Vice President Dick Cheney came to rouse the troops in Iraq this week. But their replies are any indication, the VP's peroration wasn't very persuasive.
ABC's Martha Raddatz talked with troops gathered to hear Cheney speak. Just one was quoted speaking highly of McCain -- though she suggested she found other McCain supporters. The airman's remark?
"Might as well keep it going."
By the way, I think the Keith count tonight was 11 troops in the group, 4 for Obama, 2 for Hillary, 1 for McCain and the rest undecided, but hoping whoever wins will get them the hell out of Iraq.
By the way, apparently comparing Barack to Tiger is very much in fashion. A Google search of "Obana and Tiger Woods" turns up some 437,000 entries. Even with duplicates of the same linked stories, we're talking about thousands of possible references, with everyone from Cliff May to John Fund to some guy named John Ziegler getting in on the act. (Fund, by the way, is no Tiger Woods of journalism: his December 2006 reference comes in a column predicting Obama won't run for president.)
So you want to be president based mostly on the war...
But you can't sit through an entire hearing on the matter to hear the full questioning of General Petraeus? Surely I'm not the only one who's bothered by the fact that "Baghdad John" McCain ducked out of today's hearing on his signature issue... (well, me and Keith Olbermann...) Talk about your political drive-bys...
When will the mainstream media begin to actually cover John McCain? The Washington press corps tendency to coddle Republicans, evidenced by nearly six years of doting coverage of George W. Bush after 9/11 and right through a disastrous war or two, is on full display with McCain, who has long had the hearts of supposedly hard nosed reporters in D.C. No reporter is allowed to utter a word or write a sentence about St. John of Iraq without including the word "maverick." It's become such a cliche that I challenge anyone in the press to explain precisely what they mean. After all, John McCain is not maverick enough to have held his positions on tax cuts for the rich during wartime, illegal immigration/amnesty, or any substantive issue that would set him appart from George W. Bush's declining wing of the Republican Party. He has pandered to the former "agents of intollerance" (his words) of the Christian right, and has already begun to adopt the laissez-faire economic policy of the Club for Growth, which couldn't stand him three months ago. To whit: McCain is advocating tax cuts as the solution to every economic ill, no help for struggling Americans but continued corporate welfare for the very fat cats he claims to hold at ascetic arms length (despite the herds of lobbyists in his inner circle.)
Perhaps they're just getting bored covering Hillary and Obama, but the media face-people are incredibly lazy when it comes to McCain, to the point where it has become conventional wisdom for all but Tony Blankley of all people that the Democrats will have a hard time painting McCain as pushing for a third Bush term. Huh? Have these people never witnessed a presidential campaign? Even Howard Dean has figured out that that is precisely the Democratic message in November, and McCain's hearty agreement on all things Bush, principally Iraq, makes it almost too easy.
So who is the media kidding? Do they ever intend to actually peel the onion on McCain, or can we look forward to a six-month cuddle all the way to November? I hope for the former, but sadly, expect the latter.
I'm not alone.
MSNBC's Dan Abrams is down to doing a nightly segment called "Teflon John" detailing the media's rose petal treatment of the aging Arizona Senator.
Eugene Robinson has a go at McCain in his WaPo column today for McCain's staggering lack of knowledge when it comes to who, precisely, is fighting whom in Iraq (and who is supporting the various factions.) It's rather stunning that this guy gets a bye for 1) not knowing whether Moqtada al-Sadr is the puppet or the puppeteer, 2) not understanding that Iran's influence is growing in Iraq, not declining, and that it is various Iran-based Shiite militias, like al-Sadrs, that Iran is arming, not Sunni al-Qaida 3) blythely pushing for a 100 year U.S. military commitment in Iraq, which Robinson correctly points out is precisely what it sounds like, and 4) showing almost senile ignorance about the difference between a limited U.S. presence in South Korea, where no one is shooting at us, and a prolonged, endless hostile engagement in Iraq.
CNN made some minor attempts to call McCain out on his al-Sadr contradictions today, which is a start. But John King, sitting in for Wolf Blitzer this afternoon heartily laughed off attempts by a Democratic strategist to reiterate McCain's call for 100 years in Iraq. It's as if the media is saying, come on, guys, we all KNOW McCain knows what he's talking about. He's just saying that stuff because he's ... well ... old? Tired? Battle weary? Is there any excuse for a man vying to lead the free world who doesn't know the difference between a Shia and a Sunni?
