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August 21, 2008


nor is it an all-purpose Get Out Of Jail Free card.

if you were a POW, like John McCain was, you'd sell your soul for a get out of jail free card. POW.

They gave out houses in Viet Cong POW camps?

I put this in the other thread but more appropos here:

My god. That's all they have, isn't it? Literally, all they have.

Jim Lehrer: What does your healthcare plan consist of?

St. John of POW-BBQ: Well Jim, I didn't have to worry about healthcare for those five and a half years I spent as a POW, so I'm not sure it's of much concern to regular americans.

JL: How should America address the trade deficit?

SJOPB: Jim, the trade deficit was the last thing on my mind back when I was a POW.

JL: What's your plan for dealing with high gas prices:

SJOPB: We didn't even have money, let alone prices, when I was being held as a POW by the North Vietnamese.

JL: Are you insane?

SJOPB: *chuckles* I didn't worry about going insane while I was a POW in prison as a POW in a Vietnamese prison being held as a POW, why start now?

John McCain is reluctant to talk about this. It's just that he's forced to by people who keep asking embarrassing questions.

It's so unfair.

Say, wouldn't John McCain still be a POW if the US NEVER!! negotiated with it's enemies?

A clear case of consistency as the all-purpose hobgoblin of a little mind at its wits’ end.
McCain is giving POWs a bad name.

Maybe his campaign staff is trying to suggest that there really is something wrong with McCain because of his time as a POW, and this is their way of telling is.

Would it be irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to!

Noun, verb, surge POW.

Please, McCain campaign, just keep talking about this. Bonus, do so in ways that invite parody and make your POW claims into a punchline.

POW! Surge! Cut! Flip! Flop!

he's a man of action!

It sounds like the punchline to a Chuck Norris joke.

McCain is giving POWs a bad name.

As I recall, the main POW/MIA group wasn't that fond of McCain during the primary. I'd love for them to make a video: "We were POWs too. We support anyone who will keep any soldier from becoming a POW. That's why we endorse Barrack Obama."

"As I recall, the main POW/MIA group wasn't that fond of McCain during the primary."

You may have missed Jes' cite of this yesterday.

Is this what the answer is going to be for everything even if, God forbid, he gets elected?

OOPs, I Bombed, bombed, bombed Iran......

Sorry, I was a POW

God Help us all.

Is this what the answer is going to be for everything even if, God forbid, he gets elected?

OOPs, I Bombed, bombed, bombed Iran......

My friends, as of today, we are all POWs.

"Every sentence is a noun, a verb and POW."

May I suggest that there's a connection between this thread and the recent, fascinating, 'Supporting the Troops' one?

Honoring returned POWs is part and parcel of 'supporting the troops', since 'troops' get captured as well as maimed and killed. And it doesn't matter, many say, whether those 'troops' were captured, maimed, or killed in a war that was wise or foolish, defensive or offensive, popular or unpopular -- a sentiment I agree with, up to a point. All that matters is, they put on a uniform, saluted the flag, and obeyed the orders of their civilian masters, namely, ultimately, us. We owe them much for doing our bidding at great personal risk.

But we do not owe them the White House, dagnabbit! McCain is a poster-child for the proposition that 'supporting the troops' has got to have some limits. Roughly speaking, the limits ought to be closer to the compassion we rightly offer to victims, than to the worship some people demand for 'heroes'.

McCain's POW schtick is getting tiresome, but it plays very well off the 'support the troops' meme. As long as the latter remains a shibboleth in our national discourse, it will remain difficult to make headway against the former.

-- TP

News flash: making fun of McCain for not being able to remember how many homes he has is not making fun of his wife. It just isn't.

not only that, but he just told the world that Mr War Pilot Macho Tough Guy doesn't wear the (financial) pants in his family (which isn't exactly a traditional conservative family situation). and he's shown that he's more than happy to use his wife to shield himself from criticism.

would Obama throw his wife in front of an attack like that ?

Americans don't want to hang out with celebrities? What Americans is that guy talking about? Someone is buying People, OK Magazine, etc.

would Obama throw his wife in front of an attack like that ?

