May 18, 2007

McCain says "F*ck you" to Cornyn over immigration.

WaPo reports:
At a bipartisan gathering in an ornate meeting room just off the Senate floor, McCain complained that Cornyn was raising petty objections to a compromise plan being worked out between Senate Republicans and Democrats and the White House. He used a curse word associated with chickens and accused Cornyn of raising the issue just to torpedo a deal.

Things got really heated when Cornyn accused McCain of being too busy campaigning for president to take part in the negotiations, which have gone on for months behind closed doors. "Wait a second here," Cornyn said to McCain. "I've been sitting in here for all of these negotiations and you just parachute in here on the last day. You're out of line."...

"[Expletive] you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room," shouted McCain at Cornyn.
"A curse word associated with chickens"? Really, avoiding the actually language is so... chickenshit. But enough about WaPo, let's talk about McCain.

I have no problem with political characters saying "f*ck you" to each other behind the scenes. I almost think they'd be chickenshit not to. It's normal in tough, competitive situations. I remember when people were surprised by all the cursing on the Nixon White House transcripts, but that was a long time ago, and the fact is, it was normal even for Nixon era guys when they were in private. Remember when Bush said "There's Adam Clymer, major league asshole from the New York Times"? That was nothing, because it was a private comment that happened to get overheard. Political enemies exploit it as much as they can, but they can't get too far without seeming petty and prissy.

Now, McCain did say "F*ck you" in an official setting, and he did shout it. And it does resonate with that negative characterization of McCain as an angry man that his opponents want to sell us. So how much should this hurt McCain as a presidential candidate? I don't think it should hurt him at all. There doesn't seem to be a video clip of it (something that seems to change everything these days). It may have been a big meeting in an ornate room near the Senate floor, but it wasn't on the Senate floor.

This strikes me as babyish tattling. I want a President who says "f*ck you" and calls things that are chickenshit "chickenshit." Not where the kids can hear him, of course. But this was a closed meeting and Cornyn was apparently trying to disqualify his opinion because he dares to go off and run for President. McCain was entitled to push back. I say it's nothing.

ADDED: This is just my opinion. I should tell you I had a low key reaction to the Dean scream back in 2004. The morning after I heard it, I said I thought his opponents were using it because "it seems to confirm that the candidate has the quality we have come to fear he has" -- that is, anger -- but I thought that it didn't really mean anything because "In the context of the room, it made sense to play cheerleader for his disappointed fans."


Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how good it made me feel when I heard that Cheney had told Leahey to F-off. Something I've wanted to do for years.

I think it matters whether or not McCain's temper was out of control or not. Because that is the thing to be concerned about. And if there's no video, we'll never know.

Laura Reynolds said...

Well I don't care so much about him saying it and like Mike, I really enjoyed Cheney telling Leahy off. Regarding the subject matter, Coryn was right about McCain's relative inattention to three months of negoitiations and so I tend to think he overreacted.

Ann Althouse said...

Look, I'm using the asterisk because I'm afraid of filters that will block my site for readers. Since I've obviously shown what my preference is here, don't post a comment spelling it out yourself. If you want to criticize me for this choice, go ahead, but spelling it out is a hostile act on your part and I will delete.

Brent said...

I agree with Mike,

Profanity is supposed to be taken in context. It doesn't really tell us much about a person unless it's used outside the social norms.

McCain's remark, like Bush's in 2000, fell well within societal expectations. Heck, Bush probably picked up 1/2 a percent or more in votes. It actually could have been a crafty "Sister Souljah" moment.

Now, the F-word used in a speech accepting your party's Presidential nomination would be an example of someone a little too out of the main stream to be President.

And, unfortunately, I can imagine a Howard Dean doing just such a thing - not because of "the scream", but because of his tin ear displayed in so many of his public comments.

Brent said...

Now it's one thing to say the F-word to colleague, or use it to describe, say, a reporter with a colleague.

But to actually tell a reporter in public to go "f--- themselves" is an example of poor judgment.

Case in point: Rahm Emmanuel,Democrat

Sloanasaurus said...

But to actually tell a reporter in public to go "f--- themselves" is an example of poor judgment.

It's too bad more people don't tell reporters this.

JorgXMcKie said...

Emmanuel is a Chicago politician. I wouldn't really expect anything else. I don't like him because I think he's a really bright guy who uses his intelligence inappropriately, but this was just a typical Chicago brushoff.

And I think Dean is like a lot of politicians who really *don't* know what relatively ordinary people are like. Hence the 'tin ear' that he shares with plenty of people in both parties.

Besides, I didn't think Nixon's swearing was bad so much as he really didn't know how to do it like a normal person. Much like the picture of him walking on the beach wearing shorts, calf-length black socks and black wingtips.

Another bright guy gone wrong.

Anonymous said...

What’s the F-U expression supposed to mean, anyway? That it’s bad to get F’d, or that the sayer wants to *do* you as an insult? I don’t understand these things, truly.

We accept and even like such swagger-anger talk from men. Were a woman pol to say such a thing so audibly, would we be as tolerant or supportive? I don't pose this as a Fem F-U-minist, btw.

Brian Doyle said...

spelling it out is a hostile act on your part

So bizarre. On the one hand, this isn't something you mind a potential president saying in public. On the other, you don't want it to appear anywhere on your blog because of "filters" that don't exist.

P.S. Tell us about how you defended Dean again, Ann. That was so nonpartisan!

Joe Giles said...

Doyle, I can assure you that filters do exist on many computers, especially those used or available to children.

As someone who has worked in and around community centers and schools, that word is exactly the type of thing that would get the entire website blocked by standard software...hence a smart move on the part of Althouse.

Craig said...

With this bill, McCain and co. are really saying F-you to the American people.

halojones-fan said...

Doyle: Blogger locks blogs that are identified as "spam blogs" or "porn blogs". It isn't even a human-intervention thing; it's automatic software. It's very difficult to get the blog unlocked afterwards (this has driven some other blogs I read to Wordpress and other such places.)

And that's what it is, so I'm okay with that. I've seen too many people be faux-"classy" by using the asterisk, though. Which is ridiculous; if you're gonna swear, swear. Don't nudge-nudge, wink-wink "not swear". Either use profanity or don't.

Fen said...

I don't care about the profanity, I'm more bothered by McCain's tendency to browbeat and shut down debate.

Sofa King said...

I'd like to know what alternate reality Doyle is living in, where "internet filters" are this fantasy, unknown technology.

Jake said...

Seems to me Cornyn had a pretty good point. He attends all the meetings over several months, hashing out all the details on the immigration deal. Then McCain parachutes into the final meeting and glazes over all the stuff Cornyn has been fighting for, just so McCain can hobble out in front of the cameras and tell everyone it's his deal. When Cornyn calls him on it, he goes ballistic and starts throwing the F bomb around.

Not the kind of character I want running the country... not that my party would ever nominate the guy. The best thing to come out of this would be the quick demise of the camera hound from Arizona.

Keith said...

It should be remembered that the United States Navy would have loved to have had a third generation Flag Rank Officer. They passed, for obvious reasons. Nothings changed.

Cedarford said...

The incident is more important than the words because the Republicans are openly indicating they are fed up with 3 prima donnas:

1. RINO in Chief and most disliked man in the Senate, Arlen Spector.

2. McCain, parachuting in on yet another matter he put his name to, disappeared while the hard work is done, and comes back to try to hog the cameras and "credit".

3. Lindsay the Weasel Graham.

McCain-Kennedy is yet another McCain backstab to the base. They are fed up with the guy. His "I was captured by the enemy and suffered so you owe me!" patina has faded over the years. It saved him with the Keating 5 and many incidents the press glossed over rather than hit their favorite Republican Senator with...
But that was then, this is now.

I do know that f*ck-off is an absolutely appropriate comment to make at a variety of people in a variety of social settings. But Ann is right about filters, still out there, and still messing with Blog linkage and traffic.
The ones that really irritate me are the filters that hit innocuous words and don't tell you what "word" that was so offensive that it throws the whole post out.
Filters that rejected any post or barred you from any website that contained "breast" were infamous for a while.
I have used a library machine on vacation that wouldn't connect me to a Christian site due to "objectionable language not allowed on common access library terminals".
A site that blocked my comment because I used a reference to barrels down Niagra Falls, which the filter blocked I guess because it could have been misspelled "Via*ra".

Then another one (QuanDo) that tossed an essay where I was referring to war, odds, probabilities, game theory. It took about 15 tries before I realized it was tossing out "monte carlo casino runs" - or, actually "casino".
(Now when I run into it when I HAVE to post - like some B2B communications - I double check for a "bad word", check if the filter reject has any pointer to what is objectionable. No luck there, I ensure that words aren't repeated, cut the post in half send one half with a message that the filter is blocking me and I am "testing". Then I find what section is "bad", halve that, and keep halving until the "bad word" is uncovered.
It makes for annoying the recipient, but it is their Cr*ppy Filter's fault, not mine...)

Unknown said...

"F*#% off" - Two words that very succicintly sum up the attitudes of those so enamored with "comprehensive" immigration reform. And they wonder why conservatives are calling them to the carpet on this...

SDN said...

Cedarford, I see this attitude a whole lot on the left, and with some on the right as well: "I served in the military, so you should treat my opinion on whatever as sacred."

This is where I pull out my American History and remind them of a gentleman named Benedict Arnold. Great soldier, brave as they come, genuine hero, wounded (unlike John Kerry, wounded in an age where any wound meant 50-50 odds of death or loss of limb). Then he felt that he didn't get the treatment he deserved, so he sold out his country.

Point being, while I appreciate your service then, it has no bearing on your being wrong now.

Which brings us back to McVain. He lost my vote with McCain-Feingold. When he followed it up with an interview response saying that "clean government" was more important than the First Amendment, I called for his removal from office. This abortion of an immigration bill is just one more reason for that. I will never vote for him.

Franco said...

Mc Cain can say what he wants, I will never vote for him. But has he ever said something similar to a Democrat? OF COURSE NOT

lonetown said...

It seems to me McCain resents it was even being discussed i.e. just shut up and sign up.

He skipped all the meetings and comes in at the end to set the record straight.

I think he's done, and I'm beginning to doubt his heroism.

Irene Done said...

I agree with Fen and Lonetown. It's not the "f you" that's offensive. It's the "I know more about this than anyone else in the room" that's so off-putting.

That's the kind of attitude that conservatives usually attribute to liberals -- an entitled, elitist, I-know-what's-best approach to governing. Isn't that the typical characterization of Hillary?

That McCain directed this comment at Cornyn, who is a pretty faithful party colleague, is also offensive.

ricpic said...

You don't want to turn this country into the third world's dumping ground? Well, the men with deep pockets, the men who support me, do. So fuck you!

Freder Frederson said...

This is rich. Ann, who constantly berates left wing bloggers and websites for their use of bad language, doesn't mind when John McCain says "Fuck you" to a fellow senator in an official senate meeting.

Language or behavior like that is never acceptable in a professional workplace, and certainly not in the Senate. I can't believe anyone is defending him. I would never use language like that at work, and if anyone directed language like that at me, I don't care who it is, my boss or my bosses boss, I would immediately ask that person to step out of the room, tell them they were being completely unprofessional and demand an immediate apology.

KCFleming said...

Re: "Language or behavior like that is never acceptable in a professional workplace"

It's not professional, and it's not a workplace. They're making laws, a process which which, like stuffing sausages, should remain unobserved for this very reason.

Its use, however, even at work, should remain limited to rebutting egregious statements, particularly attacks on one's honor.

I am certain McCain detected such an attack here. I believe he was wrong and Cornyn was dead on correct in his assesssment. McCain should apologize, but won't.

Freder Frederson said...

They're making laws, a process which which, like stuffing sausages, should remain unobserved for this very reason.

Its really amazing how many of you want a secretive government.

I'm Full of Soup said...

I find this interesting because it involves two Republican senators from two states that will be most affected by adding many immigrants to the voting rolls. And both support the bill I believe?

