Open Thread — Long Don’t-Read: John McCain

It’s quite enough to read Paul Waldman’s dismissal at The American Prospect:

In the last couple of years, every time something John McCain says makes “news,” my immediate reaction—sometimes on Twitter, sometimes just in my head—is, “Remind me again why anybody should give a crap what John McCain thinks about anything?” I’ve never been able to get a satisfactory answer to this question. And here comes star reporter Mark Leibovich, author of the well-received This Town, with a 6,634-word cover profile of McCain for next week’s New York Times Magazine. Do we need another one of these? I would have answered “no” before reading, but after, I’m even more sure…

[L]et’s ask: What are the standards we could use to judge whether a senator is an important figure, at least more important than most of his or her 99 colleagues?… An important senator might be influencing critical legislation. No dice there: McCain never much cared about lawmaking (in his three decades in Congress, he authored exactly one important law, which was later eviscerated by the Supreme Court). He might later become a presidential candidate, which is why we pay attention to people like Rand Paul or Ted Cruz, even if they’re ridiculous. No dice there either; McCain won’t be running for the White House again. He might lead some important constituency, or exercise great influence over his colleagues. Nothing there either; McCain represents basically no one, and he has never been popular with other senators. He might be championing an issue that will grow in import in the near future. Nothing there either. He might have some truly profound ideas that will shape policy in years to come. Can you name an important idea John McCain is advocating for?

So all that’s left is that John McCain is important because he gets invited on Meet the Press a lot. If you’re looking for something beyond that, you won’t find it in this article…

Actually, while much of it reads like an obituary, the probable reason for running this tonguebath (“How John McCain Turned His Clichés Into Meaning”) appears on Page 6 (of 9):

He also has news of his own to make. He mentions to Young that he’s thinking about running for re-election in 2016. This is a different message from the one he sent over the summer, when he said that he didn’t want to be one of those old geezers hanging around the Capitol. He repeats this status update during a commercial to everyone in the studio. “I’m thinking about running again,” he says, and makes eye contact with me to make sure I caught it. “Couldn’t we assume that you were considering this already?” I ask. “Aren’t you also thinking about retiring?” McCain shrugs.

Back on the air, Young asks if McCain has just said that he was considering another run for Senate.

“If some wild-eyed journalist hears this and wants to run with it and says that John McCain has announced on the air that he may run for another term in the Senate — that would not be wrong?”

“That would not be wrong,” McCain says.

I ask McCain if I can tweet the momentous information he has just relayed. He nods….

So, skip the NYT, but it’s worth reading all of Waldman’s rant — especially the lengthy ‘footnote’.

143 replies
  1. 1
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Can you name an important idea John McCain is advocating for?

    War with Iran.

  2. 2
    fuckwit says:


    He’s a relentless self-promoter and plays the media like a Super Nintendo.

  3. 3
    fuckwit says:

    BTW, I have a fantastic greasemonkey script on my browser that I have set up to turn every reference to that douchebag’s name into “Sore Loser”, and his former running mate’s name into “Troll”.

  4. 4
    dmsilev says:

    @efgoldman: No kidding. That ship not only has sailed, it has already slammed into an iceberg and hopefully is taking John McCain’s relevance on a one-way trip to the floor of the Atlantic.

  5. 5

    MSM bots love them some McCain, I have no idea why.

  6. 6
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yesterday’s milblogger hard-on. Sam Power gets her way, the mullahs will have to keep waiting while “we” straighten out the CAR “crisis”. (What’s going on there is indeed a terrible tragedy, but anything the USA does is only going to make things worse, AFAICT.)

  7. 7
    GregB says:

    Build the dang fence mofos, build the dang fence.

  8. 8
    David Koch says:

    When McCain dies, they’ll still be wheeling his corpse on to Sunday talk shows.

    Liberal media bias. ahahahahahahhahahhahahahahhahahahahaha

  9. 9
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Anne Laurie: The US is going to be training peacekeepers and ponying up cash as a part of an international effort. I don’t see the problem.

  10. 10
    dmsilev says:

    @GregB: How about we compromise and build a fence around the Meet The Press studio?

    I’ll even throw in a free upgrade to an alligator-filled moat.

  11. 11
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @dmsilev: Yippee! Our first FEMA Reeducation Camp.

  12. 12
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: It’s the oil.

  13. 13
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Davis X. Machina: It always is.

    ::nodding wisely::

  14. 14
    David Koch says:

    McCain has no power.

    He vowed to stop the repeal of DADT. He made a pitiful homophobic fool of himself.

    He vowed to stop the Nuclear arms treaty. He failed.

    He vowed to stop the complete withdraw from Iraq. He failed.

    His only legacy was campaign finance reform, but he blew that up by voting for Roberts and Scalito who scuttled the only piece of legislation he passed in 30 years in office.

