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August 26, 2018

Comments

Let's not look backwards but forward. ;-)
Will he get replaced before the midterms by someone 'reliable' in order to push through more abominable bills and confirm more monsters to lifetime positions on courts (SCOTUS in particular)? Until now almost everyone assumed that the old guy would be either absent or even turn up to vote against some of the more extreme stuff.

Hartmut, the TPM piece, at the end, goes into a bit of detail about what may happen after.

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/john-mccain-dead-at-81

We were fortunate to have had his service and leadership. Complex yes, honest too.

“Sore loser”

Agree

for all his faults, McCain was one of the better ones.

as a liberal, i know i'm supposed to hate him. but i just can't muster the bile.

whoever replaces him will be 100x worse.

hard to reconcile "sore loser" with mccain's gracious acceptance of his loss to obama.

what i found most notable in mccain was his inability to abandon his own, innate, basic decency. can't think of a better thing to say about anyone.

and however you see our involvement in vietnam, his behavior during six years as a prisoner was unambiguously heroic.

rare qualities.

rip john mccain, you will be missed, especially now.

Complex. Leaving it at that.

Here in MA, we have a Republican governor named Charlie Baker running for re-election. It's hard to tell from his TV ads that he IS a Republican, but I know better. I will be voting for the Democrat to be named later, because John McCain. And for that matter, Ted Kennedy.

John McCain was one of the Keating Five as well as the man who foisted Sarah Palin on our national politics. But he also had occasional flashes of decency, and I don't just say that because he's dead.

I choose to remember McCain as the mensch who told the dumb-ass woman at his rally that Obama was NOT an "Arab", rather than as the panderer who demanded "Build the dang fence".

Yes, his appointed successor will be 100x worse.

--TP

McCain from a libertarian perspective:

"For both good and ill, McCain helped shape the purpose and application of Washington's considerable power for nearly half a century. Partly because of that mixed track record, his passing leaves as an open question what kind of future that McCain-style politics—with its robust, moralistic interventionism both at home but especially abroad—has in a political party and country that elected his rhetorical tormentor, Donald Trump."
John McCain, the Senate's Most Influential Hawk, Is Dead: The late Arizona senator's relentless energy and patriotic sense of honor led him to heroic acts of defiance, but also misguided support for disastrous foreign interventions.

When I said in another thread that nothing in his life became him like the leaving it, some might have thought I was referring to his decision to discontinue treatment, which had happened a few hours before. But I was not.

I know he had a very mixed history of actions and attitudes, many of which I might have disagreed with or even despised. And his impulsive and petulant nomination of Palin was a direct precursor to and enabler of the Trump phenomenon.

But his conduct during the Trump presidency has been a beacon for the kind of people (Republicans) who might have needed one, to remind them of how it was possible to regard this president even if you were a conservative and a hawk. His vote on the ACA motion was hugely important, and his statement after Helsinki likewise. As for his behaviour in refusing an early release by the VietCong, it is the kind of principled heroism about which Bonespur Donny can only have uneasy dreams.

Rest In Peace, John McCain:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/john-mccains-mother-still-alive-at-106-called-him-a-scamp-2018-08-26?siteid=bigcharts&dist=bigcharts

I like to think McCain occasionally pulled Lindsay Graham aside to say: "Speaking as a bit of an asshole myself, that was one bit of assholery too far on your part, Lindsay. Does your mouth work on its own, or does it at least consult with your brain first?"

I suspect we are about to see Graham the asshole in full now that his only ass left to kiss is that of King Asshole himself.

Via our old pal Gary Farber, excerpted from:

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/john-mccain-make-believe-maverick-202004/

"[...] But the subsequent tale of McCain’s mistreatment — and the transformation it is alleged to have produced — are both deeply flawed. The Code of Conduct that governed POWs was incredibly rigid; few soldiers lived up to its dictate that they 'give no information . . . which might be harmful to my comrades.' Under the code, POWs are bound to give only their name, rank, date of birth and service number — and to make no 'statements disloyal to my country.'

Soon after McCain hit the ground in Hanoi, the code went out the window. 'I’ll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital,' he later admitted pleading with his captors. McCain now insists the offer was a bluff, designed to fool the enemy into giving him medical treatment. In fact, his wounds were attended to only after the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was a Navy admiral. What has never been disclosed is the manner in which they found out: McCain told them. According to Dramesi, one of the few POWs who remained silent under years of torture, McCain tried to justify his behavior while they were still prisoners. 'I had to tell them,' he insisted to Dramesi, 'or I would have died in bed.'

Dramesi says he has no desire to dishonor McCain’s service, but he believes that celebrating the downed pilot’s behavior as heroic — 'he wasn’t exceptional one way or the other' — has a corrosive effect on military discipline. 'This business of my country before my life?' Dramesi says. 'Well, he had that opportunity and failed miserably. If it really were country first, John McCain would probably be walking around without one or two arms or legs — or he’d be dead.'

Once the Vietnamese realized they had captured the man they called the 'crown prince,' they had every motivation to keep McCain alive. His value as a propaganda tool and bargaining chip was far greater than any military intelligence he could provide, and McCain knew it. 'It was hard not to see how pleased the Vietnamese were to have captured an admiral’s son,' he writes, 'and I knew that my father’s identity was directly related to my survival.'

But during the course of his medical treatment, McCain followed through on his offer of military information. Only two weeks after his capture, the North Vietnamese press issued a report — picked up by The New York Times — in which McCain was quoted as saying that the war was 'moving to the advantage of North Vietnam and the United States appears to be isolated.' He also provided the name of his ship, the number of raids he had flown, his squadron number and the target of his final raid.

THE CONFESSION

In the company of his fellow POWs, and later in isolation, McCain slowly and miserably recovered from his wounds. In June 1968, after three months in solitary, he was offered what he calls early release. In the official McCain narrative, this was the ultimate test of mettle. He could have come home, but keeping faith with his fellow POWs, he chose to remain imprisoned in Hanoi.

What McCain glosses over is that accepting early release would have required him to make disloyal statements that would have violated the military’s Code of Conduct. If he had done so, he could have risked court-martial and an ignominious end to his military career. 'Many of us were given this offer,' according to Butler, McCain’s classmate who was also taken prisoner. 'It meant speaking out against your country and lying about your treatment to the press. You had to ‘admit’ that the U.S. was criminal and that our treatment was ‘lenient and humane.’ So I, like numerous others, refused the offer.'

'He makes it sound like it was a great thing to have accomplished,' says Dramesi. 'A great act of discipline or strength. That simply was not the case.'

