Stephanopoulos: “What role did you play? How were you helpful do you believe in the process?”
John McCain: “I will let you and others be the judge of that. I did the best that I could. I came back because I wasn’t going to phone it in. America is in a crisis of almost unprecedented proportions. should be doing whatever little I can to help this process. I’m a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. I got to get in the arena when America needs it, and if that judgment wants to be made whether I helped or hurt, I’ll be glad to accept the judgment of history. But I’m never going to not get engaged when the taxpayers and middle class of America are in danger of losing everything literally that they’ve worked all their lives for. I’m going to be out working on it. I won’t claim a bit of credit, okay, if that makes them feel better. “
“Asked why Mr. McCain did not go to Capitol Hill after coming back to Washington to help with negotiations, Mr. Salter replied that “he can effectively do what he needs to do by phone.’’ (h/t Yglesias)
How many hours did McCain spend on Capitol Hill saving the Republic after he ostentatiously “‘suspended” his campaign? He spent Wednesday morning having tea with Lady de Rothschild. He spent Wednesday afternoon chatting up Katie Couric while blowing off David Letterman. He spent Wednesday evening in a New York hotel sitting in a specially designed Barca Lounger while eating Doritos and watching the replay of the Giants-Bengals game on the NFL Network (this latter assertion is speculative, but under the circumstances it would be irresponsible not to speculate).
He spent Thursday morning in New York City giving a campaign speech. He finally parachuted into DC on Thursday afternoon, where he attended a meeting at the White House with Bush and Obama, and promptly threw a monkey wrench into delicate negotiations which to that point he appears to have contributed exactly nothing. He flew down to Mississippi on Friday morning, flew back to Virginia on Saturday morning, spent all of Saturday at his Virginia condo, and then spent this morning doing the chat show circuit, when the bailout deal was being announced.
Did he ever actually go to Capitol Hill? I suppose even Sen. Straightshooter wouldn’t be brazen enough not to have put in a token appearance on Thursday evening. But assuming he did, that’s the sum total of what his crucial in-person contribution to the negotiations added up to. That he’s now emphasizing that he’s happy to not take credit for not doing things he didn’t do if it will make his critics happy just adds to the surreal Circus of the Absurd that is the McCain-Palin Clown Show.
[Edit: Thanks to aimai in the comments for the right title. I should also mention that the quote from the ABC interview was emailed to me and no doubt 10,000 other media types this morning by the McCain campaign itself. Apparently they want to highlight these comments!]
Paul Newman has passed away. As a Canadian male of a certain age my choice of image from a particular aesthetically minor film was inevitable, but the oeuvre is remarkable: The Hustler and The Verdict are among my favorite movies, and that barely scratches the surface. Like too many actors he didn’t get the roles he deserved late in his career — although he added real pleasure to throwaways like Twilight — but his accomplishments were already towering.
Archpundit nails it. In reference to Palin’s interview with Katie Couric:
One of my various part time employments from time to time is grading AP exams for the Government and Politics Exam. Sometimes students who clearly don’t know what they are talking about back into a few points by hitting accidentally on the points in the rubric.
It hadn’t occurred to me before, but this is exactly right; Sarah Palin, in interviews, seems to perpetually be struggling to find “rubric” points, and consistently failing. She’s had a ton of unfamiliar stuff about foreign policy and national economic policy crammed into her head for the last month, but she can’t quite seem to retrieve. Rather, she does her best to noodle on for a couple of paragraphs, in the hope that she’ll accidentally stumble across a point or two. Of course, for readers this is the most annoying kind of essay; one that we actually have to read closely and pay attention to, but wherein the student clearly doesn’t have the faintest what she’s talking about.
In fact, now I’m looking forward to next year’s grading, such that I can say to my table neighbor “Damn. Another Palin. Can you read this mess and see if there are any points in there that I missed?”
This diavlog is tagged “Liberal vs. Libertarian Foreign Policy”; I guess I’m not convinced that there’s such a thing as a libertarian foreign policy (seems all warmed over realism to me), but then again I tend to be suspicious of claims that the word policy can be accurately used to characterize the anything that libertarians come up with. In any case, Preble does seem to get the moral hazard aspects of letting Georgia into NATO correct. But then Hurlburt correctly points out that not every alliance results in reckless behavior; Preble doesn’t have much of a response to that.
