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Speaking Truth to Power: When Power Speaks Back
May 22, 2006 6:38 AM   Subscribe

Speaking truth to power: when power speaks back (scroll down). Graduating senior Jean Rohe & Senator John McCain spoke at the New School's graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden this Saturday. Rohe's speech attacking McCain's actions & positions has been hailed by many on the Left as "speaking truth to power". McCain staffer Mark Salter thinks Jean isn't being fair to his boss. Scroll down to read his reaction.
posted by scalefree (122 comments total)

 
Clarification: it's the second link that has Salter's response, not the main one. I guess I should've made it the main link but then I wouldn't have had that clever title.
posted by scalefree at 6:46 AM on May 22, 2006


wahhh wahhh wahhh! that mean girl said bad things about my [two-faced lapdog yes-man] boss. boo hoo!
posted by 40 Watt at 6:51 AM on May 22, 2006


Jeez. Even staffers in McCain's camp seems to be as testy and thin-skinned as he is.
posted by psmealey at 6:52 AM on May 22, 2006


Geez, that's what a senator's staffer writes? It's full of ad hominem attacks. I'm rather shocked, really and truly. No wonder "Fuck yourself" is, apparently, acceptable speech in the senate these days. I'd have expected better from McCain's office. (I hate it when good men go bad)
posted by Goofyy at 7:01 AM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Nice, he hijacks four graduation ceremonies to give the same campaign speech four times and gets pissy when a student calls him on it. Why can't New York students be like those nice polite kids at Liberty Baptist?
posted by octothorpe at 7:04 AM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


The guy has a point though. Calling her a hero for what took almost no courage at all when confronted by the very real past heroism of a guy like McCain is absurd. And what they did to him was incredibly rude and uncalled for. He's a war hero, an American Senator and a probable presidential candidate. He deserves respect. If John Kerry or Russ Feingold had spoken at Liberty University, he'd have been treated better that that, I'm sure of it.

I wouldn't vote for the man, but their treatment of him was despicable.
posted by empath at 7:06 AM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


But, bad form on responding personally to it. Just like the pissy letter to Obama. It's a shame he feels the need to lower himself to mudslinging contests like that. I think it should be beneath him.

It's one of the many, many reasons that I wouldn't vote for him (aside from the fact that I disagree with 80% of his stated positions).
posted by empath at 7:08 AM on May 22, 2006


Nice "jean" and "mark" tags. Those will be useful.

And Goofyy, could you share the moment when McCain went "bad"? Because I don't remember him ever being "good".
posted by Kwantsar at 7:12 AM on May 22, 2006


Graduation ceremonies are not the place for cookie-cutter campaign speeches. It would be inappropriate for any politician.
posted by Nquire at 7:14 AM on May 22, 2006


The shrill intolerant sanctimony of Ms. Rohe and her fellow students and professors- and some of the posters here - is a major reason why the Left has been marginalized and irrelevant in American politics for an entire generation. Only the corruption and ineptitude of the current Republican leadership, which may end up discrediting conservatism just as badly, offers the Left any hope for electoral power anywhere between San Francisco and Cambridge.
posted by mojohand at 7:18 AM on May 22, 2006


Kwantsar: IMO, when he went on stage and hugged George Bush. What makes McCain frustrating is that he so clearly knows better, and he so transparently threw his own morals under the bus in pursuit of the white house.
posted by empath at 7:19 AM on May 22, 2006


Aide's remarks:

I am employed by Senator McCain and I helped draft his remarks for the New School commencement ceremony. Ms. Rohe takes exception to the fact that the speech was written with all four commencements he has been invited to address. The Senator's intention was to discuss with Americans, not any particular subset of Americans, but his fellow countrymen, the things that he feels are important to remember in our political debates: that we owe each other our respect just as we owe each other our best advocacy for the things we believe are important for our country. He did not feel that the students of Liberty University were a more appropriate audience for his address than the New School's graduates. It was an act of respect. Although it is quite clear that part of his audience at Madison Square Garden had no intention of reciprocating.

Evidently, the Senator's regard for his audience was misplaced. Ms. Rohe and those of her fellow graduates who hailed their school's President as a war criminal and who greeted the Senator's reference to a friend's death with laughter proved only one thing, one sad thing, that they could learn a thing or two about tolerance and respect from the students of Liberty University. Like the protestors at the Garden, many in the audience at Liberty University disagreed with various of the Senator's views. Some disagreed with his support for campaign finance reform. Some disagreed with his support for comprehensive immigration reform with a path toward legalization for undocumented workers. Some disagreed with his position of climate change. Some disagreed with his opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment. Whatever their differences with him they listened to him attentively and respectfully, as one American to another, divided in some respects, united in much more important ones.

Let me tell you a little bit about the Senator, the man you dismiss so derisively. Once upon time, even among the young, the words courage and hero were used more sparingly, more precisely. It took no courage to do what you did, Ms. Rohe. It was an act of vanity and nothing more. And please don't worry about the Senator's discomfort with you. He has managed to endure much worse. McCain was once offered release from imprisonment and torture because of his father's position as a senior military officer. He declined because he would not leave his comrades behind, and thus, willingly, accepted four more years of hardships life will spare almost all of us from. In his political career he has shown the same character he showed as a Navy officer all those years ago. He has, over and over again, risked personal ambitions for what he believes, rightly or wrongly, are in the best interests of the country. What, pray tell, have you risked? The only person you have succeeded in making look like an idiot is yourself.

You took exception to the paragraph in which he lightly deprecated the vanity of youth. Well, Ms. Rohe, and your fellow graduates's comical self-importance deserves a rebuke far stronger than the gentle suggestions he offered you. So, let me leave you with this. Should you grow up and ever get down to the hard business of making a living and finding a purpose for your lives beyond self-indulgence some of you might then know a happiness far more sublime than the fleeting pleasure of living in an echo chamber. And if you are that fortunate, you might look back on the day of your graduation and your discourtesy to a good and honest man with a little shame and the certain knowledge that it very unlikely any of you will ever posses the one small fraction of the character of John McCain.

Mark Salter


posted by mecran01 at 7:21 AM on May 22, 2006


Kwanstar: yeah, I waffle between making multi-word tags like that into single words, doublewords or just using the more recognizable word & leaving the other word out. Sometimes I even do both single word & doubleword. But then I realize it's just a tag & not really worth all that much effort & thought. But thanks for the comment.
posted by scalefree at 7:25 AM on May 22, 2006


McCain's speechwriter says:
In his political career he has shown the same character he showed as a Navy officer all those years ago. He has, over and over again, risked personal ambitions for what he believes, rightly or wrongly, are in the best interests of the country.
And then, a couple of years ago, he stopped doing that, and started selling his ideals in service of his personal ambitions. Which is when he became a former hero.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:32 AM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Btw, why does McCain get called a war hero?

