Andrew Sullivan is a dear friend and one of my favorite bloggers. But this post of his, in which he outlines the questions reporters ought to ask John McCain:
Why did you not mention this transcendent story in 1973? Why, in discussing three Christmases in captivity in Vietnam, was this story – far more powerful than any of the other anecdotes — omitted? How was it possible for the gun guard of May 1969 to be present at Christmas that year when McCain had been transferred to another camp? Is it possible that McCain’s memory has faded with time and that he has simply fused his own memories with other stories — as Clinton did with Bosnia sniper fire and as Kerry did in remembering another Christmas he could not have actually witnessed where he said he did?
made me think of this wonderful song by The Smiths:
So if there’s something you’d like to try
If there’s something you’d like to try
Ask me, I won’t say no
How could I?
The spectacle of reporters doggedly, aggressively pursuing this questions would be interesting to watch. I can only imagine that McCain would respond through clenched teeth that he hasn’t always felt comfortable talking publicly about his religious beliefs, but that he felt an obligation to offer more insight into the events that have shaped his character when he chose to run for president. Perhaps the press will continue pressing the issue, demanding photographic evidence, or the remnants of a decades-old Vietnamese twig that, thanks to CSI-like techniques, can be shown to have made a cross in dirt or sand during a 6-hour interval that corresponds to McCain’s story.
The new McCain campaign motto: Ask Me, Ask Me, Ask Me.
P.S. Sanjay flags a Tom Maguire post addressing the question of McCain’s faith. I don’t like Maguire’s tone towards Andrew, but he makes a good point. After outlining the many instances in which McCain described the role of prayer in his captivity, Maguire offers an interesting conjecture.
If I may dare to play armchair psychologist — one point of the “cross in dirt” story is McCain’s recognition of and reconciliation to the humanity of his often brutal captors. My guess is that in May of 1973 he had not fully worked through his issues with the North Vietnamese.
That certainly makes sense. Why is 1999 worthy of note? It is after John McCain and John Kerry pressed for the normalization of diplomatic relations with Vietnam.