, and his religious creds are being burnished by weaving cross stories into his bio--since bio is all he does--maybe you can push that still tentative train of support off the tracks, by planting the seed that the religious stories were all concocted.  That they are being played.

          I admit, for a crowd that didn't blink an eye at the Abramoff-era email about duping the Christians into doing the lobbyists bidding, who knows what it will take?  But I'm willing to try

          •  yeah (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP

            we'll see.  At this point, I'm sure they feel like who else are they going to go with?  They're stuck with McCain, so they're hoping for the best.

            but yeah, I don't think they really trust him, so pushing on those seeds of doubt won't hurt Obama at all.

            although it's getting late, you still have plenty of time

            by maracuja on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 07:45:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  you need to include the 2000 speech transcripts (8+ / 0-)

    where McCain teels the story about anther person having the cross made for him in the yard, and there was no mention of it being Christmas Day then either.

    •  Do you have a link? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ilyana, OrdinaryGal

      Get me a link and I'll add it.

      "The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels." Al Gore, 7/17/08

      by TomP on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:31:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Here's one (7+ / 0-)

        2/28/2000

        But he recounts the story as being on Christmas Day.

        He never said a word to the grateful prisoner, but some months later on a Christmas morning as the prisoner stood alone in the prison courtyard, the same Good Samaritan walked up to him and stood next to him for a few moments. Then with his sandal, the guard drew a cross in the dirt. Both prisoner and guard stood wordlessly there for a minute or two venerating the cross until the guard rubbed it out and walked away.

        So, if he recounts this story once in February, 2000, I imagine he remained somewhat consistent, but then I wasn't really paying attention much back then.

        A ship adrift in a sea of rhetoric & recycled clichés.

        by Terre on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 04:52:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The fact that he shares a dellusion with a (3+ / 0-)

    guard is so much of what is wrong about all this.  So what?  We are electing a president not a sourcerer.

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:34:13 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the recap! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, Ronald Singleterry

    This helps.

    John McCain will end Roe v. Wade if he's president.

    by Phoenix Woman on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:38:30 PM PDT

  •  OT: CSPAN is replying Obama's 2004 DNC (4+ / 0-)

    speech right now, it just started

    Whatever just happened means Obama is DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMED!

    by Muzikal203 on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:42:04 PM PDT

  •  The media loves the juicy sex scandal (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, pvmuse, Ronald Singleterry

    and MCCain's Navy buddies said he was quite the ladies man and he got around. I cannot believe he has been faithful to Cindy all these years. And McCain has in the past admitted to cheating on his first wife and with more than just Cindy.

    The one thing we know about the McCain campaign...is that they're very good at negative campaigns, they're not so good at governing- Barack Obama

    by wishingwell on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:42:43 PM PDT

    •  I actually think this is something the media (0+ / 0-)

      has not covered for some strange reason yet McCain is running for President. But wow, they sure will dig up past affairs of decades ago for Democrats running for office. Remember the Jennifer Flowers/Clinton affair? That happenend years before Bill ran for President, right?

      We might find more evidence there that would turn off the Fundies than with the POW Stuff.

      Although if the media talks about and speculates if he made it up, it might cause people to research this more and at the very least, doubt McCain.

      The one thing we know about the McCain campaign...is that they're very good at negative campaigns, they're not so good at governing- Barack Obama

      by wishingwell on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:45:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think this would be a far more profitable line (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        vrexford

        of inquiry than any question involving his POW experience.

        His infidelities were so open that his first wife was aware of them and excused him because of his experiences as a POW.

        He should be nailed on them and on his response to the question last night about his greatest moral failures.  That would be the perfect hook to revisit this subject.  Doesn't he consider his adultery to be a moral failure?  And not just with his first wife.  I doubt he has been true to Cindy either.

    •  Are you talking about Vicki Iseman? (0+ / 0-)

      His girlfriend/lobbyist from the 2000 campaign? Most of her info was scrubbed back in February this year, but I'm sure she's not the only one. Enquiring minds want to know.

      My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me. Benjamin Disraeli

      by pvmuse on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 05:01:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can someone else verify the statement (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, deben, vrexford, Terre, TomP, Dirk Thrust

    made above that Warren was just on CNN and stated that in fact McCain wasn't in a sound proof area but arrived just before going on stage?  He was just trusting him not to hear the questions...IS THIS TRUE?  Anyone...did you see this?

    IF it is true, then then entire interview was a sham...set up and MCcain should be called out on this.

  •  i wrote up (5+ / 0-)

    a post at Hullabaloo that really is more about the media's inability to be objective about these matters.

    You guys are all over this so I'm not going to crosspost, but have a read.  We have to keep the pressure on the political media.

    D-Day, the newest blog on the internet (at the moment of its launch)

    by dday on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:49:35 PM PDT

  •  Another angle on the Solzhenitsyn story (8+ / 0-)

    http://www.worldmag.com/...

    Once, Solzhenitsyn decided to try to escape from prison, knowing he would almost certainly be shot down in the process. But a supernaturally compassionate prisoner he had never before seen pushed Solzhenitsyn to rethink his plan by using a stick to draw a cross in the dirt. He later said that prisoner was Christ Himself.

  •  Ho hum (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal, TomP, Susan from 29

    While us here at Kos and other left-wing blogs understand this is important, there's no chance in hell that the MSM picks this up - none. Maybe Keith will, but we all know that most of his audience is already on Obama's side.

    No way  does anyone in the mainstream (media or surrogates) attempt to challenge McCain's POW stories without concrete proof.

    It sucks, but that's the way it is.

  •  I am sure I'm in the minority (3+ / 0-)

    but I question the productivity of all of this.

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 03:58:53 PM PDT

    •  It may not be productive (4+ / 0-)

      at all.

      Not everything on dkos is.

      "The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels." Al Gore, 7/17/08

      by TomP on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 04:02:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Anybody from that forum yesterday (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DWG, beijingbetty

        .... checking out this site today is going to see all that junk on the wreck list and conclude once again that the netroots hates religion because the top focus is not how religion might be good for anybody but that their top rated Republican, in telling a story about faith, is thought to be lying about it.

        Lose.
        Lose.
        Lose.

        "Toads of Glory, slugs of joy... as he trotted down the path before a dragon ate him"-Alex Hall/ Stop McClintock

        by AmericanRiverCanyon on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 04:20:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  My point is that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP

        keeping McCain's POW story -- frankly, about all he has -- front and center doesn't accomplish much.  Also, while he might be lying and certainly is not above lying it is not something that can be proved.

        Thanks for your work.

        "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

        by muledriver on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 05:27:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The way it may be productive (3+ / 0-)

      is in the same vein as pointing out the change in his story where he gave the names of the Green Bay Packers to his captors instead of his squadron mates. Recently, he told the story in Pennsylvania, and changed it to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

      I wouldn't strike the "he's lying" chord, but rather "his memory is getting to the point where he can't recall things clearly - like whether it really happened, or he read it somewhere."

      •  Unfortunately (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP

        that type of memory error (if he misremembered some or all of Solzhenitsyn's story as his own) is actually quite common even in people with fully intact cognition. It involves "source amnesia" which is a normal phenomenon. Source amnesia explains, in part, why attempts to rebut Swiftboat-style lies often backfire: after some time, the person who hears the allegations and rebuttals won't have the allegations "tagged" as having come from the "bad side."

        I do like conducting hearings in an actual hearing room -- John Conyers

        by ebohlman on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 04:27:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  From what I've read, it's more common... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SarahLee, Ahianne, TomP

          in young children and the elderly.

          Check out this article:

          The prevalence for source amnesia has been well documented in elderly populations owing to the neurological deterioration of the frontal region, namely the medial diencephalic system and the frontal lobes, including special interest with the prefrontal cortex (see Figure 1 for diagram). However, most studies have indicated mild source amnesia in young children undergoing frontal lobe maturation, but only in direct comparison with newly fully developed patients (i.e., the eight year olds in Bullock's (1998) study). Thus, the organic deterioration of the frontal lobes in the process of normal aging has a greater influence on episodic memory than pre-mature lobes in young children.

          There are really two different issues you raise - one is that those who hear or read about John McCain and the story may remember it as "his" story whether it is proved to be genuine or proved otherwise. This is true and may mean the issue is not worth pursuing.