McCain, who has nothing better to do at the moment, is releasing a new television ad. Hell, at least it should get him some cable news chat show time, right? But his new ad feels ... well ... old. It's the kind of ad I could have understood running for Wes Clark -- a four star general most Americans knew nothing about when he ran for president briefly in 2004 (truth in lending: I supported him.) But McCain isn't an unknown. Everyone who hasn't been living under a rock knows that he was a prisoner of war during Vietnam, that he is a war hero, and that he's hellafied old. Is it really necessary to remind us of that in a freaking TV ad? HMM??? Anyhoo, here's the ad. Try not to fall asleep:
Hello... John? Got anything for us on the ECONOMY? You know, the thing most Americans are freaking out about daily while you're offering 100 years of war in Iraq? Maybe John-boy really should pick his arch nemesis Mitt Romney as a running mate. Then at least one member of the McCain team would be doing something other than talking about war. Otherwise, McCain is looking more and more like Bob Dole every day.
I hate to say it, but being president is 40 percent competency and 60 percent charisma. The presidents who are considered "great" or "near great" by most Americans are heavy on the latter, and in many cases, got damned lucky on the outcomes of their policies because they had at least a core competency and common sense. Think Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, JFK, even Reagan or Bill Clinton. They were larger than life figures who captured America's imagination, even as their policies appeared to make America better (emphasis on "appeared" in the case of Reagan...) And then contrast that with the also-rans -- people like Jimmy Carter, LBJ, or George H.W. Bush. They lacked charisma, and so their personal lack of appeal dragged their policies into the dungeon, even when, objectively, they may not have been all bad. (Of course, there is the strange case of George W. Bush, a man of questionable charisma and total incompetency, who nonetheless captured the presidency at a time when apparently, America wanted a president who made THEM feel smarter... ahem...)
That being the case, I reiterate that John McCain can at best ... at BEST ... hope to be a competent but uninspiring president -- in other words, a mediocre one. I just don't see greatness in him. And his lack of understanding of the economy guarantees that he won't even be a popular one. And so, devoid of charisma, and relying on old fashioned "Reaganomics" and Bush's foreign policy, McCain cannot hope to lead this country to greatness. His advertising campaign needs to disabuse me of that notion. It needs to jar me out of my long ... looooooong ... sense of memory about McCain, his biography, and my sense of his being a Johnny One Note -- war, war, and more war. It needs to refresh his image somehow, not solidify it.
That said, McCain's new ad is a total flop. And a crushing bore. (Oh, and he recycles Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani's tired line, "ready on day one."
After welching on him last week, Sideshow Mel Martinez finally decides to follow through on his promised endorsement of Baghdad John McCain, who is now statistically tied with ... no, Chris, not Rudy ... with Willard Romney in the latest Florida polling.
And where does that leave Sir Rudy of 9/11, the man whose financiers (such as they are) and supporters (such as they are) reportedly were reportedly responsible for turning Melly Mel into a "tower of Jell-o" last week? He's somewhere down in third place in the must-win Sunshine State, tied with Mike Huckabee (who will probably beat him on Tuesday...)
John McCain hits back at a Drudge bomb that he's pleading with the New York Times to spike a Friday piece alleging that he did favors for a lobbyist. Says The Politico:
On Thursday, John McCain responded to an unsubstantiated story on the Drudge Report about whether he did legislative favors for a lobbyist, and alleging his campaign was trying to convince The New York Times to spike a story on the topic.
At a press conference in Detroit, McCain defended his record of integrity, while confirming that his staff has been in contact with the newspaper, according to The Associated Press.
But, McCain said, "I have not been in talks with The New York Times."
However, Politico has confirmed that McCain himself had one conversation with Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, in which the senator expressed concerns with how the story was being reported.
And Washington power lawyer Bob Bennett has confirmed to Politico that he is providing counsel to McCain.
McCain's camp issued a statement attacking "gutter politics" and reiterating the senator’s record of integrity.
But the candidate hasn't exactly helped his own campaign.
On Thursday morning, McCain campaign officials, in an effort to not amplify the story, refused to respond on the record to the Drudge allegations.
But then McCain himself did not follow suit, instead choosing to respond to the allegations when asked about them by a reporter.
With his defense and partial explanation, McCain ensured that the charges would filter into the mainstream media.
McCain is calling the allegations "gutter politics." This guy's been around the block with George W. Bush, so I guess he should know. But that story will now get big play over the pre-holiday weekend, when (he hopes) no one will really be paying attention, but when (he should worry) no one will hear his defense, either.
This must have sounded so much better in speech rehearsals...
ROCHESTER, N.H. -- Republican presidential candidate John McCain told workers of small weapons factory that he not only wants to catch Osama Bin Laden if elected, but said he "will shoot him with your products".
"I will follow Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell and I will shoot him with your products," McCain said.
Jeez, John, good thing you weren't speaking at a condom factory ...
And then ... he made it worse...
McCain told reporters afterward he was joking when he made the comment at Thompson Center Arms in Rochester.
"I certainly didn't mean I would actually shoot him. I am certainly angry at him, but I was only speaking in a way that was trying to emphasize my point," McCain said. "I would not shoot him myself."