April 6, 2008

McCain is "implicitly attacking Obama for basking in self-glory, when the Obama campaign is very much predicated on 'we' and not 'I.'"

Bill Scher perceives irony in McCain's ad — which depicts his life story, including his service in Vietnam — because it is "very much about 'I.'" Scher thinks the ad says: "Look at the heroic life that I have had. You can trust me to manage this war, et cetera."

Scher is the liberal in a Bloggingheads episode, and his interlocutor, Conn Carroll of the Heritage Foundation, makes a different point about McCain's use of biography in his new ads: There are "ways" to use this material and other "kind of more unAmerican, I guess, ways to do it," Carroll says, noting "that might be a bad phrase."
He's... talking about his family going all the way back to George Washington, you know, served on George Washington's staff.... He's got an airbase named after him. And he's establishing this, like, almost royal pedigree, and, you know, this is not a country built on royalty. We're a country about, you know, not caring what your parents did. We're a country about, you know, what do you, what did you do, you know, how have you built your story. And it just was very, you know, not very American to go out there and say I've got this long, royal lineage that you all should respect, you know, please vote for me, as opposed to Barack Obama's message of, you know, I created my own identity out of the American image and, you know, I am you, let's go forward. It's, it's grating on many conservative ears.
So, let's see. McCain took up a family tradition of service and gave of himself, profoundly, and that's not as good, and not as conservative, as having "built your story" and "created" your "identity." It's more American to build and create stories and identities? I don't get it. I mean, I understand the American love of the self-made individual who came out of nowhere. And there is something very American — not in the loftiest sense — about inventing a marketable character for yourself. (I'm thinking of Buffalo Bill Cody, Madonna, etc.) But I don't see the conservative problem with situating the individual in a historical tradition. (McCain had a brilliant ad in early March that I thought expressed profound conservative values exactly this way.)

And Barack Obama isn't a self-made man in the rags-to-riches sense. He has lived a distinctly privileged life — going to all the best schools — and has had to take steps as an adult to put together a more marketable persona. Now, he's done that wonderfully effectively — but we need to see it for what it is.

But let's get back to Scher's perspective, that Obama's "we" is better than McCain's "I." Seeing yourself as a part of a tradition and accepting service and sacrifice within that tradition — that's not "we"? Devising a magnificent, marketable political persona — that's not "I"?

43 comments:

rhhardin said...

Self-made refers to doing something else. The made part may then transfer to the self retrospectively and unpredictably.

What McCain wants to talk about is how much helium Obama is depending on, but that's prevented by the new tone of respect that started with McCain-Feingold.

rhhardin said...

I'd guess that the Keating Five is the hidden thing driving McCain.

The new tone of respect would prevent it coming up, in some fantasy, chiefly his own.

George said...

Interesting how some folks are calling McCain a "warmonger."

Wasn't that a term conjured up by Communist China in the 1950s?

Not a word I ever thought would enter the American political debate.

Next they'll call him a paper tiger.

SGT Ted said...

The author also mischaracterizes a family long committed to military service and selfless sacrifice to the nation as "royalty".

tituszenmasterextra said...

Madonna is American royalty.

I love Madonna.

Stephen said...

Obama basking in self-glory

Got a DVR? Find the spots where he fails to bask in self glory.

His self glory actively catnips the ids of so many of the the women folk. And those metro-dudes.
They. Truly. Do. Not. Care. What. He. Is. Saying.
Why, the vibrating ladies can't even hear what he's saying.

section9 said...

What's going on is that the Obama people are finding out, quite to their chagrin, that they can't use the "chickenhawk" meme against McCain.

Not only did he win the Navy Cross and serve in the Hilton, but he refused to come home before his comrades. Further, when he did come home, he took and understrength Navy Air Wing at Jacksonville that was operating at 40% readiness and got it as close to 100% readiness as his ability to cannibalize parts and engage in "magical requisition" would allow.

Obama, otoh, commanded his Senate office staff and flew a desk. Obama knows this, which is why he's going to let partisan hacks like Ed Schultz run around and call McCain a "warmonger" without stepping up and offering an apology. Obama's not offering a new politics. That was all a big con for white liberals to lap up like so many hungry kittens.

