Trolling on McCain’s Blog Is Apparently Okay

Unless I am badly mistaken, this is the official John McCain campaign website; and under the “blog” tab, there’s a “McCain Blog.”

No, that doesn’t mean that McCain himself is blogging. That, I admit, would be pretty surprising. But there is something pretty surprising about the blog.

A recent post, which seems pretty typical from what I can tell, is simply headlined “Photos From McCain-Palin Virginia Event,” on September 10, and simply offers a few photos with the text: “Check out these great photos from our event today in Virginia; the crowd was fantastic.”

The surprise is that the blog comments are open to the public, and this seems to draw at least as much anti-McCain fire as pro-McCain cheerleading. For instance:

John McCain is a fighter.

McCain has fought against raising the federal minimum wage 14 times.

McCain has fought against making sure that women earn equal pay for equal work.

McCain has fought against a woman’s right to choose so consistently that he received a zero percent vote rating from pro-choice organizations.

McCain has fought against helping families gain access to birth control.

McCain has fought against Social Security, even going so far as to call its current funding system “an absolute disgrace.”

And McCain has fought against the new G.I. Bill of Rights until it became politically untenable for him to do so.

John McCain voted with President Bush 95 percent of the time in 2007 and 100 percent of the time in 2008.

That’s no maverick. That’s a sidekick.

And:

Mr. McCain, you should be ashamed of yourself. My grandmother, a past suporter of yours, is disgutsed by your tactics, and so am I. You have lost not only her support, but her respect. You are losing the respect of millions these past few days with the lies and misrepresentations of your campiagn ads. You spent years earning this respect, and now you are squandering it and making us all ashamed of you.

A similar post on Barack Obama‘s official blog, meanwhile, is brimming with pro-Obama talk.

In order to comment on the Obama blog, you need to log in with an e-mail address and password (I haven’t tried so I have no idea if you can get in with a fake e-mail). The commenting protocol looks similar on the McCain blog.

So what accounts for this disparity — the vigorous trolling of anti-McCainites on McCain’s site whereas Obama’s site seems free of such trolling? Does this mean that Obama’s comments are moderated while McCain’s are not?

The McCain blog free-for-all reminded me of a trenchant comment I read recently on the Marginal Revolution blog, in response to a post headlined “Why Libertarians Should Vote for Obama (1)” (emphasis added):

As long has you have political leaders who don’t understand economics, among other things, times will be tough. However, I would say generally conservatives are for freedom while liberals are for control.

Succinct, no? But true?


Mike!!ekiM

Republicans stand for "free markets".

The right of the free market to bankrupt me personally( lack of health care, my job gets moved to china, deregulation of industry including the drug industry, bankrupt a small business with special tax treatment, Caymen Island, for big business( walmart ), and bankrupt the nation( endless war we never pay for).

And I believe 100% that John McCain will move the party of the top 1% to do what's in the interest of the nation instead of what's in the interest of the top 1%. Yeah, you can sell me a bridge in Alaska too.

RR

I was banned from the Howard Dean forums in 2004 for respectfully questioning his electability. I was also banned from a Ron Paul forum last year for opposing the gold standard.

I think the level of control is directly proportional to the level of fanaticism of the supporters. McCain's most ardent supporters aren't dedicated enough to moderate comments. Obama most ardent supporters consider criticism blasphemous.

David

The clue's in the name: "Liberal", related to "Liberty".

Broadly speaking, Liberals believe in being free to be who you are and to reach your full potential, but they recognise that government has a role to play in ensuring that the conditions are there for everyone to do so.

Conservatives on the other hand, seem to believe in a more limited form of freedom, the freedom to make money and acquire property for yourself, absolutely. Their answer to the consequences - inequality and social strife - is then to fall back on social control through "conservative values".

As for the blog:

Who doesn't have a moderator these days? It looks more like incompetence than idealism...

CamilaCMS

At Josh Robyns #10 post, if he didn't think of requiring an email address with a password, then someone else on his campaign would. Whatever your opinion of McCain, his campaign can't have only idiots. No, this was clearly part of their plan.

