If I had to sum up what I hope Senate Democrats' operating principle would be, that would be it. To my way of thinking, John McCain ran a dispicable campaign, allowing himself to become a captive of the very right wingers he used to despise, and handing his reputation over to the same Bushites and neocons who proved, via Collin Powell, what they thought of lofty reputations. His pick of Sarah Palin (or his agreement with the pick) proved that he really was oblivious to what most Americans were concerned about, or that he had started listening to too much right wing talk radio.
That said, John McCain was, after all, a Republican running against a Democrat for president. A certain amount of dirty pool isn't unexpected. More importantly, McCain could be an important partner for the Obama administration going forward, if he can manage to put aside his personal disdain for the incoming president, and his bitterness over the election, and return to his "gang of 14" roots. McCain could provide, and deliver, key votes from the few remaining moderate Republicans (like Miss Lindsey Graham) on everything from immigration to healthcare. Democrats should try to put aside his awful, gutter campaign, and embrace him once again.
Joe Lieberman is another matter.
Lieberman's betrayal of his supposed party and future president were so total, and so slimy, he should face swift and merciless retribution. He went beyond just endorsing his friend, McCain, to become a right wing hatchet man. His desperation to pursue the Iraq war until the end of time is so total, that the difference between him and your average neocon is immaterial. (Before McCain, his previous hug-buddy was none other than George W. Bush.) And his endorsement of Sarah Palin, a completely unserious choice whose elevation as vice president would surely have jeopardize both the standing and the stability of the country, was unforgivable. He ought to have known better, and should now be ridden out of the Democratic caucus on a rail, and if he chooses to caucus with the GOP, so be it. I'd like to see him try to get re-elected in Connecticut in four years if he starts voting the way he warbled during the election. Oh, and the GOP is going to repay his whoring by running a strong candidate against him in 2012. Happy holidays, Joe!
There's also a pragmatic reason for punishing Lieberman, at the least, by taking away his gavel on the Homeland Security committee, and to prevent him to ascending the throne at Armes Services: okay two. One is that Lieberman could very well use his position to try and force Obama to cleve to the neocon line on national security matters, including Iraq, or to undermine him in other ways. The other is that Harry Reid, who doesn't enjoy universal respect out here in Demland, needs to establish both his authority, and the precedent that if a Democrat strays that far out of bounds, there are consequences. Otherwise, what's to stop other conservative Dems from doing as Joe did, in 2012, or even to campaign against Democratic Senators two years from now? Hell, what's to stop JOE from doing so???
The full Democratic caucus will vote on whether Joe Lieberman is allowed to keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee at its caucus meeting next week, a leadership aide confirms to us.
Previously, Reid's office had held this possibility out but hadn't made a final decision on whether to throw Lieberman's fate to the full Dem caucus for a vote.
In the wake of Obama's statement today that he doesn't hold any "grudges" against Lieberman and his decision not to take a position on whether Lieberman keeps his chairmanship, I emailed a leadership aide to ask whether the vote would definitely go forward. His response:
"Yes -- this is a decision that will be made by the caucus next week. Absent a stunning series of events there will be a vote next week in the caucus on whether to strip Senator Lieberman of the chairmanship."
That would appear to make it official.
Meanwhile, the reporting of Sergeant, the Huffpo and others suggests Joe is losing support in the caucus, and he may only hold on to the six Democratic members of the gang of 14. Chris Bowers at OpenLeft (who has personal familiarity with Harry Reid's office,) offers a handy guide to the whip count.
Now would be a good time to call your Senator. Here in Florida, it looks like Bill Nelson, one of several conservative Senate Dems, is in the tank for Lieberman. Not a good look, but he's only one vote. Contact him here:
Washington, D.C. Office United States Senate 716 Senate Hart Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Phone: 202-224-5274 Fax: 202-228-2183
Or you can email him here. Or find your own Senator here. If you do call or email, be respectful. You catch more flies with honey, and all that...
Ok, I'm going all-in on the predictions. I'm more conservative on this than some, and am calling it as follows:
Obama - 349 McCain - 189
... an electoral landslide by any measure. I give Barack the following pick-ups from Bush 2004:
Virginia Florida Colorado New Mexico Iowa Ohio Indiana Nevada
... and I say he holds New Hampshire for a solid Northeast.
I'm not so sure about Georgia and North Carolina, although if Obama pulls those off, he's at 379, and if he manages to grab Missouri, he's at an astounding 390. One of the volunteers on the campaign in Miami is married to a former Indiana congressman, so her inside take is that Indiana is very winnable. I agree. Missouri is too, I think, based on the primary turnout for Obama and Hillary, but I'm being conservative, as I said. And my prediction is based on two, I think insurmountable factors in Obama's favor: superior voter registration numbers for the Dems, and exceptional early vote turnout, particularly among black voters.
Make your own electoral map here. Get more electoral math here.
As for the House and Senate, I'm going to guess that the Democrats will pick up 10 Senate seats (9 I'm certain of, Georgia is a maybe...):
Alaska - Begich wins, the other guy's a felon.
Colorado - Udall #1 wins
Maine - I like Susan Collins, but she loses
North Carolina - Bye-bye, Liddy Dole! And take that "godless" ad with you!
Minnesota - The Frankin era begins... (and he makes a return visit to "SNL")
New Hampshire - Bye, Sununu, I hear you're a good guy, but this is just that kind of year...
New Mexico - Udall number two, wins
Oregon - Gordon Smith, another decent guy, goes down
Virginia - Mark Warner. Need I say more?
Georgia - I know, I know, but with black turnout? It can happen.
More fun with the congressional match-ups here. See all the races here.
As for the House, I'll go with a nice round number of 28 seats, including pick-ups in Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico and Washington State, to name a few.
I'm not even paying attention to the national polls anymore, even those this one and this one are pretty damned good. It's the state polls that count, and here are a few key polls from Quinnipiac:
No one has been elected President since 1960 without taking two of these three largest swing states in the Electoral College. Results from the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University polls show:
Florida: Obama at 47 percent to McCain's 45 percent, unchanged from October 29;
Ohio: Obama up 50 - 43 percent, compared to 51 - 42 percent last week;
Pennsylvania: Obama ahead 52 - 42 percent, compared to 53 - 41 percent last week.
Can't you be struck by lightning for stuff like this?
A Detroit-area Palinite turns away trick-or-treaters whose parents support Obama. Seriously. Hat tip to RawStory:
Shirley Nagel of Grosse Pointe Farms gave out treats Friday evening, but only to those who share her support of John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin.
Fox 2 News reports a sign posted outside Nagel's house, about 12 miles west of Detroit, served notice to all trick-or-treaters. It read: "No handouts for Obama supporters, liars, tricksters or kids of supporters."
Nagel told a Fox 2 reporter that "Obama's scary." When asked about children who'd been turned away empty-handed and crying, she said: "Oh well. Everybody has a choice."
Things you really don't want, but that you have to say thank you for anyway
To the delight of the Obama campaign, Darth Cheney endorses the McCain-Fey ... er ... Palin ...ticket:
"I believe the right leader for this moment in history is Sen. John McCain," said Cheney, who grew up in Wyoming and represented the state in the U.S. House of Representatives. "John is a man who understands the danger facing America. He's a man who has looked into the face of evil and not flinched."
Cheney also said he was pleased McCain has "chosen a running mate with executive talent, toughness and common sense, our next vice president, Sarah Palin."
Oh, that'l help...
At an appearance Saturday in Pueblo, Colo., Obama used the Cheney endorsement to underscore his charge that McCain represents a continuation of current policies in Washington.
"I'd like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement because he really earned it," Obama said. "That endorsement didn't come easy. Senator McCain had to vote 90 percent of the time with George Bush and Dick Cheney to get it."
And McCain can't pull a grandpa and claim he "doesn't agree" that the endorsement ever happened, cuz it's on the Youtube:
From the pages of the thoroughly un-Socialist London weekly:
Oct 30th 2008 From The Economist print edition
America should take a chance and make Barack Obama the next leader of the free world
T IS impossible to forecast how important any presidency will be. Back in 2000 America stood tall as the undisputed superpower, at peace with a generally admiring world. The main argument was over what to do with the federal government’s huge budget surplus. Nobody foresaw the seismic events of the next eight years. When Americans go to the polls next week the mood will be very different. The United States is unhappy, divided and foundering both at home and abroad. Its self-belief and values are under attack.
For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead.
The most damning assessment?
Ironically, given that he first won over so many independents by speaking his mind, the case for Mr McCain comes down to a piece of artifice: vote for him on the assumption that he does not believe a word of what he has been saying. Once he reaches the White House, runs this argument, he will put Mrs Palin back in her box, throw away his unrealistic tax plan and begin negotiations with the Democratic Congress. That is plausible; but it is a long way from the convincing case that Mr McCain could have made. Had he become president in 2000 instead of Mr Bush, the world might have had fewer problems. But this time it is beset by problems, and Mr McCain has not proved that he knows how to deal with them.
Gallup's interviewing conducted Wednesday through Friday shows that 27% of registered voters who plan to vote have already voted. The trend in early voting has trended consistently upward on a day to day basis, moving from 7% of registered voters, who had already voted during the period of Oct. 17-19, to the current estimate of 27%. Another 8% of registered voters still indicate that they plan on voting before Election Day itself. The vote choices of these early voters -- all of whom are included in the likely voter pool since they are definite voters -- skew more toward Barack Obama than the sample average. Thus, more and more of these Obama-oriented voters' choices are being "locked in" to the likely voter pool through early voting, benefiting Obama. (To view the complete trend since March 7, 2008, click here.) -- Frank Newport
Meanwhile, poor Matt Drudge engages in some serious wishful thinking with this headline:
Pollster John Zogby:"Is McCain making a move? The three-day average holds steady, but McCain outpolled Obama today, 48% to 47%. He is beginning to cut into Obama's lead among independents, is now leading among blue collar voters, has strengthened his lead among investors and among men, and is walloping Obama among NASCAR voters. Joe the Plumber may get his license after all. "Obama's lead among women declined, and it looks like it is occurring because McCain is solidifying the support of conservative women, which is something we saw last time McCain picked up in the polls. If McCain has a good day tomorrow, we will eliminate Obama's good day three days ago, and we could really see some tightening in this rolling average. But for now, hold on."
Obama is holding his lead in the three day averages, with the exception of fright night, when apparently more Republicans than Democrats were staying at home with their lights off to keep those darned costumed kids off their lawns. Well before you get to excited, Palinites, read the following from Seth Colter Walls:
Zogby has a unique methodology in his polling. He fixes -- or "weights" -- the partisan balance of his respondents, unlike most pollsters. While his admirably transparent and stable practice guarantees a certain methodological sameness from day to day, therefore making any new lead for McCain worth reporting, Zogby's partisan weighting can also raise other questions.
Asked earlier this week what the partisan weighting of their poll currently is, a Zogby aide told the Huffington Post: "Party ID remains at 38 Democratic - 36 Republican - 26 Independent. We have added a point for 18-29 [year old voters], 1.5 for African Americans, and 2 for Hispanics."
Earlier this year, Zogby told me that "party ID is a lead variable, and a major determinant in how people vote. I apply a weight to party ID, and if I see a reason for it to change, I will."
Still, Zogby's two point party ID advantage for Democrats is the smallest of any polling firm. The last four days of the Hotline/Diageo poll show anywhere from a four- to six-point advantage for Democrats -- and a simultaneous seven-point lead for Obama. Gallup's latest surveys indicate that Democrats have an 11-point advantage over Republicans in party ID (including what the firm describes as partisan "leaners").
Zogby's partisan makeup gives even less of a partisan advantage to Democrats than Fox's latest poll, which earned some skepticism, as well.
As for the day-to-day fluctuations in tracking polls, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz says they are "almost entirely due" to random statistical error, or "noise."
The Barack Obama-Bill Clinton convergence in Kissimmee is airing live now on MSNBC. It's something else. These two men have given about the strongest cross-endorsement by formerly bitter rivals that I've seen in politics (with the exception, of course, of Hillary.) Nice work on both men's parts.
Barack Obama began his closing argument tonight with a one-two-three-four punch. First, he appeared with Bill Clinton this afternoon in Orlando ... second, he traveled down to Broward County to speak to a packed BankAtlantic Center arena (I went to drop off tickets for some media guests at around noon today and there was already a line, including people who clearly looked like they had camped out...) third, he debuted his much-anticipated 30 minuted infomercial, which brilliantly laid out not only his vision, but Obama's most important quality given the metrics of this election: his regular guyness. Obama in the video, and indeed, in real life, was measured, calm, friendly, approachable and even. He was fatherly, intelligent, youthful but not too young, and above all, totally, completely, unswervingly normal. Kind of a black Mr. Rogers (with amber waves of grain and regular people instead of puppets...)
And fourth, the campaign released this hilarious online ad, which reminds us all that the race, though it seems destined to fall into Obama's hands, is not over. Not for six more days. Here's the ad:
Chris Shays, co-chair of John McCain's Connecticut campaign and the last remaining New England Republican Senator, damns the "maverick's" campaign, without the faint praise:
Locked in a tight congressional race, Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut’s 4th district is the latest in a slew of Republican incumbents, including Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, to concede a near-certain victory to the Obama camp.
“I just don’t see how [McCain] can win,” Shays said in an interview here on Sunday.
Shays, the Connecticut co-chair of McCain’s campaign, said he was disappointed by the standards of McCain’s race, which has increasingly relied on mudslinging.
“He has lost his brand as a maverick; he did not live up to his pledge to fight a clean campaign,” Shays said.
But Shays — who is famous for never running a negative campaign ad, even when behind — said the negativity in the presidential race has nevertheless been flowing both ways. He said that though they have been diluted by positive ads, Sen. Obama’s campaign has empirically run a greater number of negative ones.
“Obama has four times the amount of money McCain has, so for every negative ad he runs he can balance it with an upbeat one,” Shays said. “McCain, on the other hand, has been nearly 100 percent negative.”
Shays laid much of the blame on the far right, which, he said, has “hijacked” the Republican Party, threatening to walk out if its demand are not met — despite being in the minority.
"He's taken the thing that is most valuable, his (maverick) brand, and he's not staying true to it," Shays said. "I admire John McCain more than you can imagine. He would make a great president."
But, Shays added, "I don't see how he wins if he isn't true to who he is ... a straight shooter talking about the issues."
And the heart of Shays' problem:
An Oct. 20 UConn-Hearst Newspapers poll shows Himes and Shays each supported by 44 percent of likely voters. The same poll showed voters in the district prefering Obama over McCain, 54 percent to 34 percent.
Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district 146,000 to 103,000, while nearly 157,000 more voters are unaffiliated.
Uh-oh... So, what about McCain's other Connecticut co-chair, Joe Lieberman?