Apparently, he's on record saying, "Do not call me a 'war hero'...I am anything but! The fact that I was incompetent enough to get shot down twice in war should dissuade you from that fact."
I think he has a point there. I mean, did he actually do anything to deserve that title?
posted by Zetetics at 7:38 AM on May 22, 2006


And then, a couple of years ago, he stopped doing that, and started selling his ideals in service of his personal ambitions. Which is when he became a former hero.

Bingo Kirth Gerson.

From the former hero's speech: I supported the decision to go to war in Iraq. Many Americans did not. My patriotism and my conscience required me to support it and to engage in the debate over whether and how to fight it. I stand that ground not to chase vainglorious dreams of empire; not for a noxious sense of racial superiority over a subject people; not for cheap oil--we could have purchased oil from the former dictator at a price far less expensive than the blood and treasure we've paid to secure those resources for the people of that nation; not for the allure of chauvinism, to wreak destruction in the world in order to feel superior to it; not for a foolishly romantic conception of war. I stand that ground because I believed, rightly or wrongly, that my country's interests and values required it.

"My country's interest and values." And what interests and values would those be?

Former hero and present Senator McCain is every bit the stooge of the neo-cons as former coward and present President Bush.
posted by three blind mice at 7:38 AM on May 22, 2006


Calling her a hero for what took almost no courage at all when confronted by the very real past heroism of a guy like McCain is absurd. And what they did to him was incredibly rude and uncalled for.

Someone who can send kids to die in an unnecessary war but can't deal with people being rude to him?! As eminem once said "Fuck him, and fuck you too!"
posted by delmoi at 7:39 AM on May 22, 2006


If John Kerry or Russ Feingold had spoken at Liberty University, he'd have been treated better that that, I'm sure of it.

You seriously think that if Kerry or Feingold had so completely sold out for votes that they went to Falwell and made a heartfelt "you are a good man and we actually agree" type speech, Kerry or Feingold wouldn't be viciously derided by their former supporters? It would be a far more severe betrayal than McCain's.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:40 AM on May 22, 2006


did he actually do anything to deserve that title?

He got tortured, and then willingly submitted himself to more torture. You may or may not believe this makes him more of a hero than someone who got drafted, shot people, and made it back OK.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:41 AM on May 22, 2006


All that is well and good, but I have a hard time taking anything seriously that comes from a school named after an adjective.

I know I can't be alone.
posted by pokermonk at 7:42 AM on May 22, 2006


Btw, why does McCain get called a war hero?

Now wait a minute there Zetetics. Say what you want about McCain today, but don't deny him what he's earned.
posted by three blind mice at 7:43 AM on May 22, 2006


The shrill intolerant sanctimony of Ms. Rohe and her fellow students and professors- and some of the posters here - is a major reason why the Left has been marginalized and irrelevant in American politics for an entire generation. Only the corruption and ineptitude of the current Republican leadership, which may end up discrediting conservatism just as badly, offers the Left any hope for electoral power anywhere between San Francisco and Cambridge.

Similarly, the shrill rudness of people like Sean Hannety, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Riley, and Rush Limbaugh are why the ideological right has been out of power for a generation.

Oh, wait.
posted by delmoi at 7:43 AM on May 22, 2006


He got tortured, and then willingly submitted himself to more torture.

That doesn't automatically make him a hero for all time.
posted by bshort at 7:45 AM on May 22, 2006


I don't think McCain suffers from character flaws, but he is overwhelmingly prone to flaws in his judgment. The problem with John McCain is that he's wrong nearly all the time. And on those occasions when he's right about something, he's ineffective. But that's not a reflection on his character. He's a good man.

One thing you'll see when McCain runs (he's the presumptive frontrunner, so he's already got a target on his back) is the fact that he has a "f*ck you" button. And savvy insiders know what it is, and how to press it. McCain has one hell of a temper, and if America sees it firsthand, John McCain will never be President.
posted by edverb at 7:45 AM on May 22, 2006


If John Kerry or Russ Feingold had spoken at Liberty University, he'd have been treated better that that, I'm sure of it.

Do I have to remind you about the treatment the right gave John Kerry. Did you forget about the swiftboaters and the bandaids? The right wing have never treated anyone they disagree with politely.
posted by octothorpe at 7:47 AM on May 22, 2006


The bit of his speech that apparently was received as the most "loathsome":
When I was a young man, I was quite infatuated with self-expression, and rightly so, because, if memory conveniently serves, I was so much more eloquent, well-informed, and wiser than anyone else I knew. It seemed I understood the world and the purpose of life so much more profoundly than most people. I believed that to be especially true with many of my elders, people whose only accomplishment, as far as I could tell, was that they had been born before me, and, consequently, had suffered some number of years deprived of my insights. I had opinions on everything, and I was always right. I loved to argue, and I could become understandably belligerent with people who lacked the grace and intelligence to agree with me. With my superior qualities so obvious, it was an intolerable hardship to have to suffer fools gladly. So I rarely did. All their resistance to my brilliantly conceived and cogently argued views proved was that they possessed an inferior intellect and a weaker character than God had blessed me with, and I felt it was my clear duty to so inform them. It's a pity that there wasn't a blogosphere then. I would have felt very much at home in the medium.
Now, you might think that's basically just a long-winded repackaging of an old saw--sort of an unnecessarily-extended riff on that Mark Twain bit about how foolish his parents were when he was younger, but as he got older he was amazed at how much they'd learned. But apparently the intelligent response is to recognize that it's saying that no young people have valid opinions. Also, that the only response to jeers and heckling is to solemnly recite a speech in lockstep. Holy false dilemmas, Batman!

It's a shame she didn't take more time to prepare a speech for her intent, and didn't receive any feedback other than weeping encouragement. That was a silly bit to lay so much stress on; there's much more critical space in leveraging the very emphasis on civil argument, and how it compares to the implicit expectation of student commencement speakers supporting a prepackaged stump speech.
posted by Drastic at 7:50 AM on May 22, 2006


Someone who can send kids to die in an unnecessary war but can't deal with people being rude to him?! As eminem once said "Fuck him, and fuck you too!"

He dealt with it just fine, I thought.
posted by empath at 7:52 AM on May 22, 2006


I have long felt that veterans, and combat veterans especially, should be the most highly regarded of a nation's citizens. Without them you don't have any kind of nation at all. I'm not too keen on any of them being disrespected, even those with somewhat noxious, opportunistic politics.

However, I think there are growing pockets of people who have become like Camus' Rebel. All they can think or say is, "No more." And you ought to know better than to give political speeches to existentialists.
posted by Nahum Tate at 7:54 AM on May 22, 2006


The shrill intolerant sanctimony of Ms. Rohe and her fellow students and professors- and some of the posters here - is a major reason why the Left has been marginalized

And yet the shrill intolerant sanctimony of CoulterLimbaughHannityFoxRumsfeldBushEtAl seems to work pretty well for the Right. Odd, that.

