Dissent Of The Day

A reader writes:

I have to say, over the years I have greatly appreciated your ability to go after a story like a dog goes after a bone, but the 'cross in the dirt' controversy is baffling.

To put it bluntly, your fevered speculation smells like the "was Obama at TUCC when Rev. Wright said 'God Damn America" pseudo-controversy, with the added bonus that there is no real way the controversy could be resolved. It is petty and small and tedious.

No: the issue is not proving a negative about someone's entire lifetime. It's scrutinizing a campaign ad and a campaign staple based on a story first told by Mark Salter in 1999. Asking questions about that story, exploring inconsistencies and provenance is totally legitimate. I don't doubt, as I've said all along, that McCain had an uplifting experience at the hands of a kind guard in Vietnam. He told us so in 1973. What I am querying is the evolution of this experience into a religious epiphany identical to powerful evangelical tropes. I'm querying why a sandal becomes a stick; and why a minor event becomes a life-changing one, which, in its latest iteration, McCain says made him for the only time in captivity forget the war entirely, and forgive his enemies. I'm querying not just the fallibility of memory, but the compromises of power. Chasing these leads down for a couple of days is what a blog is for.