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August 18, 2008

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It has also been reinforced by watching some of the right-wing blogs who seemed to me, until a year or so ago, to have a set of explanations ready for any criticism of Bush

to their credit, this McCain probable-fib was discovered in 2005 by the Freepers (dKos writeup).

this was back before they liked McCain. and the comments on the freep thread can be basically summed up by this one:

    Perhaps McCain is making obvious Christian statements to gain support for 2008.

so, this has been out there for at least three years and McCain hasn't bothered coming up with any proof.

i'm going with LIE

I'd really like to know just when Sen. McCain first started relating this Xmas story of his. When is the earliest document able date? Is 2005 it?

Here's my perspective:

McCain should beg and plead to be so lucky to have the story investigated. It's all upside for him. Go through the three Xmases he spent in captivity in detail: each one makes McCain look heroic, principled, and sympathetic. This is a guy who was repeatedly tortured and knew more was coming, yet he deliberately ruined a propanda film? Really, bring that investigation on. And, even better for McCain, you'll never be able to disprove that the additional detail he added at Saddleback is false (assuming of course, that it is false).

I'm going with "Who the fuck cares?" So McCain has a tooth-achingly sweet story about him and a Vietcong soldier who shared a very sacred moment together worshiping Jesus.

How does that make McCain a better candidate? Will this sandy cross lead McCain to stick around in Iraq for 100 years? Could he be compelled to bomb Iran because of this heartwarming tale? Does the cross-in-the-sand give McCain some economic wisdom that will help medicate our battered housing industry? Did the sympathies he supposedly shared with an enemy troop provide him with insight into how to control damage caused by green house gas emissions?

Why the fuck do people care what Vietcong troops were drawing in the sand at John McCain some forty years ago? True or false, it offers us nothing in the way of tangible benefits for the country.

Perhaps there is something more to the '60s McCain war stories that I'm not hearing, but once you clear out the ambient sound he sure does remind me of Gulliani droning "9/11, 9/11, 9/11" at a crowd that never showed up at the polls for him.

When is the earliest document able date? Is 2005 it?

according to Sullivan, 1999.

If I start making up my mind what the facts are on the grounds that they square with my beliefs, I will be in serious trouble.

or...you could become a Republican candidate for President.


But seriously, this whole thing with McCain and the prison guard/cross story is something that the right wingers would never fail to attack if it were part of Obama's biography, but being part of McCain's bio it is sacrosanct (now that he is the official nominee in all but name...yet it was not always thus...see first comment). It really makes a good story and has nothing to do with anything substantive about the campaign, so my inclination is to follow Maxwell Scott's legendary advice: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

von: Here's my perspective:

Yeah, but you've made clear you want 8 more years of McSame. Is there anything that anyone could say about McCain that would make you decide to vote for Obama in November?

McCain Campaign Advisor to McCain priot to Saturday Night : "What might really help is you think back to your captivity and 'recall' a very spiritual event involving the cross"...

(And, of course, if I were a member of the Obama campaign, I wouldn't touch this with a ten foot pole. But I'm not.)

Why not, hilzoy?

Most of the thread on your first post about the cross-in-the-sand concerned what Obama's campaign should do with this. And, as I made clear in that thread, I think they should be all over this....as well as any other statement by McCain that has even the slightest scent of lie or exaggeration about it.

I don't think Obama himself should get anywhere near this story, of course. Obama should be an "I honor John McCain's service and sacrifice" machine.

But everyone else connected with the campaign ought to be pushing this story very, very hard as yet another example of McCain's essential dishonesty.

The only reason this is of any interest is that McCain is using this story to answer "faith affirming" questions.

If you make up a story about how you were "born again", that is pretty low.

I remember once being baptized in a river at night by a group of folks I had just recently met. I'm not sure it that meant I was born again, or if it helped those doing the baptizing more than it helped me, and the experience didn't have much lasting effect as far as I know, but you don't forget stuff like this, although the memory doesn't grow stronger with time. Given a receptive listener, you share this with people, even as a curiosity.

And if the experience ends up years later shaping your world-view, it probably had a more profound effect at the time. At least that has been my experience. The other option is that he has recently re-interpreted something which happened to him long ago and given it new meaning. People do this, and they can explain it because it derives from a deliberate thought process or a sudden revelation. At any rate, the later revelation is also memorable.

