McCain Poker

Best of: Mainstream Media Reactions to John McCain’s Poker Moment

darth-potato-mccain-pokerWhile we expect our politicians to act in hypocritical, lying and self-serving ways, once in while they go above and beyond the call of duty, as happened to US Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a staunch online-poker opponent who was nonetheless captured this week, by a Washington Post photog, playing a little poker himself on his iPhone.

You’d think a military hawk like McCain could be bothered to pay full attention during a Senate hearing discussing possible military intervention by the US in Syria, and in turn the possible repercussions of creating yet another controversial outlet of Middle East conflict, but hey, McCain didn’t seem to care.  As he Tweeted soon after being caught playing a few hands of a free-chip app called VIP Poker: “Scandal! Caught playing iPhone game at 3+ hour Senate hearing – worst of all I lost!”

Open mouth, insert poker chips.  McCain’s utter flippancy and disregard about a globally serious matter about it all guaranteed that he’d be the butt of a whole range of jokes and commentary on the matter, perhaps none more succinct that Twitter user DarthPotato’s McCain-slanted “Dogs Playing Poker” PhotoShop (above right).

Fun at McCain’s expense?  Oh, there’s been plenty of that.  Such antics are made to order for Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” who opined, “As the Senate Foreign Relations Committee considers America’s response to the war in Syria, John McCain ponders his response to the river card.”  (Click the link above; your author is having a little trouble with video embeds today.)

ScreenHunter_06 Sep. 08 14.16

Then there’s David Letterman, where McCain’s antics were guaranteed to become one of that show’s famed “Top Ten Lists,” well worth the viewing, and which the Post itself cited and embedded in its own finger-wagging followup at McCain.

ScreenHunter_06 Sep. 08 14.25

As Digg’s David Weiner wrote, mimicking McCain’s own flippancy: “Haha, you’re right! It’s absurd to expect someone who pushed us into two, now maybe three wars to give his full attention!”

McCain couldn’t even figure out that the flip responses weren’t winning him any friends, and he kept it when later interviewed by CNN about the faux pas.  Said McCain to CNN, “As much as I like always listening in rapt attention constantly [to the] remarks of my colleagues over a three and a half hour period, occasionally I get a little bored, but the worst thing is I lost thousands of dollars in this game… .thousands and thousands of fake dollars.”

Meanwhile, over at Mashable, which first ID’d the tiny app that McCain was playing, served up a “best of” piece on all the responses, irate and otherwise, to McCain’s Twitter retort.  Politico offered a similar take on the situation, though both the most liberal (i.e.: MSNBC) and the most conservative (i.e.: Breitbart) outlets tended to take the same approach, letting the story tell itself, rather than using it to push a political slant.

McCain’s play-chip turn caught international eyes as well, such as in this gently scolding piece in the UK’s Independent, which also published a followup called “Five Excuses McCain Should Have Used for Playing Poker on Phone During Syria Hearing.”  These are probably better, overall, than the Letterman top-ten vid.  #4 and #5 from the list are exceptional:

4. The Everyday Joe

 “Let he who hasn’t had a game of Angry Birds during a long meeting cast the first stone. Any takers?”

5. The Lie

 “It must have been photoshopped. You guys know how the liberal media works…”

Poker-world reaction?  Except from the usual forum rail-birding sources, it’s been unexceptional.  Perhaps the best find was the Daily Caller finding an old Doyle Brunson blog from Brunson’s DoylesRoom days, bashing McCain for his hypocrisy on other gambling matters.  (Despite the conservative Brunson’s disgust for McCain, he couldn’t quite bring himself to vote for Obama.)

Such is the state of America, if not for the country itself, then at least its politicians.


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