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December 13, 2006

Comments on Wise up:
#1 ::: Jonathan Versen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 12:25 AM:

A lot of his supposed maverick status is due to the repellently fawning coverage he mostly gets.

I guess the press will do their best to disregard his recent endorsement of the expansion of the war when the time comes, but it would be nice if voters remember anyway. By all rights that would be sufficient for his presidential aspirations to be dead in the water-- or so you'd hope.

#2 ::: Janice E. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 12:33 AM:

You'll get no argument from me. But the media still swoons for his "Straight Talk" shtick, and his poll numbers are great. If the GOP has the sense to nominate him in 2008, I think he'll be exceedingly tough to beat.

#3 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 12:58 AM:

Wow. I saw this through BoingBoing, and my first thought was that it was going to be nice seeing the entire blogosphere, left and right, unite against this guy. (Except maybe the blogs that don't have comments, like Instapundit. No, wait, he's reporting that his readers are "universally mistrustful of McCain".)

#4 ::: Vance Maverick ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 02:15 AM:

I deeply resent the misappropriation of my family's good name for phonies of this order....not that we have any legitimate claim on it, of course.

#5 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 03:07 AM:

But the media still swoons for his "Straight Talk" shtick, and his poll numbers are great. If the GOP has the sense to nominate him in 2008, I think he'll be exceedingly tough to beat.

Don't have the link handy, but Matt Ygelsias pointed out that his "maverick" reputation (sorry, Vance) is due to his taking positions that are popular with the public against the base of his party... but that his position on Iraq is right now quite unpopular; and that he may find out that being a "maverick' is actually less popular than taking popular positions.

Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I have some hope that his "maverick" reputation is hollowing out and will actually crumble at some point. I grant that the media gets fixed on this or that opinion and will keep it regardless of evidence... still, given their high-school-ish tendencies, they might well turn on St. M if the conditions are right. As Terry Pratchett says, "Always remember that the crowd that applauds your coronation is the same crowd that will applaud your beheading. People like a show."

#6 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 03:12 AM:

I have a dreadful feeling that the people who need to know this are the people who get their information from the mainstream media, of which FOX News are only the most obvious example.

Unless something happens which causes such media businesses to decide they can't go on supporting the loonies, those people are unreachable.

Some of them are my American cousins. Still, as that branch of the family started when two Royal Navy seamen jumped ship in Vancouver, I suppose I have some plausible deniability.

#7 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 03:31 AM:

"But the media still swoons for his 'Straight Talk' shtick".

The media literally creates his straight talking image; he's not that except when we see him on the screen. There is, I suppose, a kind of negotiation between public figures and the mass media; this negotiation decides the public image of media figures. And the media are so damned easy to con, and their self-deception becomes our delusion.

(It's late, and I'm depressed. But I think this is accurate.)

#8 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 04:10 AM:

As I keep saying: he's an aviator, and thus not to be trusted in government. Bush I, Bush II, Rumsfeld, Randy "Duke" Cunningham. As they say, "three points make a trend".

#9 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 06:11 AM:

#8 ajay: add Lindbergh to your list.

The combination of aviation and politics does seem to attract a bad bunch, although most of the examples I'm familiar with would be from the interwar period. Of those, most of them would be facist or right-wing; although I'm sure the Soviets pushed aviation, I can't think of particular aviators that rose into positions of influence.

#10 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 06:40 AM:

#8: May I point out that George McGovern was a pilot?

#11 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 07:41 AM:

The media will love this. After all, the blogs and places like Craigs list are eating their lunch so anybody that fights against those thing, the media will back. Now he's working to get the duped "Christian Conservatives" (whose President nominee said, "no, thanks," after he tried to change their discussion to actual compassion issues from the anti-gay, anti-abortion, etc issues that run them now) behind him by kissing their butts and speaking at their universities when one of McCain's platform planks in the last go around was to throw the CCs out of power (I smell flip-floppery).

Oh, wait. Forgot this hat, sorry (puts on tin-foil cap).

Everything is fine now.

#12 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 08:44 AM:

As far as aviators go, there's always Rudolph Hess and his weirdo solo flight to Britain.