McCain should be able to explain it more thoroughly if it is for real.

The anecdote is essentially a sermon illustration, and I don't see any advantage to be gained from attacking its veracity. There's no possibility of proving it wrong, there's a nonzero possibility of McCain dragging out someone to "prove" it right, and it provides an opportunity for Republicans to reinforce their painting of Democrats as anti-Christian and anti-military.

There's plenty of other unprincipled McCain stuff to focus on. Using this one just seems far more likely to do harm than good for Democrats.

It's worth noting that if, in fact, this first appeared in "Faith of My Fathers" in Autumn of 1999, this comes immediately before his 2000 run for POTUS, and more importantly, right after he spent most 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 being actively campaigned against by the Christian Coalition and National Right to Life over McCain-Feingold. Both groups, the very core of the Christian right, pummeled the man for four years and made him all but unelectable with the GOPer base. He relied on independents, but he also had to make up as much ground as he could with the base.

Also - don't forget that just last month he altered his Green Bay Packers-related POW story to win votes from Steelers fans. Of course, that was written off as a slip. He was a POW! Any other suggestion is OUTRAGEOUS.

Yeah, but you've made clear you want 8 more years of McSame. Is there anything that anyone could say about McCain that would make you decide to vote for Obama in November?

Jes, I'm not going to go the Althouse "I'm tough on everyone route" -- I'm clearly partial to McCain on some things -- but it's worth noting that I may very well vote for Obama.

I think that if you sit back and think about how the kind of story Hilzoy suggests is likely to play out in the MSM, what people will be talking about, and, more importantly, the kind of response that McCain will be able make .... well, like I said, bring on this story. Front page it at ObWi; get everyone excited about it. Looking at it from the perspective of defending McCain, I'd love to be fighting on this battlefield and on this issue.

Zinfab has a better response; an even better one, however, would be to ignore the story completely.

"The anecdote is essentially a sermon illustration, and I don't see any advantage to be gained from attacking its veracity."

KCinDC has described McCain's story best -- a "sermon illustration" -- and, after all, they were in a church.

Leave it alone at that.

KCinDC,

You may be right that the cross-in-the-dirt parable is politically dangerous to challenge. But let's be clear why that's so.

A large fraction of the electorate votes for president-as-totem: a symbol and an embodiment of their own world-view, not a hired hand and a temp at that. Maybe that fraction is a majority, maybe it isn't -- we hold elections in order to find out. Questions of policy and competence are completely orthogonal to the totemic ones.

If it's true that challenging McCain on his little parable is a political net loss, then the president-as-totem voters are in fact a majority and we're sunk anyway.

What I want to see is a forthright attack on the foundation of the totem pole: the notion that McCain was a 'hero'. Had the Vietnam war been something other than a geo-political blunder, had McCain's bomb runs over Vietnam actually been essential to defending 'our way of life', his selfless obedience to orders would have been unquestionably noble. As it is, McCain was as much a victim of the US government as of the Vietnamese. Alas, even otherwise-sensible Americans have lost track of the difference between 'hero' and 'victim'.

-- TP

Slightly OT, but a http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=11080#comment-977358> comment (w/ link) at Balloon Juice struck me.

There's also a clip from Hannity & Colmes where Colmes is asking if McCain cheating on his wife was a big deal and Hannity screams his head off that John McCain was a POW for 5 years in North Vietnam. My Google-fu sucks, but its worth a look if you can find it.

The whole POW thing is wearing pretty thin for me. I respected McCain's time as a prisoner before the campaign, but the way he's using it is just disgusting. I wouldn't put it beyond his campaign to run an ad in October saying that not voting for a former POW means taking a crap on our troops.

"so, this has been out there for at least three years and McCain hasn't bothered coming up with any proof."

What proof do you suggest he could come up with?

If it's true that challenging McCain on his little parable is a political net loss, then the president-as-totem voters are in fact a majority and we're sunk anyway.

I don't follow the logic there. The number of people whose votes will be swayed by any discussion one way or the other about the cross story is pretty small, so I don't see how it says anything about what the majority of voters believe.

"Why the fuck do people care what Vietcong troops were drawing in the sand at John McCain some forty years ago?"

North Vietnamese weren't Vietcong.

There's plenty of other unprincipled McCain stuff to focus on. Using this one just seems far more likely to do harm than good for Democrats.

I was away from the internet all weekend and I’m having to do some skimming to get caught up, so caveats abound here.