So now they have moved on to the "warmonger" meme. This while McCain has a son who is a Lance Corporal who has just returned from Iraq and another son who is in the Naval Academy.

Eventually, the big "helium" thing that rhhardin spoke of eventually starts to go out of the Obama balloon-and only because of the good common sense of the American people and their distinct annoyance at that which is manifestly unfair.

M. Simon said...

Obama sacrificed. He sacrificed plenty.

He had to spend 20 years in a Marxist racist church to get elected. For a man without a racist bone in his body that had to be a HUGE sacrifice.

Compare that to the mere 5 1/2 years McCain was tortured by the Communists.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

McCain's Vietnamese captors believed McCain, an Admiral's son, was American royalty. McCain mused that they had no clue about how America really works. [I know that is a long article, but it was written while he was still in the Navy with those recollections arguably much fresher than today and also before he entered political life.]

Zeb Quinn said...

Obama has a serious messiah complex thingie going on. It clearly trumps anything the mortal McCain may have done in his so-called life. Is that a me thing or a we thing? I guess it does become "we" when one falls in behind it and votes for him.

Donald Douglas said...

And you're for Obama...?

Middle Class Guy said...

rhhardin said...
I'd guess that the Keating Five is the hidden thing driving McCain.



During the investigation, a major Democratic poobah, whose name esacpes me, not only cleared John McCain but went out of his way to praise McCain's honesty and integrity.

Even Jon Glenn, a Democrat did not get that benefit of doubt from his own.

Kirk Parker said...

"when the Obama campaign is very much predicated on 'we' and not 'I.'"

Oh good grief! Obama's compaign is totally predicated on a 'we' that really means 'I'. How naive does a person be to not see that?

PatCA said...

I guess McCain is sort of the Charlton Heston of the race; Obama is...John Malkovich?

McCain's invocation of history and lineage would be cynical and abhorent had he not proven himself worthy of all its implied gravitas with his own courageous behavior in war.

He says repeatedly that his country owes him nothing, he owes her everything, and he lives it. How different from the spoiled brat Obama clan.

rob_s said...

Bob Bennett was the democratic lawyer that cleared McCain during the Keating 5. But the dems continued on because it woul have been 4 dems and no republicans

Sloanasaurus said...

I see the "we" vs. "I" in a more ideoligical sense. The "we" is a collective idea that we are meaningless as individuals - i.e., a very non-american idea. IN contrast the "I" is about the individual and freedom, which is traditional western thought.

P. Rich said...

What sloanasaurus said. The implication, or more, that "we" is good and "I" is bad is modern liberal-speak for the socialist view - the "it takes a village" crapola peddled by the Left. The self-esteem movement, the "we're all the same, and nobody loses cause it'll hurt little Johnny's feelings" nonsense is all a part of the same destructive fiction.

Ann Althouse said...

Sloanasaurus said..."I see the "we" vs. "I" in a more ideoligical sense. The "we" is a collective idea that we are meaningless as individuals - i.e., a very non-american idea. IN contrast the "I" is about the individual and freedom, which is traditional western thought."

Actually, that was the direction I intended to go when i started this post. I wanted to work in that I thought the "we" in Scher's idea is fascistic. The candidate is seeking power that he will have for himself, but he gets you to think that somehow he embodies all of us. But that isn't true, and it's not pro-individual. It's the opposite.

JSF said...

I remember throughout 2004 about how important it was to vote for a veteran. I don't remember that being an issue during 1996.

Does that mean, every Democrat who excoriated Americans for not voting for a veteran in 2004, will vote for McCain today?

fred said...

Ok. McCain has family that have serv ed in tghe military. Ok he was OWS in the useless war, Viet Nam...
Now tell us what qualifies him to be a president? It may be there but let us hear about that and not that he served many many years ago.

I respect his service...but then I have most of my friends who also served in our military. they would not get my vote to be presidebnt but I would drink beer with them.

M. Simon said...

fred,

Buy a keg for election day. Ice it down the night before.

Start early. I'm sure it will be one of the most enjoyable election days you have ever had.

Ann,

Sometime soon you will have to explain to us why you are still a Democrat. i.e. a member of the collectivist party.

