August 18, 2008

No Common Ground?

The progessive blogosphere and Andy Sullivan—but I repeat myself—have decided to accuse former POW John McCain of stealing a story from Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a Russian sent to the gulags (forced labor camps) for writing ill of Stalin in a letter to a friend... a typical application of the Soviet version of the Fairness Doctrine.

Here is McCain's story:

Solzhenitsyn's tale read:

Leaving his shovel on the ground, he slowly walked to a crude bench and sat down. He knew that at any moment a guard would order him to stand up, and when he failed to respond, the guard would beat him to death, probably with his own shovel. He had seen it happen to other prisoners.

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.

There are, of course, no recorded instances of crosses or other Christian images ever being recorded in prisons. I jest, of course.

In Kilmainham Gaol, in the spot where a mortally wounded James Connolly was strapped to a chair before a firing squad on May 12, 1916, a cross stands. Of course, it came later.

Mamertine Prison was originally constructed around 386 B.C. but is best known for it's upside-down crosses because it's most famous alleged resident, Saint Peter, was crucified upside-down. While we don't have any witnesses that crosses or the Christian fish symbol was written in the dirt of the prison floor during the incarcerations of Peter and Paul, it seems likely such imagery was commonplace, and I'm reasonably certain neither Saint was familiar with the Russian writer who came nearly two millennia later.

Christian imagery is common in prisons around the world long before Solzhenitsyn was born, spreading as Christianity spread.

With the brutality of man's inhumanity to man common throughout the history of prisons, is it surprising in the least that in prisons around the world, guards and prisoners, enslavers and slaves, found a shared common ground in Christianity?

To disbelieve such things are possible is to not renounce John McCain, but to insist jailers are not human, just unfeeling robots incapable of grace or compassion. But I prefer to think that God is in all prisons.

It's one of the places where he's needed most.

Update: Uh-oh. Another U.S. Navy pilot who became a POW in North Vietnamese prisons is telling similar stories of surprising North Vietnamese Christan compassion. Are progressives going to try to assail his honor as well?

Why not?

They already drove him out of the Democratic Party.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 18, 2008 09:54 AM

Wait. Are you saying Solzhenitsyn ripped it off from someone else before McCain ripped it off from him? I'll have to alert the Kosmonauts, who were on this story before Excitable Andy.

Posted by: daleyrocks at August 18, 2008 10:19 AM

It really is amazing the vicious hatred liberals have for our men and women in uniform.

Posted by: Capitalist Infidel at August 18, 2008 11:18 AM

The people at Daily Kos will let you know that the research was first done by the back in 2005:
"Sorry, Fellow Kossacks, but it was the Freepers who first spotted McCain's plagiarism."
"Of course they would. They all love Solzhenitsyn and at the time, they all hated McCain. The year was 2005..."

Posted by: BC at August 18, 2008 12:42 PM

You forgot to mention that A) McCain is a big fan of Solzhenitsyn(See article McCain wrote about him below). Also if they shared the same event don't you think McCain would've made some mention of it in the article? What are the odds that in a communist prison a Christian guard goes up to them and draws a cross in the sand? Also John McCain described this as a pivotal moment in his time there, yet failed to mention that in his 17 page article that he wrote giving a first hand account of his time as a POW in 73.(See article below) You would think that would've got some sort of mention. Solzhenitsyn book came out in 73.

McCain's article on Solzhenitsyn

McCain's first hand account of his time in the prison camp.

Posted by: DBA2211 at August 18, 2008 01:22 PM

McCain is a loser. He lies constantly. Must have picked it up from Bush/Cheney. Oh,Karl Rove is his un official advisor. Nevermind. The king of slime is running the show from behind the curtain.
The Mob ties to his wifes fortune that catipulted him to power havent even surfaced yet. Not on a big scale. It is well documented, as there was a trial in which her uncle was sent to prison.

All McCain can do is talk about Obama cause his own past is beyond shady. I see his son just bailed a failing bank just before the quarterly report showing major losses came out. This is the old Bush Bank Fraud Scheme revisited. Just bigger.

Obama has more class in his pinky than McCain has ever had. McCain is another fortunate son who was handed everything he ever wanted as he partied his way through life without a care. His lust for power has led him to say anything he believes will get him elected. The facts, as with Bush, are not relevent.

Posted by: John at August 18, 2008 01:35 PM

Yes, because everybody knows McCain's POW story isn't harrowing enough, so he needed to make stuff up to be more dramatic.

This is just another example of how well McCain did and how nervous Obama's supporters are getting. They're throwing anything out as a distraction and hoping something sticks. First he knew the questions, now he's exaggerating his POW stories. Weak.

Posted by: mindnumbrobot at August 18, 2008 01:48 PM
McCain is another fortunate son who was handed everything he ever wanted as he partied his way through life without a care.

It is my sincere hope that you never have to experience 1/100th the agony, broken bones, and shattered teeth of this "life without a care" John.

I do agree with your closing statement however: for liberals such as yourself the facts are indeed irrelevant.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at August 18, 2008 01:56 PM

CY - Something is wrong with the comment sections on a couple of your posts below. I wanted to ask you where I could get a copy of that new Obama Buy American CD.

I haven't done the Dixie Chicks number on anything in a while so seeing it perked me right up.

Posted by: daleyrocks at August 18, 2008 02:01 PM

daley, nothing is wrong with the comments... I turned them off due to spam.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at August 18, 2008 02:07 PM

CY, why, if this narrative of McCain's is true, did he leave it out of his 1973 biography? Why, if this narrative of McCain's is true, would he not have paralleled it with Solzhenitsyn's? I mean, he is a fan of his writings, you would think McCain would connect the dots to make for a more powerful narrative.

