Archive for the ‘John McCain’ Category
McCain: A Blast from the Past….He might have seen an Alien (and this is just one more thing that Sullivan doesn’t know)
[Here's a scoop that you won't find on Andrew Sullivan's site. He isn't sufficiently in tune with this stuff. Too much Oakeshott.]
Sometimes the familiar reveals itself in strange and wonderful ways when viewed in hindsight. Here is John McCain’s (in)famous anti-Obama ad “Celeb.” Not only does the line of attack seem even more ludicrous after the election, but take a good look at McCain’s picture as it “morphs” at the end. (Freeze framing the image is helpful here.) Tell me if you don’t think that he has just had a close encounter of the third kind, that he has come face to face with a “benevolent” alien? (His present claims about the stimulus package certainly suggest that he is out of touch, in a serious way. “What we need are more tax cuts, especially for the wealthiest aliens.”) Of course, it could simply be that Obama strikes him as an alien. I mean, he did refer to him as “that one.”
And while we are at it, let’s not forget how closely the Republicans, and John’s soul mate, George, have been to the aliens. When Obama gets through cleaning out the Justice Department, he should really have his people check this out.
“SPACE ALIEN BACKS BUSH FOR PRESIDENT”
We remember Paul Newman today as a distinguished actor, philanthropist, committed progressive, and a truly decent soul. And on this day of his passing, his unique career does us an additional service. It helps us to understand why Obama won the debate and why he is going to win the election. As everyone knows, Paul Newman had a one in million smile, and he would certainly be flashing one now if he knew that he had made this contribution.
All we need is one film to make the case. While Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid may not be a great movie, it is a very good one, and perhaps more importantly, it was a timely one. It was a zeitgeist film. It connected with an audience that understood that time was out of joint in America, that we were adrift, that we were losing our collective soul, and that we needed to set things right. When the “bad guys” become the good guys, and “the law” is viewed as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, you know that the world has been turned topsy-turvy. And when an audience feels so undermined that it can immediately connect with the line, “Who are those guys?” that is, those guys who can’t be stopped from chasing us (think here of the Vietnam War and a nation in turmoil back in 1969), you know that things have run amok.
Paul Newman’s films were often successful not only because of their success as works of art, but because they understood the importance of speaking to an audience, something which many of our pundits and commentators still do not seem to appreciate. How so? Last night I spent hours, UP@NIGHT, in true political junkie fashion, listening to commentators on the first debate between Obama and McCain. I would listen to the first round of comments, and then since I couldn’t be in two virtual places at once, turn to reruns of earlier broadcasts. I have also looked at many of the editorials in print today.
Time and time again, commentators insisted on using sports metaphors to describe the debate, primarily from boxing (points, knockouts) and baseball (home runs, strikes). There were exceptions, but just turn to the print media today. What’s the big headline? “No Knockout.” We hear about jabs that were thrown, and counter punches, etc. We hear criticisms that Obama didn’t throw enough punches, and that he could have brought McCain down by going more on the offense I am sure that you have heard this stuff. I won’t belabor the point.
But Obama understands, like Newman did, that acting is about audience. And presidential debates have more in common with acting than they do with sports contests. Or let me put this another way. Presidential debates are like auditions, and if you are going to be successful in an audition, you’ve got to be able to have a sense of what the director is looking for and the possibilities of a role. In this case, the director is the American people and the role is president. And the goal of the debater is not merely to score points, but to give a performance that resonates with the desires and hopes of the people. The debate is not an end. It is a means, and it is not a means to merely “winning” the debate in terms of points, but of winning the election.
I am not surprised that polls and focus groups show that more people thought Obama won. (Two examples, a USA Today/Gallop Poll, a CBS poll.) Nor am I surprised by the internal numbers in the polls showing that Obama went a long way toward crossing the biggest hurdle that he needed to cross, making voters feel comfortable with whether he is ready to be president. If you think about the debate in terms of an audition, then Obama was wildly successful. Obama appears to have convinced a significant number of people that he is ready to lead, cool under fire, knowledgeable, not easily flustered (by a cranky old guy telling you that “you don’t understand”), and energetic. Further, he reinforced his message that he understands “people like you and me,” which was already one of his strong suits. It was actually a beautifully orchestrated event, right down to the ads Obama has started to run.
Obama won this debate in the only terms that he needed to win it. He connected with a larger number of people in the audience than did McCain, and made them feel comfortable with his “playing the role” of president, while discussing a topic that was supposed to be McCain’s strong suit. Obama is going to win the election. And unlike Butch and Sundance, this story is going to have a happy ending.
