Johnny, We Hardly Know Ye, Eugene Robinson, WaPo

"Johnny we Hardly Know Ye" is the title of Eugene Robinson's column in today's Washington Post.

A biting piece on McCain's confusion, houses, stance on the economy, but it echoes Frank Rich's piece last week in the NYT - because it emphasizes that we know almost nothing about John McCain, in a time when all the focus has been on defining Barack Obama.

The title references the folk tune "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye":

"Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" is a popular Irish traditional anti-war and anti-recruiting song. It is the basis for the American popular song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", as Patrick Gilmore announced to the public that he had taken the tune for "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" from "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" in 1883.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_I_Ha rdly_Knew_Ye

I've always loved the Clancy Brothers version:

While goin' the road to sweet Athy, hurroo, hurroo
While goin' the road to sweet Athy, hurroo, hurroo
While goin' the road to sweet Athy
A stick in the hand and a drop in the eye
A doleful damsel I heard cry,
Johnny I hardly knew ye.

With your guns and drums and drums and guns, hurroo, hurroo
With your guns and drums and drums and guns, hurroo, hurroo
With your guns and drums and drums and guns
The enemy nearly slew ye
Oh my darling dear, Ye look so queer
Johnny I hardly knew ye.

Where are your eyes that were so mild, hurroo, hurroo
Where are your eyes that were so mild, hurroo, hurroo
Where are your eyes that were so mild
When my heart you so beguiled?
Why did ye skedaddle from me and the child?
Oh Johnny, I hardly knew ye.

Where are your legs that used to run, hurroo, hurroo
Where are your legs that used to run, hurroo, hurroo
Where are your legs that used to run
When you went for to carry a gun
To be sure but your dancing days are done
Oh Johnny, I hardly knew ye.

I'm happy for to see ye home, hurroo, hurroo
I'm happy for to see ye home, hurroo, hurroo
I'm happy for to see ye home
All from the island of Ceylon
So low in flesh, so high in bone
Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye.

Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg, hurroo, hurroo
Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg, hurroo, hurroo
Ye haven't an arm, ye haven't a leg,
Ye're an armless, boneless, chickenless egg,
Ye'll have to be put with a bowl to beg,
Oh Johnny I hardly knew ye.

They're rolling out the guns again, hurroo, hurroo
They're rolling out the guns again, hurroo, hurroo
They're rolling out the guns again,
But they never will take our sons again,
No they never will take our sons again,
Johnny I'm swearing to ye.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_I_Ha rdly_Knew_Ye

Robinson opens his piece:


There's a candidate in this presidential race who remains a mystery -- hazy, undefined, so full of contradictions that voters may see electing him as an enormous risk. I'm referring to the cipher known as John McCain.

In fact, there are some basic things about McCain that apparently even McCain doesn't know. Asked Wednesday by reporters from Politico how many houses he and his wealthy wife, Cindy, own, McCain responded, "I think -- I'll have my staff get to you." The correct answer seems to be in the neighborhood of seven, but who's counting?

I don't begrudge McCain his multiple residences or his $520 Ferragamo shoes. I understand that he was just being flippant and unresponsive when he said at the Saddleback forum last weekend that being rich meant having an income of at least $5 million a year. But it's a stretch, to say the least, for McCain to portray himself as a Regular Joe while painting Barack Obama as some kind of jet-set celebrity.

But the war support, and national security stance of McCain becomes more important to examine, especially since we get "I was a POW" from every other sentance out of McCain.

I guess McCain's unreliability as a spokesman for himself on the issue that voters tell pollsters they care most about should come as no surprise, given his earlier confession -- since retracted, sort of -- that he doesn't really understand economics that well. He is supposed to be an expert on foreign affairs and national security, however -- and here, too, the cannon has come unbelayed and is rolling perilously around the deck.

"We are all Georgians," McCain said in response to the Russian invasion. It was an attempt to define the moment with a memorable line, reminiscent of JFK's famous declaration in Berlin. If McCain was just trying to burnish his commander-in-chief credentials while Obama vacationed in Hawaii, okay, fine, that's politics. If he was serious, though, he needs to clarify the unsettling implications of what he intended to be a stirring phrase. Precisely what was being stirred?

Not the hopes and ambitions of the people of Georgia; by then, they had already realized that despite all the Bush administration's freedom rhetoric, nobody was coming to save them. Certainly not war-weary American voters.

I hope that we see more of Eugene Robinson, perhaps as a guest host for KO.
We need more TM writers asking the same question, just as we need the Obama campaign to sharply define how we differ from McSame.

He closes with:

For months, McCain has been arguing for measures that would isolate Russia. He then called the Georgia invasion "the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War." If he doesn't want to help start a new Cold War, you can't tell from his loose rhetoric.

I'm leaving aside his mini-misstatements in which he confused Sunnis with Shiites or otherwise garbled salient facts about Iraq. What alarms me is the pattern of inconsistency. One day he's soothing, the next he's abrasive. One day he makes a flat-out pledge not to raise taxes, the next he says that everything is on the table as far as Social Security is concerned. One day the buck stops here, the next he's not authorized to speak for, ahem, himself.

It's true that John McCain has been around a long time. But do we really know what he'd do as president? Do we really know who he is?