    This is nothing more than middle aged reporters, going through their mid-life crisis, reminiscing about their salad days covering mccain in New Hampshire, 14 years ago.

  15. 15
    El Caganer says:

    Fuck Poopdeck Pappy.

  16. 16
    Baud says:

    at least more important than most of his or her 99 colleagues?

    Wait, there are other senators?

  17. 17
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Baud: Graham?

  18. 18
    Ken says:

    It’s like “I’ve Got a Secret” or “What’s My Line”. Every week they had a celebrity panel, and the reason most of them were celebrities was that they appeared on “I’ve Got a Secret”. John McCain is an important political figure because he appears on “Meet the Press” (a show whose demographic overlaps strongly with people who watched “I’ve Got a Secret” when it first came on).

  19. 19
    Baud says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    What about her?

  20. 20
    Mike in NC says:

    He’ll be making exclusive appearances on “Meet the Press” all through 2014, you can damn well bank on that.

  21. 21
    Hal says:

    @David Koch:

    He vowed to stop the repeal of DADT. He made a pitiful homophobic fool of himself.

    What was even worse to me is that he openly supported doing away with DADT as long as specific goals were met and then simply kept saying he wasn’t satisfied, there’s more to do etc. Same with Benghazi. Every time his questions are answered he’s either not satisfied with the answers or he simply pulls more questions out of his chapped crack.

  22. 22
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Hal: an unintentionally hilarious moment when David Gregory accidentally committed journalism and asked, when McCain asserted the WH was covering something up wrt Bengazi, Gregory asked “what?”. McCain started screaming “Don’t you care that people died?” I wonder if a full month passed while McCain gave his exclusives to other Sunday shows.

  23. 23
    srv says:

    Even Pat Lang has had it with President McCain and his Sunday shows.

  24. 24
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:

    But I just found out John McCain was a POW! Did you know he was a POW?

  25. 25
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge: If you haven’t followed the link to Waldman’s OP, and his closer, it’s worth it.

  26. 26

    Just had a tornado warning in Nashville. We were all stuffed under the stairs in our downstairs closet: me, the husband, 2 dogs & 7 cats. It was … interesting.

  27. 27
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    That’s what brought that refrain to mind. I’m just disappointed no one has said: “This is good news for John McCain!”

    Actually this is the closest that sentence would ever come to being accurate.

  28. 28
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I’m good with that, as long as people don’t start talking about ‘sunk costs’ and ‘maybe just a few… US advisors… ‘

  29. 29
    Amir Khalid says:

    much of it reads like an obituary

    McCain’s getting up in years, and he married money so he doesn’t need the salary. There are places in America that are more fun than DC. And as Waldman notes, McCain has no surviving hope of higher office, no interest in lawmaking, no issue to champion, no influence in Washington, so he might be finding it harder to justify junkets to Kuala Lumpur on the American public’s dime for him and his bestie Lindsay. Is it ever possible, however slightly, that the Times Magazine story is an obituary?

  30. 30

    “Remind me again why anybody should give a crap what John McCain thinks about anything?”

    He’s mavericky!!!!

    Seriously, I never got it either. Especially after what a fucking joke his last presidential campaign was. Sarah Palin? Really?

  31. 31
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Anne Laurie: Because that is how every other military operation conducted by this administration has worked out….

  32. 32
    Cassidy says:

    We already have advisors in Africa. Couple bases too.

  33. 33
    Yatsuno says:

    Two. And. A. Half. Pages. On. His. POW. Years. I am not kidding. Leibovich must have missed that sweet sweet Sedona barbecue bad.

  34. 34
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yatsuno: Hey, how’re you going?

  35. 35
    GregB says:

    We all know that whenever the name of John McCain is brought up his military service and POW status must be commented upon and praised because it is always important to put that sacrifice front and center.

    Of course whenever Charles Rangel is mentioned, his brave service is always front and center and mentioned by those in the media, right?

    Rangel has a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart to wit:

    From Rangel’s Wikipedia page:

    On the night of November 30, Rangel was part of a retreating vehicle column that was trapped and attacked by Chinese forces. In the subzero cold, Rangel was injured in the back by shrapnel from a Chinese shell. He later wrote that the blast threw him into a ditch and caused him to pray fervently to Jesus.Up and down the line of the retreat, unit cohesion disappeared under attack and officers lost contact with their men.There was screaming and moaning around him and some U.S. soldiers were being taken prisoner, but despite feeling overwhelming fear Rangel resolved to try to escape over an imposing mountain: “From the rim of that gully it just looked like everything had to be better on the other side of that damn mountain.”

