What Eric said.
The fact that John McCain is older than nachos and chocolate chip cookies is a lot less relevant than the fact that he’d be rubbish as president. Vaclav Havel, for instance — also born in 1936 — would make a fine substitute for John McCain. As would Jim Henson, were he still alive. And don’t forget Zombie Wilt Chamberlain.
I see also that Don DeLillo was born in 1936. I don’t know if he’d be a decent president or not, but I suspect the SOTU addresses would be absolutely spectacular.
Geraldine Ferraro has a plan for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to recoup her sizable campaign debt: Have Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) fundraisers pick up the tab.
After a long primary season, the Clinton campaign’s expenditures have far exceeded the amount of donations it has received so far, and the campaign has accumulated debt of more than $19 million, according to campaign finance reports. Much of that debt consists of unpaid salaries and bills to vendors. . . .
This election, losing candidates have asked for contributions to retire their campaigns debt. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.), and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) are engaged in such campaigns and have found help from other candidates.
For starters, I can’t imagine that Dodd’s or Giuliani’s debts approach anything like the sums drawn up by the Clinton campaign. That said, I’ll leave it to others to critique or defend the suggestion on its merits. The fact that this is being suggested by the second most loathsome ex-Vice Presidential candidate in recent history, however, gives me pause. Oh, hell. At this point, if Ferraro recommended that we all spay or neuter our pets, I’d assume she had something against kittens.
Wolcott, reflecting on the advice of Hannity/K-Lo that McCain “find his voice” by modeling his public demeanor after Bernie and Mittens, who delivered, I dunno, the awesomest concession speeches ever(?), or something:
So let me see if I have this right. The way for John McCain to inspire conservatives is to echo the concession speeches of two guys he beat, charging into battle to the faint distant trumpets of a valedictory address? He should meet the historical moment by acting as if he’s halfway out the door, ready to leave? I don’t know, conducting your presidential campaign as a Victor Borge farewell tour doesn’t seem to me to be the smartest way to go, but then I don’t have the keen stereoscopic mind of Sean Hannity, whose blatant partisanship did so much for Rudy Giuliani’s candidacy.
Not having television, I read McCain’s speech last night and found it to be a fairly clever, if completely disingenuous, effort to restate the case that he’s Teh Maverick. His smarmy pitch for Hillary supporters, for example, really needs to be mashed up with his unashamed chuckling upon being asked how to “beat the bitch” by that 234-year-old New Hampshire voter. In any case, for once I agreed with McCain’s apologists, who’ve been reduced to insisting that the speech “read well.”
Then I remembered that the words on the page had most likely come by way of the kazoo that resides in John McCain’s throat, and I felt much better about the whole thing. Now having watched the video, of course, I agree that it amounts to one of the great horror shows in recent political history. It might very well recede into oblivion, or it might eventually proved to be a synecdochical moment in the campaign, condensing his essential weirdness into a few lime green minutes. Either way, I’m looking forward to the debates in the same way I look forward to throwing old pumpkins off the roof of my house a few weeks after Halloween.
I can sort of understand why Roe takes center stage in debates over judicial nomination, although it obscures a lot of important questions and impacts of the court. But people explaining why Obama is infinitely preferable to McCain really shouldn’t begin and end with Roe. Even focusing solely on women’s rights, four more years of a Republicans in the White House will have many more bad consequences.
I haven’t read enough Edward Luttwak to say for certain that he’s an unprincipled hack, but I know enough to be certain that his knowledge of Islamic law and religion is insufficient for the forum he’s been offered. His central premise is almost too laughable for commentary; he insists not only that Barack Obama not only would be unlikely to improve the standing of the US in the Middle East, but that a disputed fact about Obama’s religious biography — an irrelevance that matters only to non-Muslim American wingnuts — would motivate swarms of assassins into actions.
I won’t bother to psychoanalyze Luttwak’s fantasy here, since it would obviously be improper to suggest that he or anyone else dreams of Barack Obama’s violent death at the hands of religious zealots. But the fact that New York Times would publish what essentially amounts to a recycled Daniel Pipes column — originally published in Front Page Magazine, no less — is really goddamned pathetic.
Why Wright gets all the airtime, and no one is making a bigger deal of this? It boggles the mind. And also makes clear just how much the media is shaping this election. Anyone else for a network tv blackout?
McCain calls Obama Insensitive to Poor People, says the AP.
And of course McCain, being a champion of the poor, is in a perfect position to throw this stone.
Rodger at the Duck has some thoughts about the Pennsylvania primary:
Pennsylvania [in 1980] didn’t stop the inevitability of front-runner Reagan capturing the Republican nomination. Like Reagan, Obama has sometimes won the delegate count even when he lost the popular vote: Nevada and Texas may be joined by PA.
Pennsylvania was an unfortunate speedbump for the frontrunner, but it did not seriously slow the campaign. Will 2008 be like 1980?
I suspect so, but I also suspect the comparisons end there. We shouldn’t forget that Ted Kennedy wound up defeating Carter that same day, as well as in several subsequent primaries before trying to have Carter’s delegates released at the party’s convention in New York. Making matters worse, of course, was that in the general election Reagan had the luxury of facing a candidate who actually was (as Rodger puts it) an “unpopular president brought down by economic insecurity and foreign policy disaster” — instead of a candidate whom the corporate media are bound to portray fallaciously as an intra-party alternative to the least popular president in modern American history. It’s beside the point that McCain won’t actually be offering much of an alternative on significant issues like the Iraq war or the Bush economy; the dominant narrative in the general election will center on what kind of “fresh start” voters will be seeking.