Would Michelle let him? Heck, if he tried something like McCain (which I CANNOT see him doing), he'd get as far as "trol" before landing in the middle of next week.

An enterprising McCain "supporter" actually made a POW "get out of gaffes" card since he's going to whip it out for every difficulty.


Americans don't want to hang out with celebrities?

Considering how many Hollywood movies McCain has done a cameo in, I'd say certain Americans like to hang out with celebrities very much.

"They don't aspire to eat arugula...."

The Iowa farmers that Obama was speaking to care about the price of arugula, because they grow it!

Those Iowa farmers should be growing subsidies, not some fancy foreign lettuce, dammit.

... and imagine what the GOP Noise Machine would do if the situation was reversed:

the Dem is accused of being a rich, elitist who married into a huge fortune. and, while the Noise Machine is making fun of his lifestyle, it turns out that he has little (or no) control of the assets.

he'd be immediately labeled a kept man and she'd be called his sugar momma.

the fun part will be seeing how they try to spin this away.

"the fun part will be seeing how they try to spin this away."

How dare you suggest that an honored veteran POW would indulge in spin, which only effete, rich, out of touch, Democrats do.

yeah... effete Dems who vacation in Hawaii....

There was no "maybe possibly" about it: Redwood did disparage the troops -- all the troops -- when he called them "a gang of hoodlum killers."

Let me see if I've got this straight: someone, on the internet, called soldiers names. They didn't actually call soldiers these names in real life as far as we know. In other words, someone, on the internet, was being a dick. Yeah, that's totally worth getting upset about. Especially compared to a million people being killed.

And actually I never said anything about burning the flag, a freedom of expression which I fully support, although might not agree with.

You described it as a desecration of something precious and sacred. You claimed that you learned what patriotism was by watching someone prevent such a desecration. Perhaps you are unlike most people in that the desecration of sacred objects doesn't trouble you in the slightest. Your comment read to me as if this was a problem for you, but I might have misread.

Rest assured, when I've seen news reports of wiped-out, death-ridden Iraqi villages, I've reacted solemnly and with shock.

What? There have been actual reports like that shown on TV? Where? When? I honestly was not aware that such things were common.

Finally, I would expect "lots of emotion was expressed regarding Andy's death" or even my dog's since these were personal losses felt by folks in the ObWi community.

No one but you knows your dog. An animal owned by a stranger hundreds of miles away dies and people tear up. A million people die and eh. I don't think people have done anything wrong, but again, if that's how sensitive we are to the deaths of foreigners, we have no business fielding a huge military and our soldiers have no business volunteering in it. Power belongs to those wise and humane enough to use it appropriately and our history has demonstrated that we are not them.

But hey, maybe this time, we'll elect the right leaders and that will fix this problem.

A noun, a verb, and "I'm a POW"...

And really, the McCain camp retort about "hanging out with celebrities". What of this from Sullivan:


The reason this housing gaffe and all is so rich right now is that McCain's entire campaign has been based on *Obama* being a celebrity and an elitist. Which is to say, McCain's entire campaign has been based on complete hypocrisy.

And beside having so many houses, not even knowing how many houses you have has the added bonus of reminding people how old and addled you are.

Grrr. Sorry about that. That last comment should have been posted to another thread. Please ignore.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this here, but the best response to the POW story is from someone who was a POW with McCain -- or, as he says "My answer is always 'No - John McCain was a POW with me.' The reason is I was there for 8 years and John got there 2 ½ years later, so he was a POW for 5 ½ years. And we have our own seniority system, based on time as a POW."

It is at Military.com, hardly a 'raving left-wing blog' at

A few sample quotes:
"Believe me when I say that back then I would never in a million or more years have dreamed that the crazy guy across the hall would someday be a Senator and candidate for President!

John was a wild man. He was funny, with a quick wit and he was intelligent. But he was intent on breaking every USNA regulation in our 4 inch thick USNA Regulations book. And I believe he must have come as close to his goal as any midshipman who ever attended the Academy."

"Was he tortured for 5 years? No. He was subjected to torture and maltreatment during his first 2 years, from September of 1967 to September of 1969. After September of 1969 the Vietnamese stopped the torture and gave us increased food and rudimentary health care. Several hundred of us were captured much earlier.... But my point here is that 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."