    Others nearby looked to Rangel, who though only a private first class had a reputation for leadership in the unit and had gained the nickname “Sarge”. Rangel led some 40 men from his unit over the mountain during the night and out of the Chinese encirclement.Other groups were trying to do the same, but some men dropped from the severe conditions or got lost and were never heard from again. By midday on December 1, U.S. aircraft were dropping supplies and directions to Rangel’s group and others, and had a raft ready to take them across the Taedong River; groups from the 503rd Artillery reached Sunchon that afternoon. Overall, no part of the 2nd Infantry suffered as many casualties as the artillery; it tried to save, but eventually lost, all its guns, and nearly half of the battalion was killed in the overall battle.

    Rangel was treated first at a field hospital, then moved to a general hospital well behind the lines in South Korea where he recuperated. He eventually returned to regular duty, then was rotated back to the U.S. in July 1951.

  36. 36
    Amir Khalid says:

    If you actually read the NYT Mag piece you must have been powerful bored. How you, guy?

  37. 37
    NotMax says:

    John McCain, the Vanilla Ice of politics.

  38. 38
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @GregB: Kerry and Cleland too. Carter was nuke Navy. Etc.

  39. 39
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @NotMax: That calls for this.

  40. 40
    Yatsuno says:

    @Amir Khalid: He didn’t just marry money: he started fucking a cheerleader from USC whose father just happened to own a beer and wine distributorship for the greater Phoenix area. The money aspect wasn’t a big issue for him as far as I can tell because officers in the Navy don’t make bad scratch. He was replacing his perfect California blonde.

  41. 41
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    From Waldman’s review:

    Leibovich is a good reporter, which is why this piece is so puzzling.

    I read, or more precisely listened to on my daily commute for a week, Leibovich’s book “This Town”, and I can’t imagine anyone else who read that being even slightly surprised by Leibovich fluffing up conservatives and Republicans, it’s what he spends most of the book doing. If you throw in canonizing self-styled Centrists like Tim Russert, it’s all he did.

    Something I heard on NPR last week included the reporter mentioning to Leibovitch what a corrupt, sick place DC came across as in his book. Leibovitch’s response was to say you know, I didn’t really see it that way myself, but so many people are having that reaction to the book that I’m starting to realize that it must be true.

    Blind as a bat. He tells a story in the book about the expression “fish don’t know that they’re in water”, but describing others, seemingly completely unaware that this is exactly how he was coming across. It all just seemed sort of normal to him. In this world everything and everyone is 100% venal and for sale, Mike Allen and Joe Scarborough stride like gods and Tim Russert actually was one, and this is all as it should be.

  42. 42
    Jeremy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yeah I don’t see a problem with sending advisors and providing assistance. Helping countries during a humanitarian crisis is not a bad thing. I don’t get why some on the left act like anything done by the military is bad news.

  43. 43
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: At least he managed to write the book in a way that gave people the right info even if he didn’t see it himself. He is merely a vessel.

  44. 44
    Yatsuno says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: @Amir Khalid: I’m not bad. I had an unexplained blood pressure crash that they rehooked me up to an IV for. My sessions went well today plus I got my first post-surgery shower in. I’m wondering if two weeks is optimistic for me getting out of here and home, but we’ll see what happens.


  45. 45
    Redshift says:


    What was even worse to me is that he openly supported doing away with DADT as long as specific goals were met and then simply kept saying he wasn’t satisfied, there’s more to do etc. Same with Benghazi. Every time his questions are answered he’s either not satisfied with the answers or he simply pulls more questions out of his chapped crack.

    That’s the “reasonable Republican” schtick. “I’m not against it, just get past these goalposts.” Immigration reform, for example, or Medicaid expansion here in Virginia.

    Our political media never seem to catch on to the difference between a negotiating position and insisting on getting everything they want before they’all start talking.

  46. 46
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    I don’t get why some on the left act like anything done by the military is bad news.

    Vietnam. Iraq. Things like that.

  47. 47
    Yatsuno says:

    @efgoldman: I’m doing therapy every day I’m here, including the holidays. Yes I will be here for at least two. I don’t get sprung until Obummercare is set at the very least. This was semi-intentional, as this also means that’s almost one week of leave I don’t have to borrow/advance/pay for. I just love the fact I get to do this all again about six months down the road too.

    You know that rehab schedules have your running then recovering plus all the other stuff I have to do. I’ll have more time for the talking later on in the evening, but I’ve been needing lots of rest too.

  48. 48
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yatsuno: My mom had a hip replaced a couple of years ago. She had someone at home to take care of her and a house that allowed her to move around without dealing with steps. It was a good two-three weeks before she could do a lot of ordinary life tasks without help. Of course, she was nearly 70 when she had the surgery – age could matter. Good luck with it.

  49. 49
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Well but he’s a reporter for the NYT, that’s what seemed noteworthy, and depressing, to me. Also keeping in mind that this is someone who thinks it’s all more or less okay the way things are, and for a lot of people I imagine he just reinforced that opinion. It’s almost funny that even from what he thought was a fairly positive view, enough corruption leaked through that at least some people were appalled. Imagine if someone wrote an actual expose. However yes, better than nothing I guess.

