Saturday, May 12, 2018

Shiny Object Syndrome


"Given thisWhite House's trail of disrespect toward John and others," Joe Biden wrote in part, "this staffer is not the exception to the rule; she is the epitome of it."

Biden recognizes a "trail of disrespect." Candidate Trump not only ridiculed Lieutenant John McCain's sacrifice- "I prefer people who aren't captured"-  but also Senator McCain, as when he tweeted  "one of the reasons I am no fan of John McCain is that our Vets are being treated so badly by him and the politicians. I will fix VA quickly."





But Kelly Sadler is not the epitome, which is "a typical or ideal example."

Sadler was insensitive toward a dying man, Senator John McCain, at home in Arizona (hopefully) recuperating from brain surgery.  However, it is more helpfully described as a variant of a Gaffe According to (Michael) Kinsley, after the journalist who once famously explained "a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth...."

The aide in the White House communications department is not technically a politician, and "it doesn't matter- he's going to die, anyway" may turn out to be less than prescient. Yet, that would not be because of the critical "it doesn't matter" but because McCain may not be on his deathbed.  However, he recently prepared a recording in which he conceded "I don't know how much longer I'll be here. Maybe I'll have another five years (or) maybe I'll be gone before you hear this (but) I'm prepared for either contingency, or at least I'm getting prepared."

Before Sadler's controversial remark, McCain's son-in-law, Meghan McCain's husband Ben Domenech, had commented "We just appreciate the fact we've had such a good time to be able to spend with him in this moment." He was preparing for the worst.

Righteous indignation does, however, enable the media to ignore the statement's more important portion: "it doesn't matter."

In the explosion of righteousness the past few days, there has been no one (or nearly so) evaluating whether "it doesn't matter" is accurate. Consequently, the media has been able to avoid considering whether Senator McCain's eloquent criticism of the President's nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel, is likely to have any effect.

We won't know for sure until the final vote is taken in the US Senate and in the unlikely event the nomination is scuttled, at least one Senator states that McCain's opposition was pivotal.  Thus far, though, there is one individual at most who would not have done so without McCain's criticism of Haspel.

The nomination then would be approved, thus placing the imprimatur, against the wishes of a dying man, of the US government upon torture through its endorsement by one of the two major political parties (Rand Paul notwithstanding) That would be difficult for the centrist media because it would undermine its bothsiderism argument, in which Democrats are imagined to be as bad as Republicans.

So Kelly Sadler's remark is no "epitome." Cracks Trump has made about John McCain are more offensive and the one he used to wrap himself around veterans is specifically, brazenly, disingenous. "One of the reasons I am no fan of John McCain is that our Vets are being treated so badly by him and the politicians" suggests inaccurately that the Senator has badly  treated "our Vets." Further, "I will fix the VA" normally does not mean "I will set up the Veterans Administration chief, fire him, and replace him with an alleged drug pusher who will privatize the department for me."

Kelly Sadler made a rude and crude remark. But the boss and his minions in the United States Senate are probably upon the verge of de facto approval of torture, illegal under USA and international law. That would be much worse.



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