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July 18, 2008

Comments

Nitpick: I think the word "socialism" as it is being used today has become totally meaningless, since it is used to refer to so many different and often incompatible things. I also don't think that public ownership of certain industries or parts of industries and assets is necessarily a bad thing.

Nitpick #2-- while that "mostest libural evah!" thing seems for its intellectual rigor like it's from the National Review, is't actually from the National Journal. More debunking available here. They had to bend over backwards to select votes on which Obama and Clinton diverged, haphazardly calling Tom Coburn's side on one vote "liberal" in order to confer the designation on Obama.

Also, it's worth noting that McCain's flip-flopping on his own immigration bill is unusually transparent and clueless. ("McCain co-sponsored the Dream Act, then refused to vote for it, then promised to oppose it, then promised to support it. And just to add a little irony to the whole situation, McCain then concluded, 'I do ask for your trust.'")

The "he's not bipartisan enough" line was pushed by Lindsey Graham a few weeks ago on one of the Sunday shows. Obama hasn't needed to break with Democratic orthodoxy like 2000-04 era McCain did, before McCain 3.0 re-converted to movement conservatism, because Dem orthodoxy is neither as rigid nor as constantly wrong as that of the GOP.

"The 'most extreme voting record' stuff is presumably based on the National Review's claim that he was the most liberal member of the Senate in 2007."

YM "National Journal."

Hmmm...what does that A&A remind me of...

M: (Knock)
A: Come in.
M: Ah, Is this the right room for an argument?
A: I told you once.
M: No you haven't.
A: Yes I have.
M: When?
A: Just now.
M: No you didn't.
A: Yes I did.
M: You didn't
A: I did!
M: You didn't!
A: I'm telling you I did!
M: You did not!!

A&A => Q&A

but he's a maverick!!!

(i know this because NPR told me that he is, yesterday)

he's such a maverick that he can buck his own record and the pundits will applaud him. his maverickitude permeates the whole of his being, filling him and all he's near with a kind of warm, fuzzy, inconsistency.

he's such a maverick that he can buck his own record and the pundits will applaud him. his maverickitude permeates the whole of his being, filling him and all he's near with a kind of warm, fuzzy, inconsistency.

This is all wrong. Under the Unitary Maverick Theory, one part of the Maverick branch, having made a decision that it will vote for a certain bill, cannot be contradicted by another part of the same branch stating that it will not vote for the same bill. This is because, under the theory, the Maverick exists in a Schrödinger's cat-like state, where it can take both sides of a position at any time until it is measured by some outside force, such as the press, at which point its current position is revealed.

However, in addition to behaving like Schrödinger's cat, the Maverick has certain, black hole like qualities, in that once a position is revealed, it is immediately sucked back into the Maverick, which then returns to the Schrödinger state until it is measured again, at which point the opposite position may emerge. And so on.

Perhaps the most amazing part of the Unitary Maverick Theory is that the people taking the measurements fail to notice the differing readings on their instruments.

hmmm. the UMT sounds plausible! think you can find someone who will give you a grant to study it ?

He's such a maverick that he can even rebel against the facts of his own record, the written record, and even videorecorded statements to the contrary.

And if you disagree, then clearly you're insulting his military service and you'll deserve it when a visibly aggrieved Andrea Mitchell starts to beat you with her purse.

Fixed the Journal/Review error. (Late night posting: sometimes a mistake. But this seriously annoyed me -- the level of mendacity per second was just too high.)

Shouldn't we have a noun for the quality of being a maverick, mavericity?

hilzoy, I was standing practically right next to a woman who kinda-sorta resembled you in the Atlanta airport last night, but it was on the tram, which is noisy, and I was pretty bleary, so I didn't say anything.

So: either good judgement, or a missed opportunity. Pick one.