"John was offered, and refused, "early release." Many of us were given this offer. 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. This was obviously something none of us could accept."

"John was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart for heroism and wounds in combat. This heroism has been played up in the press and in his various political campaigns." (The author 'is a highly decorated combat veteran who was awarded two Silver Stars, two Legion of Merits, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Heart medals.')

"Succeeding as a POW is a group sport, not an individual one. We all supported and encouraged each other to survive and succeed. John knows that. He was not an individual POW hero. He was a POW who surmounted the odds with the help of many comrades, as all of us did."

"I can verify that John has an infamous reputation for being a hot head. He has a quick and explosive temper that many have experienced first hand. Folks, quite honestly that is not the finger I want next to that red button."

"He is not a moderate Republican. On some issues he is a maverick. But his voting record is far to the right. I fear for his nominations to our Supreme Court, and the consequent continuing loss of individual freedoms, especially regarding moral and religious issues. John is not a religious person, but he has taken every opportunity to ally himself with some really obnoxious and crazy fundamentalist ministers lately. I was also disappointed to see him cozy up to Bush because I know he hates that man."

"But since many of you keep asking what I think of him, I've decided to write it out. In short, I think John Sidney McCain, III is a good man, but not someone I will vote for in the upcoming election to be our President of the United States."

Since WE are Obama's surrogates, read this, print it out, and start handing it to everybody who starts telling you how his POW experience makes him 'uniquely qualified' to be President.

Obama's charges "attack Cindy. She owns the homes. I thought he said the wives were off-limits."

Doesn't McCain believe in "traditional marriage"? Is it now "traditional" to insist that you have nothing at all to do with your spouse's affairs and can't be expected to know how many homes are owned in her name even if you live in them too?

And here I though Teh Gay was what was eroding our shared definition of marriage.

They don't aspire to eat arugala or hang out with celebrities

Sorry to go off topic, but first of all it's ARUGULA, and second of all, WTF is it with this arugula obsession?

It's a bitter green. They're good for you. When I was kid my Italian relatives would pick dandelion greens and we'd eat them in salads. Arugula, dandelions, escarole. Broccoli rabe. Turnip or mustard greens if you're down home.

Eat them raw in a salad, saute them with a little oil and serve over pasta, put them in soup. Yum.

Yes, I know, it's a "liberal" identifier. Only stupid icky elitists eat it.

God damn, people are stupid. The world is going to hell and the next President will be elected based on what he ate in his salad.

Some days I just don't know what to say.

Thanks -


Thank you for the humor and perspective.

Checking out this post before I log off for the night, both turned out to be nice parting gifts.

One last thing:

Upthread Jim simply writes: "Every sentence is a noun, a verb and POW."

I've been jogging my 45-year-old brain all day trying to place that phrasing and I finally recalled that during one of the Democratic primary debates, Senator Biden noted about Rudy Guliani: "Every sentence is a noun, a verb and 9/11."

I am biased, but I definitely think Biden would serve Barack Obama well as his VP running mate.

Thanks -

Prup (aka Jim Benton), I posted this yesterday at 3:53 p.m., above. That, after Jes already posted it here, as I wrote.

But yours certainly is more verbose; hyperlinks actually work, you know.

"The world is going to hell and the next President will be elected based on what he ate in his salad."

Ate in his salad while wind-surfing, and wearing a helmet in a tank, and calling for our defeat by way of higher taxes and surrender, and looking French.

As a former POW, who can't keep track of how many homes I own, I'm offended at your liberal socialist cowardice in the face of the most serious foreign policy crisis of our time, which is either China, Russia, Serbia, Iran, Al Qaeda, the "death tax," Afghanistan, Hamas, Hezbollah, abortion, Teh Terrorists, or arugula, I forget which.

"I've been jogging my 45-year-old brain all day trying to place that phrasing and I finally recalled...."

Publius's post, with video, was all of three days ago.

Me, I can watch a movie on tv, and a couple of hours later, trying to tell my sweetie about it, be completely unable to recall which movie it was, until I find something to remind me. It's hell going senile, isn't it?