Having said that, I agree with KCinDC and others on this thread and the prior one. McCain does not have a lot of cred in terms of his prior history as a vocal Christian and his previous brushes with the Religious Right ("agents of intolerance") have left him with an enthusiasm gap in that wing of the GOP, but attacking him on this issue will only give him an excuse to make up that deficiency by talking about how much of a Christian he is. I would not be surprised if his campaign threw out this bone hoping that the Dems would attack him on it rather than just leaving it alone. Don't take the bait.

Why are we even talking about this unless it is a clear slam-dunk winner even after factoring in the pro-McCain media bias? This is supposed to be a year when issues favor the Dems, if they can just get the public to vote based on issues rather than trivia.

I would rather make the case against McCain on the basis of what is he is telling the truth about, like his desire to involve us in yet another war with Russia without even having the prudence to finish the ones we are already involved in. Don't attack him for being a liar (especially on the basis of something that is so hard to verify), attack him for being stuck in the past and out of touch with the realities of the 21st Cen., which together amount to being reckless.

The last time a Democratic candidate won by a large margin was LBJ in 1964. Did LBJ attack Barry Goldwater for being a liar, or for being reckless and unrealistic about the careful judgment required when actually having one's finger on the proverbial nuclear button? McCain has opened up the latter attack with his stance on the Russia - Georgia conflict. If the Dems are going to get down in the gutter, it is time to bring the 1964 "Little Girl with a Daisy" ad back out of retirement.

I want to see the following question put to McCain and hammered home again and again: "Can our military take on more missions without more manpower? If not, do you support a re-imposition of the draft? What is your plan for getting troop rotations back to a sustainable level?", and depending on his answers, the riposte is:

If the answers are Yes, No, and More of the Same, then: "what, are you crazy? and why do you hate the troops?"

If the answers are No, Yes, and use the draft, then: "young people and their families need to understand exactly which new wars you are planning to send their sons and daughters to fight and die in."

If the answers are No, No, and Somehow, then: "why do you want the US to be left helpless in the face of any new crisis?"

Boil it down to these essentials: We have to either wind down our troop levels in Iraq, or we have no surplus capacity on hand to respond to new crises, or we break the Army trying to have our cake and eat it too. This is the infantry equivalent of the 1960 election's "Missile Gap".

Also, if the Dems are going to attack McCain as a liar, why is "Keating Five" not a household word by now? That is a far more promising line of attack, especially given that the Savings and Loan debacle is for electoral purposes broadly comparable to the present day mortgage / credit market meltdown and throws the GOP mantra of "always less regulation" into high relief.

What proof do you suggest he could come up with?

seeing someone who could credibly say that McCain told the story in the early/mid 70s would be pretty solid - the earlier the better, obviously.

a big part of this is that McCain apparently didn't bother telling even a bit of the story at all for 25 years. then, suddenly, it appears in a book he co-authored the year he starts running for President.

"seeing someone who could credibly say that McCain told the story in the early/mid 70s would be pretty solid"

I see that "proof" means to you "something more convincing to me," rather than "proof." Okay.

I have to agree with von, KC and others. It would be a big mistake for the Obama campaign (or any other Dem) to push this. Nixonland talks about a favorite tactic of Nixonian campaigns being the "jiujitsu" approach to criticism. If your opponent calls you out on a fairly minor untruth, use the opportunity to act aggrieved, play the victim and garner sympathy. I'm not saying that McCain intentionally made this up in order to do so, but I can guarantee that this would be their response, and it would likely be effective. Especially as there is no way to prove that it's made up or borrowed; it'd just end up as a name-calling contest: Dems call McCain an embellisher, he responds by calling them anti-military and anti-Christian. Plus it gives him the opportunity to say "POW" even more than he already is. I just don't see a net benefit to pushing it.

This isn't to say that it would be bad for a reporter to ask him some questions about it, but his political opponents should avoid it like quicksand.

Tony P. asks some good questions.
A large fraction of the electorate votes for president-as-totem: a symbol and an embodiment of their own world-view, not a hired hand and a temp at that. Maybe that fraction is a majority, maybe it isn't -- we hold elections in order to find out.
Questions of policy and competence are completely orthogonal to the totemic ones.

If it's true that challenging McCain on his little parable is a political net loss, then the president-as-totem voters are in fact a majority and we're sunk anyway.

