Via Outside the Beltway, this McCain joke:
Presidential candidate John McCain, who once sang in jest about bombing Iran, on Tuesday reacted to a report of rising U.S. cigarette exports to the country by saying it may be “a way of killing ‘em.”
McCain, known for acerbic comments and for sometimes firing verbally from the hip, was responding to a report that U.S. exports to Iran rose tenfold during President George W. Bush’s term in office despite hostility between the two states. A rise in cigarette sales was a big part of that, according to an Associated Press analysis of seven years of U.S. trade figures.
“Maybe that’s a way of killing ‘em,” McCain said to reporters during a campaign stop in Pittsburgh. “I meant that as a joke, as a person who hasn’t had a cigarette in 28 years, 29 years,” he added, laughing.
I am not going to join in on the McCain bashing being done on this off-the-cuff remark that Joyner highlights in his post (a charity that right-wing bloggers would not afford the Democrats, I might note, as I observe today’s manufactured controversy over Obama’s foreign language remarks). I will observe that had a left-leaning leader of a European nation quipped that “Europe is going to export as much booze as we can to the United States so they can hopefully drink themselves to death,” the freakout in certain quarters of the blogosphere would measure on the Richter scale. Putting aside all that, I will say that I simply do not understand the mentality currently at work.
I understand that the leadership of Iran has said and (most likely has done) any number of odious things, and I understand that certain people who have an Israel first policy are going to have particular issues with Iran. But what I don’t understand is the apparent personal animus towards all thing Iran that the McCain quip seems to betray. I have no beef with Iranians, and I thought that was the right-wing position- our agitation was towards the leadership, and if I am remembering correctly, all the rhetoric from Pipes and company was that we needed to aid the Iranian people and their pro-Democracy forces. Maybe that was then, this is now, and the propagandists now need to paint Iran as a monolithic evil, and the rhetoric has changed. It sure feels like over the past few months and years we are experiencing a hardening of positions against all things Iranian.
It doesn’t make much sense to me. Insomuch that Iran does things that are threatening, and even assuming they have fomented much of the violence in Iraq, hurting the occupation forces, I don’t think this is a result of animus towards the United States on the part of the Iranian people, but machinations from the leadership that should have been expected given a large and overtly hostile nation had now projected a bulk of their military power right smack dab on their border. In fact, I have frequently seen reports stating just the opposite- wherever you go, people LOVE Americans (or at least they used to when the dollar bought you more than a bottle of water), but often times very much disliked American policy and the leadership in government.
Additionally, this sort of attitude doesn’t seem to be much of a winner in regards to long-term global policy. One would think the rising gas prices would clue some people in that there are a helluva lot of nations out there entering into a serious industrial era, and we are, from a population, and pretty soon probably from a military and manufacturing perspective, horribly outnumbered on the global stage. Not only does blanket belligerence towards other nations seem to be simplistic and unhelpful, it seems downright dangerous. I am not saying we are no longer a superpower, but I think the forecast is clear- we aren’t the only tough guy on the block anymore, and it might be wise to recognize that.
This is kind of rambling, but I just don’t get the current mindset, in which it seems like we really are carving out large parts of the world and making them “the enemy.” Certainly there are legitimate threats and certainly there are places where they do hate Americans, but I just don’t think it is the norm and don’t see the purpose in the kind of animus McCain displayed in his offhand remark.
Even if it was just a joke. It sucked.
Paper tigers need those cardboard enemies. Screw McCain. Anyway, I wanted to ask, anyone else here old enough to remember the song “Bomb Iran” being all over the radio during the Iran hostage crisis?
McCain, for all his hipster Daily Show appearances and SNL hosting gigs, is still, deep down, a “Us Decent Americans vs the Rest of the World” kind of guy.
anyone who doesn’t still think Vietnam could’ve been won is a DFH, so it only makes sense he feels that same animus to the rest of the world, simply because they ARE “the rest of the world.”
i used to like the guy, and i was all for making him Kerry’s VP if it could’ve happened, but over the last 4 years we’ve gotten to see who he really is, what he really believes, and how little he knows, and its frightening.
John Cole wrote,
I think the animus simply follows from the fact that he really really really wants to bomb the place.
Hard to want something like that and at the same time not try to dehumanize the people you want to bomb.
