First there was this:
McCain told a rather moving story about his time as a P.O.W. “When I was first interrogated and really had to give some information because of the pressures, physical pressures on me, I named the starting lineup, defensive line of the Pittsburgh Steelers as my squadron mates.”
“Did you really?” asked the reporter.
“Yes,” McCain said.
“In your POW camp?” asked the reporter.
“Yes,” McCain said.
“Could you do it today?” asked the reporter.
“No, unfortunately,” McCain said.
Here’s one reason he likely couldn’t do it today — the Steelers aren’t the team whose defensive line McCain named for his Vietnamese tormentors. The Green Bay Packers are. At least according to every previous time McCain has told this story.
What makes this notable is that McCain was talking to a Pennsylvania television station, exposing what could otherwise be a simple lapse in memory as a disgustingly brazen instance of shameless pandering.
Then there was this:
Walter Isaacson asked John McCain about McCain’s inexplicable love for ABBA. McCain played the POW card:
“If there is anything I am lacking in, I’ve got to tell you, it is taste in music and art and other great things in life,” McCain joked. “I’ve got to say that a lot of my taste in music stopped about the time I impacted a surface-to-air missile with my own airplane and never caught up again.”
And now there’s this, about the story John McCain tells where a North Vietnamese prison guard draws a cross in the dirt as a sign of solidarity — or as he said, “just two Christians worshiping together”:
“As he waited, head down, he felt a presence. Slowly he looked up and saw a skinny old prisoner squat down beside him. The man said nothing. Instead, he used a stick to trace in the dirt the sign of the Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.
As Solzhenitsyn stared at the Cross drawn in the dirt his entire perspective changed. He knew he was only one man against the all-powerful Soviet empire. Yet he knew there was something greater than the evil he saw in the prison camp, something greater than the Soviet Union. He knew that hope for all people was represented by that simple Cross. Through the power of the Cross, anything was possible.
Solzhenitsyn slowly rose to his feet, picked up his shovel, and went back to work. Outwardly, nothing had changed. Inside, he had received hope.”
[From Luke Veronis, “The Sign of the Cross”; Communion, issue 8, Pascha 1997.]
So, it is very interesting that Mr. Solzhenitsyn and Mr. McCain had the same Christian guard/prisoner experience. Or maybe it is all just a made up story. Somehow I doubt that Alexander Solzhenitsyn heard John McCain’s story and copied it.
So it appears that McCain stole his famous cross-in-the-dirt story from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, which is corroborated by the fact that there’s no mention of this story in any of McCain’s earlier accounts of his time as a POW.
Forty years ago, John McCain got shot down in Vietnam and spent five years in a POW camp, resisting the pressure to give in and showing bravery under intolerable conditions.
But the John McCain who acted so bravely 40 years ago isn’t the same John McCain who’s running for President today. The John McCain of 40 years ago was honorable and brave; today’s John McCain is a shameless, pandering, corruptable politician, willing to do anything to win (including lying about the time he spent in that prisoner of war camp).
The 25 years John McCain has spent in Washington changed him, stripping away his spine and his honesty and reducing McCain to just another pandering, power-hungry politician. It’s sad to see such an honorable man fall so far, but his metamorphosis is undeniable–this latest round of pandering proves it.