Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 27, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

MY FRIENDS....I don't know in general if Mark Halperin's advice to John McCain is good, but I'll second this particular nugget:

9. Never say "My friend(s)..." again.

Where did McCain pick up this habit? It doesn't make him sound like one of the guys, it makes him sound like he's about to put the arm on you at a Turkish bazaar. It's weird.

Kevin Drum 11:16 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (52)

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He's so cheesy.

Posted by: scottreads on June 27, 2008 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

I think he should keep it up. Makes life easy for the satirists. Anything that helps make him ridiculous is good.

Keep your eye on the ball here, Kevin!

Posted by: thersites on June 27, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, why would you want McCain to stop using annoying speech patterns? I'd like to see him start picking his nose in public and holding babies out of second-floor windows.

Posted by: anandine on June 27, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

I've noticed this too. Every single clip I've watched of him speaking has included that phrase, which means he probably employs it repeatedly throughout a speech. Ugh.

I hope he keeps doing it, though. It only highlights his disconnect from the non-robotic portion of the American population.

Posted by: Wally on June 27, 2008 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Anandine, bless you (in a most atheistic way) for making me laugh this morning.

Posted by: Tom on June 27, 2008 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Some strategist probably told him he needed to come across as more friendly.

Posted by: James Joyner on June 27, 2008 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

He's not my friend.

Posted by: apeman on June 27, 2008 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

"4. Fake greater interest in non-foreign policy issues or, if it works better, go with your gut and just spend the campaign hammering Obama on national security."

I hope McCain does this. Obama will end up eating McCain for lunch on national security. Obama will expose McCain for what he is not: a serious voice on national security. In other words, all McCain knows how to do is declare war. And that's not national security we can believe in.

Posted by: glutz78 on June 27, 2008 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

It's not Friends - it's F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

Failed
Republicans
Iraq
Enormous debt
NeoCons
Disasters
Scandals

Posted by: RobertSeattle on June 27, 2008 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Some strategist probably told him he needed to come across as more friendly.

What, calling his wife a c*nt in public didn't do the trick?

Posted by: Gregory on June 27, 2008 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

I'd never noticed this particular verbal tic until I heard Harry Shearer's bit when Lieberman had to correct McCain on whom Iran was helping out in Iraq. Comedy gold!

It's the "McCain Misspeaking Tour" in Le Show for March 23, 2008. http://www.harryshearer.com/news/le_show/

Posted by: treetop on June 27, 2008 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Good luck teaching a 72-year-old anything, let alone a new trick.

Posted by: penalcolony on June 27, 2008 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe he's watching Stephen Colbert and saying "my friend/s" instead of "nation".

Either way, they're both Republican jokes. Only one of them does it intentionally.

Posted by: Everyman on June 27, 2008 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

It's one of those little things about McCain I like -- like his promise to have weekly press conferences or to bring Question Time to Congress. Not a good reason to vote for someone, but at the very least something others should copy.

But to answer your question, the "My friends" business is part of his "I'm telling it to you straight" act, not an "I"m one of the guys" act.

Posted by: AMP on June 27, 2008 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

I, too, have found that a very annoying tendency. I have always presumed that it is a trick to buy himself a little time to figure out what he is to say next. He seems to do it most often when he is reading a text that he, himself, has clearly not prepared.

Posted by: Outis on June 27, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

It's probably some generational thing. Who the hell knows what people were saying five generations ago?

Posted by: Dave Brown on June 27, 2008 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

While he's at it, he might also lose "obviously." As in, "Obviously, what I meant was..." and "Obviously, I don't agree with..." etc. etc.

Posted by: Directorsilk on June 27, 2008 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

It isn't the phrase, it's the clenched teeth through which he intones it. McCain doesn't want anyone to be his freaking friend, he wants them to acknowledge his greatness. His fundamental message, somewhat like Senator Clinton's, is "I've earned this". I suspect most voters, in a time of economic uncertainty, are likely to conclude, with Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, that "'deserve' has got nothing to do with it".

Posted by: kth on June 27, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

It isn't the phrase, it's the clenched teeth through which he intones it. McCain doesn't want anyone to be his freaking friend, he wants them to acknowledge his greatness. His fundamental message, somewhat like Senator Clinton's, is "I've earned this". I suspect most voters, in a time of economic uncertainty, are likely to conclude, with Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, that "'deserve' has got nothing to do with it".

