Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: A Line in the Sand

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Line in the Sand

John McCain wouldn't stretch the truth, would he? Surely he's not "that kind of man." If he claims that a particular event gave him strength and sustenance during his years as a Vietnam POW, who are we to say it didn't? Even if he forgot to mention it for the first twenty-five years after he was released. Andrew Sullivan is on the case (and by that I mean Sullivan is on the case). He starts with a post that includes McCain's ad that describes a Christmas encounter he had with a Vietnamese guard. But there's this problem:

I've now heard it countless times. McCain has used what appears to be an intensely personal moment in a prison camp as a reason to vote for him in a campaign ad. As he tells it today, it was the pivotal moment in his struggle to survive in the Hanoi Hilton. And yet, in his first thorough account of his time in captivity, in 1973, the story is absent.

He then mentions a similar story that's been associated with Alexandr Solzhenitsyn and asks: "I have one simple question: when was the first time that McCain told this story?"

Sullivan follows that up with another post dating the earliest mention of the story he can find at 1999, even though he publicly discussed his captivity many times before that, including how his Christian faith helped him survive the experience. And then there's this one, where he quotes Hilzoy discussing a book that featured McCain's Christmases in captivity but somehow didn't mention the cross in the sand story. And Sully was just getting started: He also followed up here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here--and probably a time or two since I posted this. In and of itself, this isn't the largest issue in the campaign, but we keep being told that this is all about character, and examples such as this is the stuff that character is made of.


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