What are they thinking the chances are of the new immigrant/ voters mainly from Mexico pulling the Republican lever in the voting booth?? I say it is slim to none.

KCFleming said...

Re: many of you want a secretive government

You have misunderstood (or deliberately misrepresented) a simple and common aphorism.

No, I don't think sausage-making, or politics, should be secret.
The saying means both processes are ugly and tend to turn people away from their end-products.

But I suspect you knew that.

rhhardin said...

The F* in F* you isn't a verb (say, a verb in the imperative); it's an epithet. This is proved at length by some scurrilous linguists in _Studies Out In Left Field : Defamatory Essays Presented to James D. McCawley on the Occasion of His 33rd or 34th Birthday_, Arnold M. Zwicky et al. eds. In short, it doesn't transform like a verb under embedding and so forth.

So, its referent is pretty much empty. It serves as a register marker, defining a relation between speaker and hearer that is rude if the hearer has not granted the relationship. Indeed, its being rude in this circumstance is the reason for its invention ; and the circumstances where it is not rude are derivative from that. Rude words are always needed in life, for path-clearing if nothing else.

Rude words are the cigars of langauge.

As to grammar, Goffman writes : ``Admittedly, even in these productive cases, taboo words are not entirely vulnerable to syntactical analysis. Saying that `the f*' in `What the f* are you doing?' is adjectival in function, or that `bloody' in `What are you bloody well doing?' is an adverb, misses something of the point. In such cases, specific syntactic location seems to be made a convenience of, for somehow the intensifying word is meant to color uniformly the whole of the utterance some place or other in which it occurs.'' Exactly.

Wm Kerrigan recommends Random House Webster's College Dictionary (``The Neurotic's Dictionary'') for its elaborate scoring of sexist words, most of which it contains and defines, as well as the traditional sturdily rude words. Although, at the end, he remarks that it has left out ``tight-assed.'' There's a deconstructive essay waiting there for somebody.

Freder Frederson said...

They're making laws, a process which which, like stuffing sausages, should remain unobserved for this very reason.

I know exactly what you mean. The process of making laws (or making sausage for that matter), should not be ugly or unobserved. Actually, just the opposite. Public health and the public good demand that both be subject to independent inspection and strict hygiene (in the case of sausage making) and good manners and respect (in the case of law making). Bad things happen when either process is hidden from scrutiny and the rules aren't followed.

Joe Giles said...

McCain is toast. The Republican base already had its doubts, and McCain-Feingold and McCain-Kennedy just seal the deal. At this point, it looks like he's calling in airstrikes on his own position.

The only way forward to victory will be if three or four of his GOP opponents meet their demise, Manchurian-style.

Joe Giles said...

Forgot to add:

Not sure McCain would even win the AZ primary at this point.

This is the guy who, after losing the vote in his own district in Nov '06 to become State Committeeman (there were 140 open positions!), failed to show up to the State GOP meeting.

In some ways, we Arizonans already got the Cornyn treatment.

Joe Giles said...

Bad things happen when either process is hidden from scrutiny and the rules aren't followed.

Visibility and rule-following don't make the process look any better -- that's not the problem.

The problem is that politicians are involved, and those politicians (both D and R) can't resist cozying to lobbyists/interest groups while at the same time tossing shards of red meat to the voters.

Until honor and a commitment to limited government are absolutes, expect more of the same.

jkmack said...


How about commenting on the fact that McCain has not seen fit to vote this year in the Senate?

You imply that Cornyn is giving McCain grief for "daring to run for President". I think you are showing your political panties, and they appear to be in a wad.

What Cornyn is giving McCain grief on is neglecting his duties as an elected representative of the state of Arizona, then trying to give the impression that he is actually instrumental in creating the legislation and by extension trying to take credit for said legislation to the benefit of his presidential run.

Kerry was stung hard by his poor Senate participation during his run for President. McCain will be too, and I think his outburst is indicative that he is aware of this soft spot and wants to suppress its' mention.

Beldar said...

One question:

How many times, Prof. Althouse, have you shouted "F*** you!" at a colleague with whom you disagreed in a meeting?