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, one of John McCain’s closest political allies, said Friday he does not believe that Barack Obama is unprepared to be president.
“I’m saying he is less prepared than McCain,” Lieberman said.
But what about Sarah Palin?
Is she ready?
“If, God forbid, an accident occurs or something of that kind?” Lieberman said. “Um, she’ll be ready. You know, she’s had executive experience. She’s smart and she will have had on-the-job training.”…
“[McCain] is ready to be our president at this very difficult time,” Lieberman said. “And Sen. Obama is not as ready. It’s as direct as that.”
By the way, the writer of the New Yorker post including that "modification," Hendrick Hertzberg, goes on to lay into Holy Hypocritical Joe:
That little word—“as”—is supposed to be Lieberman’s life jacket, I guess, now that the SS McCain looks like it’s going glug glug glug and may not, after all, be seaworthy enough to deliver its chaplain to that big corner office in the Pentagon. Google “lieberman obama ‘not ready’” if you need a few thousand samples of the unqualified way Joe talked about Barack’s readiness before the ship hit the iceberg.
Admittedly, I have strongly disliked Lieberman ever since he cemented his bogus reputation for “integrity” by denouncing Bill Clinton’s supposed lack of family values during the Lewinsky fiasco. I thought the denunciation was—what’s the word?—inappropriate, coming from a man who not only divorced his first wife while their children were at highly vulnerable ages (just past puberty) but also had the gall to attribute the divorce to the insufficient piety of his wife. In other words, he was too good for her.
Oh, Joe... By the way, the old "hey, maybe he's just not AS ready is kind of an official campaign tactic...
The idea, of course, is to court undecided voters who actually like Barack Obama, by telling them that maybe after four years of McCain's stewardship of the country, he'll be (less of a terrorist communist socialst America hater...) and more ready! Warm, and fuzzy!
He really is better than the network he finds himself on ...
The Fox News anchor forced to live through yet another strange Joe the Plumber interview as the Average Superstar bungles more precious moments of his 15 minutes of fame with Palinite babbling. Here's a bit of Joe's eternal wisdom. Asked if he really meant it when he "went ahead and agreed with" a McCain supporter who suggested a vote for Barack Obama would mean the death of Israel...
PLUMBER: No, that is just my personal opinion that I've come up with by looking into different facts and what I think. That is what my message has been about. I haven't been telling people to go out and vote. Listen, you don't want my opinion on foreign policy. I know just enough about foreign policy to probably be dangerous.
SMITH: That is what I was wondering. I wonder if you think it is dangerous at all for people to say that a vote for Barack Obama is the same as a vote for Israel, if you think that is dangerous for people to start believing. What happens if the polls are right and he becomes President of the United States and people start thinking that this means the death of Israel. Are you worried about what people might do if they actually believe something like that?
PLUMBER: That goes back to what I just got done saying. Some people believe it wholeheartedly. This gentleman I spoke to is Middle America. Therefore...it is very important to him -- important to me, but especially important to this gentleman. He is Middle America and he was able to get on there and make his point, and I agreed with him. I have no idea where John McCain's position is on that. John McCain is his own person, just like I am.
JTP is all McCain's now -- he's campaigning for him, dontcha know! Which should work really well with swing voters ... did I mention that he doesn't want his Social Security checks when he retires? Maybe he could sit next to "Jomama" on the bus and keep her company, since apparently, John McCain has fallen for Joe, and out of love with her.
(CNN Analysis) ... Some 74% of companies said that eliminating the tax exclusion would have a "strong negative impact on their workforce," according to a September survey by the American Benefits Council.
Estimates vary, but the Tax Policy Center estimates that 20 million people would lose their employer-based coverage by 2018. Roughly the same number would gain insurance through other means. But, overall, McCain's plan would do little to reduce the number of uninsured.
Also of concern, experts say, is the fact that the $5,000 tax credit would be indexed to inflation. As a result, it would not keep up with the swiftly rising cost of health care, which was soaring as much as 13% a year in the middle of this decade.
McCain advisers counter these concerns. Changing the tax treatment wouldn't hurt the employer-sponsored system and would allow more of the uninsured to buy their own coverage, they say. Also, his advisers say a McCain administration would keep an eye on the credit to make sure it didn't lag behind the cost of coverage, while also working to lower the rate of medical inflation.
Younger, healthier workers likely wouldn't abandon their company-sponsored plans, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain's senior economic policy adviser.
"Why would they leave?" said Holtz-Eakin. "What they are getting from their employer is way better than what they could get with the credit."
Was that in the talking points???
Well, at least he's being honest, because if McCain healthcare were to ever become law, most Americans would be screwed.
A damning assessment from former Bush adviser David Frum (of "Axis of Evil" fame,) in today's Washington Post:
... McCain's awful campaign is having awful consequences down the ballot. I spoke a little while ago to a senior Republican House member. "There is not a safe Republican seat in the country," he warned. "I don't mean that we're going to lose all of them. But we could lose any of them."
In the Senate, things look, if possible, even worse.
The themes and messages that are galvanizing the crowds for Palin are bleeding Sens. John Sununu in New Hampshire, Gordon Smith in Oregon, Norm Coleman in Minnesota and Susan Collins in Maine. The Palin approach might have been expected to work better in more traditionally conservative states such as Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, but they have not worked well enough to compensate for the weak Republican economic message at a moment of global financial crisis. Result: the certain loss of John Warner's Senate seat in Virginia, the probable loss of Elizabeth Dole's in North Carolina, an unexpectedly tough fight for Saxby Chambliss's in Georgia -- and an apparent GOP surrender in Colorado, where it looks as if the National Republican Senatorial Committee has already pulled its ads from the air.
The fundraising challenge only makes things worse. The Republican senatorial and congressional committees have badly underperformed compared with their Democratic counterparts -- and the Republican National Committee, which has done well, is directing its money toward the presidential campaign, rather than to local races. (It was RNC funds, not McCain '08 money, that paid the now-famous $150,000 for Palin's campaign wardrobe, for example.) This is a huge mistake.
In these last days before the vote, Republicans need to face some strategic realities. Our resources are limited, and our message is failing. We cannot fight on all fronts. We are cannibalizing races that we must win and probably can win in order to help a national campaign that is almost certainly lost. In these final 10 days, our goal should be: senators first. ...
The title of the piece is "Sorry, Senator. Let's salvage what we can. Wow.
William Arnone, who was an informal adviser to Hillary Clinton, has been doing a monthly assessment of the presidential race to which I have contributed analysis about Florida. Here are his latest numbers, including the updated numbers of registered voters in each state:
District of Columbia (DC)
New Hampshire (NH)
New Jersey (NJ)
New Mexico (NM)
New York (NY)
North Carolina (NC)
North Dakota (ND)
Rhode Island (RI)
South Carolina (SC)
South Dakota (SD)
West Virginia (WV)
Two things I disagree with William on:
First, I think Barack Obama will win Florida, which will add 27 electoral votes to his total. The metrics in this state, including superior voter registration numbers for Democrats, the blighted economy and real estate bust, the fact that many middle and lower middle class white voters in South Florida have left the state in recent years, and the fact that Obama is commanding something like 98 percent of the black vote, and Democrats are dominating the early vote, bodes well for his candidacy. Also, Dems are doing better in absentee returns, which Republicans always dominate. Here are the latest numbers as released by the Florida Democratic Party:
Total Ballots Cast
Dem % Ind % Rep % Total 336720 53.57% 96530 15.36% 195253 31.07% 628,503
Returned Absentee Ballots
Dem % Ind % Rep % Total 316,853 35.13% 127,606 14.15% 457,395 50.72% 901,854
Total Ballots Cast
Dem % Ind % Rep % Total 653,573 42.71% 224,136 14.65% 652,648 42.65% 1,530,357
Voted Early - 2006
Dem % Ind % Rep % Total 86633 44.04% 25545 12.99% 84533 42.97% 196711
Returned Ballots - 2006
Dem % Ind % Rep % Total 65,427 29.56% 26,005 11.75% 129,879 58.69% 221,311
Total Ballots Cast
Dem % Ind % Rep % Total 152,060 36.38% 51,550 12.33% 214,412 51.29% 418,022
Second, I think Indiana will wind up in Obama's column, in no small part because much of the state shares a media market with neighboring Illinois, which Obama is going to win by huge margins. If that happens, Obama gets another 11 electoral votes, for a grand total of 329 to McCain's 209, a landslide by any measure.
The one thing McCain has going for him is that both he and Obama remain below 50 percent in most polls, which means he has a chance to close strong with undecided voters, but because he is behind, McCain has a longer road to run.
Should John McCain have to spend the next ten years or more answering the question, "should you apologize to America for the Ashley Todd hoax?" I'll bet Al Sharpton is asking himself that question with no small amount of irony tonight. Todd, of course, is the Pittsburgh, PA McCain campaign college Republican volunteer who made up a story about being attacked, robbed, and sexually abused by a "6 foot 4 black man" at an ATM, and then having a backwards (mirror, anyone?) "B" carved into her face with a knife. The right bought the story hook, line and sinker, and between Matt Drudge (and his pals at Politico), talk radio and Fox News, it became a winger sensation, while threatening to touch off new racial tensions in the process.
Brawley, you'll recall, was the New York City teenager who in November, 1987, claimed that she was abducted for four days, repeatedly raped and smeared with feces by a band of white men, including a cop named Daniel Pagones. The incident happened when I first moved back to New York (from Denver, Colorado) on my break from college. Like Al Sharpton, I believed Tawanna Brawley, so I'll forgive John McCain believing Ms. Todd. (Even 20 years later, Brawley's family still believes her story, and by the way, I've interviewed one of her attorneys, who does too.) But like Sharpton, McCain did more than believe. Not only did the Senator and presidential candidate call the young woman, his campaign in Pennsylvania actively pushed the story around to reporters, ramping up the spectacle of ogrish, black Obama supporters on the rampage, looking for young, white women to ravage, by supplying -- not passing on, but supplying -- the media with the lie that the "B" on Ms. Todd's face stood for Barack. If that reminds you of the bad old days of false rape accusations, followed by the lynchings of black men, you're where I am. But there have been other outrages that ended short of lynching.
Ironically, Ms. Todd's hoax comes almost 19 years to the day after a Boston man, Charles Stuart, shot his pregnant wife to death in their car and told police a black guy did it.
And who can forget Susan Smith, the North Carolina woman who in 1994 drowned her two adorable children by leaving them strapped into her sinking car, and then blamed the ubiquitous black carjacker?
But back to the McCain campaign. Per TPM, it turns out only two entities had custody of the now famous photos of Ms. Todd's alleged injuries:
The photographer who took the photos of Ashley Todd's self-inflicted injuries, only gave copies of the digital photos to the Pittsburgh police, and to her employers, the College Republicans.
This means there is no way the College Republicans and the McCain campaign was not involved in pushing this story, because Matt Drudge was up with the photo before the Pittsburgh Press even had access to them.
Mr. (Dan) Garcia took the widely published picture of Ms. Todd with her injuries. He said he took several photographs with a digital camera to document what had happened. He said he only gave copies of the photos to police and Ms. Todd's employer, the College Republicans. One photo appeared on The Drudge Report on Thursday, setting off a storm of media attention.
Which means that the College Republicans, who are working on behalf of the McCain campaign, passed the story to Drudge. The rest, as we say, was history. The level of involvement that has been revealed regarding the McCain campaign puts the lie to the notion that they were simply hapless dupes, wanting to believe a young would-be victim. They were active participants in this hoax, and I return to my original question: should John McCain have to spend the next decade answering for that, as Rev. Sharpton did with Tawanna Brawley? After all, had police behaved in this case they way they did in the Stuart and Smith cases, hundreds of black men might have been rousted across Pittsburgh, some even harassed, because of this young woman's story. Some crazed Palinite might have decided to take matters into his own hands, and hurt somebody out of racial animus and a quest for revenge. This incident put lives in danger, though thanks to the professionalism and skepticism of the Pittsburgh police, it was quickly exposed as a hoax. And it added one last sickening chapter to the sorry end of John McCain's political career. (CNN gets kudos for ignoring it, too.) I'll let Fox News honcho Ron Moody sum it up for me:
"If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain's quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting."
A senior Republican strategist, speaking with authority about the view of the party’s establishment, issued a wide-ranging critique of the McCain high command: “Lashing out at past Republican Congresses, … echoing your opponent's attacks on you instead of attacking your opponent, and spending 150,000 hard dollars on designer clothes when congressional Republicans are struggling for money, and when your senior campaign staff are blaming each other for the loss in The New York Times [Magazine] 10 days before the election, you’re not doing much to energize your supporters.
“The fact is, when you’re the party standard-bearer, you have an obligation to fight to the finish,” this strategist continued. “I think they can still win. But if they don’t think that, they need to look at how Bob Dole finished out his campaign in 1996 and not try to take down as many Republicans with them as they can. Instead of campaigning in Electoral College states, Dole was campaigning in places he knew he didn’t have a chance to beat Clinton, but where he could energize key House and Senate races.”
ORMOND BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A private watchdog group has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over Sarah Palin's new wardrobe.
The complaint alleges that the purchase of clothing for Palin and her family violates the Federal Election Campaign Act.
It was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, and it names Palin, the Republican National Committee and several political operatives.
The watchdog group notes that the regulations clearly apply to clothing -- but not to items donated by the candidates to charity. The group says that exception might apply to Palin's clothing, but doesn't appear to apply to clothes for her family.
And now, for something completely different: John McCain has yet another new strategy: attack George W. Bush. No, seriously. Maybe he should drop Sarah and run with his obsessive love object, Joe the Plumber? Or he can do like this guy and just support Obama himself.
That's how many turned out in Miami for the rally on Tuesday. I didn't write it up, because while you, dear readers, were enjoying your day, I was spending 12 hours at Bicentennial Park juggling black press events. One kind of cool thing: BET's College Hill dropped by and filmed a segment for the reality show, which will air in January. The College Hill kids did some fundraising and voter registration stuff, so they wanted to film them attending Obama's speech.
The big issue from where I sat during the speech was the crowding, and the complicated logistics. That was unfortunate, but we managed it as best we could. I didn't get to hear much of Obama's speech, which apparently went hard at John McCain, but afterward, we did a press clutch with African-American and Caribbean press, and I got to sit in the audience for Barack's appearance on "Ellen" (due to my poor seating choice, I wound up directly behind him, so no camera time for me! It was fun anyway.)
Apparently, a Hialeah fire chief was arrested for jumping a fence. Who knew? I was loving the Secret Service that day, because not only were they extremely nice and professional, a group of them also found my lost car keys. Can't beat that!
Meanwhile, the polls in the Sunshine state are tightening, and not in a good way.