In fairness, it is difficult to judge McCain’s experience as a POW; throughout most of his incarceration he was the only witness to his mistreatment. Parts of his memoir recounting his days in Hanoi read like a bad Ian Fleming novel, with his Vietnamese captors cast as nefarious Bond villains. On the Fourth of July 1968, when he rejected the offer of early release, an officer nicknamed 'Cat' got so mad, according to McCain, that he snapped a pen he was holding, splattering ink across the room.

'They taught you too well, Mac Kane,' Cat snarled, kicking over a chair. 'They taught you too well.'

The brutal interrogations that followed produced results. In August 1968, over the course of four days, McCain was tortured into signing a confession that he was a 'black criminal' and an 'air pirate.'

'John allows the media to make him out to be the hero POW, which he knows is absolutely not true, to further his political goals,' says Butler. 'John was just one of about 600 guys. He was nothing unusual. He was just another POW.'

McCain has also allowed the media to believe that his torture lasted for the entire time he was in Hanoi. At the Republican convention, Fred Thompson said of McCain’s torture, 'For five and a half years this went on.' In fact, McCain’s torture ended after two years, when the death of Ho Chi Minh in September 1969 caused the Vietnamese to change the way they treated POWs. 'They decided it would be better to treat us better and keep us alive so they could trade us in for real estate,' Butler recalls. [...]"

hsh: if others refused early release because it was against the Military Code of Conduct, that's principled heroism too. And if he was tortured for two years not five and a half, that's bad enough. And although he ended up voting against repeal of the ACA, he originally voted against it. Etc etc etc. A complicated man, and no saint, for sure. But with admirable qualities which present a particularly graphic contrast with the president who disparages him.

I like Tony's thoughts, I feel similarly. I feel like it is important to remember people's best sides, but I know that's not a general feeling, especially in these times. I don't want to crap in the punchbowl, but since hsh put the rolling stone article up, there's this by Erik Loomis

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2018/08/mccain

For those who don't click on links, Loomis' co-blogger, Paul Campos accurately describes the article when he says:
Now that Erik has thoroughly napalmed John McCain’s corpse

While Loomis post makes me a bit queasy, Campos' post, which goes into the more general question of Vietnam POWs, I really recommend.

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2018/08/john-mccain-pow-mia-myth

Loomis' post has me thinking i might want to take a break from LGM for a while.

"Still married, he began dating Cindy Hensley, the daughter of a very wealthy beer distributor. He pressured his first wife into a divorce, married Cindy, and then used her money to finance his burgeoning political career."

I guess that made him the Manbeerian candidate.

That RS piece was news to me, as of this morning, despite it’s having been written in 2008. I have no interest in telling anyone what to think of it or what to think of McCain based on it. I haven’t even made up my mind about it yet, but I thought it was worth reading.

Thanks hsh for mentioning that, I was thinking that it was pretty harsh to publish it after McCain's passing.

hilzoy posts a link from digby of McCain roasting Obama at the 2008 Alfred E Smith dinner, in which digby very rightly also says:

Forget that clip of McCain telling the racist woman that Obama isn't an arab. The moment where McCain acted like we used to expect our political leaders to behave was at the Al Smith dinner that year.

Go to the 5 minute mark:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZXX9Wfl5S0&feature=youtu.be

hsh, I wasn't meaning to get at you, what's clear is that one can make a convincing case for and against McCain, wherever you sit on the political spectrum. Which makes him a very human figure, and not unusual (at least in that respect) for a politician.

his impulsive and petulant nomination of Palin

my general impression from the time was that palin had kind of been foisted on to him.

i could be wrong.

as far as whether his conduct while imprisoned in vietnam was "all that" or not, when offered the option of leaving in return for providing propaganda for north vietnam, he declined. and so was imprisoned for years more, if i understand correctly. and never regained full upper body mobility, and lived with pain.

all of which sounds like "paid his dues", to me.

the fact that others did as much doesn't really diminish that, in my eyes, it just means there were a number of guys equally heroic.

it's no small thing to bear up under that kind of punishment.

Loomis' article reads well. He must have spent some time beforehand polishing it.

russell, you may be right, but my memory is that it was said that when his advisers convinced him that it would be unwise to go with Lieberman, he was in such a fury that he went with Palin without giving it due consideration and in a kind of pettish tantrum. I can't remember the source, and it may not be true, but the tantrum element is certainly rather persuasive. Other than that, I agree with everything else you say.

McCain's concession speech from 2008.

I could list lots of points of policy where I, personally, did not agree with McCain. I can also list a generous handful of moments where I thought he had fallen short of what should be expected of someone holding his office.

and of whom would I not say that? anyone? maybe no-one.

complicated, flawed, ambitious, opportunistic at times.

but also someone who would respond to what must have been a severe diappointment, with a statement like what i've cited.

sorry to see him go.

when his advisers convinced him that it would be unwise to go with Lieberman, he was in such a fury that he went with Palin without giving it due consideration and in a kind of pettish tantrum

i find this completely believable.

Thanks hsh for mentioning that, I was thinking that it was pretty harsh to publish it after McCain's passing.

I was on the fence about sharing it here, but I assumed no one who had anything like a close relationship with McCain would end up reading it.

I’ve seen some really awful and very disrespectful things being written about him on social media by Trumpers, while we on “The Left” seem to be mostly giving him respect and qualified/limited praise. These are the times we live in, I suppose.

A Trumper friend of mine wrote not-so-nice things about him prefaced with “I hate to sound harsh, but....” I made the suggestion that it’s not necessary to say anything at all. That wasn’t received very well.

Maybe I’m a hypocrite for sharing that RS piece after giving my Trumper friend that suggestion, but I’d say the difference is that I didn’t claim to “hate to” to do anything. Did someone have a gun to my Trumper friend’s head?

“I hate to sound harsh, but....”

In politics, anything preceding but can be safely ignored.

another account from RS, also cited at LGM.

even if half of that is BS, john mccain still kicks my ass 25 ways to friday.

yes, he was a conservative politician. ambitious, opportunistic, flawed.

would i vote for him? not in a million years.

does he deserve to be remebered with respect? i more than think so.

Regarding Vietnam, I've given up state secrets and dear comrades on the basis of a severe hang nail or a case of plantar fasciitus, so I'm in no position to hold McCain accountable for the unimaginable.

So what, anyway, we have a President now who had given the nuclear codes to Putin as America goes full bat shit bullshit.

That said, I recommend tiger cages and water boarding for this infestation of anti-American filth:

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/ward-saturday-on-mccain-ending-treatment-they-wanted-to-have-a-particular-narrative

No one has savaged McCain like this current crop of vipers and domestic VC.

In politics, anything preceding but can be safely ignored.

lol

and not just politics...

hard to reconcile "sore loser" with mccain's gracious acceptance of his loss to obama.

what i found most notable in mccain was his inability to abandon his own, innate, basic decency. can't think of a better thing to say about anyone...

