Dan Boyle: Relics Of Old Decency


From top: US Republican Senator for Arizone, John McCain, who died at the weekend with Ted Kennedy, the late Democrat senator for Massachusetts, confide during a Senate hearing in 2009; Dan Boyle

In the black and white world of social media few participants seem to realise that it is possible, and that it should be necessary to disagree without having to impugn character.

There seems a similar lack of capacity when measuring the life achievement of a person.

No life is without error, yet in the bubble that is social media single individual error is often exaggerated and is taken to encapsulate who and what a person has become.

The nature of discourse, in particular political discourse, in these uncertain times seems to be that the more nasty, the more ignorant, and the less honest you can be, the better your political prospects become.

Trump has been has been the best, and most obvious, exemplar of this in recent times. His reaction to the death of John McCain shows how far his politics and US politics in general have fallen.

McCain death delivered a cascade of eulogies. Trump, as usual, stood aloof in his indifference, choosing to say nothing at all (which has been unusually disciplined of him).

Like Ireland, in the US political deaths are meant to carry with them a Marc Antony quality of mentioning only the good that is in men.

There would be many things that I would have found objectionable about the political positions and opinions of John McCain. He was a military and fiscal hawk, utterly wedded to a US interventionist view of the World.

There was also the question of his judgement which saw him select Sarah Palin as his Vice-Presidential running mate in 2008.

Although in his defence there is something of a tradition in US politics of choosing lightweight, risible candidates as running mates. It’s seen as something of an insurance policy.

And yet he was prepared to reach across the political divide (which is a relatively narrow divide in US politics) to seek and to reach accommodations.

Much was made of his friendship with Senator Edward Kennedy. During my time in Oireachtas a similar relationship existed between Michael McDowell of the PDs and Pat Rabbitte of Dem Left/Labour.

It’s hard to know whether such relationships are great beasts basking in each other’s egos, or are based on mutual respect.

Such is the cynicism now towards politics throughout the world, that for many the exhibiting of decency, civility or respect is a veneer that masks the everyday and ongoing corruption that many believe everyone in politics engages in.

It’s probably impossible to shift such a narrative, but in my experience whenever decency has been exhibited it has been real and sincere.

Therefore it is possible to believe in the innate decency of a person and be able to criticise any or every political position they hold.

Politics can be decent and it can certainly be principled. John McCain, however much I disagreed with his politics, seemed to possess that. Maybe he came to be seen as being virtuous when compared to Trump. Perhaps most of us would be seen as saintly if put into such a scenario.

It would be better if we could aspire to be more than Anti-Trump though.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboylÉ

Pic: RTÉ

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58 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: Relics Of Old Decency

  1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    I was reading a piece in The Rolling Stone by David “someone who’s dead and an important writer” about McCain. When he was shot down in Vietnam, he ejected himself from the plane and landed in a lake in Hanoi. In doing so, he broke both arms and a leg. When he landed, the (obviously) hostile locals dug a bayonet into his groin. None of the breaks were fixed with any anaesthetic. Then he spent 5 years in captivity, with regular beatings, refusing what was called early repatriation (as his father and grandfathers were both Navy admirals, I think) as he wouldn’t leave his men.
    Whatever else you say think about him, Trump’s comments on his being captured were vile.

    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      David Foster Wallace! I’m refusing to use Google at the moment to try to re-engage the aul brain.

    2. rotide

      Yeah, This is also stuff I only found out about him once Trump made this comments. I didn’t know this when he was running for Pres

  2. Friscondo

    So, he countered a racist comment with a slightly less racist comment, ie he’s not an Arab, he’s a decent family man. He suggests being Arabic and a decent family man are mutually exclusive. McCain was a war mongering, embittered, fanatic. He was shot down dropping bombs on Hanoi women and children. This coloured his attitude to embarking on war against “the other.” He didn’t see near or Far East Asians as being fully human. He was a man who never saw a war he didn’t like. Good riddance.

    1. rotide

      “He suggests being Arabic and a decent family man are mutually exclusive.”

      No he doesn’t. That’s your own prejudices. He had previously stated that he was a decent family man and when confronting the woman who called Obama an Arab, he said no, hes american and restated the decent family man line.

      But feel free to continue with your widdling on someones grave. I’m sure you’d do just as well in a Prisoner of War camp.

      1. Starina

        He literally did. It’s on video. It’s a classic, un-thought-out, throwaway, casually racist statement from a rich white American. Or do you also think Arab is incompatible with American?!