#13 ::: Madison Guy ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 09:23 AM:

He belongs in the same alternate universe as this guy: The Dr. Pangloss "Best of All Possible Worlds" Award goes to David Brooks. For actually writing “In general, poor people today live at about the same standard of living as middle-class people did in the 1960s.” (With link to his sourcing.)

#14 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 09:24 AM:

ajay #8 & Jakob #9: What would you make, then, of Flight Lieutenant Jerry J. Rawlings, sometime dictator and more recently democratically-elected president of Ghana?

(OK, OK, so he promoted himself to major-general, but he still started as a military aviator.)

#15 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 09:31 AM:

I had an interesting epiphany when I was in graduate school. I'd been reading I.F. Stone's The Trial of Socrates, and followed that with a re-reading of Anna Comnena's Alexiad. I noted with interest that the translator of the Alexiad footnoted a term (parrhesia) as meaning 'insolence' that Stone had noted as one of the words Athenians used for 'free speech'.

Those who believe that power naturally and properly belongs to them are going to stigmatise all free expression as rude, insolent, and dangerous. And it is, to them. For the rest of us, however, it is part of the overall structure that guarantees our equal citizenship. The Republicans have over the past couple of decades sought to establish a fixed hierarchy and end equal citizenship (an irony, given that republicanism is the doctrine of equal citizenship); McCain's latest effort is another step in that direction.

#16 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 09:51 AM:

The media have spoken: Obama vs. McCain. I wish the media would shut up.

#17 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 10:11 AM:

Last night on the TV news (NBC national, I think), they showed poll results that had McCain coming in second for Republicans. Who's on first? Somebody unlikely, like Rudy Giuliani. I'm sure some websurfer here can find a link to the story.

[As a knee-jerk Democrat, I'd never vote for McCain anyway, no matter how lousy my party's candidate seemed.]

#18 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 10:44 AM:

This morning's LA Times headline story:
Voters favor McCain over Clinton in '08
But the Republican faces hurdles within his own party. Overall, those surveyed in a Times/Bloomberg poll say they want a Democrat in the White House.

Personally, I thinnk they're way too early on this, and I suspect that neither one will get that far. (The poll also has Clinton favored over Romney.)

#19 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 11:30 AM:

Tired of the status quo? Vote for a genuine outsider, who just happens to have spent the last quarter century or so in Congress. What could be more sensible?

#20 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 11:51 AM:

For a long time the Daily Show supported him a great deal, but it is very clearly transitioning from "making fun of him for being a sensible person in a maze of idiots," to "making fun of him because he is an illogical conservative nutjob." I hope this continues.

I can understand the Daily Show's initial support, as he was one of the very first major candidates to willingly speak with them. At the same time, hopefully they've realized they've paid him back sufficiently, and point out some of his current flaws more constantly and directly.

#21 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 12:00 PM:

Fragano@ #14:

Would it be shameful to admit that I'd never heard of Jerry J. Rawlings? Although the name sounds like it should be the monicker of a boys' own adventure story hero.

I was thinking of the heroes of Facist aviation like Italo Balbo in the Italy, as well as the (far-) Right supporters in the UK like Lady Houston, Lord Rothermere.

One of my lecturers at Imperial, David Edgerton, wrote a monograph called 'England and the Aeroplane: An Essay on a Militant and Technological Nation', of which a pdf copy can be found on the web. This is where my knowledge of Brit shady characters comes from. But perhaps I am drifting off topic now...

#22 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 12:00 PM:

"of which FOX News are only the most obvious example."

I think you misspelled "most odious"

#23 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 12:29 PM:

As I have confessed elsewhere, there was a time -- literally, years ago -- when I believed McCain's shtick to be truth, not truthiness. No longer, and not for a long time. Whatever truth once existed in the man appears to have been burnt away by ambition. Ah well.

The attack on blogs is calculated to make the "old" media feel good -- they distrust political blogs -- and yelling "Sex Offender" while pointing in the direction of blogs is designed to arouse and feed the wingnut base. It doesn't feel real, and I suspect it was a political consultant's idea.

P J at 18, I think the real import of that L. A. Times story may be that people don't like or are uneasy about Hillary Clinton, not that they are on fire about McCain.