This (apart from the disturbing lack of caps...).

I didn’t share his politics, and to say that his judgment was flaky at times would be generous... but on the big stuff - torture; racism; destroying healthcare; Trump; respect for the constitution - he had a real conscience, which he acted upon.

Perhaps not unique, but certainly extremely unusual in today’s Republican party.

Obviously President Bonespur is not fit to shine McCain's shoes.

But if that makes McCain a great American, you guys are setting the bar low.

Obviously President Bonespur is not fit to shine McCain's shoes.

But if that makes McCain a great American, you guys are setting the bar low.

I'm not, and have never been, a fan of John McCain. But he refused to buy into lies about Obama. He saved the ACA. He opposed torture. He opposed Trump. He paid his dues in the military in a huge way. He wasn't a chicken hawk.

He wanted to remembered, it seems, for having basic decency. It's okay with me that people remember him for that, even though it's not the full story. People are flawed, and his flaws exceeded those of most Democrats. What I would ask is that people paying their respects today please quit criticizing Democrats for their much lesser flaws.

This is also a good article on (conversation about) McCain:
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/08/john-mccain-dead-his-predecessors-and-successors-in-republican-history.html

It is, I think, correct in saying he wasn’t a moderate; it is also correct that he was a man willing to publicly acknowledge his own flaws and change his mind from time to time. Again unusual in today’s Republican party.

What I would ask is that people paying their respects today please quit criticizing Democrats for their much lesser flaws.

sapient, does this apply to anybody here? I can't offhand think of anyone here doing this (although obviously if they want to, why shouldn't they?).

McCain’s death has really hammered home for me something about the loss of decency in the political sphere. I’ve never seen a big political figure get so thoroughly shit on by seemingly vast numbers of wingnuts from both sides simultaneously. Right wing crazies rant about how he refused to destroy the affordable care act. Left wing crazies are mad that he wasn’t a Democrat.

Both seem way more empowered than can possibly be good for the country.

“does this apply to anyone here?”

Won’t apply to me. McCain did some good things and some horrible things. The advantage of believing in an afterlife is that you can assume someone else will sort all that out.

The bad thing about this “ speak no ill of the dead” principle when applied to public figures is that all sorts of hacks, both politicians and pundits, will use his death as an excuse to spread all sorts of self serving propagandistic bull. And you’re not supposed to object to it. The people who do this over the top praising of McCain’s political virtues are cynically making use of the opportunity to score propaganda points. It isn’t about mourning the passing of a human being with virtues and flaws. Case in point —

https://mobile.twitter.com/JeffreyGoldberg/status/1033721013706665985

While Loomis post makes me a bit queasy

Napalm or no, Loomis hit the mark. He rendered a pretty accurate summary of McCain's career..both the good (not much) and the bad (a great deal). I'm sure when Jimmy Carter passes there won't be a lot of laudatory remembrance of his political career (inept, rigid, inflation, Iran hostages, bunny rabbits, yadda' yadda'), or much extolling of his naval service. Everybody will key in on his post presidency life. You just watch.

Campos' post, which goes into the more general question of Vietnam POWs, I really recommend.

Absolutely seconded.

Loomis wasn’t trying to see both sides of McCain at all. McCain did great work in pushing past the powerful at the time POW/MIA crowd while working to reestablish diplomatic and later fuller reconciliation with Vietnam. Loomis knows about this, but...

Then there are those whose classyness pays no attention:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/08/26/arizona-senate-candidate-suggests-mccain-timed-his-pre-death-announcement-hurt-her-campaign/

All politicians are self-centered. But claiming that someone died just to inconvenience you is definitely on the low end.

sapient, does this apply to anybody here? I can't offhand think of anyone here doing this (although obviously if they want to, why shouldn't they?).

I thought my comment indicated a general request, not an accusation.
My point was more about what bobbyp just said: "I'm sure when Jimmy Carter passes there won't be a lot of laudatory remembrance of his political career (inept, rigid, inflation, Iran hostages, bunny rabbits, yadda' yadda'), or much extolling of his naval service. Everybody will key in on his post presidency life. You just watch."

And, of course, people should be able to say whatever they want, by all means. And other people should be able to agree, or take issue. Why shouldn't they? After all, this is a discussion.

Jimmy Carter passes there won't be a lot of laudatory remembrance of his political career.

During his administration, airlines, trucking, and beer were deregulated. Accomplishments that have had a good impact.

I have spent the day pondering this.

I believe John McCain was one of the few, imo, politicians in my lifetime who spent his life in the service of his country. He had success and failures as a human being but truly tried to serve his country the best way he could.

Men of honor, who did their best in service, deserve our admiring remembrance.

"You should never say bad things about the dead, only good… Joan Crawford is dead. Good." —Bette Davis

russell said
what i found most notable in mccain was his inability to abandon his own, innate, basic decency. can't think of a better thing to say about anyone...

and sapient

He wanted to remembered, it seems, for having basic decency.

This is one reason why I wanted to get this post up before his death, I think this discussion would have been a lot more illuminating without having to go through all the pieces, which is a bit of a strange turnaround for me who likes links.

Sebastian said Loomis knows about this, but...

These are probably not things you would have filled in there, but I might say...

but...as a historian, he knows that the thick layer of homage from people who would have been happy if McCain's death had come at other junctures in his career [that might include people on the left and right] and provides a counter-balance

but...he's at a point in his writing where he's so angry at seeing how the consensus enabled the current state of affairs, he wants to balance the scales, with a vengence

but...he's a person who nearly lost his job because of a cynical attack by the right on his writing

I'm not sure exactly what it is, and as I said, the ferocity makes me a bit queasy. I recall that Bob MacManus felt we were a branch office of LGM, which was pretty funny at the time, but it's interesting to see the differences that appear at a group blog. Dan Nexon, who is not part of the original group, posts this there, perhaps as a counterweight to the Loomis piece

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2018/08/yes-mccain-hero-also-conservative-republican-politician

I really can't know what drives people who are on the internet to write what they do. I can only weigh how I feel about it and try and be honest. I do think that there is a fundamental anger about the way things are in Loomis' writing and I don't think that anger is wrong, but it is inherently like an inflatable ball with an increaasing amount of gas being pumped into it. If the ball has some weak spot, you can imagine the ball suddenly pooching out. However, I tend to think the solution is not to try and convince the person that they are wrong in that particular instance, and pushing back against that spot, but to lower the overall pressure so the ball can return to its ideal form.

I'm rabbitting on here, so I will suggest that there is a fundamental difference between right and left on McCain that Sebastian gets at. He wrote:

Right wing crazies rant about how he refused to destroy the affordable care act. Left wing crazies are mad that he wasn’t a Democrat.