I didn't find anything shrill, intolerant, or sanctimonious about her speech. Salter's response, though, was downright bitchy.
posted by ook at 7:56 AM on May 22, 2006


Heh. delmoi beat me to it.
posted by ook at 7:56 AM on May 22, 2006


empath: but their treatment of him was despicable.

Despicable ? Maybe, but I would just have chanted "fuck you swine" to some politician, not necessarily McCain. Instead she took the occasion to speak what she believes to be important concepts and ideas, she paraphrased mccain soon-to-be-repeated concepts thus offering an interpretation that is to the point, damning and not cozy and reassuring for the shake of giving some talking points to media. Plus if respect is just silence and obeying a pre-defined script, it's not respect it's a movie script.

ON preview:

Although it is quite clear that part of his audience at Madison Square Garden had no intention of reciprocating [respect]

If one wants a perfect audience, going in a television studio and renting them will satisfy expectations of a perfect show, but soon after the lights are turned off you still would not know what they really think. Hey , but maybe yhearing what people want to say, even if they aren't the most polite and well mannered, just doesn't make a good show so maybe that is the reason behind the judgmental sentiments towards "unpolite" people ?

Well, Ms. Rohe, and your fellow graduates's comical self-importance deserves a rebuke far stronger than the gentle suggestions he offered you

Indeed McCain sent you to handle the comedians, because he is way too busy with important works. Yet if they are only self important comedians, pray tell why should you waste your talent and time with them ? Don't you have far more difficult opponents to handle , or maybe the belittled comedians are difficult opponents and not just a bunch of kids ?

some of you might then know a happiness far more sublime than the fleeting pleasure of living in an echo chamber.

I concour and I wish you someday you will be able to do the same, even if for the future I wouldn't so clearly declare McCain goal was just to get more audience and an echo chamber, instead of delivering an hearthfelt message to youngsters ; part of being an aide is being of aid.
posted by elpapacito at 7:57 AM on May 22, 2006


Drastic: yeah she could've written a better speech if she had more time, but remember that she only decided to rewrite it the night before giving it, and also that she's a musician not a writer by trade. Given the circumstances I think she did a bangup job.
posted by scalefree at 7:58 AM on May 22, 2006


don't deny him what he's earned.

It was an honest question - I don't know much about McCain. No swiftboating intended.
So it comes from his volunteering to remain as a POW?
I still don't see 'war hero' being an appropriate term here, but thanks for the explanation.
posted by Zetetics at 8:05 AM on May 22, 2006


Btw: I'm not referring to her speech as being despicable, I just don't think it was particularly heroic. I was referring to the students that heckled and booed the man.
posted by empath at 8:07 AM on May 22, 2006


What McCain did as a POW was heroic. It displayed amazing strength of character. We could really use a leader with that kind of character today. Too bad there isn't one on the scene.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:08 AM on May 22, 2006


Tired of the shrillTM intoleranceTM of the Left, who dare to criticize public officials in public?

Relax. The Right is here to bring America home to a more civil level of discourse:

"Why hasn't the former spokesman for the Taliban matriculating at Yale been beaten even more senseless than he already is? According to Hollywood, this nation is a cauldron of ethnic hatreds positively brimming with violent skinheads. Where are the skinheads when you need them? What does a girl have to do to get an angry, club- and torch-wielding mob on its feet?"

-- Ann Coulter, May 10, 2006
posted by digaman at 8:09 AM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Why on earth would any commencement speaker decide it was more appropriate to discuss Iraq, Vietnam and the current American political climate instead of inspiring the new graduates? It's that early paragraph where McCain goes on about how smart he thought he was when he was in his 20s that really grates -- the students don't have that perspective yet, so he's just being condescending.
posted by gsh at 8:13 AM on May 22, 2006


I'm not surprised at all that a staffer of Sen. McCain would make such a childish comment. It clearly stems from resentment-- that this young woman is holding true to her ideals unlike the senator himself (and anyone who still works for the former straight-talker). Sure she might be naive, but god bless naitivity sometimes, you know?

risk
posted by risk at 8:14 AM on May 22, 2006


Why is there a fuss? McCain gives expected boring commencement speech. Student gives boring rebuttal to boring commencement speech. I just read through her explanation and Salter's post and them other links up thar and I'm struggling to see anything brave or impressive about it.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:17 AM on May 22, 2006


In today's political dialogue, "shrill" is a shibboleth or fnord that you can accurately use to peg the reactionary rightwing tendencies of the speaker.

Nobody else uses the word in this way these days, it's out of fashion outside of that particular .
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:18 AM on May 22, 2006


Does McCain still have Ws buttock marks on his face?
posted by Artw at 8:20 AM on May 22, 2006


The Daily Show called him on his kiss ass speech at liberty university. McCains a hack, just like the rest of them.
posted by 517 at 8:21 AM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


"In his political career he has shown the same character he showed as a Navy officer all those years ago. "
After hugging the man who spread the rumor that he was a crazy faggot with an illegitimate nigger baby, you have to wonder what he's implying McCain did for his captors as a navy officer.

I kind of have to empathize with McCain. When he ran against Bush, he was the better man. He actually served his country. He had class, character, a solid level headed and rational platform - and he lost to dirty dirty politics and maneuvering. Can you blame him for realizing that strength of character and ideals wont win him anything?
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 8:28 AM on May 22, 2006


The shrill intolerant sanctimony of Ms. Rohe and her fellow students and professors- and some of the posters here - is a major reason why the Left has been marginalized and irrelevant in American politics for an entire generation.

God, am I sick of this trope. The left is marginalized because the centrist who current run the Democratic party denies them, while the conservative movement has embraced their far right wingnut kinfolk and brought them to the forefront. It's one of the major reasons why the democratic party can't articulate a meaningful viewpoint nowadays -- why vote democrat when it's just Republican-lite?

I think if the Democratic party made room for more of these supposedly shrill, intolerant, and sanctimonious, it wouldn't be having such a hard time taking a clear majority over the right wing, which has made a career of these exact, obnoxious qualities.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:32 AM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Empath: He deserves respect.

no one "deserves" respect. Especially not based on the fact that he is a governmental employee or possible presidential candidate. Have we, as Americans, gotten so stupid as to think the status of Congressman or Senator comes with an automatic requirement of respect? Why dont we just call them Lords instead? After all, a Lord is better than us and deserves our respect and obedience.

People earn respect. They gain it through their words and actions. If McCain wants respect, it's his job to get it from me, not something due to him based on an electoral process. If anything, I'd like to see these public servants show US some respect for once. After all, we hired them, we pay their salaries, and they are supposed to be working for us.
posted by Dantien at 8:41 AM on May 22, 2006


And what they did to him was incredibly rude and uncalled for. He's a war hero, an American Senator and a probable presidential candidate. He deserves respect.

One of those is a reason for respect the other two are reasons for distrust, at the very least. Respect is something you earn based on your actions, not your position.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:43 AM on May 22, 2006


After all, we hired them, we pay their salaries, and they are supposed to be working for us.