Okay, here is my take about what has been going on in terms of Palin and McCain. The writers for the Daily Show are actually trained undercover agents. They have infiltrated the McCain/Palin campaign and have been writing speeches, talking points, and press releases. How else can one account for Palin’s statements? Seeing Russia from Alaska counts as evidence of foreign policy expertise. Who can deny that this is a beautiful piece of writing? And now there are the cows.
From The NY Times:
WASILLA, Alaska — Gov. Sarah Palin lives by the maxim that all politics is local, not to mention personal.
So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.
Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages. The New York Times, Sunday, August 13th. Link
Does it get better than this? VP candidate appoints classmate, real estate agent and cow fancier, Franci Havemeister (is this a real name?), as head of State Division of Agriculture. (Did I miss something here? Agriculture=Cows.) I mean, let’s suppose this was President Palin: For Secretary of Defense: Bobby Have A’meister, friend, used car salesman, lover of Colt 45′s, and Moose hunter. Why not?
Palin and her good friend Bobby Have A’meister:
Well, there is the, “but seriously folks,” to all of this. The problem with Palin is not just that she places friendship over expertise, but that she also appears to be Nixon-like (remember his Enemies List) and Bush-like in the way in which she goes after perceived enemies. The Times article goes on to make the following point, which we have seen made in other venues.
But an examination of her swift rise and record as mayor of Wasilla and then governor finds that her visceral style and penchant for attacking critics — she sometimes calls local opponents “haters” — contrasts with her carefully crafted public image.
Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.
Wow….Opponents are haters! Unfortunately this is not a corny reference to a group of aliens in a bad sci fi flick. It is Palin unfiltered. They are Haters because they are perceived to be her enemies.
What we have here is one of the oldest ethical failings in the book, and conservatives, as well as moderates and liberals, should be very concerned. In the first book of Plato’s Republic various definitions of justice are offered. All prove inadequate. One of the earliest ones to be shot down is the following:
Justice is helping friends and injuring enemies.
While this definition is pretty common in gangster-land, it reflects a poor and limited understanding of justice. Here are a few of the issues: 1) our friends may prove to be bad people; 2) there may be good individuals amongst our enemies; 3) we need intelligence and knowledge to determine who are our real friends and who our real enemies; and 4) we can injure (or do an injustice to) our friends if we don’t understand what we are doing (for example, the incompetent physician who gives his friend the wrong medicine).
It’s simpleminded in the extreme to think that we can be just by merely helping those we take to be our friends and injuring our enemies. Those who call themselves our friends may not worthy of our support. Or to take this closer to home: they may not be competent to hold the positions to which we appoint them. (From Real Estate to Agriculture Honcho via a love of cows….a friend is a friend is a friend.) It appears that Palin never considered that it might be unjust (as well as unwise) to appoint friends instead of those who have genuine expertise. After all she was climbing a ladder to break her own personal glass ceiling. She is much like Bush. And this is indeed no laughing matter. So maybe the Daily Show people are not actually behind her words.
(Yes, there are times when we may have to hurt good people, for example, when we are in a war. But we must not slip into the mentality that we are always at war or at war against our fellow Americans because they disagree with us or don’t share our values.)
One last point, the sort of mentality that I have been describing–let’s call it: loyalty fanaticism–is not confined to the head honcho. It pervades the culture of the administrations of such people. I leave you with one small example from Palin’s current administration in Alaska, which should make bloggers of all political stripes take to the barricades. (It’s from the NY Times article quoted above.)
And four months ago, a Wasilla blogger, Sherry Whitstine, who chronicles the governor’s career with an astringent eye, answered her phone to hear an assistant to the governor on the line, she said.
“You should be ashamed!” Ivy Frye, the assistant, told her. “Stop blogging. Stop blogging right now!”
If you thought that the country might have a problem with McCain being too much like Bush, think again, and again….
Much of the attention regarding Palin has focused on her inexperience and duplicitous statements, e.g., about the Bridge to Nowhere. But as it turns out, Palin is not just your everyday inexperienced politician who happens to be a conservative. She is an ideologue and appears to be very Bush-like in her commitment to a loyalty culture. I can’t think of a worse combination for a president: ideologue and loyalty enforcer. And Palin is just a heartbeat away from the Oval Office if McCain becomes president. Obama and Biden, on the other hand, are moderately liberal pragmatists and their MO is compromise. I plan to write more about the contrast in the future, but I want to share here four striking “windows into Sarah” (directly quoted) from today’s (September 2nd) New York Times article, “Palin’s Start in Alaska: Not Politics as Usual.” Link to article
“Sarah comes in with all this ideological stuff, and I was like, ‘Whoa,’ ” said Mr. Stein [the previous mayor of Wassila-M.A.], who lost the election. “But that got her elected: abortion, gun rights, term limits and the religious born-again thing. I’m not a churchgoing guy, and that was another issue: ‘We will have our first Christian mayor.’ ”
Ms. Palin also upended the town’s traditional ways with a surprise edict: No employee was to talk to the news media without her permission.
