If Obama keeps being stingy with his quips and smiles, and if the dominant perception of him is that you can’t make jokes about him, it might infect his campaign with an airless quality. His humorlessness could spark humor.
John McCain’s Don Rickles routines — “Thanks for the question, you little jerk” — can fall flat. But he seems like a guy who can be teased harmlessly. If Obama offers only eat-your-arugula chiding and chilly earnestness, he becomes an otherworldly type, not the regular guy he needs to be.
He’s already in danger of seeming too prissy about food — a perception heightened when The Wall Street Journal reported that the planners for Obama’s convention have hired the first-ever Director of Greening, the environmental activist Andrea Robinson.
Yep, that’s the narrative. Obama is a humorless prig because he occasionally prefers orange juice to coffee and because the DNC has environmentally friendly food policies. But John McCain, what a kidder! What a regular guy! As Digby noted yesterday, he’s so open to teasing he allegedly responded to his wife’s jibe by calling her the c-word in front of a pack of cowardly reporters. He enjoys playful rape jokes and jests about teenage girls being fathered by Janet Reno—tee-freaking-hee! I haven’t read anything so funny since I edited an incontinence supply company catalog. MoDo concludes with this gem:
Bring it on, Ozone Democrats! Because if Obama gets elected and there is nothing funny about him, it won’t be the economy that’s depressed. It will be the rest of us.
Actually, it’s precisely that level of vapidity that makes me want to substitute bourbon for milk to moisten my Wheaties this morning. Thanks for the laffs, MoDo.
a) A Season on the Brink is not only my favorite sports book of all time, but also one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read.
b) The video mashup contains several clips of Bobby Knight I haven’t seen before.
c) I’m Not Feeling You Politics
I’m sure some PUMAs are reporting this totally awesome NYC barbecue was held in the middle of Central Park, forty gazillion people attended, and donations gathered at the event not only wiped out Hillary’s debt but also the national debt. They are just that fucking awesome.
BONUS PIC: I think the PUMA second from the left is yelling, “Hear me roar!”
In a stunning reversal, Barack Obama says he is now forthe recent controversial cover of New Yorker magazine. In a statement issued through a spokesman, Obama said, “By voting for the FISA bill, I’ve thrown aside my solemn oath as a Senator to uphold the Constitution, I’ve overlooked war crimes by the President and his administration, and I quit smoking. Do you really think I’m going to let a magazine cover bother me?” Campaign spokesman Bill Burton said the move further underscores that Barack Obama has little room for old-style political passion, and, in fact, rises above everything.
1) Cleaned my apartment, including dusting my Marty Markowitz bobblehead and my skull mug that holds approximately seventeen writing implements I will never ever use.
2) Bicycled with my lovely wife Chris out to the last day of the Murakami show at Brooklyn Museum. It was crowded and lots of people were posing for pictures with his art like his paintings were long-lost relatives. That annoyed me. I also had no idea what was going on with this “sculpture” (below). It had a vagina and nice boobs, but in the wrong places. That made me uncomfortable.
3) We came back home and drank a couple of Tito’s vodka & tonics in our garden while Chris kicked my ass in spite & malice (these rules are all wrong!) and backgammon. We listened to the Kinks’ Arthur and Men & Volts’ Cheer Up. We talked about how much we liked our garden, what a great day it was and how much we wish Murakami knew where vaginas belonged.
4) I cooked marinated shark on the grill while Chris prepared fresh green beans I got at the farmers market on Saturday. There’s a vendor who sells bread at the farmers market who really creeps me out because he wears teeny tiny 70’s shorts and little icky tanktops and he looks like he stores yeast in his basement next to cribs with handcuffs attached to them. Aside from that, I really like the farmers market. Oh, yeah, the dinner fucking rocked.
... 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.”