When I was growing up, and afterwards, I remember hearing the phrase “Americans needed to have an enemy”. I didn’t get it, because I sure didn’t need or want enemies, although sometimes it was unavoidable. However, I did notice my father and some others seemed to thrive and actually needed to have people and things to defeat. When I became politically aware during the 2000 election, I learned these people were called republicans and it all began to make sense. Or non-sense, as it were.
Compare the attitudes of the GOP base with the sectors of English and French society that were fervently supporting imperialism back in the day: xenophobic, racist, reflexively ‘patriotic’ obsessed with the honor of patriotic symbols, and heavily invested in militarism, fundamentalist religiosity and authoritarian politics.
Imperialism, as a political project, develops and supports the growth and empowerment a ‘nasty bastard’ social movement that itself drives the imperialist political movement. These are the people who must identify with McCain and fervently support him if he is to have any chance. Thus, these odd, awkward, tasteless moments which are signals from McCain to the true believers that he is one of them.
John McCain is a moral and intellectual disaster, a train wreck.
Is there still anyone out there who doesn’t get this?
These are not slip-ups. This is the real McCain. People in Arizona have known this for 25 years. Welcome to our world.
It’s pretty straightforward John. McCain thinks of “Iran” as “The Enemy.” He doesn’t differentiate between the government and the governed. He just thinks we need to “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.”
I don’t get that mindset either. That’s why I’m a liberal. But John McBush isn’t. He’s a right-wing warmonger, and what he says reflects his view of the world.
…anyone else here old enough to remember the song “Bomb Iran” being all over the radio during the Iran hostage crisis?
Oh yes. It was a huge hit in my childhood hometown of Nowhere, Utah.
I just don’t get the current mindset, in which it seems like we really are carving out large parts of the world and making them “the enemy.”
If by “current”, you mean “at least since the start of the Cold War” … I don’t get it either. I mean, I do agree with other commenters that the authoritarians need an enemy to distract the rubes, but I don’t get why the rubes fall for it.
Scaring the base = voter turnout.
On a less flip note, the question of why belligerence towards Iran is a good one. The answer might have something to do with why it ended up a part of that oh so useful metaphor about axes and teh evil. As many others have noted, the rhetoric coming from the right about Iran sounds a lot like the rheotric we heard about Iraq: existential threat, blah-blah-blah, hatred of freedoms, dehumanize they enemy, blah-blah-blah.
For an interesting meditattion on the meta-issue of tying existetial threats to warfare, I highly recommend David Bell’s The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of Warfare as we Know It.” Haven’t finished it yet but so far, pretty good.
The Moar You Know
Americans suck at nuance, and McCain understands this fully.
TZ is right, McCain is an embarrassment, a lout.
It’s called Empire, John. American Imperial ambitions in the region can’t tolerate a counter-hegemonic force, let alone one that has History and a sense of it’s place in the world. Our biggest problem is that both parties are dominated by the Imperial faction, at the same time Homelanders have become oblivious to our own history as an anti-colonial force.
Pat Lang has an interesting post up on Iran
Still in recovery I see. Can’t quite fully grasp all the idiocy in republican election strategy. You’re still under the impression that anything other than winning elections matter to them. Causing hatred, justified or not, gets republicans elected. Simple. As. That. Stop looking for meaning or logic.
I added Pat Lang to the links. I don’t know anythign bout him, but that was the second interesting post you have linked to from him.
I hope he doesn;t turn out to be crazy like Larry Johnson, as every other CIA agent seems to the moment they get a blog.
John, they are a shade of brown, therefore they are inferior, have no feelings to hurt, no national pride and are incapable of causing us pain.
This is the Republican worldview. It has always been their worldview.
Why are you surprised? This is who he is.
Just Some Fuckhead
I bet Lil Boots thought it was funny as hell. Prolly telling it around the White House right now.
Yep. That’s why McCain ought to read some Orwell. The only way an empire can survive is if it dehumanizes the inhabitants of the country it has power over.
He hasn’t been on TV much anymore. But he was one of the rational voices during the runup to Iraq. He was military intel, I think. I’ve been reading him for awhile and no sign of Johnsonutfever.
