April 19, 2007

"Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran."

Get it? To the tune of "Barbara Ann." From that guy who wants to be your President, John McCain. Is he trying to be Reaganesque?



ADDED: Here's the video of McCain making his bombing joke:



Are you okay with it now?

UPDATE: McCain responds to the criticism:
"Please, I was talking to some of my old veterans friends," he told reporters. "My response is, Lighten up and get a life."

When reporters asked if the joke was insensitive, McCain said: "Insensitive to what? The Iranians?"

Satisfied?

56 comments:

Simon said...

In context - thank God for YouTube - it's pretty clearly just a lighthearted way of characterizing the attitude of the person asking the question, nothing more.

Ann Althouse said...

Obviously, there is inherently "more." He's joking about bombing. That means something.

Jennifer said...

Well, is he joking about bombing or is he joking about the gung ho attitude of the person asking the question? I'm leaning toward the latter, but I'd like to see his full response.

Mike said...

I'm with Simon on this one.

Lee said...

I don't think it sounds tough-- or smart--to joke about bombing Iran in the same week that suicide bombers (continue) devastate Iraq and there's been so much violence right up the road in Virginia. I've heard such jokes from war vets and active military personnel, but it's (sic) deadpan humor, hardly presidential. It's been sad to watch Mccain on the campaign trail this year.

mcg said...

OK, I'll just come out and say it: yes, I'm OK with it.

He's joking about bombing. That means something.

Yeah, it means he's a guy. (Note carefully I didn't say "man" or "male", I said "guy".)

Bissage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bissage said...

I'm with Biby.

mcg said...

BTW, to get the full context, we really need to know how he goes on from there---that video cuts off the serious answer (and there was one).

Simon said...

I'm with Jennifer, she put it much better than I did.

MadisonMan said...

If Kerry made this joke would reactions be different?

I think it's tasteless, but I don't expect tasteful behavior from a politician.

Ann Althouse said...

It is incompetent for a candidate to take cues from people in the audience like that. He's going to get into a world of trouble that way. Even if I accept -- and I do -- that he's not maniacal, it is not a good way to act when you are trying to win the trust of the people.

Freder Frederson said...

Steve Dahl, the infamous Chicago DJ from the late '70s (the original shock jock?) and early '80s actually recorded this song many years ago along with such classics as "Another Kid in the Crawl" (about the John Wayne Gacy murders) to the tune of "Another Brick in the Wall". He was also responsible for Disco Demolition Night at Cominski Park and claimed to have single handedly killed disco.

joe said...

I remember hearing the song after the Persians took our embassy hostages in 1979.

Mike said...

If Kerry made this joke would reactions be different?

Oh, I predict the reactions will be very predicatable.

I agree, Ann, that it wasn't smart for him to have done it. His opponents will use it to their advantage (for the record, I am lukewarm about a McCain Presidency).

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"It is incompetent for a candidate to take cues from people in the audience like that. He's going to get into a world of trouble that way. Even if I accept -- and I do -- that he's not maniacal, it is not a good way to act when you are trying to win the trust of the people."

Well, that much I can certainly agree with.

Seven Machos said...

I have a complex stand. I'm not against bombing Iran. Iran to me is like Barzini in The Godfather. And Saddam was a pimp, like Bruno Tattaglia. We are in a Cold War with Iran. Bombing is an option that must remain on the table and viable on a moment's notice.

On the one hand, you want Iran to know this and to be apprehensive about it. In this sense, hearing this goofy thing from a candidate who is very unlikely to become president is good. I don't imagine that Iran generally knows that McCain isn't a viable candidate.

On the other hand, it's a foolish thing for a candidate to say, because it's probably one of those defining moments that kill a candidacy. And it just gives political ammunition for the Iranian leadership to use to get its people to hate us.

Daryl said...

I think there's a great deal of frustration on the right that Bush isn't taking a hard enough line vs. Iran.

Iran is funding, training, supplying and directing terrorists who carry out acts of mass murder against civilians, terrorize them individually, murder Iraqi Policemen, Iraqi military, and American soldiers. They kidnap innocent people and police officers and hold them hostage. They run EFP rings to supply terrorists with the Explosively Formed Penetrators that are more effective against American military vehicles. Their involvement includes their elite Iranian Republican Guard Quds force and goes all the way to the top of the Guardian Council.