  50. 50
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: My bar is set quite low.

  51. 51
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Not that anyone can blame you for that.

  52. 52
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Yatsuno: Dude, keep getting better. I mean it; I’m being bossy.

  53. 53
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    I don’t get why some on the left act like anything done by the military is bad news.

    Because we have the habit of going into a country with clearly defined goals and then once those goals are met we find other reasons to stay, and stay and stay.

  54. 54
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: During the painkiller phase of my post ACL surgery recovery – the first four days, I slept about 18 hours a day. Then I ate Advil like skittles and went to work.

  55. 55
    Ruckus says:

    I actually used to know Robert.
    John McDouchebucket is no Vanilla Ice. Not even close. OK they both faked their jobs for a career, I’ll give you that. But Robert is a better person. By miles.

    LOL though.

  56. 56
    Belafon says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: I was going to offer Iraq as the obvious counterexample, but you stated “going into a country with clearly defined goals.”

  57. 57
    Petorado says:

    Why does the Beltway Press treat McCain as their go-to guy? Because he’s serious. And I mean “serious.” When asked a question, he will look down at the table with what passes for gravitas on the Sunday talkies, and he utters grave and serious tones about matters at hand. He’s not an obvious poo-flinger like Isaa and that cohort, so McCain qualifies as the “center” that the Beltway boys so dearly love. The D.C. Press is his master, and he is their obedient servant.

  58. 58
    max says:

    @Yatsuno: I had an unexplained blood pressure crash that they rehooked me up to an IV for. My sessions went well today plus I got my first post-surgery shower in. I’m wondering if two weeks is optimistic for me getting out of here and home, but we’ll see what happens.

    Rule one: no infections.
    Rule two: no splitting open your incisions.
    Take care of those, get lots of sleep and the rest will take care of itself. (Primarily in figuring out how to get to the goddamn bathroom.)

    The NYT dialect quiz.

    [‘For your Sunday entertainment.’]

  59. 59
    amk says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: ‘cos, he is a 24×7 warmonger who is always good for bombastic shit.

    Great take-down by waldman.

  60. 60
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @max: Oddly, I seem to sound like a Wisconsin/Chicago hybrid per this. It is actually my milieu. I would have expected a little bit of New England, but there were a few things over which I debated, terminology-wise, which might have made the difference.

    efgoldman: It took me two tries for a map to appear.

  61. 61
    piratedan says:

    @Yatsuno: well in defense of Sedona BBQ, it is pretty good, I hear it’s the mix of jalapenoes and prickly pear cactus jelly in the marinade…..

  62. 62
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:


    I’m amazed. Born and raised and lived my whole life in Seattle, but my Mom was from Texas, and I’ve been accused of having a southern accent all my life. I use a lot of her expressions too. I figured the test results would be heavily affected by that, but my top three cities were Seattle, Portland/Vancouver, and Santa Rosa CA.

    Good test.

  63. 63
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @max: Per this quiz I sound like GA or MS. Not close to where I live. though Mr. Q insists I sound more southern upon reaching the Ohio – Kentucky bridge, and by the time we get to Lexington I sound native to there. But no one’s ever accused me of sounding like MS or GA.

  64. 64
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge: Pretty much nailed me also. Glendale, Bakersfield, and Fresno as the closest match. I’m from just outside San Francisco.

  65. 65
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I did it again and answered with my alternative answers to the various questions. I still got Chicago/ Wisconsin.

  66. 66
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @efgoldman: My map was slow to show up. I was scrolling around looking for it and when I went back to the top there it was.

  67. 67
    fuckwit says:

    Oh stop. McCain is an actor. So are the TV morons, so he’s one of them! Please. This is not hard. They are in the enternainment business, and so is he.

    He is an actor, playing the part of a political leader. They are actors, playing the part of journalists. They are meant for each other.

  68. 68
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @fuckwit: And yet, he has a vote in the Senate.

  69. 69
    piratedan says:

    @max: scary enough, my answers came up as Tucson, Denver and Phoenix, since I live in Tucson and have family in Denver, I was shocked that my speech reflected those locations since I was raised in the mid atlantic coast…

    ty Max.

  70. 70
    Petorado says:

    @efgoldman: McCain plays the part of a politician well. He can hit his marks as well as any Hollywood actor playing a role in “The West Wing.” The Sunday talk shows are entertainment, after all, and McCain plays his part as well as a seasoned soap actor. Central casting knows who call for the fatherly and sage conservative patriarch.

    ETA – hadn’t seen Fuckwit’s post yet, but came to the same conclusion.

  71. 71
    James E. Powell says:

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge:

    But I just found out John McCain was a POW! Did you know he was a POW?

    Shhh! Don’t you know that the senator prefers that we don’t talk about that?

  72. 72
    JordanRules says:

    @max: That was neat. Pegged me as a definite Phoenician and showed strength in Michigan and Georgia where I’ve lived.