As someone who doesn't have real estate investments, I have a question:

if, as the McCain campaign claims, only four houses are used as homes, then what happens to the other three to six? Are they furnished? Rented out? Are they used only for parties? Used by the housekeeping staff?

Great post as always Hilzoy. Hate to say it, but I predicted the POW one:

And I quoted you here:

Charlie: welcome. I love your blog.

if, as the McCain campaign claims, only four houses are used as homes, then what happens to the other three to six? Are they furnished? Rented out?

and if rented, to whom?

who would a millionaire Senator rent to? and for how much (fair market value, or special deal, etc.) ?

"and if rented, to whom?"

Kato Kaelin. It might not be true, but shouldn't it be looked into?

"They don't aspire to eat arugala or hang out with celebrities."

Am I alone in not understanding what that means? This whole celebrity thing - which, we are told by those with the power to divine such things, is "working" - doesn't make a lick of sense. And arugala? I'm an Obama supporter and I'm not sure I've ever had arugala or would recognize it if I saw it. What's the point?

This whole McCain campaign offensive just has disaster written all over it once actual people start actually paying attention (the media don't count). No one is really going to understand what the hell they're talking about.

In which case, Gobama!

Ugh @ 3:02—
I laughed. I laughed. I laughed.

Michael Drake @ 3:32—
It sounds like the punchline to a Chuck Norris joke.
One of the more pleasing puns I’ve seen.

President POW would indeed resemble the punchline to a Chuck Norris joke except for the element of laughter, not being confined to the screen.
There’s a pleasing literary sort of consistency of theme in the connection of having a temper with POW.

“How are we feeling today, sir?”
“Ow! Thanks, sir, I needed that.”

“POW!” is the all purpose answer. Particularly handy in negotiations with foreign powers.

There’s no word more American. It’s even made its way into high art because it’s so American.

It’s a John McCain kind of word.
(Say, John McCain, John Wayne...accident?)

Now, just because those guys claiming to be POWs just like John McCain think they’re being done a disservice, well; consider the source.

Gary: My apologies, but I have had limited time for political blog reading and commenting. ObWi has been my second choice blog, but -- particularly in this last week -- I have spent most of my time at Carpetbagger.

But I think that, even if I had seen your cite, I would have quoted the piece myself, and just as verbosely. Yes, links work -- if people click on them. Too often they -- and I -- pass over them if they are just a mere reference.

But there's a more important reason why I quoted as much as I did. I wanted people not just to know about the piece, but to use it.

Which leads me into a point that I have been making repeatedly at TCBR and will probably make too often here as well. One reason why George Bush either won the electiobns or kept them close enough to steal them -- your choice of interpretation -- was that he or his people knew something that we have a difficulty grasping.

I keep hearing "Obama's campaign should run an ad about..." Yes, they should. But what the Republicans realized is that many people pay more attention to what they hear from friends, neighbors, co-workers, and relatives than they do to what is in any political speech or ad.

This -- and not just their numbers -- which are much smaller than is usually assumed -- is why the Religious Right was so important to Republican victories. They were the GOTV effort, yes, but they also talked to people about their political opinions, shared their ideas, and their hearers listened. Even though Joe was the guy who went to that crazy church, he was also the person who brought the great potato salad to the neighborhood parties, or was the guy whose son was on the Little league team, or was in the carpool.

But most of us don't seem to do this, judging by the comments I read. When we talk about hearing some Republican nonsense, maybe we do our best to tell the person that one thing is nonsense. Or else we rush home to post about the latest Republican idiocy we've heard, and how dumb people are, and, if we tend towards panicing, how doomed Obama is. (And there's usually a hint of gloating about how smart WE are not to fall for this sort of idiocy.)

Instead, we should be talking to these people. The one advantage we have this year is that McCain has done something to turn off almost everybody, if they knew about it. If Jerry in the carpool is a conservative Christian, talk about Sturgis and the Buffalo Chip Festival -- and not just about the volunteering of Cindy, but -- to the point they can take it -- just what the contest involved. (TV could only stress the toplessness, not the total nudity and the simulated sex, etc.) Or just ask how a Christian like him could support the first political candidate who thought a festival of drinken, fornicating bikers was a suitable place to campaign at -- or if he was comfortable with McCain being the 'opening act' for Kid Rock (works great with parents of teenagers who hates their music).