          The other issue is whether cognition can be said to be fully intact in someone who remembers a striking story as his own, if he only read it? I'd say this part may well be worth pursuing - it's a degree of confabulation that would be frightening in a president.

  •  This goes along with the Pittsburgh Steelers LIE (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, deben, vrexford, cassidy3, TomP

    Remember?  A month or so ago, McCain told a war story in Pennsylvania in which he told the PA reporters that he recited the names of the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line in response to an interrogation.

    Turns out that was a lie.  He had told the story before, but, before, he had said he recited the names of the Green Bay Packers offensive line.  He changed the story to pander to the Pennsylvania audience.  

    Looks like we might have a pattern and practice of outright lying on McCain's part.  

  •  "Gulag Archipeligo" was published in 1974 (5+ / 0-)

    The first English edition came out in the Spring of 1974. So, his prayer breakfast story in '74 could easily have been inspired by the book.

    McCain's story is a self serving one that cannot be proven false.

    The only other person who could confirm it is some anonymous Vietnamese guard. So, unless that guard comes forward, there is no way to verify what McCain said is true.

    And, the timing sure is curious to say the least.

    We already know McCain will lie about his POW experience in order to pander to a specific constituency. This sounds like another example.

  •  this is a bad idea (8+ / 0-)

    The masses in America won't be able to pay attention to the facts, and McCain will have some way of sounding honest and explaining this away (even though he's likely lying).  After the media (who are known to say things like "did you just insult John McCain's integrity?") process the story and the RNC version, there will be a mix of stories running that simply mention the words "Democrats swiftboating mccain" as the simple headline (this is how our MSM works, they will go with what they think people want to hear), and despite any facts, the american people will get the message that we're dishonoring soldiers and we're attacking McCain's service.

    DON'T PUSH THIS

  •  TomP - would you consider sending your (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    synopsis to Keith Olbermann?  He might want to question McCain's veracity....

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK

    by moose67 on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 04:08:06 PM PDT

  •  Somewhere, in a box, in the garage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    I have a copy of Gulag....does someone else have a copy handy - or is the internet search sufficient?

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK

    by moose67 on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 04:13:10 PM PDT

  •  Are we sure that's from "Gulag?" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    I have seen that anecdote relating to Solzhenitsyn in several places and there is not question he used it.

    But, was it from the Gulag Archipeligo, or some speech, interview or other writing? The questiion is an important one, because we now McCain used the "cross in the dirt" anecdote as early as 1974.

    The book was published in English that year.

  •  In the interest of fairness... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, deben, TomP
    ...don't know if anyone else has brought this up, but the incident is mentioned in McCain's book, "Character Is Destiny", published Oct 05: http://www.beliefnet.com/...

    Senator John McCain served as a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. In October of 1967, his plane was shot down by North Vietnamese forces, and McCain was captured. McCain spent 5 1/2 years as a POW at Hua Lo prison, where he was struck almost daily by a sadistic guard and sometimes subjected to torture. Yet, as he writes in his latest book, "Character Is Destiny," there were moments of heroism and humanity that he recalls fondly, among them an encounter with a compassionate prison guard one Christmas morning.

    There was one other occasion during my imprisonment that moved me greatly as evidence of God's transcending love. During the time I was held in solitary, I was caught, not for the first time, communicating with my dear friend in the cell next to mine. For my transgression, I was kept overnight in a punishment cell tied very tightly in ropes...

    On this particular night as I sat on the stool cursing my bad luck, and straining against the painfully tightened ropes, the door suddenly opened and a young gun guard I had occasionally seen wandering around the camp entered the room. He motioned to me to remain silent by placing his finger to his lips, and then, without smiling or even looking me in the eyes, proceeded to loosen the ropes that bound me. His kind action completed, he left without uttering a word to me. As dawn approached, he returned to tighten the ropes before he finished his watch and another guard might have discovered what he had done.

    In the months that followed, I occasionally saw my Good Samaritan when I was moved from one part of the prison to another. He never allowed himself a glance in my direction, much less spoke to me, until one Christmas morning, when I was briefly allowed out of my cell to stand alone in the outdoors and look up at the clear, blue sky. As I was looking at the heavens, I became aware of him as he walked near me and then, for a moment, stood very close to me. He did not speak or smile or look at me. He just stared at the ground in front of us, and then, very casually, he used his foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We both stood looking at his work for a minute until he rubbed it out and walked away.

    For just that moment I forgot all my hatred for my enemies, and all the hatred most of them felt for me. I forgot about the Jerk, and the interrogators who persecuted my friends and me. I forgot about the war, and the terrible things that war does to you. I was just one Christian venerating the cross with a fellow Christian on Christmas morning.

    I saw him again occasionally. But he never looked at me or attempted to speak to me. We never worshiped together again. But I have never forgotten him or the kindness he showed me as a testament to the faith we shared. That experience helped to form my lasting appreciation for my own religious faith, and it took the faith of an enemy to reveal it to me, the faith that unites and never divides, the faith that bridges unbridgeable divisions in humanity, the faith that we are all, sinners and saints alike, children of God. I became a better man, a stronger man, a more faithful man, who, for at least a moment, could love his enemies.


    "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

    by grannyhelen on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 04:22:25 PM PDT

    •  Another mention of the same story (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, deben, TomP
      in John McCain's Christmas Story, Dec 07:

      My Christmas Story - By Senator John McCain

      As a POW, my captors would tie my arms behind my back and then loop the rope around my neck and ankles so that my head was pulled down between my knees. I was often left like that throughout the night.

      One night, a guard came into my cell. He put his finger to his lips signalling for me to be quiet and then loosened my ropes to relieve my pain. The next morning, when his shift ended, the guard returned and retightened the ropes, never saying a word to me.

      A month or so later, on Christmas Day, I was standing in the dirt courtyard, when I saw that same guard approach me. He walked up and stood silently next to me, not looking or smiling at me.

      After a few moments had passed, he rather nonchalantly used his sandalled foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas, even in the darkness of a Vietnamese prison camp. After a minute or two, he rubbed it out and walked away.

      That guard was my Good Samaritan. I will never forget that man and I will never forget that moment. And I will never forget that, no matter where you are, no matter how difficult the circumstances, there will always be someone who will pick you up and carry you.

      link: http://www.lifesitenews.com/...

      "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

      by grannyhelen on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 04:31:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Another mention on NPR (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, Ahianne, TomP
      Oct 05 - probably as a result of his book tour:

      Years later, I saw an example of honor in the most surprising of places. As a scared American prisoner of war in Vietnam, I was tied in torture ropes by my tormentors and left alone in an empty room to suffer through the night. Later in the evening, a guard I had never spoken to entered the room and silently loosened the ropes to relieve my suffering. Just before morning, that same guard came back and re-tightened the ropes before his less humanitarian comrades returned. He never said a word to me. Some months later on a Christmas morning, as I stood alone in the prison courtyard, that same guard walked up to me and stood next to me for a few moments. Then with his sandal, the guard drew a cross in the dirt. We stood wordlessly there for a minute or two, venerating the cross, until the guard rubbed it out and walked away.

      I'm bringing these instances up so that we can really evaluate all the facts. I want to beat McCain as much as anyone else, but it needs to be fair.

      Let's not pull a Corsi ;-)

      "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

      by grannyhelen on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 04:34:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  On the stump in Feb 2000 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, TomP, Fozzie Bear
      from his campaign speech:

      Many years ago, a scared American prisoner of war in Vietnam was tied in torture robes by his tormenters and left alone in an empty room to suffer through the night. Later in the evening, a guard he had never spoken to entered the room and silently loosened the ropes to relieve his suffering. Just before morning, that same guard came back and re-tightened the ropes before his less humanitarian comrades returned.

      He never said a word to the grateful prisoner, but some months later on a Christmas morning as the prisoner stood alone in the prison courtyard, the same Good Samaritan walked up to him and stood next to him for a few moments. Then with his sandal, the guard drew a cross in the dirt. Both prisoner and guard stood wordlessly there for a minute or two venerating the cross until the guard rubbed it out and walked away.

      link: http://transcripts.cnn.com/...