That's all I've got on that for now. On to the day...
What is wrong with that picture? The McCain number looks about right -- comparable to the numbers he's pulling in the NBC/WSJ and every other poll, including the often loopy Zogby poll. But look at the Obama number: it has dipped not just below 50 percent, but six points under. How? Obama passed the 50 percent threshold weeks ago. What would account for a 6-8 point downward swing? In a word: nothing.
Next up, the poll sample, which way, way overcounts evangelicals. John Aravosis explains:
45% of this poll's respondents are evangelicals or born-again Christians ... The problem? In 2004, evangelicals/born-again Christians made up 23% of voters. But that same group makes up 44% of likely voters in AP's poll released today. That's almost double the number - it's totally implausible.
Pew's findings back that up, with this most comprehensive survey of American religious life putting the percentage of the country that are evangelical Protestants at a much more modest 26.3%.
In other words, the poll is a crock. Disregard it starting ... now.
So ... let me get this straight ... Joe the "plumber" has $250,000 lying around to buy a plumbing business worth $150,000 less than that, even though he only makes $40,000 a year ... and Sarah the Hockey Mom gets paid by Alaska voters to stay at home, lets her constituents pick up the tab for her kids' travel, and has a $150,000 clothing allowance? Boy, those small town values sure are expensive... either that or all those poor GOPer shlubs slumming it out in the heartland are some kind of suckers... (hmm... given the new valuation of small town America, I wonder how much the Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber Halloween costumes cost? I'm sure I can't afford them...)
Yes, I did listen to the John McCain appearance with his pal Don Imus this morning (on the purportedly liberal AM 940 down here in "Flawrida..." or as much as I could stand, anyway. And his defense of Palin not going on "Meet the Press" was basically laughter. He laughed, and laughed, and laughed, and still didn't explain why C.B. couldn't do the show.
There will be a Sarah Palin deposition in the Troopergate case on Friday, which I'm sure Team McCain is looking forward to. And it turns out the Alaska governor may have tried to cover up state spending on her kids:
An investigation has revealed she charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later changed expense reports to indicate that they were on official business.
The charges, which totalled more than £10,000, included costs for hotel stays and commercial flights for three daughters to watch their father in a snowmobile race.
Other expenses included a trip to New York, where Mrs Palin attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17 - year- old daughter Bristol for five days and four nights in a hotel.
The investigation, by Associated Press, found that Mrs Palin had charged the state of Alaska for 64 oneway and 12 round-trip commercial f lights since she took office in December 2006. In other cases, she charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.
Alaska law does not address expenses for a governor's children, but does allow for payment of expenses for anyone conducting official state business.
The latest allegations come soon after an inquiry found that the Republican vice-presidential candidate had violated ethics laws in attempts to get her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, fired after an acrimonious divorce from her sister.
And the latest NBC/WSJ poll finds that Keith Olbermann may have been right back in September about the McCain campaign being better off ditching Sarah altogether:
Fifty-five percent of respondents say she’s not qualified to serve as president if the need arises, up five points from the previous poll.
In addition, for the first time, more voters have a negative opinion of her than a positive one. In the survey, 47 percent view her negatively, versus 38 percent who see her in a positive light.
That’s a striking shift since McCain chose Palin as his running mate in early September, when she held a 47 to 27 percent positive rating.
Now, Palin’s qualifications to be president rank as voters’ top concern about McCain’s candidacy - ahead of continuing President Bush’s policies, enacting economic policies that only benefit the rich and keeping too high of a troop presence in Iraq.
Even women aren't feeling her, which was part of the point of picking her, no? More details on the poll data for the wonky types here.
Meanwhile, how does Tina Fey do such a dead-on imitation of Sarah P? Two words: ear glue...
Sen. Obama will travel to Hawaii to be with his grandmother in Hawaii on Thursday, where she is ill. The prayers of millions of Americans will go with him and his family. Let's hope the wingers manage to have a little class, at least for one day...
Can John McCain win without Colorado? Plus: Newsmax buries the lead
In a word ... no. And yet, his campaign is reportedly looking for a way to do so. Meanwhile, none other than Dick Morris releases a new map that shows Obama creaming John McCain, and the good editors at Newsmax manage to completely bury the lead. Their headline?
Um ... would this be a bad time to mention that Morris' map has McCain losing or Obama getting the lean in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio and Virginia, and beating McCain in the Electoral College 355 to 133? Hell, even Arizona is a "toss-up" in Morris' map. I'm thinking it's time to find a new headline writer...
Republicans try to minimize the Powell endorsement as being all about race ... and they fail. First off, Collin Powell is about as racial a character as Mr. Rogers. In fact, the only people who have ever hawked Powell's racial characteristics were Republicans, who have for eight years demanded that black people praise George W. Bush for appointing him and Condi Rice. Powell has managed to stand so far above the racial fray, that before Barack Obama came along, he was considered the non-white person most likely to become president. Now that he has made his decision, Republicans can't try to drop him in the Jesse Jackson juice now.
And yet, Powell (and Obama) are emblematic of an emerging problem for the GOP, as articulated by the very fish-out-of-wateresque Reihan Salam:
Obama embodies a younger, more urban, more ethnic America, the America that is taking shape in our elementary schools. As a born-and-bred Brooklynite, this is my America, and it is one that has been largely absent from our national leadership during the long era of Republican dominance. Though Republicans have struggled mightily to look more like America, Colin Powell and Condi Rice can't change the fact that the GOP has increasingly become the party of evangelical Southern white men. It certainly doesn't help that Powell, a self-described Rockefeller Republican, has just endorsed Obama.
Because I share many of the values of evangelical Southern white men--a love of free enterprise and the movie Red Dawn among them--I feel comfortable in their presence, but I've never been under the illusion that I'm one of them.
Gen. Powell is giving a press conference right now after his "MTP" interview, in which he endorsed Barack Obama, met the press (before it's airtime.) Powell was asked the obligatory "what about your record on the war?" question, and he's talking now about the negativity of the McCain campaign (particularly the Bill Ayers sludge,) and the role that played in his decision. Powell is breaking such orthodoxy china as saying "taxes are necessary for the public good," and he criticized the Bush administration's handling of the war. He said McCain would "follow the orthodoxy of the Republican party" rather than bring change, and said that his endorsement was a look "forward to 2009," rather than backward. Big day for the Obama campaign. So much for Sarah Palin's non-surprise appearance on the lamest "SNL" in weeks perking up that campaign...
... which was going to have a big day anyway, given that it raised a staggereing $150 million last month. Is it too late for McCain to suspend his campaign again?
My radio co-host Elgin Jones (one of the finest reporters in South Florida or anywhere,) has an incredible story up about John McCain's black relatives in Mississippi -- the ones McCain apparently doesn't acknowledge. Here's a clip:
When Theresa McCain started the family reunions in the late 1980s or early ‘90s (neither he nor his wife is sure of the exact starting date), only black family members attended. But as word spread about the gatherings, white members of the McCain family got involved. Today, the reunion has expanded to the point where it is becoming a community event.
The reunion’s website, teocfamilyreunion.ning.com has pictures, postings and other information about the family gatherings. While Sen. McCain’s brother, Joe, and many of his other white relatives attend the reunions, family members say Sen. McCain has never acknowledged them, or even responded to their invitations.
Sen. John McCain’s great, great grandfather, William Alexander McCain (1812-1863), fought for the Confederacy and owned a 2000-acre plantation named Waverly in Teoc. The family dealt in the slave trade, and, according to official records, held at least 52 slaves on the family’s plantation. The enslaved Africans were likely used as servants, for labor, and for breeding more slaves.
William McCain’s son, and Sen. John McCain’s great grandfather, John Sidney McCain (1851-1934), eventually assumed the duty of running the family’s plantation.
W.A. “Bill” McCain IV, a white McCain cousin, and his wife Edwina, are the current owners of the land. Both told the South Florida Times that they attend the reunions. They also said the McCain campaign had asked them not to speak to the media about the reunions, or about why the senator has never acknowledged the family gatherings.
In addition to distancing himself from his black family members, John McCain has taken several positions on issues that have put him at odds with members of the larger black community.
While running for the Republican Party nomination in 2000, he sided with protesters who were calling for the rebel battle flag to be removed from the South Carolina statehouse, only to alter that position later.
"Some view it as a symbol of slavery. Others view it as a symbol of heritage,” John McCain said of the flag. "Personally, I see the battle flag as a symbol of heritage. I have ancestors who have fought for the Confederacy, none of whom owned slaves. I believe they fought honorably.’’
Novelist Elizabeth Spencer, another white cousin of John McCain, noted the slaves the family owned in the family’s memoirs, Landscapes of the Heart. Sen. McCain has acknowledged reading the book, but claims to have only glossed over entries about their slaves.
“That’s crazy,” said Spencer, who also attends the reunions in Teoc. “No one had to tell us, because we all knew about the slaves. I may not vote, because I don’t want anyone to think that I have an issue with John, but I don’t want to see him become president because I think Obama is entirely adequate, and it’s time for a Democrat.’’
So far, the focus groups on CNN and MSNBC and even Fox indicate that for many swing and undecided voters, Joe the plumber, who was the star of last night's debate (along with Bob Schieffer, who was far and away the best moderator of the four we've seen during the general election,) might not be the best poster boy for John McCain's economic principles. Of course, conservatives went gaga over Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio man who (totally, completely spontaneously ... ahem ...) confronted Barack Obama at a campaign event about his tax policies, and how they would affect Joe if he went ahead with the purchase of the plumbing business he works for, which by toooootal coincidence, just happens to cost around $250,000 -- the cut-off under Obama's tax plan. The full video below:
For righties, Joe became an instant symbol of can-do capitalism being clobbered by the big, bad government, and Obama's retort that he wants to give tax breaks to people who don't have a quarter million dollars to invest and to "spread the wealth around" was the blood curdling shriek of socialism.
But here's the problem for the right: most Americans, who are struggling and some cases freaking completely out in this dismal economy, wouldn't mind spreading a little wealth around. The idea of everybody doing well isn't socialism to most people, it's opportunity to get ahead and to achieve (and hang onto) the American dream. The reason people felt good about the 90s was not that rich people and investors made money, but that for a time, it seemed that anyone could become a millionaire. The Larry Kudlow philosophy of the rich gwaking up all the baubles they can and to hell with the rest of us was fine for the 1980s, when "Dallas" and "Dynasty" were hot. Now? I doubt very many people are even watching "Cribs."
A very wise man (named Chris Matthews) said four years ago during a presentation for members of the media at Miami's American Airlines Arena (back when I was at NBC 6,) told us that "politics is about where you put the wedge in."If the wedge winds up between the middle class and the poor, such that the middle identifies more with the rich, even aspirationally, Republicans win. But when the wedge is between the rich and the middle class, such that those in the middle feel like they're getting poorer, Democrats win. This year, I think it's clear where the wedge is.
Which brings me back to Joe.
CNN sent a reporter to watch the debate with a family who had recently had their home foreclosed, and they were sour on Joe, mainly because they couldn't relate to a guy who's got $250,000 available to buy a company during these hard times (the father in the family, who is a Republican, also said he couldn't relate to McCain, because the Senator "has seven houses." Actually, I think it's at least eight ...)
In any event, let's take a closer look at Joe's story. First, his estimated earnings. From the Department of Labor:
Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are among the highest paid construction occupations. Median hourly earnings of wage and salary plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters were $20.56. The middle 50 percent earned between $15.62 and $27.54. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $12.30, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $34.79. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters were:
Natural gas distribution
Nonresidential building construction
Plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors
Utility system construction
Meanwhile, the median hourly wage for all American workers was $15.10. That's not to say that people like Joe are "rich." I'd actually call $20 an hour middle class. But at that wage level, Joe would be in line for an Obama tax cut next year.
If, on the other hand, he were to earn $250,000 a year plumbing, that would put him in the top 1 percent -- that's ONE percent, of all American earners (and probably the top .0003% of plumbers.) That may not make a person rich, either, but in times like these, it sure ain't poor.
Second, if Joe buys a business that earns $250,000, I can't imagine he'd be paying himself all, or even most of that, which means his own income would again fall within the 95 percent of Americans Obama would give a tax cut.
Third, in order for Joe to buy that business, if that's what he truly intends to do, he's gonna need more than $250K. As former Los Angeles Daily News columnist and post-newsroom budget cuts blogger, Steve Young points out:
... If we’re talking a business that is bottom lining at $250K, a standard business acquisition falls into the 4 to 1 investment area, which would call for Joe
is buying a business that is making a profit of exactly $250K, the Obama tax break minimum. A normal business acquisition falls into the 4 to 1 investment area, which would call for Joe to come up with $1,000,000 to purchase his $250K business. If that plumbing business had assets like trucks, equipment and offices, the cost could be far more.
Add to that Wurzelbacher doesn’t appear in the Toledo Yellow Pages listings, yet has been able to put together at least a million to invest, especially in these dire economic times, you begin to wonder whether Joe is a plumber or did someone in the McCain campaign find him in central casting?
Team McCain might want to back off from the new tack that "America didn't become great by spreading the wealth around," which he added to the candidate's stump speech today. Americans don't want to hear that the rich shouldn't pay more taxes, or that big corporations paying their executives tens, or even hundreds of millions of dollars, shouldn't have to provide basic healthcare coverage for their employees. Right wingers may like being hectored about tax cuts by talk radio hosts who sign $400 million contracts, get doped up on prescription pills in their Palm Beach mansions and fly around in private jets, but the rest of us are just not that stupid.
UPDATE: Turns out our friend Joe the Plumber has no plumbing license ... (and he insists he's no Matt Damon, either. Here's his actual quote (not making this up):
"I’m a flash in the pan, I’m not a megastar," Wurzelbacher said. "I’m not Matt Damon. I’m not any of those guys who have droves of women and men who want to be like them, that say 'Yeah, I’ll vote for him, because Matt Damon said so'."
Good to know!
UPDATE 2: Okay, you can't make this stuff up. A winger blogger close to the McCain campaign (or so he says,) claims that Joe the Plumber is related to none other than Charles Keating:
John McCain did great tonight in the debate. But every time John mentioned “Joe the Plumber,” some of us in the campaign banged our heads against the wall. If Steve Schmidt had any hair left, I hear he would have been pulling it out tonight. He reportedly screamed at John’s debate prep team tonight (out of earshot of reporters, of course). “You idiots - he’s related to Charles Keating… of the Keating Five scandal!” They thought they had a real live Joe Six-Pack who’s spurned Barack Obama’s tax plan. But what they forgot to do was check on Joe Wurzelbacher’s background.