Ann Kilkenny, a Democrat who said she attended every City Council meeting in Ms. Palin’s first year in office, said Ms. Palin brought up the idea of banning some books at one meeting. “They were somehow morally or socially objectionable to her,” Ms. Kilkenny said. The librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, pledged to “resist all efforts at censorship,” Ms. Kilkenny recalled. Ms. Palin fired Ms. Emmons shortly after taking office but changed course after residents made a strong show of support. Ms. Emmons, who left her job and Wasilla a couple of years later, declined to comment for this article.
“Just as Ms. Palin terminated employees on her way into office, she also let some go on the way out, including Mr. Cramer. When Ms. Palin completed her second and final term, in 2002, her stepmother-in-law, Faye Palin, was running to succeed her. It seemed like a good idea, except that Faye Palin supported abortion rights and was registered as unaffiliated, not Republican, people who remember the race said. Sarah Palin sided instead with Dianne M. Keller, a religious conservative and an ally on the City Council. Ms. Keller won.”
August 29, Immediate reaction to Palin: McCain has officially lost it, in more ways than one. He is now taking the phrase, “Hail Mary,” to mean “Hail Any Woman.”
According to the much used Wikipedia, “A Hail Mary pass or Hail Mary play in American football is a forward pass made in desperation, with only a small chance of success. The typical Hail Mary is a very long forward pass thrown near the end of a half or end of a game where there is no possibility for any other play to score points. This play is unlikely to be successful, because of the general inaccuracy of the pass and the defensive team’s preparedness for the play makes it likely that it can intercept or knock down the ball” (italics added). “Hail Mary” article from Wikipedia here
The choice of Palin reveals McCain’s historic tin ear. He is seeking to put an inexperienced politician a heartbeat away from the presidency because he believes that it will help him with the women’s vote and his base. This is after he has made experience the mantra of his campaign, and we are all aware of his age and health history. He had promised to be extraordinarily careful in his selection of a VP due to these factors. (I mean she really is inexperienced, both in domestic and foreign affairs: 21 months as a governor of a state that has a population 1/3 that of the Borough of Manhattan, and service as a small town major.) Country First, John? Not this time.
Palin’s choice is insulting to women, and especially to Clinton’s women supporters, because it assumes that they would vote for any old (or young) woman. Hell, it’s insulting to men. To think that anyone who really supported Hillary would take (oh my, I just forgot her name) Palin as a substitute is astounding. Is it possible that McCain is so desperate and befuddled that he believes being a runner up in a beauty pageant is somehow going to compensate for political stands inimical to women’s welfare? (Okay, Palin might be strong among Evangelicals and right wingers–Palin’s position, no abortions even in cases of rape and incest–but is McCain really worried about the Evangelicals? Looks like he might be. And if he is indeed still worried about his base, given the incredible shrinking Republican Party, this is not so good for John.)
For a picture of beautiful Wasilla, the town Palin was mayor of, and the scoop on the ethics violations for which Palin is under investigation, see Mudflats. It’s quite a read.
Another reason must now be added to the list of:
#14. Palin will prove to be an unbelievably bad choice for VP, especially after McCain promised to be very careful in his selection due to his age. Given the sheer political nature of this choice, he will have to give up his slogan, Country First. Can you imagine Palin eyeball to eyeball with Putin? How about eyeball to eyeball with any senator, except for Ted Stevens, in the Senate? ( Just think for a moment about how the debate with Biden is going to go.) Hey, John, your answer to every problem is not to pick a pretty woman. Just because Cindy helped put expensive shoes on your feet….
UPDATE: Breaking News. According to Steve Doocy of Fox News, “She does know about international relations because she’s right up there in Alaska right next door to Russia.” YouTube Link.
UPDATE, 8.30.2008 Wow. This is going to be some ride. It seems that Palin is immature and quite willing to laugh while a radio host calls another woman, Alaska Senate President Lydia Green (who is a cancer survivor), a cancer and a bitch. See article here. A tape of the broadcast appears to exist. I am sure we will hear it soon. (According to the article, Palin laughed several times at tasteless comments about Green.)
UPDATE, 8.30.2008 Okay, here is a Link to the interview. Btw, the crack about the seat refers to Green’s weight.
