Wednesday, February 13, 2008


McCain's combover and "reverse Swift-boating"

I have a mental image of John McCain as a basically bald guy who keeps his remaining hair in a crew cut, which is what I had in mind when writing yesterday's post. Apparently I projected the crew cut onto his head -- maybe because of his military background -- but checking old photos, it looks like he's done the combover since at least as far back as 2000.

DBP's comment in yesterday's post is worth deconstructing:
Actually Oscar, he doesn't do it. He lost the ability to raise his arms to head-height at some point in N. Vietnam. His hair gets combed by someone else. I suppose he directs how they do it, but maybe he either doesn't care or just trusts the judgement of the comber--or comboverer, if you will.
I haven't bothered to fact-check DBP's assertion about the arm-raising thing, but either way, the comment -- a ploy to trick me into believing I'd made fun of someone's disability --succeeds only in exposing DBP's ignorance of the problems of male baldness. A combover is not a question of how you choose to comb your hair. It's a question of how you choose to grow your hair. You have to decide to grow those strands out long enough to cover all that bare scalp. (For mysef, I've already decided that if and when I have as little hair as McCain -- which I consider to be likely in my future -- I'm going crew cut or shaved head.) Few of us cut our own hair, so an arm-raising disability has nothing to do with it.

Nice try, DBP. To paraphrase Larry David: you sir are obviously not a member of the bald community.

But the more bothersome aspect of DBP's comment is its subtext of "reverse Swift-boating." Republicans like DBP are already girding their loins for the argument: "how dare you take potshots at John McCain, who suffered in a POW camp while serving his country and now carries the scars!"

Of course, Republicans are no great respecters of war records of wounded Vietnam vets. It's not just their all too recent and unbearably cynical hyping of Bush's Air National Guard "service," or even the disgusting "Swift Boat" campaign from 2004. Another one of Rove's triumphs was his successful Swift-boating of Max Cleland, defeating the Georgia Senator's re-election bid. Cleland had lost both his legs in combat in Vietnam, but that didn't stop the Republican sleaze machine from raising phony questions suggesting that Cleland's injuries were somehow ignominiously received.

So let's not here more of this "how dare you" nonsense from the GOP.

Oscar you read me all wrong. I thought your post was funny and I hoped my response was too--if the use of the word "comboverer" doesn't imply humor, what does?

I happened to come across the information about McCain's arms not long ago and I am (I think) normally pretty well informed about such trivia, so I figured that it must not be well known.

I take a fairly commonsense approach to disabilities: I don't make fun of them, but I also don't let them stop me from criticizing areas that deserve it. Hence, I have no problem with your criticism of McCain's combover, he is responsible for his appearance even if someone else does the combing and cutting. I am by the way a balding-american too. I have about as much on top as McCain, but a lot more at the sides and back--and everything gets combed (more or less) straight back.

As to some of your complaints:

It has been a while since the last campaign and even though I did follow the Swiftboat story very closely at the time, memory does fade. What I came away with was that at least some of what Senator Kerry claimed was shown to be false, "Christmas in Cambodia". What was really dispicable was his use of servicemen as some kind of patriotic beard, when he had accused them all of war crimes earlier in his career!

As for Max Cleland, a story I never much followed, it seemed to me that he (and moreso his defenders) tried to use his injuries as a defence for some of his military-related votes when he couldn't defend his votes on their own terms. Until now, I had never heard any indication that his injuries were gained in some ignoble way.

Sorry for the long reply, but I kind of feel like you jumped to conclusions a bit.
I have a friend who has/had a similar disability (limited range of motion in the shoulders, and unable to raise them above shoulder height) due to falling down a flight of stairs. However, they recently replaced one of her titanium fibia (the upper arm bone, including the ball of the shoulder joint) with a new one, and the surgeon restored some of her mobility.

But she has masses of waist-length hair. I have no idea if she manages it herself or not.
So let's not here more of this "how dare you" nonsense from the GOP.

Yeah, that really ought to do it -- hold them back from discussing McCain's military career. You're so cute in your naivete sometimes, Oscar...

Personally, I think it's a bad sign when the pro-Obama folk think they ought to start in on McCain by knocking his looks -- Paglia called him an "old coot", as though that and the combover will keep him out of the White House.

Too bad our liberal intellectuals can't seem to find anything else about his record to toss at McCain, other than starting with his age and looks, eh? I guess it's true: when you sharpen your teeth fighting against "a girl", knocking her on looks, voice, etc., then you really do weaken your own fighting skills.

So remember everyone: McCain's military record compared to Obama's is Out of Bounds, everyone! No fair! And heh heh-- your guy's got funny old hair! Yeah, that'll stop the recent years of Republican romp and really turn this country (U.S.) around all right. Sic Oprah and Michelle on the old geez next, eh?
You have a most interesting blog.

Stay on groovin' safari,
I am glad someone else has spotted the comb-over hair - see this link for the dangers that might befall McCain ...
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