Surely one of the most distinctive attributes of the maverickitudinous state is the absence of the customary moral compass inhibiting mere normal humans from dancing around the issues in a manner suiting, or imagined to suit prevailing, or imagined as prevailing. circumstances.
Maverickitivity of this sort depends upon a mutation disabling moral fixity while enhancing the maverick’s personal sense of rectitude; and memory is made into a tool for liberation from the constraints imposed by any merely mundane record of events.
A new amoral day dawns.

LJ, the word (at least when applied to McCain) is "maverickiness", with accent on the "ick".

Slarti: no, I was right here in Baltimore...

This is pretty silly, Hilzoy.

The "most extreme voting record" stuff is presumably based on the National [Journal's] claim that he was the most liberal member of the Senate in 2007.

I understand that there may be mitigating reasons why Sen. Obama was ranked as the most liberal member of Congress in 2007 -- he missed a lot of votes -- which an Obama supporter like yourself may want to highlight to broaden his appeal. But it's neither "dishonest" nor a "new McCain record for dishonesty" for him to cite a public survey. And, in any event, even assuming that Obama missed a lot of votes in 2007, isn't it relevant that when Obama did choose to vote, he was doctrinaire-left in his approach?

Obama is a socialist

For someone so quick to charge McCain with dishonesty, it seems pertinent that McCain, in fact, never said that "Obama is a socialist." McCain actually said:

McCain: That's his voting record. All I said was his voting record -- and that is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Q: Do you think he's a socialist, Barack Obama?

McCain: Oh, I don't know. All I know is his voting record, and that's what people usually judge their elected representatives by. ...

Obama hasn't "reached across the aisle to work in a bipartisan fashion"

McCain does exaggerate here; although Obama does not have McCain's record of reaching across the aisle, Obama can point to something of a record. It is notable, however, that Obama reaches across the aisle when it generally accords with his base, but McCain has a long history of taking a real political risk on issues that many in the Republican party oppose.

"I have not changed my mind on any other issue."

I thought that the context was pretty clear that McCain hadn't changed his principles, although he has changed his approach in light of changing circumstances. This is an approach that you've lauded in Obama. On the other hand, however characterized, I agree that McCain's new positions on tax cuts and spending are not good ones.

But it's neither "dishonest" nor a "new McCain record for dishonesty" for him to cite a public survey.

it is when the survey itself is clearly dishonest.

For someone so quick to charge McCain with dishonesty, it seems pertinent that McCain, in fact, never said that "Obama is a socialist." McCain actually said:

go listen to the exchange.

just before the part you quoted, McCain makes a point of noting that Obama's voting record is "more to the left than the announced Socialist in the Senate, Bernie Saunders of Vermont". he also acknowledges calling Obama the "most extreme member of the Senate". there is no question about what McCain is trying to insinuate here. though, in your favor, it does take some kind of chutzpah to accuse other people of dishonesty while skipping over the obvious intent behind McCain's words.

"I have not changed my mind on any other issue. "

I think the DNC will run this snippet over and over and over again, with several of Steve Benen's 64 (it's up by one) documented flip-flops.

My only fear is that McCain's campaign will manage to get him under control before the convention. As long as he keeps talking without his handlers to keep him under control, he continually hands the Dems political advertising gold.

it's neither "dishonest" nor a "new McCain record for dishonesty" for him to cite a public survey.

McCain didn't say Obama had the most liberal voting record of 2007 (which is what the survey says); he says Obama has "the most extreme voting record." First, as if the 2007 record were typical for Obama (it isn't); second, as if only a record skewed to the Democratic side could be "extreme."

it seems pertinent that McCain, in fact, never said that "Obama is a socialist."

I would say "weasely" rather than "pertinent." "He's a more extreme leftist than an actual self-identified socialist, but gee, I don't know, draw your own conclusions." Maybe not dishonest, but a good deal less than straight.

von: the "level of mandacity" comment obviously referred to the clip as a whole. I agree with you that the National Journal figures, alone, would not have warranted it.

He said he "didn't know" whether Obama was a socialist, and that he was going on his voting record. If you can find something in that voting record that raises any doubt on that score, let me know.