I think that observation is absolutely key. While it is common to co-opt figures from the past (witness Republican invocations of MLK) I can't imagine the image I have of a person on the Right in the future wondering after they pass why Jimmy Carter or Joe Biden or Bill Clinton or Nanci Pelosi wasn't closer to them. (even though all of the things that Reagan is lauded for by conservatives is, as CharlesWT points, out, essentially working off the initiatives of Carter) I can't imagine them getting the treatment that George Wallace did (though to be fair, he expressed his remorse before he died). Kind of curious if there are other examples or counter examples.

And while the left, broadly construed, has people they did not want (and I expose my blindspots here when I can name only Nixon and Helms as people who one side wouldn't want, though I really hope I'm totally unplugged when Kissinger passes away, cause that's going to be a real shitstorm), it seems to me to be a measure of the growing distance that this category of people one side wouldn't take is growing rapidly for the left. And I, being who I am, don't think the blame is on the left for this...

I believe John McCain was one of the few, imo, politicians in my lifetime who spent his life in the service of his country

As far as I know, he never held a job in the private sector. So I guess this is, in some sense, true.

McCain’s death has really hammered home for me something about the loss of decency in the political sphere.

"bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran. Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran..."

The thousands who needlessly died applaud John McCain's decency.

The yardstick of measurement of John McCain's decency can be measured exactly by how such decency advanced his presidential ambitions.

Sebastian: Right wing crazies rant about how he refused to destroy the affordable care act. Left wing crazies are mad that he wasn’t a Democrat.

Really, Seb? You want to reach THAT far to be fair-and-balanced?

I offer this suggestion in all sincerity:
Buy yourself a lamp. Wander the streets looking for left-wingers who were ever "mad that [McCain] wasn't a Democrat". If, before you find one, you get tired of bumping into right-wingers who "rant about" him for killing the skinny repeal of ACA, I will understand.

--TP

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-rejected-statement-praising-mccains-life-report-2018-08-26?siteid=bigcharts&dist=bigcharts

America is full of shit.

Tony P, Did you read Loomis? On second thought I’m not recommending it.

McCain represents something you can disagree with. I have no trouble with that. This is more than that. He isn’t Trump, or even Cruz.

There is a dynamic at play in this country that is disasterous. Working hard to obscure the basic humanity in your opponents is how a country dies. You can withhold that for the worst, but you can’t for most. McCain was worth opposing if you disagreed with him, but not worth demonizing.

Thanks Seb. Drop in if you have time.

Working hard to obscure the basic humanity in your opponents is how a country dies. 

Just wanted that repeated.

“as a historian, he knows that the thick layer of homage from people who would have been happy if McCain's death had come at other junctures in his career [that might include people on the left and right] and provides a counter-balance”

I think you’ve hit on exactly what bugs me about Loomis in that piece. He seems to think that working as a propagandist in the other direction is a counter balance, while I see doing that as strengthening a discourse where propaganda is preeminent.

The rule I use is that if I would wince at hearing the same type of thing about Islam in the “War on Terrorism” it isn’t appropriate for my political opponents either. Radicalism is fed by cycles of divisiveness, and we are more in control of our side of the cycle than we admit.

I don't know if I'd classify Erik Loomis as a 'left wing crazy'. CharlesWT suggests that Erik had already written that, pre-demise, like newspapers have obits on file ready to go. I don't think so, but who knows?

I do think Loomis is indicative of a rising anger, but I don't think it is totally out of place. The only problem is that if that anger takes you, it becomes very hard to back down. I agree with Seb that there is a problematic dynamic at play, but I don't feel (but again, this could be my bias) that it is 'the left' that is doing that, they are just pushing back. Of course, I can't recall a time where the right has 'backed down' (but am open to corrections) so the point about backing down is necessary usually means that the left side needs to back down rather than the right, which I think is a fundamental problem of asymmetry.

I did think that Sebastian was thinking of criticisms of McCain while he was alive, and the palpable air of disappointment with him by his 'base', the political journalists, is responsible for that perception. I do like Nigel's link to the Slate article and I recommend that.

Seb.

Loomis is pretty vigorously down on McCain. So much so that I seriously doubt you were citing Loomis when you wrote: Left wing crazies are mad that he wasn’t a Democrat.

WTF were you actually trying to say with that little bon mot?

Loomis's whole point seems to be that McCain was in most respects a bog-standard Republican of the win-at-any-cost variety, like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and other leading lights of the modern GOP. Did you perhaps mean that "left wing crazies" are mad at Ryan and McConnell for not being Democrats too?

--TP

Yes I don’t mean opposing McCain as a politician when he was alive. That’s fine.

Liberal japonicus, “I agree with Seb that there is a problematic dynamic at play, but I don't feel (but again, this could be my bias) that it is 'the left' that is doing that, they are just pushing back.”

I don’t see that as being how this type of dynamic works. Everyone is always “just pushing back”. There is always a sin to be paid back, a slight to be hurt by, a wound that didn’t heal. A dynamic of feeding off the poisons, nursing the old grudges, shooting because of old vendettas, doesn’t get fixed by feeding poisons, nursing old grudges, and getting better guns to shoot because of old vendettas.

I can’t get over how much transparently bad advice can be seen as bad when Republicans use it as rhetoric for the Middle East but gets embraced with respect to Republicans. “They are all basically the same”. “They are too religious to reason with”. “They are all racist extremists”. “They can’t get along in modern society”. “They only understand overwhelming force”. “Their culture is incompatible with ours.” “Their alleged moderates don’t control their extremists which really means that they are all extremists.” “Maybe we should just let them wallow in it all.”

And just like with the Middle East, you can disagree. You can fight back against their violent extremists. But if you dehumanize them, you are actively engaging in the process that led us here.

So Sebastian, on which right-leaning blogs do you also preach this gospel?

And while we're doing both-sides-are-equivalent, who do you consider to be the left-leaning equivalent of, let's say, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Fox News, in terms of content and audience size? Or of the NRA, in terms of influence on lawmaking in this country?

This is more than that.

How so? More than what? Loomis paints a picture of the history of John McCain that you apparently disagree with. McCain was a bog standard conservative Republican in just about all respects...esp. the important ones. In the Keating affair, he was on the take. He had a documented pattern in his personal life that showed him to be a self centered asshole. He shit on his first wife. He never met a war he did not like. He voted straight partisan GOP just about always. His "maverick" persona was a fabulist construct. Is there anything in the factual evidence that Loomis lays out that is manifestly untrue?

Sure. He did a few good things, and took a few good positions. Most humans, if they get a chance to lead a full life, do. Props to him. However, the weight of the evidence is against him.