I suspect my answers are more pessimistic than his.

My take is: president-as-totem voters are in fact a majority. This is a consequence of the conversion of the US into a global empire. It is hard to sustain an empire without a belligerent attitude which naturally supports this view of the executive, as a sort of quasi-Monarch. Or to put it more simply: How can you run an empire without an emperor?

Are we sunk? Perhaps, but not yet, IMHO.

Why? Because the most recent Totem-in-Chief has bungled the job so badly that we have a brief window of opportunity to put a different sort of occupant in the seat of executive authority.

That is only a start. Next we will need to demonstrate that a non-totemic executive (or as I prefer to put it, one who isn’t a closet monarchist) can do a noticeably better job as evaluated by a clear majority of the voters, and leverage that plus the media messaging advantage enjoyed by the party which occupies the WH into a more lasting political shift with some staying power. FDR did it once, it can be done again.

But in order to do that, we will need to convince some of the voters who lean towards a totemic view of the Presidency to either prefer Obama or stay home. The non-totemic group isn’t large enough to be a majority at the present time.

"There's also a clip from Hannity & Colmes where Colmes is asking if McCain cheating on his wife was a big deal and Hannity screams his head off that John McCain was a POW for 5 years in North Vietnam."

I hope Colmes makes a decent buck. He strikes me as such a fool for basically serving no more substantial role than being Hannity's foil.

KCinDC:I don't follow the logic there. The number of people whose votes will be swayed by any discussion one way or the other about the cross story is pretty small, so I don't see how it says anything about what the majority of voters believe.

Well, how big is the number of people McCain is playing to with his parable? What do you imagine he thinks the majority believes?

Whether or not the cross-in-the-dirt story is true, the telling of it is a choice on McCain's part. I hope and pray he's wrong about the majority of the electorate, but he's not peddling his parable (and his whole war-hero schtick) because he thinks a crucial fraction of the electorate cares about policy.

A voter can of course prefer McCain on policy grounds: if you have a multimillionaire grandmother on life support, McCain might be your guy on policy grounds; if you think your personal safety depends on 'victory' in Iraq, likewise. But I say the number of people in either of those categories is a mighty small fraction of the electorate. If I'm right, then McCain's poll numbers are based on symbolic, not practical, considerations on the part of a large fraction (if not strictly a majority) of the voters.

-- TP

I don't think McCain has to believe anything about what the majority of voters will think of this story other than that they won't care. It's purely intended, IMO, for a small slice of the electorate to gain some number of votes at no cost elsewhere. The few people who would take notice of this and would care to any appreciable degree are either 1) very religious and more inclined to vote for McCain because of it or 2) political junkees who bother to seek out such stories. Of those who fall under 2), some would never vote for McCain over Obama under any reasonably forseeable circumstances (like most of the people here, I would assume) or Redstate types who would never do the opposite. So it costs him nothing, even if it only gets him a few votes. The majority just doesn't care about this stuff; it's a pimple on a flea on a very small and very far away dog.

The drawing of a cross or a ichthys (the fish symbol) in the sand so that “believers” may acknowledge each other, under tyrannical rulers, has a long history in Christian lore.

As soon as I heard McCain’s retelling of it, I thought of the stories I heard in Sunday school: Christian slaves in Pagan Rome, Christians in Communist Russia, etc.

Specifically, I would try to talk to people who had been prisoners with McCain, and ask whether he had mentioned it at the time.

Asked and answered

VoxPop - A McCain supporters says he "vaguely" remembers something like that story. Right ...

To be "asked and answered" he'd have to be pressed for details of exactly what he remembers.

So, no, I don't think that Orson Swindle's vague recollections lend much credence here.

It's pretty no-win. But there is one angle to remember: that McCain told this story in a church, to fervent believers. If I were a fervent believer, and someone told a false or exaggerated story in my church--about his faith! And to score political points!--I'd be pretty steamed, and I'd feel a little betrayed.

Yes, I should have rated the probability of corroborating storytellers as considerably better than "nonzero". I forgot about Orson Swindle. I really don't understand how the proponents of using this story imagine fighting this battle.

OT: Billmon is sporadically back. Today's offering is a splendid post on the bipartisan U.S. groundwork laid for the recent/ongoing unpleasantness in with Georgia, Ossetia, and Russia.

