John McCain Huffs at Puffs

This bit from a John McCain conference call, via Phil Klein, manages to drop your jaw without actually surprising you.

A questioner named Jonathan... asked "Should federal law supersede the will of the people in a given state when it comes to medical marijuana?"

McCain started chuckling. "The will of the people, my friend, is that medical marijuana is not something that the quote 'people' want," he responded. "Certain people feel strongly about this issue, and they show up at most town hall meetings, obviously feel very strongly about it. There is no convincing evidence…there's evidence, but no convincing evidence to me that medical marijuana relief of pain and suffering cannot be accomplished by prescriptions from doctors… So, when you're talking about the will of the people, you're going to have to show me the will of the people besides the will of a small number of people who feel very strongly about the issue, as obviously you do."

The questioner mentioned that voters approved of medical marijuana in a California referendum.

"There may be times when the will of the people, for example Iraq, the will of the people, unfortunately is that we withdraw from Iraq immediately or very very soon," McCain shot back. "I don't share that view of the will of the people."

There's an obvious point to make here which I'll let Pollster.com demonstrate. The "will of the people," apparently, is that John McCain be humiliated like Carrie White on prom night and be thereafter kept at quarantine distance from the White House. But stop and marvel at the marvelous incoherence on display: McCain ignores Jonathan and claims that small clusters of crazy folk support medical marijuana, and then he agrees that vast majorities of voters want MM and says it doesn't matter. Shocking, but not so much if you've read Matt Welch on McCain:

McCain’s attitude toward individuals who choose paths he deems inappropriate is somewhere between inflexible and hostile.

It's odd when McCain is put forward as an heir of Goldwater, a champion of the Republican West: As Time magazine pointed out this week, voters in Western states are rapidly rolling back marijuana laws. And to McCain they either don't exist or don't deserve their say.

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  • ||

    "There may be times when the will of the people, for example Iraq, the will of the people, unfortunately is that we withdraw from Iraq immediately or very very soon," McCain shot back. "I don't share that view of the will of the people."

    Help me out here, folks. Did Senator McCain just say that the will of the people doesn't matter if he disagrees? It's not very coherent, but I get the feeling he's saying to the voters, FUCK YOU, I'M RIGHT AND YOU'RE WRONG!

  • Episiarch||

    That picture is an absolute classic. I'm glad you keep using it.

    So basically McCain's view is that the will of the people is what he thinks it should be. Or something like that.

    I'm pretty glad he seems to have almost no chance of becoming president. Unfortunately, it's because another authoritarian is doing way better than him.

  • ||

    C'mon folks, this is a guy who believes the US Congress has the right and the duty to dictate how people chase a little ball around.
    Nothing to see here, move along.

  • fyodor||

    Politicians often contradict themselves, but usually not so quickly.

  • ||

    It's sad really. I used to have a grudging respect for McCain.

  • ||

    Help me out here, folks. Did Senator McCain just say that the will of the people doesn't matter if he disagrees? It's not very coherent, but I get the feeling he's saying to the voters, FUCK YOU, I'M RIGHT AND YOU'RE WRONG!

    It's like he's a poster on H&R or something.

  • ||

    He needs to be asked to explain when "the will of the people" is correct (say as expressed in a vote to adopt the Bill of Rights) and when it isn't (say to enforce segregation). Most libertarians know the distinction and would never support blanket acceptance of "the will of the people" nor argue that "the will of the people" is always wrong. McCain appears to be like most pragmatists, "it depends on whose ox is being gored."

  • carrick||

    That's two for you today Dan T.

    keep up the good work ;-)

  • ||

    The "will of the people," apparently, is that John McCain be humiliated like Carrie White on prom night and be thereafter kept at quarantine distance from the White House.

    Red, I might have known your face would be red. I can see your dirty pillows McCain.

  • ||

    It is not that I mind that the will of the people is being ignored. It should be in cases like freedom of speech when the will of the people wants to limited an individual's rights. Ignoring the will of the majority in these cases (by means of our rule of law) is what makes us a republic and not a pure democracy.

    But this is ridiculous cuz he is ignoring the people in order to be more authoritarian

  • x,y||

    I'd think a lot of the commenters here -- myself included -- don't give two sh*ts about the will of people either. But we often underscore that with a discussion of natural, moral, or ethical rights. I doubt seriously that anyone would agree with the statement that the will of the people always leads to the best results. There's some overlap to be sure, and when there is, it's an effective tool to bang over your opponent's head. But it's not a sufficient condition for being right or making your point.

    McCain's goof here is his complete 180. To be charitable, you could call it "arguing in the alternative." But I'm not willing to be charitable. McCain is a steaming pile who would just as readily encroach upon our rights and privacy as the frontrunners.

  • ||

    I'm glad he won't be president, but I can't help but appreciate how obvious and upfront he is wrt his concern for "will of the people" if it contradicts his own personal view, e.g. "I don't care".

  • ||

    I wish cognitive dissonance was a fatal disease, but its only apparent symptom is an amazing ability to talk out of both sides of ones mouth.