      "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

      by grannyhelen on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 04:42:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And...his essay on "This I Believe" features (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP
      this same story, from Oct 05:

      Years later, I saw an example of honor in the most surprising of places. As a scared American prisoner of war in Vietnam, I was tied in torture ropes by my tormentors and left alone in an empty room to suffer through the night. Later in the evening, a guard I had never spoken to entered the room and silently loosened the ropes to relieve my suffering. Just before morning, that same guard came back and re-tightened the ropes before his less humanitarian comrades returned. He never said a word to me. Some months later on a Christmas morning, as I stood alone in the prison courtyard, that same guard walked up to me and stood next to me for a few moments. Then with his sandal, the guard drew a cross in the dirt. We stood wordlessly there for a minute or two, venerating the cross, until the guard rubbed it out and walked away.

      link: http://www.prx.org/...

      Here's the problem with taking this one on:

      1. It's really unprovable that this didn't happen. Short of finding said prison guard, or any other POWs who were there at the time, you can't prove that it isn't acutally true.

      2. McCain has talked about this repeatedly. There is audio of him saying this same story a number of years ago, and when he wasn't running for President.

      3. The difference between this and the Hillary "Bosnia" moment is that there is no physical videotape disproving the story. That is what sunk Hillary's creative retelling of this moment. There is not enough here to really disprove what McCain is saying...and, who knows, maybe the prison guard was a Solzhenitsyn fan as well ;-)

      By attacking this story without any firm evidence to disprove it, imo you'll only draw more interest and attention to the story which will ultimately benefit McCain and put him in a sympathetic light.

      So...my advice is to move on.

      "The revolution's just an ethical haircut away..." Billy Bragg

      by grannyhelen on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 05:00:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe so, but (0+ / 0-)

        the first time he spoke of it was in his 1999 book, more than 25 years after the events.

        In 1974, at the prayer breakfast, when this "unforgettable" experience was fresh in his mind, he did not mention it.

        Why is the story first told in 1999?

        Yes, it may be unprovable as false.  But there's nothing worng with researching it.

        The story appears to have been first told in his 1999 book.  It could well be real.  McCain just was private about this singular, unforgettable experience, until talking baout it served his politcial interest.  That's possible, maybe even probable.  

        I just recapped the data of which I was aware, all the work of others, and people cam look at it fairly.

        "The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels." Al Gore, 7/17/08

        by TomP on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 06:49:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Even if that corroborates his 1973 story (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP

      He still says in 1973 that this happened in May 1969, and that he was moved to another location in December 1969. So unless the guard moved as well, it's fairly unlikely that he would see him occasionally after Christmas.

      Vote for McCain to continue the fight against al-Qaeda, vote for Obama to finish it. </war&gt

      by Calouste on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 08:01:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is how blogs kick corporate media butt! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auditor, TomP

    Nobody from the Networks or the major newspapers would have bothered looking into this. Now, they'll be forced to as Andrew Sullivan, a blogging conduit to the MSM, has reported this.

    In three days, this will be headline news. Good work and hat's off to all who asked questions, and spent their Sunday afternoon and evening researching this.

    It's going to be fun when this is headline news.  

    I'm so bitter that people grimace when they see me walking down the street.

    by Junkyard Dem on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 04:22:26 PM PDT

  •  If he borrowed the incident (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, TurkeyCreek

    it should be publicized, but I wish we could stick to the policy differences being good or bad for America.

  •  Are evangelicals so willfully ignorant... (0+ / 0-)

    ...that they don't realize that McCain is just pandering to them for votes?  Is their capability for self-delusion so powerful that they are, again, being fooled back into their historic role as "useful idiots"  so carefully cultivated by the GOP over the last 30 years?

    No wonder Republicans are working so hard to base our public education system on memorizing, rather than thinking. More drones.

    McCain is 72 years old. And people that old don't change like that.  They may pretend to, but not in reality.

  •  even if mccain made this up... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, TurkeyCreek, beijingbetty

    ...i feel that this is a losing proposition to expose this, if only because the traditional media won't touch this with a 10 foot poll... nor will obama.

    all i need to know to vote against mccain (or any pro-war repub for that matter) is that he supported the iraq war throughout despite the preponderance of evidence showing that the war was waged under false pretense.

    that is the ultimate of war crimes in my opinion, a crime that mccain is and has been a willing accomplice.

  •  thanks for the followup (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deben, Ahianne, citizenx, cassidy3, TomP, Scubaval

    i have been out shopping all day, and I came back and I had >700 comments!  Good luck and good hunting to all pursuing this story.

    --rickrocket

  •  LexisNexis Search (6+ / 0-)

    I did a quick LexisNexis search to see when McCain first started telling this story and the earliest result I could find was February 29, 2000:

    USA TODAY
    February 29, 2000, Tuesday, FINAL EDITION
    McCain makes long-private issues public
    BYLINE: Jill Lawrence
    SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 8A

    Sen. John McCain closed out a sharp speech Monday with a touching anecdote about a prisoner, a guard and a cross scratched in the dirt. It was the most striking example of how a presidential candidate who once refused to talk about religion and dispensed with his POW ordeal with a quick joke is now using both to underscore his patriotic, character-oriented appeal.

    Presidential scholars call it a tactical masterstroke enabling the Arizona Republican to bludgeon "agents of intolerance" and at the same time reinforce his own character and spirituality. But they also note the contrast with McCain's reticence in previous campaigns.

    "Strategically, it's a smart move. Emotionally, I wonder: Is this public therapy or what?" says Joanne Ciulla, a professor of leadership and ethics at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

    McCain told his audience Monday in Virginia Beach about "a scared American prisoner of war in Vietnam" whose torment was eased one night by a guard who loosened his torture ropes.

    A few months later, on Christmas morning, the same guard stood beside him and used his sandal to draw a cross in the dirt. The two looked at it wordlessly, McCain recalled, "venerating the cross, until the guard rubbed it out and walked away."

    "That is my faith, the faith that unites and never divides, the faith that bridges unbridgeable gaps in humanity. That is my religious faith, and it is the faith I want my party to serve, and the faith I hold in my country. It is the faith I would die to defend," McCain said.

    I encourage those with access to double check my search. Perhaps they will find a different result.

    •  This is CRUCIAL (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, deben, cassidy3, Fozzie Bear

      Remember that Mark Salter is widely rumored to have ghost-written FLAG OF MY FATHERS.
      In other words, the story first appears in the book as written by salter but somehow McCain does not start telling well into the 00 presidential campaign>
      If it was real, one would think he would have told it earlier. But by then he knew Salter had put it in the book so he starts telling it.

    •  There should be video of the speech (0+ / 0-)
    •  Two possibilities. (0+ / 0-)
      1.  Story invented for book and campaign
      1.  McCain was very private about events as POW for along time.  Story true.  Mccain decides to use story in presidential campaign.

      I suppose that's the rpobalem with this.  The "facts" can fit either conclusion.

      I would have preferred someone findng the story before 1999.

      But eevn that is not really dispositive.  McCain writes book with Salter.  Opens up about time as POW.  Gets confortable with telling story.

      We may never really know, but I'm glad the rickrocket and Calouste and all the others did the research on this.

      "The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels." Al Gore, 7/17/08

      by TomP on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 06:54:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm sure John O'Neill and the SBVFT (0+ / 0-)

    will be all over this.

    "They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time. [...] That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary."-Handmaid's Tale

    by JLFinch on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 04:43:10 PM PDT

  •  Lesson from former Republican: (0+ / 0-)

    It doesn't matter whether he lifted the story or not.  What matters is how often the possibility that he did is repeated in the trad media, where it will get heard.  If the possibility is repeated enough, it will hurt him.

    Sad, but true.

    "We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America." Barack Obama

    by keeplaughing on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 04:54:01 PM PDT

  •  I'm so angry right now (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KFlake, beijingbetty

    I've never seen anything like what we saw yesterday. I didn't think anyone could make me more angry than Bush but he did it.

    How do you debate someone who doesn't believe any of his own answers? Who's just slinging bullshit?

  •  FINALLY- picked up by Freepworld !! (5+ / 0-)

    http://www.freerepublic.com/...

    #3 comment: Solsyznietsyn (sp, sorry) stole it from McCain, in 1974.