Does any of this make Joe the Plumber a bad guy? Of course not. In fact, after that ill-fated night at the Watergate, he may finally be giving plumbers a good name. But at a debate where John goes full bore on Obama for guilt-by-association with William Ayers (and dodges a bullet by Obama not mentioning Keating Five), the press is going to bring it back front and center by midday tomorrow once they delve deeper into the most popular plumber in America.
UPDATE 2: It also turns out Joe, who wasn't at that rally by accident (he told ABC News he was contacted by the McCain campaign and "asked to show up at a rally...") doesn't have to worry about a tax increase under an Obama presidency, he has to worry about getting Wesley Sniped by the IRS because he doesn't pay his taxes.
UPDATE 3: A DailyKos diarist does some digging on Central Casting Joe:
Wurzelbacher had already met McCain, and per his story saw Obama walking through his neighborhood while he was out, and he walked over to get involved as he "always wanted to ask these guys a question and really corner them." On Obama’s answers to his questions, old ‘Joe The Plumber’ felt "unfortunately I still got a tap dance ... almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr."
It certainly made for good anecdotal reference. And the post debate interview made great RNC spin.
Yet something there seemed a bit too standard issue FOX News to me.
So after after some digging I found that Joe is indeed a registered Republican. No surprise.
But then I began wondering if old Joe The Plumber communicated this to the McCain campaign? The McCain camp, I’m sure, would see this as a wonderful way to play off Joe as a common connection during the debaters, and someone who was presumed by many (or at least played up to be) to be the quintessential uncommitted or independent voter in this middle American battleground state. Can you say "shill?"
It turns out that Joe’s dad is reported to be a heavy contributor to the GOP. Maybe Joe’s not quite such an independent voice after all. But again no surprise, this is America the polarized.
An unrelated final note, Joe it seems was at least accused of domestic violence by his first wife Jennifer according to papers filed in their divorce in Tucson back in 1997. Part of the court costs included the County’s charges for the Battered Women’s Shelter. http://apps.co.lucas.oh.us/...
Well, Joe’s just a regular guy all right. All the same fallibilities. And even the same pre-conceived allegiances. Nothing special.
TALLAHASSEE -- Breaking with the talking points of his fellow Republicans in Washington, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said he does not think voter fraud and the vote-registration group ACORN are a major problem in the Sunshine State.
''I think that there's probably less [fraud] than is being discussed. As we're coming into the closing days of any campaign, there are some who enjoy chaos,'' Crist told reporters.
Crist made his comments as the Republican National Committee hosted a conference call with reporters to tie Democrat Barack Obama to suspicious voter-registration cards submitted by ACORN across the nation and in four Florida counties, including Broward.
In the Broward case, an unknown person attempted to re-register a longtime voter named Susan S. Glenckman. Broward officials caught the error in August when it was brought to their attention by ACORN.
During the Wednesday Republican conference call, national party spokesman Danny Diaz focused more on a case out of Orange County, in which someone used an ACORN-stamped voter-registration card to sign up Mickey Mouse.
But Crist's Republican Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, said he doesn't think ACORN is committing systematic voter fraud. And Crist said that settles the matter because ''I have enormous confidence'' in Browning.
Like ACORN spokesmen, Browning says the false voter registration forms could be blamed on unethical canvassers or on citizens who themselves fill out fictitious voter cards.
... Elections officials point out that while voter-registration fraud is relatively easy, vote fraud is far more difficult because a criminal would have to evade multiple layers of computer-system and identity checks. They also say the system is not overwhelmed with phony registrations, as Diaz suggested during the conference call.
On a more serious note, the systematic removal of U.S. attorneys by the Bush Justice Department were all about Karl Rove demanding that the prosecutors go after illegitimate vote fraud cases, and when they refused, they were gone. In the end, this is about using phony charges of voter fraud to deligitimize Democratic voters, and failing that, elections in which a Democrat wins.
More uncommitted voters trusted Obama than McCain to make the right decisions about health care. Before the debate, sixty-one percent of uncommitted voters said that they trust Obama on the issue; after, sixty-eight percent said so. Twenty-seven percent trusted McCain to manage health care before the debate; thirty percent said so afterwards.
... more trusted Obama than McCain to make the right decisions about the economy. Before the debate, fifty-four percent of uncommitted voters said that they trust Obama to make the right decisions about the economy; after, sixty-five percent said that. Before, thirty-eight percent trusted McCain to do so, and forty-eight percent did after the debate.
Before the debate, sixty-six percent thought Obama understands voters’ needs and problems; that rose to seventy-six percent after the debate. For McCain, thirty-six percent felt he understands voters’ needs before the debate, and forty-eight percent thought so afterwards.
Who spent more time attacking during the debate? McCain – 80% Obama – 7% And:
The poll also suggested that debate watchers' favorable opinion of Obama rose during the debate, from 63 percent at the start of the debate to 66 percent at the end of the debate. The poll indicates that McCain's favorables dropped, from 51 percent to 49 percent.
Stan Greenberg is briefing reporters on his focus group of undecided voters in Colorado. He said the respondents felt Obama "won" and that the results were "more decisive than either of the last two." That's a reference to Greenberg's previous focus groups, which also came away preferring Obama.
The most striking result came on the favorability ratings. Although the focus group was officially undecided, it leaned towards McCain. Here were the favorability-unfavorability ratings for each candidate at the start:
McCain: 54 favorable / 34 unfavorable
Obama: 42 favorable / 42 unfavorable
Here's what the ratings looked like after the debate:
McCain: 50 favorable / 48 unfavorable
Obama: 72 favorable / 22 unfavorable
Apparently, Obama scored most with his answers on education and parental responsibility, which produced strong "shares my values" ratings.
And last but not least, here's yet another Frank Luntz focus group that put a sag on poor Brit Hume's face. This time, from right here in Miami! Aye, dios mio!
(...except Sarah Palin. He thinks she's a "reformer...")
Perhaps the two dumbest things John McCain did tonight (besides rolling and blinking his eyes like a madman and slurping spit through his clenched teeth throughout the night) were 1) blowing off the Lily Ledbetter "equal pay" question with a quick dismissal (and a pivot back to something he preferred to talk about ... earmarks, maybe?) and 2) his "Dr. Evil" air quotes response to the question of abortion in the case of a threat to a woman's health.
First, the ledbetter answer. It went like this. Obama was talking about what kind of temperament he'd look for in a Supreme Court justice:
I'll just give you one quick example. Sen. McCain and I disagreed recently when the Supreme Court made it more difficult for a woman named Lilly Ledbetter to press her claim for pay discrimination.
For years, she had been getting paid less than a man had been paid for doing the exact same job. And when she brought a suit, saying equal pay for equal work, the judges said, well, you know, it's taken you too long to bring this lawsuit, even though she didn't know about it until fairly recently.
We tried to overturn it in the Senate. I supported that effort to provide better guidance to the courts; John McCain opposed it.
I think that it's important for judges to understand that if a woman is out there trying to raise a family, trying to support her family, and is being treated unfairly, then the court has to stand up, if nobody else will. And that's the kind of judge that I want.
Schieffer: Time's up.
McCain: Obviously, that law waved the statute of limitations, which you could have gone back 20 or 30 years. It was a trial lawyer's dream.
Let me talk to you about an important aspect of this issue. We have to change the culture of America. Those of us who are proudly pro-life understand that. And it's got to be courage and compassion that we show to a young woman who's facing this terribly difficult decision. ...
Way to segue, Mac. Next, on his way to re-cementing the base, again ... on "partial birth abortion," John McCain completely dismisses the seriousness of a woman's health, even in the case where having a baby might kill her. Watch:
That's the kind of callousness toward women that created the gender gap. And it shows a generational dismissiveness toward women that is one reason McCain is going to have one hell of a hard time catching up by November 4th.
John McCain may not intend to do squat for you, but if elected, he'll damn sure look out for Joe. ... the plumber. By the way, it's a great day to have a business called "Joe the Plumber," as this guy will probably tell you tomorrow ... or this guy ... or this guy here ... hey, I wonder if those guys had $250,000 in cash on hand to buy their plumbing businesses like "middle class" Joe? (And am I the only one who wouldn't think it's such a bad idea to "spread the wealth around" -- given that the opposite is "keeping the wealth in the hands of the wealthy and telling everybody else to go screw themselves???") That said, the CNN focus group hated all the "Joe the plumber" shtick. After about the 20th time, it was annoying... But Joe did get his 15 minutes of fame (or was that 90 minutes) ... and he'll always have his Youtube. Gnight Joe!
Hey, wait a second ... something about that Joe seems strangely familiar... could it be ... SHUT UP!!
Joe the plumber ... and those bald guys from the second debate!
Dear John: please, please, PLEASE bring up Bill Ayers
John McCain is promising his supporters that he's going to whip Barack Obama's clot in tonight's debate, and he just swears he's man enough to bring up Bill Ayers. Ok, Mac. Do it. Listen to Rush Limbaugh instead of the "pointy headed intellectuals" who actually have ideas in your party, and bring.up.Bill.Ayers. If you do, you'll look even more erratic and miserable and out of touch than you do now. You'll turn off even more swing voters and moderates, who by the way, are what you desperately need right now, not to gain, but to TURN, since Barack has reached the 50 percent threshold and you, in two words, have not. You'll also open the door for Barack to highlight the ties between the people who funded Bill Ayers and the foundation for which he and Barack sat on the board, and the Republican Party, not to mention, to YOU. And it will prove that the last several days of so-called "changing the tone" were another gimmick, like "suspending your campaign."
Worse for you, all your and Sarah P's over the top, slanderous (and yet entirely unserious) Ayers talk has prompted the media to do something reporters don't do so very often in these days of newsroom budget cuts: they're reporting (and posting ... hello, beastie...) and what they're finding is that Bill Ayers isn't some wild-eyed terrorist goon who "still wants to bring down America," he's a rather non-controversial college professor -- and a rather shy one at that, who has had very little to do with Barack Obama. Once normal, non-crazy people get a good gander at him, he will surely underwhelm.
So go for it, "my friend." I'll be watching ... with popcorn.
Um ... Rev? Sit down for a second. We need to have a talk. ... It's about your role in public life "on behalf of Black America." See, not that we don't appreciate the whole "keep hope alive" thing, which was really cool when those of us in our 30s were kids ... but ... well ... we won't be needing your services anymore. In short: we've decided to "move in a different direction," and have elected to replace "up with hope" with just ... well, hope, plus a belief in ourselves and in this country's ability to rise to the occasion. For that, we won't be needing you. We've got Barack now, and a whole crop of new leaders who plan to change this country for the better, without the baby mama drama.
Oh, and on the whole "Israel" thing? We really don't need to hear from you on that anymore either. You just don't know enough about it, and your credibility on the subject is, how shall we say ... compromised. Besides, all you're doing by making stupid comments about things you know nothing about (such as, Barack Obama's Middle East policy...) is getting that weird old guy's blood up. You're embarrassing your son (again) ... and you're potentially screwing with Florida (which Barack is winning at the moment.) The Obama campaign very quickly set the record straight about you: that you're basically a Lone Ranger barking at the campaign from the outside, but let's not make them have to do it again, shall we? Hey, here's an idea: why not just pretend that whenever you're speaking? Your mike is ALWAYS hot. And then don't talk. Just don't talk ... at all.
So, that's it. And since you're not an adviser to Obama's campaign anyway, it's not like we're firing you or anything. Maybe you could ... I don't know ... take a vacation! I hear Greece is lovely this time of year ... Oh, I know! South Africa! That's far away ... I mean, enjoyable! Anyway, see ya, Rev, and thanks for the memories (except for the bloody shirt thing and the baby mama drama ... those memories we could do without.)
Murray Waas plumbs the depths of the John McCain "transition team" and finds a lobbyist for the late Saddam Hussein:
William Timmons, the Washington lobbyist who John McCain has named to head his presidential transition team, aided an influence effort on behalf of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to ease international sanctions against his regime.
The two lobbyists who Timmons worked closely with over a five year period on the lobbying campaign later either pleaded guilty to or were convicted of federal criminal charges that they had acted as unregistered agents of Saddam Hussein's government.
During the same period beginning in 1992, Timmons worked closely with the two lobbyists, Samir Vincent and Tongsun Park, on a previously unreported prospective deal with the Iraqis in which they hoped to be awarded a contract to purchase and resell Iraqi oil. Timmons, Vincent, and Park stood to share at least $45 million if the business deal went through.
Timmons' activities occurred in the years following the first Gulf War, when Washington considered Iraq to be a rogue enemy state and a sponsor of terrorism. His dealings on behalf of the deceased Iraqi leader stand in stark contrast to the views his current employer held at the time.
John McCain strongly supported the 1991 military action against Iraq, and as recently as Sunday described Saddam Hussein as a one-time menace to the region who had "stated categorically that he would acquire weapons of mass destruction, and he would use them wherever he could."
Timmons declined to comment for this story. An office manager who works for him said that he has made it his practice during his public career to never speak to the press. Timmons previously told investigators that he did not know that either Vincent or Park were acting as unregistered agents of Iraq. He also insisted that he did not fully understand just how closely the two men were tied to Saddam's regime while they collaborated.
But testimony and records made public during Park's criminal trial, as well as other information uncovered during a United Nations investigation, suggest just the opposite. Virtually everything Timmons did while working on the lobbying campaign was within days conveyed by Vincent to either one or both of Saddam Hussein's top aides, Tariq Aziz and Nizar Hamdoon. Vincent also testified that he almost always relayed input from the Iraqi aides back to Timmons. ...
First of all, is everyone on McCain's team a bloody "Washington lobbyist?" Does he know anyone ... ANYONE ... besides Washington lobbyists? Anyway, there's much more to Waas' story, which you can continue reading here. More on the import of the story from Sky News:
Mr Timmons - a long term Washington lobbyist who has worked for every Republican president since Richard Nixon - has not denied the allegations.
As head of the transition team he would help John McCain fill up to 3,000 full time government posts in the period between Nov 5 and the Inauguration on Jan 20. The process involves intense security checks and heavy vetting, introduced after the September 11 attacks.
Unfortunately for McCain, the Timmons story has already gone international, and domestically, has even been picked up in ruby red North Dakota.
Another 'killer' McCain suppoter ... Plus: our most embarrassing Americans
Courtesy of the Politico by way of the HuffPo but really from the Scranton Times Tribune. Timeline of a McCain-Palin rally near Scranton:
Gov. Palin, accompanied by her husband, Todd, walked onstage to a rousing reception by the Riverfront Sports crowd as the theme from "Rocky" played.
After acknowledging "Hockey moms, soccer moms, baseball moms," Gov. Palin introduced Lee Greenwood. Mr. Greenwood noted that the wrong song was playing. He then asked everyone to put their hands on their hearts and help him sing the National Anthem.
The sound crew then cued up the song the crowd expected Greenwood to perform, and he burst into his hit "God Bless the U.S.A."