Why McCain? Because he is a member of the original anti-racist party.

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

This might be in slighly different context, but I have noticed the "We" vs "I" dynamic more as a Hillary Vs Obama distinction. Hillary is always preaching "I am going to do this and that for you" while Obama does seem to evoke an atmosphere of we are all in this together.

Just like when Hillary started crying in NH, I thought she was upset because she couldn't believe that the masses were too stupid to choose her instead of Barack. As if Clinton really believes she is the only one who can run our country, and she felt pity upon us fools who want anyone else.

As for McCain, he was on a biography tour, so of course it is going to be focused on himself and his past. I just hope McCain doesn't start pulling a Bob Dole and start refering to himself in the third person.

Bruce Hayden said...

To get a view of the next generation, the NYT has an out-of-character (IMHO) article today: McCain Is Vocal on War, but Silent on Son’s Service.

It reads almost like a John Wayne movie - the one where he is a colonel on the western frontier, his son enlists under his mother's name and ends up under his command. His mother (divorced from Wayne) shows up to buy him out, and the son refuses the special treatment, etc.

Jimmy McCain just got back from a tour of Anbar. He enlisted in the Marines at 17 and is doing the McCain thing his way, from the bottom up. An older brother is at Annapolis.

What is becoming evident is that McCain isn't faking it here. Two sons following him and his father and grandfather into the Navy and Marines in a time of war tells me that this is what he is really about.

Nagarajan said...

Fred says,

"Ok. McCain has family that have serv ed in tghe military. Ok he was OWS in the useless war, Viet Nam...
Now tell us what qualifies him to be a president? It may be there but let us hear about that and not that he served many many years ago."

Nice going Fred in trivializing the Vietnam war and the sacrifices made by veterans in fighting a war that was started by a liberal Democrat (in the true sense of the word)

Unless you are Rip Van Winkle, one can see McCain has a record that he can actually speak of - his work on campaign finance reform ( even though i disagree with McCain-Feingold), his consistent opposition to pork barrel politics, his bipartisanship on important issues of the day including immigration, his support of the surge and consistent call for stronger US presence in Iraq (as opposed to Rumsfeld) and most of all his refusal to be a partisan demagogue of the GOP are a few things which show us that he is more than qualified to be President.

The one candidate who has serious questions about his qualifications for the Presidency is Barak Obama.

Nagarajan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce Hayden said...

As to the Keating Five, I think that this was the impetus behind McCain's crusade against political corruption that gave us McCain-Feingold. My theory is that he saw this as a lapse that tarnished his honor, and set out to cleanse that dishonor.

Let me note that I am not the least bit happy with that law. The Clintons, in particular, have shown how to circumvent it, by bundling contributions from straw donors, notably Chinese ones.

Joe said...

I agree with the suggestion that the "we" is more than superficial. Obama's political philosophy is almost pure Marxism. This is apparent to anyone who actually reads what the guy has written; it's all about collective rights and a massive expansion of government at the expense of individual rights. (The irony is that Obama is so far left that if elected, Congress with just ignore him. Unfortunately, his judicial nominations and foreign policy would be a disaster--he'd actually make Carter look good by comparison.)

Synova said...

Am I the only one who sees the "we" ad for saving the world on the sidebar and sees that the "w" is an upside down "m" and that it is clearly "me, me, me" who is responsible to end climate change?

That's what this post makes me think of. Obama is the "we" with the upside down "m".

He says "we" but he is the focus of that aggregate hope and power, the completion of it. The means to reach it. He is both about "we" and profoundly about "me". The two are manifest together.

McCain talking about "I" is different, I think. In that he doesn't pretend to be the collective manifest will of the people.

Iapetus said...

"And it just was very, you know, not very American to go out there and say I've got this long, royal lineage that you all should respect, you know, please vote for me. "

In New England this line has worked for the Kennedys for so many years. The poor fellow was obviously confused.

From Inwood said...

M Simon

Never realized the sacrifices Obama had to make. And that these sacrifices were self-made! McCain is a chicken hawk in the Sacrifice Dept, I guess!