Pat Lang is not like Crazy Larry. He’s very, very smart. Way too smart for the goopers who are running the White House these days.
I’m just afraid that as a country it’s gonna look like we’re run by the Beverly Hillbillies if this stuff keeps up. Except that they had pure hearts even if they were dumb, and this crowd is twisted as can be.
Special Forces Vietnam, Instructor in Arabic at West Point, Senior Analyst DIA for the Middle East. Shoots straight, no bullshit, no crackpot realism.
The Other Steve
Seems to me John McCain just lost the vote of the Tobacco belt.
Desert Hussein Rat
Couldn’t agree more. Only an asshole could find humor in death by stroke, heart attack, or lung cancer.
McCain loves to hate whoever the Enemy de Jour of the U.S. is. Right now our big Booga Booga enemies are Muslims, especially Muslims who live in Persia. Ergo, bomb ’em, kill ’em, ain’t that fun?!
What a moran.
Phoenician in a time of Romans
It doesn’t make much sense to me. Insomuch that Iran does things that are threatening, and even assuming they have fomented much of the violence in Iraq, hurting the occupation forces,
Uh-huh. The US is kidnapping Iranian Revolutionary Guards within Iran to interrogate them, and citing the results as proof that the Iranians are fomenting violence.
Now, let’s consider. Imagine Libya went into the United States and kidnapped a CIA officer. They took the CIA officer back home and disappeared him or her for a while. Later they announced, happily, that the results of this interrogation proved than the US was plotting against Libya.
Even if this is true, which country is doing more to foment violence?
Your government wants a war. Your military and your public are not too hot on the idea, so the government is doing the best it can to get one started.
The Iranians do not want a war. If and when the bombs start flying, it will be the fault of the Bush Administration. Again.
And the rest of us are supposed to consider an Iranian desire for nuclear weapons to be a bad thing? As far as I can tell, it’s the only sane response to a far stronger superpower bent on dropping bombs on you.
its also a matter of the fact that mccain, for all his hipster daily show and SNL appearances, just can’t tell anything resembling a joke. i mean, he’s just terrible.
he needs to start filling the silence after his horribly timed craptacular attempts at humor ala neil hamburger…”waddya want from me, i got cancer!”
Strikes me that the need to project empire is a basic component of Eisenhower’s “Military-Industrial Complex” having taken over. It’s profit through military projection.
Many of the same companies making money off foreign wars, weapons systems, and homeland security also happen to either own the major media networks outright (NBC/General Electric, CBS/Westinghouse, etc), or sponsor the top Sunday morning shows on those networks (Lockheed, BP, etc) which tend to drive the media’s weekly narrative (intertrons not withstanding).
Makes it easy to sell US foreign “adventurism” to the public, and keeps the profits in the family.
THANK you. I was starting to feel really fucking lonely. Forget the whole regional meltdown, collapse of diplomacy, and foreign policy based on bluffing on a pair of deuces meta-thing for a moment — how fucking UNSEEMLY is this kind of shit? It’s disgraceful and undignified!
McCain’s chemical cocktail seems to be working out pretty well for him; I’d never have expected him to make it to July without detonating in public. I bet the Hill is full of people who wish he’d started taking meds twenty years ago. But he just isn’t fit to be out in public talking to strangers, and certainly not as the head of government AND state.
Okay, you can go back to thinking about intermediate-range missiles now. I’m going to knock off for a few hours.
The “humiliation” of the hostage “crisis” is a very deep American bigotry. To wit, remember all that new-found compassion (post-2001) for the Iraqi’s Saddam gassed in the 1980’s?
You’ll never hear them mention all the Iranians he gassed, and he gassed a lot more of them.
Straussian mouthings to claim moral highground, see above.
This is what Iraq was all about. The ME sends more oil to old Europe, India, China and Japan than it sends to us. We are a military hyperpower and economic, moral and cultural basketcase. Imagine Uncle Sam as a body builder and shrunken testes.
That’s all we have, which is why the first half of this century will be about an empire trying to maintain itself solely through military might.
Eventually, the Pipes of the world will manipulate us into a position where we’ll get our asses kicked, and it won’t be a dribbling little affair like Iraq.
If I were Ahmaniajad, and knew I could sink the carriers, I would be doing exactly what he’s doing right now.