Meanwhile Tim Johnson recovers from brain surgery. We sure do live in interesting times.

#24 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 12:32 PM:

Anyone know a good, single online source -- preferably written in that "serious" or "sober" style oft-mistaken for factuality -- that I can send my friends to for the real scoop on McCain? He's awfully popular around here and I'm getting tired of trying to stomp down the individual misimpressions one at a time...

#25 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 12:35 PM:

Isn't this just the latest recurrence of "Internet is evil"? Some years ago, the TV news theme was "Internet is evil!" Later, it became "Internet is evil: details on our web site." Now, McCain has "Internet is evil: read my blog."

This doesn't mean it shouldn't be opposed, of course. Stupidity must always be opposed.

#26 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 12:45 PM:

Sorry, I have a cold, it makes me stupid. I forgot to say what I really want to say about McCain, which is, Patrick, you are totally right; the man must be stopped. Right now he's well positioned to be the Repug nominee in 2008 and the party honchos are quietly lining up behind him. I think he's terribly dangerous.

#27 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 02:08 PM:

In the litany of aviators who misgovern, don't forget "B-1 Bob" Dornan.

#28 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 02:34 PM:

Jakob #21: Not shameful, most Americans haven't heard of him. I mentioned him because he was, for part of his career at least, a man of the left.

#29 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 02:49 PM:

Lizzy L, I got the impression they're trying to push McCain (but not very hard). (It's still way too early for that kind of big-headline story. It would have been better on an inside page.)

#30 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 03:25 PM:

What bug crawled up his butt and died?

Yes, I think that if no one has started it yet, someone should put together a garden for McCain, i.e. a big patch of dirt about his actions, votes, lobbying, etc, etc, so that come 2008, everyone can pass around a URL to McCain's garden and keep the sumbtch from becoming president.

#31 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 08:17 PM:

Well, you could always tell them to Google for "Keating Five." Anti-corruption outsider, you know. Doesn't want campaign contributions affecting congressmen, getting them to do bad stuff like, just to make up a hypothetical, leaning on S&L regulators to go easy on insolvent S&Ls associated with big contributors.

#32 ::: retterson ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 10:18 PM:

I'm with those who are wondering what "straight talk schtick" we're talking about. When I hear McCain talk, I hear the same political claptrap that hear from everyone else. He just delivers it with that flat Arizona cowboy twang, and he's got his war record, and viola, you have a straight-talker. But it's just well-delivered doublespeak from what I can ken.

His is ambitious to be president and that's the only thing I think he stands for. Let us be mindful of what Douglas Adams (MHRIP) had to say about McCain's breed: "Any man capable of getting himself elected president ought, on no account, be allowed to serve."

I'm supporting the writer in this week's Onion who posed the question whether or not we need a president or would three high priestesses and Ouiji Board work just as well?

#33 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 10:26 PM:

With the current administration, you could probably go with one priestess and a ouija board, and still get good results. Shrub is still going to do what he thinks he wants to do (meaning, whatever Dick tells him).

#34 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2006, 10:54 PM:

The reputation for being a "maverick" originates in McCain's willingness to deviate from the party line and to buck the party leadership. He's done this on campaign finance reform, anti-tobacco legislation, and global warming, among other issues. In a period where Republican party unanimity at the Congressional level approached 100%, this is, I'd submit, indeed a laudable characteristic.

This is not to say that he's right on the Internet issue, or that I think he'd make a good president (although I think I'd prefer him to Giuliani). But the maverick tag isn't complete vaporware.

It's also worth noting that if elected, he would surpass Reagan as the oldest President when first elected, and he's had a number of bouts with cancer.

#35 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2006, 11:10 AM:

I wonder if McCain sees any personal benefit to campaign finance reform, or imagines it might come in handy down the road when he's running for president. It may have come across as altruism before, but now, I'm not so sure.

#36 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2006, 01:21 PM:

Ah, well.

Gore/Clinton 2008

#37 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2006, 07:16 PM:

Another aviator politician of note: Reinhard Heydrich.

(Just tracking the trend ...)

#38 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2006, 07:22 PM:

What about Senator John Glenn?