If the guy is a vet, or has relatives who are or have served in the military -- not even, necessarily in Iraq -- use the VA Hospital scandals, and the new GI Bill that McCain called 'too expensive.'

For mothers, talk about his anti-abortion record, and quote his listing of the four strong pro-choice justices as the ones he wouldn't have appointed. For gays, explain that when McCain talks about 'they should be allowed to make legal contracts' that isn't the same as civil unions, but just means they should be allowed to rent a house with their partner, or make a will in his/her behalf -- which nobody doubts.

For lawyers, talk about the Justice Department scandals -- and how graduates of Falwell's University had precedence over major law school graduates. For people with money invested, there's an article by the Washington editor of Market Watch -- I'll be quoting that profusely tomorrow -- that says everything about McCain we want Obama to be saying.

And there is so much more.

It just isn't enough for us to write checks, post comments, and man the phones on election day.

To use a phrase you'll probably get sick of hearing from me:

WE are Obama's surrogates.

Prup: but just means they should be allowed to rent a house with their partner, or make a will in his/her behalf -- which nobody doubts.

You mean nobody but the legislature of Virginia, which prohibits all "other arrangements between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges and obligations of marriage" and declares "void and unenforceable in Virginia" any civil unions or "other arrangements" made in any other state "and any contractual rights created thereby".

Plus legislatures in sixteen other states which have passed similiar legislation such that they may refuse to recognise any legal documents granting "privileges equivalent to marriage": Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The legislation in Virginia is so sweeping that it could easily be used to deny same-sex couples such contractual rights as having a shared lease or mutual-survivor wills: your "nobody doubts" also excludes the GLBT people leaving Virginia since the anti-gay legislation was passed.

And of course the point at which such legislation is used (even the less draconian that merely refuses recognition of same-sex marriage, as in Florida) will be exactly when the victims of it don't have the ability to resist.

Relevantly, one of my reasons for genuinely preferring Obama over McCain* (and indeed Obama over Clinton) is that Obama said he would repeal DOMA. I have no particular confidence he'll keep that promise, but at least he saw there was a need to make it.

*Aside from McCain being a doddery fool who was never fit to be President and who is clearly going to be a disaster area equivalent to Bush... You know: apart from that.

Americans don't aspire to hang out with celebrities? Really?

This whole McCain campaign offensive just has disaster written all over it once actual people start actually paying attention

I believe you have uncovered the key to McCain's fiendish plan.

Instead, we should be talking to these people.

About what?

I'll be straight with you. Online, I've spent hundreds and hundreds of hours talking with conservatives. Not drive-bys, not snotty he said/she said back and forth, but sustained, deliberate, thoughtful (to the best of my ability) dialog. Hundreds of hours of homework, hundreds of hours of time online. I wanted to know what they thought, and wanted them to know what I thought.

Hundreds and hundreds of hours, over a period of years.

What I achieved from that was an acknowledgment, sometimes grudging sometimes not, that for a lefty I was not a total moron. No small feat, but that was it. No minds were changed.

In real life, I occasionally get into discussions on issues of public interest with folks who think differently from me. Not often, because it's sort of socially awkward, but now and then.

The most I have achieved is "well, you sort of have a point". Occasionally it has broken kind of ugly, so I usually avoid it.

I'm sorry to say it, but people generally aren't that open to other points of view. They generally aren't interested in rethinking their fundamental assumptions about the world. If you don't get folks to rethink their fundamental assumptions, the fact that McCain is a boor is just not going to make much difference.

For many, many people, he's the guy that doesn't eat arugula, and that is what counts. Even if he does eat arugula.

For more thoughtful folks, he's the guy who won't raise their taxes, and that's all they need to know.

For very, very thoughtful folks, he's the guy who is to the right of the other guy on most points of policy, and that's all they need to know.