I can't agree strongly enough with his fundamental and final point, about the complete detachment of the foreign policy elite consensus from any actual democratic process.

Nice Goalpost you drag around with you Fozzie


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

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

So you have one other POW saying he recalls the story at the time.

I don't get it. You are blogging day in and day out about nothing of importance except to yourself. Sorry but no one cares about your verbose personal opinions. You 3 guys are slackers and have way too much free time on your hands. Find some other way to change the world. Your words are not ideas. They are simply empty words. After reading your commentary, I'm driven to recall that "there is nothing new under the sun. All is vanity."

Von: Looking at it from the perspective of defending McCain, I'd love to be fighting on this battlefield and on this issue.

I really don't think that's the case. You would think John Kerry would have liked to talk about winning medals in Vietnam, only if he's doing so in order to continuously defend himself from unflattering rumors, he's not setting the agenda at all, and the best he can hope for is to keep on board all of those people for whom his POW story is the decisive factor.

VoxPop - Do you believe that quoting the whole post from NRO makes Orson Swindle more credible a witness than merely providing a link as you did in your previous post? Because I don't.

I don't think Orson Swindle, particularly an Orson Swindle who has not yet been pressed for details about what he may or may not vaguely recall, is terribly credible.

I don't get it. SlackerWatch is commenting day in and day out about nothing of importance except to itself. Sorry but no one cares about your verbose personal opinions. You are a slacker and have way too much free time on your hands. Find some other way to change the world. Your words are not ideas. They are simply empty words. After reading your commentary, I'm driven to recall that "there is nothing new under the sun. All is vanity."

So you have one other POW saying he recalls the story at the time.

Well, that's settled then.

But here's a question for VoxPop, or Byron York, or Orson Swindle, or St. John himeself: if any of those "very few" guards who "showed compassion to the prisoners" were mostly Buddhists, or atheists, how would we know?

-- TP

Is SlackerWatch criticizing himself?

After reading your commentary, I'm driven to recall that "there is nothing new under the sun. All is vanity."

Manimals. Your move, elitist liberal.

No, that was SlackerWatchWatch.

With respect, I find myself in the camp that sees this as kind of barking up the wrong tree.

There is no way to prove or disprove that this did or did not happen. I think following this line is asking to walk into a non-productive he said/she said p*ssing match.

Further, it's an invitation for McCain and his supporters to wrap themselves in the flag and in what is arguably the most sympathetic part of his resume.

There are so many crucial issues to hit McCain with, and so many substantive and well-documented weak points in his career as a Senator (Keating Five anyone) that this seems like the wrong path to take.

IMVHO.

Thanks -

What Russell said.

P.S. Will SlackerWatchWatchWatch be next?

Asked and answered

except for his last name... it's good enough for me.

How many born-again conversion stories are strictly true? It always seemed to me like some kind of confirmation bias or narrative bias rather than literal truth.

And wouldn't criticizing McCain's story seem likely to make those people defensive?

Is the strategy here that we should be criticizing the rationalization of faith? I feel like that misses the point in a serious way, though I'm not exactly born-again, so it's hard for me to pass definitive judgment.

At the very least, I do agree that there are other lines of attack for the "liar" argument that are more falsifiable (like, with video) and don't tread such dangerous rhetorical ground. We need to play smarter and harder -- the problem isn't a shortage of angles.

BTW, I would swear McCain's eyes teared up a bit while he told the Christmas Day cross-in-the-sand story.

So if he's a liar, he's also a very good actor.

Its at least somewhat likely that McCain did not mention his experience with a guard to a fellow prisoner, for fear of the story getting back to camp authorities and the guard being imprisoned or executed. For the same reason, McCain reasonably might have let decades go by before mentioning this story. But for this election, the story perhaps never would have come out. His pattern until recently has been to hold back on personal matters, so his not making the cross story a central event in his public narrative is hardly out of character. People with a bone to pick with McCain and a bent for conspiracy theory probably will obsess on this a good while longer, but doing so falls in the same class as right-wingers still obsessing on Jeremiah Wright.

Its at least somewhat likely that McCain did not mention his experience with a guard to a fellow prisoner, for fear of the story getting back to camp authorities and the guard being imprisoned or executed. For the same reason, McCain reasonably might have let decades go by before mentioning this story. But for this election, the story perhaps never would have come out. His pattern until recently has been to hold back on personal matters, so his not making the cross story a central event in his public narrative is hardly out of character. People with a bone to pick with McCain and a bent for conspiracy theory probably will obsess on this a good while longer, but doing so falls in the same class as right-wingers still obsessing on Jeremiah Wright.