That's the kind of attitude that has lead to the corruption scandals we have now. Senators are more than our 'employees', and so are congressmen and so is the president.. They hold what is in my opinion, a holy office -- the Voice of The People. The fact that neither they, nor the voters, nor the corporations that pay for their campaigns have that respect for their office is what makes them so cheap to buy.

It's not arrogance for them to demand respect. It's a proper appreciation for the power they wield, and the duty they should discharge.

The fact that the instutions of democracy have gotten so debased that people feel free to heckle and boo these people, that they deserve no more respect than janitors is why I'm so fearful of the future.

We're one step away from fascism when no one believes the congress represents them anymore, and that it doesn't deserve respect. All it will take is one demagogue in the executive branch to disband it and the people will cheer.
posted by empath at 8:50 AM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Astro Z- You have hit it. We need more from the progressive left noise machine. We need more unreasonable voices from the far left so maybe "fair and balanced" will stop looking like a compromise between the MSM and the rightwingnuts.
posted by pointilist at 8:50 AM on May 22, 2006


Tryptophan, I can't blame him, but then I can't respect him or consider voting for him either. Given the opportunity I would have voted for him over Gore. The kind of ass kissing he is doing right now disgusts me. I respect his military service, I used to like the guy, but now I am just grossed out.
posted by Eekacat at 8:50 AM on May 22, 2006


[McCain] deserves respect.

Respect is giving an honest response.
posted by effwerd at 8:59 AM on May 22, 2006


Nahum Tate writes 'I have long felt that veterans, and combat veterans especially, should be the most highly regarded of a nation's citizens. Without them you don't have any kind of nation at all.'

So nations need to fight at least one war each generation?
posted by signal at 8:59 AM on May 22, 2006


McCain probably got a bit more static than he expected. But before signing up for this speech (which he's been mentioning for weeks before heading to NY), I'm sure he and his people figured that it would either be an unnoticed graduation speech, or one with associated protests that would get picked up in the media. I'm sure his people were hoping for the latter.

For a man wanting to ingratiate himself with the far right, there's nothing better that getting booed by a bunch of pissy liberal-arts majors in New York City. This speech no doubt served him better among the Republican base than his one at Falwell's university.
posted by washburn at 9:02 AM on May 22, 2006


why vote democrat when it's just Republican-lite?

Republican-lite is still better than Republican, no? At least, supposing that you DO think Republican is a bad thing (being a Canadian, I don't have an opinion either way)
posted by antifuse at 9:09 AM on May 22, 2006


Calling her a hero for what took almost no courage at all when confronted by the very real past heroism of a guy like McCain is absurd.

It doesn't take a hero to get shot down during a war and sustain torture. That takes a shitty or unlucky pilot. A real hero is someone who would put their career and political aspirations on the line to stand up to an administration that is torturing detainees. John McCain was the only person on earth who could have stopped George Bush from usurping the Geneva convention but he allowed them to continue to do so probably because they promised him that they would back him in the next presidential primary. That's the height of cowardice in my opinion.
posted by any major dude at 9:14 AM on May 22, 2006


I don't see anything impressive or daring about her speech. McCain's, on the other hand...
posted by thejoshu at 9:22 AM on May 22, 2006



Being a representative official does not constitute a "holy office." It's a job. They campaigned for it, they were elected into it, and need to execute it as faithfully as possible. They're not - instead, they use the public to get (or keep) office, buying us with pretty words and flashy graphics on the glowing box, and then sell us to whoever will pay the price. Corporations, foreign governments, rich individuals - they all own a share of them and, by proxy, us. Fascism? Nope. It's a nice, comfortable representative oligarchy.

However, I agree (mildly) with empath in that such derision could've been delivered with more respect. McCain earned that respect early on, then spent that political capital when he sold out. He's now just another Republican politician, exploiting anything he can to keep office. Every time someone criticizes the fact that McCain sold himself out, we keep hearing "but, he's a hero!"

Yes, he was a hero. Right now, he's a prostitute. And every time he tries to tie his former heroism to his current prostitution, he deserves derision.
posted by FormlessOne at 9:25 AM on May 22, 2006


It doesn't take a hero to get shot down during a war and sustain torture. That takes a shitty or unlucky pilot.

C'mon any major dude. That is totally unfair.

Obviously, you've never landed a fighter jet on the deck of a pitching carrier.

You don't have to like McCain, but give the man credit.

Yeah, pity he didn't demonstrate any of that courage later in life, but to deny him that courage he mustered in the past is just bad taste.
posted by three blind mice at 9:29 AM on May 22, 2006


The only part of this I take objection to is her drawn out explanation of how this is what she "had to do." There are many ways of making an inspiring speech that don't involve personally attacking who you're responding to.

The student speaker at my graduation (two years ago, from Hampshire College) gave an amazing speech inspiring fellow students to take action and nowhere does she resort to mudslinging.

I would be appalled if I went to my own commencement to see that it had been turned into a John McCain-Fest, that not only was he speaking, but that was all that anyone could talk about. If Jean Rohe thought that giving the same speech at three universities was inappropriate, she really should have considered the appropriateness of turning a celebratory occassion for the students to be all about one politician.

(Sadly, I must remark that the student who spoke at my graduation, Em Doran, died in a car crash this past fall. She is greatly missed.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:39 AM on May 22, 2006


I'm typically an on-the-fence voter. I vote on the issues. John McCain will not get my vote. There are many reasons, but one of the most prominent (and will be for the next couple of voting cycles) is that I will not vote for anyone who supported the PATRIOT act. Plain and simple. They are traitors to their office and constitution and cowards.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:43 AM on May 22, 2006


that they deserve no more respect than janitors is why I'm so fearful of the future.

What do you imagine is wrong with being a janitor? You don't respect a position. You respect a person.

Now, the office that McCain holds is an important one, and I would hope that it would be filled by a person worthy of our respect. Certainly the sacrifices he made as a prisoner of war are remarkable. i don't know that I would have been willing to make the same sacrifices.

However, every time I see him, he appears to me to be a man who has put expediency and a desire to be president above his own personal code of conduct. He also seems to have a scary amount of rage seething under the shallowest of veneers. I don't know if either of those impressions are genuine reflections of his character, but it's the impression I get. That's not a man I'd ever want to be president, and I wouldn't respect him simply because of the office he holds -- just as I wouldn't disrespect a man simply because he picks up trash for a living.
posted by willnot at 9:44 AM on May 22, 2006


1) Why should I honor a vet who is supporting criminal action now?

2) Why should I honor a vet who stood by and watched two other decorated veterans be publically slimed in the press.

If McCain had bitch slapped someone wearing those purple-heart bandaids at the RNC, I'd support him. He didn't. He just kept quiet.

Fuck honoring him. He stood by while other vets were slandered, in order to stay in good graces with the GOP. I'm not suprised that they feel threatened enough to start attacking Ms. Rohe. It is just the sort of cowardly stance that John McCain revels in.