  •  Put this together with the lack of the cone (2+ / 0-)

    of silence and this is all a big lie.  From begining to end.  We were all duped.

  •  The story as told by Krusty and Solhenzinetsyn... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maracuja

    ... is well known and been used since early Christendom (fish in the sand early).  I think McCain is a liar. But that is my opinion. Whether this was lifted or actually happened is unprovable.

    McCain on bipartisanship: "I'll embarrass a Democrat any chance I get". --Phoenix Times

    by moondancing on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 05:19:46 PM PDT

    •  It's not like the cross... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TurkeyCreek

      ...isn't a symbol for millions of people around the world.  It's perfectly possible that something like this happened to two people or twenty or two thousand. Since no one can ever prove that this DIDN'T happen, it's a non-starter, and just makes anyone going after him too hard on this look petty.

      The question is: does all this do anything to help Obama win the election?  I don't think so.

      •  Nor do I. It solidifies his being a liar in my.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MadLibrarian

        ..mind though.

        McCain on bipartisanship: "I'll embarrass a Democrat any chance I get". --Phoenix Times

        by moondancing on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 06:03:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  McCain is a Blasphemer. (0+ / 0-)

        And that fact should at least be proffered forcefully to all the Xtians who may consider voting for this lying, callous, fake, blasphemeous, sack of shit coward.... John McCain.

        .
        .
        .
        We are all atheists about most of the gods that society has ever believed in - some of us just go one god further
        -- Richard Dawkin

        by deafmetal on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 07:40:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  your lucky i have lost TU by not posting (0+ / 0-)

          lately.  Xtians?  my God, this is funny, but not in a good way.

          •  What is wrong with calling Christ... (0+ / 0-)

            ...ians, Xtians?

            How is that any worse than calling non-believers 'godless'?

            I personally am an athiest, but many other 'non-believers' are agnostic, there is a difference you know.

            Anyhoo, I like XTIAN as a various christ believing descriptor because really, at the end of the day, the cross in it's death torture function really is one of the most fundamental symbols of the CHRISTIAN religion.

            I would hope you do not disagree...

            .
            .
            .
            We are all atheists about most of the gods that society has ever believed in - some of us just go one god further
            -- Richard Dawkin

            by deafmetal on Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 12:25:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Has Anyone Checked the Kerning on that Cross? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, jamfan

    This nicely summarizes what's wrong with American political life today. (Source)

    by GreenSooner on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 05:28:46 PM PDT

  •  McCain's reaction to the story (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, Theghostofkarlafayetucker

    I hope he "keeps his sense of humor"

  •  It might be worth noting...... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, Theghostofkarlafayetucker

    ....that McCain, on the Christmas campaign ad, states that a guard drew a cross (without mentioning how it was drawn), but the video clearly shows that the tool used to write the cross was a stick.

    This may have been how the the ad people chose to visually depict the story....but, McCain did approve the message.

  •  We can rule out that he's read Sozhenitsyn (0+ / 0-)

    But maybe Cindy read it in Lady's Home Journal

  •  I think we've been doubleCROSSED. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    political girl, Snud, TomP, notrouble
  •  Another thing that bugged me last night (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deafmetal, vets74, TomP

    Was the question to McLame about his "biggest moral failing" - to which he immediately replied something like "his first marriage".

    Not only did he answer it very quickly but it wasn't his moral failing; it was his marriage doing the failing!  "Those darn marriages are always getting in the way of boffing chicks, darn the luck... heh, heh, my friends!"

    And then they moved right along, not dwelling on that for more than a second.

    Now imagine if it had been the other way around and somehow (not that it could in this day and age) the Generic Democratic Candidate had done what McLame had done to his first wife... Would "Reverend Lovejoy" have moved on so quickly?

    F*** no.

    Any mention of how "moral" his quip about his wife and the "Miss Buffalo Chip" contest was?

    F*** no.

    I could go on but you get the drift...

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 06:15:48 PM PDT

    •  "Collapse of my first marriage...." (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Snud

      McCain went to a party in Hawaii.

      Got drunk with a then 24-year old party girl.

      Fucked her.

      Woke up to the fact that she had $100,000,000.

      Sold out his family ASAP -- wife Carol and their three children.

      A political career in Arizona, sure thing. Founded on betrayal.

      Dixie Chicks, Amy Winehouse, Imus, and Rev. Wright. Overcome our evil with good.

      by vets74 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 05:11:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Come On (0+ / 0-)

      if someone were to say to you, "what was your biggest athletic failure" and you were to say "the 1993 HS Baseball Championship game"  Instead of "my three strikeouts and 2 errors in the 1993 HS Baseball Championship game", I don't think anyone would say you weren't taking responsibility.  

      That seems like a minute picking over of a phrase.

      "Capitalism is the only system that can make freedom, individuality, and the pursuit of values possible in practice." - Ayn Rand

      by headhunt23 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 01:13:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Gee, it's interesting how McCain can seemingly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hannibal, TomP

    remember all kinds of details from 3 decades ago, yet he can't remember that his mother sued his ex-wife or that he and his ex-wife sued their property management company....strange how the mind works...This particular kind of memory disorder seems to present more commonly in people of a Republican persuasion, doesn't it (Ollie North, Reagan, Bush, Gonzalez, et.al.)

  •  playing with religious fire (7+ / 0-)

    since this matter really caught my interest today I did tons of searching on google. here are some thoughts:

    1. this story is very well known and especially well known to religuous people. the story is referenced on tons of sights.
    1. Solzhenitsyn thought the stranger was Christ.
    1. the sign of the cross was extremely important to Solzhenitsyn. to understand him is to know the sign of the cross.
    1. Mark Salter (McCain's brain) is a scholar of Solzhenitsyn and McCain pretends to be.

    thus to tell this story falsely in an evangelic church is blasphemy. and the evangelics should know this story.

    so this matter has the most danger from them. and I think evangelic pastors better get their heads straight on this. this is their problem.I suggest people start send this to pastors.

    Henry Dribble "if all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail." Phish/Wittgenstein

    by henry dribble on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 06:21:45 PM PDT

  •  John McCain and the POW church riot (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deafmetal, vets74, ballerina X, TomP

    That's the title of an articlein Friday's Chicago Tribune.

    No crosses in this story but:

    H

    ARRISBURG, Pa. — They called it the church riot.

    Sen. John McCain, who is known for his reticence and even discomfort invoking faith on the campaign trail, was once dubbed a "Hell's Angel" for rioting against his captors in Vietnam in order to hold Sunday church services.

    It is a story unknown by a public still getting to know McCain and searching for shared values with the candidates. This Saturday, McCain and Sen. Barack Obama will separately answer questions from evangelical leader Rick Warren at his Saddleback Church in Southern California.

    In an extended interview, McCain talked about how his faith was tested during his years as a prisoner of war from 1967 to 1973, said God must have had a plan for him to have kept him alive, and reminisced about his appointment as informal chaplain to his cellmates.

    It ends with:

    "I can't help but feel like that to some extent, and I'm not a fatalist," said McCain. "I think it's remarkable that I've been able to survive so much and to have the opportunity to do the right thing. I do think we make our own choices, but certainly I think I was meant to serve a cause greater than my self-interest.

    This is different than what he said in his book:

    Worth The Fighting For, p. 373, published September 2002:

     

    I didn't decide to run for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms I believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. In truth, I wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to be president.

  •  More circumstantial evidence (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deafmetal, DianeNYS, TomP

    in the dogs that did not bark.

    In the original versions of the story, the person comforted by the second person drawing the cross is in a unique situation.  (S was dissuaded from taking suicidal action, e.g.)  The Christlike comforter appears to him in a particular and unique hour of need.

    In McCain's case, there was nothing peculiar or special about his circumstances--just Xmas morning.  Therefore, if there was a Xtian, compassionate guard patrolling that camp, would not the guard have done the same for other prisoners?

    So, why haven't we heard similar stories from other POWs?

    Similarly, if there were a scripture quote on the wall of the cell where McCain was kept in solitary confinement, why don't we hear about that from other POWs?

  •  Isn't the reason for the Jesus Fish (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DianeNYS, TurkeyCreek, beijingbetty

    that half the population appears to have on their bumper is that the symbol of the fish was drawn in the dirt so one persecuted Christian could recognize another?