Pat Lang rocks.
Of course, lost in the brou-ha-ha was the purpose of the question. Why the hell are cigarettes being shipped to Iran as “food”? Snark or not, it’s a legitimate question that McCain should answer, since trading with Iran is illegal except for food and medicine.
Hearts and minds, John. Or heart disease and brain tumors, if you prefer…
A long time ago, I remember my right wing friends making jokes about when the U.S.S. Vincennes blew an Iranian airliner out of the sky for no reason. They thought it was funny. How things change.
McCain is making Iran the reason we need him as president. What else does he have to offer besides being a tough guy to protect us from the Irans of the world?
I remember one time McCain was on The Daily Show … I think it was in late 2007 when everybody was saying his campaign was toast … Stewart, being a quick wit, got him pretty good on some point or other, and McCain’s retort was something pathetic like, “I’d like to drop you in the middle of Fallujah” or some such similar sentiment. He tried to show in his delivery that he thought he was fencing wits with Stewart but, it was clear that he was just resorting to the type of comeback that came easily for him and it was kind of an awkward WTF moment.
BTW, I believe Billmon was a fan of Pat Lang’s back in the day.
The appropriate response would have been “Do I get a bulletproof vest, 100 troops, two Apaches and three Blackhawks? Then I’m in!”
You would think they would have been classified as drug delivery systems instead.
To point out this isn’t presidential would be stating the obvious. It’s also not funny, pretty creepy and nothing new. He’s already sung Bomb Bomb Iran during a town hall meeting.
Going further, it’s the exact Cowboy Diplomacy associated with petulant quips like Bring Em On that has turned much of the world against the current administration. Sure, this does play well with a small, bellicose part of the country. But to most Americans, and anyone watching overseas, it’s a reminder that being the lone superpower comes with a responsibility. Joking about how to kill people shirks that duty.
J. Michael Neal
Sorry, John, but you remember wrong. They say they like the Iranian people and want to free them when it helps them argue for what they want to do anyway. Try to actually convince them that Iranians are a lot more cosmopolitan and liberal than Arabs are, and that our long run goal should be to get back to a situation where they are our allies. It’s impossible. They just want to hate them.
Golly, sounds like Lenin might have been onto something with that imperialism being the last stage of capitalism stuff.
How is it McCain can make jokes about this crap and dropping people off in a warzone and drafting middle schoolers, yet joking about how ridiculous he looks giving a thumbs-up is off-limits because he was subject to “enhanced interrogation”?
Flyboy McCain is perfectly cast as America’s inner Ex-High-School-Jock: “B*tch thinks she’s too good for me? Rolls her eyes at my jokes? Would rather take the bus than accept a ride in my T-bird? Let’s see what happens when I show up drunk late one night, run over her cat, throw a rock through her window, and set fire to her front porch!”
If there wasn’t a considerable percentage of Americans who found such behavior perfectly reasonable, then where would COPS find its endless supply of videos?
McCain, or more probably McCain’s advisors, are hoping to appeal to the Resentful Voter who can’t afford gas to get to the job interview he’ll be denied now that his house is in foreclosure. The Resentful Voter doesn’t actually believe bombing Iran will improve his own horrible daily life, but he would love to see somebody else get humiliated for a change, especially if the video can be improved with a kewl soundtrack on Youtube.
We should be bombing Iran. They have some of the most attractive women in the world. (and if you’re female, men as well.. ) No bombing of Iran.. *drool*
This is true. I lived in West LA in one lifetime and that’s where all the people who immigrated to get away from either the Shah or the Revolution went. Very attractive people. I remember around the time of the hostage crisis there was a big thing in LA because some dumb grocery clerk in a fit of patriotic idiocy had an Iranian guy arrested for tasting a grape in the produce section. I thought at the time the guy was probably a refugee from the ayatollahs, but teh stoopid doesn’t make allowances.
John, the man called his wife a c*nt in front of strangers. Discretion, while the better part of valor, is not one of his gifts.
BTW that should “not be bombing Iran”. I think I made it clearer later, but just wanted to correct it.
My neighbors are Iranian Christians. Their son is good enough to model IMHO. Good kid.
Wait, is isn’t just that he did it in front of strangers. The man called his wife a c*nt over some stupid joke. Getting his jollies about killing Iranians is just part of his classy act.
