Saturday, March 29, 2008

Definitions and Stuff

Note: I owe the 'stuff' part of the title to the one and only Oliver Kamm.

Oliver has an interesting approach to common political terms. In his most recent post he says:

The author Geoffrey Wheatcroft, writing in The Guardian about the now concluded presidential campaign of Ron Paul, comes up with non sequitur of the day: "Anyone dismissing him as rightwing should look at his unflinching opposition to the Iraq war, and more generally to the foreign policy of George Bush and previous presidents."
And anyone dismissing Charles Lindbergh as rightwing should look at his unflinching opposition to ... well, you can fill in the rest.

I sort of concede this point - I don't think that being pro-war is necessarily 'rightwing' but mostly because I don't think 'rightwing' means very much beyond 'a person I usually agree/disagree with'.

But less than a couple of weeks ago, Oliver wrote:

Two points about McCain stand out. He's not a conservative and he's been right all along about Iraq. These are the reasons I favoured him from the outset for the Republican nomination. Indeed McCain has been more right than anyone on Iraq.

Now a Google search of McCain's own site (the site search there doesn't work) yields about 1,940 from for conservative which includes this press release (dated February 1 - 6 weeks before Oliver's post):

U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign today released a new television ad to air across the nation in the run-up to Super Tuesday. The ad, entitled "True Conservative," focuses on John McCain's commitment to conservative principles on economic, social and national security issues as well as his readiness to lead as commander in chief on day one.

I'm an ignoramus, but if there is any possibility than a) John McCain is a conservative or b) John McCain is a liar, I'd be very interested to hear it. (Thought: there is c) John McCain is a moron and does not possess a dictionary - but like b that suggests that his demerits outweigh his merits.)

Again, I may be missing something, but I don't see how that BBC story on McCain's support for the 'surge' suggests that he has been 'right all along'.

Finally, as a sort of twisted proof that 'rightwing' now means bugger all, via The Poor Man, the mostly unlikely link of all - the Daily Mail: How war hero John McCain betrayed the Vietnamese peasant who saved his life.

In all the tales of wartime courage peppering John McCain's presidential campaign trail, perhaps the most outstanding example of selfless heroism involves not the candidate but a humble Vietnamese peasant.
On October 26, 1967, Mai Van On ran from the safety of a bomb shelter at the height of an air raid and swam out into the lake where Lieutenant Commander McCain was drowning, tangled in his parachute cord after ejecting when his Skyhawk bomber was hit by a missile.
In an extraordinary act of compassion at a time when Vietnamese citizens were being killed by US aerial bombardments, he pulled a barely conscious McCain to the lake surface and, with the help of a neighbour, dragged him towards the shore.
And when a furious mob at the water's edge began to beat and stab the captured pilot, Mr On drove them back.
Nearly three decades later, a Vietnamese government commission confirmed he was indeed the rescuer and, in a 1996 meeting in Hanoi, McCain embraced and thanked Mr On and presented him with a Senate memento.
From that brief encounter to his death at the age of 88 two years ago, Mr On never heard from the senator again, and three years after their meeting, McCain published an autobiography that makes no mention of his apparent debt to Mr On.
It is a snub Mr On took to his death.

It's nice to know that John McCain (the Republican endorsed by Oliver Kamm no less) continues the fine tradition from the Eisenhower era as recorded by the great Eddie Cochrane: "I wrote to my Congressman and he said quote/I'd like to help you son, but you're too young to vote."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two points about McCain stand out. He's not a conservative

I was under the impression that Kamm actually believes in the political distinction of 'progressive' vs 'non-progressive' rather than 'outdated' terms like conservative, rightwing and leftwing?

3/30/2008 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

mostly because I don't think 'rightwing' means very much

I do, and I think it largely means not a liking for war but a distinct opposition, socially and economically, to egalitarianism.

I wrote to my Congressman and he said quote/I'd like to help you son, but you're too young to vote

I don't remember the word "quote" but it's years since I heard the song and it's not much help looking it up on the internet as there are all sorts of variations. I don't suppose anybody can confirm from listening to the original?

3/31/2008 08:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the song definitely goes (and should be puncutated as):

I wrote to my congressman and he said, quote:/"i'd like to help you son but you're to young to vote"

Cochran even does the part in inverted comma's in a "Congressman" type grown up square vote.

3/31/2008 09:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" .. he said, quote / "I'd like to help you son but you're too young to vote"

It sounds like that to me when The Who sing it and when Eddie Cochran sings it. The alternative lyrics on the internet make little sense. Some have nothing that rhymes with "vote" and some say "he sent a note" which is definitely not what The Who or Cochrane are singing.


3/31/2008 10:40:00 AM  

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