And if you suggest we should push back against Iran, you're accused of wanting to invade them. When Iranian terrorists are captured inside Iraq, our holding them prisoner is seen as an act of war against Iran! It's a despicable straw man argument by lapdog anti-war activists who are abject apologists for the Iranian terror regime.

We can and should drop bombs on strategic targets in Iran to either convince them to reduce their support for terror in Iraq, or to hurt their ability (militarily and economically) to wage war against us in Iraq. We should try to assassinate their leaders, destroy the elite Republican Guards (which are more loyal to the regime than other units), and otherwise undermine their government.

You are right that McCain's joke was in poor taste, and reflects poorly on him. This is an extremely serious issue and it is not one to make jokes about. I, too, would like to see the rest of his response.

If Kerry made this joke would reactions be different?

Yes, because Kerry is against bombing Iran. His use of the song would be to frame the issue as "irresponsible people are too eager to bomb Iran and aren't thinking about the consequences." When you're arguing against going to war, the spectrum of appropriate rhetorical devices available is broader. Irreverence is not as unseemly if you are arguing against going to war.

Jennifer said...

I agree that whatever the context, the sound byte culture will make him regret the remark. So, to that end, it wasn't smart.

But to the question, am I ok with it, the answer is it depends on the context.

rcocean said...

This just proves, what anyone who's really followed McCain already knows, that he's tempermentally unfit to be POTUS.

Liberals always loved him because he was a "Maverick".

But conservatives have noted his erractic behavior, the outbursts of anger, the flip-flops, the Keating scandal, the intolerance of criticism, and the out-of-touch egomania. Many on the right have labeled him "McCrazy".

The "let's bomb Iran" Song is just one more example.

His campaign for the POTUS is sinking fast, and McCain knows it.

Revenant said...

If Kerry made this joke would reactions be different?

Well, given his history as a pacifist wimp my reaction would probably be that he was making a Dukakis-like play for "tough guy" status. But I wouldn't be offended at all.

As Freder noted, there's been a "Bomb Iran" novelty song since the first hostage crisis. It gets dragged out whenever Iran pulls one of its biannual publicity stunts. It might be offensive to Iranians, but, well... not really high on my list of priorities. And frankly I think our relationship with them would improve if they were honestly afraid we were going to bomb them.

His campaign for the POTUS is sinking fast, and McCain knows it.

Haven't his numbers actually been improving lately? Although I'd be pleased as punch if they weren't, since McCain ranks among my least-favorite politicians.

SteveR said...

I've always wanted to like him as a candidate but this is one of many reasons I can't. Far, far from the biggest.

Galvanized said...

Bombing places isn't something that America wants the world to think that we take lightly in times like this. Unacceptable.

Beth said...

Simon, the problem with context during the campaign season is that it's never spread around evenly. There was an easily explainable context for the famous Dean "arrrgg" but that doesn't mean anything to the rightwing blogs and radio shows that still flog that dead horse. There's a context for half of the garbled syntax that dribbles out of Bush's mouth. It's better for candidates, and office holders, to figure that out and just not say and do stuff that depends so much on context.

By the way, does anyone remember this ditty from back in the late Carter or early Reagan administration? I'm not going to google my vague memory, but I'm pretty sure there some song parody
on the radio. McCain didn't make this up.

Beth said...

Oops, just saw the comments on the song parody. Sorry to repeat that point.

Internet Ronin said...

Am I OK with it? After seeing that video, yes, definitely.

Was it smart to do that? No, not really, but unless everyone wants an automaton for President of the United States, thanks to cameraphones and other technology, virtually every candidate is going to have moments like this. I doubt this a campaign killer. It is quite obvious it was a joke and given the context I disagree that it was totally inappropriate.

Will it change my vote? No, I wasn't going to vote for him any way. I believe McCain will be too old to serve as President of the United States. But, at this moment, I do believe that he will be the GOP nominee and Hillary Clinton the Democratic Party's nominee.

The Drill SGT said...

The Iranian government is our biggest enemy. They have been for the past 28 years.

We took the multi-lateralist "talk solves everything" approach with Iran for the past 3-4 years and they made fools out of the EU3 and have advanced both their nuclear weapons program and their prestige in the meantime.