He hasn't "reached across the aisle" is not an exaggeration; it's untrue. It's not as though Obama has, say, a weak record on finding Republicans to work with in order to address serious problems. This would be like saying that it was an exaggeration, in 2003, to claim that McCain had no record of opposing tax cuts.

Changing his mind: what about the context makes you interpret "I have not changed my mind on any other issue" not to be talking about issues, but abut principles? If anything, the context suggests the opposite: McCain's one counterexample is offshore oil drilling, which is hardly a principle or an approach.

"McCain hadn't changed his principles, although he has changed his approach in light of changing circumstances."

Sure: this is a good thing. I don't see how it applies to a lot of McCain's changes, though. On taxes in particular, which he is explicitly talking about, saying that you've changed your position, which was that the Bush tax cuts were too regressive and not paid for by corresponding spending cuts, "in light of changing circumstances", makes no sense when one of the main circumstances that have changed is that our fiscal position has gotten dramatically worse, and the rich have made out like bandits.

It's like saying you don't want to take up smoking in your healthy youth, but now that you have emphysema and have to travel around with an oxygen tank, "things have changed". Things have changed, all right, but not in a way that makes it possible to explain why you can take up smoking now based on your previous principles.

Von: but McCain has a long history of taking a real political risk on issues that many in the Republican party oppose.

...like what? I mean, I can't think of a single occasion where McCain voted in opposition to his party any time in the past 8 years. Even when it briefly looked like he was going to take a stand against torture, he didn't.

As for saying that McCain never said Obama was a socialist, he only said his voting record -- and that is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont that's quibbling of "he never said imminent threat!" standard. (Also, I do believe it's a lie.)

McCain has a long history of taking a real political risk on issues that many in the Republican party oppose.

Like what? Name one!

Not torture--he caved. Not campaign finance reform--he violated the law he hismelf drafted. Certainly not standing up to the religous right--he's sucking up to them, nowdays. Not immigration--he's changed his mind on that so many times that no one can say what policies he favors, not even McCain himself.

With all due respect to von, his support is for the media construct of McCain, that mavericky maverick, rather than for the man himself.

Jes: McCain has opposed his party during the last eight years. He was, iirc, one of two Republicans to oppose the 2001 tax cuts, and one of three to oppose the 2003 tax cuts. He considered leaving the party in 2001.

His about face came within the past 3 years.

I understand that there may be mitigating reasons why Sen. Obama was ranked as the most liberal member of Congress in 2007

I think another reason is that he is the Democratic nominee. Didn't National Journal elevate Kerry to "most liberal" in 2004?

Didn't National Journal elevate Kerry to "most liberal" in 2004?

yep. Edwards was #4.

suhprize!

Hilzoy - thanks for the correction.

Hilarity of the day, McSame who hasn't voted on an issue since April, talking about someone else's voting record? Does he really want to start in on senate votes and records?

I'm not sayin' Obama is a socialist.

Some people (not I) might call Obama a socialist, given his voting record and the fact that Bernie Sanders has a "B" in his and so does OBama.

I'm not saying Hillarycare was Stalinist. But ask your average Ukrainian and they might clue you in on what happened to them after Hillary ran Soviet agricultural programs in the 1920s and 1930s.

I'm not sayin JFK was a Soviet agent. But some people might wonder why Marilyn Monroe slept with Fidel Castro and all of a sudden JFK is squeamish at the Bay of Pigs.

I'm not sayin Obama is a socialist, but some people might wonder why he wants building inspectors to ride herd in electrical contractors in Iraq. That's pretty top-down government, if you live in Louisiana, not that you do and not that I'm sayin'.

I'm not sayin'. Just sayin'.

Slarti: no, I was right here in Baltimore...

Good, another opportunity to embarrass myself narrowly avoided.

Shouldn't we have a noun for the quality of being a maverick, mavericity?

