Let's see if I get Sullivan's argument - McCain's memory of a cross in the dirt is not a story about his courage or in his military record, and he may or may not have invented it in 2000 for political purposes; therefore, critics are not engaging in "Swiftboating" when they pick at it.(Via Instapundit.)
Sullivan has tried to justify himself by displaying a campaign ad — an effective one — and noting that, there, we see the cross drawn in the dirt with a stick, but McCain has said the guard drew the cross with his sandal.
Could the campaign confirm that the ad itself is visually incompatible with the Salter story? Or were they unconcerned with such detail, assuming no one would be foolish enough to question a war hero's unconfirmable anecdote - and eager merely to show the deeper (and true) point that McCain relied on God to survive the unimaginable?My response:
This incident is not part of McCain's military service - certainly not one he thought was in any way salient in his first 12,000 word account of his experience. It is part of his 2000 and 2008 campaigns and the religious mythology they coopted in order to appeal to a very specific audience. If a blogger cannot raise factual questions about a campaign ad and a campaign narrative, he's not really worth much.
1. If Sullivan's distinction bothers you, maybe you just don't have the appreciation for nuance that it takes to vote for a Democratic presidential candidate these days.
2. I think most people would laugh at the argument that a particular type of attack is legitimate so that bloggers will be worth more. What if the National Enquirer justified its publication of sneak pictures of a candidate in his hotel room on the theory that otherwise supermarket tabloids are not really worth much?
3. Wouldn't it be easier to say that what the Swift Boaters did was okay?
4. It can't help Obama to show that McCain ad over and over again for the purpose of arguing about a stick and a sandal. I think ordinary people — who aren't dumb enough to think we're looking at the original footage (or stickage, if you will) — would regard it as weirdly disproportionate to obsess over the detail of sticks and sandals. So let's take a film break: