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Tag: "Straight-Talkin’ Maverick John McCain"

The McCain-Cuba Connection

[ 2 ] October 17, 2008 |

There’s rather less to this article than I would have liked, or supposed. While I would prefer that John McCain and Joe Lieberman give the same kind of righteous, full-throated denunciation to Cuban terrorists that they give to, say, Democrats, the links that Bardach tries to provide between the two and the Cuban exile terrorist community are kind of weak. Moreover, the most compelling link is to Joe Lieberman, and not to John McCain.

On July 20, while campaigning for McCain in Miami and just prior to speaking at a McCain event, Sen. Joe Lieberman met with the wife of convicted serial bomber Eduardo Arocena and promised to pursue a presidential pardon on his behalf. Arocena is the founder of the notorious Cuban exile militant group Omega 7, renowned for a string of bombings from 1975 to 1983. Arocena was convicted of the 1980 murder of a Cuban diplomat in Manhattan. In 1983, Arocena was arrested and charged with 42 counts pertaining to conspiracy, explosives, firearms, and destruction of foreign government property within the United States. He is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison in Indiana.

Indeed, even that appears to be overstating the case against Lieberman, who on video promised only to convey the pardon request. The article also notes that the McCain campaign has connections with right wing Cubans who have connections with terrorists, but again this is hardly surprising; any Republican running in Florida (and, to be fair, virtually any Democrat) is going to be no more than two degrees of separation away from the genuine anti-Castro psychos.

John McCain is likely to have a terrible Cuba policy, and Barack Obama will very possibly be the first American President in forty years to pursue genuine, positive change in the US-Cuba relationship. I also think that Luis Posada Carriles and his ilk are murderers; they are more deserving (ironically enough) of detention in Guantanamo than most of the people incarcerated there, and they make Bill Ayers look like the raw amateur that he was. Finally, I do hope that somebody is working on unearthing some genuine ties between McCain and the terrorist anti-Castro right, because the American political elite (both Democrat and Republican) has been far too tolerant of people who blow up planes, as long as those planes are full of Cubans. Unfortunately, the Bardach article just doesn’t get us very far.


John McCain: America’s Most Butch Passive-Aggressive Drama Queen

[ 18 ] September 28, 2008 |

From this morning’s ABC chat show:

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. “

Except it turns out McCain was in fact quite literally phoning it in:

“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!]

Kaus Gets Something Half Right

[ 0 ] September 27, 2008 |


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.

Defining Honor Down Out Of Existence

[ 4 ] September 25, 2008 |

I’m baffled by this quasi-rationalization of McCain’s reprehensible campaign from erstwhile McCain-lover Jon Chait:

Any attempt to determine McCain’s true motives is necessarily pure speculation. It’s possible that McCain has convinced himself to actually believe the lies he has been telling. But here’s a more likely explanation: All this dishonesty can be understood not as a betrayal of McCain’s sense of honor but, in an odd way, as a fulfillment of it.

McCain’s deep investment in his own honor can drive him to do honorable things, but it can also allow him to believe that anything he does must be honorable. Thus the moralistic, crusading tone McCain brings to almost every cause he joins. In 2000 and afterward, McCain came to despise George W. Bush and Karl Rove. During his more recent primary campaign, McCain thought the same of front-runner Mitt Romney. Not surprisingly, Romney was the target of McCain’s most unfair primary attack–an inaccurate claim that he favored a withdrawal timetable in Iraq.


The pattern here is perfectly clear. McCain has contempt for anybody who stands between him and the presidency. McCain views himself as the ultimate patriot. He loves his country so much that he cannot let it fall into the hands of an unworthy rival. (They all turn out to be unworthy.) Viewed in this way, doing whatever it takes to win is not an act of selfishness but an act of patriotism. McCain tells lies every day and authorizes lying on his behalf, and he probably knows it. But I would guess–and, again, guessing is all we can do–that in his mind he is acting honorably. As he might put it, there is a bigger truth out there.

If all that’s required to make dirty tricks motivated by “honor” and “patriotism” is a subjective belief that it would be really bad for the country if your opponent won, who isn’t motivated by “honor”? I’d have to say that if you end up with a conception of “honor” that could plausibly result in Karl Rove and Lee Atwater being numbered among the most honorable men in American political history, you need a new definition.

The bigger problem here is that when Chait notes that the press has an extensive history of “portraying him as a uniquely honorable figure,” he never seems to consider the fact that this portrayal was completely unjustified. In reality, that he was a both 1)a political flyweight with little grasp of his own ostensible policy positions and 2)willing to relentlessly lie about his opponents was evident during his 2000 campaign if you bothered to look. It’s just that his genuine military heroism and remarkable ability to suck up to the press caused these things to be ignored. The question about McCain is not why he has changed; it’s why it took so many reporters (including some liberals) so long to figure out what he always was.

iPhone or Blackberry?

[ 0 ] September 20, 2008 |


My contract with Verizon is up. I want a phone able to do e-mail and internet. Do I go with Cingular and the iPhone2? Stick with Verizon — whose phone service I like! — and get a Blackberry? Is there some other smartphone I should be looking at?

During his five years in the Hanoi Hilton, John McCain didn’t have the luxury of choosing between the iPhone and the Blackberry. And then he invented the latter.

Ezra should remember that.

Also, since I’m in the exact same situation (as Ezra, not John McCain) I’m also wondering what people think re: comparison between the two devices. Thoughts?

The end of the affair

[ 9 ] September 19, 2008 |

Shorter Elizabeth Drew:

Me and John McCain
We had a thing
Goin’ on

Drew becomes the latest in the increasingly long line of journalists to walk out on the news media’s longest-running illicit love affair.

And given how long the affair lasted, it’s not surprised that amid all the hurt and betrayal a lot of confusion about exactly what happened remains.

Drew, who wrote a fulsome book-length tribute to McCain in 2002, now more than suspects that, in the end, she and her colleagues were simply being used all along:

While McCain’s movement to the center was widely popular (if not on the right) – and he even flirted with becoming a Democrat – there’s now strong reason to question whether it was anything but a temporary, expedient tactic. (In his 2002 memoir, “Worth the Fighting For,” he wrote, revealingly, “I didn’t decide to run
for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms I believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. In truth, I wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to be president. . . . In truth, I’d had the ambition for a long time.”) When he decided to run for president in 2008, he felt he couldn’t win without the support of the right, so he adapted. In retrospect, other once-hailed McCain efforts – his cultivation of the press (“my base”) and even his fight for campaign finance reform (launched in the wake of his embarrassment over the Keating Five scandal) now seem to have been simply maneuvers. The “Straight Talk Express” – a brilliant p.r. stroke in 2000 – has now been shut down.

But, having looked the whole sordid business in the face, Drew can’t quite bear to consider that there wasn’t a time when things were different, and the Dreamboat Maverick-turned-Unprincipled Scumbug really was different than all the rest, if only just a little:

McCain’s caving in to this “compromise” [on the anti-torture
legislation] did it for me. This was further evidence that the former free-spirited, supposedly principled, maverick was morphing into just another panderer – to Bush and the Republican Party’s conservative base.

Even in the course of a single sentence, she can’t make up her mind regarding whether those sweet mavericky nothings he used to whisper were never more than a calculated pose, and indeed the most disingenuous of all: since being “candid” and “straight-shooting” primarily because — and therefore only so long as — it’s an effective political tactic is actually more reprehensible than good old fashioned honest lying.

Ah, you should have changed that stupid lock . . .

Please give a warm welcome to today’s new GOP presidential candidate: John McJennings Bryan

[ 0 ] September 16, 2008 |

24 hours ago one of McCain’s chief economic advisers announced that talk of serious economic trouble was all the fault of Barack Obama frightening everybody for crass political gain. This morning McCain wants a 9/11-style commission to investigate why greedy Eastern financiers have been allowed to rob America’s workers blind.

McCain on MSNBC: “I was talking about the fundamentals of America, which is the workers, their productivity, their innovation, their incredible performance for many, many years. And what I was saying is and it’s clear if you look at my remarks and that is that Wall Street has betrayed us. They’ve broken the social contract between capitalism and the average citizen and the worker. And workers are paying a very heavy price while a lot of them are not only emerging unscathed but some of them are left with packages of a hundred million dollars or so. This is a result of excess and greed and corruption. And that’s exactly what is plaguing Americans today. And we got to fix it and we’ve got to update our regulatory system. We have to have a 9/11 commission to find out what went wrong and to fix what’s going to happen in the future so this never ever happens again. And as president, I guarantee you, it will never happen again.”

I’m surprised the Cross of Gold wasn’t in there too.
Tomorrow: John McCain marries Rudy Giuliani in a Wiccan river ceremony and names Bootsy Collins Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Belated Recognition of the Obvious

[ 7 ] September 16, 2008 |

She’s been on a roll lately, but IB’s take on the new Richard Cohen column is one of her better lines:

He’s kinda like a kid who, upon discovering that there is no Santa Claus, attempts to locate the precise moment in time that Jolly St. Nick ceased to exist.

I suppose some people might be inclined to be charitable since he’s seen the light. But I’m inclined to simply agree with Brad DeLong, who correctly notes that “Richard Cohen’s fantasy McCain never existed–save in the mind of Richard Cohen, the journalist-as-puppy.” Everything unsavory about McCain’s current campaign, including the lying and flip-flops, were perfectly evident during the 2000 primaries. As Somerby recently put it:

For most of us, an obvious thought will come to mind when a person walks away from his stated principles; we’ll think he was perhaps pretending when he claimed these as his principles. In fact, McCain misstated the truth all through Campaign 2000, about George W. Bush and Al Gore. He had a major race-man running his South Carolina campaign; he made robo-calls about Bush in Michigan, then lied to the press corps about them. But the press corps was on this greatest saint’s side, and so they chose not to notice.

And precisely because of the bogus narrative of Saint McCain the press so carefully cultivated, these too-little-too-late departures from the Straight Talk Express are unfortunately unlikely to have much effect.


[ 0 ] September 15, 2008 |

The fairy tale continues:

“The important thing is she’s vetoed a half a billion dollars in earmark projects — far, far in excess of her predecessor and she’s given money back to the taxpayers and she’s cut their taxes, so I’m happy with her record,” McCain said.

Um, the answer to all of these would be “no.”

(1) Palin vetoed $231 million in 2007; many of the items were renewed for the 2008 budget, which Palin chopped by $268 million. Sure, that might look like $500 million, but when you consider that funding was restored for many of those projects, while others were vetoed two years in a row, you come up with a significantly smaller figure. And when you consider the fact that Palin signed the two largest state budgets in Alaskan history — the latter of which was plumped by a windfall revenue tax on the oil companies — the math looks even sillier. Speaking of which….

(2) Palin has not “given back money to the taxpayers” because the state does not collect significant amounts of revenue from taxpayers. We have no state income tax; what little the state does receive from ordinary schlubs comes from regressive taxes on alcohol, cigarettes, and gambling. In fact, however, he vast proportion of state revenue comes from the oil companies and the federal government. When the legislature passed an energy rebate this summer, giving eligible state residents a one-time $1200 payment, they were able to do so only because of rising oil prices and because of the new, higher taxes the state had levied on resource extraction. It’s simply not true that the state “returned” money to the people.

(3) While it’s true that the state suspended its 8-cent gas tax for a year, it’s also true that Alaskans pay the highest gas prices in the country right now. And while gas prices have dropped in recent weeks, the reduction has pretty much tracked with the national declines — which is to say, the suspension of the gas tax has been, as everyone who knows what they’re talking about will tell you a nice gift to the oil companies.

Liars Without Shame

[ 3 ] September 15, 2008 |

What’s amazing about this is that I figured that McEvenWorse and Palin would at some point permanently change the “Bridge to Nowhere” howler to some technically accurate but grossly misleading formulation, like “I stopped the Bridge to Nowhere [but won’t tell you about my erstwhile strong support or the fact that I never opposed to building it with federal money].” But no — they’re happy to just keep telling outright lies about it. They probably think that the media will just drop the subject — and, alas, they’re probably right.

Has anyone considered the possibility that the reason McCain lies all the time even though he’s so honest and mavericky . . .

[ 24 ] September 13, 2008 |

. . . is because of the injuries he suffered as a POW?

I mean have they?

h/t Jason Zengerle.

Don’t Look at Him, He Didn’t Do It!

[ 15 ] September 12, 2008 |

I would add that it would sure be nice if James Carville applied the same charity to fellow Democrats that he does to Saint McCain…

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