        1. rotide

          He literally didn’t.

          “I can’t trust obama, I’ve read about him and hes not …(wants to say ‘american’ here), he’s an arab”

          “[shakes head during last statement] He’s not. He’s not. He’s a decent family man, citizen who i disagree with”

          If you can’t see that this answer is within the context of moron birthers and read this as casual racism, then you are a perpetual victim and nothing I’m ever going to say is going to haul you out of that victimhood spiral.

          1. Starina

            I get the birthers crap but he could have handled it way better. And let’s not forget his other priceless quote from 2008, “I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.”

            stick your victimhood spiral, that’s language manipulation to allow bigots to get away with being bigots.

      2. Friscondo

        That’s exactly what he did. He was a deeply racist man. Despite all the civilians he murdered in Vietnam, he always insisted that the war would have been won if even more bombs had been dropped. He participated in a crime against humanity, and doubled down by saying they should have killed even more than the millions already dead.

      3. Dog

        You’re a great contrarian in your own mind but as usual have it only half right. When McCain was running for President the mask slipped, he appointed Sarah Palin as his running mate for chrissakes and made numerous uncharacteristic off colour remarks as the pressure of his obvious impending defeat got to him. Later he resumed being the everyman Senator everyone loved but that too was an act. He was a racist conservative

    2. Dog

      + 1

      One thing Trump consistently gets right is how complicit the so called liberal media are in creating a war mongering colonial rapist narrative in favour of whoever advances the western rapist consensus

        1. Dog

          What? I wasn’t talking to you. What sort of thought buggerer could draw the inference you did and deliberately misrepresent what I said?

          1. Nigel

            You expressed the opinion that Trump gets the media’s complicity in warmongering colonial etc right. I find it hard to believe anyone could truly think complicity in warmongering colonial etc is a concern of Trump’s vis-a-vis the media. I disagreed with what you said, I didn’t misrepresent it, unless you yourself hopelessly word-buggered your own comment so that it expressed something you did not intend.

  3. Donal

    John McCain had manners, John McCain didn’t throw abuse around. John McCain was essentially honest.

    John McCain voted for many many pieces of legislation in his time as a senator that are anathema to everything that progressives like Dan support. As a senior member of the Senate these votes were influential.

    That John McCain was a decent man should not obscure the fact that he voted for monstrous policies over and over and over, his political record should be criticised loudly

    1. rotide

      Therefore it is possible to believe in the innate decency of a person and be able to criticise any or every political position they hold.

      Literally from the article. In Bold.

  4. johnny

    Dan-are you familiar with The Keating Five?

    “Such is the cynicism now towards politics throughout the world, that for many the exhibiting of decency, civility or respect is a veneer that masks the everyday and ongoing corruption that many believe everyone in politics engages in.”

    “The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The five senators—Alan Cranston (Democrat of California), Dennis DeConcini (Democrat of Arizona), John Glenn (Democrat of Ohio), John McCain (Republican of Arizona), and Donald W. Riegle, Jr. (Democrat of Michigan)—were accused of improperly intervening in 1987 on behalf of Charles H. Keating, Jr., Chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which was the target of a regulatory investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB). The FHLBB subsequently backed off taking action against Lincoln.

    Lincoln Savings and Loan collapsed in 1989, at a cost of $3.4 billion to the federal government (and thus taxpayers). Some 23,000 Lincoln bondholders were defrauded and many investors lost their life savings. The substantial political contributions Keating had made to each of the senators, totaling $1.3 million, attracted considerable public and media attention. After a lengthy investigation, the Senate Ethics Committee determined in 1991 that Cranston, DeConcini, and Riegle had substantially and improperly interfered with the FHLBB’s investigation of Lincoln Savings, with Cranston receiving a formal reprimand. Senators Glenn and McCain were cleared of having acted improperly but were criticized for having exercised “poor judgment”.”


  5. Culchie Bot

    Willfully ignorant or ignoring inconvenient facts?

    Either way McStain was an evil POS and there is a reason Trump (or any patriotic American) won’t say his name)

    When Ben Garrison published the following during the week his website was immediately attacked by a DDoS.


    The only reason McCain had any kind of career was because of his family connections.

    You’re ignorantly eulogizing an evil man in order to have a go at Trump.