The Refs Dream They’re Being Worked: When McCain’s campaign attacks the press, he’s not “working the refs.” That implies McCain’s strategists still care how the “refs” make calls. I think it’s pretty clear they’re doing something else (and they’re perfectly happy if the refs keep making calls against them). … P.S.: Of course the MSM “refs” like to think McCain’s “working the refs,” because that implies they’re worth working–that their refereeing role is still all-important (as opposed to their role as, say, a totemic focus of political, class and cultural resentment!)..
I think that this is correct; attacks on the media by the McCain campaign no longer have the traditional “work the refs” angle, because McCain doesn’t want good coverage from the mainstream media. He’s determined that it’s more useful to use such attacks to rile up a base primed for years by anti-media rhetoric. McCain now seems to think that MSM attacks are good for him, and as such the intent is to provoke such criticisms rather than to force the media into a faux-even-handed “Democrats say this, but Republicans say this” narrative.
I think it’s important to add, though, that this is likely to be a disastrous strategy for McCain. It might have worked for Mike Huckabee, but John McCain is a creature of the mainstream media; the only reason that he’s a prominent Republican politician and not just another random Mountain West Republican Senator is that the mainstream media fell in love with him back in 2000. Moreover, an “enthuse the base” strategy is a really, really bad way to go in 2008, when the Republican base is at a substantial disadvantage to its Democratic counterpart. However, I’m also wondering at this point whether the national GOP is even capable of a strategy other than “enthuse the base”; such a strategy may have been so imprinted on the GOP electoral machine by Karl Rove in 2000 and 2004 that McCain had no alternative.
Unlike Chris Orr, I have utterly no sympathy for Sarah Palin, despite the fact that her interviews and occasional public statements have meandered into the realm of the exquisite corpse. Mike Riggs wonders if some liberals — like Orr — no longer view Palin as a “potent potential threat” and are thus more inclined to “treat her like a human being.” I’ll admit that it’s difficult to watch someone crash and burn in a nationally-televised interview for which she’s presumably had weeks to prepare, but the idea that Sarah Palin no longer represents a source of concern for Democrats is — or should be — nonsensical.
She remains the vice presidential candidate in a closely-contested race that is, politically speaking, a thousand miles from a conclusion. Though I’m temporarily buoyed by the fact that John McCain appears at the moment to be on the downward slope of a dissociative fugue, I’d be an idiot to think he didn’t have a decent chance of actually winning and launching a fake reformer with transparently shitty policy views down the hall from him in the White House. And while John McCain likes to compare himself, implausibly, to Teddy Roosevelt, in terms of his physical health he’s probably more closely affiliated with Konstantin Chernenko. All of which raises the obvious concerns about Palin, who is matchlessly unsuited for high office.
But here’s the thing about Palin that’s worth remembering. She didn’t as Orr puts it, need to “plucked from obscurity” by the McCain campaign. She could have done the sensible thing and refused the offer. She had no shortage of plausible excuses — spanning the personal as well as the political — to maintain a lower national profile and not accept an opportunity for which any Alaskan with half a brain (even, I assure you, her boosters in the legislature) understood she would be catastophically unprepared. She could have remained an immensely (if in my view undeservedly) popular governor who would likely have cruised to re-election in 2010; she might have looked forward to challenging Mark Begich for US Senate in 2014 or, Christ forbid, she could have followed an acquitted and re-elected Ted Stevens into the same office. Or she might have campaigned for the state’s only seat in the US House someday when Don Young either retires or begins a new career as a license-plate presser in federal prison. Or she could have challenged Ethan Berkowitz, who looks like a good bet to defeat Young this year but who is, at bottom, a Democrat in a state that would happily replace him with a Republican if they could find one who wasn’t, you know, a criminal.
The point is, Palin had alternatives. The point is, she made what appears to be a terrible error in judgment by fastening her political future to the clown-stuffed volkswagon otherwise known as “John McCain’s campaign.” Maybe Jesus told her to do this. Maybe she’s incapable of recognizing her limits. I don’t know, and for now I don’t really care. For now, she’s the candidate for vice president on a ticket that’s plainly undeserving of anyone’s sympathy, so I see nothing to be gained by offering it.