This is not about his "basic humanity"...it's about his public life, and his public life was, in the big picture, not something that I can admire.

"Just pushing back is what Both Sides do" is a reasonable point of view for a rugby ball. But even a rugby ball might notice how far down field it finds itself and conclude that one Side may not have been playing for a compromise recently.

--TP

McCain and Collins -- long-time companions in fabulistic maverickiness.

Volokh before they moved. I haven’t registered at their new place.

I don’t see that as being how this type of dynamic works.

Well, there is Murc's law, where the Dems are the only ones with any agency, so they are the ones who have to move. Similar for gun control, where even the smallest steps at a compromise are knocked down. Dare I mention IP? The dynamic works because of the appeal to comity followed by why don't you be the ones who cut corners. That's how I see it working.

To pick an example that might be a bit more clear cut, gay marriage. The push was always for the side demanding the rights to be a little quieter and a little more peaceful. Of course, that 'be more peaceful' idea makes those who don't want to grant any changes having the upper hand.

Volokh is now at Reason and I have my own problems with them and libertarianism in general that we've discussed here (though they are at pains to indicate their independence from Reason). Would they actually cop to being a 'right-leaning' site?

Another example of this dynamic that is non political might be the reception of Steve Jobs daughter's book. This NYTimes link

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/23/books/steve-jobs-lisa-brennan-jobs-small-fry.html

In ‘Small Fry,’ Steve Jobs Comes Across as a Jerk. His Daughter Forgives Him. Should We?

Then check out the title of this link
https://www.businessinsider.com/steve-jobs-terrible-small-fry-daughter-book-2018-8

The memoir by Steve Jobs' daughter makes clear he was a truly rotten person whose bad behavior was repeatedly enabled by those around him

The thing I take away from all this stuff is that it is never too early to start trying to be more decent and that most people, when given a chance, will aim for that, but things often get in the way...

Bobby: He voted straight partisan GOP just about always. His "maverick" persona was a fabulist construct.

You might find this enlightening:
https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/john-mccain-was-a-maverick-and-a-politician/
As you can see, time was when McCain was about average party line. But as Congress became more rigidly partisan, he didn't. Leaving him noticably less party line than most.

Not, perhaps, as maverick as his reputation. But rather more so than you suggest.

Sorry, I should have added this, but I was googling for the Steve Jobs links and forgot

Looking at Seb's statements as a list

I can’t get over how much transparently bad advice can be seen as bad when Republicans use it as rhetoric for the Middle East but gets embraced with respect to Republicans.

“They are all basically the same”.
I guess you can take some to be saying that McCain was exactly the same as a bog standard republican, but there is a difference when saying that about a racial minority and people who are espousing particular viewpoints. I can see saying this in regards to the Kavanaugh nomination.

“They are too religious to reason with”.
I don't think that has come up in regards to McCain. It does come up with Pence.

“They are all racist extremists”.
Some have brought up the bomb Iran comment, and there was the incident where McCain called Vietnamese 'gooks', but I think here, we can all agree that McCain was tortured and that influenced his thoughts and language. I've got my own idiosyncratic deal about racism, in that we are all racists, and the extremism part comes when we refuse to admit that, but that's my thinking.

“They can’t get along in modern society”.
Again, this doesn't come up with McCain.

“They only understand overwhelming force”.
Again, not something that has come up with regards to McCain

“Their culture is incompatible with ours.”
Another one that doesn't really synch

“Their alleged moderates don’t control their extremists which really means that they are all extremists.”
This is something that someone _could_ say about McCain, but I've never seen that line of argument with McCain. The harsh stuff is not that he was an extremist but that he was diffident and dabbled in various areas and benefitted from his family name far too much.

“Maybe we should just let them wallow in it all.”
Again, not really applicable with McCain.

So this is arguable for looking at Republicans, but I don't see how one makes the connection from talking about Loomis writing about McCain to Republicans as a group being treated like this.

Because one typically only uses one or two of the tropes at a given time, but the group based rhetoric reinforces the rage in bulk. .

The reason why Loomis can “push back” so hard is because the tropes are assigned in bulk to ‘Republicans’ and McCain is a Republican therefore implicated in all of the tropes, not just the ones that are individually applicable to him.

Your response seems weird. There are a huge cluster of nasty stereotypes about black men. If you found that not all of them personally applied to Obama, that wouldn’t be a good argument that a) the list was incorrect in identifIng nasty stereotypes about black men; nor would it show that b) that the cluster of racial stereotypes about black men did not poison discussion about Obama, nor c) that such poisonous stereotypes (only some of which could be accurately ascribed to Obama) don’t do horrible things to our ability to survive as a nation, nor d) that ones that could not fairly be ascribed to him weren’t ascribed to him anyway.

If our opponents use anthrax we should punish them severely and try to incentivize them to stop. But that doesn’t mean we should use weaponized influenza and smallpox just because they started it. A failure to use Ebola against them doesn’t mean we lack resolve.

I'd like to briefly address Seb's point.

The situation I find myself in, living in this country right now, is that I do not find that I share political or social values with other people who live here.

I'm more than happy to deal with this at a live-and-let-live level. I don't really expect other people to think like I do, or value the things I value. Some do, some don't. That's life.

Unfortunately, when differences in values are expressed in public policy and law, it becomes harder for us to simply all go our own way.

When things you value are being undermined, dismantled, or destroyed, you are either going to push back, or your are going to give up.

People shouldn't demonize each other. There are, however, serious and fundamental differences between how different groups of people in this country view the world. Differences that inherently involve questions of value and, frankly, morality.

Many points of disagreement I have with conservatives are basically pragmatic. I don't think their policies will create a good outcome.

But there also many points of disagreement I have with conservatives that are questions of value. Not just a matter of the pragmatic outcome of what they propose, but the underlying beliefs and values that are expressed in their proposals.

I find some of the things they appear to believe to be wrong. Morally, ethically wrong. And, to the degree that those things are expressed in public policy, they are no longer something about which we can all simply agree to disagree and go on about our day.

They make me angry. I feel obliged - I feel it is required of me - to push back.

I'm sure that people may, in some cases, take offense at my sharing with them the fact that I find things they believe to be wrong. Not mistaken, but actually, morally, ethically wrong. Wrong as in bad.

I find that regrettable. Most times I try to focus on pragmatic differences, rather than get into more fundamental questions of value.

But that's not always possible.

And, in fact, if what you are actually asking for is engagement, the questions of value cannot be avoided. Otherwise it's just tip-toeing around each other, to find the boundaries of our differences.

I appreciate the desire to not demonize other people. But there has to be room to say that some things are actually wrong. Really and truly, morally, ethically, any way you want to slice it, wrong. As in bad.

