Subscribe via RSS Feed

Tag: "Straight-Talkin’ Maverick John McCain"

In The Bag

[ 0 ] March 15, 2008 |

John McCain riding in a first-class car on the Alcela is, to an AP reporter either unfamiliar with train travel in the northeast corridor or lying about it, an example of him being “a man of the people.” The reporter was at McCain’s recent BBQ, what a coinky-dink.

This is definitely a bad variable in the general for the Democrats; the capacity of much of the press to embarrass itself about John McCain is pretty much boundless.

Next Stop For the Straight Talk Express: The Discovery Institute

[ 33 ] March 3, 2008 |

Great. I wonder how many children will get seriously ill because John McCain encouraged their parents not to vaccinate them based on crank pseudo-science?

McCain Secretly Agrees With Me!

[ 6 ] February 22, 2008 |

The myth that never dies.

Blockbuster!

[ 27 ] February 21, 2008 |

From what I can gather, at least from the standpoint of someone who has never thought John McCain had any particularly high level of integrity and could care less even if unsubstantiated implications that he might have had sex with someone not his wife are true, this is about as much a “blockbuster” as The Hottie and the Nottie. I just don’t see anything remotely surprising or, with the exception of the well-known Keating scandal, terribly important (although perhaps this portends something else or its political impact will be greater.) And although one might take solace from the fact that the Times is actually taking on the Straight Talkitude Express, the fact that they let his campaign kill an apparently more substantive version dilutes this.

Publius has more. In a rational world, I would agree that it’s “hard to imagine the NYT (after institutional deliberation) going forward with such an explosive article with such a thin foundation,” but when we’re talking about the former employer of Jeff Gerth and Judy Miller this isn’t necessarily true.

Straight Talkin’ Torture

[ 5 ] February 14, 2008 |

I’m not even going to pretend to be surprised that St. McCain is now facilitating the CIA’s use of techniques that are unlawful, including some that are torture even by Senator McCain’s own lights.” McCain’s public opposition to torture has been nominal when it comes to actually preventing (at least Republican) presidents from doing it for a while now. And since none of this will stop the media from almost uniformly lauding him as a principled opponent of torture with 100% more maverickitude, there’s no political (as opposed to moral) downside!

The Candidate of No Substance

[ 6 ] February 14, 2008 |

Via gratifying convert to the anti-McCain cause Jon Chait, John McCain and an equally well-informed candidate discuss policy:

Count The Votes Until Our Frontrunner Is Ahead

[ 0 ] February 11, 2008 |

Via Matt W., the fact that the GOP has “progressed from 2000 where they refused to count Democratic votes, to 2008 where they are now refusing to count their own votes” is indeed very amusing. It’s bizarre for a party to just announce a winner in a close race before counting every vote, and you also have to think that a court inquiry embarrassingly revealing and overturning a trumped-up Potemkin 25.5% “victory” would be far more damaging to McCain that just straightforwardly losing the WA primary in the first place.

It’s Over

[ 28 ] February 2, 2008 |

Not that this is news, but the McCain is a mortal lock. Evidently, I got this completely wrong. What I missed was that the logic I used to defend Romney (he would have little chance running against a serious plain vanilla Southern conservative but wasn’t facing one) was also true for McCain. And, of course, McCain got lucky, in that Huckabee has some actual political skills (which, most crucially, deprived Romney of Iowa) while Giuliani was a historical fiasco beyond the point which even people who correctly understood that he never had much of a chance could have anticipated. Even Fred Thompson got out of his La-Z-Boy long enough to hand McCain South Carolina. In a field in which nobody should logically have been able to win the victor needed things to break right, and the breaks went to McCain.

This isn’t a good outcome for Democrats, but he’s certainly beatable. I still think that he would be a lot more vulnerable against a candidate who actually opposed the Iraq fiasco that McCain has supported so vociferously, but it seems likely that a majority of Democratic primary voters won’t agree with me. (Of course, given my track record this year the fact that I think Clinton remains a prohibitive favorite has to scare her campaign considerably…)

GOP Florida Postmortem

[ 10 ] January 30, 2008 |
  • On the wonderfully ignominious collapse of Rudy!, I think Noam Scheiber gets it right: “Was Rudy’s strategy flawed, or was it the candidate? I say the latter. Rudy spent a good chunk of time and money in New Hampshire in November and December. The net effect was to move his numbers down.” Right. Claims that Giuliani’s problem was strategy ignores not only the substantial amount of time and money he spent in New Hampshire but the fact that he effectively pulled out early for good reason; he was cratering. It’s hard to see that just doing the same thing would have suddenly started working. The Florida firewall strategy had no chance of working, but that’s because nothing can work when active campaigning actually hurts your numbers. It should also be noted that Giuliani was never a genuine frontrunner; you’d think that Lieberman 2004 would have made it clear that national polls well in advance of the primaries mean virtually nothing, but some people apparently have ot be reminded every four years.
  • John Holbo wonders how conservative pundits who have been attacking John McCain relentlessly (“perhaps not more liberal than Obama?” These people are nuts…) will deal with his impending nomination. It should be easy for conservatives to get over their McCain issues since overall he was always the most conservative of the major candidates, but of course if these pundits were rational they would already see that. I think he’s leaving out the most obvious one, though. If the Democrats give the GOP the gift of Clinton, which still seems very likely, these pundits can pretty much ignore McCain and focus entirely on Hillary Clinton’s purported Trotskyism, murder and drug running operations, “shrillness,” her husband’s penis, etc. This almost exclusively misogynist resentment plus Clinton derangement strategy may not be enough — ask Bob Dole — but it’s clearly where the conservative punditocracy is headed.