  6. Outfoxed News

    McCain was a decent man, a hero, a good politician who often put principles before popularity. He suffered terribly as a POQ – he wasn’t a murdered(you can look at Obana’s drone strikes to understand the different), he stood the ground on the ACA and on Campaign Finance. He died of cancer and the current POTUS failed to tell that country was a loss had happened. McCain’ got’ what it was that made you American. Trump is UnAmerican.

  7. f_lawless

    Dan I think your perception of who John McCain really was is misinformed. You’ve bought into the glossed over version.
    This article by Max Blumental is well worth reading
    McCain personally and directly helped to cultivate terrorist groups in Libya and Syria. We know from the wikileaks cables that this included organising the supply of arms to those groups
    “In Libya and Syria, he cultivated affiliates of Al Qaeda as allies, and in Ukraine, McCain courted actual, sig-heiling neo-Nazis. …
    …When a violent insurgency swept through Libya in 2011, McCain parachuted into the country to meet with leaders of the main insurgent outfit, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), battling the government of Moamar Gaddafi. His goal was to make kosher this band of hardline Islamists in the eyes of the Obama administration, which was considering a military intervention at the time. “

    1. rotide

      Quite the sources there.

      I’d say you three are only devo Alex Jones is losing his court case so badly. Still at least he has his transgender porn to comfort him.

      1. Culchie Bot

        Desperate attempt at deflection is desperate.

        Stick to your lying CNN why don’t ya, lionize a fake war-hero with fake tears.

  8. Cian

    Haha ha ha . Did you actually read this page you linked to?

    “Now, McCain is shot down over Vietnam, and the Jewish/Communists supposedly tortured him half to death? “

    It is suggesting that the Jews were controlling (North) Vietnam! That is waaaay past Jim Corr levels of bat-poo crazy.

    1. Culchie Bot

      Marx was Jewish. Lenin was Jewish. Jewish people were historically over-represented in Communist Europe.

      Do some research before you post and make a fool of yourself.

      McStain nearly sunk and aircraft carrier, killed 134 people and it all got covered up because of his family connections. He’s no hero.

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        You’ve just said they were communists. They weren’t proselytising their faith, it was their belief in communism.

        1. Culchie Bot

          Communism exported itself to Asia.

          ‘Jewish’ pertains to race as well as religion (secular Jews anyone?).

          And McStain is still no hero.

          1. Nigel

            Were there enough Vietnamese religious or secular Jews to make it both likely that McCain was tortured by them AND to justify classing them as being as prominent within or interchangeable with the communists? I mean, we all know this is Protocol Of the Elders Of Zion level anti-semitism, but I just thought I’d ask.

          2. Starina

            secular jew here. what the heck are you even on about?! there were a lot of Poles in Communist Europe as well, does that make Communism in Vietnam Polish?!

          3. Culchie Bot

            Nigel the slider: Won’t let anybody have a discussion he doesn’t approve of.

            Nigel the Narcissist: Thinks he’s actually funny and clever.

            Nigel the nitwit: Thinks the truth must be officially sanctioned.

            McStain was a bottomhole. He killed people, carelessly crashed airplanes, abandoned his wife, abandoned his fellow POWs and enriched himself by selling his vote in the Senate to the highest bidder. (Not to mention whatever was going on with his ‘Foundation’)

            Nasty, nasty man.

            (Maybe Nigel can relate)

          4. Nigel

            Dude I have no time for McCain I’m just interested in these Vietnemese communist Jews that tortured him.

  9. Ollie Cromwell

    I always work on the principle that all politicians are self-serving scumbags not to be trusted.
    With the exception of Nigel Farage of course.
    I’m rarely disappointed.
    However,McCain was a decent man who was respected on all sides on Capitol Hill and Trump is,well,Trump.
    I lol’d at Dan’s suggestion that Pat Rabbitte was a big beast.
    If ever there was a politician who was self-serving it’s him.

  10. Dan Boyle

    Those of us who are neither Vietnamese nor Jewish are feeling left out here. John McCain of course is no John Glenn, the actual one of whom was kidnapped during his orbit of Earth from space and replaced by the first of the Illuminati…..

    1. Culchie Bot

      Now Dan the Boyle wants to get in on this discussion slide.

      McStain was also a fan of the absurd Carbon tax. Impoverish the people, enrich the state and their subsidy farmers by telling all the lies you can about the end of the world.

      Then insult those who dare to raise the inconvenient truth that the so-called ‘science’ is fake.

      Sound familiar?

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