Posted by: kth on June 27, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

God as my witness, I hit 'submit' only once.

Posted by: kth on June 27, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

He didn't get it from me and my Friends!

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on June 27, 2008 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously, what kth meant is that he is not lying my friends!

Posted by: GOD on June 27, 2008 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

It's the guys who call their wives cunts at home but pretend to be loving and respectful husbands in public you gotta watch out for. John McCain should be commended for not employing double standards of public-private behavior. What you see is what you get with this man.

(I'm blowing town now, so someone kindly get my back when a newbie takes me seriously.)

Posted by: shortstop on June 27, 2008 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Well... Rush Limbaugh says it all the time.

I'm sure he stole it from someone admirable, however.

Posted by: JeffF on June 27, 2008 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

J.D. Hayworth was the first person I heard use that phrase continuously. Must be an Arizona thing. Tremendously irritating.

Posted by: jojo on June 27, 2008 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

It worked for FDR.

Posted by: Steve on June 27, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I think the term is very condescending in tone.

Posted by: pol on June 27, 2008 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

it's kind of like that gesture of nixon's, you know the double "v for victory" thing he always did.

by the way. why do i get campaign ads for john mccain everytime i come to your page? i've been getting them for weeks and often they sit right under a small banner that says "advertise liberally." what's up with that?

Posted by: navarro on June 27, 2008 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bob Woodward's original alias for Mark Felt was "My Friend".

Coincidence?


Oh, yes, I guess it probably is....

Posted by: Royko on June 27, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Was I the only one baffled by the phrase 'put the arm on you at a Turkish bazaar?' What in the world does that mean?

Posted by: Matt Sandwich on June 27, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

McCain knows how to do is declare war. And that's not national security we can believe in.

But it is national security we will vote for...

‘National security’ is bloodless, guilt-free pollster-speak for “will kill brown people in case lots, at the drop of a hat, on the thinnest of pretexts, for me.”

American politics for the foreseeable future is poker played with the bodies of dead brown people who worship the wrong God.

The GOP can point to real, extant hecatombs of infidel dead. All the Democrats can do is promise.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 27, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly, I'd sooner trust the Turkish bazaar guy.

Posted by: ckelly on June 27, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Matt Sandwich, you're the only one who is baffled! It means you are getting a less than honest sales pitch from someone who is pretending to be your friend while trying to steal you blind, my friend.

Posted by: treetop on June 27, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly, I'd sooner trust the Turkish bazaar guy.

WIN.

Posted by: Gregory on June 27, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

He should quit looking like some ancient version of Charlie Chaplin, too.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on June 27, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Halperin's been an ass forever, but the arrogance/tone-deafness of some of these really take the cake.

2. Tell Americans what the one, key difference is between you and Obama. Don’t just tell them you are a man of honor who loves the environment and new and improved Duracell. Frame a choice.

Great idea, except that the one key difference between McCain and Obama is that voters like everything Obama stands for and hate everything McCain stands for.

3. Remember the campaign has got to be about the American people and what is best for their lives – not a celebration of your life or your patriotism.

Take away McCain being a POW and there's nothing left.

10. Put someone on your staff with close ties to the media in charge of keeping all of the press coverage from being shaped by national polls.

Would that someone's initials be MH?

16. Build a team with the best and brightest, regardless of whether they are “McCain people.” Stop letting loyalty to staffers who stuck with you through the hardest times slow the essential growth and development of your campaign structure

The best and the brightest, by definition, wouldn't touch McCain's campaign with a ten-foot pole.

17. Avoid personalizing your disdain for Obama.

Translation: do a better job of pretending you're not an antediluvian racist.

18. Get tough. America wants a fighter, not a wimp, to fight for its future.

This might work, if only McCain actually weren't a wimp.

19. Kick Washington in the nuts every day — not just President Bush.

Name one single time in the last seven years that McCain has kicked Smirky in the nuts, even metaphorically.

22. Protect the McCain Brand at all costs – it is the only thing that gives you a chance to win!!

Yes!! Please!! Since it's the McCain brand that's going to sink him!!