M. Simon said...

Iapetus,

Kennedy was in a lot of danger. He rescued himself from a submerged auto.

The man is a real hero.

He believes in "We first".

As in the royal We.

inwood,

Yeah. McCain has some catching up to do. :-)

Fen said...

So now they have moved on to the "warmonger" meme. This while McCain has a son who is a Lance Corporal who has just returned from Iraq and another son who is in the Naval Academy.

I just find it amusingly ironic for the Left to tag McCain as a "warmonger" while we are at war. Says alot about how irrational and dangerously naive the Left has become.

Ralph said...

The amount of ego required to run for high office is beyond my comprehension. They may say "We" (or like GHWB, leave out the "I"), but in their heads it's all "I".

Joseph said...

The really odd thing about this video is that Carroll seems completely oblivious to the fact that "royalist" is a long-standing Democratic Party political slur.

Scher, on the other hand, seems practically delighted that he can barely get a word in edgewise while Carroll continues his anti-McCain rant.

The Drill SGT said...

Ruth Anne Adams,

Thanks for the article. It was great. Brought back lots of memories.

Beyond the son that just got back from Iraq, and the son who will graduate as a Marine LT this June, you ought to count the adopted son Doug, who served as a Naval Aviator as well.

Bruce Hayden said...

Now tell us what qualifies him to be a president? It may be there but let us hear about that and not that he served many many years ago."

I could reverse that and ask the same question about the two Democrats running for president. Hillary's claim to fame is that she was married to a governor and president and some of that rubbed off. Obama's? Apparently that he is half black. Can't think of anything more.

McCain has at least spent time in a leadership role in the Senate, including chairing the Armed Services Committee. Also, I would expect that his Annapolis degree is really more useful than those Ivy League JDs for actually running something larger than a secretarial pool and a small office staff.

Remember, he isn't running in a vacuum, but rather against people who have limited experience. So, any attack on his experience is almost assured to backfire.

Beth said...

We, I, collectivism, individualism. Is this a cross-post with the armchair philosophizing topic?

My friends! I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

Average American said...

Above all else, there is one point that goes to McCain and to McCain only--honesty and integrity! When John McCain says something, whether you like it or not, YOU CAN BELIEVE IT! You cannot say that about Clinton or Obama! On this, there is no dispute.

If and when Obama gets the dem nomination, the media will be forced to finally start asking harder questions. I can't wait to see him try to rationalize his first book "Dreams from my father". That should prove to be quite a show. Then we will hear more about the connection with his Kenyon cousin Odinga, another skeleton in his closet. It should be an interesting fall lineup!

Larry J said...

Ok. McCain has family that have serv ed in tghe military. Ok he was OWS in the useless war, Viet Nam...
Now tell us what qualifies him to be a president? It may be there but let us hear about that and not that he served many many years ago.

I respect his service...but then I have most of my friends who also served in our military. they would not get my vote to be presidebnt but I would drink beer with them.


Just what qualifications does Obama or Hillary have to be president? What executive experience do they have? What are their signature accomplishments?

I don't like McCain and find his qualifications rather lacking as well, but compared to the Democrats, he is vastly more qualified.

There are good reasons why no senator has been elected president since 1960. Unfortunately, it looks like we're going to have to relearn those reasons over the next 4 years.

M. Simon said...

Useless war?

I guess no one asked the South Vietnamese:

Gore said in 1988 that his experience in Vietnam:

"...didn't change my conclusions about the war being a terrible mistake, but it struck me that opponents to the war, including myself, really did not take into account the fact that there were an awful lot of South Vietnamese who desperately wanted to hang on to what they called freedom. Coming face to face with those sentiments expressed by people who did the laundry and ran the restaurants and worked in the fields was something I was naively unprepared for."

M. Simon said...

Yep. The Democrats are unprepared for people who value freedom.

Obama going to get crushed, baby.

Beth said...

When John McCain says something, whether you like it or not, YOU CAN BELIEVE IT!

Right. He's for campaign finance laws, unless he wants to break them. He opposed the Bush Administration tax cuts, but now he wants to make them permanent. He hates Falwell and Roberton and Dobson; no wait, now he likes them because he's running for president.

Steady as rock, that guy.