But Al Gore Said He Invented The Internet!

[ 11 ] January 19, 2008 |

As one of the old-timers who prefer to read the Times in the dead tree edition, I almost spit out my coffee when I saw that Maverick McStraighttalk had claimed that[e]very time in history we have raised taxes it has cut revenues. [my emphasis]” Jon Chait points out the obvious facts that 1)you have to go all the way back to the previous administration to find a straightforward refutation of this baldfaced lie, and 2)the Times is grossly irresponsible to have let that lie stand without correction. If someone doesn’t even know about the shrinking deficits/surplus following the tax increase in the 1990s, it’s outrageous that they’re reporting about politics for a major newspaper, and if they knew it was erroneous and let it stand it’s even worse.

The Nail in the Coffin

[ 16 ] December 17, 2007 |

Joe “MoJoe” Lieberman is set to endorse John McCain. Why would an ostensible “independent Democrat” do such a thing? Why, the war in Iraq of course, with both McCain and Lieberman seem to think is such a great idea.

At this point, the Vegas odds makers must have their money on Lieberman officially switching his party affiliation to Republican at some point before the primaries are over.

Kerik’s Contribution

[ 3 ] November 10, 2007 |

Via Drum, John McCain:

“I don’t know Mr. Kerik. I do know that I went to Baghdad shortly after the initial victory and met in Baghdad with (Ambassador Paul) Bremer and (Lt. Gen. Ricardo) Sanchez. And Kerik was there. Kerik was supposed to be there to help train the police force. He stayed two months and one day left, just up and left,” McCain told reporters traveling on his campaign bus.

“That’s why I never would’ve supported him to be the head of homeland security because of his irresponsible act when he was over in Baghdad to try and help train the police. One of the reasons why we had so much trouble with the initial training of the police was because he came, didn’t do anything and then went out to the airport and left.”

But of course, as we ought to remember from our Imperial Life in th Emerald City, bailing out on the Iraqi police was probably the single greatest contribution that Bernie Kerik could have made to peace and security in Iraq. Rajiv Chadrasekaran neatly details how Kerik’s tenure with the Iraqi police force was disastrous even by CPA standards:

As they entered the Interior Ministry office in the palace, Gifford offered to brief Kerik. “It was during that period I realized he wasn’t with me,” Gifford recalled. “He didn’t listen to anything. He hadn’t read anything except his e-mails. I don’t think he read a single one of our proposals.”

Kerik wasn’t a details guy. He was content to let Gifford figure out how to train Iraqi officers to work in a democratic society. Kerik would take care of briefing the viceroy and the media. And he’d be going out for a few missions himself.

Kerik’s first order of business, less than a week after he arrived, was to give a slew of interviews saying the situation was improving. He told the Associated Press that security in Baghdad “is not as bad as I thought. Are bad things going on? Yes. But is it out of control? No. Is it getting better? Yes.” He went on NBC’s “Today” show to pronounce the situation “better than I expected.” To Time magazine, he said that “people are starting to feel more confident. They’re coming back out. Markets and shops that I saw closed one week ago have opened.”

When it came to his own safety, Kerik took no chances. He hired a team of South African bodyguards, and he packed a 9mm handgun under his safari vest.

The first months after liberation were a critical period for Iraq’s police. Officers needed to be called back to work and screened for Baath Party connections. They’d have to learn about due process, how to interrogate without torture, how to walk the beat. They required new weapons. New chiefs had to be selected. Tens of thousands more officers would have to be hired to put the genie of anarchy back in the bottle.

Kerik held only two staff meetings while in Iraq, one when he arrived and the other when he was being shadowed by a New York Times reporter, according to Gerald Burke, a former Massachusetts State Police commander who participated in the initial Justice Department assessment mission. Despite his White House connections, Kerik did not secure funding for the desperately needed police advisers. With no help on the way, the task of organizing and training Iraqi officers fell to U.S. military police soldiers, many of whom had no experience in civilian law enforcement.

“He was the wrong guy at the wrong time,” Burke said later. “Bernie didn’t have the skills. What we needed was a chief executive-level person. . . . Bernie came in with a street-cop mentality.”

Kerik authorized the formation of a hundred-man Iraqi police paramilitary unit to pursue criminal syndicates that had formed since the war, and he often joined the group on nighttime raids, departing the Green Zone at midnight and returning at dawn, in time to attend Bremer’s senior staff meeting, where he would crack a few jokes, describe the night’s adventures and read off the latest crime statistics prepared by an aide. The unit did bust a few kidnapping gangs and car-theft rings, generating a stream of positive news stories that Kerik basked in and Bremer applauded. But the all-nighters meant Kerik wasn’t around to supervise the Interior Ministry during the day. He was sleeping.

Several members of the CPA’s Interior Ministry team wanted to blow the whistle on Kerik, but they concluded any complaints would be brushed off. “Bremer’s staff thought he was the silver bullet,” a member of the Justice Department assessment mission said. “Nobody wanted to question the [man who was] police chief during 9/11.”

So don’t curse Bernie for “bailing out” on the Iraqis; if he had hung around longer, he probably would have done more damage.

Page 5 of 512345