We need to decide whether we are prepared for the use of nuclear weapons against Israel, nuclear blackmail throughout the middle east and Europe or whether we we are prepared to take stronger action.

Military action against Iran needs to be kept on the table regardless.

McCain knows full well what our capabilities are and what the risks are as well. I would trust nobody more if it came to a decision about how to respond to Iranian nuclear ambitions.

Revenant said...

There was an easily explainable context for the famous Dean "arrrgg" but that doesn't mean anything to the rightwing blogs and radio shows that still flog that dead horse.

With or without the context he still sounded like a professional wrestler swearing to get even with the Masked Avenger this Friday night at the Sports Arena. It is much like the Dukakis tank event -- even if you know WHY he did what he did, he still came across like a big goofball.

Simon said...

Beth said...
"Simon, the problem with context during the campaign season is that it's never spread around evenly. There was an easily explainable context for the famous Dean "arrrgg" but that doesn't mean anything to the rightwing blogs and radio shows that still flog that dead horse."

Sure, and the same goes for Kerry's "I voted for it before I voted against it" comment, too; I don't want to sound full of myself, but I have a pretty good understanding of how the Senate works and why it works that way, and I think that understanding that context makes Kerry's remark, well, unremarkable. Politically stupid, but understandable. Kind of like George Allan's macaca moment, or McCain's impromptu Beach Boys rendition.

Nevertheless, and call me a cynic if you will, but I very much believe that the political valence of a potential scandal, that is, "the ability of political partisans to weaponize a given story depends far less on the actual facts of the story than it does on the extent to which the story can be made to resonate with the existing preconceptions of the electorate." So, with regard to the Mark Foley scandal, I suggested that the scandal attained political valence disproportionate to the actual facts because the public was ready to make Foley an avatar for everything we knew was wrong with Congress - the corruption and the avarice. And with regard to both Katrina and the U.S. Attorneys scandal, I suggested that both had greater political valence than the facts might suggest, because they resonated with the public's preexisting views of the Bush administration as utterly incompetent, cronyist, and obsessed with power and partisanship.

Likewise, we can fit Dean, Kerry, Allen and now McCain into that framework. The Dean Scream resonated because it seemed to confirm the conventional narrative that Dean was a kinda angry, edgy, not-ready-for-primetime loose cannon. Kerry's dumbass assumption that most Americans understand how the Senate works resonated because it seemed to confirm the conventional narrative that he was a waffler and a flip flopper. George Allen's macaca gaffe seemed to confirm that it wasn't just confederate iconography that he sympathized with. I want to underline the point that it's really irrelevant whether any of this is true, by the way - the point is that these were gaffes that partisans were able to exploit as weapons precisely because they could be made to look as evidence for the conventional wsdom, even if the conventional wisdom was wrong and even if the events really weren't evidence on sober reflection.

And similarly, if this McCain thing hurts him, it'll be because that, too, can be made to fit into conventional wisdom about McCain: the left can say it shows he's a warmonger, and as rcocean pointed out above, the right can say it shows's he's too much of a loose cannon. So, for the foregoing reasons, I think Jennifer's right that "he joking about the gung ho attitude of the person asking the question," but I'd certainly agree with Ann that this was a mistake, that "it is not a good way to act when you are trying to win the trust of the people," and I might even agree with her that in this day and age, "[i]t is incompetent for a candidate to take cues from people in the audience like that."

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I personally was stunned that McCain is a "hankie" man. He stood there for the first half of the video blowing his nose in front of the crowd.

Doesn't that merit a "bodily fluids" tag?

I guess snot.

Beth said...

Simon, lots to agree with you about in that last post, but I can't agree that the Katrina politics is necessarily overblown. No, Bush didn't cause a hurricane, but if that's the level of rhetoric you refer to, that's cartoon-level and not worth our time. But don't use that as a blanket excuse to give Bush a pass on his failures regarding the storm.

Beth said...

Revenant, the Dean context isn't about why, it's that his audio was picked up without the context of a cheering, screaming crowd. The guy was giving a speech, to a pumped up, motivated crowd. Anyone sounds like an ass if their voice is raised while everyone around them is--or seems to be--quiet.

Revenant said...

Beth, I've heard the recording both with and without the crowd noise, and he sounds like a tool either way.

Simon said...

Beth said...
"I can't agree that the Katrina politics is necessarily overblown. ... [D]on't use [overheated rhetoric] as a blanket excuse to give Bush a pass on his failures regarding the storm."