  73. 73
  74. 74
    Gex says:

    @Petorado: That’s a good point. The press has a demand for a certain type of Republican, and he fills that demand. It’s gotten him a lot of attention and it makes him feel important so he will keep doing it as long as they seek it.

  75. 75
    Joey Maloney says:


    Our political media never seem to catch on to the difference between a negotiating position and insisting on getting everything they want before they’all start talking.

    Cf. Israel with the Palestinians.

  76. 76


    Came up as 100 percent northern Illinois to mid-Wisconsin: Aurora (IL), Rockford (IL), and Madison (WI). Aurora is about 60 miles southwest of where I was born and raised.

  77. 77
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Gex: And yet, the only foreign policy he has ever advocated is war. If there is nuance or subtlety to a position, McCain has resolved it in favor of bombing and/or invading. He is simply pro war.

  78. 78
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): We probably sound the same. Interestingly, the only actors to whom my voice has been compared by people I know are John Cusack and John Malkovich.

  79. 79
    jl says:

    @max: Thanks for the dialect quiz. It nailed me. Central California. Where people have no accents and talk normally. Straight talk, as Grampa Wargrumps would say.

    Edit: and we use the correct words, dammit. What the hell is with all these weirdo words you people use out there in the boonies, huh?

  80. 80
    Radio One says:

    I’d love to see John McCain’s story told as a comic story in a possible volume 2 of “The Big Book of Losers”

  81. 81
    Gex says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yup. And coincidentally, the news media profits during war as do their massive conglomerate owners. If McCain could offer an alternate opinion and still get approval and invited back, maybe he would. Face it, they all know what serves the people who pay them.

  82. 82
    jl says:

    Oh right, McCian, What is the fluffpeice for? Who knows? The guy is not unique, look at Lieberman, or Daddy Wargrumps’ mascot Lindsay (note how fair minded and bipartisan I am there).

    What do they have in common? Self-righteous and self-satisfied, touchy bloated egos, gigantic hypocrites, always willing (edit: and eager) to say what big $ wants to hear.

    So, probably media corporate hacks understand them, and like them?

    They are messengers of the gods of our day!. Like superannuated bloated Mercuries, they fly like the swift and speedy graceful vulture, and bring the wisdom of money and power, money and power truths from from money and power’s lips to the people’s ear.

    He’s ramping up to a big push to resuscitate his rejected health insurance plan, and probably getting ready to screw up the Iran negotiations. Maybe his buddies asked their buddies in corporate media that it was time to burnish his fake rep for straight talk.

  83. 83
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Gex: I disagree. I don’t think that in foreign policy McCain cares about what the money people think. He is pro-war. McCain sees himself as a part of a warrior elite. Domestic policy and everything else simply does not matter to him. He wanted to be an Admiral; the Navy said no. Everything since then has been a reaction to his failure to reach O-7.

  84. 84
    max says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Oddly, I seem to sound like a Wisconsin/Chicago hybrid per this. It is actually my milieu. I would have expected a little bit of New England, but there were a few things over which I debated, terminology-wise, which might have made the difference.

    It does seem to pin it down pretty well.

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Came up as 100 percent northern Illinois to mid-Wisconsin: Aurora (IL), Rockford (IL), and Madison (WI). Aurora is about 60 miles southwest of where I was born and raised.

    It does seem to pin it down well.

    [‘If I add another link, I’m gonna get moderated, so two comments.’]

  85. 85
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @max: Hell, I was born in Aurora. Of Wisconsinite parents. From 0-21, I spent 18 years in the WI/Chicagoland area.

  86. 86

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    The one dialect concession I’ve made living in California is that I now say “soda” instead of “pop.” But, frankly, that was because people I was trying to order drinks from didn’t know what I wanted.


    Believe it or not, I’ve never been to Madison. I thought it was further north than it is, but it’s basically due west of Milwaukee and due north of Rockford.

  87. 87
    max says:

    I might be commie liberal democrud race traitor* according to some of the locals, but I am still a goddamn Texan.

    What was weird to me is that I had so many odd words – ‘frontage road’, ‘access road’ and ‘service road’ are interchangable to me. I’ve never discerned any difference between ‘dinner’ and ‘supper’ which is a Minnesota/Old Northwestism. ‘Icing’ and ‘frosting’ are the same damn thing to me (apparently an unusual central Midwesternism), and ‘sunshower’ is word I never heard before I was in my 20’s and it’s the only word I have for that. Apparently my Norwegian & Irish great grand-somethings who came through from Chicago managed to bleed into my accent, never mind that I don’t know them. (There are, of course, pure Texanisms, like ‘beer barn’ and ’18-wheeler’ and evidently ‘doodle bug’ (rare!) and Southernisms like ‘y’all’, although I would say it’s supposed to be pronounced ‘ya’ll’ or ‘yall’ not ‘you all’.)