I've always preferred "mavrosity", myself. But much as I loathe "-iness" as a noun-making suffix, KC makes a good argument in re: the "-ickiness" portion thereof...

Cleek:

just before the part you quoted, McCain makes a point of noting that Obama's voting record is "more to the left than the announced Socialist in the Senate, Bernie Saunders of Vermont". he also acknowledges calling Obama the "most extreme member of the Senate". there is no question about what McCain is trying to insinuate here. though, in your favor, it does take some kind of chutzpah to accuse other people of dishonesty while skipping over the obvious intent behind McCain's words.

I quoted that portion of the exchange, as did Hilzoy. No matter how you spin it, McCain did not say that Obama was a socialist. Your other points need to response.

Hogan:

McCain didn't say Obama had the most liberal voting record of 2007 (which is what the survey says); he says Obama has "the most extreme voting record." First, as if the 2007 record were typical for Obama (it isn't); second, as if only a record skewed to the Democratic side could be "extreme."

McCain is entitled to express and opinion and, in this case, the opinion has some statistical support. I don't expect you and Hilzoy to agree with his opinion, but to call McCain "dishonest" is simply silly.

There's a difference between saying "No, McCain's wrong and here's why" and saying "McCain is the most dishonest person evvvvvaaaaahhhh" when he expresses an opinion. The former has the possibility of persuading people who are open to persuasion. The latter makes one less credible, although fellow partisans will certainly enjoy reading it.

He said he "didn't know" whether Obama was a socialist, and that he was going on his voting record. If you can find something in that voting record that raises any doubt on that score, let me know.

That's not what he said.

He hasn't "reached across the aisle" is not an exaggeration; it's untrue. It's not as though Obama has, say, a weak record on finding Republicans to work with in order to address serious problems. This would be like saying that it was an exaggeration, in 2003, to claim that McCain had no record of opposing tax cuts.

It's an exaggeration (rather than an untruth) because "reaching across the aisle" clearly implies some kind of political cost. It's not reaching across the aisle when the other side is doing the reaching, i.e., going against parts of his or her coalition. McCain has done that; Obama has not.

Changing his mind: what about the context makes you interpret "I have not changed my mind on any other issue" not to be talking about issues, but abut principles? If anything, the context suggests the opposite: McCain's one counterexample is offshore oil drilling, which is hardly a principle or an approach.

When you say "I haven't changed my mind at all" and then specifically note that you've changed your policies, the implication is clear -- and it's the opposite of what the conclusion you draw.

In any event, I dinged McCain for this one, so I don't see the point of arguing an issue on which we basically agree.

Rea, your comments are self-refuting.

i like "mavrosity" and "mavericity".

i'll also suggest "mavromythic" and "mavrisophic" as adjectives.

No matter how you spin it, McCain did not say that Obama was a socialist.

hilarious.

of course, if we're going to play obstinate pedant, you lose full points since i never wrote that McCain said Obama was a Socialist. i did, however, write that McCain was clearly insinuating it.

feel free to argue against that.

Von: but McCain has a long history of taking a real political risk on issues that many in the Republican party oppose.

...like what? I mean, I can't think of a single occasion where McCain voted in opposition to his party any time in the past 8 years.

It takes Jes to make me defend Von.

Like McCain-Feingold. Like the 2007 immigration reform bill and the 2005 McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill.

On the other hand: "No matter how you spin it, McCain did not say that Obama was a socialist."

Is Von a fibber? That's his commenting record.

Do I think he's a fibber, Von?

Oh, I don't know. All I know is his commenting record, and that's what people usually judge their bloggers by.

But in no way have I called Von a fibber! I'd never do that! No matter how you spin it, I did not say that!

He said he "didn't know" whether Obama was a socialist, and that he was going on his voting record. If you can find something in that voting record that raises any doubt on that score, let me know.

That's not what he said.