The press pool has arrived at Riverfront Sports. Gov. Palin should arrive shortly.
Chris Hackett addressed the increasingly feisty crowd as they await the arrival of Gov. Palin.
Each time the Republican candidate for the seat in the 10th Congressional District mentioned Barack Obama the crowd booed loudly.
One man screamed "kill him!"
Well, that's nice. Brave New Films has a compilation of more embarassing McCaniacs and their greatest hits.
Of course, to be fair, there are many different kinds of McCain-Palin supporters, who can be found all around the country...
There's the racist Pennsylvania monkey guy:
The uninformed Ohioans of Strongville (featuring the pushy, bad hair lady):
And of course, the "o little crowd of Bethlehem (PA)":
Um... you guys do realize that people besides your family members are gonna see this ... right...?
Republican Mickey Edwards, formerly a congressman from Oklahoma, distances himself from McCain, saying "today, thanks to a campaign apparently managed by Moe, Curly, and Larry, he comes across as erratic (Obama's word, but it fits), impulsive, befuddled, and ill-tempered, and apparently unable to utter any words other than 'surge' and 'earmarks.'" Edwards also plays the blame game very explicitly: "If Obama gets a big win, it will be McCain himself, and the Three Stooges calling the shots at his headquarters who will deserve whatever blame is attached for transforming a viable and energetic Obama campaign into a steamroller grinding the Republican Party into the ground."
Erick Erickson, "editor in chief" of RedState.com, is giving up on McCain: "With only a few weeks left until election day, let's be blunt: McCain-Palin '08 does not seem to be making headway against the polling." He suggests that McCain needs to choose between himself and senate/house Republicans, and suggests that his readers focus on downballot races: "The Republican numbers in the House and Senate can be salvaged, but in the next few weeks there must be a realistic assessment from the McCain campaign regarding winning his own race versus helping Congressional Republicans mitigate their losses."
How sick am I of this silly Bill Ayers shtick coming out of the McCain campaign and their new "my friends" on the right? VERY. And yet, I'm writing another post about it...
John McCain went on the radio with a very solicitous talk show host and responded to Barack Obama's "say it to my face" challenge. McCain said that Obama's comments had pretty much ensured he'll bring Ayers up at the next debate (it's kind of a macho thing, apparently.) Please do, Senator. That should be good for another 5 or 6 points for Barack in the polls!
"Bill Ayers is a professor of education who once served with Obama on a school reform board, a board funded by conservative Republicans tied to McCain," says the ad's narrator. "When Ayers committed crimes in the '60s, Obama was 8 years old. Obama condemned those despicable acts. Ayers has had no role in Obama's campaign, and will have no role in his administration."
"And John McCain? With no plan to fix our economy, smears are all he has left," says the narrator.
The ad is airing in Wisconsin, Colorado, and likely other states.
In 1995, Bill Ayers was part of a team that helped create the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an education reform project that worked with half of Chicago's public schools. Barack Obama, then working as an attorney and law school professor, was elected chairman of the eight-member board of the CAC. The board included individuals of diverse political backgrounds, including Ray Romero, the President of Ameritech; Stanley Ikenberry, the former President of the University of Illinois; and Republican Arnold Weber, who had served in the Nixon White House.
In their best efforts to portray Barack as out of the mainstream, some on the right have tried characterizing the Chicago Annenberg Challenge as a dangerous fringe organization. What they do not discuss is the fact that the CAC was funded by a foundation belonging to Walter Annenberg, the billionaire Republican philanthropist who served as Richard M. Nixon's ambassador to the U.K. Annenberg and his wife, Leonore, gave the CAC $50 million in the 90's.
But Walter and Leonore weren't just giving money to educational foundations started by William Ayers. They were also giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican National Committee and various other Republican groups, as well as to a whole host of Republican candidates, including the following:
George W. Bush $4000
Mitt Romney $5000
Strom Thurmond $1000
Fred Thompson $500
Rick Santorum $3000
In other words, most of the people "palling around" with this particular terrorist were ... wait for it ... Republicans, and some darned prominent ones, too! Time to send Rick Santorum to Gitmo! (Oh, sorry, did I type that out loud...?) And by the way, guess which terror loving anti-American flag pin hater endorsed John McCain for president earlier this year?
Polls show Obama is ahead in four key swing states: Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, with Colorado being the important turnaround state that went to Bush in 2004.
In Michigan, Obama leads 54-38; in Minnesota, he’s up 51-40; and in Wisconsin respondents went 54-37 for Obama. (The margin of error is roughly plus or minus 3 percentage points in each of the four states.)
Colorado, meanwhile, went for President Bush in 2004. But if this latest number holds, it’s going blue this year. Quinnipiac reports that Obama leads there by 9 points, 52-43. With its nine Electoral College votes, the state is no Virginia, but it’s a big prize nonetheless, one that would by itself put Obama almost over the top if he holds Kerry’s states and adds Iowa — which polls indicate he will — to his column.
This comes on top of the latest ABC/WaPo poll which shows Obama up by 10 points, and ahead in every measure of leadership including taxes, for god sakes, the Iraq war, and "an unexpected crisis" -- everything except for terrorism, where McCain leads by 6 points. I refer you to question number 9:
9. (ASKED OF REGISTERED VOTERS) Regardless of who you may support, who do you trust more to handle [ITEM] - (Obama) or (McCain)?
10/11/08 - Summary Table* Both Neither No Obama McCain (vol.) (vol.) opinion a. The economy 53 37 1 7 2 b. Helping the middle class 59 31 1 6 2 c. The war in Iraq 48 47 1 4 1 d. Taxes 52 41 1 5 2 e. Protecting the Social Security system 51 34 2 9 4 f. The U.S. campaign against terrorism 43 49 2 4 3 g. Health care 59 30 1 6 4 h. An unexpected major crisis 48 45 2 4 1
Meanwhile, a Politico poll finds that Obama is ahead in 3 out of 4 "bellweather" counties that went for Bush in 2004:
In Washoe County, near Reno, Nev., Obama leads McCain 46 percent to 45 percent , with 6 percent undecided. Obama posts a wider 50 percent-44 percent lead with 5 percent undecided in Raleigh, North Carolina's Wake County, and another 6 point lead in Hillsborough County, Fla., where Tampa is located. There, he edges McCain 47 percent to 41 percent, with 11 percent undecided.
Among the four counties tested, McCain leads in only one: Jefferson County, Colo., a populous Denver suburb. McCain is ahead there by a margin of 45 percent to 43 percent, with 8 percent undecided.
At first glance, these Politico/InsiderAdvantage numbers might not look so troubling for McCain, who trailed Obama by 10 points in an ABC/Washington Post national survey, released Monday.
But these four counties are crucial battlegrounds in four of the most competitive states in the presidential race. In recent years, the Republican path to the White House has run through these areas.
And that, my friends, is called "burying the lead."
Maybe they're just trying to put down the Karl Rove association rumblings, or maybe they've figured out that it's better to side with the winner in a presidential race, but Politico.com in the last couple of days is trending negative on John McCain. Even Roger Simon -- as pro-McCain a reporter as I've read outside the Washington Times -- is starting to get antsy. Today, he gives McCain the business:
John McCain’s campaign is pretty much a shambles right now.
If you don’t believe me, just listen to John McCain. His chief goal these days is calming down his crowds, not firing them up.
And that is an honorable thing to do. It may not be a winning thing to do. But it is honorable.
Sarah Palin, once seen as a huge plus to the ticket, is now increasingly emerging as a liability.
Forget that an independent legislative panel found Friday that she had abused her power and violated ethics laws as governor of Alaska. Forget that with the possibility of Palin being a heartbeat away from the presidency, McCain gives up the argument that his ticket represents experience and a steady hand on the tiller.
The real problem for McCain is that Palin is running a separate — and scary — campaign that does not seem to be under anybody’s control.
Really? The title of Simon's piece is "Who's in control of McCain's campaign?" And his tortured prose is intended, I suppose, to evoke sympathy for a man looking to lose, if he is going to lose, and retain his honor. The problem with Simon's analysis is that we already know who is in charge of John McCain's campaign, and thus, who is responsible for the shredding of his honor -- something that despite Simon's hand wringing, is already a fait accompli (though Joe Klein suggests today that he may be able to slink back into the Senate with a "few stray threads" of his dignity in tow.) At the end of the day, the blaggard in charge of John McCain's campaign is John McCain. He hired the Bush/Rove operatives, he signed off on the trashing of Barack Obama's character. He has, out of his own mouth, continued to flog the phony Bill Ayers story in order to try and connect his Senate colleague to terrorism. He approved this message, therefore, he owns it.
Mac and Charles in better days, just after McCain won the Florida primary in January
After the GOP presidential campaign veers off the rails, Miss Charlie quits John McCain like a bad tanning parlor:
He says he will "try" to help McCain when "I have time."
He didn't have time over the weekend when he skipped a McCain rally before the UF-LSU football game, opting instead for a trip to Disney. The governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, managed to show up.
I was reminded of Crist, during his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, bailing out of an event with George Bush.
Truth be told, Crist will have nothing but time on his hands until after the election. On Monday, his schedule included nothing in the morning and a tour of two small businesses in St. Petersburg in the afternoon. ...
Sure hate it.
Turns out Crist was with Sarah Palin when she made her now infamous "palling around with terrorists" jab at Barack Obama on Florida's west coast, and he was also "palling around" with Sarah (and even introduced her,) at the Germain Arena when Sheriff Mike Scott entered the annals of campaign history. Crist's comments after the rally (the day after last week's town hall style debate) were cool, to say the least, and he was careful to preserve his bi-partisan bona fides, even while playing the good partisan soldier:
“There’s always a back and forth, especially toward the end of these campaigns,” he said. “I don’t know that it’s fun for anyone.”
Asked how much time he would spend campaigning for McCain this month, Crist said it was not his priority.
“I’ll be involved, but my first duty is to the people of Florida, to be their governor and I take that role very, very seriously,” he said. “So when I have time to be able to help, I’ll try to do that but I know where my first loyalty is to and it’s to the 20 million people that live in the state that I love.”
Crist was magnanimous in his assessment of Tuesday night’s presidential debate.
“I thought Sen. McCain did very well. In all fairness, I think Sen. Obama comports himself very well,” said Crist.
It should also be noted that the Florida guvnah also skipped the GOP convention. He probably doesn't enjoy big, rowdy right wing crowds who tend to boo moderate, not exactly completely verifiably straight Republicans like him, if you know what I mean. And Crist has had a good, solid relationship with Florida Democrats, who could also increase their numbers in the state house in November, and with groups like the NAACP, who have been horrified by the goings on at the McCain-Palin campaign. Why would Crist put all of that at risk for McCain, after McCain abandoned the reasonable wing of the party for the kooks?
Oh, and if I were Charlie's fiancee, I wouldn't bet everything I had on that December wedding. Getting engaged was kind of part of the veep marketing strategy, and well ... McCain, as we now know all too well, went another way.
Remember how we used to joke about John McCain looking like an old guy yelling at kids to get off his lawn? It’s only in retrospect that we can see that the keep-off-the-grass period was the McCain campaign’s golden era. Now, he’s beginning to act like one of those movie characters who steals the wrong ring and turns into a troll.
During that last debate, while he was wandering around the stage, you almost expected to hear him start muttering: “We wants it. We needs it. Must have the precious.”
Remember when McCain’s campaign ads were all about his being a prisoner of war? I really miss them.
Now they’re all about the Evil That Is Obama. The newest one, “Ambition,” has a woman, speaking in one of those sinister semiwhispers, saying: “When convenient, he worked with terrorist Bill Ayers. When discovered, he lied.” Then suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, she starts ranting about Congressional liberals and risky subprime loans. Then John McCain pops up to say he approved it. All in 30 seconds! And, of course, McCain would think it’s great. For the first time, the Republicans appear to have captured his thought process on tape.
The Republican campaign strategy now involves sending their candidates to areas where everybody is a die-hard McCain supporter already. Then they yell about Obama until the crowd is so frenzied people start making threats. The rest of the country is supposed to watch and conclude that this would be an enjoyable way to spend the next four years.
Maybe the Republicans should have picked somebody else. I miss Mitt Romney. Sure, he was sort of smarmy. But when Mitt was around, the banks had money and Iceland was solvent. And, of course, when we got bored, we could always talk about how he drove to Canada with his Irish setter strapped to the car roof. ...
"The black hobbit ... he tricks us! He tricks us and he takes it! He takes the Precious!!!!"
Meanwhile, WaPo editorial page editor Fred Hiatt ponders the campaign a once honor-bound John McCain might have run...
The McCain campaign is in a huff over a statement from one of the three "wise men" John McCain claimed in that Rick Warren confab that he would consult in the White House if he were to become president: Georgia Congressman, and civil rights icon, John Lewis, who on Saturday ripped into the McCain-Palin ticket, accusing the campaign of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division." Referring to 1960s-era Alabama Gov. George Wallace, Lewis said in a statement on Saturday:
"As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign. What I am seeing today reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.
"During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who only desired to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed one Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.
"As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Governor Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better."
"Congressman John Lewis' comments represent a character attack against Governor Sarah Palin and me that is shocking and beyond the pale. The notion that legitimate criticism of Senator Obama's record and positions could be compared to Governor George Wallace, his segregationist policies and the violence he provoked is unacceptable and has no place in this campaign. I am saddened that John Lewis, a man I've always admired, would make such a brazen and baseless attack on my character and the character of the thousands of hardworking Americans who come to our events to cheer for the kind of reform that will put America on the right track.
"I call on Senator Obama to immediately and personally repudiate these outrageous and divisive comments that are so clearly designed to shut down debate 24 days before the election. Our country must return to the important debate about the path forward for America."
Clarifying his remarks later Saturday, Lewis said his statement "was a reminder to all Americans that toxic language can lead to destructive behavior."
"I am glad that Sen. McCain has taken some steps to correct divisive speech at his rallies. I believe we need to return to civil discourse in this election about the pressing economic issues that are affecting our nation."
Obama's campaign said Obama "does not believe that John McCain or any policy criticism is any way comparable to George Wallace or his segregationist policies" but said Lewis was "right to condemn some of the hateful rhetoric."
So here's the thing. The McCain campaign is brimming with fake outrage over Lewis' remarks, but then the same day, what we can now call "the trouble" happens again...
I would also add, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god — whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and election day.
