... and let me make clear, Barack Obama is not. I think Barack will benefit us in other ways, but he is no James Otis. Glenn’s post here, and his link to Lawrence Lessig’s blog, along with a read through Lessig’s comments, caused me to dig up an early guest post I wrote at digby’s place more than two years ago. I called it History Rhymes because of the Bush administration’s wanton use of arbitrary power and its tendency to circumvent the courts. Lessig, incredibly, would have called James Otis hysterical. The way the events of today parallel this ancient encounter in a Boston courtroom, an encounter that John Adams cited as the origin of American independence, is quite stunning. Here’s the original post, slightly modified:
Reynolds, working for then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan, said she first met the couple [John McCain and his first wife, Carol] in San Francisco at a reception for ex-prisoners. She later introduced them to the Reagans at their home in Pacific Palisades.
“They were just an attractive couple,” Reynolds said. “The Reagans had great admiration and respect for John.”
In 1974, Reagan invited McCain to speak at a governor’s prayer breakfast in Sacramento. The former prisoner of war told the story of a fellow captive who had scratched a prayer on a cell wall. Ronald and Nancy Reagan were reduced to tears. It was “the most moving speech I had ever heard,” Reynolds said.
In the next few years, family and friends said, there was no sign that McCain was unhappy in his marriage. Fitzwater recalled visiting the family on Thanksgivings, and McCain seemed content barbecuing a turkey on his outdoor grill near Jacksonville, Fla.
... while on a trip as a Navy liaison with the Senate, [the still married] McCain spied Hensley at the Honolulu reception. In a recent television interview with Jay Leno on the “Tonight Show,” Cindy McCain joked about how the Navy captain had pursued her. “He kind of chased me around . . . the hors d’oeuvre table,” she said. “I was trying to get something to eat and I thought, ‘This guy’s kind of weird.’ I was kind of trying to get away from him.”
John McCain was 42; she was 24. During the next nine months, he would fly to Arizona or she would come to the Washington area, where McCain and Carol had a home.
McCain did not sue his wife for divorce until Feb. 19, 1980, and he wrote in his court petition that he and his wife had “cohabited” until Jan. 7 of that year—or for the first nine months of his relationship with Hensley.
[15 days later] McCain obtained an Arizona marriage license on March 6, 1980, while still legally married to his first wife.
On the stump in Michigan, McCain couldn’t run far or fast enough from the Gramm declaration: “I strongly disagree,” the Republican presidential candidate said. “Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me.”
John Cole makes an excellent point here—if McCain were a normal candidate (i.e., one for whom the media didn’t have mad bonerzz), he would have destroyed his chances this week with the series of bone-headed gaffes and accidental disclosures of unpopular policies. It doesn’t take much to paint a candidate as clueless and unelectable—remember the wingnuts heaping disdain on Kerry for windsurfing? (I never got that. Windsurfing is freaking hard! It’s not for the effete.)
Well, just the clip below would have sunk most politicians; check out this embarrassing orgy of jowl-stroking and panicky mumbling:
McCain took hits in the media last night because of Phil Gramm calling the US a “nation of whiners” and earlier because of his own “gaffe” (i.e., impolitic revelation of an unpopular policy position) on Social Security. But even though these are actual issues that affect hundreds of millions of Americans, I doubt they’ll get half the play Jeremiah Wright and “Bittergate” got.
Okay, so we know what we’ve got to work with as far as the media goes—they’ll do their best to protect their mavericky, BBQ-dispensing hero. That’s a given. But although the media have incredible power to shape the narrative and thus sway the outcome of elections, their power is not absolute. The candidate still has to be at least minimally competent as a politician. And McCain isn’t.
Think back, painful though it might be, to George W. Bush vs. Al Gore in 2000. Remember the press spin prior to the debates? Why, Gore was a boring old policy wonk! He would wipe up the floor with Bush! And he did, as far as answers to questions went. But thanks to the media spin, the expectations were so incredibly low for Bush that all he really had to do was show up and not crap his pants on national TV, and it was considered a “win” or at least a case of over-performing against a stronger opponent.
McCain might crap his pants, metaphorically speaking, and there won’t be much his fans in the press corp can do to rescue him. As loathsome as I personally found (and find) Bush, he at least comes across as likable, or so I’m told. McCain doesn’t. He sounds angry or confused or both.
If a debate exchange in any way relates to lady parts or can be remotely construed as an implication that McCain isn’t the world’s foremost authority on the military, national security or veterans’ affairs, McCain is liable to fall into a jowl-tugging stupor or explode like a Mentos-packed bottle of Diet Coke.
Bottom line? McCain is the shittiest candidate I’ve seen in my lifetime, at least as it relates to basic politicking. And that, my friends, is why this country might finally elect the best man for the job. It won’t happen if it’s up to the press spin. But for once, the GOP might have finally nominated someone too dumb and/or incompetent to handle the softballs. After 8 years of George W. Bush, who’da thunk it?
He is refreshingly blunt when he tells me: “I’m going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.” OK, so who does he turn to for advice? His answer is reassuring. His foremost economic guru is former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm.