I participate here because folks here discuss things that are of interest to me in a thoughtful and generally civil way, but I don't really think my participation here is going to make basic changes in how folks think about things.

We have arrived at a point in this nation where Barack Obama is a liberal. The distance from there to anything I'd recognize as close to my point of view, as far as the basic, fundamental assumptions that would need to be changed, is measured in light years.

I'm hoping Obama wins, but I mostly see that as an exercise in staunching the bleeding. Talking to lots of folks might make some difference at the margins, but I think I'd see a better return on time invested by making sure that as many folks who are already inclined to vote for Obama show up on election day.

I'm not sure what I would say to an intended McCain voter to change their mind.

Thanks -

I don't really think my participation here is going to make basic changes in how folks think about things.

Possibly you're right, russell. But I do think it's important to continue communicating anyway, even if people aren't agreeing with you. Because even if you don't achieve instant success, you just might, through application of an enormous amount of effort, bring some people around to acknowledgement that your perspective just might have some merit.

Now that I've reread the above, though, I agree that it might not seem worthwhile. Thanks for trying, anyway. I know that our exchanges have been good for me.

Not in a smoking-in-bed-afterward way, just to make it clear, but still good.

BTW, anyone notice it's raining in Florida? I know I have. Hilzoy's ancestral gardens are getting a good dousing, as is my yard. I'm going to have to go out and do some crabgrass-eradication, once someone remembers to turn the faucet off.

Outside the building I work in, a family of ducks are on the lawn.


What the hell is the deal with all this "arugula" nonsense from the McCain campaign?

If I can buy it at the neighborhood Kroger, and it costs the same as romaine or spinach, it can't be very hoity-toity.

They sound like Moe Szyslak:

Homer: Hmm. I wonder why he's so eager to go to the garage?
Moe: The "garage"? Hey fellas, the "garage"! Well, ooh la di da, Mr. French Man.
Homer: Well what do you call it?
Moe: A car hole!

Not in a smoking-in-bed-afterward way, just to make it clear, but still good.

Clearly, I have to try harder. :)

Thanks for the kind words.

I really connect with Russell's post. I work in aerospace, so 95% of my colleagues are very smart conservatives- and we discuss politics a lot. Because it's the workplace, the conversations have to be civil. I'm always trying to persuade a few to vote Democratic!

I think that with a very large number of conservatives, the reasons they give for voting are not the real deep-down reasons. (Not that they're consciously lying- just not expressings the deep-down stuff.) A former boss just emailed me that he was disgusted with the Democrats because of John Edwards' adultery- but that motivated him to vote for McCain over Obama, despite McCain also being a confessed adulterer and Obama, as far as anyone knows, strictly faithful to his wife. (Not to mention Giuliani, Ginrich, Vitter...) Many have told me their biggest issue is fiscal responsibility, but it somehow doesn't matter that the Clinton administration was far more fiscally responsible than Reagan or either Bush. It's puzzling.

Anne E:
It's puzzling.
Puzzling, perhaps.
Revelatory, certainly.

Anne E.: I think you're absolutely right. I wish I had a better sense of what lies behind it.

Many have told me their biggest issue is fiscal responsibility, but it somehow doesn't matter that the Clinton administration was far more fiscally responsible than Reagan or either Bush. It's puzzling.

do these people pay attention to politics? if so, do they get their info from reliable sources, or from wingnut talk radio ?

i imagine it's pretty easy to be convinced the GOP is the party of upstanding morals, small govt and fiscal responsibility if you get all your info from Hannity and Limbaugh.

cleek, I have to say that it's not just ignorance. I agree with Anne E., there is something deeper going on.

I have a close friend and mentor of many years who is a deeply committed Republican, though he strongly supports individual rights. He is highly intelligent and well-informed. He and I have had many wide-ranging conversations over the years about world affairs and politics (as well as other more personal subjects). I have a great deal of respect for his knowledge and experience, and for him as a person. I even agree with his style of conservatism when it comes to being cautious about the possible unintended effects of actions.

I cannot explain, for example, his willingness to vote for George W. Bush in 2004, knowing all we knew then. I can tell you that he blamed the Democrats for putting up John Kerry as the opposition candidate.