"While we understand the important role that faith plays in informing the votes of Iowans, questions about the religious background of the candidates only serve to distract from the real questions in this race about Barack Obama's judgment, policies and readiness to lead as commander in chief." - Wendy Riemann, Midwest Regional Communications Director
And McCain has another problem. What Rep. Lewis said isn't even the first time someone has raised the possibility that McCain and especially Sarah Palin, are systematically bringing the nut-jobsout of the woodwork. Chris Matthews has said it, as have David Gergen, Joe Klein, Bob Shrum and any number of commentators and analysts, some of whom I've chronicled here. Just this weekend, right wing talker Mike McConnell compared the McCain-Palin rallies to excursions into "Hooterville," and suggested that the only people still attending, and still interested in Bill Ayers, are people named "Jebediah and Jethro." And McCain has apparently realized himself that he's got to begin walking the crazies back from the grassy knoll. And McCain's troubles with his angry mob of followers are now an international story. No backing away from it now.
Here at home, just today, we have Frank Rich opening his column like this:
IF you think way back to the start of this marathon campaign, back when it seemed preposterous that any black man could be a serious presidential contender, then you remember the biggest fear about Barack Obama: a crazy person might take a shot at him. ...
Is what John Lewis said any more jarring than that? I think not.
The verdict is in: 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats on the legislative panel in Alaska investigating "Troopergate" find that Sarah Palin abused her power as governor, and used her husband as her "cappo." From the Anchorage Daily News:
A legislative investigation has concluded that Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power in pushing for the firing of an Alaska state trooper who was once married to her sister, or by failing to prevent her husband Todd from doing so.
The report by investigator Steve Branchflower was made public late this afternoon by a bipartisan 12-0 vote of the Legislative Council, which authorized the investigation.
Branchflower's report contains four findings. The first concludes that Palin violated the state's executive branch ethics act, which says that "each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust."
Branchflower was investigating Palin's involvement in an effort to get state trooper Mike Wooten fired. Wooten was involved in a nasty divorce from Palin's sister. Palin and her husband, Todd, have accused Wooten of threatening Palin's father.
The investigation also looked into whether Palin dismissed public safety commissioner Walt Monegan because he resisted pressure to fire Wooten.
The report says Palin failed to reign in her husband's inappropriate efforts to use the governor's office to contact trooper employees in his attempts to have Wooten fired.
"Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda ... to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired," Branchflower's report says.
"Compliance with the code of ethics is not optional. It is an individual responsibility imposed by law, and any effort to benefit a personal interest through official action is a violation of that trust. ... The term 'benefit' is very broadly defined, and includes anything that is to the person's advantage or personal self-interest."
In the second finding, Branchflower says Monegan's refusal to fire Wooten was not the sole reason for his dismissal but that it was a "contributing factor." Still, he said, Palin's firing of Monegan was "a proper and lawful exercise" of the governor's authority.
The third finding says a workers compensation claim filed by Wooten was handled appropriately. Number four concludes that the attorney general's office failed to comply with Branchflower's Aug. 6 request for information about the case in the form of e-mails.
The chairman of the Legislative Council, Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau, said he agreed with Branchflower's findings but wasn't ready to suggest there should be any consequences for the governor. ...
The report is in many ways an indictment of Todd Palin, who apparently spent literally years pursuing a vendetta against his wife's former brother in law, in an attempt to get him fired as a state trooper. (Full report here.)
"Today's report shows that the Governor acted within her proper and lawful authority in the reassignment of Walt Monegan," said Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapelton. "The report also illustrates what we've known all along: this was a partisan led inquiry run by Obama supporters and the Palins were completely justified in their concern regarding Trooper Wooten given his violent and rogue behavior. Lacking evidence to support the original Monegan allegation, the Legislative Council seriously overreached, making a tortured argument to find fault without basis in law or fact. The Governor is looking forward to cooperating with the Personnel Board and continuing her conversation with the American people regarding the important issues facing the country."
Probably the most damning op-ed yet on McCain's dishonorable campaign. Wonder if this is the kind of thing that made the "maverick" blink:
John McCain: In 2000, as a lifelong Republican, I worked to get you elected instead of George W. Bush. In return, you wrote an endorsement of one of my books about military service. You seemed to be a man who put principle ahead of mere political gain.
You have changed. You have a choice: Go down in history as a decent senator and an honorable military man with many successes, or go down in history as the latest abettor of right-wing extremist hate.
John McCain, you are no fool, and you understand the depths of hatred that surround the issue of race in this country. You also know that, post-9/11, to call someone a friend of a terrorist is a very serious matter. You also know we are a bitterly divided country on many other issues. You know that, sadly, in America, violence is always just a moment away. You know that there are plenty of crazy people out there.
Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs.
John McCain, you're walking a perilous line. If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters when they scream out "Terrorist" or "Kill him," history will hold you responsible for all that follows.
John McCain and Sarah Palin, you are playing with fire, and you know it. You are unleashing the monster of American hatred and prejudice, to the peril of all of us. You are doing this in wartime. You are doing this as our economy collapses. You are doing this in a country with a history of assassinations.
Change the atmosphere of your campaign. Talk about the issues at hand. Make your case. But stop stirring up the lunatic fringe of haters, or risk suffering the judgment of history and the loathing of the American people - forever.
McCain made a start in returning to sanity today, briefly... but then, his campaign started issuing statements like this:
McCain senior adviser Nicolle Wallace released this statement, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports. "Barack Obama's assault on our supporters is insulting and unsurprising. These are the same people obama called 'bitter' and attacked for 'clinging to guns' and faith. He fails to understand that people are angry at corrupt practices in Washington and Wall Street and he fails to understand that America's working families are not 'clinging' to anything other than the sincere hope that Washington will be reformed from top to bottom."
"Attacking our supporters is a new low for the campaign that's run more millions of dollars of negative ads than any other in history."
*** UPDATE *** McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers adds in another statement: “Barack Obama’s attacks on Americans who support John McCain reveal far more about him than they do about John McCain. It is clear that Barack Obama just doesn’t understand regular people and the issues they care about. He dismisses hardworking middle class Americans as clinging to guns and religion, while at the same time attacking average Americans at McCain rallies who are angry at Washington, Wall Street and the status quo."
So what's it gonna be, John?
UPDATE: This is what it's gonna be. The McCain campaign is now broadening it's Ayers attack ... to Michelle.
(TPM Election Central) -- The McCain campaign is now broadening their attack on Obama's past association with William Ayers to include Michelle Obama -- even though McCain has repeatedly said spouses should be off limits during the campaign.
The attack? Bernardine Dohrn, Ayers' wife and fellow former Weatherman, went to work in 1984 for the major Chicago-based national law firm of Sidley & Austin, and three years later, Michelle joined the mega-firm as well.
That's the entire attack. We wish we were joking. But we aren't.
In launching this latest, McCain is ditching yet another formerly-claimed principle as he faces the growing likelihood of defeat. In a statement back in June, the McCain campaign said: "Senator McCain agrees with Senator Obama that spouses should not be an issue in this campaign, and he has stated that position frequently."
The attack on Michelle came on a McCain conference call with reporters this afternoon featuring John Murtagh, who has been hitting Obama over the Weather Underground's attack on his family's home back in 1970. Murtagh noted that Dohrn and Michelle Obama had both worked at the firm starting in the late 1980s.
Murtagh didn't even bother alleging that the two even knew each other, instead suggesting that they might have. If so, he said, the Obamas have known the two longer than suspected.
"If it is true" that the two women knew each other, Murtagh said, "the relationship is almost a decade older than Senator Obama has acknowledged. And that can very easily be resolved by Senator Obama, by Mrs. Obama, by Mr. Ayers and by Ms. Dohrn."
"And incidentally, I would emphasize that we've all been focusing on Senator Obama," said Murtagh. "I think we need to speak to his wife."
Too late? McCain tries to put the pin back in the grenade
At a rally today, John McCain demonstrates that he does read the newspapers (and that he has heard the words of sober, serious people like David Gergen.) He tries to pull back his team's vicious crowds (and gets booed for his trouble.) Watch:
I think McCain's internal polling shows he's losing this thing, and he's trying, at long last, to save what he can of his reputation (not that he won't be bodysnatched again tomorrow by the crazed wingers running his campaign...) The problem is, the right wing doesn't listen to John McCain, and he has unleashed a two-headed monster, one head being these scary crowds, and the other being the pit bull with lipstick.
My article about Barack Obama's healthcare plan and how it could impact African-Americans is up and running. And now for a highly intellectual response courtesy of somebody called NorthernDog at Lucianne.com, who said this to me via email:
Rather than bling, KFC, IPods, and 200 dollar Jordans sneakers, why don't blacks buy their OWN health insurance instead of being parasites on the backs of everyone else? Just "axing". JCH
Isn't that brilliant? Read some of the winger commentary here, by people apparently too stupid to figure out that Obama's plan ISN'T JUST FOR BLACK PEOPLE ... (sigh. Are there any smart people over there on the right???) The original article can be found here.
Anger and frustration, even rage, have become the prevailing emotions at rallies for Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin (not to mention their latest ads.) That's the storyline almost anywhere you look. And it's not a good look for a campaign that at this stage, has to bank on swing voters not being completely turned off by the spectacle of angry, vicious mobs hurling epithets at Barack Obama. From Politico sums it up:
The raw emotions worry some in the party who believe the broader swath of swing voters are far more focused on their dwindling retirement accounts than on Obama’s background and associations and will be turned off by footage of the McCain events.
John Weaver, McCain’s former top strategist, said top Republicans have a responsibility to temper this behavior.
“People need to understand, for moral reasons and the protection of our civil society, the differences with Sen. Obama are ideological, based on clear differences on policy and a lack of experience compared to Sen. McCain,” Weaver said. “And from a purely practical political vantage point, please find me a swing voter, an undecided independent, or a torn female voter that finds an angry mob mentality attractive.”
“Sen. Obama is a classic liberal with an outdated economic agenda. We should take that agenda on in a robust manner. As a party we should not and must not stand by as the small amount of haters in our society question whether he is as American as the rest of us. Shame on them and shame on us if we allow this to take hold.”
But, if it were up to them, such hard-edged tactics are clearly what many in the party base would like to use against Obama.
The anger is spilling over at campaign events such as the one in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where the now infamous "angry man" held forth:
“It's time that you two are representing us, and we are mad,” reiterated the boisterous Republican at McCain’s town hall in Wisconsin Thursday. “So go get 'em!”
"I am begging you, sir, I am begging you — take it to him," pleaded James T. Harris, a local talk radio host at the same event, earning an extended standing ovation.
“Yosemite Sam is having the law laid down to him today in Waukesha, Wis.,” quipped Limbaugh on his show Thursday, referring to the GOP nominee. “This guy, this audience member, is exactly right,” the conservative talk show host said of the first individual.
The problem for Team McCain is that their current strategy only works with the base, which is shrinking, while the spectacle of shrieking, angry ralliers turns off key voting blocks, including suburban swing voters and Hispanics, or even conservative blacks (immigrants in particular) who can't possibly feel comfortable aligning themselves with what looks like a party driven in part by racial fears and animus. With Republican party identification declining, you can't win a national election with lower middle class whites alone (and even if you can pull it off this year, that strategy is clearly, demographicaly, a long term loser.)
... Neither McCain nor Palin would dare mention Obama's middle name, Hussein, but they can play up Obama's past associations and let others connect the dots. Terrorist. Muslim. Dangerous. Other.
It is legitimate to question character and dubious associations -- and William Ayers is certifiably dubious. The truth is, Obama should have avoided Ayers, and his denouncement of Wright was tardy. But this is a dangerous game.
The McCain campaign knows that Obama isn't a Muslim or a terrorist, but they're willing to help a certain kind of voter think he is. Just the way certain South Carolinians in 2000 were allowed to think that McCain's adopted daughter from Bangladesh was his illegitimate black child.
But words can have more serious consequences than lost votes and we've already had a glimpse of the Palin effect.
The Post's Dana Milbank reported that media representatives in Clearwater were greeted with taunts, thunder sticks and profanity. One Palin supporter shouted an epithet at an African-American soundman and said, "Sit down, boy."
McCain may want to call off his pit bull before this war escalates.
Former Michigan Gov. Roger Milliken (who endorsed McCain during the primary):
"He is not the McCain I endorsed," said Milliken, reached at his Traverse City home Thursday. "He keeps saying, 'Who is Barack Obama?' I would ask the question, 'Who is John McCain?' because his campaign has become rather disappointing to me.
"I'm disappointed in the tenor and the personal attacks on the part of the McCain campaign, when he ought to be talking about the issues."
Milliken, a lifelong Republican, is among some past leaders from the party's moderate wing voicing reservations and, in some cases, opposition to McCain's candidacy.
Those include former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chaffee, who comes from an old GOP family and whose father was Yale classmate of George W. Bush's father:
McCain campaigned for Chafee's unsuccessful re-election bid in 2006, but Chafee said he is concerned McCain has swung to the right, a divisive strategy that could make it difficult for him to govern.
"That's not my kind of Republicanism," said Chafee, who now calls himself an independent. "I saw what Bush and Cheney did. They came in with a (budget) surplus and a stable world, and look what's happened now. In eight short years they've taken one peaceful and prosperous world, and they've torn it into tatters."
As for McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for his running mate, "there's no question she's totally unqualified," Chafee said.
Bob Eleveld is a former Kent County Republican chairman who led McCain's West Michigan campaign in 2000. This year, he has remained mum unless asked.
"I'm not supporting either of them at this point," he said. "Suffice it to say there are a number of people who have been strong Republicans in the past, including party chairs, who feel as I do."
He declined to name them.
In the past, McCain was more of a moderate known for his straight talk, Eleveld said.
"I think the straight talk is gone," he said, describing himself as a member of the party's moderate wing. "I think he's pandering to the Christian right. That's some straight talk from me."
American voters are staggering under the worst financial crisis since at least 1982. Asset values are tumbling, consumer spending is contracting, and a recession is visibly on the way. This crisis follows upon seven years in which middle-class incomes have stagnated and Republican economic management has been badly tarnished. Anybody who imagines that an election can be won under these circumstances by banging on about William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright is … to put it mildly … severely under-estimating the electoral importance of pocketbook issues.
We conservatives are sending a powerful, inadvertent message with this negative campaign against Barack Obama's associations and former associations: that we lack a positive agenda of our own and that we don’t care about the economic issues that are worrying American voters.
... and he adds this:
Those who press this Ayers line of attack are whipping Republicans and conservatives into a fury that is going to be very hard to calm after November. Is it really wise to send conservatives into opposition in a mood of disdain and fury for a man who may well be the next president of the United States, incidentally the first African-American president? Anger is a very bad political adviser. It can isolate us and push us to the extremes at exactly the moment when we ought to be rebuilding, rethinking, regrouping and recruiting.
I’m not suggesting that we remit our opposition to a hypothetical President Obama. Only that an outgunned party will need to stay cool. A big part of Obama’s appeal is his self-command. It’s a genuinely impressive quality. Let’s emulate it. We’ll be needing it.