  • e||

    x,y

    I'd think a lot of the commenters here -- myself included -- don't give two sh*ts about the will of people either.

    Thank you - this cannot be stressed enough. My impression of the Libertarians is that their main goal is a government that enforces natural rights as they understand them. Whether that government comes about democratically or not (for exmample in Pinochet and Milton Friedman's Chile) is not all that important.

    (I realize that the American Libertarian party does not advocate a Pinochet-style coup, but I'd guess if the choice came down to a Pinochet coming to power by coup, or a Chavez coming to power through democratic vote, they'd opt for the former)

  • ||

    Where did you get that picture? It brings a smile to my face every time I see it! :D

  • Jerry||

    You ain't seen nothing yet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NY6UTnS6Z-A

  • ||

    e

    Along those lines, my father an old guard Republican always used to say that between democracy and freedom, he preferred the latter.

    I hate to agree with that because of potential implications of someone else with the power of government that I don't have, but at the same time freedom is a MUCH higher priority to me and most libertarians. I mean, look at all populist movements and that's exactly what I don't want. It's why I like a republic (with reserved rights for any in the minority) as the best system out there, but I'd settle for a benevolent sultan as well.

    As an aside, didn't as recently as a year ago McCain support medical marijuana?

  • Fluffy||

    Dan, I don't use the will of the people to justify my political points. Far from it.

    So I get to say, "I'm right and you're wrong." And if McCain had said that, there wouldn't be a blog entry on the subject.

    The reason there's a blog entry on the subject is because McCain is claiming that the will of the people is right, except when he doesn't like it. At least, he MAY be saying that. He may also be saying that he knows what the real will of the people is, even when the people think their will is the opposite. So McCain is a Leninist.

  • ||

    No prob senator. The will of the people is that you won't be president. And that's something you can put in your pipe and smoke. Viva la democracy!

  • ||

    I'd think a lot of the commenters here -- myself included -- don't give two sh*ts about the will of people either.

    Right. And isn't that why, at its core, libertarianism is an elitist political philosophy?

  • ||

    I am quite curious to see how the will of the people works out here

  • Fluffy||

    Dan -

    The only relevant questions are:

    Do moral goods exist, and are they identifiable, even if they are agent-relative? Or is there no moral good at all, other than what is collectively declared to be a moral good by the members of some polity?

    These are the only relevant questions because if moral goods exist and I can identify them, the will of the people is irrelevant. And if moral goods don't exist and are mere assertions of the collective [and this seems to be the motivating principle of modern democracy] well...why should I give a damn about those assertions?

  • PC||

    "Right. And isn't that why, at its core, libertarianism is an elitist political philosophy?"

    Well if we could get 24/7 coverage on the MSM, breaking down our elitist philosophy into ignorant slogans like the Republican and Democratic establishments we wouldn't be considered elitist either.

  • R C Dean||

    My impression of the Libertarians is that their main goal is a government that enforces natural rights as they understand them.

    I could quibble, but that's close.

    Whether that government comes about democratically or not (for exmample in Pinochet and Milton Friedman's Chile) is not all that important.

    Not so fast, there, cowboy. Most (American) libertarians, anyway, don't believe that any government will stay a limited government unless it is accountable to the people it governs. The best way to do that is voting.

    This view posits "democracy" not as a blanket ratification of any atrocity or trespass an elected government chooses to commit, but rather as a (so far) indispensable restraint on that government.

  • iih||

    Help me out here, folks. Did Senator McCain just say that the will of the people doesn't matter if he disagrees? It's not very coherent, but I get the feeling he's saying to the voters, FUCK YOU, I'M RIGHT AND YOU'RE WRONG!

    Hmmm, who does this remind me of? Who has recently told the American people (and pretty much the rest of the world) essentially the same thing?

  • ||

    Dan -

    The only relevant questions are:

    Do moral goods exist, and are they identifiable, even if they are agent-relative? Or is there no moral good at all, other than what is collectively declared to be a moral good by the members of some polity?


    Morality is subjective. My point is simply that libertarianism is a philosophy that is usually only going to be held by people who have the means to enjoy freedom and thus have a certain economic status that they wish to have protected.

  • ||

    "Right. And isn't that why, at its core, libertarianism is an elitist political philosophy?"

    No.

    The tyranny of the majority can be just as tyrannical as the rule of a monarch. Off the top of my head a good somewhat recent example might be, Jim Crow.

    Would you call ending Jim Crow an "elitist" movement. Because it was certainly against the will of the majority.

  • ||

    I would refer to the Locke on the problem with the benevolent sultan or king. If he rules without the consent of the governed it is illegitimate.

  • Russ 2000||

    If he rules without the consent of the governed it is illegitimate.

    I'd hardly call voting the same thing as consent. Remember, the good ol' USofA used to whack their elected presidents every 20 years as if they were kings just to keep the office seekers cognizant of the concept of consent. It's been 44 years since the last disposal and the concept of consent has essentially been forgotten - by the officeholders and their subjects.

