orson-swindle.thumbnail.JPGThe exquisitely named Orson Swindle has stepped up to claim that he remembers John McCain telling the "cross in the dirt" tale back in the early ’70s, even though the earliest appearance of it in any speech of McCain’s is in 2000. The wingnutosphere invariably is describing him as "a fellow POW." But as usual, he’s much more than that.

Of course, this is all about people claiming to be eyewitnesses to certain events, and the only evidence is their say-so, which makes their credibility paramount.

How credible, exactly, is Orson Swindle? Well, consider, for instance:

Swindle served as executive director of "United We Stand, America", and spokesman for Ross Perot‘s 1992 presidential campaign.

Swindle is a Senior Policy Advisor at the lobbying firm of Hunton & Williams in Washington, DC. …

Swindle is also on the board of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), an independent political advocacy group that seeks to eliminate waste, mismanagement, and inefficiency in the federal government. Throughout its history, CAGW has been accused of fronting lobbying efforts of corporations to give them the appearance of "grassroots" support. In part, this is because CAGW has accepted donations from Phillip Morris, the Olin Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, Microsoft, Merrill-Lynch, and Exxon-Mobil. CAGW also has ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. While CAGW describes itself as non-partisan, it has endorsed John McCain for president and donated $11,000 to his campaign or groups controlled by him.

OK, so here we have a lobbyist — one of many on McCain’s support team — who’s also a right-wing Republican operative with a history of setting up sham "grassroots" organizations that do the bidding of business and corporate interests. He’s pouring thousands of dollars into McCain’s campaign and lining up thousands more.

And you want us to take his story backing up McCain at face value?

Sure we will.

This sort of "eyewitness account" brings to mind Bill Calhoun. You may remember him: He was the former Alabama National Guardsman who claimed to have spent time with George W. Bush in the early 1970s; it turned out, of course, that Bush wasn’t at the base at all at the times Calhoun claimed to have met him.

It’s possible John McCain really did have the "cross in the dirt" experience exactly like Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s. It’s also possible that little fairies encapsulated in lightly scented bubbles fly out his ass when he farts.

But until the McCain campaign comes up with a more credible witness, you’ll have to pardon us if we choose not to swallow this one. Because the scent suggests otherwise.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan notes that Swindle had quite another version of their discussions in May.  Meanwhile, another former POW who served with McCain writes that he won’t be voting for McCain, and why.

David Neiwert

David Neiwert

David Neiwert is the managing editor of Firedoglake. He's a freelance journalist based in Seattle and the author/editor of the blog Orcinus. He also is the author of Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community (Palgrave/St. Martin's Press, June 2005), as well as Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America (Palgrave/St. Martin's, 2004), and In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (1999, WSU Press). His reportage for MSNBC.com on domestic terrorism won the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in 2000.