I bet Hamid Karzai gets big laughs in front of Afghani audiences with jokes about heroin addiction in the U.S. What are we gonna do, destroy their country or something?
Bravo! You nailed what has been nagging me for months now. I just couldn’t put it to words that well, so you done good.
McCain is just hosing all over himself! “Honey, bring in another pack of Depends!”
Cindy McCain brushes aside a lock of platinum blonde hair, sighs and says, ‘It’s time to change Walnuts, again.”
You know, it’s the height of irresponsibility to post a comment like that without linking to pictures that prove your case!
That’s because you’re assuming it’s a “mentality”, John.
Why not? You think it’s viewed as an insignificant joke in Iran? They do get news there, you know.
The people who go insane with bloodlust every time some Middle Eastern politician makes a statement that could be considered belligerent never seem to be worried about making their own moronic statements about nuking Mecca or bombing Iran or whatever and how Middle Eastern politicians might use those to whip up some blodlust among their own base.
Yeah, just an off-the-cuff remark, followed by his off-the-cuff remark about bombing Iran, and his off-the-cuff promises to stop Iran from using weapons they don’t actually have. Just a bunch of random comments that all happen to point in the same direction. Nothing to see here.
I don’t think this was off the cuff. I saw the clip. He was laughing and laughing at his own joke. He thought he was hilarious. And he keeps doing it. It’s a mindset and callousness toward other peoples as well as the “only tool you need is a hammer” attitude. He’s really extremely unfit to be President. He actually unfit to be a Senator, but there are a lot of those.
Fixed. I swear, if people in this country could answer this simple question:
“What is the only country that borders both Afghanistan and Iraq?”
…we’d be in much better shape. Sadly, Miss Teen South Carolina is the rule rather than the exception.
Iranian girls = hot
BTW, I understand this mentality perfectly. It was a dog-whistle to Misha and the rest of the jabbering wingnut hordes who are still convinced that 9/11 was perpetrated and supported by Saddam Hussein and the French and anyone else who’s brown-skinned or a Muslim. The fact that Iranians held candlelight vigils for the victims of 9/11 has long since been swept under the rug. The wingnuts want them all to die now and so McCain is trying to prove that he Gets It.
John, you’re so reasonable. How did a nice guy like you ever get mixed up with a shady outfit like the GOP?
The cooked and the raw.
Thus was it ever.
I chalk it up the the fact that, the more he talks, the more McCain reveals himself as a doddering, and vindictive old fool who’s gone as apeshit in his “thinking” as Cheney did when he became VP. McCain will embroil us in another war, with Iran, in very short order. I’ve wriyyen him completely off as a dangerous lunatic at this point.
I chalk it up the the fact that, the more he talks, the more McCain reveals himself as a doddering, and vindictive old fool who’s gone as apeshit in his “thinking” as Cheney did when he became VP. McCain will embroil us in another war, with Iran, in very short order. I’ve written him completely off as a dangerous lunatic at this point.
I do wonder about how McCain thinks he’s going to take on Iran as well.
Have you seen Google Maps lately :) Iraq is a big bugger, Afganistan is not exactly small, you got Al Q hiding in Pakistan hills, and now he wants to take on the rather huge Iran slap bang in the middle of it all.
His Military advisers must be /faceslap ‘ing themselves to sleep.
The trouble is, he thinks he’s de-humanitising Iran ready for a good bombing, but he isn’t, he’s de-humanising the West.
We’re all sick of this. All he is doing is promoting the ‘evil west’ ideal that is causing the hatred that leads to suicide bombers and extremism.
Young men join bad causes over there to fight what they perceive as a real threat to their way of life
> McCain / Bush and his Ilk.
Iran isn’t really helping the situation though.
July 2nd held the first reading of a proposed new law that would, for example, apply the Death penalty for Bloggers“>death penalty to bloggers, and website editors who “promote corruption, prostitution or apostasy (renunciation of faith)”.
“Hip” being the nearest body part fit for print.
And people who say obnoxious shit and then claim they’re only joking are fucking cowards. But hey, if there’s a tiny anti-McCain rally in Iran because of the comment it will be proof that THEY WANT TO KILL US!
It’s a win-win for McCane.