It is only recently that he has become so disenchanted with the Republican party that he is considering voting Libertarian, even though the candidates on offer here in California are often somewhat loony. He read the Libertarian platform and of course agrees with much of it. Bob Barr, as one example of the inconsistency between the platform and the candidates, is strongly anti-abortion, a position my friend finds outrageous and unacceptable.

So, there you have one small additional data point.

I wish I had a better sense of what lies behind it.

Me too.

From all of the conversations I've had, I think it has something to do with this:

What is the nature and extent of your responsibility for other people in your community?

How -- through what vehicles -- should those obligations be fulfilled?

My impression is that conservatives have a bias toward seeing the ties of mutual responsibility and obligation to extend to family, and to voluntary associations like churches and other groups defined by common interest. They have a bias toward seeing private, voluntary effort - charity, etc - as being the proper means of carrying out those obligations.

Liberals see ties of mutual obligation extending more broadly, to the community at large, and are comfortable using public institutions to fulfill those obligations.

Extremely reductive, but it seems (to me) to fit pretty consistently.

It's a fundamental difference in outlook. Whether McCain is rich, cheated on his first wife and is a boor to his current wife, spends more on household help than 99% of the population earns in a year -- all beside the point. To conservatives, McCain is the guy who understands that they don't want to be obliged, as a matter of public policy, to folks who they don't know, and have nothing in common with.

That's the sense I make of it, anyway.

Thanks -

"I cannot explain, for example,"

I think one small part, although only a small part, is the part that's a subset of the general human tendency to often not look closely at that which we do not like. We do this because that which we do not like, naturally, repels and disgusts us. And so when we do look, we do so with the intent of hostilely relishing Just How Awful That Awful Thing or Those Awful People are.

And we look for evidence to confirm our views, or at the least, we're sensitive to and easily recognize that which we believe confirms our views, generally far more easily than we pay attention to any contradictory evidence.

Thus the whole concept of cognitive dissonance. Us humans don't like the cognitive dissonance. We hates it, we hates it.

So contrary evidence and complicating evidence tends to be obscured to our view, and ignored, more than not.

And so when we look at Our Enemies, Those Awful People We Despise, we often tend to homogenize Them All as being identical to and with the Worst Examples.

Thus, all liberals are members of A.N.S.W.E.R. and want to be dhimmis, and are weak and pusillanimous, class-warfaring, simple-minded tax-raising socialists who hate.

And all conservatives are NRA-supporting wealthy fundamentalist Christian misogynist militarists out to keep women from having sex while wanting to kill dark-skinned people abroad and blame the ones at home for their own problems, and they just hate.

If you don't look a bit more closely at more of them, and start noting distinctions, and splits, and complexities.

Noting complexities takes work, and some study.

People are naturally lazy. I know I am.

So we tend to do what's easy. And taking simple views like that is easy.

As I said, that's only a small part of it, but I'm pretty clear that that's part of it, all around.

Oh, and of course you could never vote for one of those people, someone who supports that sort of thing.

Even if this one isn't so bad, think of all their horrible friends and advisors. And they'll just revert to the worst tendencies of their sort, you know.

You just can't trust them.

The Other.

obviously, there is a basic "conservative" personality type (likewise, a basic "liberal" type, and others), and the GOP has successfully branded itself as the natural home for the conservative type. while the GOP might fail to actually implement a lot of what conservatives want, the core is still there in the rhetoric and in what it proposes to do and a conservative is going to feel more at home in a party that at least says the right things - even though he'll complain about their failure to implement things.

likewise with liberals.

personally, the Dems piss me off all the time, but they mostly say the right things; and their proposals (even if there's no chance they'll be implemented) generally sound right. and while that's not much of a basis for party loyalty, there's almost nothing about the GOP that seems appealing to me - worse, nearly everything about the GOP feels wrong - even if they sometimes do the right thing. so, since we have a two party state, i go with the one that fits me best.

which is the long way of saying something not very interesting: the GOP is the party of and for mainstream conservatives, and the Dems are the party of and for mainstream liberals, and there really aren't any good alternatives unless you're enough of an idealist to think a protest vote is a good idea.

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