UPDATE: After Republican convention, September 5, 2008. In spite of the initial positive reaction to Palin because: 1) she gave a reasonably well delivered speech (written by professional speech writers) at the convention; 2) sympathy for what many in the public perceive as a piling on by the Press; 3) hunger for reform and change (which her positions do not actually represent); and 4) the apparent progress for women in a woman VP pick (in spite of the fact that her policies and convictions are inimical to women’s welfare), I am holding to my initial reaction in this blog. It is clear that the McCain people will try to keep her away from the Press for as long as they can. But there will be a debate with Biden and at some point there will be questions about her unavailability for questions. Also, most people simply don’t know about her stands on the issues, for example, no abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and that she has lied about her record, for example, regarding the Bridge to Nowhere. Let’s see how all of this looks six weeks from now as McCain/Palin tries to push themselves as the change team in an economy still on the ropes and for which they are only offering traditional Bush/Republican bromides. (The flip from the experience team to the change team at this stage in the game is a Hail Mary. The Dems are just waiting for them. Wait till you see all of the ads with McCain saying just what Bush has said about the economy.) And let’s see how people feel about Palin being a heartbeat away from the presidency after they see how little knowledge she has of the world.
Kate Phillips reports the following in the NY Times on August 20, 2008 (article here):
“A dividing line shows up in this [NY Times/CBS] poll, according to the analysis by Mr. Cooper and Ms. Sussman:
Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, was trusted more by voters to handle their top concern, the economy. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed said they were confident that Mr. Obama would make the right decisions on the economy, compared with 54 percent who expressed confidence that Mr. McCain would. When it came to foreign policy, the image was inverted: 66 percent expressed confidence in Mr. McCain to make the right decisions, and 55 percent in Mr. Obama.
The economy ranks far higher than national security or the Iraq war as a top concern among voters in the new survey, which indicated that respondents were more negative about the economy than at any time since 1992 when, as the article notes, Bill Clinton won the presidency with the admonishment that ‘It’s the Economy, Stupid’.”
McCain has hung out the bait: you hate the war, well I am going to keep making outrageous claims about winning it. Come and get me. And we will if we are not careful. Because he was wrong about the war from the get go and his foreign policy is a throwback to the Cold War. But it’s a trap. While most Americans agree that the war is bad news, it is not what they are mainly concerned about right now. Or more to the point, it is not the central concern of most of the undecided voters, those who will determine the outcome of the election. They want to talk jobs, wages, foreclosures, mortgages, retirement, and medical care. If Americans are basically confident that Obama can handle foreign policy, and the poll suggests that 55% of them already are, then Obama has crossed the most significant threshold. He doesn’t have to top McCain. He just has to make sure that enough people feel comfortable about his ability to handle foreign affairs so that they can go ahead and vote for him based on economic self-interest.
My conclusion: as painful as it might be for Obama and his supporters, they should avoid responding to McCain every time he raises the Iraq War and foreign policy. A better course: remind the American people as often as possible that the war is costing us 10 billion a month when we have no health care and the economy is tanking. (And they should also remind the American people that McCain said that he needed to study up on economics just a few months ago. A captain of the economy he is not.)
P.S. Yes, of course, there will be times that Obama and his supporters will have to respond about the war and discuss foreign policy, but this is different from getting sucked into an endless debate about the war. It was and is wrong, corrupt, and strategically stupid. But this is going to be a pocket book election unless something unforeseen and very big happens internationally. Focusing on the Iraq War and foreign affairs is not going to win the election for anyone but McCain. And then we will have to stare at this for years to come……
UPDATE: August 23, 2008. The selection of Joe Biden as the VP candidate should work beautifully with the strategy outlined above. The basic premise of this strategy is that Obama does not have to poll better than McCain on foreign policy; he just has to convince a majority of Americans that he can handle foreign policy well. The NY Times/CBS poll suggests that he has already crossed this threshold. Biden will not only help to make sure that he remains above this threshold, he will help Obama improve his standing. My guess is that the selection of Biden, and other moves that Obama will make, will push him well into the 60% range on the question of confidence in handling foreign affairs. (A 3-4% lead in the popular vote will almost surely translate into an electoral college win. That’s a 52%-48% win, without third party candidates included.)