There’s no question Iran poses a huge threat to the region. They have a most vile, theocratic Shite-State expanionist policy that only a blind man couldn’t see. Ahm-a-nut-job’s public statements about destroying Israel remind me of Hitler’s posturing before he attacked Poland.
The question is how we confront this. I think the USA has a strong role to play, on a non-unilateralist basis (but not ruling out direct negotiations) to persuade Iran to stop its nuclear weapon efforts. But we shouldn’t initiate another war just to protect Israel. That is Bush-Cheney-McSame madness to a tee.
Israel is a separate state, and must look after its own interests. The threat against it is far, far greater than the threat against the USA. For the USA, a posture of studied neutrality vis-a-vis their pre-emptive options is the only way to go, IMHO.
OTOH, if Israel makes a pre-emptive strike against Iran, and Iran retaliates by attacking the USA in the region, all bets are off, I think. We should make clear to Iran that if that happens, a formal declaration of war will follow, with all the consequences that entails. I don’t want to see that, but I don’t think the USA would have a choice in the face of such an attack.
One of the reasons we have this problem now, I think, was Carter’s pathetic response to the outrageous provocation of the 1979 hostage crisis. Iran’s current leaders (and I think Ahm-a-nut-job could easily have been one of the hostage takers) still think we’re a paper tiger because of that.
slippy hussein toad
Really? Ahm-a-who? I’m sure you can try to spell the name.
Oh, yeah. That guy.
That’s some dangerous tonic there. Free elections. And having the people who live in a area represented to the people who control it? Crazy. I can see why that’s a threatening posture.
The smoking gun may come in the form of a mushroom cloud, after all.
If conservatives were to have any, say, credibility on these issues I might try to listen to them. But all I hear when a conservative starts spouting about how Carter fucked it all up and they’re crazy blah blah blah blah blah, I just remember that we ended up thousands of deaths and hundreds of billions of dollars in debt for no discerinable benefit because we listened to liars and fools regarding Iraq.
Won’t be making that mistake again.
Which only makes me feel WORSE for the Iranian people, not making me want them to have the additional joy of dying from cancer.
Or, more immediately, suffering from an American style liberation via f-111.
I say we bomb Ward Churchill, too, just to be safe. He’s said all manner of terrible things about the US and Israel.
By the way, I may be blind, but for having a “Shiite-state expansionist policy” Iran seems oddly reluctant to actually invade other countries and thereby, erm, expand their state. Unless you’re claiming that their influence in Iraq is likewise akin to Hitler’s invasion of Poland; I’m pretty sure most Iraqis would laugh in your face at that bullshit.
Its hard sometimes to remember the difference between the government and the people.
Its true John that we should really be feeling sorry for most of the Iranians, a large portion of whom are being denied education due to their religion, and other such disgusting policies. But they are fighting back in their own way in their own country.
When McCain laughs about bombing Iran, when Hills threatened to Nuke Iran you have to remember that the people of Iran have no control over their government. At least in the West we have some semblance of control.
To joke about the deaths of civilian Iranians through Cancer and other smoking related illnesses is just showing what a mean spirited bastard McCain is.
I wish we could stop looking for wars. If someone blows your shit up, fine then go and blow theirs up x10.
But until that day, finish what you’ve started and bring the boys ( and girls ) home.
Oh, I stand corrected: he’s a democratic moderate. Hezbollah’s presence in Lebanon is pure coincidence too.
With respect to:
D’oh, if you read my posts here with any regularity you’ll see that I’m about as “conservative” these days as Mr. Cole.
You also just might want to consider that it is possible for someone to believe at the same time that (1) Carter f*cked it up royally (recall how quickly the Mullahs released the hostages, “just minutes after the new American president Ronald Reagan was sworn in” ) but that (2) Carter looks competent compared to Bush in Iraq. Don’t want to put too great a strain on your linear thinking, though.
Phoenician in a time of Romans
Oh, I stand corrected: he’s a democratic moderate. Hezbollah’s presence in Lebanon is pure coincidence too.
You mean Hezbollah, a Lebonese armed militia movement fighting against Israel that sprung up after Israel invaded it?
Just Some Fuckhead
Yeah, and when she brings you a bottle of beer she can open it with her nose.