Posted by: Yellow Dog on June 27, 2008 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop, the whole town?

Posted by: keith g on June 27, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not your friend, guy!

Posted by: Terrance and Philip on June 27, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised that no one has gotten the real explanation for this affliction. That being, a person who is always saying "My friend[s]" is a sufferor of Senatoritis, which is a debilitating disease that infects persons who have been in the Senate for more than 25 years. Because every Senator believes that every other Senator is a friend, when addressing the body or when engaged in a debate on the floor, one is always talking to "my friends" or to "my good friend from the great state of . . ." After a couple of decades of talking this way, it becomes part of one's personal vernacular and as common as breathing.

Posted by: Chicounsel on June 27, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

I've noticed this also (and I only hear McCain in video excerpts on the net, so he must say it ad nauseum) and find it grating, formulaic, and patently insincere. I hope he keeps on saying it because, well, it's grating, formulaic, and patently insincere. Moreover, maybe it's just me, but there is something that strikes me as very old fasihoned about this usage. Like a long ago politico whistlestopping off the back end of a train. Someone above mentioned FDR using the phrase. That sounds about right. Not that I would ever use the age issue against McSame. Heaven's to Betsy, no. But if Poor John wants to do it himself, and whistle through his teeth at the same time, he can go right ahead. (And that's a very esoteric film buff dig at McCain; Poor John is a song from the almost classic 1944 Gene Kelly/Rita Hayworth musical Cover Girl. I'm sure McCain saw it first run at a Saturday matinee. Even more amusingly, the song was sung (or rather lip synced) by Hayworth while playing her main character's grandmother in a flashback to a music hall performace just after the turn of the (twentieth) century. McCain probably saw that show, too.)

Posted by: Marlowe on June 27, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

If McCain stops saying "my friends", can we get Obama to stop using "folks"? Drives me just as insane.

Posted by: Julene on June 27, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's going to need friends once the public realizes (I wonder if the MSM will talk about this) he *admitted* he is computer "illiterate":

http://youtube.com/watch?v=--mMyoDZGYk&feature=related

"Neither. I am an illiterate that has to rely on my wife for all the assistance I can get."
Can a person like that run a nation and be an effective CIC in a technological world where IT matters a lot?

Posted by: Neil B on June 27, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

23. Get out into the sun more. You look pasty.

24. Go back to your first wife.

25. Stop bragging about being a POW.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on June 27, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, why would you want McCain to stop using annoying speech patterns? I'd like to see him start picking his nose in public and holding babies out of second-floor windows.

What did the babies do to deserve such a fate?

Posted by: Jeremy B. on June 27, 2008 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Where did McCain pick up this habit?

Hanoi. Next question?

Which, if it begins "Where did McCain..." will also be answered by "Hanoi."

Posted by: Grumpy on June 27, 2008 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

The exact translation of McCain's "my friend(s)" has a range of meanings from "listen to the soothing sound of my voice while I tell you one more lie" to "let me just reach into your wallet" to "I want to eviscerate you in front of your children."

I don't think the man has an ounce of sincerity left and when he spits out "my friend(s)" it couldn't be more apparent.

Posted by: rainey on June 28, 2008 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

I heard it was because this was safer than getting a name wrong or fumbling around for a name he couldn't remember.

Posted by: JohnK on June 28, 2008 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

My bugaboo are the words "the American people" -- whenever I hear it, even from a politician I admire, my bull detector comes up. Can't stand the phrase.

Posted by: Vincent on June 28, 2008 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Come on now, cut him some slack. "My Friends" sounds so congenial, and rolls off the tongue much smoother than "My ignorant brainwashed rubes."

Posted by: e henry thripshaw on June 28, 2008 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Use the V for Victory flyers we have provided to let Big Sis know that we are not her slaves http://fa.by/8386c

Posted by: Gregory Despain on January 21, 2011 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Use the V for Victory flyers we have provided to let Big Sis know that we are not her slaves http://fa.by/8386c

Posted by: Issac Maez on January 21, 2011 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Use the V for Victory flyers we have provided to let Big Sis know that we are not her slaves http://fa.by/8386c

Posted by: Burton Haynes on January 21, 2011 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK
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