There has to be room to say that, and there has to be room to hear it.

Been online and this is an interesting in relation to Paul Campos's post with some mention of McCain that puts CharlesWT's mention of the 'Manbeerian candidate' in context

http://www.miafacts.org/prankster.htm


Sorry, just saw Seb and Russell's comments after refreshing.

People are going to talk about what they want to talk about and what I want to talk about seems to be different from what Seb wants to. That's fine, but there is a chance for miscommunication when the streams cross. I think Seb wants to talk about his feeling that Republicans are demonized. That's fine, but but that's not what I'm talking about, nor do I want to talk about that, cause I think it is overblown, but that's just my opinion.

What I am interested in talking about the rhetoric of McCain's obituaries etc and how that may reflect the state of our political discourse. There is some overlap, to be sure, but when Seb lists, as quotations, a bunch of statements that are ridiculous on their face, I have to wonder what they have to do with McCain's obituaries.

Seb suggests that because these statements are out there, it licenses Erik Loomis' post. I don't think that is the case and this seems like a perfect example of how the political rhetoric is skewed. Loomis writes with a anger that his co-blogger acknowledges is 'napalming' and I mentioned that it made me a bit queasy. Yet now, I feel like I'm being pressed to disavow statements that Seb has listed, with no context and no author, about Republicans in order to talk about what I want to talk about. I don't want to say 'imaginary' statements, cause that would imply Seb is just making them up and I'm sure he's come across them, but for all intents and purposes, to me, Seb might have just as well created them from the whole cloth. Not knowing the context of the statements means that you may really not know what the statement means.

To me, this seems like an example of why it is liberals who are always being asked to be more polite, less angry, more respectful, that I have to disavow statements that are not linked to any particular person, but just 'out there'. I'm sure you think there is a straight line from the list of statements you gave to what Loomis wrote, but I do not see it.

The argument about stereotypes of black men and Obama is similarly flawed, I think. First of all, if I have engaged with someone, I've tried to point out that their language might not mirror what they feel and when they draw on stereotypes, they are not conscious of the bias it illustrates. So at least for me, I'm not looking to call people racist (or sexist) because of the language they use, I'm trying to point out that the language is sexist or racist and they may not want to use it.

Lastly, I'm not really sure if the analogies you use really are helpful, in that they neither clarify nor lower the temperature. Equating statements to anthrax, weaponized influenza and smallpox and Ebola are vivid, but unlike speech, all those things are things that someone has to go to some effort to make and deliver. 'I was just angry so I sent a vial on anthrax to him' is not going to happen. So the idea of a war of weaponized diseases, with each side upping the ante at each round, is, on a fundamental level, not what is happening. People are getting more and more angry and are expressing their frustration. Had McCain passed away during Obama's presidency, would we have seen something like Loomis' post? And if we wouldn't, is this because liberals have chosen to fight anthrax with smallpox and Ebola?

Anyway, I hope this isn't too sharp, but I feel like I needed to speak to the list of statements and the analogy you put forth.

what Seb said.

among other things, Loomis is very very upset that McCain was a Republican. and, in typical Loomis fashion, he goes hyperbolic with bile.

a lot of his pieces turn out the same way. he takes a reasonable point and then cranks the bitterness to 11. i find myself skipping him about 1/2 the time. i'm going to skip more in the future.

what Seb said @ 7:36 and 10:81, specifically.

russell, sometimes I dont understand your boundaries. People fundametntwlly believe abortion is murder, me for example, but I am asked as reasonable person to see Roe vs Wade as an acceptable compromise while others lobby for abortion any time under any circumstance.

And I do accept that others dont hold my values and compromise is necessary. So we have always had to find the edges where we can agree. I'm not sure where you will find a different circumstance.

Wait, aren’t we supposed to be upset that literally anybody is or was a modern day Republican? In that respect Loomis’s post was entirely in the normal tradition of LGM or for that matter, the comment section here. They hate Republicans over there and they hate anyone they see as getting in the way of fighting Republicans and they mostly focus on those issues which make Republicans look bad as opposed to Democrats. If Stein or Nader or freaking Susan Sarandon had died, the articles on them would probably be as harsh or more so.

There are at least two separate issues here and I think more than that and they are all getting conflated. There is the issue of how to talk about Republicans and then there is the issue of speaking no ill about the newly dead, at least not for a week or so. That last principle commonly gets misused by pundits and politicians as an excuse for praising the dead person in ways that really glorify their own political views and you aren’t supposed to push back. Some people push back against that cynical style of doing politics under the guise of praising the dead. Perhaps they should suck it up for a week or so and then push back.

Since McCain was a bit of an enthusiast about bombing people, a trait which he shared with some politicians in both parties, there is also the related issue of American exceptionalism and whether we are consistent in how we remember the dead or talk about them. Of course we are not, which is why we can support countries which bomb school buses full of children. Some people matter and some don’t. Some crimes are mere flaws in somebody’s ( American) record while other crimes (committed by our foreign enemies) demand that we speak out and never forget their crimes for a second.

Personally I am fine albeit uneasy with the tradition of remembering our common humanity when someone dies, but the pro- McCain bullshit is really over the top and has been for decades. So I would favor some quiet dignified articles pointing out the victims of McCain’s preferred polices along with the things he did which were admirable. Btw, Loomis did acknowledge some of the admirable things, though grudgingly.

And no, I have no examples of quiet dignified articles about the pluses and minuses of McCain’s record. They might be out there, I haven’t looked.

Period should go after “ They might be out there”, not a comma. I’m not sure why that typo irritates me.

cleek: what Seb said @ 7:36 and 10:81, specifically.

No. The most charitable reading of Seb's 7:36 is that "left wing crazies" are as deranged as the current so-called POTUS and his devotees. I positively seethe with goodwill toward my fellow human beings, but I can't be that charitable.

Assuming "10:81" is a typo for "10:18", I see the following: Working hard to obscure the basic humanity in your opponents is how a country dies.

I agree with that. But I think ANOTHER way "a country dies" is by "working hard" to humanize the despicable, or at least to find ways to despise Both Sides. Loomis is not POTUS. Even if he "demonized" McCain, even if he is a "left-wing crazy", Seb's sense of proportion seems out of whack.

--TP

wrs @ 3:22 a.m. (?!?)

wTPs @ 9:51 a.m.

Also thanks to lj for his 4:28 a.m. I won't say "wLJs" because the thought train is at a level of sophistication I can't claim. But I'm glad to see lj working it out. ;-)

TP quoted Seb saying this: Working hard to obscure the basic humanity in your opponents is how a country dies.

