McCain pads his POW record…

…or “Watch as I cover the superficial

(Updated Below)

It’s starting to look like McCain got caught in a shocking exaggeration or outright fabrication of his own POW experience.

Over the weekend, both McCain and Obama stroked uberpowerful-Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren’s ego by participating in his presidential forum. During McCain’s performance, he recalled a real tear-jerker of a story:

It was Christmas Day, we were allowed to stand outside of our cell for a few minutes, and those days we were not allowed to see or communicate with each other although we certainly did. And I was standing outside for a few minutes, outside my cell. He came walking up. He stood there for a minute and with his handle [sic] 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 worshiping together. I’ll never forget that moment.

The folks over at Kos think the story is very similar to one told in “The Gulag Archipelago” by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. (It’s probably worth noting that McCain is a big fan of Solzhenitsyn.)

More damning is McCain’s own recollection of the story in February of 2000:

Many years ago a scared American prisoner of war in Vietnam was tied in torture ropes by his tormentors 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 both stood wordlessly there for a minute or two, 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.

If this actually happened to McCain, why didn’t he mention it until 1999? Is this actually happened to McCain, why in 2000 would he say it happened to someone else?

Update
From Andrew Sullivan:

And of course, none of this would be salient were it not for the obvious motive for coopting the story. McCain has never been a very devout man. He doesn’t come across that way in his first account of the story; and he doesn’t come across that way now. But as the Christianists took over the GOP, he must have understood that this was a problem – especially against Bush in 2000. So in 1999, the story, already poignant and true in its particulars, changes into a much more grandiloquent and sectarian affair, echoing deep evangelical themes and tropes.

And it would not be salient if McCain hadn’t deployed the anecdote in his own words – with a misleading image – in a campaign ad, and used it again in front of an evangelical audience Saturday night. And it would not be salient if religious fanatics had not a strangle-hold on the Republican party, seeking doctrinal assurances and echoes of their own type of faith in political candidates.

…If McCain has fabricated a religious epiphany for political purposes, it is about as deep a betrayal of core integrity as one can imagine, and the latest example of how pernicious the religious domination of political life in America has become.

One Comment

  1. Ian

    He’s gone senile. No other explanation necessary. He makes other people’s stories his own and retells them differently each time.