So, a McCain “guru”— a Texan named Phil—said today that the nation’s economic woes were basically psychological, a meme McTeeMeUp has also been pushing for months. In response, Obama pulled out his driver and knocked McCain’s empty head three-hundred yards down the center of the fairway:
Senator Barack Obama, noting that Mr. McCain had previously said an expansion of offshore oil drilling might have a “psychological” benefit for the country, seized on Mr. Gramm’s remarks, made in an interview with The Washington Times.
“You know, America already has one Dr. Phil,” Mr. Obama said at a campaign stop in Fairfax, Va. “When it comes to the economy, we don’t need another.”
I know, I know ... I should let it go, but I still find these PUMA goofballs endlessly entertaining. Someone sent me an email yesterday (I have “sources”!) tipping me off to the fact that the PUMAs were claiming they had raised six million dollars in their July 4th drive to retire Hillary’s debt (they were encouraging people to donate $20.08 on that day). Sure enough, head PUMA Will Bower amped up that claim yesterday at the beginning of their Blog Talk Radio show called “No We Won’t” (you’ve gotta hear the intro):
We PUMAs have generated a lot of income to help pay down Hillary’s debt. We have it on good authority that our push, our July 4th push, generated from as little as six million and up to ten million dollars to pay off her debt.
As a prominent online journalist emailed me earlier, “So totally implausible…” I’m guessing the “good authority” was probably Cristi “Fatloss Forever” Adkins.
Bower will be on (you guessed it) Neil Cavuto’s Your World today at 4 making the same ludicrous claim, so we’ll update this post with the video as soon as it becomes available.
PUMA: The rift that keeps on giving.
SOMEWHAT RELATED: I think Neil Cavuto should have this guy on next. Sweet fucking jeebus, I’ve finally found the batshit craziest PUMA. No one can top this guy. My journey is complete. I also discovered the worst.parade.float.ever.
UPDATE: Your World actually billed Bower’s announcement as an “exclusive” and ran this blurb at the bottom of the screen during the interview:
North Dakota is as safe a Republican state as any in Presidential elections. George W. Bush carried the state by twenty-seven points in Election 2004 and twenty-eight points four years earlier. The state has voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate just once since 1936 and three times since 1916.
Despite that history, John McCain and Barack Obama are tied in the latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of North Dakota voters. Both men earn 43% of the vote. When leaners are included, McCain holds a statistically insignificant one-point advantage, 47% to 46%. Last week, a Rasmussen Reports survey showed Obama with a five-point advantage in neighboring Montana. That state, too, has a long history of voting Republican at the Presidential level but both states also have two Democratic U.S. Senators. McCain is returning the favor by running much stronger than recent Republicans in New Jersey.
Sitting down with her on a recent afternoon in the new pad—an 18th-floor duplex in River House that was previously owned by Carter Burden and Libet Johnson—it’s hard to begrudge her the excess of good fortune, thanks to her affability and occasional self-deprecations. (The Chateau Lafitte she pours—“the family wine,” as she calls it—and the heaping bowl of beluga don’t hurt, either.)
Last night Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, the same ridiculously privileged and extraordinarily wealthy woman profiled above, appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°, identified simply as “businesswoman Lynn Forester,” and said the following about Barack Obama:
“This is a hard decision for me personally because, frankly, I don’t like him. I feel like he is an elitist. I feel like he has not given me reason to trust him.”
I’ll look around the web for video of The Most Hypocritical Thing Ever Uttered on Television and allow all of you adequate time to scrape your jaws off the floor (I had to use a jackhammer last night). Check back for updates.
UPDATE: Here’s Lady Lynn’s CNN appearance. Check it out:
The Morning Joe folks thought it was a hoot. Chuck Todd even said, “I think this is what people like about John McCain.” Yeah, people love that he wants to kill Iranians, a majority of whom love Western values and are not murderous fanatics, with lung cancer. Hearts. Minds. Whatever. That logic has served us well for the last seven years or so.
The guy who is “always reluctant” to talk about his Vietnam experience just released yet another campaign ad focusing on his Vietnam experience:
The core message? McCain is a war hero, unlike that nancy-pants hopey-changey hippie Barack Obama. Of course, the ad doesn’t mention that Obama was 6 years old during the “Summer of Love.” Now get off my lawn, you meddling kids!
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who has primary jurisdiction over the executive branch, is considering legislation to eliminate Karl Rove-type advisers in future administrations.
The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hints broadly that such a bill could ban the use of federal funds to finance such a politically partisan office.
“Why should we be using taxpayer dollars to have a person solely in charge of politics in the White House?” Waxman said in an interview. “Can you imagine the reaction if each member of Congress had a campaign person paid for with taxpayer dollars?”
But I won’t get too excited about this after reading poputonian’s post from yesterday. Someone distract Pelosi with a shiny object for a month or two so Waxman can get this done.
Rachel filled in for Keith Olbermann last night and dismantled the “flip flop” narrative, with the help of Richard Wolffe (“There’s been a lot of sloppy reporting going on”), adhered to Obama over the past few days. Bravo.