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27.5.08

Too Old And Sick? Or Too Conservative And Hypocritical?

Belledame's post reminds me of something that's been bothering me for a while: the propensity of many liberals -- including many who are quick to condemn sexism that's used against Hillary Clinton or racism used against Barack Obama -- to resort to bigotry against John McCain. Specifically, I see a lot of people pulling out ageism and ableism/healthism(?) (e.g. here). Recently, for example, many liberals were just so very concerned that the media hadn't gotten an adequate look at McCain's health records, and hadn't interpreted his occasional pre-cancerous skin growths in the worst possible light. And oh dear, he hasn't had a psych eval -- why, he could have PTSD or something!

Here's the thing: John McCain is hardly a newcomer to the political stage. He's been a member of Congress for 26 years -- and an extremely prominent one, too (how many people can even name Arizona's other senator*?). He's been campaigning rather energetically for the past year. So we have plenty of relatively direct information about how he'd govern. So there's no need to make tenuous inferences from his health records.

I'm not saying this because I love McCain -- I voted against him in 2006, will vote against him in November, and assuming he loses then (and I'm still living in AZ), I'll vote against him again in 2012. But I'm not voting against him because he's old and might get skin cancer. I'm voting against him because he's pro-war, anti-soldier, pro-torture, anti-immigrant, anti-environment, anti-abortion, anti-GLBT, pro-corporation, and a bunch of other things of that nature.

Making a big deal over McCain's health reinforces the idea that old people are frail and unable to contribute to society, that we should judge someone's moral worth by the pronouncements of the medical establishment, that people with health problems can't be relied on to have significant responsibilities, that any views or behaviors we don't like in someone else should be attributed to mental illness. That's not cool, even when the person you're saying these things about is loathsome and would make an awful president.

*Jon Kyl, who is even worse than McCain -- he's just quieter about it.

6 Comments:

Blogger Alon Levy said...

I'll grant you everything else, but how is McCain anti-immigrant?

2:22 PM  
Blogger Stentor said...

I've talked before about how I thought his big immigration bill was deeply inadequate, though I acknowledge I'm kind of on the fringe with that. More importantly, though, he then repudiated his OK-for-a-Republican stand on the campaign trail, because he got tired of the nativists giving him crap about it.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Bill Baar said...

I'm a McCain supporter.

Age and Health Status are fair issues.

I think McCain will hold up but if he makes the continous sorts of gaffes Obama does, it would raise issues about his alertness and fitness for the job.

6:19 AM  
Blogger Bill Baar said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:19 AM  
Blogger Matthew Frederick said...

While I agree that there's some serious ageism at work, there's a valid concern about how age will affect his ability to think, as evidenced by Reagan. McCain's past success doesn't mean some form of dementia isn't setting in, something that you needn't be concerned about in a younger candidate. Diseases and ailments do increase dramatically with age. Doesn't make him less of a person, but it could make him less of a president.

12:15 PM  
Blogger belledame222 said...

I don't get the impression that he has dementia, certainly no more so than Dubya (!)

What he -does- have is a really nasty temper. Like, really nasty. Which, yeah, is problematic. Doesn't matter whether it's from PTSD or his pugnacious youth (as he himself suggests elsewhere): he says he's better, but he's...an angry little man, and not in a passionate, cause-bearing way, more in a touchy, thin-skinned, pissy-vitriolic "you IMPUGN my HONOR! wanna go wanna go?! [expletive deleted and I'M NOT SORRY]" petty hateful sort of way, and that, THAT is a -big- problem; we've had more than enough of that, thanks, we don't need that shit when it comes to international diplomacy, for instance...

2:27 PM  

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