  • ||

    Can't disagree with you Russ 2K. But the prospect of a benevolent king is like belief in the easter bunny.

  • Reinmoose||

    Morality is subjective. My point is simply that libertarianism is a philosophy that is usually only going to be held by people who have the means to enjoy freedom and thus have a certain economic status that they wish to have protected.

    You're implying that libertarianism only protects the wealthy. That is dishonest or, at best, misinformed. Why do you think corporations aren't jumping on the Ron Paul bandwagon? Shouldn't they be voting for someone who will maximize their profits and help them squash the little guy? You know the answer to this question: Yes. And that is exactly what they are doing, only it's not the libertarian party who offers that to them, because it doesn't automatically protect them.. it means they have to work harder.

  • ||

    Not so fast, there, cowboy. Most (American) libertarians, anyway, don't believe that any government will stay a limited government unless it is accountable to the people it governs. The best way to do that is voting.

    No the best way to do that would be a competitive market for government.

  • e||

    I dunno, I'd give a coup a shot if I were you guys. Wait till Hitlery becomes President and you've got a good 40% of the country that will back you. Imagine a good old style Pinochet regime that could send guys like Dan T and Edward on a one-way helicopter trip off of the coast! Or a big soccer stadium party where leftists walk in , but they don't walk out!

  • ||

    e-

    I'm guessing you are a liberal dem, so if a Pat Robertson-style right wing fascist was democratically elected along with a 3/4 majority in Congress, would you rather have that or Barack Obama coming to power by a coup? Anyone can play that game.

  • Fluffy||

    "Morality is subjective."

    But that would mean that statements like "Democracy is good" and "elitism is bad" would be subjective, too. And that would render your criticism of libertarianism as an elitist philsophy moot. As well as all your other criticisms of libertarian philosophy.

  • ||

    Regarding elitism and libertarianism there is an very important distinction. An elitist philosophy says essentially, "the people are often wrong and I know what is best for them so here is what I will force them to do." A libertarian philosophy says "the people are often wrong so I don't wish to be subject to their whims, but neither do I wish to force them to do anything."

    In other words, there is a difference between saying "you're an idiot, do as I say" and "you're and idiot, leave me alone." One of these quotes sounds like McCain and one sounds like a typical libertarian - I'm sure I don't have to specify which is which.

  • ||

    Libertarianism values the will of the person over the will of the people.

  • e||

    Cesar, fair enough - my commitment to democracy would be sorely tested by a Pat Robertson presidency - there is a lot of issues here, such as the conflict between rights and democracy. I was kinda trolling a bit.

  • ||

    In college, I would gently ridicule my two best friends as they put in their time at NROTC. They got the last laugh. I ended up serving in VN as an infantry officer in the Marines.
    But everyone in VN knew of McCain's plight over there, because he was the son of the Admiral in charge of operations in the Pacific hemisphere at the time.

    But, here we all are now--all 4 of us--still living.
    One of my two friends was a pilot, as was McCain, but he didn't get shot down. And my friend managed to shoot down a MIG over N VN.

    My point is McCain always had a personal problem.
    Surely a large part of it was being a "military brat." (Which was not the case of the three semi-normal folk--including moi--to which I'm trying to compare him.)

  • ||

    Is there a "scanner" in the crowd somewhere? McCain looks like he is about to start convulsing before his head explodes.

  • ||

    Cesar, fair enough - my commitment to democracy would be sorely tested by a Pat Robertson presidency

    As would mine. I can't say I would be sad if the Pentagon stepped in in the scenario I gave above. I agree with "lifestyle" liberals on a lot of issues.

    there is a lot of issues here, such as the conflict between rights and democracy.

    If you are a liberal who realizes there is a conflict between natural rights and pure democracy, all I can say is that you have taken your first step into a larger world! ;-)

  • ||

    No the best way to do that would be a competitive market for government.

    Also known as a civil war. No thanks.

  • ||

    McCain is obviously a big fan of democracy. He's really expressing his belief in "one man, one vote" here.

    Of course, in his view, McCain is the man, and he has the vote.

  • bobolink||

    Pinochet and Milton Friedman's Chile

    nobody else objects to this phrase? or are you just still asleep?

  • ||

    Pinochet and Milton Friedman's Chile



    nobody else objects to this phrase? or are you just still asleep?



    Late coming here. Missed that one.

    But, frankly, I so tired of idiots bringing up the soundly debunked "Milton Friedman was an advisor to Pinochet" chestnut that I've given up.

  • ||

    "I so tired..." sb "I'm so tired...", of course.

    I no type so good, either.

  • x,y||

    Right. And isn't that why, at its core, libertarianism is an elitist political philosophy?



    No.

    First you have the problem of defining what you mean by "elitist." And like I mentioned before, there's a lot of overlap between libertarian ideals and the will of the people. In fact, I'd argue there's more overlap than not. Of course, we give more attention to areas without overlap because there's not much point to convincing someone of a position he already holds.

    Second, libertarianism, at its core, is about freedom to make your own decisions free from unconsented-to interference. That's hardly elitist (regardless of how you define it).

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