    [‘The map takes awhile to generate.’]

  88. 88
    jl says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I guess I was typing same thing Gex was at the same time. Look at who gets on. They say what big money and power wants them to say. That’s why you see the same half dozen jackasses on the news talkies week after week.

    Any deviation marks a person as unreliable. Even a DiFi is too much of a hippie to be on so much, besides being a wimmins.

  89. 89
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Due north of Beloit, please.

  90. 90
    amk says:

    speaking of mtp, it’s prolly circling the drain.

    good riddance of gregory.

  91. 91
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @jl: Two different questions: Who gets on Meet the Press and what are McCain’s views? McCain will say and/or support any domestic thing (or oppose it) if it let’s him get his war on.

  92. 92
    jl says:

    @max: Where I grew up, there are not enough ‘sunshowers’ to be worth naming. Not quite as crazy as asking about a native word for glacier in the Maldives, but close.

  93. 93
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    Southernisms like ‘y’all’, although I would say it’s supposed to be pronounced ‘ya’ll’ or ‘yall’ not ‘you all’.)

    For some of us, it is not pronounced at all. We say “you.”

  94. 94
    James E. Powell says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Cincy is weird.


  95. 95
    eemom says:

    I got a New York/Yonkers/Jersey City score on the dialect thing, including a note about the word “sneakers” being some kind of special tell.

    Fuckin A, y’all youses.

  96. 96
    jl says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I simply cannot say “ya’ll” or “you all” or “yousens’ or ‘all you all” or any of that stuff. I spent a lot time growing up with family who learned (edit: I mean they learned as kids to speak that way, they could not help it any more after they grew up) to speak that way. But I just cannot say it.

    Yawl is damn boat. Dammit.

    Edit: and I don’t like the ‘pen’ equals ‘pin’ thing either. Same part of family had to specify ‘writin’ pin’ and ‘sewin’ pin’

  97. 97
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @James E. Powell: In Ohio, a putatively Northern state, but really a part of Kentucky. In the most retrograde part of Ohio, but – within the city limits – a solid Democratic stronghold. Hamilton County and Cincy proper are a contrast.

  98. 98
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @eemom: Yale did nothing for you?

  99. 99
    eemom says:


    I simply cannot say “ya’ll” or “you all” or “yousens’ or ‘all you all” or any of that stuff.

    On a profound primordial level, I am deeply conflicted about this issue. Grew up in NYC but never in a million years would have uttered “youse”, which even to a child bespoke unspeakably uneducated ignorance.

    But after more than two decades in the fucking south, it started to seem actually unnatural to refer to more than one person as “you”. So I gave up and embraced my inner y’all, nonexistent as it was.

  100. 100
    eemom says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    It did teach me about “pop” instead of soda. That was pretty much it.

  101. 101
    fuckwit says:

    Also, I tried that quiz. I managed to confuse the hell out of it since I’ve lived in a couple widly disparate areas all across the country over the decades. But it did nail a concentration of where I grew up and another two where I’ve spent a lot of time. I suppose if I’d stayed in one place for my whole life it’d have nailed it completely.

  102. 102
    Freemark says:

    @max: pegged me as central PA with main cities Baltimore and Philadelphia. Had me pegged right on.

  103. 103
    fuckwit says:

    @jl: In Texas they’d ask yeh: “The writin’ kind or the stickin’ kind?”

  104. 104


    G (my husband) just took the same quiz and got Aurora, Rockford and Milwaukee (not Madison). He was born and raised in Oak Park, which is one of the western suburbs of Chicago.

  105. 105
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @eemom: Dear God.

    As I have said before, I have been told I speak like Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons. I can work with that. Quite happily.

  106. 106
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): Come on, Oak Park is the first suburb west. It is stunningly different from the western suburbs like Wheaton and Geneva. Oak Park is closer to Chicago than the suburbs.

  107. 107
    jl says:


    I think there is a standard English version of “ya’ll’ and all of its bizarre variations: ‘all of you’ is that so hard?

    Sad to say, I don’t have a lot of respect for many Southern U.S. dialects. Sometimes, with some of that branch of my family, I feel like calling it ‘Soubonics’

  108. 108
    eemom says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Well, I do find Malkovich of that era sexy as hell….but that’s neither there nor here, I suppose.

  109. 109
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:

    What was interesting about my map was that my “least similar” areas formed a swath of blue from New England to West Texas (with big blobs in Pennsylvania and the Great Lakes), with yellow and orange forming mirror images like those magnetic stripes on either side of the midocean ridge. The Southeast ran out of land before much red appeared, though.

  110. 110
    Kyle says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    MSM bots love them some McCain, I have no idea why.

