A few days ago, the NYT lit into Ted Cruz: "Texas Senator Goes on Attack and Raises Bipartisan Hackles." And now, it's John McCain who's ruffling the feathers of big media, whose meme is The GOP died. So, whenever a Republican Senator is anything by docile and deferential, the Death-of-the-GOP meme must be swapped out long enough to discipline the outlier. The standard message is: Nobody likes you. Metaphor of choice: Hackles. You're raising hackles.
Here's my meme for that media discipline: When they say hackles, I say hacks.
The article with the headline quoted in this post title is at The Washington Post. Here's some of the text:
The 76-year-old will be 80 when he is again up for reelection in Arizona in 2016. “I have seen a number of occasions around here where people have stayed too long,” McCain said during a recent interview in his Russell Senate Building office. “I have seen people who were real giants in this institution deteriorate, and unfortunately, we remember them at the end.”Wow. That's heavy-handed! They're saying: The GOP is supposed to be dead, and you're at the grave's edge, old man. Old, old man. You look old. Old men when the say what they mean and they say it with passion seem like they're saying "get off my lawn." Har harr. Old man! You're going to die soon.
Endings matter in politics. If McCain is approaching the exit, this term could determine how he will be remembered. (“In the way people think of him,” former GOP Arizona senator Jon Kyl said, “in the near term, it matters a great deal.”)
Right now, like it or not, the five-term senator is stuck in “get off my lawn” territory, lashing out at his friend-turned-foe Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for defense secretary; incessantly tugging at what McCain is convinced is a coverup of the September attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya; lambasting the president; and railing against indiscriminate defense cuts. If hard-core conservatives feel burned by McCain’s resurgent reform spirit, the media that he once called his “base” have essentially written him off as an angry and sour loser who once went through a maverick phase but has, in the words of “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, gone on a “seven-year quest to negate every good thing he’d ever done.”
You don't have to be a genius to extract the bias and see the real message: McCain is effective.
By the way, the hackles article about Cruz depicted him as too young — hadn't been around long enough to be speaking with intensity and passion.
ADDED: I deleted a line that was in this post for a couple minutes: "by the way, hackles are not feathers." I based that on what I'd read — quickly — in the (unlinkable) Oxford English Dictionary when I wrote the "hackles" post about Cruz:
The hackles of a cock are erected when he is angry; hence with the hackles up, said also of a dog on the point of fighting when the hairs at the top of the neck stand up or of a hound when near the fox and on the point of killing him, also transf. of a man when aroused. Hence hackles is sometimes put for hair, whiskers, etc.I pictured the cock's comb, but reading more of the OED entry "hackle," I see:
The long shining feathers on the neck of certain birds, as the domestic cock, peacock, pigeon, etc. Also, the feathers on the saddle of a cock. a cock of a different hackle, an opponent of a different character.