Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Maybe If He Had Won Miss Congeniality...

Maverick. Free thinker. Sheriff. Straight talker.

All of John McCain's bragging points are liabilities. The Maverick label now means reckless -- after his VP choice, his suspension of the campaign, his snubbing of Letterman...

The Free thinker won't listen. Even to reason. He isn't gonna get bullied into committing to such risky ideas as an aggressive approach to terrorism in Pakistan. He wouldn't dare commit to a meeting with a rogue state like Spain. Those are Your ideas and not His. He's free. Why do you want to chain him down? Please let him run free!

The Sheriff -- well he's more like Deputy Fife. Maybe all those years of being hated in Washington just aren't going to serve him as well as he'd like us to think. A good sheriff may not be your buddy but he is respected and he has at least some influence.

The Straight talker -- Like anyone believes that anymore.

Oldies but... well just oldies

Poor McCain -- he thinks everyone's memory is as bad as his. Surely he must realize that every time he complains about $3 million for the papa bear study, someone mentions Palin's $3.2 million humping harbor seal project -- right? And he has used that paternal/criminal line so many times that he's even forgotten it's supposed to be funny. This one has to be one of the worst deliveries of a joke I've ever seen. He's scolding us even before he's done with the punchline.

They're probably taking bets in Obama's camp -- how far will McCain and Obama get into their next debate before the old guy shakes his finger and screeches out 'Why yoooou little whippersnapper!'

What happens in a pizza place...

Forget about the opposed stances on a single ticket. Forget about the reason for McCain's surprising policy of tactful and delicate diplomacy. Those aren't new issues.

But this is a whole new scary:

Couric: Are you sorry you said it governor?

McCain: Wait a minute. Before you say is she sorry she said it: This was a gotcha soundbite that well >>she was in a conversation … no she was in-

Couric: >>It wasn't a gotcha. She was talking to a voter.<<

McCain: -a conversation with a group of people and talking back and forth and I … I … I'll let governor >>Palin speak for herself.<<

Palin: >>Well and in fact<< you're absolutely right on in the context. This was a … a voter … constituents hollering out a question from across an area asking 'What are you gonna do about Pakistan? You better have an answer to Pakistan' I said 'We're gonna do what we have to do to protect the United States of America.'

So it was a gotcha soundbite because it was at a pizza place? Because she was in a conversation? Because a voter dared to ask her a question when she didn't have a teleprompter? Because we can't expect a vice presidential candidate to be able to effectively deal with the horrors of being pressed for an answer? So we shouldn't pay any attention to anything she says when she's asked a question?

In this interview they go through three defenses that cancel each other out:
1) We don't believe in saying these things out loud.
2) She said it because she was tricked by being asked a question.
3) All she said was the truth -- that we'll do what's necessary.

Palin adds:
Never would our administration get out there and show our cards to terrorists in this case to enemy and let them know what the game plan was.

Well of course you don't. Not with such a weak pair.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Point by Point

This image comes The Greenbelt. Specifically from an ongoing series of simple reports about John McCain from various sources. Sometimes the sources provide analysis sometimes just the facts. The Ridger doesn't give much comment on these snippets because of the obvious implications.

Look for the What's Important titles. Each one in the series is numbered. The mcbush label brings up most of them along with a few other posts that are of course worth reading.

But Blogger labels are limited in the number of posts they gather. Another trick is to play with the URL.

Starting with




just play with the month (/2008/5 through /2008/9) and the numbered post title (whats-important-[#].html) and you can find the whole series up to the most recent, #49.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I Agree with the Dollar Value Meal Policy

Tina Fey is the adorable one.

Draft of Financial Bill Online

Download a *.pdf of the discussion draft of the Financial Markets Bill.

Nancy Pelosi gets some credit for making sure this is available online for 24 hours before giving it a vote.

Update: …and loses some points for unnecessary harping.

Miss Alaska Stumbles in the Interview Round

She read her speech well. And she had the hand-wave down pat. But her recent and recurring gaps and disfluencies are starting to make people cringe. And if she makes sense it's only long enough to show that she's got nothing to say.

Sarah Palin's tarnish is turning to rust. Her campaign has holed her up in the garage hoping to paint over the oxidation before the big show. But rust will out. And I hope Thursday's debate format gives Joe Biden the chance to rattle her frame and point out the red flakes sloughing off. Palin can't hope to hold up when Biden runs at her.

I wonder:

Will she have those examples of McCain's leadership on regulation ready for Katie Couric?

Will she be able to answer just exactly how her proximity to Russia has done anything for her insight?

Is she going to stick with her argument that drastic earmark reform simply means transparency? (Something that every candidate supports, by the way.)

Will she argue that waving the cost of a rape examination kit would be Communist?

Does she oppose equal rights and benefits for same-sex marriage because gays are witches? Or is it because they're devil-possessed?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chris Rock: "This guy seems to be a little bit more."

I don't particularly like to see entertainers go off on politics. Except when they make sense. And on the issue of race, Chris Rock gives a perfect and simple answer:

KING: You must be--forgetting endorsements--proud that at this stage in our history a black man is running for president on a major ticket.

ROCK: Um, you know what? I'm proud Barack Obama's running for president. You know? If it was Flavor Flav, would I be proud? No. It's like … you know … I don't support Barack Obama because he's black … There's a proud feeling because of the character of the man.