    Did you know he was POW? He doesn’t like to mention it.
    Reporters, especially Boomers but also subsequent generations with Boomer bosses and marinated in Boomer obsessions, will never, ever stop rehashing the politics of the Vietnam War. So they seem to have some kind of guilt complex where they venerate old-man-yells-at-cloud because he suffered in Vietnam and they didn’t.

  111. 111
    Glocksman says:

    How odd.

    The cities chosen for me were Mobile, Birmingham, and Montgomery.
    I say odd because I was born, raised, and still live in Evansville, Indiana several hundred miles north of those cities and after having been through Alabama and Mississippi once, you’d have to drag me back at gunpoint because I ain’t goin’ willingly. :)

    Though on reflection, Evansville does have a lot of descendants of transplanted Southerners in the area so it’s not too surprising that some of that dialect would percolate up here.

    To me the bit of local dialect that really stands out is the local pronunciation of ‘wash’ and ‘Washington’.
    We say ‘waursh’ and ‘waurshington’.
    My HS speech teacher said it drove her nuts.

  112. 112
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:

    I wish they’d come up with a test that asked about some of these Northeasternisms that have spread all over the country recently. Well, since I was a kid anyway:

    The loss of the “aw” sound altogether—dahg, hahg, dotter.

    The loss of the palatal onglide after dentals—Dook, nooz.

    The voicing of unvoiced stops between vowels—”duty” pronounced “doody” (two in one word).

    The loss of the aspirated “w”—wine and whine falling together.

    I’d like to know if these features are as widespread as they seem or if it’s just their supremely annoying nature that makes them seem so prominent.

  113. 113
    Glocksman says:

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge:

    I don’t deal with the younger set much outside of work, but I’ve never heard those spoken here in southwestern Indiana, outside of some transplanted Boston area (Worcester and Framingham, to be exact) people at work.

    Speaking of work, my immediate supervisor is an Evansville native, but after she spent several years working at our Bridgewater, VA distribution center, she now sounds so southern even the Kentucky natives are envious.

  114. 114
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    I tried the quiz. I put me in NorCal(Freemont, Oakland, Santa Rosa), though the area I actually grew up in(eastern Ventura County) was also really dark red. The areas my parents were from were either light blue or white.

  115. 115


    As an Illinois native (and SoCal transplant), I have to say that Indianans (?) have always sounded very Southern to me, especially when compared to people in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, etc. so I think the test is detecting an actual phenomenon.

  116. 116
    Mike G says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone):

    Strange. I spent most of my childhood in Australia (with American parents) and much the last two decades in California, and the quiz tells me I have a Minneapolis/Buffalo/Rochester dialect. I’ve spent exactly two days in those places.

  117. 117
    Debbie(aussie) says:

    Wouldn’t/couldn’t give me a map. Obviously a foreigner:) Just so you know those drive true liquor stores are called bottle-shops.

  118. 118
    Glocksman says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone):

    The term is ‘Hoosiers’.
    I have no idea about the etymology of the word, so don’t ask. :)

  119. 119
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:


    Supposedly a characteristic greeting: “Who’s yar?” (Who’s there?”)

    That may just be an urban legend, though, like airships: “Type A—rigid” and “Type B—limp”.

  120. 120
    Glocksman says:

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge:

    Could be true, though.

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone):

    I have to say that Indianans (?) have always sounded very Southern to me, especially when compared to people in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, etc.

    Heh, I’ve been told that before, though I always tell them that you haven’t heard any real Southerners speak.
    Heck, the Kentuckians right across the river have a distinct Southern accent to my ears, and it gets thicker the deeper into Kentucky you go.

    On my trip through Alabama and Mississippi, I sometimes wondered if we were speaking the same language.
    Then there were the little things that brought home the fact that I wasn’t in metaphorical Kansas any more, such as charging fucking sales tax on groceries


    Sure, Indiana is somewhat retrograde (we elected both Governor Dumbass and North Carolina’s 3rd Senator), but even we don’t tax groceries.

  121. 121
    SRW1 says:

    John McCain?

    Yeah, it’s all blanks. But that guy’s got the fasted draw in the DC Saloon.

  122. 122
    Redhand says:


    Pat Lang: Hum. I stopped reading his blog when around Sandy Hook he started showing serious, inoperable gun-nut symptoms. His m.o. before that had always been to remain above the gun control fray by “disinterestedly” observing that the NRA would always win, so why talk about the latest mass killing? But when Wayne Lapierre started taking serious shit for being the sick sociopath that he is, Pat started to get badly offended when I suggested it was time to rein in the gun-nuts and institute some serious firearms controls.

  123. 123
    Origuy says:

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge:

    Supposedly a characteristic greeting: “Who’s yar?” (Who’s there?”)

    Folk etymology. The best explanation I’ve heard is that it means “hill person” in the dialect of Cumberland, England. It had a connotation of a big rustic.

    The quiz had me in southern Illinois, near St. Louis. I grew up in Blooomington, Indiana and went to school in Champaign. But I’ve spent most of my life in San Jose.

