John McCain

Stop Whining About Not Being 'Allowed' to Criticize John McCain

Your unfettered expression is only one click away, and the late senator himself engaged in ritual self-criticism, Matt Welch argues on Bloggingheads.


New York newsstand after John McCain's death. ||| Richard B. Levine/Newscom
Richard B. Levine/Newscom

One disagrees with the great Politico media critic Jack Shafer at one's professional peril, but his Monday piece, headlined "Are Journalists Allowed to Criticize John McCain?," was an uncharacteristic bug-splat. Taking the headline both literally and seriously, the answer to the question is not Shafer's "Not as far as I can tell," but rather something closer to: "Obviously, as evidenced by the existence of this very article, and roughly 5,000 sulky like-minded tweets."

Shafer claims that "Those who offered a dissenting or realistic view on McCain were rewarded with abuse," and uses as evidence for this blanket assertion the negative reaction Vox's Laura McGann received after tweeting, even more bug-splattingly, "Today, I'm told, we should pretend John McCain didn't pick Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008."

No, actually nobody told McGann that; plenty of us have been able to offer dissenting/realistic views on McCain without being over-burdened with abuse, and since when are journalists supposed to be cowed by people being all mean on Twitter? Jesus Christ, people, go ahead and criticize away—after all, the old man did it to himself, and even his closest friends are including among their grieving remembrances phrase like, "He could be impetuous and cantankerous."

I discussed these subjects and many more—above all, McCain's radically interventionist yet perpetually under-critiqued foreign policy—in a Bloggingheads conversation yesterday with Robert Wright. You can watch the whole thing, and make sport of my fuzzy-looking baseball-book collection, here:

Reason on John McCain here.