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Ground Control to Major John

Take your protein pills and put your helmet on:

This is Major John to Ground Control.  My campaign’s on the floor, and I’m flailing in a most unusual way.  And my ads look very desperate today. . . .

OK, so this newly-revived blog has been spending all this face time with Governor Palin, and it completely missed this segment of Angry McCain’s seething-hot interview with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register last week.  (I did watch the part where he defends the one hundred percent truthfulness of his campaign and his honorable record of service to the country and then responds to the “lipstick on a pig” question by standing up, reaching across the table, ripping open the chest cavity of one of the unsuspecting Register reporters and devouring her still-beating heart in three bites.  But after that I turned it off.) And I want to say right at the outset that it is ageist and ableist and also bad to think that John McCain is not in full possession of his faculties just because he answers the question, “have you always been covered in your adult life by a taxpayer-financed health care plan?” by saying, “I was out of the military for a while before I went to the Congress, but you know, that’s an interesting statement, innit.  So, and I have never been an astronaut, but I think I know the challenges of space, and I’ve never done a lot of things in my life that I think I am familiar with” before launching into the usual talking points about how “free enterprise” health care will allow families to make choices whereas socialized medicine will require everyone in America to share one toothbrush.

Think again about what he’s really saying, people.  John McCain is simply saying that he understands what it’s like not to have taxpayer-financed health care even though he himself has had it for all but a brief period of his adult life, just as you and I know that space is a near-absolute-zero vacuum full of deadly radiation even though we have never been astronauts.  The obvious point of the analogy, folks, is that when you’re covered by a private health plan, you suffer debilitating bone loss and muscle atrophy; and when you’re totally uninsured, no one can hear you scream.  This is one of the strongest endorsements of universal health care I’ve come across in my lifetime; unfortunately, it’s so dang oblique that everyone and her brother seems to have missed it.

The really surprising moment in McCain’s answer, though, comes at the end:

I have always been a free-enterprise person who thinks that families make the best choices for themselves and their future. That’s a dramatically different philosophy than my Democrat friends, in my view, who think that government is the answer. Senator Obama wants to create a huge health care bureaucracy. And we’ve seen that movie before.

So, the answer is that most of my life, in serving my country, I did have health care. I did go through a period when the health care wasn’t very good.

Again, this is a powerful, if subliminable, argument in favor of government-provided health care.  Despite the boilerplate lines about huge bureaucracy blah blah blah, McCain freely admits that he has had fine government health care all his life, except for that period between his service in the military and his tenure in Congress when the health care wasn’t very good and he was briefly exposed to the challenges of space.  It was then that he braved the dangers of explosive decompression and had to return to safety by way of the emergency airlock.  [UPDATE:  In comments, some readers offer an alternate explanation of this passage.  Something about a Hanoi Hilton, it seems.]

On a personal note, I have to say I’m struck by the line “and we’ve seen that movie before.” On its face, of course, it doesn’t make a lick of sense, because the United States has never actually seen the movie “Universal Health Care—directed by the U.S. Government and starring every single American.” The film has been banned in the United States for decades, and as with the Cuban trade embargo, neither Democratic nor Republican presidents have had the courage to lift the ban.  Some conservatives claim to have seen the movie, calling it “incomprehensible, and worse, French,” but I don’t believe them.  I believe, instead, that Senator McCain was slyly referring to the Elton John song, “I’ve Seen That Movie Too,” thus offering the Des Moines Register a densely intertextual David Bowie/ Elton John riff that surely owes something to my post from three and a half years ago.  Thanks, Senator McCain!  This humble and newly-revived blog salutes your whimsical pop-culture allusions . . . and your long history of enjoying fine, reliable taxpayer-financed health care!

Posted by on 10/06 at 08:05 AM
  1. McCain also has a Kiki Dee connection?

    Posted by Roxanne  on  10/06  at  09:27 AM
  2. "John McCain is simply saying that he understands what it’s like not to have taxpayer-financed health care even though he himself has had it for all but a brief period of his adult life.”

    Actually, as a Navy kid, then a student at the Naval Academy, McCain would have had taxpayer-financed health care his entire life, as a child and later.  Not to mention that, as the son and grandson of an admiral, he would likely have had highest priority at every turn within that system, the old ‘enlisted man and Eisenhower are in the same waiting room’ system having left us after WWII.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  09:30 AM
  3. he defends the one hundred percent truthfulness of his campaign and his honorable record of service to the country

    If by “truthfulness,” Senator McCain meant “truthiness,” then, well, we’re onto something.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  09:37 AM
  4. I have always been a free-enterprise person who thinks that families make the best choices for themselves and their future. That’s a dramatically different philosophy than my Democrat friends, in my view, who think that government is the answer. Senator Obama wants to create a huge health care bureaucracy. And we’ve seen that movie before.

