Rolling Stone: McCain a ‘Mean Little Fu_ _er,’ That Puts Own ‘Advancement Above All Else’


By: Warner Todd Huston

The Rolling Stone has a long attack piece on John McCain in its October issue that really rakes the GOP presidential candidate over the coals. The piece indulges in quite a lot of name-calling and dismisses his patriotism, bravery, and integrity in nearly every paragraph. It’s quite a vicious attack piece, really.

This slanderous piece doesn’t even take a little time to get warmed up as it emerges, guns blazing, in the first few paragraphs by calling John McCain an “undisciplined, spoiled brat” and insisting that he once went to Rio to “get laid” despite being married, with three kids at the time. This sort of name-calling is indicative of the whole piece.

Writing — or more precisely vomiting — for Rolling Stone, in a piece headlined “Make-Believe Maverick,” Tim Dickinson attacks McCain as acting purely on ambition, doubting his commitment to the country and slamming his integrity at every turn.

This is the story of the real John McCain, the one who has been hiding in plain sight. It is the story of a man who has consistently put his own advancement above all else, a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition: to become commander in chief, ascending to the one position that would finally enable him to outrank his four-star father and grandfather.

The next paragraph is even more vitriolic. We find Dickinson saying that McCain “rebelled into mediocrity” against his father’s privileged position, that he “skated by with a minimum of mental exertion,” and that he “failed upward” only because his father had powerful friends. Then Dickinson attacks McCain’s religious beliefs by claiming that he and others like him shed his skin as an Episcopalian in order to “build political careers as self-styled, ranch-inhabiting Westerners who pray to Jesus in their wives’ evangelical churches.”

And this is only the first page of the piece!

Dickinson goes on to say that McCain’s war record is a “myth,” that he is a political flip-flopper and faux maverick, and that John wasn’t “cut from the same cloth” as the “greater men” of his family. And, of course, as is standard for the lowest common denominator that is the Rolling Stone’s general audience, there is the foul language. In one instance, in a quote, McCain is called a “mean little fu_ _ er.” And at this point I am only up to page two of this bilious crapfest.

This is all pretty interesting seeing as how Rolling Stone was 100% in John McCain’s corner in 2000. In fact, far from denigrating him like Dikinson does, the Rolling Stone’s David Foster Wallace was wowed at what a “cool guy” McCain was.

One reason a lot of the media on the Trail like John McCain is simply that he’s a cool guy. Nondweeby. In school, Clinton was in Student Government and Band, whereas McCain was a Varsity wrestler and a hellraiser whose talents for partying and getting laid are still spoken of with awe by former classmates. At 63, he’s funny, and smart, and he’ll make fun of himself and his wife and his staff and other pols and the Trail, and he’ll tease the press and give them shi_t in a way they don’t ever mind because it’s the sort of sh_t that makes you feel like here’s this very cool, important guy who’s noticing you and liking you enough to give you sh _t

Also the Rolling Stone then was loathe to attack McCain’s military record. In fact, Wallace thought it made him all the more appealing and authentic.

But there’s something underneath politics in the way you have to hear McCain, something riveting and unSpinnable and true. It has to do with McCain’s military background and Vietnam combat and the five-plus years he spent in a North Vietnamese prison, mostly in solitary, in a box, getting tortured and starved. And the unbelievable honor and balls he showed there. It’s very easy to gloss over the POW thing, partly because we’ve all heard so much about it and partly because it’s so off-the-charts dramatic, like something in a movie instead of a man’s life. But it’s worth considering for a minute, because it’s what makes McCain’s “causes greater than self-interest” line easier to hear.

The Rolling Stone spent no time on McCain’s “fake” military record then, yet, now it features just such an attack? It all seems more like a partisan ploy than journalistic integrity at this point. Back in 2000 all the Rolling Stone wanted to do was destroy George W. Bush. Today they’ve about faced on McCain in order to help Barack Obama. But whatever the case, this 180 on McCain seems less than genuine and more like a convenient, insincere turnaround.

I could go on with this new McCain piece, but it is so repetitively excoriating that it becomes but one long, boring blur of vituperation. The entire article is filled with quotes from every person that hates John McCain (and none that like him) and takes the most dismissive and hateful position on every aspect of his life. It is so filled with acid and hatred that one finds oneself aghast at its vehemence.

Go read the thing for yourself if you want, but I submit that there is only one use for this article. It is quite useful as a thesaural resource for the word “bad.” Other than that, this harangue is practically valueless.

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