McCain is probably not filtering comments because these negative posts on his blog are probably the most effective ways of finding out what his critics think of him. So, as a politician, I would love to have this information at the tip of my fingers, so that they could be addressed in the next debate, convention, or some other event along the campaign trail. And then there's Obama that prefers everyone to see purely positive feedback on his policies. Everyone has to guess which tactic they prefer.

And with the last comment on the blog, about conservatives having freedom and liberals being about controls, I don't exactly know whent that has ever been the case. If this filtering of blogging comments is the only case that they're making that judgment based on, I simply don't agree.

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ilan

Am I getting it right? A Times piece mildly in favor of McCain and against Obama?

Josh Robyns

The man's wife has x-million dollars that could buy him access to any or all of the current technology that would allow him to utilize a computer even if he had no hands. Is it important for him to be familiar with the computer? I don't know. We've got computers in all of our schools. We emphasize to our youth the importance of computer literacy. But it probably doesn't matter that the leader of our nation and the free world would set a good example in that regard. Our leaders for the last sixteen years haven't been the most terrific role models, have they?

He's also expressed no real interest or understanding of the economy. I'm not going to forgive him for that because of his war injuries either.

Kenn Fong

#8,

McCain calls himself a neanderthal as a self-effacing joke. He can't type because he was tortured for 5 years. Don't believe, me? Look at this story from the Boston Globe in 2000:

McCain gets emotional at the mention of military families needing food stamps or veterans lacking health care. The outrage comes from inside: McCain’s severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes.

From a July 13, 2008 New York Times interview:

Q: What websites if any do you look at regularly?

Mr. McCain: Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously, everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge. Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics, sometimes.

[later he said]

Mr. McCain: I use the Blackberry, but I don’t e-mail, I’ve never felt the particular need to e-mail. I read e-mails all the time, but the communications that I have with my friends and staff are oral and done with my cell phone. I have the luxury of being in contact with them literally all the time. We now have a phone on the plane that is usable on the plane, so I just never really felt a need to do it. But I do – could I just say, really – I understand the impact of blogs on American politics today and political campaigns. I understand that. And I understand that something appears on one blog, can ricochet all around and get into the evening news, the front page of The New York Times. So, I do pay attention to the blogs. And I am not in any way unappreciative of the impact that they have on entire campaigns and world opinion.

Criticize him on policies, but don't criticize the man for the consequences of being tortured almost daily for 5 years. I wonder what courageous thing you did for 5 years daily?

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Mark

"I wonder what courageous thing you did for 5 years daily?"

I put up with the Bush presidency for almost 8 years now. The list of corruption, incompetency, spending of my & your future tax dollars, and loss of US influence around the world has taken everyone's patience, and tragically, quite a few lives.

And for the same reason McCain had...I had no choice.

Alex

Comment #22 makes an interesting comparison. Economic expansion often comes at the expense of players who have no means of defending themselves other than to vote. This is only to frame the partisan comparison in an economic context where economic expansion needs to be reeled in by humanistic compassion. With respect to Globalization the parties should lie in direct opposition to one another, however the Democratic party has moved significantly to the right leaving what used to be Republicans sitting firmly in the conservative left. Fears of liberal spending and taxation are largely unfounded in what I have seen in my generation (x). Thankfully Obama continues to play to the center on Globalization and many other issues, because the last thing Democrats want is an expression of the far left.

Thomas Brownback

I stopped trusting the right to pursue sound economic policy a long time ago.

In the late 90s, I came to believe there is a some remote likelihood that Democrats will find innovative ways to use markets to solve our problems, and almost zero likelihood that the fundie and hawk Republicans will ever listen to their brothers on K-Street.

Mostly this came from reading "The Right Nation," which is a brilliant dissection of American Conservatism, and from reading Barbara Ehrenreich's "Confessions of a Recovering Statist," which is a piece advocating small-government American liberalism. Seeing Blair and Clinton take Third Way approaches that were somewhat respectful of the power of markets strengthened my feelings.

Meanwhile, under Republican control in the oval office and congress, spending got completely out of control, as if the contract with America is only a tenable Republican position when they aren't in charge.

Sure, Dems can be anti-trade, but most Republicans have a creepy isolationist streak a mile wide. If you believe in free movement of goods and free movement of labor, can you really say that either party will ever wholeheartedly support you?