    Seems to be a pretty common occurence outside of our realm of western knowledge, and certainly not unique to Solzhenitsyn's book.  If it happened to him, it happened to countless others.

  •  It's probably a lie, but I agree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, beijingbetty

    with this diary that it is not a fruitful line of attack.

    On the other hand, Pluto here diaried about a group of Vietnam Vets that have a real - and I think  legitimate - set of grudges against McCain.  Only if the groundwork were prepared by these sorts of complaints by fellow POWs and other Vets getting some traction would anyone\, I think, be ready to listen to the possibility that McCain embellished or outright falsified large parts of his story of his time as a POW.

    I, for one, have no doubt that he has embellished the events enormously in order to build himself up.  Why wouldn't he?  I don't think anyone who knows anything about his history - personal, political, legislative - could possibly consider him an honorable man.  And if he is not an honorable man, why wouldn't he exploit his status as a POW for all it's worth . . . and more, if he can get away with it.

  •  As a fiction writer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fumie, TomP

    I've notice that sometimes I come to believe parts of a story that I totally made up. I've heard this from other people. I am not, however, running for the highest office in the land. What if John McCain't believes this really happened to him when in fact he read it in the Gulag book? Isn't this as big a problem as if he just made it up to appeal to the religious right? Pandering or delusion is equally damning in my book.

    Thanks for the great work, you guys. It's great to see the research arm of the netroots at work.

    Samuel Mockbee is my hero!

    by jmadlc55 on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 07:05:03 PM PDT

  •  it would be nice to know Mark Salters (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    recollections of the conversations they had writing the book.

    "Proud to proclaim: I am a Bleeding Heart Liberal"

    by sara seattle on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 07:31:57 PM PDT

    •  Do you think it would be unbiased? (0+ / 0-)

      Honestly?

      I don't.

      Money talks.

      And bullshit takes trips on comfortable aircraft owned by the candidate's wife to wherever Mr Salter cares to go.

      just sayin'

      McCain just flushed his own campaign by his appearance at the FBF on Aug 16th, 2008.

      by shpilk on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 08:22:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Peoples opinion changes over time (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        vets74, TomP

        a lot of people thought that McCain was an honest maverick - that could be trusted

        Now -- not so much....

        So it is always worth a try to ask him what he thinks ....

        (remember a lot of people are really sorry they voted for Bush - twice)

        "Proud to proclaim: I am a Bleeding Heart Liberal"

        by sara seattle on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 10:06:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  this is what gives this site a bad name (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hamletta, beijingbetty

    you are actually calling McCain a liar about something that can NOT be disproven.  If you read McCain's book, you would know he claimed a guard made a cross in the dirt to only him and quicly erased it.  How exactly are you going to disprove this?  Are you going to find all the Vietnamese guards?  What if some are dead?

    I can not believe someone thinks this is a politically smart move to try to disprove this story.  Sorry, this is not Kerry saying he was in Cambodia on Christmas, this is a "he said", and no one else has a say kind of thing.

    I understand the desire to get McSame, certainly by swiftboating, but this is only hurting us, not him.  I guarantee this will only be a Kos thing and will NEVER get in the campaign, including 501s.

    •  Oh Pleez (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kefauver, vets74, Fozzie Bear

      this isn't hurting us.  And Obama isn't advancing it. It isn't hurting him.

      But letting it go viral, that hurts McCain.  Without any blowback.

      And what else is 10 minute mail for if not for starting viral campaigns?

      Hand me down my walking cane, hand me down my hat...

      by Cheez Whiz on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 07:53:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Your overwrought concern is noted. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kefauver, vets74, smartdemmg

      Your guarantee?

      Null and void.

      From the Google News aggregator

      http://news.google.com/...

      Taegan Goddard

      http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/...

      Have a nice day.

      Don't get yerself all too concerned, now ya hear?

      McCain just flushed his own campaign by his appearance at the FBF on Aug 16th, 2008.

      by shpilk on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 08:20:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am not overwrought, although I appreciate the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hamletta, beijingbetty

        description :)  I often question our side when I think we are on the wrong course.  It is my opinion this is a waste of time at best, and yes, it could hurt us.  That will not happen tonight, but it could happen when our opponents get a hold of it.  It is all about framing.  

        I am just one guy giving my opinion.  I think this line of attack is a waste of time when we have such a target rich environment.  I could be wrong, it has happened before lol.

        •  I'm with TurkeyCreek on this one (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TurkeyCreek, beijingbetty

          Unless you have a McCain advisor on tape saying, "Hey, let's nick this story from Alexander Solzenytzn; it'll really rope in the Christians," ya got nothin'.

          God only knows what you tell yourself during and after an experience like what McCain went through. Unlike Wesley Clark's remarks, it really does sound like an attack on his service.

          Reagan's recollections of liberating Auschwitz were much fairer game, and they never really gained traction.

          I see this not only not gaining traction, but turning into a negative.

      •  Story continuing to spread. (0+ / 0-)

        Now beliefnet.com and Andrew Sullivan have both picked it up. If it is on the morning shows tomorrow, the cat will be out of box with no wasy to return it.

        Beliefnet.com

        •  right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          beijingbetty

          but we do not know if this will help us or hurt us.  I agreed it would get around.

          •  Please explain how this will hurt the Obama (0+ / 0-)

            campaign. It is unclear to me. Again, I use the example of the Swiftboaters. They took flak for lying but in the end negative campaignining is effective.

            In this case, Obama has nothing to do with it. The media picked up the story (as they often do from right wing blogs) and are posing a question. It is no different than Hillary Clinton's veracity being questioned on the Bosnia issue. Was it fair, not necessarily but she was pounded with it.

          •  Dailykos can stand for itself. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP

            The Obama campaign has nothing to do with this, at all.

            If it's found to be false, many diaries will be posted showing when, why, what, who and where it went wrong. WE all know this.

            The truth will out, no one will suppress it, if the story is found to be false or full of holes.

            That's all that matters, in the end.

            McCain just flushed his own campaign by his appearance at the FBF on Aug 16th, 2008.

            by shpilk on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 09:28:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  shpilk, we usually agree (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              beijingbetty

              I believe you are fair and a great poster.  But I do not agree with this statement, if somehow it is shown this was mentioned previously to his 1999 book, or the story gains no traction, or we even get blowback, I do NOT believe their will be many diaries admitting this fact.  They certainly will not be on the recco list.

              Again, I just think we are wasting our time, that is my only point here.  We could attack McCain on Iraq, we could go after him on taxes, we could even spend time going door to door for Obama, but we are the ones distracting ourselves here, imho.

    •  Are you simply naive or just overly concerned? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ilyana, cacamp

      From a purely tactical perspective this is quite effective. It goes to the heart of McCain's strength which is his identity as a POW and his honesty.

      The fact that it cannot be disproven makes it even more effective. He can only disprove it by demonstrating that he was quoted describing this story prior to 1973 before Solzhenitsyn's work was released in the US.

      It is unpleasant but quite effective as a political approach. That may make some uncomfortable but Obama has nothing to do with it. He can even condemn it as Bush eventually did with the Swiftboat attacks but it is still effective.

      •  you could be right (0+ / 0-)

        it was just my opinion on the relative importance.  Or to put it in another contemporary way, is the juice worth the squeeze?  I will lose no sleep over the issue, but I stand by my opinion.  

        cheers :)

      •  So you praise Swiftboat Tactics? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TurkeyCreek, beijingbetty

        Get ready for some internal strife, my friend.

        •  uh, what are you talking about? (0+ / 0-)

          I am saying many want to swiftboat McCain.  I understand the desire.  Remember, the Swifties called Kerry a liar.  If we can show McCain is a liar, it will help us, and the country, if true.  

          I personally think these types of things are quasi conspiracy theories and not where we should be focusing.  That is my opinion, and I have no problems being in the minority on this.

      •  Exactly! From a purely political perspective... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        smartdemmg

        ...this is a loser for McCain.  It is a softball that should be blasted out of the park for even the most mediocre, cut-throat political operative.

        Like it or not, the swiftboat BS worked against Kerry.  It made him answer questions about the legitimacy of the thing (or one of the things) that was supposed to be his strongest selling point.  It turned a strength into a perceived weakness (it at least took some of the bloom from that supposed strengths rose).