McCain to Base Foreign Policy on Average Height of Citizens

I think the lessons of Iraq are very clear that you cannot have a failed strategy that will then cause you to nearly lose a conflict.

-John McCain

Though I'm not sure he actually has learned that lesson.

Despite all this, McCain has probably convinced some voters that Obama just "doesn't understand" this stuff. Not because McCain has made a valid argument but because it's easy to remember the line. And if you're going for numbers you should bet on the public being easily fooled. Obama did a good job of looking confident on every issue. He probably could have been a little more smug about what he does understand. Maybe something like a nice complex explanation followed by a line like I understand *that*, John. And I can explain it again -- slower, if you need me too.

I hope that Obama is saving the pounce for the economy debate. McCain is on a single peg-leg and he didn't get knocked over. C'mon Obama. Sweep the leg!

Obama's points:
Bringing up McCain's little bomb bomb bomb song.
Recalling McCain's confusion regarding Zapatero.
Talking with foreign leaders isn't just inviting them over for tea.
You don't muddle through...

He should have pushed the Spain issue further. John really stepped in it on that one. Not so much the interview as the cover-up. If you didn't hear something then it's fine to be confused. But once your staffers print out the Wikipedia page for you there's no excuse to say that you can't commit to meeting with Spain. Then in the debate McCain claims that he simply meant that he doesn't like to plan that far ahead. Who's buying this?

McCain's biggest reach: Accusing Obama of being too much like George Bush. Does he think that'll work?

On the question about sending more troops to Afghanistan, when Obama said that we have had the highest fatalities this year since the war began, McCain looked like he saw a leprechaun run under Jim Lehrer's desk. During Obama's response and throughout the debate he kept making the same face. Squinting and peering down, even covering his eyes. This isn't a political point. Unless McCain decides to chase down the rascals and bomb Ireland. Which he almost certainly would.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Why does the GOP keep hitting itself in the face?

Nancy Pelosi: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”

Hank Paulson: “I know. I know.”

I don't know what to think when I hear someone complain that those damn Democrats shouldn't blame the Republicans. Of course the Republicans are to blame. Just as everyone was about to shiver and light a cigarette John Boehner trumpeted the pullout.

Should the democrats hold out for leverage against the Republicans with this vote? They'll be OK until that tactic becomes obvious. So they need to redirect. They could go ahead and use their majority to get it done. But no. Give an ear to the opposition's incessant bleating. Hear them out. Make it look like you're only holding off because a few in the GOP are screaming to be heard. And since the Democrats don't have to listen to them it's only out of kindness and faith in the power of free exchange and constructive debate that the vote is postponed.

The majority party listened to the administration's proposal and made a reasonable counteroffer; entertaining more discussion is an act of respect. And sure, it's letting the GOP get away with a stalling tactic. Which tactic will accomplish nothing. The Republicans don't want to look like Republicans anymore. They want to prove that they have a backbone and they aren't Bush's bitch. But there are two parties in this country. One is Bush's. One is not. Guess which way that goes.

The Republicans want to say they aren't playing any partisan political games. It's about the economy. Well the democrats are willing to play nice with Bush and his plan. The Republicans don't want to contribute even minor recommendations and adjustments to the plan because they hate their administration and they hate the Democrats. psst: hating everyone isn't how you avoid partisan bickering.

They're screwed. They've lost their claws and they're flailing around looking for a grip.

Well they might accomplish one thing. John McCain would like the debate to be pushed back to next week and this is the best way to do that. But it looks like hiding. McCain looks like that student who begs for an extension on every paper and wants every test pushed till after the weekend.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some Advice: At CBS Letterman Trumps Couric

As I write, David Letterman is laying into John McCain again. The decision to suspend the campaign is looking more and more like a decision to hang it.

The McCain Mutiny

We can argue about John McCain's motivation for bailing on his campaign and trying to wriggle out of the debate. But no matter what his reasons, there's an implication he's making: neither the debate nor his attempts to elucidate his philosophy are important. They can easily be put aside so that he can take part in a discussion with his fellow congressmen.

If McCain doesn't have the energy to add a debate to his duties as a campaigning senator what sort of energy is he going to have when that phone rings at 2am? (Yeah--Sometimes they call an hour early.)

McCain apparently believes that debating the opposition and clarifying his position is only worth doing to get votes. He doesn't get it. The debate and the campaign are how we keep him accountable. He owes it to the voters to give them the information that this representative government requires as part of its process.

If McCain believes that a debate is only a distraction then I'm not sure his view of democracy is the same as mine.
Welcome back.

Lately I've had several conversations about politics with friends and family who agree with me. And I've had a few conversations with people who don't. I can't say that either group (agree or disagree) is generally better for my blood pressure. I can get pretty tightly wound even when all I see are nods and all I hear is agreement. Especially when we're all agreeing that there are too many people out there who don't have common sense.

When I disagree with someone on an issue I'm pretty good at establishing a covenant: I don't know all your reasons for your views and so I will not assume they are bad reasons. It's very easy to stick with this agreement when I see that I'm afforded the same respect.

But if you aren't sickened by John McCain's duplicity and the lack of respect that he has shown the voters and Barack Obama, you're an idiot.