Here's another anti-war Johnny tune I love:

Handsome Johnny, Richie Havens

(cross-posted at DailyKos)

Tags: 2008 election, Eugene Robinson, John McCain, Washington Post (all tags)

Comments

19 Comments

Mojo for Eugene

by NeciVelez 2008-08-22 07:17AM | 0 recs
I'm with Eugine

...and not just because he has the name of an all-pro halfback on the Greenbay Packers' last Superbowl team.

I'm okay with McCain being ridiculously rich; I don't care how many houses he has... people that get to run for president in this country are invariably privledged on some level.  But when he's so insulated from reality that he doesn't know how many houses his family owns, or the price of gas or milk... that's a serious problem.

McCain has never, ever been an average American of humble means or origins, and he hasn't made much of an attempt to get to know them, either.  When the press is your base, why bother?  Well, I'll tell you why, John: If you can't relate to us, we're eventually going to catch on to your shtick.  Just calling us "my friends" doesn't mean that we are, in fact, your friends.

by Dracomicron 2008-08-22 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm with Eugine

yeah, to me this is really the point.  Obama may be wealthy - like everyone else in the Senate or running for President - but he earned his money honestly and using his talents.  John McCain was born into money and then married into lots and lots and lots of money.  Again, not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but you couple that with his disinterest in the economy and his tendency to answer every foreign policy question with more explosions and you have to wonder what kind of a person he really is.

by the mollusk 2008-08-22 07:55AM | 0 recs
Dare I say "Bushian"

McCain's level of privledge is decidedly near the order of George W. Bush, where he never really wanted for anything, and he "failed up;" when he screwed something up, Daddy got him a better opportunity.

When you don't pay for your mistakes, it's easy to see how you'd have a poor understanding of how things really work.

by Dracomicron 2008-08-22 08:00AM | 0 recs
I wish that the TM would take a closer look

at just where all the money McCain has access to, via his wife - actually comes from.  The only journalists who have doggedly followed the story are in AZ.

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2000-02-1 7/news/haunted-by-spirits/1

The other unfortunate thing is some far right-wing nuts are discussing this - they hate McCain - but for the wrong reasons.  

by NeciVelez 2008-08-22 07:39AM | 0 recs
Why is this a bad thing?

The other unfortunate thing is some far right-wing nuts are discussing this - they hate McCain - but for the wrong reasons.

I'm okay with the right-wing nuts that hate McCain and want him to fail.  I don't agree with their ideology, but the basic premise of their argument, that McCain isn't a trustworthy conservative and has some character problems... that's all accurate.  He would not be a good steward of real conservative causes, with the potential exception of anti-abortion issues, because he's too far in debt to the neocon rich-get-richer big government philosophy, which is kinda anathema to honest conservatives.

by Dracomicron 2008-08-22 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Why is this a bad thing?

I hear you - but the real wing nuts on the family history are naming her dad a "Jew" due to ties to Meyer Lansky.

I don't want to dig through anti-semitic filth.

by NeciVelez 2008-08-22 12:15PM | 0 recs
The New Republic also has a piece out

on the making of McCain:

http://www.tnr.com/talkback.html?id=0fd7 470d-a41f-4d9e-9328-fd079b476a0a

by NeciVelez 2008-08-22 12:22PM | 0 recs
Ah, good point

Methodology was always the neocons' weak suit.

by Dracomicron 2008-08-22 12:31PM | 0 recs
Cool.

Nice diary.  Was fun to read with the music playing.  Plus, my family's irish to the hilt, so I got to puff my chest with pride.

Rec'd.

by fogiv 2008-08-22 08:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Cool.

I agree wonderful diary. REC

by canadian 2008-08-22 12:12PM | 0 recs
Eugene Robinson

I hope that we see more of Eugene Robinson

He practically lives at MSNBC. I sometimes wonder when he finds time to write. I'm a big fan of his.

by Obama44 2008-08-22 08:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Johnny, We Hardly Know Ye,

Wait 'til they start looking into McCain's gambling problem.

by Bush Bites 2008-08-22 08:53AM | 0 recs
Is is just me?

Or is Eugene slightly nicer with McCain than he was with Hillary at the end of the primary campaign?
by TaiChiMaster 2008-08-22 08:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Johnny, We Hardly Know Ye, Eugene Robinson

Eugene is one of my favorite writers.  I've been reading his stuff for 20 years, since my dad turned me on to him after college.

I'd love to see him host anything.

by Stipes 2008-08-22 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Johnny, We Hardly Know Ye, Eugene Robinson

Agreed 100%.

by spacemanspiff 2008-08-22 12:32PM | 0 recs
Eugene Robinson is a joke at this point

He was so in the tank for Obama during the primaries it was sickening to watch him pretend to be a straight up news guy.

by dpANDREWS 2008-08-22 01:25PM | 0 recs
Oh my...did you get ill?

Too bad.  Considering that the majority of the TM has been "in the tank" (as you put it) for McShame for years - I wonder what you call "straight up"?

I'll take Eugene Robinson over 95% of the corporate hacks anyday.

Too bad we don't have a few hundred more Gene Robinson's.

by NeciVelez 2008-08-22 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh my...did you get ill?

Word!

by Stipes 2008-08-22 02:09PM | 0 recs

Diaries

Advertise Blogads