        I don't know that this will get traction, but I'm pretty sure the McSame campaign is shitting their pants right now trying to figure out how to stop it from doing so.  The worst part for him is that, unlike for Kerry, this will have been mostly self-inflicted.  

        •  this is my last comment in this thread (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          beijingbetty

          I have made my point and there is no reason to belabor it.  however, the Swifties were effective because they were decorated veterans, albeitly very partisan, that came out in public and called Kerry a liar.  

          If you go back to my original post, my problem with this issue is there was no one else their with McCain by the story he told.  Ok, maybe it is possible to find the guard, and hope like hell he agrees with our side, but it is extremely unlikely.  The problem with the argument is NOT that McCain might have made it up, but that it is virtually impossible to prove that he lied.  And bringing this into a viral attack puts US in the cross hairs if we do not have out i's dotted and t's crossed on the issue.

          •  Fine, then we disagree. (0+ / 0-)

            In MY Mind the verifiability of the story is not that relevant from a political perspective.  The swiftees were shown to be liars, but that didn't matter in the sense that it influenced the campaign narrative.  I simply think your point is wrong.  I don't see the problem you do in not being able to 100% not be able to verify the story, nor do I see the major downside for the Obama campaign if the media picks up on the story.  G'night

          •  even if they did find a guard (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP

            it would not be credible by the simple fact that he would be a North Vietnamese Communist.  Case in point, look at the North Vietnamese interrogator who claimed to the BBC last month that John McCain was not tortured.

            Even though I have a lot of reservations personally about his version of events, mostly based off other POWs who were there (I can't give one credibility and another not based on the same principle) and that he used his power to seal his and other POW debriefing reports, it just leaves questions unanswered that could all be cleared up in the DoN records.

            That said, I don't think we should follow this political strategy for reasons expressed here over and over.

            What we can and should do is go after the hypocrisy of his playing the great friend of veterans while voting against practically every VA legislation, when he bothered to show up, for the last 25 years.

            That is documented in Senate records and goes after the same end result; discrediting his veteran (as opposed to active POW service) huffing and puffing.

            It looks just like a Telefunken U47...you'll love it! - with leather...?

            by Jeffersonian Democrat on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:52:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  The Diarist Didn't Say He Was Lying (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP

      And it is very possible that McCain "plagiarized" this story.

      Beltway wisdom is an oxymoron.

      by kefauver on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 08:56:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  this site has a bad name? (0+ / 0-)

      I thought it had a good name? Do you have a link?

  •  McCain the Messiah (0+ / 0-)

    "The Conservatives definition of torture: Anything that provides death or false information from its captive." Me 2007

    by army193 on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 08:39:26 PM PDT

  •  TomP: Another bit to add to the pile. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cacamp, TomP

    Someone in rickrocket's diary (I wish I could track down who) mentioned this.

    Just a few weeks ago, John McCain wrote an Op-ed piece in the New York Sun about Solzhenitsyn.

    Obviously this isn't conclusive, but it shows that McCain was not only aware of the author, but had a particular, personal interest in him. It seems worthy of the question, Did he know Solzhenitsyn's story about a fellow inmate drawing a cross in the dirt? Doesn't it seem like an interesting coincidence?

    We've watched this war with our hearts in our throats, knowing what there is to lose. -Barbara Kingsolver, "The Poisonwood Bible"

    by Rachel in Vista on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 09:22:11 PM PDT

  •  I hope the story (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, TurkeyCreek

    gains traction. Right now I'm confused though. Was the cross story in S.'s Gulag book or one of his other writings?

    Is scratching a cross on a wall or in the dirt a common way for secret Christians to communicate with one another in dire circumstances?

    Did McCain tell this story to anyone prior to S.'s books/writings? (Of course, people could come forward and lie for him as in, "Yes, he told me this story back in '73.")

    I'm conflicted about this. If it could be proven that McCain lied, great. But if it can't be proven that he lied, it could garner him sympathy--as in, swiftboated. In which case it could backfire on us.

    You've got to vote for someone. It's a shame, but it's got to be done.--Whoopi Goldberg

    by Libertaria on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 10:06:51 PM PDT

  •  This is going no where... just drop it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    beijingbetty

    You are never going to find proof that McCain made up the cross in the dirt story, so give it up.  All the talk about it is just making us look bad in the MSM.

    There are 1001 bad things about McCain that we need to get out there.  Challenging his torture stories w/o proof is not one of them.

    •  you were with me until the challenging his (0+ / 0-)

      torture stories thing.  Of course there is proof.  There were many other Americans with him such as Everett Alvarez http://www.pownetwork.org/...

      And Admiral James Stockdale http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      the stories of these men and the torture were recounted in the well respected book, The Nightingale's Song http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      one minute you are making sense, and the next you go even further off the edge than the diarist.  I know it is late, but come the freak on!

      •  You misunderstood me (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TurkeyCreek

        Of course I know McCain was tortured etc... you misunderstood.

        I am saying that challenging McCain on his experiences of being tortured as a POW is a lose/lose for Obama and everyone on the left.

        Lets say that this never happened, that McCain made up the cross in the sand thing... who cares?  Does it mean anything different about McCain's time as a POW?  No not really.

        McCain recalled a touching story about his time as a POW, where he and a guard shared a religious bond or whatever.  This story may or may not be true, but the absolute WRONG avenue to take is to accuse him of lying w/o evidence.

        We should let this story die and attack him on his positions.

        •  i must have misunderstood you sir, i will take (0+ / 0-)

          your recent post at face value.  I totally agree with you.  But as we see, we are in the minority, the masses here smell blood but it is a false smell.  If anything, we are playing into the hands of the McCain team, we are wasting energy digging a well that can not possibly find water.  It is a waste of time and energy.

          I find it funny so many here mock faith, but their own faith that this is worthwile would make a Mormon blush.  This is stupid, down right stupid.  Thank God for Obama many of the commentators here are just armchair politicians and not on his payroll.

          yeah I am mad about this.  I am mad because dozens of Kossacks have shown here the stupidity of this line of attack, and the masses, because of their "faith" want to believe this is a gotcha so bad that they are wasting their time and hurting Obama.  Keep pushing this idiots, and we will see again the cries of bewilderment we say on the Kerry blog 4 years ago before it was shut down.

          I have an idea, attack the Rethugs on the failed economy, the war, and an encroaching Executive Branch.  I know most will not follow me, as we have seen on this blog, they hate so much they will see "proof" where it does not exist, and they would rather go down with hate and false issues than win by converting indies to Obama's positive message of change in Washington.

  •  I swear, people... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    glassbeadgame

    ...I love you all and the work that you're doing but you need to scrub the words/phrases "may be", "may have been", "allegedly", "unlikely", "possibly", and "very similar" from your personal lexicons.  The words/phrases are "is", "was", "certainly", "absolutely", and "exactly the same".  You may also want to throw in the words "ripped off", "stole", "stolen", "gave no attribution", "plagiarized", "did not experience", and "did not happen to him".

    You have my full permission to ask out loud what kind of asshole is he to pick a lie as the story to tell in front of the congregation when he apparently had plenty of other stories to tell.  You may also wonder in a booming voice what other stories from his time in the detention camps is he lying about?  And you may also muse to yourselves sotto voce out what kind of psychopath does it take to lie in church and shed a tear over it.

    There are your marching orders.  Sic' 'em.

  •  Confabulation Didn't Kill Reagan, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    And it won't hurt McCain...

    That was my main thought as I listened incredulously last night to that FBF fiasco.  McCain was indeed Reaganesque, spouting platitudes with pompous certitude and substituting quaint anecdotes for substantial arguments.

    It was a good performance, but it was as vapid as anything the Gypper ever fed the masses.

    And it could work, too.  

    That's the horror of it.

    I've already lost eight years of my life to the Great Lie, and I don't have another eight (or four, given McCain's rather advanced state of dotage and decrepitude -- not to mention my own) to spare.

    And neither does humanity.

  •  Love this thread... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    I hope the media picks this up...