He's all "Mr. Straight Talk" -- until the chips start falling on him. Then, suddenly, the game changes.
posted by eriko at 9:59 AM on May 22, 2006


I doubt there's one graduate of the New School fit to shine John McCain's shoes ... and that's in the unlikely event that the New School imparted a skill remotely as useful as shoe-shining to any of its graduates.

Still, it's some useful footage. McCain is challenged to assauge movement conservatives' antipathy towards him without unduly upsetting moderates. Nothing more unifying that a reminder of exactly how badly the left hates decency.
posted by MattD at 10:03 AM on May 22, 2006


Hilarious. The MattBot is like ParisParamus with a stick up its ass.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:10 AM on May 22, 2006


Condi Rice is speaking at Boston College's commencement today. It will be interesting to see later today news reports of planned protests.
posted by ericb at 10:13 AM on May 22, 2006


I'm not trying to be judgmental here, but I would think being a POW would teach you how to survive, at any cost. You may or may not see parallels with political life.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:16 AM on May 22, 2006


three blind mice:

The courageous people in that war were the one's who refused to fight - same goes for this war. I'm not talking about the people who ran to Canada or the people who hid behind their daddy's skirt. I'm talking about the concientious objectors. The ones who stood up to their country and said "I do not believe in this war, put me in jail". If only more were that courageous throughout the world imagine how few wars there would be...
posted by any major dude at 10:23 AM on May 22, 2006


The courageous people in that war were the one's who refused to fight

Like AWOL George Bush, for example? Or Dick Cheney perhaps?

No doubt there were courageous people on both sides, but to deny McCain his due seems just ignorant.
posted by three blind mice at 10:32 AM on May 22, 2006


Nothing more unifying that a reminder of exactly how badly the left hates decency.

Shit so thick you could eat it with a fork..

Hilarious. The MattBot is like ParisParamus with a stick up its ass.

You're right Armitage S, at least PP had sense of nuance, this is more straight ditto-head-up-your-ass rhetoric.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:39 AM on May 22, 2006


Mattd writes, "Nothing more unifying that a reminder of exactly how badly the left hates decency." Mattd, what does that mean, exactly? In what sense does "the left hate decency"?
posted by boo_radley at 10:43 AM on May 22, 2006


MattD is right.
These kids should be grateful that John Mcain took George Bush's dick out of his mouth long enough for a speech.
posted by 2sheets at 10:44 AM on May 22, 2006


2sheets!!!
/spraying coffee
posted by Surfurrus at 10:49 AM on May 22, 2006


John McCain: Hero and Douchebag.

"The fact that the instutions of democracy have gotten so debased that people feel free to heckle and boo these people, that they deserve no more respect than janitors is why I'm so fearful of the future."

Holy ahistorical perspective, Batman! When, exactly, did these halcyon days of yore exist where politicians weren't booed, heckled, threatened, hit with rotten vegetables or 'respected' by all of America? If that ever was true, those were the days of Eisenhower, not Lincoln, not Jackson, not Quincy Adams... And Eisenhower was a manufactured fluke of politeness (even then, his support of the Korean War drew boos).

America is loud and contentious, and if I might be indulged for a second, your patrition bullshit about respect can go back up your ass. That we don't kill more politicians is a detriment to our democracy, not an accomplishment.
posted by klangklangston at 10:51 AM on May 22, 2006


three blind mice wrote:

Like AWOL George Bush, for example? Or Dick Cheney perhaps?

I'll assume you didn't read past the first line of my post. We just have different definitions of courage I guess. There's the kind that propels a person to run into a burning house to save a child and there's the kind that you ascribe to: bombing a third world country into the stone age from thousands of miles in the air.
posted by any major dude at 10:52 AM on May 22, 2006


The MattBot is like ParisParamus with a stick up its ass.

What does that make me?
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 11:01 AM on May 22, 2006


John McCain is here. John McCain, John McCain, what a maverick! Somebody find out what fork he used on his salad, because I guarantee you it wasn't a salad fork. This guy could have used a spoon! There's no predicting him. By the way, Senator McCain, it's so wonderful to see you coming back into the Republican fold. I have a summer house in South Carolina; look me up when you go to speak at Bob Jones University. So glad you've seen the light, sir.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:05 AM on May 22, 2006


I never bought into the "McCain the maverick" line of BS, and the more I see him make public appearances, the more I'm convinced that he's a pretty crappy public speaker. He'll be a solid candidate for the Republicans in 2008, don't get me wrong, but after social conservative Republicans like Santorum, Frist, and Brownback publicly denounce him as a "Giuliani" type homo-lover and baby-killing abortionist, he won't look so hot. Still their best shot though given the albatross that is Bush II 2001-2008.

(And regarding his war service, I regard him as a hero, as I do any American who risked his or her life during a poorly planned, poorly waged, poorly designed war like Viet Nam--but yeah, so was John Kerry, and we know how Republicans treat vets with whom they disagree politically. Fuck you and your purple-heart band-aids, fuck your spotty Air National Guard service, and fuck fightin' Dick Cheney's multiple deferments and "other priorities.")
posted by bardic at 11:09 AM on May 22, 2006


I agree with the klangster. This is America. If you want a government where the people within it are held to HIGHER standards, then maybe a country with a King would be better suited for you. I'm not saying we shouldn't expect our leaders to behave, look out for our needs, keep the country running smoothly, etc (do their jobs!). But the second we start thinking our elected leaders are better than we are, or that the office they hold is somehow "holy" or deserving of respect, we abandon everything that this country was founded upon.

Simply put, if you are elected to our government, you work for the benefit of us all. not Oil companies, not political parties, and not the needs of other countries. Us. And if you think those elected are somehow "better" than the rest of us in any moral sense (not inclined to Oval office BJs, getting drunk, lying, etc) then you mistake the true beauty of this country...the fact that we recognize the value and equality of all Americans.

Those in power = those not in power. Stop thinking that and we are on a dangerous road.
posted by Dantien at 11:12 AM on May 22, 2006


It really is useful to note the names of people who actually criticize the with the girl for speaking her mind here. Here we have as cut-and-dried example of coolness and light as rarely seen in politics, and some people criticize her because of it. At the risk of contributing to making it the Metafilter version of accusations of "fanboy," it does make me wonder if we have any astroturfers amongst us. The use of the word shrill in the discrediting efforts would seem to be a tipoff....

As for whether McCain deserves respect for being a war hero... respect is not the same thing as agreeing with someone. It's not even the same thing was refusing to challenge them. The girl apologized to McCain afterwards -- that shows respect. It shows that she thinks of McCain as a human being, with feelings, and not a mindless brick of the establishment's wall. She does possess respect -- but McCain's staffer certainly does not.
posted by JHarris at 11:20 AM on May 22, 2006


After all, we hired them, we pay their salaries, and they are supposed to be working for us.

...

That's the kind of attitude that has lead to the corruption scandals we have now. Senators are more than our 'employees', and so are congressmen and so is the president.. They hold what is in my opinion, a holy office -- the Voice of The People.