Meantime, I’ve decided the campaign will be a rousing success so long as it doesn’t resemble my favorite campaign in North American political history, the 1838 run for the presidency of Texas. In late June of that year, James Collinsworth — one of the republic’s founders who had served (simultaneously) as Secretary of State, as Supreme Court Justice, as Attorney General and as Senator — ended a week-long bender by jumping into Galveston Bay. Two days earlier, his friend Peter William Grayson — also a candidate for the republic’s highest office — had killed himself in Tennessee after a woman humiliated him by deflecting his marriage proposal. Running a campaign that was suddenly unopposed, Mirabeau Lamar predictably coasted to victory. Though Lamar would go on to die of natural causes two decades later, his brother Lucius — a judge in Georgia’s superior court, had killed himself on Independence Day 1834 after realizing he’d condemned an innocent man to die.
Anything short of that, and I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Shorter Juan Williams:
The problem with Barack Obama is that he’s not Bill O’Reilly.
Williams’ hackery deserves considerably more attention than it tends to receive. Though his work on Eyes on the Prize seems to have given him a permanent and inflated custodial sense of The True Meaning of the Civil Rights Movement, actual historians generally regard him as a joke. When Timothy Tyson, for instance, wrote about the “sugar-coated confections that pass for the popular history of the civil rights movement,”
there’s no doubt in my mind that he was thinking about he provided what I regard as an apt description of Juan Williams, who is to the civil rights movement what the Stephen Ambrose was to World War II (though the comparison is probably unfair to Ambrose, who was infinitely less sanctimonious).
And though lately he’s spent most of his time accusing Obama of “pandering” to black voters, Williams as much as anyone has helped cultivate an image of Martin Luther King, Jr., that’s palatable to contemporary white conservatives who — given the chance — would have foamed at the mouth over speeches like “Birth of a New Nation,” “Beyond Vietnam,” or “Why America May Go to Hell” — the speech King was planning to give on April 7, 1968. Meantime, he’s perfectly content to “nod along” while his BFF O’Reilly recently compared Jeremiah Wright to the cops who sodomized Abner Louima. (Then again, Williams himself once compared David Letterman to John Wayne Gacy, so I’m imagining Williams had already noticed the obvious comparison.)
[ADDENDUM: Predictably, one of our finer trolls has shown up in the thread, this time towing a remora named “wow,” whose role is evidently to remind everyone how far the functionally illiterate have come in recent years. Their bravery is to be commended, and I must admit I find their personal interest in me to be somewhat touching as well. That said, the thread appears to have served some other ennobling purpose, since Timothy Tyson has taken the time to correct the projection error I made in the original post. His view of Williams’ historical work is more charitable than mine, and it was sloppy to insist that Tyson must have had Williams in mind when writing the passage I quoted.]
An excerpt from this future bestseller:
As bullets clawed the air around us and screams echoed down the rubble-strewn tarmac, I felt almost peaceful.
It was a simple mission, they had told me – get in, shake a few hands and mouth a few platitudes, get out. Simple. Yeah.
Things had started going wrong while we were still in the air and only gotten worse from there. So here we were, pinned down, choking on the acrid tang of cordite and the heady scent of human blood. The mission was even simpler now: survive. Whatever the cost, survive.
There was a grunt and a clatter of equipment as Sinbad threw himself down at my side. Sweat glistened on his bare arms, and I could see tendons contracting and relaxing as he squeezed off bursts from his M14. The motion was hypnotic, like a snake about to strike. Perhaps, when all this was over-
No. Concentrate. Focus on the mission. Survive.
A shout from my left drew my head around. Sheryl Crow, guitar still strapped to her back, had taken cover behind a haphazard pile of decaying corpses. Her hair, once lustrous, now lank and greasy, was held back from her eyes by a dirty red headband. Her slim nostrils flared in the dirt-smeared oval of her face, seeking air free of the funeral taint shrouding the airfield. Still, I saw a fierce exultation in her expression that I knew mirrored my own.
Her lithe, nimble fingers stroked the top of an M67 frag grenade, strumming a chord of impending doom. With one quick, economical movement, she plucked the pin free and sent the deadly payload sailing toward the ridge concealing our enemies. My eyes traced the arc, willing it to fly true, to rain death on-
“There!” Sinbad shouted. “The convoy!”
This isn’t an especially big deal, but Clinton’s account of the trip to Bosnia was bizarre. In its way, it’s encouraging that Clinton’s actual trivial farcical resume-padding has received comparatively little coverage, while Gore’s entirely fictitious resume-padding dominated coverage of his campaign. And this certainly isn’t because of any pro-Clinton bias; on balance, she still receives egregiously unfair coverage (cf. the recent “blue dress” thigh-rubbing). The War On Gore was really sui generis. And while I agree that Clinton’s fibbing about Bosnia can serve as a synecdoche for the fact that her central claims about superior foreign policy experience are highly underwhelming, the job of reporters is provide voters with the information to make this judgement for themselves, not to let that judgment slant all the coverage of a candidate.