    I think he means he’s seen the movie, having always been insured by a huge health care bureaucracy. And the fact that his family has opted for the huge health care bureaucracy over “free-enterprise” insurance underscores his argument that families always make the best choices for themselves and their future.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  09:49 AM
  5. This makes perfect sense. I myself have never been a heartless and disingenuous bastard who lacks compassion for the country’s have-nots, and yet I surely understand the challenges Senator McCain faces in having to rationalize a sea of internal conflicts between right and wrong/Right.

    captcha: not!

    Posted by Orange  on  10/06  at  10:09 AM
  6. Why can’t our health care system be like our banking and financial system?

    Maverick!!!!!

    Posted by Bulworth  on  10/06  at  10:09 AM
  7. After saying, “I did go through a period when the health care wasn’t very good,” he gave the McCain grin of death. I took that to mean that he was referring to his time as a POW but didn’t want to overtly reference it. Which is a first.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  10:20 AM
  8. Michael, when he says “I did go through a period when the health care wasn’t very good,” he doesn’t mean the period between military service and Congress. He’s clearly once again referring to his martyrdom in the Hanoi Hilton.

    The reticent hero just can’t seem to stop bringing up his heroism.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  10:22 AM
  9. I’m sorry—you’re saying that McCain was a prisoner of war?  When was this?  And why didn’t anyone bring it up at the Republican National Convention?

    Posted by Michael  on  10/06  at  10:43 AM
  10. Bulworth@6: Why can’t our health care system be like our banking and financial system?

    Not sure if you are consciously refering the following statement from an article “by” John McCain that came out several weeks ago. Biden referenced in the debate, but I think the campaign should be repeating it constantly.

    Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

    And I too am sure that McCain was referring to that little known episode in his life. Such honor and restraint in the pursuit of the Presidency has no precedent.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  11:17 AM
  11. "I’m sorry—you’re saying that McCain was a prisoner of war?  When was this?  And why didn’t anyone bring it up at the Republican National Convention?

    McLame is too much of a Mavericky Maverick to ever mention it.

    Posted by Bulworth  on  10/06  at  11:27 AM
  12. I’m developing a new theory of Republican strategy.  They’re attempting to eliminate Democrats by instilling the urge in us to beat our heads against a wall until we’re either dead or brain-damaged enough that they make sense.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  12:02 PM
  13. John McCain has also never been a farm worker, and because of this lack of experience, he knows that Americans are unwilling and unable to pick lettuce for $50/hour.

    Captcha: find.  Find me a job McCain has not had but about which he cannot speak with authority.  You can’t do it, my friends.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  12:05 PM
  14. Grandpa McCain: I can’t bust heads like I used to, but I have my ways. One trick is to tell reporters stories that don’t go anywhere.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  01:27 PM
  15. I’m not sure video art like this is susceptible to purely literary interpretation, although the “seen that movie” could be deliberate self-referentiality.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  02:04 PM
  16. Alright, Michael. With no contact info readily available, I am forced to comment in order to gain your attention. But, I do so bearing a review opportunity for a book that I think you will love rearing a Putin head at!

    America’s greatest journalist and critic, HL Mencken, wrote NOTES ON DEMOCRACY over 80 years ago. His time, the paranoid and intolerant years of World War I, Prohibition and the Scopes trial, is strikingly like our own. NOTES isn’t just a blast from the past, but also a perceptive and unsentimental report on contemporary life.

    In time for the 2008 presidential race, Dissident Books is reintroducing readers to this gem of cynicism and clear-thinking. Mencken performs a brilliant, merciless and often hilarious vivisection on that most holy of sacred cows: democracy. Mencken scholar Marion Elizabeth Rodgers’s introduction and annotations put Mencken’s words in context and expose fascinating details and nuances. The new edition also includes an afterword by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Anthony Lewis. For additional information on this edition, please visit: http://www.dissidentbooks.com/html/notes_on_democracy.html.

    If you are interested in receiving a copy of NOTES ON DEMOCRACY for coverage on your blog or CrookedTimber, please let me know. I look forward to working with you.

    All Best,
    Lisa
    --
    Lisa Roe
    Online Publicist


    http://onlinepublicist.net
    --

    Posted by Lisa Roe  on  10/06  at  03:23 PM
  17. "I know something about health care, my friends.  And let me tell you, there is no better health care system in the world than our great American health care system.  And let me tell you something else, my friends—I know what it’s like not to have access to health care.  I spent five years without access to health care.  So when my opponent talks about health care just remember that.  Because the fact is, my friends, is that there’s nothing wrong with our great healthcare system that can’t be fixed by good old fashioned hard work and entrepreneurship.  Elbow grease, my friends, and bootstraps.  Tough love.  Compassion, with strength, and our great freedoms—our liberty, and our beloved flag.  Yes, my friends, and healthcare.  Theodore Roosevelt knew a little something about that, too my friends.  My friends.  Healthcare.  Think about that.  And when I’m President, we’ll have it.  And our best days are still ahead of us.  I know a little something about that, too, my friends.  So did Ronald Reagan, and so does my wonderful runnning mate, the governor of the great state of Alaska.  These are things that my opponent just doesn’t understand.  Healthcare, America.  America, my friends.  America.”