And Christian imagery being common in prisons around the world is a complete non-sequitur to your point. You are trying to point out that McCain did NOT lift the story from Solzhenitsyn, and your evidence is that Christian images are common in prisons. Let me repeat, that DOES NOT FOLLOW.

I'd like to believe that it really happened, but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence suggesting otherwise.

Posted by: DSBq at August 18, 2008 02:19 PM

I hate to accuse McCain of exaggerating his account of POW life but do you remember this?

Per McCain's original account, during an interrogation, he was asked for the names of his squadron buddies; McCain gave his questioner the names of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line. But recently, he went to Pittsburgh and, lo and behold, the names of his squadron members were members of the Steelers' defensive line.

Unfortunately, McCain has shown that he will say or do anything to win the Presidency. That may include this "cross" story.

Posted by: Barry at August 18, 2008 02:31 PM

Ah, the smell of Obamatard desperation is in the air.

How sweet it is!

Posted by: daleyrocks at August 18, 2008 03:09 PM

I can think of several reasons to *not* tell that story in '73-- not the least of which would be preventing the slaughter of said guard and his family.

It's also possible that it *became* a pivotal moment in his time there sometime after the bones were healed and he had enough distance to think, hard, on the subject.

I'm putting this in the same category as the folks who insist that NOBODY ever has their lives saved by a Bible taking the bullet-- because, y'know, nobody ever packs a Bible over their heart, and there wasn't ever a tradition of metal-bound Bibles....
(Reality check: Even the book "Saving Sprite" saved a life-- kid had it in his leg pocket, and it took shrapnel that would've had him bleeding out before help could get there.)

Posted by: Foxfier at August 18, 2008 03:28 PM

As Ace has pointed out there will never be proof or disproof of this story. The left wants to sow doubt about McCain's authenticity as a war hero because their man is slowly sinking in public esteem, and the polls. The people who suffered in prison with John McCain, including a medal of honar winner, have had plenty of time to give him up as a liar if they had wanted to, and have not. The people who knew Kerry had no qualms about torching him. Even Micheal Moore, a propagandist for the left of the first rank, has recently called him a liar. The left would do better to try and build up their guy but have little to work with.And, ever since Watergate, the epitomy of journalistic glory has been destruction of a president. McCain is not yet there but one can see already how he will be treated by these pathetic losers if he wins.

Posted by: mytralman at August 18, 2008 03:54 PM

Well? Did he lift it, or didn't he?

I vote: yes.

Posted by: joeyess at August 18, 2008 04:00 PM

Actually, mytralman, Ace was wrong... Orson Swindle was in the Hanoi Hilton, and heard the story of McCain's cross two years before Solzhenitsyn published.

MCCain win. Netroots FAIL.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at August 18, 2008 04:02 PM

Keep up the great work!

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Posted by: Steve at August 18, 2008 04:09 PM

I have a suggestion.

Try, just try, having a debate without calling anyone names. No 'Obamatard' or 'Bushie'.

You might find it's just a little more civil. You might also find that it compels you to look for facts instead of calling names. This could help both sides.

Posted by: Keith at August 18, 2008 04:21 PM

How amusing that the guy they found to back up the sandal in the dirt story is named "Swindle."

Posted by: pinko at August 18, 2008 04:29 PM

It is truly hilarious to see the Left asserting that McCain is insufficiently authentic in his biography. Barry knows better. You see it in his answer about Thomas on the SC. He began to say Thomas was "not qualified" but choked it back at the last and filibustered out a rambling diversionary soliloquy to obscure it because The Big O could not get elected dog catcher on his qualifications. Likewise, Barry wants to put biography off limits because he has none and McCain has, as they say, bookoo.

"another fortunate son who was handed everything he ever wanted as he partied his way through life without a care. His lust for power has led him to say anything he believes will get him elected."

Shwuh? How did Kerry get tied up in this? Sorry Charlie. It is Barry who has had everything handed to him, who has never taken a serious challenge in life nor risen to one thrust upon him. From his prep school days to his affirmative action career Barry has never done, nor even attempted, a noteworthy thing. Everyone knows this. Everyone. But let the anti-American faction have its way. Let them screech from the highest tower what they truly believe. It is only through obscurity that they have prosepered so well so far in this nation. Sunlight is disinfecting.

Posted by: megapotamus at August 19, 2008 01:39 PM

The only real question here is whether or not you think that McCain stole Solzhenitsyn's story because his work (Gulag Archipelgo)containing the story was printed in 1973. Given the fact, that McCain is a big fan of Solzhenitsyn, it would appear that he did steal the story. If not the McCain should elaborate and verify this story in the press.

Posted by: David at August 19, 2008 02:44 PM

Other than the fact that Solzhenitzyn never wrote such a story, I might agree with you. Wasn't in Gulag Archipelago, or anything else he ever wrote. The fable was created by someone else and attributed to him. McCain can't "steal" something Solzhenitzyn never wrote.

Combine important fact that with multiple personal accounts of those who have heard McCain tell his story as far back as 1971, and reading of similar instances recounted by other North Vietnamese POWs, and what we have here is a bunch of folks that are looking very, very foolish right about now.

Idiot-in-Chief? Andrew Sullivan, who at last count has written something like a dozen blog posts trying to claim McCain lies/stole the story from Solzhenitzyn, and buried the post admitting that there is no evidence Solzhenitzyn ever wrote such a story--sans any sort of apology or admission he was wrong.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at August 19, 2008 03:04 PM