Von, 10:13 a.m.:
McCain actually said:

McCain: That's his voting record. All I said was his voting record -- and that is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Q: Do you think he's a socialist, Barack Obama?

McCain: Oh, I don't know. All I know is his voting record, and that's what people usually judge their elected representatives by. ...

There's a difference between saying "No, McCain's wrong and here's why" and saying "McCain is the most dishonest person evvvvvaaaaahhhh" when he expresses an opinion. The former has the possibility of persuading people who are open to persuasion. The latter makes one less credible, although fellow partisans will certainly enjoy reading it.

Yes, and Steve Benen has done the "McCain's wrong and here's why" work on Obama's voting record in the article hilzoy linked to in her post. I assumed that was part of the shared background information in this discussion, so that it wouldn't be necessary for me to refer to it specifically.

of course, if we're going to play obstinate pedant, you lose full points since i never wrote that McCain said Obama was a Socialist. i did, however, write that McCain was clearly insinuating it.

I was referring to Hilzoy's statement, which is the only statement under debate.

Is Von a fibber? That's his commenting record.

Do I think he's a fibber, Von?

Oh, I don't know. All I know is his commenting record, and that's what people usually judge their bloggers by.

Actually, Gary, that's not quite on point -- you're missing the comparative. This is more on point:

".... All I said was Gary's commenting record -- and that has more lies in it than the announced fibber at Obsidian Wings, von of vonlandia.

Q: Do you think he's a liar, Gary Farber?

McCain: Oh, I don't know. All I know is his commenting record, and that's what people usually judge their elected representatives by."

Regarding what "McCain actually said," it helps to include the initial question so that you know what McCain is talking about. I've added it to your quotation (above) in bold below:

McCain actually said:

Q: Extreme? You really think he's an extremist? I mean, he's clearly liberal...

McCain: That's his voting record [i.e., it's "extreme" -- no socialistic]. All I said was his voting record -- and that is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Q: Do you think he's a socialist, Barack Obama?

McCain: Oh, I don't know. All I know is his voting record, and that's what people usually judge their elected representatives by.

"Actually, Gary, that's not quite on point"

It was McCain's statement, as quoted by you, with the nouns changed. I guess you were off point.

"Regarding what 'McCain actually said,' it helps to include the initial question so that you know what McCain is talking about."

Von:

For someone so quick to charge McCain with dishonesty, it seems pertinent that McCain, in fact, never said that "Obama is a socialist." McCain actually said:

McCain: That's his voting record. All I said was his voting record -- and that is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Q: Do you think he's a socialist, Barack Obama?

McCain: Oh, I don't know. All I know is his voting record, and that's what people usually judge their elected representatives by. ...

You've become quite the self-criticizer, Von: been studying up on the Cultural Revolution? I'll loan you a pointy hat, if you like, you bourgeois landlord-lover, you.

Even when it briefly looked like he was going to take a stand against torture, he didn't.

He not only caved, his actions deliberately scuttled action on torture. The Gang of However Many (band name?) told the Senate that they were going to convince Bush to stop torture. After meeting with Bush, they came back and said "Never mind." Without McCain in the GoHM, the Senate could have passed the anti-torture bill.

Well, here's a comparative version for you Von:

Does Von have more trouble understanding the ordinary pragmatic devices of communication than somebody with a peculiar aphasia?

I don't know. All I know is his commenting record. And that's what people usually judge commenters by.

I dunno. How is Obama's FISA vote not socialist?

(I'm using "socialist" in the Republican sense here, meaning "gives too much power to the government", not any sense in which real socialists use the word, about which I am woefully undereducated.)

After the last few months, especially after the last week, the idea of any Administration supporter complaining about socialism is rich in irony.

It was McCain's statement, as quoted by you, with the nouns changed. I guess you were off point.

Obviously, it wasn't McCain's statement "as quoted by me, with [just] the nouns changed" because you changed a bunch of verbs and other stuff too. But this is a really silly dispute.