#39 ::: astronautgo ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2006, 08:49 PM:

And Tailgunner Joe, of course.

#40 ::: Sean D. Schaffer ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2006, 01:58 AM:

I wonder what all else McCain wants to do with freedom of speech?

Whatever happened to the idea of 'Freedom of the Press'? I could have sworn it was a Constitutional Amendment or something to that effect.

Now I think I understand why I don't much care for the man. If he wants to take away freedom from bloggers, whose freedom will he want to take away next?

I do not like this guy at all, now.

#41 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2006, 07:02 AM:

Most of these people who are known as "mavericks" for going against the grain within their party are deeply troubling, to me. I'm in Rhode Island, where we finally, finally stopped sending a Republican to the Senate. Chafee himself is actually pretty great--aside from some unfathomably shady things he and his father both did regarding the local Tribe, he's generally above-board and trustworthy, and (more importantly) tends to have good beliefs and at least occasional opportunity to back them up.

But even though he did a good job representing his constituents in that way, probably a better job than our new Senator Whitehouse will, he DID NOT represent us at a basic level because he kept the Republicans in power. Plain and simple. Hardly anybody around these parts ever wanted that, but we (myself included) kept voting for him because he personally tended to be the better candidate. Not anymore. If he had declared as an independent, even, he would have had my vote.

With him, though, at least I can see the issue arising from his own personal ethics and history--standing for what Republicans are supposed to be, yadda yadda. But with McCain...the way I see him is that he's basically an evil reptile...er...republican, sorry...but every once in a while pretends not to be so that we will get the "sexy maverick" reputation, the "outsider" impression. But it's just so false. The Senate is already enough of an insider's world that being there alone is enough to qualify you for "working from inside to fix it" status. I don't know if I'm making any sense. Maybe I should just stop, even though I feel like my point is still missing. I just think these people are so...misguided, except for the ones that are way too cynical and calculating to be misguided.

#42 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2006, 08:23 AM:

Another aviator: Hermann Göring.

And I suppose you could raise a big questionmark about Lindbergh, but if you want to make the distinction he was a campaigner rather than a politician.

#43 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2006, 08:26 AM:

Aviation after WW2 was the big new, world-changing, technology. And it was physically dangerous: it made heroes.

Which means there maybe isn't anything quite like it today. That could be a good thing: Gill Gates as a notable political figure seems a bit creepy.

#44 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2006, 10:23 AM:

I don't disagree with ethan's analysis, nor do I necessarily impart pure principle rather than calculated maneuvering to McCain's positions.

But to the extent to which the mainstream conventional wisdom reinforces the idea that the way for a Republican Senator to become more popular is to not vote the same way as the other Republican Senators, I'll all for reinforcing that theme. (Unfortunately we see it working for Democrats, too, such as Joe Lieberman. It's yet unclear how that will play out.)

#45 ::: Gary Townsend ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2006, 10:03 PM:

Every time I read something of this sort, I wonder, "Doesn't this person realize that freedom of speech means tolerating things you don't like, as well as defending the rights of others to say them?" And, "Why must any reaction by the Regressives be, of necessity, an over-reaction?" And, "Is there no moderation?" This crap from McCain is hardly my idea of a moderate, especially given his supposed(?) moderate reputation.

And why is it that since the election of Dubya "freedom of speech" has come to mean anything agreeable to the Regressive Party?

I'm currently speeding through Justin Frank's BUSH ON THE COUCH (INSIDE THE MIND OF THE PRESIDENT), and I'm finding it an eminently fascinating read. It's an older book (2004), but definitely worth your while if you haven't read it.

#46 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2006, 10:15 PM:

The campaign finance reform pushed by McCain also ends up restricting political speech. (And I suppose you've noticed how much more honest and nice the political ads have become since that passed.) I think it's almost guaranteed that any campaign finance reform that passes congress will be at least as much about stacking the deck in favor of incumbents as about making the system more generally fair.

But then, in 2006, the set of people who really cares about the bill of rights is too small to make an important voting bloc. This has obvious consequences, and McCain as president may be one more of them.

#47 ::: Mary Aileen sees more of that spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2011, 08:56 PM:

What's 'mistry'? It's a mystery.

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