    Posted by thepuppethead  on  10/06  at  04:38 PM
  18. My campaign’s on the floor, and I’m flailing in a most unusual way.
    “Untethered” would be a generous description of McCain today. He gave a very insightful self-analysis of himself in a speech, but claimed that it was about Obama. My opponent’s touchiness every time he is questioned about his record should make us only more concerned. Of course given that we live in Cokie’s World there is a chance this might just work.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  04:51 PM
  19. "Bulworth@6: Why can’t our health care system be like our banking and financial system?

    Not sure if you are consciously refering the following statement from an article “by” John McCain that came out several weeks ago. Biden referenced in the debate, but I think the campaign should be repeating it constantly.

    Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

    And I too am sure that McCain was referring to that little known episode in his life. Such honor and restraint in the pursuit of the Presidency has no precedent. “

    Yes, JP, and I hope Obama will mention this in tomorrow’s debate. Wouldn’t hurt to throw mclame’s best buddy, Phil--American’s a nation of whiners--Gramm, under the bus either.

    Posted by Bulworth  on  10/06  at  05:03 PM
  20. Though we are discussing the McSameness found, for the most part, on McCain Loop Rd (west of Tuscon actually), i would like to throw out that it is not too early (captcha) for Biden to return from his mourning to thrash Palin for being the complete train-wreck she represents (if you haven’t see the train-wreck, wander over to Cosmic Variance today).  If she is qualified to be VP, then so much be millions of other women out there all of whom probably have more sense than her.

    As for JM: the thought of him even being this deep into the playoffs makes me start to regurgitate my coffee each morning.  And i make a great, huge, delicious cup of espresso.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  07:48 PM
  21. Sorry but this is too apropos to pass up (just posted at Thinkprogress H/T):
    In reality, McCain has made every effort he can to talk about anything but the economy. In June, Fortune magazine asked McCain what he saw as “the gravest long-term threat to the U.S. economy.” Instead of mentioning an actual economic issue, McCain paused for 11 seconds before saying “radical Islamic extremism“:

    He’s looking not at us but into the void. His eyes are narrowed. Nine seconds of silence, ten seconds, 11. Finally he says, “Well, I would think that the absolute gravest threat is the struggle that we’re in against radical Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence. Another successful attack on the United States of America could have devastating consequences.”

    To infinity and beyond, our little spaceman ponders the black obelisk with his bone (yes this is a plea for a Bill Benzon creation)

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  07:55 PM
  22. i had no idea mccain had such a close connection with sir elton.  between the soundtrack and the advisors, no wonder he is suffering from cognitive explosion.

    Posted by  on  10/06  at  11:06 PM
  23. "planet earth is blue
    and there’s nothing i can do”

    i think we got another one of those “spectrums” amanda discussed about covers and devo and the grateful dead…

    discuss the existential despair of major toms in contrast to the heart-eatin’ rage of major john…

    i’ll be down on delancey street, lookin’ for the man…

    Posted by neill  on  10/07  at  12:25 AM
  24. Might I just add, Michael, to the observation in comment number 16, that your abject refusal to put your telephone number and ATMachine PINumber on your “we blog” has forced me to leave here in your comment section an unpaid ad for Chris’ Zeke book. Thank you.

    Captcha: county, as in I’m thinking I’d best hightail myself across the line after this comment

    Posted by Chris Clarke's publicist  on  10/07  at  02:42 AM
  25. I appreciate it, Mr. Publicist.  Thanks for stopping by and taking the time.  For future reference, though, my home phone number is KLondike 5-3682.

    Posted by  on  10/07  at  08:30 AM
  26. But--but--why an astronaut? Is there a logic course I could take that would enable me to understand McCain?

    Captcha word “tried,” because I bloody well have tried to parse that interview.

    Posted by  on  10/07  at  03:58 PM
  27. But--but--why an astronaut?

    You might as well ask, “why a duck?”

    For here am I sitting on my tin can, far above the world. . . .

    Posted by  on  10/07  at  04:07 PM
  28. Quoth Michael: “You might as well ask, ‘why a duck?’”

    Oh, but that’s much easier. An orange, because a motorcycle doesn’t have doors.

    Captcha word: high. These can’t possibly be random.

    Posted by  on  10/07  at  06:14 PM

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