McCain, Iran, Cigarettes

Posted by Katherine | July 16, 2008 – 11:16 am
Cigarette seller in Tehran
Cigarette seller in Tehran [kamshots / Flickr]

The US currently exports over ten times more to Iran than at the start of the Bush administration. At the top of the pile: cigarettes. Somewhat suprising, no? John McCain seemed to think so last week when he responded by saying, “Maybe that’s a way of killin’ ‘em.” Meaning: maybe the cigarettes will kill off Iranians. A worthy sequel to his “Bomb Bomb Iran” quip. The blogosphere attacks and defends.

Tara van Brederode is a lawyer in Ames, Iowa, who was inspired by Paul Wellstone to take up Democratic activism. In a nice twist, she’s married to a Christian conservative. Tara was appalled by McCain’s comment (thanks, Ann Raber):

He’s not talking about the troops of a nation with which we are at war, he’s talking about killing the men, women, and children of an entire nation, on purpose. […]

Sometimes people say insensitive things. Sometimes people laugh at them. That’s okay with me; I know I have made crude or obnoxious jokes, some of which should never appear in print. Probably all of us have.

But these are more than that. These are inappropriate comments you might let slide if your angry uncle made them while he was downing his 4th beer and grousing about welfare recipients. They are not comments or “jokes” that the potential President of the United States should make.

Jay Henderson, former urbanite now living in rural, mountainous Virginia, thinks Iran’s wounded reaction was way overblown. Judging by his blog title (A McCain Democrat’s Journal), Jay is a Democrat who plans to vote for McCain.

John McCain made a little joke about Iranian cigarette imports and now officials in Iran are fuming . . . oops . . . fired up . . . oh, darn . . . really smoked . . . uh, cheesed off about it. […]

No sense of humor in Tehran, apparently, and Iranian government spokesmen are now bristling and carping that McCain is a “warmonger,” according to a report by Reuters. […]

So, let’s compare. When the President of Iran vows to destroy the nation of Israel, that is okay, just fine, no problem. No warmongering there. When Iran trains insurgents and supplies them with arms and explosives to kill American soldiers and Marines and civilians and whoever in Iraq . . . hey, just good business, right? But a wisecrack about Iranian cigarette imports . . . whoa! International incident! Call in the Interpol PC Police!

Jay, a little fired up himself, ends by heading out for a cigarette break.


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