Saturday, September 06, 2008

Ready to Lead on Day One?

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Well, it's official. John McCain Who Was a POW has named Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Make no mistake. Given John McCain Who Was a POW's age and medical history, this lady may be closer than just a heartbeat to one of the most powerful positions in the world. So his choice for vice president is a bit more important than in some years.

By the way, I refer to the Republican presidential nominee in the fashion noted above because it seems to be the new rule that you absolutely have to bring up his honorable service as a Navy pilot and the terrible experiences he suffered as a prisoner of war. You know, the experiences he used to say he didn't like to talk about.

It's sort of like the way Muslims can't refer to the Prophet Muhammad without adding "peace be upon him." But, I'll admit, it gets a bit unwieldy. So from here on in, I'll be referring to the Arizona senator by the acronym JMWWAPOW.

Anyway, back to Gov. Palin. If the choice of a governor who's served less than a full term in a state that has half the population of Phoenix tells us anything, it's that JMWWAPOW doesn't really believe in his own "experience counts" theme.

In fact, like most things the Republican Party does these days, it basically shows that the only principle they really believe in can be summed up by another acronym: IOKIYAR (It's Okay If You're Republican). JMWWAPOW handed the perfect rebuttal to anyone who starts talking about Barack Obama's lack of experience, to wit: "If experience is so important, why'd he pick Palin?"

I mean, this is a woman who, when asked about being considered for the vice presidency, told the interviewer, "I can't answer that question until somebody answers for me, what is it exactly that the VP does every day?" Say what you like about Obama, I'm pretty sure he's known for a while what the President does.

Of course, they had to make it look as if Palin really had experience where it counted, and in doing so they inadvertently mined comedy gold all last weekend. Both Fox's Steve Doocy and later Cindy McCain went on TV and said -- with a straight face, mind you -- that Sarah Palin had
national security experience because "Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia."

McCain adviser Tucker Bounds went even further and claimed that Sarah Palin was ready, if need be, to be commander-in-chief because she'd been commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard.

This was too much even for Campbell Brown, the reporter from the usually talking-point-compliant CNN, who was interviewing Bounds.

"Can you just tell me one decision," an incredulous Brown asked, "that she made as commander-in-chief of the Alaskan National Guard, just one?"

Bounds immediately retreated into "question me and you hate the troops" mode, accusing Brown of "belittling" Palin's experience. Then he went into outright BS mode, claiming that the governor makes decisions on how to "equip and deploy" the Alaska Guard.

Unfortunately for that talking point, Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell, who commands the Alaska Guard, admitted to The Associated Press that "he and Palin play no role in national defense activities, even when they involve the Alaska National Guard. The entire operation is under
federal control, and the governor is not briefed on situations."

Of course, maybe I'm being unfair. It is true that in the short time Gov. Palin was CinC of the Alaska National Guard, we weren't attacked by Russians swarming across the Bering Strait. Not one time. So thank you, Gov. Palin. Thank you for protecting us from the Red Menace.

Privately, however, it seems that even staunch Republican supporters were aghast at the choice. Conservative columnist and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan and Republican consultant Mike Murphy, who's advised both JMWWAPOW and Mitt Romney, were caught in a moment when they thought their live microphones were off.

"It's not gonna work," Murphy said.

"It's over," Noonan agreed, then later went on to say, "The most
qualified? No. I think they went for this -- excuse me -- political
(bad word) about narratives."

Let's get real. This wasn't about experience, it wasn't about qualifications. If JMWWAPOW had really wanted those, there were more than a dozen qualified candidates he could have picked, but none of them were, shall we say, "religiously correct."

Sarah Palin was picked because she's the darling of social conservatives and the Religious Right, for whom religious correctness and right belief trump competence every time. It's the attitude that gave us George W. Bush. And if, God forbid, anything happened to JMWWAPOW, it would give us the exact same thing, if not worse.

Sure, she can give an amusing speech and make fun of people, but heck, I can do that. Maybe I should have gotten picked for Veep.

Barack Obama picked an old Washington hand who could help him govern; JMWWAPOW picked a political naïf who could help him get elected. So much for the "maverick" image.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Vice Presidential Nominee? Talk to the Press? Bitch, PLEASE!

McCain adviser Nicole Wallace openly mocks the idea of a candidate for Vice President even needing to talk to the press, apparently because questions about policy are JUST LIKE questions about Bristol Palin's pregnancy.

This is apparently part of a concerted strategy to deflect any and all legitimate questions by playing the Bristol Palin sympathy card. Yesterday on NPR's Diane Rehm show (which I was listening to in the car on the way to my own radio interview), McCain supporter Cleta Mitchell went absolutely ballistic when asked about the report that Sarah Palin had pressured a town librarian to ban books. Mitchell took off on an angry diatribe about the "media frenzy" of the last few days, and the "litany of the left wing blogs" that were trying to "destroy conservative females and conservative minorities."

I'm telling you, they're using this kid. First as blog bait, now as a shield from even legitimate questions. It's absolutely despicable.

Oh, and this video from Jon Stewart is a must-see as it points out how the Republicans are talking out of both sides of their mouth, as well as their asses, on the Palins.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The State of Things

You can hear my interview on North Carolina Public Radio's The State of Things here.

And you can't even hardly tell I have a cold.

John McCain (Who Was a POW) Gets All Pissy

If you still think that John McCain Who Was a POW has the stable temperament required to be President, you need to have a look at this Interview with TIME magazine, where he responds to questions like a surly teenager.