If the answer is anything less than "routinely," there's some inconsistency in your position. Or are the standards to which you hold yourself as a tenured faculty member higher than those to which you would hold a U.S. Senator and would-be President?

Cornyn, as it happens, is my senator, and as it happens, the skepticism he was expressing very directly reflects my views as his constituent, and probably those of most Texans. Having McCain reply to that with "F*** you!" insults more than just John Cornyn -- who, by the way, I recall your having jumped on some months ago when you distorted his comments into being encouragement toward violence against judges. Do you just have something against Cornyn in particular?

Cedarford said...

SDN said...
Cedarford, I see this attitude a whole lot on the left, and with some on the right as well: "I served in the military, so you should treat my opinion on whatever as sacred."

This is where I pull out my American History and remind them of a gentleman named Benedict Arnold. Great soldier, brave as they come, genuine hero, wounded *snip* Point being, while I appreciate your service then, it has no bearing on your being wrong now.

The Left is quite fond of trotting out military outliers that disagree with 95% of servicemen or Vets. They say "General X" or "War Hero Y" or "Victim of a KIA Mother Z" wants missile defense scrapped or abandonment of the anti-Islamoid terrorist effort in the Philippines or immediate retreat from Iraq. Then maintain that the opinion of General X, War Hero Y, or Mother Z is gold-plated and unassailable because they served! They suffered! - ignoring they are outliers - and of course, that the Lefts cherished worship of and pandering to "Victimhood" is based on the myth that victimization confers "absolute moral authority and wisdom".

I would disagree with the premise that war experience or experience in the oil industry or working in medicine does not make the general opinion of such people only of equal value to a person with no knowledge of military talking about war strategy, a hippie arguing that solar power can take the place of oil to a petrochemical plant manager, or a leftist lawyer telling a doctor they have a plan for better health care and their opinion should have equal weight to the physician.

Deference is deserved, but people have to understand how much an outlier some individual who comes forth "challenging the conventional wisdom of their profession is" credible. They have to judge. Is the one scientist that swears cold fusion right and thousands of other physicists investigating it wrong? Is one retired general Lefties managed to find who says "interrogation never works" more correct than all the leaders of all the armies since the dawn of time that put resources into battlefield interrogations and investigating spies and saboteurs? People have to understand how much John Kerry and his "Winter Soldiers" were outliers to the typical opinions of Vietnam Vets. And most times they don't judge correctly because the media hypes the "dissenters" to the public, as having equal credibility to the consenus thought of the "dissenters" collective peer's opinions.

As a former officer, a Gulf War Vet who gladly spilled Iraqi blood I consider myself better equipped to understand and discuss military matters than a liberal English teacher - even in areas outside my area of specialty. Matters like sub warfare, ground combat, military waste in aircraft overhead - because I was at least in the system and know of matters like integrated arms strategy, synergies in the military...

But also of limits. I know as much as Joe Sixpack about combat jet demands when flying, I know less than someone that stayed in and is an Admiral with 28 years of service and executive leadership and decision-making.

John McCain's being a POW, and one that did disclose much under torture, does not make him an immigration expert, an interrogation expert, a seasoned executive leader by virtue of his military experience leading large numbers of men successfully. Eisenhower was, Washington was, Powell was, George Marshall was, Andrew Jackson was, Harrison and Tyler, too. Not McCain. Not Kerry. (They never got executive leadership experience in the military or Senate, and only supervised a very small crew in the military. A government or private department head has more executive experience, led more people, than McCain or Kerry have in their lifetimes. Hillary as 1st Lady, led more staff than the two have.. )

McCain just keeps thinking his "POW-victimhero" and "pro-life" status will just keep people worshipping him and he doesn't get that his frequent forays into liberal causes collaborating with hard Left figures like Teddy, Feingold, or "his good friend John Kerry" have already ended his Presidential shot. He is a dead man walking.
Republicans are already likely to lose no matter who the candidate is, due to Dubya's failed presidency. Events can change everything over a year half before elections, though. People might take a steady Republican that is not a loose cannon that can be trusted to rein in the worse ideas of a Democrat Congress and competently manage the country.