As a professional philosopher what I am about to do here on this site, on this day, is sacrilege. Instead of making arguments against John McCain’s ideas (or lack thereof), which I do elsewhere, I am going to mock him. What I will be doing is a form of ad hominem argumentation, which is to say, arguing against the person and not his ideas. Definitely Verboten. But in my defense, first, McCain really doesn’t have any ideas. Second, he started it with Paris and Spears, comparing Obama to a gas pump (which was really the point of McCain’s gas commercial, think about it), and then by bringing in Moses. Third, this is a political contest, not an academic dispute. So, the gloves are off. If Obama can’t respond in kind, I can.
On this site, here and now, and in the coming weeks, you will find revealing insights into McCain the man. Each of these images have been cursor selected for their revelatory power. (Suggestions for additions are welcome. As a matter of fact, following Larry Geater’s idea, let’s see this as a contest. Submit your entries under Comments.) Stayed tuned. And in the meantime, take your pick and start circulating some visual memes around the Web.
On how to run a tight ship and be a Cylon, BSG’s Colonel Saul Tigh is John McCain (or vice versa):
On knowledge of the economy, John McCain is Alfred E. Neuman (with green $ backgrounds):
On military preparedness and guns: John McCain is Elmer Fudd
On general competence, anger, and far-sightedness, John McCain is Mr. MaGoo:
The Young John McCain and the Young George Bush. Can you tell the difference?
McCain before and after a recent election make-over:
John McCain having another senior moment, confusing the phrase “a thousand years in Iraq” with “a thousand year Reich.”
And then after “recovering,” some eight or nine minutes later, fantasizing about his place in the cosmos as a celebrity because of his win on American Idol:
Hold the Presses. John McCain has begun considering VP candidates. From the New York Times, May 22nd, Adam Nagourney reporting, “Charlie Crist and Bobby Jindal, both governors, and Mitt Romney, a onetime rival for the nomination, are all set to meet with John McCain this weekend.” (Editorial sidebar: So this means that we might have “Mac and Crist in ’08,” which could do wonders for Mac with a certain demographic, or “Mac and Mitt in ’08,” for help with the baseball loving trucker vote. On the other hand, “Mac and Jindal in ’08,” no way. The Jindals make up too small a percentage of the electorate.)
But this is not the really BIG news. A high placed, anonymous source, reports that Hillary Clinton has decided on her choice for VP. And it ain’t Barack.
First, the context. As reported on May 21st, from BOCA RATON, Florida, in Politico. “Hillary Clinton compared her effort to seat Florida and Michigan delegates to epic American struggles, including those to free the slaves and win the right to vote for blacks and women.[...]”
Hillary was quoted in Politico as claiming,
“This work to extend the franchise to all of our citizens is a core mission of the modern Democratic party,” she said. “From signing the Voting Rights Act and fighting racial discrimination at the ballot box to lowering the voting age so those old enough to fight and die in war would have the right to choose their commander in chief, to fighting for multi-lingual ballots so you can make your voice heard no matter what language you speak.”
Ah, there you have it. She is incensed about what has been done to the people of Michigan and Florida. Their citizens have been old enough to fight and die for their country, speaking in different tongues as they do so, but not old enough to have their votes counted for Hillary. And part of her anger stems (and this is one author’s psychoanalysis) from self-hatred, since she signed off (read: gave her word to the DNC) on not counting the votes in Florida and Michigan way back when. (When exactly? Sometime before she had beaten “Uncommitted” in Michigan.). So she must act to right this wrong, in part, to overcome her self-loathing.
What you have just read/heard is the part of the story that deals with morality and self-loathing. But there is more. There is Hillary as tactician.
As reported by Politico, she went on to say, “We know the road to a Democratic White House runs right through Florida and Michigan…”
Knowing that she needs Florida and Michigan to win against Obama and to win in November, Hillary has had to determine how best to secure these states. One answer, choose a VP from either state, perhaps one for the first term from Florida and one for the second from Michigan, and let the voters know asap that she plans to do so. But this, as it turns out, is insufficient to right the magnitude of the injustice.
To arrive at a solution (recall, “solutions” were once a feature of one of her slogans), she has drawn on hitherto unknown, but deeply held, skeleton in the closet, Communist sensibilities. Her solution is novel, seemingly impractical, but strikingly bold. (How bold? Bill may have been behind the idea.) She plans to make the People of Florida her VP. (Florida, in her mind, has suffered more than Michigan due to the 2000 election. See her recent and future comments–coming to web sites and blogs everywhere soon–about the movie “Recount.”) Yes, it’s true, the People of Florida will be her choice for VP if she should win the nomination. And my sources also tell me that a slogan has already been prepared: “Vote for Hillary and the State in 08.”
LATE WORD: Campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe, Comrade Terry, is denying rumors that there are plans afoot to change the name of Florida to the Florida Democratic Republic or the FDR.