I wasn't trying to suggest that there was smoke without fire, or to excuse what went wrong. My point is that the heat the administration's critics were able to raise on its performance was not tethered to its actual failings. It seems to me that the administration was made the scapegoat for every ball that was dropped, and that charge stuck because it played into what people had already concluded about the administration. I guess another way to put it is that if the public had trusted the administration more, the defense that a lot of what went wrong went wrong at the state and local level might have carried more weight - it wouldn't have excused the federal response, but the critics might not have been able to extract quite so heavy a bite.

Again, I'm not trying defending how the feds reacted or minimizing the scale of the disaster.

Simon said...

Revenant - it's of course useful to hear the crowd, but that can only convey the picture so far. I think you have to try and imagine being there in the context of that moment, where you've got this whole bunch of supporters yelling and egging you on. I really think it's understandable in context. Context matters. It mattered with the Althouse/Franke-Ruta diavlog, and it matters with the "Dean Scream."

Revenant said...

Simon,

Dean screamed into the microphone. Unless you are the lead singer in a heavy metal band you have no business ever screaming into a microphone, because it invariably makes you sound like a doofus. It is ok for heavy metal singers to do it because because when you're a sunken-chested man with big hair and leather pants it is too late to worry about not looking like a doofus.

I understand that Dean was caught up in the moment. I once got caught up in the moment during a They Might Be Giants concert and moshed to "Particle Man". So as you see, sometimes you can know the context and still think "yikes -- I hope nobody saw that".

Downtown said...

This is silly. People know that John McCain is not someone to casually take us into war.

This story is forgotten by tomorrow.

Jim said...

The Irony is that McCain is quoting a parody song often played by his arch-enemy Rush Limbaugh.

What he's trying to do is get back in the good graces of conservative Republicans after almost 8 years of being the media darling 'Mavrick'. It's not working. ( http://www.realclearpolitics.com/polls/ )

Beth said...

Simon, I see what you're saying. I have to keep in mind that most often, when people out there in the rest of the country refer to Katrina, they mean what happened 20 months ago. For us here, it's every day, all the months since then, and years in the future. A lot continues to happen, or rather, not to happen.

Simon said...

Beth,
And in turn, I realize it's a subject that I should try to broach with some delicacy. :)

Revenant said...
"Dean screamed into the microphone. Unless you are the lead singer in a heavy metal band you have no business ever screaming into a microphone, because it invariably makes you sound like a doofus. It is ok for heavy metal singers to do it because because when you're a sunken-chested man with big hair and leather pants it is too late to worry about not looking like a doofus."

The sad part is that the first image that jumps to my mind from that description is New Order's spoof video for Touched by the Hand of God. :p

RWE said...

Reagan (over a mike he didn't know was open):

"My fellow Americans, I have just signed legislation outlawing Russia forever. Bombing begins in five minutes."
http://www.npr.org/news/specials/obits/reagan/audio_archive.html

He seemed to do ok.

Revenant said...

YouTube has a video (of course) someone made using the original "Bomb Iran" parody song.

Der Hahn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Der Hahn said...

Since we're on the subject, this is applicable to Dean and the Scream, too.

It is incompetent for a candidate to take cues from people in the audience like that.

Dean was a distant third (18%) in Iowa behind Kerry (38%) and Edwards (32%). He wasn't in front of a pumped up crowd at a big victory celebration. He came off sounding like a sore loser with a shaky grip on reality.

AlphaLiberal said...

Many Americans need to lose their casual attitude about inflicting pain and sufferingb on other people. McCain's callousness is abominable.

We were all freaked out over 43 peple being shot dead and the "bombs" inflicted on us on 9/11.

But so many times American conservatives express these two thoughts simultaneously.

"We should bomb country A."
"County A will be our friends after we bomb them."

Earth to conservatives: bombing hurts, kills real people (often the innocent). It freaks people out by terrorizing them. This makes them less likely to like us.

After the "Shock and Awe" (a.k.a. "terror" see a thesaurus for proof) campaign ands ensuing violence in Baghdad, we've reaped the whirlwind. Please learn something from this experience? Bombing is n0 solution.

p.s. It's also an offense against that so-called "culture of life: ethic you so abuse.

ShadowFox said...