"One of the most striking things we've seen in the last few day, we have seen it at the Palin rallies and we saw it at the McCain rally today," said David Gergen, appearing on Anderson Cooper 360 Thursday evening. "And we saw it to a considerable degree during the rescue package legislation. There is a free-floating sort of whipping-around anger that could really lead to some violence. And I think we're not far from that."
Gergen's remark came hours after John McCain and Sarah Palin held a rally in Wisconsin that saw attendees pleading with them to go on the attack against Barack Obama over his past associations and "socialistic" behavior. Earlier in the week crowd members at other McCain-Palin events have screamed out that Obama is a terrorist, has committed treason, and should be killed.
"I really worry when we get people -- when you get the kind of rhetoric that you're getting at these rallies now," said Gergen. "I think it's really imperative the candidates try to calm people down."
Christopher Buckley (son of William F.) speaking about the hate directed back at conservative intellectuals on behalf of McCain-Palin, and announcing that he's endorsing Obama:
My colleague, the superb and very dishy Kathleen Parker, recently wrote in National Review Online a column stating what John Cleese as Basil Fawlty would call “the bleeding obvious”: namely, that Sarah Palin is an embarrassment, and a dangerous one at that. She’s not exactly alone. New York Times columnist David Brooks, who began his career at NR, just called Governor Palin “a cancer on the Republican Party.”
As for Kathleen, she has to date received 12,000 (quite literally) foam-at-the-mouth hate-emails. One correspondent, if that’s quite the right word, suggested that Kathleen’s mother should have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a Dumpster. There’s Socratic dialogue for you. Dear Pup once said to me sighfully after a right-winger who fancied himself a WFB protégé had said something transcendently and provocatively cretinous, “You know, I’ve spent my entire life time separating the Right from the kooks.” Well, the dear man did his best. At any rate, I don’t have the kidney at the moment for 12,000 emails saying how good it is he’s no longer alive to see his Judas of a son endorse for the presidency a covert Muslim who pals around with the Weather Underground. So, you’re reading it here first.
Then there are the once-McCian-friendly members of the media, including Atlantic's Ta-Nehesi Coates:
The saddest thing about many Republicans isn't just that they disagree with liberals on race--it's they are largely ignorant on race. When the McCain campaign cast the spell of diabolical jingoism, they have no idea of the forces they are toying with. We remember Martin Luther King's murder as a sad and tragic event. Less remembered is the fact that ground-work for King's murder was seeded, not simply by rank white supremacy, but by people who slandered King as a communist.
This was not some notion bandied about by conspiracy theorist, but an accusation proffered by men who were the pillars of the modern Republican Party:
As late as 1964, Falwell was attacking the 1964 Civil Rights Act as "civil wrongs" legislation. He questioned "the sincerity and intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations." Falwell charged, "It is very obvious that the Communists, as they do in all parts of the world, are taking advantage of a tense situation in our land, and are exploiting every incident to bring about violence and bloodshed."
Falwell was not alone. These men didn't kill Martin Luther King, but they contributed to an atmosphere of nationalism, white supremacy and cheap unreflective patriotism that ultimately got a lot of people killed. Confronted with Aparthied South Africa, men like Helms and Falwell used the same "communist" defense. While Mandella wasted away in prison, they dismissed the whole thing as a communist plot.
Let me be clear--This is the ghost that McCain Campaign is summoning. This is the Ring Of Power that they want to wield. The Muslim charge, the "Hussein" thing is nothing more than today's red-baiting, and it is what it was then--a cover for racists.
But seriously, folks, I'm beginning to worry about the level of craziness on the Republican side, the over-the-top, stampede-the-crowd statements by everyone from McCain on down, the vehemence of the crowds that McCain and Palin are drawing with people shouting "Kill him" and "He's a terrorist" and "Off with his head."
Watch the tape of the guy screaming, "He's a terrorist!" McCain seems to shudder at that, he rolls his eyes... and I thought for a moment he'd admonish the man. But he didn't. And now he's selling the Ayres non-story full-time. Yes, yes, it's all he has. True enough: he no longer has his honor. But we are on the edge of some real serious craziness here and it would be nice if McCain did the right thing and told his more bloodthirsty supporters to go home and take a cold shower. But McCain hasn't done the right thing all year. His campaign is appalling, as the New York Times editorial board said today--and more, it is a national disgrace.
Well said. John McCain must now decide: he can dive in further into the muck and become a political Michael Savage, or he can try to salvage some shred of the integrity that he has mostly shredded during this most inglorious campaign.
Stop the ACLU leads the right wing charge against Newsweek for ... putting Sarah Palin on the cover without soft lighting (and for Jonathan Meacham's cover story) ... and then commits an illuminating act of truthiness:
Newsweek’s Jon Meacham thinks that Governor Sarah Palin is too much a commoner and too stupid to be allowed to become vice president of the United States of America and apparently his employer agrees with him. The October 13 cover of Newsweek features a close up photo of the Governor with the headline “She’s One of the Folks (And that’s the problem),” and Meacham writes the accompanying cover story. Be clear about what this means: This is a direct attack on Mr. and Mrs. America. We are all too stupid to be president in the elite opinion of Jon Meacham and Newsweek magazine.
Yep. that about sums it up. Most "regular folks" (and just about everybody at Stop the ACLU...) ARE too stupid to be president. We should start electing smarter applicants. STAT. (STACLU won't be liking this gal either, nope, you betcha not!)
The gubernatorial superstar did appear at one of those big ole rallies in Ohio today, where she kinda forgot to mention that the Dow Jones plunged below 9,000 for the first time in years, but she did bring up Bill Ayers, doncha know!
Meanwhile, the TrooperGate probe is back in business following a ruling by the Alaska Supreme Court, with a report on John McCain's little Sancho Panza's nasty little vendetta due to drop tomorrow (which at this point, has become today...) And we're finding out a little bit more about Todd Palin's role, not just as "First Dude," but apparently, also as Alaska's unofficial personnel manager:
Todd Palin campaigned for years to get state trooper Mike Wooten fired, he told the Alaska Legislature's "Troopergate" investigator, in a 25-page response to a list of questions.
Palin provided his answers to special counsel Stephen Branchflower yesterday, according to news accounts and sources familiar with the probe. Palin's lawyer and the McCain-Palin campaign made the document available to reporters that evening, a move condemned by State Senate officials.
"The McCain campaign should not be releasing these documents to you," said Alaska Senate President Lyda Green, R-Wasilla, after learning the camp had offered the document to a reporter, under condition of anonymity. "This is a confidential report," she said. "The campaign should have nothing to do with this."
Silly Alaska guy. The campaign has got something to do with EVERYTHING... (country first!)
Finally, I think we can all agree that it's high time the media began taking a serious look at the nefarious associations of one of the candidates vying to lead this country, because those associations are pretty gall-darned disturbing...
PALMER, Alaska — | On the afternoon of Sept. 24 in downtown Palmer, Alaska, as the sun began to sink behind the snowcapped mountains that flank the picturesque Mat-Su Valley, 51-year-old Mark Chryson sat for an hour on a park bench, reveling in tales of his days as chairman of the Alaska Independence Party. The stocky, gray-haired computer technician waxed nostalgic about quixotic battles to eliminate taxes, support the “traditional family” and secede from the United States.
So long as Alaska remained under the boot of the federal government, said Chryson, the AIP had to stand on guard to stymie a New World Order. He invited a Salon reporter to see a few items inside his pickup truck that were intended for his personal protection. “This here is my attack dog,” he said with a chuckle, handing the reporter an exuberant 8-pound papillon from his passenger seat. “Her name is Suzy.” Then he pulled a 9-millimeter Makarov PM pistol — once the standard-issue sidearm for Soviet cops — out of his glove compartment. “I’ve got enough weaponry to raise a small army in my basement,” he said, clutching the gun in his palm. “Then again, so do most Alaskans.” But Chryson added a message of reassurance to residents of that faraway place some Alaskans call “the 48.” “We want to go our separate ways,” he said, “but we are not going to kill you.”
Though Chryson belongs to a fringe political party, one that advocates the secession of Alaska from the Union, and that organizes with other like-minded secessionist movements from Canada to the Deep South, he is not without peculiar influence in state politics, especially the rise of Sarah Palin.
Sarah Palin!!!??? Heeeey, wait a minute...
An obscure figure outside of Alaska, Chryson has been a political fixture in the hometown of the Republican vice-presidential nominee for over a decade. During the 1990s, when Chryson directed the AIP, he and another radical right-winger, Steve Stoll, played a quiet but pivotal role in electing Palin as mayor of Wasilla and shaping her political agenda afterward. Both Stoll and Chryson not only contributed to Palin’s campaign financially, they played major behind-the-scenes roles in the Palin camp before, during and after her victory.
Well, at least we don't have to worry about John McCain's associations ...
McCain associated with Bitburg defenders
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
John McCain was associated with a far-right group that derided opponents of President Reagan's visit to a Nazi cemetery.
Senator McCain (R-Ariz.), the Republican presidential candidate, joined the U.S. Council for World Freedom's board around the time he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982.
At the time, the group was distancing itself from the former Nazis and fascists who made up the international group with which it was affiliated, the World Anti-Communist League. McCain's endorsement was a boon to the council, reportedly cited in a 1981 Anti-Defamation League report because of those international ties.
McCain first sought to distance himself from the group in 1984, when the council was named as involved in efforts to support the Contras, the right-wing militias in Nicaragua, The Associated Press said in a report Tuesday. The McCain campaign supplied the AP with a letter he wrote that year resigning his position, but the group apparently did not take note.
It was later revealed that the council was acting as a front for the CIA in Nicaragua, and in 1986, McCain again asked the group to remove his name from its letterhead, and this time it complied, the AP reported. In the interim, however, McCain attended the group's Freedom Fighter of the Year award ceremony in October 1985.
A few months earlier, the group's newsletter had derided opponents of Reagan's decision to mark 40 years since the end of World War II with a visit to Bitburg, a German cemetery that includes the graves of members of Hitler's notorious SS death squads. Jewish groups led the opposition to the visit.
It has been discovered that McCain may have some connections of his own. In today’s article on the TIME Magazine website, it is revealed that McCain served on the advisory board of the US Council for World Freedom. This group has been linked to Central American death squads that leaned to the far right.
This group was stripped of its nonprofit tax exemption by the IRS. This was due to the group aiding rebels that wanted to take down Nicaragua’s leftist government. Keep in mind, McCain served on the advisory board during the 1980s.
This group was the US arm of the World Anti-Communist League. And yes, this was still during the Cold War. It was the battle between Capitalism and Communism. The US Council for World Freedom was founded by John Singlaub, a retired Army Major General.
It is also revealed that this group is also linked with Nazi collaborators.
Thanks, but no thanks, to Uncle Sam buying the mortgage
A lot of people on the right are howling mad about John McCain's $300 billion housing buy-up idea, which he tossed into the ring during Tuesday's debate (his latest "razzle-dazzle.") And while I'm loathe to agree with the likes of Michelle Malkin on ANYTHING, she and her kind are right about one thing: you don't want the federal government getting involved in your mortgage. In fact, if you're facing foreclosure, and Uncle Sam offers to buy up your loan, slam the door, pack your grip, and let the sheriff come on and get the keys. Then wait ten years, rebuild your credit and start over. You'd be better off.
Think about your federal student loans. They follow you for the rest of your life (until you pay them off.) You can't even use bankruptcy to escape them (just to delay them a bit.) And if you don't pay up, the federal government can garnish your wages AND appropriate your income tax refund. You want the feds to have the same power to enforce a $300,000 mortgage note? Also, particularly in states like Florida, bankruptcy offers you not just a second chance, but also the protection of a judge, and the ability to remain in your home. Why would anybody in their right mind throw out that protection and place themselves at the mercy of the federal government? Also, under such a plan, if you sold your home, you'd have to hand over the proceeds from the sale to the Treasury Department, and probably pay a capital gains tax, too.
What's the point???
But enough from me. Here's the latest word from McCain's friends at Politico: John McCain’s surprise policy offering Tuesday night to have the government buy bad mortgages is bold, sweeping and, well, a bit perplexing to nearly everyone.
From economic experts to political pundits, from liberals to conservatives, the proposal has been greeted with a collective sense of puzzlement that is raising questions not only about the substance of the plan, but of the seeming hastiness surrounding its rollout.
The few details available about McCain’s American Homeownership Resurgence Plan give the impression the plan is “half-baked,” according to Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
“If you’re launching a major new initiative, usually you blitz the cable networks and really try to penetrate the public consciousness. I didn’t see that today,” he said Wednesday.
“It would really frighten me if he actually thought this was good policy,” said Dan Mitchell, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute. “I assume that it’s nothing but a desperation ploy” to show they are doing something “big and bold,” he said.
“It seems hastily put together … given the lack of detail, specificity and overlap with existing programs,” added a Republican financial services lobbyist.
Indeed, McCain’s announcement was accompanied by a fact sheet that raised almost as many questions as it answered. The campaign did post and e-mail a background document Tuesday night following the debate describing the plan, but it lacked specifics about how the program would work, exactly who would be eligible and how many people would be helped.
... The McCain campaign said the plan did not change and they merely edited out “language [that] was mistakenly included in the initial draft.”
Nonetheless, with the sentence gone, the plan morphed into a shifting of $300 billion worth of losses to the taxpayers. It became clear Wednesday as the campaign talked about the plan that McCain is proposing that the Treasury purchase bad mortgages at face value even though sliding home prices mean many homes are worth far less than what the government would pay for original mortgages.
The plan is to retire the original mortgage and issue the homeowner a new, 30-year fixed-rate loan at interest rates just above 5 percent from the Federal Housing Administration. The shortfall between the new mortgage and the cost of the older, more expensive one would come from taxpayers.
The new detail caused many experts to question whether the $300 billion price tag is too low.
And while the McCain campaign pitched the plan as a fast-acting solution, some experts said that the administration of a homeowner-by-homeowner program would be extremely complicated — and therefore likely slow-moving — and much more cumbersome than dealing with larger institutions.
A campaign conference call with reporters Wednesday morning revealed that the campaign still doesn’t have all the details worked out.
When asked how many people the plan would help, McCain economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin responded that it could aid “literally millions” but they didn’t have a precise estimate. “The question is how many people are going to pick up the phone.”
Holtz-Eakin offered only broadest description of who would qualify for the refinancing program.
“They need to be in a position where they’re going to be unable to stay in the mortgage,” he told reporters, saying that includes a homeowner who is “underwater” in their mortgage — owing more than the home is currently worth — or facing a future rate reset that would make their payments unaffordable.
“We’re going to roll out the specific criteria. We’re trying to get sign-offs from the senator on all the details,” Holtz-Eakin told Politico in a later interview. ...
