Honor and Integrity

by digby

When a radio gasbag introduced him today by babbling incoherently about the "Clinton News Network" and repeating the words Barack "Hussein" Obama over and over again, St John McCain stepped up:

Any comment that was disparaging of either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is totally inappropriate. And I have never done that in any of my campaigns and I have a long record. And I absolutely repudiate such comments. I will take responsibility. It will never happen again.

It is so wonderful to see an honorable campaign that refuses to allow anyone to be derisive toward a rival:

At the campaign event on Monday, the woman asked McCain, "How do we beat the bitch?"

McCain laughed along with the crowd as he said, "May I give the translation?"

"That's an excellent question," he added. "I respect Senator Clinton. I respect anyone who gets the nomination of the Democratic Party."

McCain said Wednesday he's sure the New York senator understands.

"Senator Clinton and I have a very good relationship," he said. "She understands I've always treated her with respect, and I'm sure that's been the reaction of her campaign."


"I can't dictate what other people say _ that's not my business," he said. "Nor is it an appropriate role for me to play in a gathering at a restaurant, and if anybody thinks that I should, then I think they have the wrong idea of what gatherings are all about.

The man who introduced him today also said this, which I thought was really neat. (Got a big cheer too.)

How about Condoleeza Rice and Madeline Albright, who looks like death warmed over. I think there's a big difference between Condi and Madeline.

I'm sure McCain repudiates that one too. After all, an honorable man like him would never countenance such despicable language:

Earlier this month, at a Republican Senate fund-raiser, McCain told a downright nasty joke making fun of Janet Reno, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton.

The fact that McCain had made the tasteless joke was reported in major newspapers, as was the vain attempt by his press secretary to initially deny what McCain had done. But in several major newspapers, the joke itself was kept a secret. When McCain subsequently apologized to President Clinton, the Washington Post, in its personality section, noted the apology but said the joke "was too vicious to print."

The Los Angeles Times, in its Life & Style section, provided an oblique rendering of the joke that did not fully convey its ugliness. When Maureen Dowd penned a column in the New York Times about the joke, she wrote that McCain "is so revered by the press that his disgusting jape was largely nudged under the rug." But Dowd chose not to relay the joke, either.

The joke did appear in McCain's hometown paper, the Arizona Republic, and the Associated Press did report the joke in full, so everyone in the press had access to McCain's words. But by censoring themselves, the Post, the Times and others helped McCain deflect flak and preserved his status as a Republican presidential contender.

Salon feels its readers deserve the unadulterated truth. Though no tape of McCain's quip has yet emerged, this is what he reportedly said:

"Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno."

That was eight years ago but more recently, he's shown his chivalrous nature once again.

McCain made the reference to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton after touring USC Upstate’s nursing school and seeing a training mannequin.

“I was very glad to meet the dummy, named ‘Hillary,’” McCain said to laughter. “Is that the name?”

Actually, the dummy, or human simulator, doesn’t have a name.

That's how he shows respect to his rivals. You can't help but be impressed.

The press certainly is:

Chris Matthews: Wasn't it impressive that McCain did stand up today and take down this warm up character that had made these comments?

Margaret Carlson: Yeah well, that is the kind of guy McCain is. He is a straight talker. So you have to give him a lot of credit for that. These surrogates though, you have to remember there were a couple of surrogates for Senator Clinton, Robert Johnson the head of BET, her co-chair in New Hampshire who brought up things about Obama that were derogatory and then they, Johnson apologized and Shaheen resigned.

These things happen and the question is whether people decide that you had a hand in it, you tacitly approved it, you want it out there, you're using these people to get it out there or not. And I think in the McCain case we think he didn't want to do that.

With a history like his, you can certainly understand why he would get the benefit of the doubt from the press corps. He always has.