Telling un-Truths (lie is such s strong word). I suspect George W. Bush had to change his "coming-to-Jesus" narrative, once he was looking at national office. Billy Graham looks better than Arthur Blessitt. I suspect Blessitt was for the yahoos and Graham was for proper folk.

"A good and powerful day. Led Vice President Bush's son to Jesus today. George Bush Jr.!! This is great. Glory to God." —From the April 3, 1984, entry of the diary of Arthur Blessitt

The story of the redemption of George W. Bush, like any good parable, is richer for its several tellings. In the orthodox version, Billy Graham ministered to the prodigal Bush son at the family's Kennebunkport, Maine, compound in 1985, planting "a mustard seed" of faith that would blossom in George's soul. But in another account, Bush's come-to-Jesus moment arrived a year earlier, in the more humble setting of the Holidome restaurant at the Midland, Texas, Holiday Inn.

By the time he broke bread with Bush, Arthur Blessitt was already 15 years into his mission from God. The peripatetic preacher had taken up a 12-foot-tall, one-wheeled wooden crucifix in 1969, carried it from the Sunset Strip to Capitol Hill, and never stopped walking. If Blessitt lacked a formal pulpit, he didn't want for Graham's global reach: By 1984, he had preached his way across 60 countries on six continents, on a quest to bear his cross in every nation in the world (which he has now done, clocking more than 36,000 miles).

More:
A Prayer for W

Republicans are in a funny position, both McCain and Bush Sr, were traditional Episcopalians, however since the takeover of American religion by politicized fundamentalists, there have been a different standard for religiosity. McCain had to start attending a Sothern Baptists church and Bush Sr., was labeled fake Christian, since he did not have a “born-again” experience. See Doug Wead’s for that interesting story.

In an election year, go for the neck, Democrats are way to nice. McCain should be looking like Elmer Gantry by now. This is politics, and a man who would lie about his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ would lie about anything.

I side with those who think it'd be a big mistake for Democrats to make too much of this story. There's a chance it's true. Even if it isn't, there won't be any way to show it's false. (Unless I'm missing something.) Setting aside the question of truth, we know from past experience what the rules of the game are--Republicans can smear the patriotism of Democratic veterans, but under no circumstances can one ever question a story told by a Republican vet.

That said, the most important point made in this thread is the news that Billmon is blogging again, if only sporadically. Thanks to Nell for the link.

His pattern until recently has been to hold back on personal matters

He "I was a POW!" sure is "Did you know I was a POW?" making up "I bet you didn't know I was a POW!" for lost "When I was a POW..." time "POW! POW! POW!"!

Jeff,

Good one.

It's obvious someone in his camp told McCain the POW suff is resonating with voters.

Expect more of it.

Perhaps we should consider the possibility that POW to the GOP means "Praise Our Wanker". On that basis, McCain is indeed giving the American people some straight talk when he reminds them of his POW self.

After reading your commentary, I'm driven to recall that "there is nothing new under the sun. All is vanity."

OMG, a visitation from a son of King David!

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

I'm driven to recall that "there is nothing new under the sun. All is vanity."

As Ogden Nash told us:

"Vanity, vanity, all is vanity
That's any fun at all for humanity."

TLTIABQ: Yes!

I think "Liar" is available as well, just not via this story. People's belief or disbelief of it will come down to whether they trust or simply give the benefit of the doubt to McCain. Going at that with the lies that are, "more falsifiable (like, with video)", as Adam noted, will be far more profitable.

The problem is that the story can be only verified* not falsified (except maybe, if someone in the Son of Cain's campaign leaks a strategy paper that urges him to adopt the Solshenitsyn (sp?) anecdote as his own).
Maybe a more subtle approach would be to take that episode from Huckleberry Finn with the "redeemed pirate" shtick used to swindle pious people out of their money and to link that to the Son of Cain's attitude towards the Kristian(TM) base.

*e.g. by the guard coming out and attest to the veracity.

It's in http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/mtwain/bl-mtwain-huck-20.htm>this chapter

The cross-in-the-dirt story didn't happen to Solzhenitsyn. That was made up, perhaps by Chuck Colson.

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