Oh. A country doesn't die because it has been taken over by psychopaths and criminals? We're not supposed to call them that because that makes it our fault that they're psychopaths and criminals?

I call Clickbait by that name for a precise reason: because he lives for clicks. Any publicity is good publicity, etc. He leverages attention and has leveraged it and weaponized it to make a good run at destroying the country. Yes, him, not me. I call him Clickbait and not his name so as not to contribute, even in my small way, to the daily orgy of his click baiting.

Re: not demonizing people.

It is not demonizing of people to disagree about policy--even when the disagreement is expressed as forceful condemnation of the POLICY.

However we as a nation have been subjected to over thirty years of political discourse centered on demonizing individuals and groups as a means of avoiding discussion of policy. The targets of the demonizing has included poor people Democrats in general, Specific Democratic politicians, gay people, trans people, immigrants, Muslims...and guess who has been doing the demonizing.

There are actually not that many areas of disagreement on policy between R voters and D voters. The biggest area of disagreement is that R voters don't vote on policy and D's often do.

The R party has made demonizing standard. They have made it the substance of their discourse. Of course the targets of their abuse will yell back. and inevitably the abusers will accuse the victims of being abusive and will claim to be the victims themselves--classic bully tactics.

I dont know the way out. But the r party is primarily responsible and they hae doubled down on their demonizing to use their abuse as an attack on the institutions and principles of representative government--as witness voter suppression laws base on the lies about voter fraud and the attempts to demonize the Mueller investigation.

The R party is an existential threat to representative government itself.

So I don't buy "both sides do it" and I don't buy poor old Republicans as victims of left wing meanness. NOt one little tiny bit.

it is liberals who are always being asked to be more polite, less angry, more respectful

lj, have you considered the possibility that you are being asked this in simple recognition that the "conservatives" (they're actually reactionaries, mostly, but that's a different discussion) are simply incapable of doing so. It may not be anything like fair. But if there is going to be anything like a civil discussion, the burden falls that way.

I’m extremely sympathetic to laura koerber’s points, and to her bitterness, but I agree with Sebastian that this is a dangerous road.

Nobody will be surprised to hear that my own views fall somewhere between Laura, Janie, lj, russell and Tony P on the one hand and Sebastian on the other concerning the issue of demonising opponents. Of course my own political and social attitudes are pretty much foursquare with the former group, and I take lj's point about only the left having agency, and Janie's question about which rightwing blogs Sebastian was preaching this gospel to (which made me smile with its neatness), but if “we” which is to say liberals, lefties, democrats etc, think we are morally superior to "them" (the current iteration at least of the GOP, the alt-right etc), or at least are pursuing more humane and moral goals, it follows that we should therefore see the danger a war of attrition continues to pose to the body politic, and think very carefully about tempting but dangerous behaviour. I'm not particularly proud of the condescension this implies, nor do I have an actual solution to put forward, but that it is a dangerous road and one previously trodden by hideous exemplars I have no doubt.

No.

Yes.

McCain invited Obama to speak at his funeral, and told Trump to stay away.

a person like that, for all his faults, is in the same bucket as Trump et al.

muthafukka...

...is not in the same bucket...

and if you think there are a lot of Republicans left who would come up with something like McCain-Feingold, ya dreamin.

cleek,

You may remember that my comment on McCain was

I choose to remember McCain as the mensch who told the dumb-ass woman at his rally that Obama was NOT an "Arab", rather than as the panderer who demanded "Build the dang fence".
My "no" was about Seb's comment, not McCain's character. I stand by my suggestion that
Right wing crazies rant about how he refused to destroy the affordable care act. Left wing crazies are mad that he wasn’t a Democrat
is a juxtaposition that strives too hard for "balance".

--TP

certainly i wasn't clear, but i was never endorsing any claims of 'balance'.

in the two comments i referred to, Seb was talking about loss of decency. yes he used a parallel construction, but i didn't read it as saying both sides were balanced.

russell, sometimes I dont understand your boundaries.

I'm addressing Sebastian's concern about liberal push-back. And about strong or judgmental language used in political discourse.

It would be very handy if we could confine discussion about stuff like this to simple matters of utility - what the practical, pragmatic outcome of policy A will be, versus policy B.

But I don't really think that's available. Because even coming up with a definition of what "useful" or "beneficial" means involves an understanding of what is good.

It is not going to be possible to resolve the differences we all have at a policy level, without addressing the differences we have in terms of basic, fundamental values. What we think is good, or bad. How we think people should relate to each other, and to the public institutions they share.

Without doing that, we are going to spend the rest of the lifetime of this republic in a kind of unending arm-wrestling match. Which has, actually, kind of been our history, and maybe that's fine. But that's what it is, and has been, and will be.

And, it's basically impossible to talk about fundamental questions of value without making judgments, and without touching on things that elicit strong personal feelings in people.

You mention abortion. You are against it, because you believe it to be murder. That's a credible point of view, you are entitled to it, and I respect that you hold that position.

It's also position that names every doctor that performs abortions, and every person who has one, and quite a number of other people related to the circumstances that made the abortion seem to be necessary, as murderers or accessories to same.

You might not be inclined to walk up to an ob-gyn that performs the operation and call him or her a murderer to his or her face. That might seem impolite to you. But you have made a judgment about them.

People will, and will need to, articulate similar expressions of judgment - moral, ethical, religious, humanist, what have you judgment - about almost every point of policy you can think of.

At some point, it's impossible or at least pointless to talk about how people of different races in this country interact without also talking about racism.

At some point, it's impossible or at least pointless to talk about how the wealth created by our economy finds its way into private hands without talking about greed.

And so on and so on.

If we're really going to talk about this stuff, we're going to have to get into questions of value. The underlying beliefs and assumptions that people hold, that motivate their opinions about public matters.

Or, we can just keep arm-wrestling our way to some point of mutual sucks-the-least-of-all-possible-options compromise.

Either way. But candid engagement is going to require talking about things that are, frankly, more personal.

That's what I'm saying.

Is the loss of decency people saying harsh things about McCain before he is buried or is it the issue of how to talk about Republicans or are we making it about Republicans who are opposed to Trump and occasionally do or did the right thing though usually not?

Would it be okay to say bad things about McCain if he had invited Trump to his funeral?

Speaking for myself, I thought the Loomis piece was harsh but accurate. I am not sure whether one should wait until after the funeral to correct the over the top praise being said about McCain. It is the internet age. People are going to say things and others will argue about them. In a few weeks nobody will care except the family. I suspect Deep Thinkers like Tom Friedman will continue to invoke the example of McCain, the Titan who once walked the earth. Just guessing. Seems like the sort of thing Friedman would do, daydreaming of the good old centrist days when people struck grand Bargains and bombed who they liked without having to listen to a bunch of damn hippies.