And apparently, he's still furious over this interview, where CNN's Campbell Brown has finally had enough bullshit from McCain adviser Tucker Bounds and starts asking some real questions that he was woefully unprepared to answer. Honorable John Who Was a POW reportedly was so piqued, he cancelled an interview with the King of the Softbal Question himself, Larry King.

That'll show 'em!

Monday, September 01, 2008

McCain Campaign Dangles 17 Year Old Pregnant Teen as Bait

Assessing the Political Impact of Bristol Palin's Pregnancy:

Democrats must be VERY careful not to take a false step here. Some Republicans have already insisted that the Obama campaign is behind the rumor-mongering about Sarah, Bristol and Trig -- although in our experience the campaign has not pushed the story AT ALL, in fact they have been encouraging reporters to focus on the issues of difference between the two candidates rather than personal stories. Any sense that Democrats are pushing this idea will almost certainly turn both Sarah and Bristol Palin into sympathetic figures -- and that spells trouble for her detractors.

Obama's statement on the matter:

"I have said before and I will repeat again: People's families are off limits," Obama said. "And people's children are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as a governor and/or her potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18 and how a family deals with issues and teenage children, that shouldn’t be a topic of our politics."

But, as we can see from the story above, it doesn't matter what Obama said, and it doesn't matter that there's no evidence that the Obama campaign is behind it. The McCainiacs are already blaming his campaign for leaking the story.

You know what? I think the McCain campaign WANTS the kid's pregnancy dragged out and endlessly discussed so they can then get all indignant and blame Obama. And considering their insistence that they already knew about the pregnancy when they picked Palin, they had to have known it would cause the very furor they're now getting so indignant about.

In short they've already moved to use a 17 year old girl as a martyr to the Cause.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Those Who Live In Seven Houses (Or IS It Eight?) Shouldn't Throw Stones

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It was the kind of statement that can come to define a campaign, the way that John Kerry's "I voted for the bill before I voted against it," launched a thousand jokes by late-night talk show hosts.

Sen. John McCain, in response to a question by a reporter as to how many houses he owns, stumbled over the answer. "I think -- I'll have my staff get to you," McCain said.

Say what? He needs staff to tell him how many houses he owns?

Before the day was out, the Obama campaign had an ad on the air. "Maybe you're struggling, just to pay the mortgage on your home," the ad said. "When McCain was asked how many houses he owned, McCain lost track. ... Well, it's seven. Seven houses."

Actually, by some reports, it's eight. But hey, who's counting? Certainly not Honorable John. He has staff for that. See? The jokes just write themselves.

The McCain campaign's response was ham-handed and clichéd, even for them:

"Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses? Does a guy who worries about the price of arugula and thinks regular people "cling" to guns and religion in the face of economic hardship really want to have a debate about who's in touch with regular Americans?"

Well, no, Senator, they actually don't, but your people keep bringing up this "elitism" stuff and intimating that you're a regular guy while Obama drinks latte and eats arugula, thus making him somehow unfit to govern regular folk. I guess they thought they'd just take that mallet and whack you on the head with it for a change, seeing as how you handed it to them on a silver platter and all.

These constant references to arugula and latte, by the way, are a staple of Republican sneers these days. Well, I've got news for you, Mr. Fancy Pants McCain spokesman: You can get latte in at least two coffee shops right here in good old Carthage, N.C., and if you look at the ingredients in a McDonald's side salad, you'll find that they include baby red Swiss chard, radicchio and yes, even the dread arugula. Heck, you can even get arugula at Wal-Mart.

Of course, I reckon that a guy with seven houses (or is it eight?) doesn't do his grocery shopping at Wal-Mart, eat many McDonald's meals or have a latte in a small town like ours, so he doesn't know that we regular folks aren't afraid of a little arugula. Jeez, those Republicans must think we're all hicks or something.

Then the McCainiacs forgot the Rule of Holes: When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging. "The reality," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said, "is they have some investment properties and stuff. It's not as if he lives in 10 houses. That's just not the case. The reality is they have four that actually could be considered houses they could use."

Oh, well then. McCain's a real everyday Joe then. He "only" has four houses he can actually live in. And two of those, according to Cindy McCain, are beach houses. They had to buy another one, you see, because the kids were using the first one so much you just couldn't get into it.

Here's a hint, Mr. Rogers: Anyone who can say "only four houses and the rest are investment properties" with a straight face has lost the right to call anyone an elitist and out of touch.

Finally, the McCain campaign decided to make it all about McCain's experience as a POW 40 years ago. It used to be that McCain and the people around him claimed that he didn't like to talk about the experience. But you sure couldn't tell it from the way they bring it up now at every opportunity.

The Obama people make fun of McCain for not knowing how many houses he has? Well, back in Hanoi, he didn't even HAVE a house, so there! When Joe Biden talked about ordinary people sitting around their kitchen table worrying, then joked that McCain's biggest worry is which of his seven kitchen tables he'd be sitting at, the McCain campaign shot back that in the POW camp, McCain didn't even HAVE a table, so there!

All due respect to Sen. McCain's service, but it's starting to get ludicrous. Pretty soon we can expect stuff like "Obama criticizes McCain's energy policy? Well, McCain didn't even HAVE a car when he was a POW, so there!"

Of course, when you really have nothing new to offer, I guess talking about the time you were a hero in the '60s seems like a good idea. After all, it worked so well for John Kerry.