Wow. Just...wow. How detached from reality do you have to be to actually believe something like this?

"Holy" office?
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 11:22 AM on May 22, 2006


"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader."

-Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, February 12, 1779
posted by Dantien at 11:23 AM on May 22, 2006


Jean Rohe replies to Mark Salter:

At the risk of turning this into a battle between Mark Salter, Senator John McCain's staff-member, and myself, I'd like to comment briefly on his blog on the Huffington Post. I'm sad to see that Mr. Salter intentionally misinterpreted my writing, presumably to hurt my feelings and frighten me into silence.
I'd like to say first of all, that I don't believe that anything I've written to the public so far has been quite as nasty to Senator McCain as Mr. Salter was to me. On the contrary, I think that my writing clearly reflected my values, which is to say, never was I rude to the Senator nor did I show any disrespect. In fact, I think my compassion was made clear. To pick on me in such a bullying and sarcastic way is a clear admission on Mr. Salter's part that his fear is far deeper than any I might have felt when sticking up for myself.

The following is addressed directly to Mr. Salter:

Without taking issue with your statement point by point, I'd just like to draw attention for a moment to a few things you said. Firstly, it was clear to me why Senator McCain chose to give the same speech at every school. It was meant to show consistency in his message, and, contrary to what you suggested, there is no place in my speech or my other writing where I take issue with that. However, interestingly, it is precisely because the senator's speech had nothing to do with our graduation or anyone else's that it worked so marvelously in all settings. It was equally out of place no matter where it was delivered.

In addition, you make many assumptions about who I am and what I stand for. You assume that the words shouted from the audience reflected at all times my opinions and values. You assume that I have made myself look like an idiot, which, I can tell you, is just not true. You assume I have taken no risks. I'm curious to see which doors have been permanently closed to me in the future, simply because I've spoken up. You assume that I did what I did simply to draw attention to myself for my own personal benefit. I have said in my writing, and I will say it again, I would never have asked for this responsibility in a million years. The entire event was stomach-churning and unpleasant because it was something I didn't want to do, but knew I had to out of an obligation to my own values. You assume that I have no experience making a living. I have been a full-time college student and have worked a job to pay my own rent and my own expenses for the past two years. You assume that I live in an "echo chamber" of liberal head-patting, when, in fact, I live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a neighborhood notorious for its cultural diversity and sometimes, conflict. I live in New York City where every human interaction is a test of our willingness to coexist as citizens. And finally, I think it is unfair to assume that I have not considered the hardships of Senator McCain's life. Indeed, one of my first feelings upon seeing him in the flesh was compassion for how much he must have endured in his time as a POW. If there's one thing that I know about myself, it is that I care for people, and in that sense I have a great deal of character. Please don't try to bully me anymore.

posted by scalefree at 11:24 AM on May 22, 2006


"As our president bears no resemblance to a king so we shall see the Senate has no similitude to nobles. First, not being hereditary, their collective knowledge, wisdom, and virtue are not precarious. For by these qualities alone are they to obtain their offices, and they will have none of the peculiar qualities and vices of those men who possess power merely because their father held it before them."

-Tench Coxe, An American Citizen, No.2, September 28, 1787
posted by Dantien at 11:24 AM on May 22, 2006


The fact that McCain served his country and was a prisoner of war doesn't mean that forever after he get's a free pass on anything he says or does. Sorry, but I'm not in the mood for appointing anybody god today.

I though Jean's speech was good. If they gave a student the time to speak, then don't tell her what she has to say. Dissent is a good thing and if McCain can't stand the heat, then get the hell out of the kitchen.

And I seem to recall McCain being a vicious homophobe in the not too distant pass. I doubt that he's changed his tune. He's just become more circumspect like a number of Republicans.
posted by bim at 11:27 AM on May 22, 2006


Rohe 1, Salter 0.
posted by Mr. Six at 11:27 AM on May 22, 2006


I agree that McCain was being a shameless campaigner and that I'm glad those kids gave him some shit for it I think Jean Rohe's comments were immature and could have been phrased much better. Over all I'm glad she did it. It could have been done better.

McCain was a man of honor in the loyal opposition sense. Until 2000. Where the man gritted his teeth fixed with sycophantic grin and stood by that horses ass George Duhbya and endorsed GW after GW had ravaged him during the campaign.

I'm sorry. But any man of honor who had been so thourally dissed by a member of his own party would have slowly turned to that dull witted trust-fund tard, wrapped their fists around his scrawny throat, and choked Bush until his bobble head popped off.
posted by tkchrist at 11:28 AM on May 22, 2006


What McCain did as a POW was heroic. It displayed amazing strength of character. We could really use a leader with that kind of character today. Too bad there isn't one on the scene.

What's really "too bad" is that John McCain now lacks that "amazing strength of character" he showed as a POW. The John McCain of today is a consummate political shape-shifting whore; he'll be whomever you need him to be so long as he gets your vote/support/money.
posted by weirdoactor at 11:29 AM on May 22, 2006


And thank god for NYC. I love that place and it's contentious people. :)
posted by bim at 11:29 AM on May 22, 2006


An interesting precedent is how Hillary Clinton used her 1969 commencement speech at Wellesley to rebuke visiting Republican Senator Edward Brooke. If Ms. Rohe keeps it up, one day she may be elected Senator.
posted by jonp72 at 11:33 AM on May 22, 2006


How brave and heroic of McCain...the lap dog sent out his lap dog, to attack a citizen for daring to express her opinion.

What a coward this man has become.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 11:35 AM on May 22, 2006


So McCain was a war hero -- and as such deserves only respect and deference? Especially now considering how little he has done to deserve respect for the past decade?

Let's see. OJ Simpson was a sports hero. Now -- considering all that we know or suspect about his past -- do you seriously think he deserves only respect and deference?
posted by mooncrow at 11:43 AM on May 22, 2006


I think Jean Rohe's comments were immature and could have been phrased much better.

Well, it's what itlooks like when everyday citizens decide to participate in political conversation -- they lack speechwrighters and a great deal of savvy. It's telling that the right chooses to pillory them for eaxctly these qualities, as they did with Cind Sheehan.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:50 AM on May 22, 2006


right on, Astro Zombie: and when republican politicians who have speechwriters, savvy (so we're told...) and all kinds of prep time and handlers still have trouble stringing together coherent comments, we're told that makes them regular, ordinary just folks types who speak only truth, do only what is right, and deserve nothing but our undbridled admiration and unquestioning obedience.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:58 AM on May 22, 2006


I'm surprised Mr. Salter missed the episode of West Wing where Josh stupidly responds to an online community. It's only downhill from there.
posted by Captaintripps at 12:03 PM on May 22, 2006


Even war heroes can be assholes.
posted by ericb at 12:07 PM on May 22, 2006


posted by Nahum Tate I have long felt that veterans, and combat veterans especially, should be the most highly regarded of a nation's citizens. Without them you don't have any kind of nation at all. I'm not too keen on any of them being disrespected, even those with somewhat noxious, opportunistic politics.