Rudy could fill the bill. Same with Romney. They know executive leadership. Not McCain. Maybe Governor Huckabee or the charisma-challenged Tommy Thompson who did superb jobs in states, Thompson also as a cabinet member before he wisely bailed rather than fight right-wing radicals Bush's cronies were putting in.
Not the rest of the pack of Senatorial or Congressional ideologues.

Fen said...

I see this attitude a whole lot on the left, and with some on the right as well: "I served in the military, so you should treat my opinion on whatever as sacred."

uh NO. I've never seen the right do this. I've always seen the Left do it, as per Mother Sheehan or John Kerry. Even this memorial day, they will stand on the corpses of our vets, claiming they "support" them, and use that macabre platform to make a political statement about our foreign policy. Weasels.

I'm a vet, and have never used that fact to browbeat someone re the war. The only time I've attacked with it is when the Left has brought up the chickenhawk meme.

And the only time we've claimed a vets position is "sacred" is when he's providing 1st hand accounts of whats really happening on the ground, as oppossed to the lies the MSM spoonfeeds you. Its not that he served, its that he's currently serving in the middle of what the Left is lying about.


Just finished reading the immigration bill. There are so many loopholes re the triggers that its delusional to think a fence/wall will be built before "amnesty" goes into affect.

Dear John McCain: Fuck you right back.

Unknown said...

Amen, Fen.

GOP senators who support this bill have been booed off their stages this weekend.

It gets worse, though. We are now ceding our sovereignty to these thugs.

Jim C. said...

Freder Frederson said...

"Language or behavior like that is never acceptable in a professional workplace, and certainly not in the Senate. I can't believe anyone is defending him."

"Its really amazing how many of you want a secretive government."

You mean like Rahn Emanuel? (from link above):

" 'Why don't you go f--- yourself?' That was how House Democrat Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel reportedly responded to a Politico reporter's request – made 'in the effort for openness and disclosure' – to sit in on a caucus debate over the language of a lobbying bill."

Ann Althouse said...

Beldar said..."How many times, Prof. Althouse, have you shouted "F*** you!" at a colleague with whom you disagreed in a meeting?"

Never. But I'm amongst mild-mannered academics where repression and passive aggression prevails... and it's NOT pretty. The world of active politicians is very different.

DRJ said...

Prof. Althouse,

Are you saying that having passive-aggressive colleagues is a worse environment than having colleagues (like McCain) that don't show up for work and then curse those who do show up and try to do their jobs? I can't believe you expect us to believe that.

In addition, like Beldar @ 3:50PM, I'm interested in your response to his last point regarding your opinion of Senator Cornyn. Cornyn doesn't make it onto your radar very often but, when he does, he doesn't fare well. Any particular reason?

amba said...

The insult "F U" probably comes from the dominance use of sexual mounting by male animals, including male humans. Apparently rape of male captives after a victory in war was a not uncommon feature of our species' savory history. I'll never forget reading a supposedly well-researched (and throroughly trounced) novel about Lakota Indians by a white woman, HANTA YO, and learning that in the romantic Sioux war-cry "Hoka hey! It's a good day to die!" the "hoka hey" part actually meant, "F 'em in the A!"

amba said...

That's Hanta Yo. And here it is trounced: "Ayn Rand Meets Hiawatha."

Unknown said...

Fen usual: "And the only time we've claimed a vets position is "sacred" is when he's providing 1st hand accounts of whats really happening on the ground, as oppossed to the lies the MSM spoonfeeds you."

Yeah, that damn liberal MSM...trying to make us believe everything isn't just peachy "on the ground."

3,422 / 25,378

What a crock.

alphabet said...

NOT A MISTAKE: Anyone who thinks this was a slip is naive. The man is running for president for crying out loud. He is not likely to forget that dozens of reporters are watching his every move. He is clearly attempting to show people that he still has some life left in him and that he is not too old for this job.

Unknown said...

mccaine is old and kreepy and shouldn't be running because he doesn't know or get the 411 or understand the problems of this generation he should be saying f u in the mir so he'ld be saying it to himeself lool