It may shock some of the people here who get ruffled by my comments on occasion, but I'm with McCain.

McCain response to media query about the video was "Get a life!" He actually directed it not so much to the media as to people who are "shocked" by his joke.

Joe--you are looking for Vince Vance and the Valiants. The song was far more insidious than anything that can be imputed to McCain's joke.

There is an anti-Bush song out as well that is a parody based on Barbara Ann. Why is anyone surprised about this?

What really pisses me off is that people who always complain about other people's quotations being taken out of context are now taking McCain out of context.

McCain was surrounded by veterans, mostly of his generations. They are veterans, for crying out loud! They live for jokes about bombs! Not emphatic enough? VETERANS!!! There...

Give me a break! Nothing wrong with McCain statement--no policy implications, no insensitivity to bombing victims or some other such pet cause, no insult to his audience... NADA!

And Ann's complaint that he was joking about bombing? He did this for a living, for a time, just like the rest of his audience. No, there is nothing inherently more.

See here.

Revenant said...

But so many times American conservatives express these two thoughts simultaneously. "We should bomb country A." "County A will be our friends after we bomb them."

A brief test for "liberals":

Question One: Please place the following events in chronological order.

A: Germany and Japan become economic and military allies of the United States

B: America and its allies kill millions of German and Japanese civilians via bombing and other forms of military violence.

C: The anti-American regimes ruling Germany and Japan are toppled and destroyed

Question Two (true or false): Germany and Japan would have become our friends and allies even if we hadn't waged war on them first.

Answer key
1: B, C, A
2: False

Internet Ronin said...

I think McCain provided just the right answer to the sanctimonious critics: "Get a life."

Revenant said...

I think McCain provided just the right answer to the sanctimonious critics: "Get a life."

That almost makes me like the guy a teeny bit.

Peter said...

The way things are going we will see a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv in a few years. Then Israel will, in it's final act, blow up most of the people in Iran, among other places.
The people complaining about McCain's comments will be asking why nobody connected the dots.
Iran is, and has been, at war with us. It is way past time we returned the favor.

Simon said...

Re Peter's comment, I really believe that the United States isn't going to bomb Iran, because the Israelis are going to beat us to it. I think that the moment it looks like Iran is on the threshold of obtaining a viable nuclear weapon, given that it has the means and the desire to deliver that weapon into Israel, the Israelis will to to Iran precisely what they did to Iraq at Osiraq.

Revenant said...

The Israelis had inside help at Osiriac -- the French had helped build the reactor and had agents at the site. They assisted the Israei military in taking out the site. That only happened because the French government had changed hands between when the Iraqi nuke deal was arranged and when Israel went to blow up the reactor. I doubt we'll be so fortunate this time around.

Israel kind of has a reputation for being total badasses, but the truth is that they've also repeatedly gotten lucky over the years. We can't rely on their luck continuing to hold out.

AlphaLiberal said...

Here's a funny riff off of an unfunny joke.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Revenant said...
Well, given [Kerry's] history as a pacifist wimp...


This is one of the dumbest comments I've ever read on any blog, which makes it one of the dumbest comments in history. Do you understand what "pacifist" means Revenant? Sheesh.

Synova said...

I think that 90% of "pacifists" don't know what "pacifist" means.

About humor about un-humorous things...

Humor is a healthy way to deal with what hurts. It's entirely appropriate and understandable. It's why we have such things as gallows humor or cop humor or soldier humor, where jokes are made of often horrific things.

And it by no means implies that anyone takes the real thing lightly. In fact, it probably indicates that it is *not* taken lightly.

If we *do* come to direct conflict with Iran it will most *certainly* be bombs. Our ability to rain destruction from the sky is not in any way "over-extended" due to our military obligations in Iraq. It really would be good for Iran to know this so that they will make wise decisions and not be led astray by constant anti-war rhetoric about how our military is near it's limits.

It's not.

And bombing has other benefits over troops and occupation.

It's pure destruction with almost no risk to our troops, and it doesn't require any long term commitment from our Congress or Senate.

merjoem32 said...

I have no idea who McCain was trying to be but his insensitive comments will probably help him slide further on the recent election 2008 polls. He offended a lot of people with the McCain bomb Iran song. The media and his opponents will use his joke against him. His campaign is now in tatters so he need to be more careful with his jokes.