Therefore, non-veterans should be the least regarded of a nation's citizens, eh? Reminds me of when Bob Dole said something about how people who serve in the military are better Americans than those who do not serve.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:32 PM on May 22, 2006


I don’t know about McCain’s lack of character or anything else. Personally I think he seems like an honorable man. But yeah, that doesn’t mean he can’t be wrong. There are quite a few positions he holds that I disagree with.
That said I don’t know that Rohe was “speaking truth to power” so much as simply speaking.

Which is a valid enough thing to do. Particularly since she defends her speech as a reaction not to a position she opposes, but as a reaction to the mechanized, campaign driven formulaic garbage McCain had planned for them:

“Yes, McCain was undoubtedly shouted-out and heckled by people who were not politely absorbing his words so as to consider them fully from every angle. But what did he expect? We could've all printed out his speech and chanted it with him in chorus. Did he think that no one knew exactly what he was about to say?And it was precisely because we listen to the views of others, and because, as I said in my speech, we don't fear them, that we as a school were able to mount such a thorough and intelligent opposition to his presence. Ignorant, closed-minded people would not have been able to do what we did.”

Fair enough.
And I’d argue McCain has the right to respond, but his position is pretty much, well, stupid - mechanical.
If it were aimed at something beyond gaining a political position perhaps he could have mounted a defense. As it is, it’s pretty threadbare.
You can have differences of opinion. That’s what free speech is about.
But free speech presupposes speech. Not rhetoric.

Reminds me of a Clockwork Orange. Juicy and appealing looking on the outside with all the traits of something that is nourishing, but in reality just gears and machine parts on the inside.

Hmmm....I suppose one could argue the machine epitomizes power. In that case she was speaking truth to power, particularly since she (and the students) would be the only ones actually engaged in speech.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:44 PM on May 22, 2006


I think Rohe's last response was pure class, FWIW. My only problem was with the people that heckled McCain during his speech.
posted by empath at 12:53 PM on May 22, 2006


I have long felt that veterans, and combat veterans especially, should be the most highly regarded of a nation's citizens. Without them you don't have any kind of nation at all. I'm not too keen on any of them being disrespected, even those with somewhat noxious, opportunistic politics.

I read Heinlein too. When I was a teenager.

Starship troopers sucked. Though I did find its self godwining amusing.
posted by srboisvert at 12:53 PM on May 22, 2006


Lets look at the arguments of the McCain supporters:


Veterans should have more say in how the country is run!! That's why we should let that Corporal Godwin who got 2 Iron crosses for heroism be our Leader!! If by Godwin you mean Hitler.

When your school administration shoves a political hack down your throat as your commencement speaker, you should quietly sit and listen while he doesn't even show you enough respect to pretend to write a new speech for you.


22 year old people aren't smart enough or "wise" enough to speak up on how the country is run and how a war should be fought but they are certainly old enough to enlist to defend that nation and be the ones who fight in that war!!


Also, It takes no courage whatsoever to meet a man who is nationally known as a "hero"and also renowned for his violent temper and criticize his speech in front of thousands in Madison Square Garden, all the while knowing that you will meet him again after the event.
posted by Megafly at 1:08 PM on May 22, 2006


Veterans and war heroes are deserving of respect, but respect alone does not make one immune to discourse or criticism. Thankfully, the US is not a militaristic meritocracy where current or retired military officers get to enjoy a class of citizenship above civilians. Standing out of uniform on private or public domestic soil, a veteran is just a citizen, just like any other, and he gets to enjoy the same right to not be criticized - which is to say, no right at all.
posted by Feral at 1:12 PM on May 22, 2006


Regarding the so-called "angry left" meme which is blind to the rhetorical vitriol of Coulter, Hannity, Malkin, and others, Gleen Greenwald responds in this excellent piece regarding the McCain event.
posted by bardic at 1:22 PM on May 22, 2006


“I have long felt that veterans, and combat veterans especially, should be the most highly regarded of a nation's citizens.” - posted by Nahum Tate

Bizarre position you have, or perhaps I’m misunderstanding it. Regard, as I’m taking it, costs nothing, so I’m with you there.

I would counterpoint folks who are saying that this means that those who did not serve in the military should get less regard by saying that anyone who serves the country in whatever capacity should get some respect.
I would give war protesters more respect, I would give environmental activists respect, in short - anyone who actively works for the betterment of their country however they see that (within reason, of course, one can’t realistically argue neo-nazis are working for the betterment of the country) is deserving of more respect as a citizen than someone who doesn’t. Someone who votes - or even someone who conscientiously doesn’t vote (for example is registered, goes to the polls and drops a card) gets more props than the apathetic non-voters.

Outside of that, I don’t think military service makes anyone a better or worse citizen deserving of anything more or less than what their actions afford them.

One might be of great or evil character, but it’s only one’s actions that can be judged and accorded respect.
(+ what Feral said)

I will also point out that the man in revolt in Camus does so out of a sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo and how justice is done.

Sometimes all you can do to dissent is engage in negation. It is more a matter of power and position - what can be done in the face of absolute control of the medium as we see here than any other position.

It is not the moral equivalent for example of Orwell’s inhuman Winston Smith throwing acid in a child’s face.

Sometimes “no” is all you can do.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:00 PM on May 22, 2006


Deserving of respect and regard --

Today at the JFK Library: "Former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora and U.S. Representative John Murtha Honored with the 2006 JFK Profile in Courage Award."
posted by ericb at 2:14 PM on May 22, 2006


have long felt that veterans, and combat veterans especially, should be the most highly regarded of a nation's citizens.

As a combat veteran (Gulf War) all I can say is war vets are just as stupid and just as smart as anyone else. Elevate them above their capacity and they will fail just as readily as anyone else.

There really should only be one class of citizen in America, at this point that sounds like a pipe dream, but that's the way it's supposed to be. That's what combat vets are theoretically protecting.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:13 PM on May 22, 2006


Positive! doctor_negative. The US is supposed to be a classless society. To call anyone a hero simply because he was captured is to misunderstand the term.
posted by Cranberry at 3:44 PM on May 22, 2006


"Hero" is an over used little understood term. To some Michael Jordan is a hero. Being hero is how you reacted - selflessly - to one particular event. It doesn't mean you react heroically or rightly to every thing life throws at you. It's not possible. Not even MLK or Gandhi were heroic in every aspect of life. I mean, did they take heroic shits? Did they brush their teeth heroically?

I think Rohe was brave and essentially in the right. But not heroic.

I think McCain is a hero but is definitely in the wrong. His speech was empty tripe. He should have been booed on that alone.