You've become quite the self-criticizer, Von: been studying up on the Cultural Revolution? I'll loan you a pointy hat, if you like, you bourgeois landlord-lover, you.

You were making a different point than I was, which made the initial question relevant. This, too, is a really silly dispute -- but I'll take the pointy hat. I like hats.

Does Von have more trouble understanding the ordinary pragmatic devices of communication than somebody with a peculiar aphasia?

Snap!

Don't cross swords with this guy at a faculty meeting!

Even tho I support Obama, I read McCain's remark about Sanders the same way Von did, as an accusation of leftist "extremism," not socialism. It's not as though there's a straight line from socialism through liberalism to conservatism. Socialists are somewhere over on the extreme left, but not all extreme leftists are socialists. And nothing voted on in the Senate is going to remotely begin to implement socialism, so voting similarly to Sanders does not suggest that you agree with him about socialism. In fact, in the context of McCain's comment, the question "do you think Obama is a socialist" struck me as a non sequitur.

But I may be missing a broader context. Who was that remark aimed at, and how often? If McCain regularly says that Obama is "more leftist than a socialist," or even "than Bernie Sanders the socialist," if he highlights those words in a fundraiser letter, then it would clearly be a calculated effort to link "Obama" and "socialist" in people's minds. Which is basically the same thing as saying "he's a socialist," but in a weaselly way, hiding behind grammar.

but he's a maverick!!!

I hear this a lot, but it's not so. It's a simple, but common, misunderstanding.

McCain is not a maverick. McCain http://www.fordmaverick.com/>drives a Maverick.

Glad I could help clear this up.

Thanks -

Von, there was a serious point there: it's completely normal for people to communicate something other than the literal content of what they say.

If somebody asks me, "Do you want to go for a cup of coffee?" and I respond,"I have to go to a faculty meeting so I can make snappy remarks," it's perfectly fine for that person to report, "Josh said he can't go for coffee." Of course, I didn't utter those *words*, but I communicated it nonetheless--there's a very real, and utterly unremarkable sense in which I *did* say I couldn't go for coffee.

I assume you're a competent speaker of English, and so you really do understand all of this. You just choose to choose to ignore it and insist on a foolish literalism when it suits your purposes--recently, when you wish to defend something McCain has said.

I find this selective (and apparently willful) ignorance of ordinary conventions of communication fairly annoying. Hence the snarkiness of my example. Now that I've explained it without the snark, maybe you'll bother to respond.

Cindy went to open a new Peace Corps office:

http://www.one.org/blog/2008/07/18/plane-taking-off-for-rwanda/

So, what's the problem with ONE? British and the Live8/G8. Remember the London bombing?

Of course, there is Obama and Harvard and Kennedy and the G8 taxes and Obama's legislation for Blair's tax.............

I find this selective (and apparently willful) ignorance of ordinary conventions of communication fairly annoying. Hence the snarkiness of my example. Now that I've explained it without the snark, maybe you'll bother to respond.

Jdkbrown, all you've explained is that you believe that I'm operating in bad faith ("this selective (and apparently willful) ignorance ..."). I've explained, above, why I think it's incorrect to say that McCain said that Obama was a socialist based on this example. (I reserve the right to change my opinion, of course, if evidence along the lines of that noted by Trilobyte exists.)

If you're not going to assume good faith in me, I don't know how I can prove my good faith to you. Consequently, there's no point to futher discussion on this subject.

I've explained, above, why I think it's incorrect to say that McCain said that Obama was a socialist based on this example.

Which is how we know you're operating in bad faith.

But, von, your explanation is *silly* (as Gary's parody showed). I have a hard time believing that you think it's actually correct. Honestly, the *most charitible* conclusion I can come to is that you're spinning.

But, von, your explanation is *silly* (as Gary's parody showed).

Huh? Only if you ignore what McCain was asked and said, I suppose, as Gary had to do to make his parody fit his preferred conclusion.

Hugs and kiss back to you, Jes.

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