Wednesday, February 06, 2008

When The McCain's Chips Are Down

Masochism, I suppose. That would explain it. Or having nothing better to do. The sad and empty life of a 'watcher' exposed! Really, I'd have been happier if Nick's Evening Standard piece hadn't been online, because that's five minutes I'm never going to get back.

Even when he has a point, as he has with Nicholas and Ann Winterton, Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, Michael Martin ("the dreadful Speaker"), David Maclean, and Stuart Bell, he still manages to make it in a way which leaves me unconvinced. If a check on roughly one tenth of all MPs finds only one fiddling his expenses, chances are that Simon Hoggart is right: "the great majority [of MPs] are entirely honest."

Now, I don't know what Nick sees in John McCain, but he seems to have decided to try to convince liberals (not many of whom are likely to read the Evening Standard, shurely?) that the Nebraskan senator for Arizona (thanks Captain C in the the comments) is a good guy deep down.

Meanwhile McCain, who had, as it happens, been tortured for five years in a communist PoW camp, was so enraged by Rifkind's accusations that a "member of his [McCain's] staff feared he was about to hit him [Rifkind]".

Now, McCains was indeed tortured for five years (he remains stoically against torture). As he puts it himself:

It is this arm, this right arm, that North Vietnamese torturers worked over for days in a hellhole called the Plantation, till it was broken and bruised and lacerated. It is this arm, this right arm, that is still stiff, still scarred, still bent.

The rest of the piece, by the way, is somewhat lacking in "respect". Or from another source:

Grassley got in McCain's face, and the two pit bulls started barking at each other while the other senators in the room sat back and watched. The pair got so close to one another that the senator who tells me the story -- aware that because of war injuries, McCain's arms don't fully extend -- was convinced McCain "was going to drive the top of his head into Grassley's nose. I was convinced that bone fragments were going to go into Chuck's brain, and I was sitting there and was about to witness a murder."

Hit him? Oh, I rather think not.


Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

McCain is from Arizona.

2/06/2008 10:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Emm, is there any independent evidence that the man was "tortured"?

Stuff he said himself (though you seem to be quoting an article that someone else wrote, rather than a direct quote) doesn't count.

2/07/2008 12:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are murmurings of Decent support for McCain, for all the obvious reasons. However, McCain's basic right wing positions on so many issues, most notably trade unions, is surely problematic for those Decents who like to call themselves social democratic.

However, Geras, Nick Cohen and Gene from HP, for example, have some kind things to say about McCain. But Johann Hari (admittedly somewhat distant from mainstream Decency) recently wrote a piece slamming McCain in no uncertain terms.

2/07/2008 05:12:00 AM  
Blogger the management said...

is there any independent evidence that the man was "tortured"?

well he can't move his fucking arms, for one thing. I think it's pretty well established that the North Vietnamese tortured prisoners of war.

2/07/2008 07:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inidentally, slightly OT , but looking at the latest "ratbiter" column in Private Eye, I thought - mmm, decent politics, a bit weak on the facts, prone to daft innacuracy: this is surely Nick Cohen

2/07/2008 08:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EVERY liberal I know is dividing between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.

I don't understand this sentence. What's he trying to say, that they're wrong and should be paying no attention to the more liberal party in America, the one traditionally associated with Labour, the one with an interesting leadership contest between two under-represented groups in US politics, woman and black people?

Does Nick honestly think that instead, Liberals should all be uniting behind the uber-right-wing John McCain, the clear frontrunner in an uninteresting leadership battle, who might be a slightly better choice in terms of attracting swing voters than the wretched Romney and Huckabee, but is still pro-life?

The fact that he was once involved in a war against communists isn't really enought to make any liberals prefer him to an actual, you know, LIBERAL. What's Nick trying to say?

2/07/2008 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 'Dude' seems to be supporting McCain, though how this squares with Hitchens' oft expressed, teary-eyed enthusiasm for the equal-opps torturers of the DRV is hard to say.

Marc Mulholland

2/07/2008 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I was going to say something like that, but doesn't Hitchens refer to "programme" when pressed on the question?

2/07/2008 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger the management said...

Readers will be no doubt amazed and gobsmacked to discover that the source of this anecdote is probably Oliver Kamm.

More specifically, the original source is Brendan Simms (a Scoopie) who wrote in his book "Unfinest Hour" that during a meeting, Dole felt that Rifkind was being patronising and said "don't talk to me about sacrifice". Then in another meeting, an aide thought McCain was about to hit Rifkind (presumably an aide who didn't know about McCain's disability).

This vignette then appeared on Kamm's blog with the words "You Americans know nothing of the horrors of war" added - these don't appear at all in Simms' book - maybe Oliver got them directly from Brendan Simms, but presumably Simms didn't feel he could back them up enough to include them in the book.

Cohen then puts McCain into the Dole meeting, reproducing the Kamm quote but changing "you don't know the horrors of war" to "you know nothing of the horrors of war".

hmmm, Update: The "you don't know" quote appears in a couple of contemporary reviews of Simms' book (one of them has Rifkind "bellowing" it), but in the version scanned in Amazon "Search Inside", the words are:

"When - in Dole's eyes - Rifkind warned patronizingly about the dangers of escalation"

which is a lot milder and leads me to suspect that m'learned friends may have complained (or Simms found out that his source had improved an anecdote) between editions.

2/07/2008 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger the management said...

Update! I now notice that Nick Cohen wrote the original Observer review of Simms' book and thus had both "bellowing" and the quote. I apologise unreservedly to Kamm, and with slight reservations (because he appears to have forgotten that there were two different meetings and not checked the quote) to Cohen.

2/07/2008 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

Decentwatch: Dean Godson sighted giving the Thames Valley dibble covering fire over the bugging affair, smearing Sadiq Khan as a terrorist sympathiser.

2/07/2008 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Do you mean the Met rather than Thames Valley?

2/07/2008 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

I must do. Anyway, what a surprise to see Godson in this connection....not.

2/07/2008 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johann Hari:- In the latest Le Monde Diplomatique (in French) there is an article by Hari describing a trip that he took on a cruise ship with American conservatives. It is a well-written article that describes the present-day splits in American conservatism and is critical of all the factions. It is particularly harsh about the opinion among many of these factions that Europe is about to be taken over by Moslem hordes. It looks like Hari's flirtation with Decency are over.

The article isn't in the English edition of Le Monde Diplomatique, probably because it already has appeared in English in "The New Republic" in July 2007.


2/08/2008 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger hardindr said...

Hari's article about the 2007 National Review cruise was published in the Independent here.

2/09/2008 03:07:00 PM  

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