PS. Let us not use the word hero for at least six weeks.
posted by tkchrist at 4:31 PM on May 22, 2006


Bardic's link above is worth quoting at length, but this sums it up the staggering hypocracy at work here:
part of the WSJ Editorial that Instapundit quotes warns that Democrats are going to be in big trouble because they are "sneering at our war heroes." That is almost too much hypocrisy to stomach, even for Instapundit. Who has "sneered at war heroes" more viciously and continuously than Bush supporters -- from Jack Murtha to John Kerry to Max Cleland to the war critic Generals? Sneering at war heroes was one of the principal tactics of the Bush re-election campaign and has been a reliable tool to attack and smear any war hero who speaks out against this administration.
(Emphasis mine)
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:38 PM on May 22, 2006


/I take heroic shits. I had to kill the last one with a blowtorch and a trident.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:39 PM on May 22, 2006


"The MattBot is like ParisParamus with a stick up its ass.

What does that make me?"


Check your ass for clues.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:46 PM on May 22, 2006


Btw: I'm not referring to her speech as being despicable, I just don't think it was particularly heroic. I was referring to the students that heckled and booed the man.
posted by empath at 4:07 PM GMT on May 22 [+fave] [!]

Hmm. Actually, I think you have a point there. Heckling and booing is never nice.

What they should have done is sat stony-faced throughout his performance, slow-clapped him for as long as they could (making sure they get the last word from the one or two genuine clappers out there), stood as one and walked out of the door in single file.

There you go. No booing, no heckling, and the point is made.

Of course, the Right will still shrilly scream like a girl about how McCain was treated despicably ... apparently the least you can do with someone you strongly disagree with is sit silently while he/she spouts patronising bullshit (hell, you don't even get original bullshit), and then provide a rousing standing ovation. Hell, it's the polite thing to do. God forbid the public should see any sign of disagreement. If they did, people might think the country wasn't 100% behind you, and that would be awful.
posted by kaemaril at 5:13 PM on May 22, 2006


This is what happens when you allow people into the auditorium without loyalty oaths and background checks. McCain needs to be more like his master, and only speak to people who already agree with him.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:18 PM on May 22, 2006


IMO, the whole "speak truth to power" meme was tired when Anita Hill was playing it on Capitol Hill, and she has since memorialized her victimhood in a book and personal appearances about her public testimony then, to the point of making a cottage industry of it. I remember watching parts of her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas hearings, and thinking to myself "This woman takes herself way too seriously." Her whole demeanor during her testimony was so studied and overwrought, that she came through as some kind of black Joan of Arc, when she would have been a helluva lot more effective in dismissing Thomas as the cretin she obviously believed him to be, had she just lightened up a little.

Maybe there was some meaning to the phrase for advisors to Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun. But for any modern day American of sound mind, there isn't much real risk holding and expressing contrary opinions publicly, if they don't amount to shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.

What Rohe did was sophomoric and boorish; what McCain did by giving a repetition of an address to a live audience gathered for a celebratory occasion was insensitive and cavalier. Taken together, with the followup from McCain's aide, and Rohe's response, there is nothing about this episode that smacks of courage, originality, or intellectual worth on either side.

"Truth to power?" Puhleeeeze....
posted by paulsc at 6:50 PM on May 22, 2006


paulsc -- While your faqs.org link attributes the origin of the phrase "truth to power" to Anita Hill, it was actually coined by "Friends" (Quakers) in the 18th. century and adopted by civil rights activists in the 1960's, particularly Dr. Martin Luther King -- hence, the reason the phrase was so often referenced by others at Coretta Scott King's funeral in February.
posted by ericb at 7:14 PM on May 22, 2006


Ah, ericb, that's what I get for making ironic hyperlinks, even when these interwebs deliver such tempting target URL's...:-)
posted by paulsc at 7:19 PM on May 22, 2006


majikthise: ...McCain thinks that giving canned commencement speeches proves that he's a man of integrity who doesn't change his message to suit his audience. In fact, it proves that he's a phony and user. He doesn't care about these institutions, these students, or these ceremonies. It's all about him.
Imagine you're Jean Rohe. You learn that the University administration has allowed John McCain to hijack your commencement ceremonies. To add insult to injury, he's been bragging to the press about how he's going to give a canned speech. That's not all, it's a canned speech about how today's college graduates are too vain, self-important, and naive to participate in American political discourse. So, your convocation has become a campaign event for a Republican presidential hopeful who appears to hold you in contempt. Should you just play along? I don't think so. ...
posted by amberglow at 8:38 PM on May 22, 2006


To call anyone a hero simply because he was captured is to misunderstand the term.

All carrier pilots in that war were heroes, captured or no, given the risks they faced, day in and day out. My dad's cruise book (CVA-63, 1965-66) has on its last page the people who did not make it back. All fliers. My dad, who was in the S division on that carrier and mostly cut hair, was not a hero in that war. Pilots flying over enemy territory for dozens of missions a month, most certainly.

And to the extent McCain and the other POWs maintained military discipline and served their country during their rather brutal period of confinement also qualify as bona-fide heroes.

Not that heroism is orthogonal to being in the moral right, eg. there were plenty of Nazi heroes fighting for evil.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:47 PM on May 22, 2006


"IMO, the whole "speak truth to power" meme was tired when Anita Hill was playing it on Capitol Hill, and she has since memorialized her victimhood in a book and personal appearances about her public testimony then, to the point of making a cottage industry of it. "

When compared with a career on the Supreme Court, it's not such a bad thing. Thomas should never have been confirmed.
posted by klangklangston at 6:47 AM on May 23, 2006


whiny assed titty babies = right wing attack poodles
Salter needs to get a rifle and go to Iraq and defend McCain's decisions from there. Putz.
posted by nofundy at 12:28 PM on May 23, 2006


Amberglow -

"That's not all, it's a canned speech about how today's college graduates are too vain, self-important, and naive to participate in American political discourse."

I second that.

To me, McCain is sort of a Hillary with balls...descended.

He sold out, just like she did. The day he hugged GWB as if the latter were his savior - or had just deposited a hundred million dollars in a Swiss Bank account in McCain's name.

Rohe was right. If we leave our politics to politicians, the results will be sadly predictable.
posted by rougy at 5:19 PM on May 23, 2006


And, of course, this is the right-wing's jaunty prototypical response to Ms. Rohe's impetuousness:

Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! (wmv, 1mb)

(how dare she speak politically when a political speaker was chosen for her graduation)
posted by rougy at 8:47 PM on May 23, 2006


Kerrey speaks (and is very lavish in his praise of his friend McCain, but says a little too, in favor of his students)
posted by amberglow at 8:48 AM on May 24, 2006


I take your meaning, but I disagree with the term ‘hero’. There are some heros in war. Perhaps some carrier pilots were. But they were all warriors. The one thing we can’t afford to do as a society is divorce the bloodshed from the war, or celebrate it. The CMH for example is most often given for self-sacrifice and saving lives.
This doesn’t mean they weren’t honorable men, but the term ‘hero’ removes the killing from the acts of war.And ‘all’ of any group being heros removes the distinction from it.
Minor point really.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:23 PM on May 24, 2006


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