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Jodi Lampert Headshot

Deconstructing John: Revisiting His Bad Language

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I have been struggling with something about the 'mainstream media'. I find myself both puzzled and fascinated by what they choose to cover. Here's a 'for-instance,' which I saw last week on MSNBC -- a brief discussion about whether or not one of the candidates intended an obscene gesture when scratching his face. I saw this, complete with slow-mo replay, in my own two horror-filled eyes.

But this complete lack of any coverage about one story in particular has finally enraged me enough to take keypad in hand to perform the following Public Service. I have seen nothing anywhere -- anywhere -- in the 'mainstream media' about a remark made by John McCain to his wife Cindy, and I intend to rectify that situation.

I will present and then diagram the sentence, as perhaps the teachers who taught little Johnny McCain (or 'McNasty', his high school nickname) did back in the 'good-old days' when sentences were studied. I will do this so there can be no guesswork, no questions about what the good Senator was trying to say.

Perhaps I should also speculate about what might have been the events leading up to this particular 'moment'. Had McCain woken up on the wrong side of the bed? Did he have bad cheese in his omelet? Did someone cut the Senator off in traffic? Wait, doesn't the guy have a driver? I guess you could say I'm not quite sure what the motivating events leading up to saying this particular sentence might possibly be. But I do believe for any analysis to be considered complete, very, very intense scrutiny is necessary, you know, kind of like the scrutiny being given to other people's, ...let's say, preachers?

Let's begin, shall we?

Now, here it is -- here is what John McCain said to Cindy McCain in 1992, during a prior campaign, in front of strangers and campaign workers and three members of the press:

"At least I don't plaster on the make-up like a trollop, you cunt."

Okay. Now, to give a 'fair-and-balanced' context, Cindy had just reached up to the Senator's balding head and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." Well, we all know you men and your hairdo's... wait a minute, isn't that ladies?

(Hey, I like bald guys).

We'll start with, "At least I don't." Easy to understand. "At least" is a short phrase, colloquial, a way to begin a sentence. A superlative of 'little,' it indicates the speaker has a world-weary stance. "I" refers, of course, to Senator McCain, and "don't,' a contraction of "do not," is a negative verb.

Next: "Plaster." Well, it's getting a little complex, here. "Plaster" has several meanings. Is "plaster" being used like "a pasty form to walls"? Then, hmm. Because combined with the phrase coming up, that could be significant. But I'm betting the Senator meant "plaster" as in "to cover conspicuously or overspread."

Moving on.

"... on the makeup." Again, a double entendre. "Make-up." We all hope and assume that's what the Senator and Cindy did after their fight (and one prays -- for her sake -- that this one was a doozy), but whether they 'made-up' is not crystal clear. But to use a simile, "Plaster" goes with "Cindy's Make-up" like, umm, "Turkey" goes with "Store-bought, mix-with-water-in-the-package Cheap Gravy." (Guess who was the 'A plus' English student)?

"Like a trollop." Certainly getting to the meat of things, now. For me, this brings up one big question, one that has 'nada' to do with this sentence. How old is John McCain? What kind of person uses 'trollop'? Did he remember to shut the Frigidaire? Did he put the milk in the icebox? Take the trolley to the shore, after the press conference? Did he go to the dock to shout, "Stevedore"? Shouldn't he be dating Helen Thomas?

I just know he left the Victrola on.

UrbanDictionary.com defines 'Trollop' as 'slut whore tramp strumpet ho prostitute skank bitch harlot tart floozy hussy and bimbo.' Hey! Is that John "Jo!" McCain trying to subtly sway the ghetto vote? Using subliminal seduction? Wouldn't he have been more successful calling her a 'bitch'? Isn't that the word all the young-ones use?

Which leads us to our very last words. "You cunt."

Ah, there it is. Conveniently tucked in at the very end. The 'c-word.' The word so awful that Meredith Vieira had to actually make an apology on the "Today" show after Jane Fonda said it on-air. It's a word so awful in America (unlike in Australia, where hunting buddies might say, "You're a funny cunt!"), but considered so awful in contemporary England and the US that people might have trouble reading it or publishing this very piece.

Hey, Eminem doesn't use it.

And yet it was said by a man, running for President, to his wife. Something polite society and Eminem -- a dude who threatened his own mother's life -- can't and won't print. Even Huffington Post used "c**t" in their story. The Wall Street Journal: "The questioner used the word; we won't." And an Iowan newspaper politely called it, "an expletive relating to the female anatomy." And yet, Senator McCain said it to his wife in front of their God and everyone and members of the press.

Now, I am sure there are those among us who feel Senator McCain's stands on the issues are far more important that this, and that's your right. Maybe you think John's correct about Cindy. Maybe you think this about your own girlfriend or wife. And again, I say as long as you're a tax-paying citizen, you are allowed the maximum amount of dysfunctional relationships that the world will gladly provide. I'm not crazy enough to think that people don't call each other awful things all the time.

But why has there been nary one comment, not one clip, nothing in the endless loops that seem to fill each and every cable TV broadcast? As him, he can deny it; pseudo-end of story. Endless videos of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who is not even running for President. But nothing about this. So this must be bad.

I personally do think how you speak to your wife, especially in front of the press, is a great indicator of who you are as a person. I'd imagine you speak to your wife about how you'd talk to the gardener or your secretary or your yoga teacher ("downward dog, yes sir!") or the Secretary of State.

And here I was going to try to present this with 'no commentary.'

The 'c-word' first pops up in 1230 England, a derivative of a street called "Gropecunt Lane," which was frequented by prostitutes. It also can be found in this amusing 1355 wedding ditty: "Give your cunny wisely and beg after the wedding." A chef might use it commonly today, as in slicing vegetables 'thicker than a cunt hair.'

I don't think John McCain was calling his wife a 'potato peeler' in front of the press. I can only imagine how he speaks to her when no one's around. Again, I believe what you do say and to those you love -- in a somewhat casual moment -- can be considered a pretty darn good indication of how you will behave under pressure. I think we've seen just the tip of the iceberg as to what might come flying out of a President McCain's mouth to his Vice President or his Secretary of State or to the head of NATO or a terrorist.

But why is it just me whose pantaloons are in a twitter?

(http://rawstory.com/news/2008/McCain_temper_boiled_over_in_92_0407.html)