John McCain: A “crazy cancer-ridden dishonest madman”?

I was disappointed to find an approving link from a fellow ScienceBlogger to this sort of rant by Matt Stoller:

We all know that winning this election is not enough. It’s just not. It’s not even close. This is the most unpopular President we’ve ever had and our opponent is a crazy cancer-ridden dishonest madman. Our nominee should crush this guy.

“Crazy cancer-ridden dishonest madman”? Nice. I wonder if Matt spit out the term “cancer-ridden” with the same amount of contempt and venom while typing as he did when he spit out the terms “crazy,” “dishonest,” and “madman.” I wonder if he thinks “cancer-ridden” is just as bad an insult as the other terms.

As a cancer surgeon, I found that bit about “cancer-ridden madman” to be a truly despicable rhetorical gambit, not to mention irrelevant. John McCain had melanoma. He was successfully treated for it, and has been cancer-free for seven years, making the likelihood of a recurrence very small. Whatever reasons one might have for not wanting him to be President, even if his having survived melanoma is one of them (an aspect of the overall package that, in McCain’s case, I rank pretty darned low on the list of reasons not to vote for him, given the low likelihood of his tumor recurring), using the term “cancer-ridden” as part of a string of disparaging adjectives gives the impression that the vile moron who wrote the above sentence views being a cancer survivor as something to be ashamed of, something on the same order of being dishonest, crazy, or a madman.

And this blogger is not alone. For example, here are some other similar, equally vile, descriptions of John McCain:

Nice to know these bloggers and commenters apparently think that having had cancer makes for a term of disparagement worth throwing in with all the other insults. Yeah, I’ll point out again that I’m a cancer surgeon, and I may be a bit more sensitive about this sort of crap than John Q. Public, but to me it doesn’t matter what you think of John McCain politically or personally. As I’ve said before, I lost my enthusiasm for him after he decided to start kissing up to the religious right in the wake of the election of our current President. What matters to me is that there’s no reason to throw around the term “cancer-ridden” in describing McCain as though it were an insult. Ditto on all the age-based insults as well. Throwing around such rhetoric reveals far more about the bloggers who use the term “cancer-ridden” with the same contempt that they use terms like “cheater,” “madman,” “troll,” and “loon.”

And none of what it reveals is good.