Ed Schultz on John McCain … Warmonger!!?????

Well, I heard Ed this morning … sticking by his guns … “John McCain is a warmonger!!” No one owes an apology for Ed. He’s not part of Obama’s campaign. He speaks for himself!!! So says Ed.

Well … Ed … you’re right!! Who would want to claim you?? You … Bob Cunningham, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Al Franken … what enlightened company you keep … out on the fringes of rational thought. If the range of thought is a full circle, all of you are bumping shoulders on the far side.

“Warmonger!!!”

Sounds bad doesn’t it? Sounds insulting. Sounds like a terrible person.

Well … what does it actually mean?

So, I turned to my trusty Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (1969) … there between “warmish” and “warm spot”:

Warmonger \n: one who stirs up war: jingo (synonym)- warmongering\n.

Uhmm …okay. Let’s look some more.

So, I get a more recent dictionary, Random House Webster’s College Dictionary (April 2000) … for those of you who think my references are truly archaic. Now between “warming pan” and warmth”:

Warmonger, n. a person who advocates war.

So … has there been a subtle difference in the perception of warmongering over a thirty year stretch or is this simply a difference in editors, referring to the change in the descriptive choice of words from “stirs up” to “advocates“?

Deciding not to let it rest at this point, I went to look for a recent acquisition from my mother’s home, a colossal four volume collection probably weighing in at twenty pounds titled Universal Dictionary of the English Language published in 1899. It’s an Encyclopedic collection of just about everything imaginable that could possess the mind at the end of the Victorian era. When I first came across it at my mother’s and started thumbing through it, I could just imagine a crusty old group of professors fussing around Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck as in “Ball of Fire” while this majestic work was being compiled … except the romantic couple was more likely the aging but real Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler considering the date of publication. This remarkable collection was originally the property of my great grandfather who studied Medicine as an apprentice in post civil war Savannah.

Anyway … back to warmongering …

It didn’t exist. In the 1899 Universal Dictionary of the English Language, “warmongering” didn’t exist.

So I thought … okay, warmongering is one of those twentieth century idiosyncracies.

Having also obtained a 1915 copy of Funk and Wagnall’s Comprehensive Dictionary which was given to my grandmother in 1943, a quick perusal revealed that “warmonger” as a combination of words didn’t rate the dictionary as late as the early part of World War I.

So, somewhere between 1915 and 1969, someone decided to use the words “war” and “monger” together and the phrase has been used enough for it to be finally included in dictionaries as the composition word, “warmonger”.

I think everyone has a pretty good idea what the word “war” means.

But, what about “monger”?

Let’s start with the most recent definition and work backwards. That ought to be fun. Since we don’t know how the word will evolve in the future we can have the pleasure of traveling into the past.

Random House Webster’s … (2000): monger, n. 1.a person who is involved in something in a petty or contemptible way. (gossipmonger) 2. a dealer in or trader of a commodity (fishmonger).

Webster’s … (1969): monger\ n. ( a lot of stuff about Middle English, Old English, French and even Greek origins) finally followed by two synonyms, “broker” and “dealer”.

Funk and Wagnall’s … (1915): monger n. A dealer or trader:chiefly in compounds, and when figurative, implying discredit; as, cheesemonger, scandalmonger.

And lastly, (This is great!)

Universal Dictionary … (1899):

*monger, v.i. To traffic, to deal in: used generally in composition with its object, and often in a bad sense

monger,s. [A.S. mangere = a dealer, a merchant, from mangian = to deal, to traffic, from mang = a crowd, and assembly; Icel. mangeri = a monger, from manga – to trade; mang = barter; Dut. manghere; O.H. Ger. mangeri; Lat. mango = a dealer in slaves.]

1. A trader, a dealer. It is now (1899) seldom used alone, but only in composition: as, fishmonger, ironmonger.

*2. a small kind of trading vessel.

By the way, in this source, Monger is located between “mongcorn” and “mongibell”, the latter derived from Italian meaning “volcano”.

Okay, back to Ed Schultz and John McCain.

Well, it’s very apparent that Ed Schultz was trying to imply something “petty or comtemptible” about john McCain. I don’t think that he was trying to give John McCain a compliment.

According to Random House Webster, a warmonger, is a … jingo n. a person who professes belligerent patriotism. and jingoism n. the spirit, policy, or practice of jingoes, bellicose chauvinism.

Okay, so it becomes very apparent that, for a very long time, referring to someone as a “monger” of most sorts isn’t exactly being complimentary of that person and specifically referring to them as a “warmonger” implies they are a “bellicose chauvinist”.

So, Ed Schultz is accusing John McCain of being a jingo, one who professes beligerent patriotism, a practitioner of bellicose chauvinism, one who is involved in war in a petty and contemptible way, a person who is stirring up or advocating war, or is trading in or profiting by war. Stating that John McCain is a warmonger implies all of those things, but it also implies an attempt to “discredit” John McCain (Funk and Wagnall’s … (1915).

Was George Washington a warmonger when he tried to hold his small force together that winter at Valley Forge? Was Abraham Lincoln a warmonger when he resisted cries to let the South go and end the war in 1863? Was Franklin Roosevelt a warmonger when he frantically sought to rebuild American military forces on the eve of World War II against cries for isolationism?

John McCain expresses a will to persevere and win in Iraq. Is that warmongering? Like his opponents, he states the obvious that there will be a need for us to have a significant military presence in the Gulf area and probably specifically in Iraq for an undetermined number of years.

Ed Schultz accuses John McCain of being a warmonger because he wants to increase the size of the military. It’s called peace through strength. Jimmy Carter didn’t understand it. Ronald Reagan did. Franklin Roosevelt understood it. Peacemakers aren’t pacifists.

Is John McCain a warmonger? Now you have quite a few definitions with some historical perspective on the meaning of the word. You decide.

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3 Responses

  1. Um, yes, he is. And Abe Lincoln sure as hell was.

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