    "It's better to realize you're a swan than to live life as a disgruntled duck."

    by Mumon on Sun Aug 17, 2008 at 10:56:20 PM PDT

  •  Some Confusion-Is this really an excerpt? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    Just so this cannot be refuted by McCain and since it has been picked up by so many sites, is there absolute certainty this is related in The Gulag Archipelago? It wouldn't be an exact quote since it's in the third person.

    I went looking because there was a comment on another site asking for the page # of the citation. I couldn't find it. Amazon has a version of the book that can be searched and it isn't in there.

    I did find the story that was quoted. It was written by Father Luke Veronis who was an American priest serving in Albania. His sermon was preached on the Sunday of the Cross, March 30, 1997, at St. George Church in Durres, Albania. For more information on the ministry of the Orthodox Church in Albania.

    That might explain why it doesn't appear in the McCain mythology until after that.

    I think this similarity was a great find and I just want to be sure there aren't any negative repercussions. We need to be absolutely certain about the details.

  •  Odd (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vets74, TomP

    This anecdote rings untrue to me.  But can it be proven to be untrue?  Probably not.  Which sucks according to my nasty side.

    But its pretty simple why I think this is a lie.

    This anecdote is political gold for McCain.  It doesnt get better than this for a candidate.  Seriously.  A story like this sells.

    What has McCain been consistently blasted over by the right wing of the party for his whole career?  His lack of religious right bona fides.  This story would be eaten up by the fundies of the right.  One mention of this and he would have them eating out of his hands forever.

    If this were true he would have trumpeted it from on high from minute one of his first campaign long ago in Arizona and repeated it ad nauseum ever after.  No politician would turn away such a great political gift.

    So either McCain is lying and only personalized someone elses anecdote into his own life in the last decade, or he bizarrely never mentioned this once before 1999 in his book.

    But whatever, this will be a non issue.

    Slightly aside, assume McCains anecdote is true.  What does this really say about McCain to the fundies who are predisposed to believe he is a non believer?  That he, now, over 30 years later, comes out with a wonderful christian story about when he was at his weakest and had a clear moment of faith, yet in between that moment of faith and now has done nothing to show his faith?  So for thirty years he took that sign of faith in the prison courtyard and ignored it until now?  Seems kind of odd.

  •  Reminds me of Hillary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vets74
  •  Here's something from a travel log (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elliott, TomP

    perhaps it has been posted on one of the other threads. If so I've missed it. Here it is for what it might be worth:

    ...Let’s move on to the American section, albeit small, but the exhibit might elicit a chuckle or two. Several photographs of captured soldiers are featured, with an emphasis placed on John McCain’s personal and military apparel that earned a separate glass case. What is impossible to swallow though is yet another photograph of American G.I.’s cooking chicken, looking as if they were guests of Emeril Lagasse.

    Another showcase delineates all the items given to the prisoners for their comfort and well being. Though some of the translated material leaves much to be desired, it wishes to convey that the North Vietnamese not only treated their prisoners humanely, but also with special leniency as they were released from Hoa Lo in February of 1973. This is a must-see.

    Source

    Some photos are also available for viewing here at this link including the one of the prisoners preparing chicken mentioned in the quote.

    There's also a photo of the prison but it's not possible to tell much about the courtyards from this view.

    "Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control people..." Henry Kissinger

    by truong son traveler on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 01:50:40 AM PDT

  •  Tom P summing it all up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vets74, TomP

    Pragmatically as usual. Great work again.

    "The truth may be puzzling. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true." -Carl Sagan

    by astronautagogo on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:15:48 AM PDT

  •  Trapper defends McCain's story (July 2008) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP

    While digging into this story a little more, I stumbled across this Jake Tapper from July 8, 2008. He, apparently, swallowed the story whole. He even offers an explanation for why McCain used to tell it in the third person.  

    I'm ready for some CHANGE! How about you?

    by bradams on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 03:20:23 AM PDT

  •  Reminds me of the Antichrist. (0+ / 0-)

    "A mouth speaking great things...."

    Use of the Antichrist concept was central to McCain's own ad titled "The One." Obama's simple popularity was recast as Satanic influence, including direct association with moral evil.

    Images of Fallen Women -- from the very core of this fundie theology.

    Indeed, lying about Christ is of the would-be Antichrist. Clearly, from the namesake John the Apostle:

    "You have heard that Antichrist cometh" (1 John 2:18); "This is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh" (1 John 4:3). Though the Apostle speaks of several Antichrists, he distinguishes between the many and the one principal agent: "Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many Antichrists" (1 John 2:18). Again, the writer outlines the character and work of Antichrist: "They went out from us, but they were not of us" (1 John 2;19); "Who is a liar, but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is Antichrist, who denies the Father, and the Son" (1 John 2:22); "And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God; and this is Antichrist" (1 John 4:3); "For many seducers are gone out into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh: this is a seducer and an Antichrist" (2 John 7). Also the time, the Apostle places the coming of Antichrist at "the last hour" (1 John 2:18); again he maintains that "he is now already in the world" (1 John 4:3).

    Pay attention to Christianity. There is wisdom in the Holy Bible.

    And this man, McCain, founded his political career entirely on betrayal.

    He dumped his crippled wife Carol and their three children -- in 1980 after eight months of clandestine fornication. He got political backing from a $100,000,000 beer and liquor fortune. He got a 25-year old party girl, Cindy Lou "Daisy Dukes" Hensley. He has received his largest contributions year after year from liquor interests.

    Here is Carol. Familiar with suffering....
    -
    Carol McCain today

    Dixie Chicks, Amy Winehouse, Imus, and Rev. Wright. Overcome our evil with good.

    by vets74 on Mon Aug 18, 2008 at 04:57:07 AM PDT

  •  How convenient (0+ / 0-)

    Even if that guard is alive in Vietnam now, he would not be able to confirm this story for fear of retaliation from his own government.

  •  I should have said (0+ / 0-)

    he could not deny it and have any credibility for the same reason.

  •  parts of this diary sound like (0+ / 0-)
    An attempt by a Paid mcCain blogger to soften the growing damage to McCain's reputation and POW lynchpin.
  •  factcheck.org checks "cross in the sand" story (0+ / 0-)

    This "Ask FactCheck" item contains new information about a current controversy raging on the Internet.

    Q: Did McCain lift his cross-in-the-sand anecdote from Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago"?
    John McCain told a story about a Vietnamese guard who made a sign of the cross in the dirt while he was a POW.

    The story is very similar to a story about Alexander Solzhenitsyn from his times in the Soviet Gulags.

    Did John McCain steal this story?  
    A: There's no such story in "Archipelago." There is a somewhat similar story attributed to Solzhenitsyn, which we've traced back to Rev. Billy Graham by way of former Richard Nixon aide Charles Colson. But that's not proof that McCain's story isn't true.
    The stories aren't exactly the same. In McCain's telling, a Vietnamese prison guard shows him kindness one night by secretly loosening his cruelly tight bonds, then draws a cross in the sand with his foot to indicate that he is a fellow Christian. In the various versions attributed to Solzhenitsyn, the cross is drawn by a fellow prisoner, not a guard, and with a stick, not his foot. The story certainly does not appear in the place that some of McCain's detractors are suggesting that he got it.

    The Controversy

    The Internet controversy was touched off when McCain repeated his often-told story during an August 16 question and answer session at Saddleback Church in California:

    McCain: ...because it was Christmas day, we were allowed to stand outside of our cell for a few minutes. In those days we were not allowed to see or communicate with each other, although we certainly did. And I was standing outside, for my few minutes outside at my cell. He came walking up. He stood there for a minute, and with his sandal on the dirt in the courtyard, he drew a cross and he stood there. And a minute later, he rubbed it out, and walked away. For a minute there, there was just two Christians worshipping together. I'll never forget that moment.

    Within hours the Internet was littered with blog entries hinting at the possibility Sen. McCain had lifted the anecdote from Nobel Prize-winning Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s "The Gulag Archipelago" and lied about it.

    Solzhenitsyn's "Archipelago" was originally published in 1973 — the same year McCain returned from Vietnam. But "The Gulag Archipelago" contains no such story. We searched all three volumes of the work through an online version for several key words, and we found nothing remotely similar. It's just not there.

    Just to be safe, we also checked the author's novel, "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch." It's not there, either.