On top of that, the Republicans seem to have a big sweet tooth for subsidies. The money always flows from Blue states to Red states. and whenever the Dems propose a sort of socialist policy, Republicans jump on board. (Or did you miss Palin's speech on tighter regulation in financial markets just now?)

It's a tricky question, maybe the answer is that there's no politically tenable mainstream party for libertarians.

I wonder if libertarians would fare better at the polls if we could overcome our suspicion that that voting is irrational. :)

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Lip Service

Josh, in reponse to your post #51...

To keep this posting on topic - I think voters are searching for many sources of information in order to be able to discern facts from editorializing. If I visit the McCain website, I want the Republican perspective. If I visit the Obama website, I am seeking the Democratic viewpoint.

I listen to Rush (I'm not a fan). Rush makes no pretense about his right wing agenda and he doesn't mince words. I suspect that most of his listeners and callers know that before participating. It is patently clear that Rush is editorializing.

I also listen to NPR, read the NYT, watch the mainstream TV and read online news media. These sources advance their political agendas more insidiously under the pretext of factual reporting. That means I have to search multiple sources to filter the facts from the political viewpoints.

It seems that some ardent supporters of McCain or Obama visit the other candidate's website not because they are seeking perspective, but merely to voice their opposition to the candidate (or often his predecessor).

I consider these postings (while not technically "trolling") to be like attending the other party's convention merely to cause a disruption - it is a disrespectful and immature attempt to force one's viewpoint on an unreceptive audience under the guise of freedom of expression. The postings create unwelcome noise.

As the old adage goes, your freedom to swing your fist stops at my nose. Advocates are free to stand on the street corner and shout their beliefs, but they don't have the right to invade my living room. I should be free to not only ignore them, but to not be subjected to them at all.

They have an appropriate forum: a polling booth on November 4th.

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Lip Service

Why would we be surprised by what liberals are willing to say on the McCain blog - the mainstream media is nearly as one-sided and irresponsible.

A caller on NPR this afternoon called Phil Gramm a "crook" and the moderator accepted the comment like it was an established fact. Apparently, liberals believe if you tell a lie with enough frequency it becomes believable, and if you shout it becomes the truth.

If liberals are advocates of tolerance and freedom of expression, then why were certain liberals unwilling to allow the Republicans uninterrupted discourse in their own convention? The conservative etiquette towards the Democratic convention showed more than mere lip service to tolerance and freedom of expression.

Why do some liberals find it acceptable to "trespass" into a conservative forum (online or otherwise) in order to subject an unwilling audience to their opinions? Apparently, "freedom" must advance a liberal agenda and "fairness" refers only to entitlement programs.

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Alex B

@37

Well it is getting close to elections. Everybody is getting their jabs in. We wouldn't want someone with an ambiguous POV to get confused about who is right.

Jared

As with most issues economists describe, it depends. It depends on your definition of "control". Conservatives typically favor freer economic markets, but favor controls on things like entertainment and media.

Ike

I find it humorous that virtually none of the comments are on-topic.

This is about an apparent fundamental difference in two campaigns, and is either indicative or contrary to their perceived philosophies.

I'm bookmarking this.

Swashbuckler

"Succinct, no? But true?"

Yes and no.

Libs want to control business, but not people.

Cons want to control people, but not business.

jblog

Well the proof is in the blog -- the point is, dissenting opinion (even including outright trolling) is permitted on McCain's blog.

It would not be and is not permitted on Obama's.

Smitty

@Gooch

Well, obviously the Democrat is Superman and the Republican is the dinosaur... and we all know that dinosaurs can kick Superman's butt...

Couldn't agree with you more.

Kim

Thank you #22! You've articulated something so well that I've been having trouble putting into words.

David Rasmussen

Why is ability to keep secrets touted as a qualification for vice-presidency (Palin)?

Why is Dick Cheney's office so steeped with secrecy?

Why did FISA pass (with Obama's vote) despite its blatant unconstitutionality?

Politicians, as a rule, are very much for control. Their control. Letting the banking system fail through lack of regulation (libertarianism) might just be control freaks acting passive-aggressively.