I think protestors and critics should be kept away from the funeral and it wouldn’t be appropriate for Loomis to go on the PBS Newshour and cut loose. OTOH, I am mostly avoiding listening to the praise being showered on him.

I'd put Loomis and the entire Lawyers Guns and Money blog in the crazy column.

They're... predictable. You can write their blog posts for them in your head if you just ask what the standard talking points can be expected to be from people of their ilk.

The result is that you end up with a blog that seems very agreeable when they're giving a good kicking to dishonest charlatans... but unfair they go after anyone else. With the charlatans its cathartic if LGM types give them a dose of their own medicine, but with anyone else it comes across as sliminess and bullying.

The quintessential LGM moment is being demonstrably wrong, but insisting that your opponents motivations for being right were bad, so really you were right all along if you think about it.

As for McCain's political legacy, I don't know that I'm qualified to criticize. At times I feel frustrated that we are praising a man for (among other things) not promoting wacky racist conspiracy theories, or not endorsing torture.

But that's a test that about a hundred million of my countrymen failed. That's a test his contemporaries failed. I've never been in a situation where everyone around me went down that road, and the best and most clear path for my professional success was to follow. I've never had to decide whether to turn myself into a near pariah within my own social circles by doing what was right.

I've never been tempted in those ways.

He was, and he made the right call.

Sometimes when I look at it, it seems obvious. Torture is bad and shames us. Duh. Easy question is easy. Other times it seems a tough choice- fight your own constituents and try to lead them in a better direction, or do what's popular?

I don't know how much I have a right to have expected from him. What I got was less than what I wanted, but vastly more than many others gave.

In a way the McCain question is the same question I have about a lot of the Never Trump Conservatives. A lot of them were complicit, to various degrees, some much more than others (Tom Nichols merely worked with publications like the National Review and the Federalist, David French used them to apologize for torture), in the degradation of the conservative electorate. But they all passed moral tests that their peers failed, and in many cases accepted suffering as a result.

OTOH, I am mostly avoiding listening to the praise being showered on him.

This just gave me a flashback to when Reagan died, and the praise being showered on St. Ronnie made me sit up and wonder (to put it politely) which fantasy world these people were living in. My kids were teenagers at the time and were absorbing this stuff as reality to such an extent that we had to have a serious heart-to-heart talk. Luckily they were, even then, reasonably sophisticated readers and thinkers, and I don't think the hagiographic shower blizzard had any lasting ill effects.

I'd put Loomis and the entire Lawyers Guns and Money blog in the crazy column.

The American grave stuff is interesting.

I feel frustrated that we are praising a man for (among other things) not promoting wacky racist conspiracy theories, or not endorsing torture.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

Amen.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

Or an outcast.

FWIW, I have no problem with criticising and speaking ill of the dead, even while they are barely cold, except maybe to their loved ones. But, as most of us have said, McCain is a fairly complicated case (loosely speaking: lots of very bad stuff, some very good).

Quite an interesting thread, so thanks to LJ for getting it started. I'm with Seb and Cleek. My addition: just as Loomis illustrates a level of lefty intolerance and bile that is hard for some to swallow, so too are there plenty on the right of the same ilk. This is not a symmetry or whataboutism point. Those groups, the bile spewers, are the exception, not the rule. For most of the rest of us, once you get past the initial labeling, it gets really complicated. Like McCain.

GFTNC--do you consider Churchill a good or a bad person?

Isn't Churchill still dead?

Anyway, McKinney, which worries you more? The "bile" of a blogger or of a so-called president? I know one cut your taxes and the other didn't, but I mean aside from that.

--TP

Good question, McKinney. Also extremely complicated: many appalling aspects (some but not all typical of aristocrats of his time) and had he not coincided with that particular set of historical circumstances he would no doubt be considered a barely redeemed fuckup. But destiny decreed that his particular combination of qualities was what was needed for WW2, and it was a true case of cometh the hour, cometh the man. So on the whole history (and I) regard him fairly kindly.

Has history been unfair to Neville Chamberlain? One of my RW friends used to refer to Obama as Neville Chamberlain whenever he did something that he saw as being insufficiently assertive of American power. What do you think of Neville Chamberlain, McKinney? (I don't really want to know. It's irrelevant.)

A "narrative" now gaining traction in certain circles is that McCain was being petty in not wanting a certain person to be at his funeral. Whatever that person said about McCain isn't a consideration, naturally.

"What I am interested in talking about the rhetoric of McCain's obituaries etc and how that may reflect the state of our political discourse. There is some overlap, to be sure, but when Seb lists, as quotations, a bunch of statements that are ridiculous on their face, I have to wonder what they have to do with McCain's obituaries."

I guess I'm not making myself clear at all. The bile shot around McCain's obituaries is intimately related to the fact that our current political discourse is increasingly about painting your opponent as a demon rather than someone who disagrees with you.

That state of discourse is bad for the polity for lots reasons. Off the top of my head I can think that it is bad because it

1) Encourages you to think of doing things to this demon that you wouldn't allow to be done to people you see as human.

2) It encourages you to think of people who disagree with you on anything in apocalyptic terms.

3) It heightens the valence of even low level disagreements because allying with demons on anything is evil.

4) It makes vast pressures for groupthink because of 3).

5) It ends up causing a weird internal policing issue where you end up spending vast amounts of time punishing people in your group for not thinking exactly the right things AND when it comes to traditional concerns like corruption and other crimes you support them so long as they support your purity politics issues because you can't let the demons take over.

All of this can be clearly seen in how the Republican Party has played out especially since the beginning of the Obama years.

I'm sorry that I don't harp on it enough, but I sort of feel like everyone here knows about that. When I'm arguing with Brett Bellmore I say more about that kind of stuff.

I'm in kind of weird position historically, because I was raised in an evangelical mega-church, grew up deep in Republicanism, am temperamentally pretty conservative, and have seen that trajectory lay waste anything positive I might have once associated with those former views.


There are many things I've been wrong about, and many that I will be wrong about in the future, I'm sure. But one thing I'm certain about is that those nasty tendencies, as comforting as it might be to believe otherwise, are human tendencies and not conservative ones. (You can clearly see that through the history of essentially every communist party rule for example).

If we want to have any semblance of country left, embracing the demonizing tactics isn't the way to do it.

That isn't an exhortation not to fight. That is an exhortation to fight for the civilization we want to endure. We can't do that by tearing down the fabric that holds it, however tenuously, together. Maybe I'm just an idiot, but a big part of how I have always tried to work is to say things to my compatriots like "even though this fight is VERY important we need to maintain the civilization we are fighting for lest we lose it during the fight." See for example here.

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