    Tracing a Story

    Many earlier blog entires don't quote Solzhenitsyn's "Archipelago" directly. Instead they quote a story told about Solzhenitsyn in a 1997 sermon from Fr. Luke Veronis, a Greek Orthodox priest:

    Veronis: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian author who spent many years in the gulag of Siberia, bears witness to the power of the cross. ... Laying his shovel on the ground, he slowly walked to a crude work-site bench and sat down. ... Slowly, he lifted his eyes and saw a skinny, old prisoner squat down next to him. The man said nothing. Instead, he drew a stick through the ground at Solzhenitsyn's feet, tracing the sign of the Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work. As Solzhenitsyn stared at the sign of the Cross, his entire perspective changed. He knew that he was only one man against the all-powerful Soviet empire. ... Solzhenitsyn slowly got up, picked up his shovel, and went back to work. Nothing outward had changed, but inside, he received hope.

    So we asked Veronis where he had acquired the anecdote. At first he said he had gotten it from Solzhenitsyn’s "Archipelago," but later corrected himself. "I know I’ve read that story before. But I thought I had read it from Solzhenitsyn directly." Eventually, Veronis us, "I don’t know where I got it from."

    We also noticed that the anecdote attributed to Solzhenitsyn was repeated by former Nixon aide and now-famous evangelist Charles W. Colson in his 1983 book "Loving God." In the acknowledgments of the 1996 edition, Colson wrote:

    Colson ("Loving God," pg. 254): The story about Alexander Solzhenitsyn and the old man who made the sign of the cross was first told by Solzhenitsyn to a small group of Christian leaders and later recounted by Billy Graham in his New Year’s telecast, 1977 [sic] It has been retold subsequently, most publicly by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC).

    The Billy Graham Center Archives show that in 1974 Graham met with Solzhenitsyn in Stockholm, where he might have told Graham the anecdote. But when we spoke with Billy Graham spokeswoman Melany Ethridge, she said the archives contain no records of what was said during the private meeting in 1974.

    Contrary to Colson's account, neither Graham's 1976 nor 1977 New Years' telecasts made any mention of Solzhenitsyn. But Ethridge provided FactCheck.org with documents that show Graham did tell the anecdote on September 3, 1975, and August 18, 1976. The 1975 telling was broadcast nationwide on November 24 of that year:

    Graham (Texas Tech, University, Sept. 3, 1975): Alexander Solzhenitsyn was over here recently, remember? And he toured around the country. And he told a little story that everybody ought to hear, if you didn’t hear it. He said when he was in that prison for so long there came one time, and one time only, when he thought of suicide. He said he was not allowed ever to speak to his cell-mate. For weeks on end, they could not speak to each other. And he said that his cell-mate saw him growing weaker and weaker and more depressed and more discouraged all the time. And he said his cell-mate took a little stick and in the sand, or the dirt, in the cell, he drew a picture of the Cross. And Solzhenitsyn said, "At that moment, the whole purpose of my existence dawned upon me. Because," he said, "I realized that Jesus Christ shed His blood for me on that Cross." And he said, "That gave me the courage to live through my imprisonment.

    The story changed slightly when Graham told it again in 1976:

    Graham (San Diego Stadium, Aug. 18, 1976): Remember that story that Solzhenitsyn told when he was over here in this country some time ago? And he said that he was in the Russian prison camp. And he’d been there for several years. And he was very discouraged. And he said he thought of suicide only once. And he said that at one time a man came and sat by him. He didn’t know who he was—never had said hi before. And he said he didn’t say anything. They weren’t allowed to say anything to each other. He said he took a stick and he drew a picture of the Cross in the sand. And Solzhenitsyn looked at that Cross and then the man took his hand and wiped it out so the prison guards wouldn’t see it. And Solzhenitsyn said, "At that moment I knew that that was the most important thing in all the world; and that God loved me And he said, "It gave me the courage to go on an face the future." "Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid."

    There is no way to ask Solzhenitsyn about this. The author died Aug. 2 in Moscow at the age of 89. So we spoke with Columbia University professor Michael Scammell, author of "Solzhenitsyn, A Biography" and editor of "The Solzhenitsyn Files," who told us:

    Scammell: I've been consulting with other Solzhenitsyn experts on the Colson story and nobody seems to know if it happened or not. Certainly no one I know can confirm it.

    Did McCain Plagiarize?

    As dubious and garbled as the various Solzhenitsyn versions might be, it is clear enough that the story was being publicly told as early as 1975, shortly after McCain's return to the U.S. from captivity. It is theoretically possible for McCain to have heard it or read it, perhaps in Colson’s book or during Graham's telecasts, before using it himself. The earliest mention that we have found of McCain's story of the Vietnamese guard appears in his book "Faith of My Fathers," published in 1999:
    McCain ("Faith of My Fathers" pg. 228): On Christmas Day, we were always treated to a better-than-usual dinner. We were also allowed to stand outside our cells for five minutes to exercise or to just look at the trees in the sky. One Christmas, a few months after the gun guard had inexplicably come to my assistance during my long night in the interrogation room, I was standing in the dirt courtyard when I saw him approach me. He walked up and stood silently next to me. Again he didn’t smile or look at me. He just stared at the ground in front of us. After a few moments had passed he rather nonchalantly used his sandaled foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We both stood wordlessly looking at the cross until, after a minute or two, he rubbed it out and walked away. I saw my good Samaritan often after the Christmas when we venerated the cross together. But he never said a word to me nor gave the slightest signal that he acknowledged my humanity.

    But we see no evidence that McCain pilfered the quote. The two stories are markedly different, for one thing. In one version, it's a fellow prisoner drawing with a stick; in the other, it's a kindly guard drawing a cross with his foot. Furthermore, in Graham's version, Solzhenitsyn was contemplating suicide at the time. McCain says in his book that he did consider suicide while a prisoner, but that was on an entirely different occasion when he had been beaten for days and was about to sign a false confession to end his torture. It had nothing to do with the cross-in-the-sand story.

    We asked the McCain campaign about the accusation, and a spokesman pointed us to a campaign blog entry with quotes attributed to Bud Day, a close friend of McCain. Day said that McCain told him the story prior to the publication of "Faith of My Fathers":

    McCain Report: ...[Day] did confirm that "not long after we all got back together [in the camp]," McCain told him the story of the prison guard who drew a cross in the dirt one Christmas.

    Another blog entry from the McCain camp says that Solzhenitsyn did tell the story but goes on to say: "The only similarity between the two stories is a cross in the dirt, but it is hardly an unlikely coincidence that there were practicing Christians in both Russia and Vietnam, or that in the prisons of those two Communist countries the only crosses to be found were etched in the dirt, as easily disappeared as the Christians who drew them." That entry quotes another former POW, who told the campaign that McCain told him the story sometime around the summer of 1971.

    Ultimately, it's far easier for McCain's detractors to question his story than it is for McCain to prove it's true. Only McCain and the long-ago prison guard, if he exists and is still alive, know for sure. But in a world where there are hundreds of millions of Christians, we see no reason to believe that both the McCain story and the one attributed to Solzhenitsyn can't both be true.

    - by Emi Kolawole

    Sources
    Veronis, Fr. Luke. "The Sign of the Cross," 30 March 1997 sermon, accessed 21 Aug. 2008.

    Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr I. "The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956." Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3, 1973 – 1975.

    Solzhenitsyn, Alexander. "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." E.P. Dutton & Co: 1963.

    Colson, Charles W. "Loving God." Zondervan: 1996.

    "Select Chronology Listing of Events in the History of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association." Billy Graham Center Archives, updated 17 July 2008, accessed 21 Aug. 2008.

    Interview with Melany Ethridge, spokeswoman, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 20 Aug. 2008.

    Interview with Fr. Luke Veronis, 20 Aug. 2008.

    McCain, John with Mark Salter. "Faith of my Fathers." Random House: 1999.

    McCain, John. "Building a New Republican Majority." Speech in Virginia Beach, Va., 28 Feb. 2000.

    Cohen, Ben. "John McCain Is Lying About the Cross in the Dirt, and He Needs to Be Called Out." Huffingtonpost.com, 19 Aug. 2008.

    Copyright © 2003 - 2008, Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania
    FactCheck.org's staff, not the Annenberg Center, is responsible for this material.

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