  124. 124
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @efgoldman: Actually, that is the perfect analogy for McCain – he’s an appendix. A useless organ that no-one pays attention to unless it’s leaking pus.

  125. 125
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Oh dear. My first 20 years (Chicago suburb), my four years in NYC, and my decade in Michigan have, it seems, gone with the wind. I have become thoroughly Southernized* and, according to the map, would feel right at home in Columbus, GA, Tallahassee, FL, or Jackson, MS. Ugh.

    *Only in the way I talk, of course. Not in my worldview.

    Odd, because nearly every true Southerner I meet pegs me immediately as a Yankee or Canadian.

  126. 126
    MBL says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): 1) Word you’re looking for is “Hoosiers.” 2) It really depends on where in the state you are. Northern Indiana (I live ten minutes from Michigan) doesn’t sound Southern at all, but in general the accent gets thicker the farther to the south you get– although I’d say there’s still a noticeable difference in twang between southern Indiana and Kentucky, even though logically there probably shouldn’t be.

  127. 127
    satby says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I thought it was odd that it came up as Rockford, Aurora, and Milwaukee fir me, when I’m basically a lifelong Chicagoan. But I realized that some of my answers were “evolved” from my childhood, so went back and answered with those: gym shoes instead of sneakers for instance. Solid Chicago on that.

  128. 128
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Wait, they want Joe and Mika to host MTP?

  129. 129
    WaterGIrl says:

    The quiz put me at madison, rockford and grand rapids. Grew up in chicago and have lived in champaign-urbana since college, so not quite right. I will try alternate answers for the 2 or 3 questions where I could have gone either way.

  130. 130
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone): I was born and raised in Oak Park too. Did G go to OPRFHS (if he did, he’s a DOOPer), or was he a Fenwick boy?

  131. 131
    Patrick says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Can you name an important idea John McCain is advocating for?

    War with Iran.

    He was also a strong advocate for the ill-fated war with Iraq. That should be enough to dismiss whatever he says about foreign policy, at least.-

  132. 132
    bemused says:

    The title of the piece is How McCain turned his cliches into meaning which is fall down hilarious.

  133. 133
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Of course we had clearly defined goals in Iraq.

    1. Seize the oil ministry.

    2. Profit!

  134. 134
    WaterGIrl says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I was born and raised in berwyn, which is right next door to oak park. Fenwick! I haven’t heard that name in a long time.

  135. 135
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    ::wave:: Hi, (former) neighbor! Yes, all those close-in suburbs are very familiar — Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, Berwyn, Cicero, Maywood, Melrose Park, Elmhurst, etc. Good place to grow up. (Raven’s from right around there, too, but I don’t recall just where.)

  136. 136
    WaterGIrl says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: You forgot about Riverside! RiverView would probably be sad about that if it hadn’t closed long ago. I’m not sure I ever knew that Raven was from around there, too. He used to live where I live now, though. Hmm, I think Raven might be stalking me. (totally kidding!)

  137. 137
    Tom Servo says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: don’t you have to be really fucking smart to do that nuclear engineering stuff?

  138. 138
    RobNYNY1957 says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    No, we actually keep invading (not “going into”) countries with badly defined goals (what were we trying to do in Afghanistan?), killing a bunch of Americans and locals who are mostly defending their country from invaders, calling all of the dead locals terrorists, and then withdrawing with having changed not much except killing random people.

  139. 139
    Glocksman says:


    There sure is.
    Evansville and Henderson KY are right next to each other on the Ohio river, yet for the most part I can easily tell when I’m speaking to a born and raised Henderson resident, and vice versa.

    What makes it difficult sometimes is where the person went to college or moved away and came back.
    Two examples are the supervisor I mentioned earlier and I also went to school with a guy that later on attended law school in Massachusetts, and when he came back he sounded like a goddamn Kennedy.

  140. 140
    RobNYNY1957 says:


    When I was a teenager I was in a small town in southern Indiana where the accent was so thick that I couldn’t understand conversation. I wish I could remember the name of the town.

  141. 141
    fuckwit says:

    @Just One More Canuck: Umm… when is it ever not leaking pus?

  142. 142
    fuckwit says:

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge: A lot of those are California-isms, spread through the country by Hollywood. Very stoned surfers have used long Bahstan-like vowels for a while now, dahg. There’s a thing called the California Vowel Shift too.

    I’m not a linguist, but I remember hearing arguments from one that the general trend in languages is for them to get lazier and sloppier as time goes on– languages devolve more than evolve. I don’t remember the examples used, maybe the Middle English Vowel Shift, or the devolution of Latin into Italian, etc. But American English sure seems to be going that way.

  143. 143
    Original Lee says:

    @max: Pretty close – map says Grand Rapids, I’m from near Benton Harbor, despite the Southernisms I’ve picked up while living south of the Mason-Dixon line.

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