I guess they'll just have to get those details and bring 'em to ya!
"I am surprised that, you know, we've been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days, that he wasn't willing to say it to my face. But I guess we've got one last debate. So presumably, if he ends up feeling that he needs to, he will raise it during the debate."
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is out with its 2008 Congressional Report Card, and the news for our most prominent veteran at the moment, John Sydney McCain III, isn't good. McCain gets a "D" from the IAVA. That would be the letter immediately after the letter "C," which, incidently, is what Mac's fellow Arizona Sen. John Kyl got.
The scoring was based on the Senators' votes on a number of bills important to veterans, including:
A 2007 bill funding veterans' healthcare
A March 2007 bill funding so-called MRAPS ("mine resistent ambush protected" vehicles for use in Iraq and Afghanistan
A 2008 vets' healthcare funding bill
October 2007 legislation added to the National Defense Authorization Act that expanded veterans' opportunities to seek VA healthcare and for Guardsmen and Reservists to keep education benefits after separating from the military.
An April 2008 bill to improve so-called "adaptive housing" for disabled veterans
A move in may of this year to stop the second rate G.I. bill being pushed by Miss Lindsey Graham to try and kill Jim Webb's stronger benefits bill
The "Post 9/11 G.I. Bill" improving veterans' education benefits
The second vote on the G.I. Bill that passed with an emergency supplemental for Iraq war funding in June of this year
And the final phase of passage of the 21st Century G.I. Bill (Webb version, which McCain opposed.)
McCain declined to become a co-sponsor of the Webb G.I. Bill, despite entreaties from friends of his in the Senate including Chuck Hagel. His low score also stems from the fact that he was absent for 6 of the 9 votes. (Kyle was there every time, but he voted against veterans benefits four out of nine times, including against the enhanced G.I. Bill).
As for Barack Obama? He receied a "B" from the IAVA. The Illinois Senator signed on as a co-sponsor of the G.I. Bill, and voted with veterans all but the four times he was absent from the chamber.
Michelle Obama was as cool, calm and collected as her husband tonight on Larry King. And she and Larry were so matchy-matchy with the purple outfits! She was gracious to Hillary Clinton, and even to Sarah Palin and the newest John McCain female pit bull: his wife Cindy, who have been relentlessly attacking the Obamas. Honestly, I don't know if I could be that nice. Here it is:
I never cease to be impressed with how thoroughly the Obama's debunk, with just their personalities, the wild rumors and caricatures of them that are painted by the eye bulging, bile spitting right. They are a class act.
John McCain, at a rally in Pennsylvania today, was transported, for a brief moment, back to the Hanoi Hilton. From RawStory:
"You and I together will confront the $10 trillion debt the federal government has run up and balance the federal budget by the end of my term in office," he said. "Across this country, this is the agenda I have set before my fellow prisoners and the same standards of clarity and candor must now be applied to my opponent."
Judging by McCain's pause, he expected that to be an applause line. Silence greeted him from the perplexed crowd.
Standing behind her father, Meghan McCain briefly furrows her brow, apparently recognizing the 72-year-old seantor's gaffe. Vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin also is flanking McCain on stage, but it is less clear whether she recognizes the mistake.
McCain makes no effort to correct his mistake, but he seemed flustered when the crowd didn't erupt at the line. Glancing down at his prepared text, McCain charged on through to the next line in his speech.
I can’t underscore enough what a rotten idea John McCain’s ACORN-like government mortgage buy-up is. I said it during my liveblog. And I’ll say it again: “HE WANTS TO EXPAND THE BAILOUT. He wants to do what ACORN wants to do. We’re Screwed ‘08.”
This was his supposed “game-changer.” This was the very first thing out of his mouth during the debate tonight — his big pitch right off the bat. The McCain campaign immediately sent out this fact sheet on the proposal, which will cost at least $300 billion. The proposal involves directing the Treasury Secretary to “purchase mortgages directly from homeowners and mortgage servicers.” That’s on top of the trillion-dollar crap sandwich (update - McCain says it would be included in the crap sandwich), the $85 billion to AIG, the $25 billion to automakers, the $200 billion in capital and credit lines to Fannie and Freddie, and who knows what else we’ll be forking over to California, Massachusetts, etc., etc., etc.
He spent the entire debate assailing massive government spending — while his featured proposal of the night was to heap on more massive government spending to pursue home ownership/retention at all costs. If Obama had proposed this, the Right would be screaming bloody murder about this socialist grab to have the Treasury Department renegotiate individual home loans and become chief principal write-down agents for the nation.
And the comments below her post are long and "not helpful."
... didn't Congress just enact major legislation to address this problem? The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 created a federal mortgage-insurance program for lenders who agree to reduce mortgage payments for struggling borrowers.
How is McCain's plan different? I'll try to explain. Let's say you have a $200,000 adjustable-rate mortgage. Your home's value has declined, your interest rate has gone up and you can no longer afford to make the payments. Under current law, the government will guarantee your mortgage if your lender agrees to work out a deal with you.
Under McCain's plan, the Treasury Secretary would buy your mortgage from whoever owns it and then deal with you directly. In many cases, the Treasury Department would already own your mortgage, because it is about to buy up $700 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities. But under McCain's plan, Treasury would also become your loan servicer.
... If Treasury were also to become the loan servicer for hundreds of thousands of mortgages, it would have to outsource those duties, too. And those jobs would go to a lot of the same people who lowered their lending standards during the housing boom, put people in mortgages they couldn't afford and then sold those mortgages to Wall Street.
McCain's plan is redundant, and it would create significant new responsibilities (and costs) for an already-beleaguered agency. I'm not sure what the campaign was thinking.
Doesn't sound like McCain is bringing too many people (in his own party) together...
It is a sorry fact of American political life that campaigns get ugly, often in their final weeks. But Senator John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin have been running one of the most appalling campaigns we can remember.
They have gone far beyond the usual fare of quotes taken out of context and distortions of an opponent’s record — into the dark territory of race-baiting and xenophobia. Senator Barack Obama has taken some cheap shots at Mr. McCain, but there is no comparison. ...
... Ms. Palin, in particular, revels in the attack. Her campaign rallies have become spectacles of anger and insult. “This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America,” Ms. Palin has taken to saying.
That line follows passages in Ms. Palin’s new stump speech in which she twists Mr. Obama’s ill-advised but fleeting and long-past association with William Ayers, founder of the Weather Underground and confessed bomber. By the time she’s done, she implies that Mr. Obama is right now a close friend of Mr. Ayers — and sympathetic to the violent overthrow of the government. The Democrat, she says, “sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”
Her demagoguery has elicited some frightening, intolerable responses. A recent Washington Post report said at a rally in Florida this week a man yelled “kill him!” as Ms. Palin delivered that line and others shouted epithets at an African-American member of a TV crew.
Mr. McCain’s aides haven’t even tried to hide their cynical tactics, saying they were “going negative” in hopes of shifting attention away from the financial crisis — and by implication Mr. McCain’s stumbling response.
We certainly expected better from Mr. McCain, who once showed withering contempt for win-at-any-cost politics. He was driven out of the 2000 Republican primaries by this sort of smear, orchestrated by some of the same people who are now running his campaign.
And the tactic of guilt by association is perplexing, since Mr. McCain has his own list of political associates he would rather forget. ...
In a way, we should not be surprised that Mr. McCain has stooped so low, since the debate showed once again that he has little else to talk about. He long ago abandoned his signature issues of immigration reform and global warming; his talk of “victory” in Iraq has little to offer a war-weary nation; and his Reagan-inspired ideology of starving government and shredding regulation lies in tatters on Wall Street.
But surely, Mr. McCain and his team can come up with a better answer to that problem than inciting more division, anger and hatred.
The McCain campaign's dishonest, dangerous smear about Barack Obama "palling around with terrorists," (something John McCain didn't have the guts to say to Obama's face last night -- preferring instead to keep letting the girl do his dirty work...) is ridiculous on many levels, not least of which, the fact that Obama was eight years old with William Ayers was in the Weather Underground. Those of us who have sat on boards know how ludicrous it is to call fellow board members our "pals" -- usually, these are people you barely know. And as for fundraisers, I've been to many that were held in well off people's homes. I can personally attest that holding a fundraiser for a politician means you know enough people to raise the campaign's required minimum to get the candidate to show up -- it doesn't indicate a friendship with the pol.
But even if Obama was best friends with Ayers, it would be outrageous and mind-alteringly stupid to make an issue of it. Why? Because Obama's actual association with Ayers was on a board that had to do with helping Chicago kids. And there were good old fashioned Republicans palling around with Ayers, too. Courtesy of NPR by way of The Daily Kos:
Bill Ayers was a commonly acceptable figure in Chicago by everyone--Democrats, Independents, and even Republicans. Are they all America hating, terrorist loving traitors to America?!
First, Obama began working with Ayers and others (Republicans, Independents, and Democrats) at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Well, what is the Anneberg Challenge? Who is Annenberg? Well according to NPR,
The Obama campaign says he first met Ayers in 1995, when Obama became chair of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a $50 million fund that awarded grants to groups trying to implement new programs to improve inner city education in Chicago.
Walter Annenberg, a lifelong Republican and former ambassador who was appointed by Presidents Nixon and Reagan, funded an ambitious program to reform urban education in many cities in the mid 1990s. Ayers was an important member of the group that developed and wrote the grant proposal to the Annenberg Foundation.
Second, there were people of all political persuasions working on this effort with this "terrorist" Ayers and who saw him as acceptable and Obama was no closer than any of the others.
...no one on the board or on the Annenberg Challenge staff remembers Obama being any closer to Ayers than to any other member of the board. The Annenberg board also included several civic, business and education leaders, many of them Republicans...
In fact one person close to the issue states:
"I don't remember ever hearing anyone raise concerns or questions or concerns about [Ayers'] background," says Anne Hallett, who has worked closely with Ayers on the Annenberg Challenge grant and with Obama on education and other community and legislative matters. "And that included everybody I was engaged with," including prominent Republicans, and corporate and civic leaders in Chicago, Hallett adds.
And finally, the author notes:
Hallett calls this attack on Obama's association with Ayers and the Annenberg Challenge by further association, "a smear campaign. It's a political diatribe that has no basis in fact. The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was an extremely positive initiative. It was well-vetted, thorough, and the fact that it is now is being used for political purposes is, in my opinion, outrageous."
... a former Illinois Republican state representative states:
"It was never a concern by any of us in the Chicago school reform movement that he had led a fugitive life years earlier," said former Illinois state Republican Rep. Diana Nelson, who worked with both Obama and Ayers over the years. "It's ridiculous. There is no reason at all to smear Barack Obama with this association. It's nonsensical, and it just makes me crazy. It's so silly."
Meanwhile, our friend John McCain is linked to an actual terrorist group -- and he sat on their board, not decades after they concluded their outrageous activities, but while they were still up and running:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. John McCain served on the advisory board to the U.S. chapter of an international group linked to ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America in the 1980s.
The U.S. Council for World Freedom also aided rebels trying to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua. That landed the group in the middle of the Iran-Contra affair and in legal trouble with the Internal Revenue Service, which revoked the charitable organization's tax exemption.
The council created by retired Army Maj. Gen. John Singlaub was the U.S. chapter of the World Anti-Communist League, an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. After setting up the U.S. council, Singlaub served as the international league's chairman.
... In McCain's case, he was a House member and a board member of Singlaub's council when, as a new congressman, he voted for military assistance to the Nicaraguan Contras, a CIA-organized guerrilla force. In 1984, Congress cut off military assistance to the rebels.
Months before the cutoff, top Reagan administration officials ramped up a secret White House-directed supply network run by national security advisers Robert McFarlane and John Poindexter. The operation's day-to-day activities were handled by National Security Council aide Oliver North, who relied on retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard Secord to carry out the operation. The goal was to keep the Contras operating until Congress could be persuaded to resume CIA funding.
Singlaub's private group became the public front for the secret White House activity.
Could John McCain have looked any older, any more doddering, or any more like the neighborhood crank than he did in tonight's debate? (Transcript) The Arizona Senator wandered around the stage erratically, told oddball jokes (about hair plugs, and responded to Tom Brokaw's question about who he'd pick as treasury secretary with "not you," and didn't get a laugh either time...) stammered over both Obama and the moderator that if Obama got a follow up, doggone it he wanted one too, did an impression of George H.W. Bush with that geezery "steady hand on the tiller" line, and incredibly, referred to Obama in the way an old codger might have referred to his black house boy back in the 1950s; calling him "that one." (video)
McCain was very aggressive -- he seemed to get almost too close to the audience at times, and he kept doing that weird combination of "my friends" and, as Chris Matthews put it, that creepy, menacing smile. He was also condescending, taking for granted that an African-American questioner wouldn't know what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were. And he dropped the ball on his signature POW schtick, referring to it so obliquely, it sounded like he was losing his train of thought.
Perhaps McCain's only two solid moments, were the one early in the debate when he suggested that the Treasury buy up bad mortgages -- something any good Democrat might find tempting. Of course, such an idea is exactly the opposite of conservatism, and therefore will strike much of his base as a steaming pile of socialism, and the moment when he shook hands with a questioner who was a fellow Navy man, saying "everything important I ever learned, I learned from a midshipman."
But everything else tonight went Obama's way. He was languid, calm, warm and presidential. He spoke to voters in terms that screamed "kitchen table" (i.e., we have to prioritize in Washington the way families do...) He walked over to the questioner, found a mark, and stuck to it, where McCain wandered around the stage so frenetically, a friend of mine texted me and asked what was wrong with his legs. He shut McCain down twice with authority: once when he said, "McCain keeps saying I don't understand. ... You're right, I don't understand how we got sidetracked from going after Bin Laden and went into Iraq instead," and when he slammed McCain, who had just done a soliloquy on "speaking softly and carrying a big stick," by reminding the audience that McCain is the guy who sung "bomb bomb bomb Iran," called for the annihilation of North Korea and before we finished in Afghanistan, said "next stop: Baghdad." And his call for AIG to give back the $400,000 in bailout money they spent on a luxury junket and fire their executives hit the mark.
And Obama got the question on healthcare right: McCain called it a "responsibility" and Obama said it's a "right," and very affectingly talked about his mother's experience at the end of her life.
Obama also won the aftermath -- he and Michelle stuck around and worked the room for a long time, talking with the undecided voters who made up the audience in the debate, and taking lots of pictures (including with the brother in the goldenrod colored suit who I suspect wasn't really undecided, seeking out the Navy veteran, while McCain was in such a hurry to get out of the room, he actually walked in front of the camera, and Tom Brokaw -- blocking the shot in a most erratic, old man wandering around the neighborhood off his meds kind of way... (video)
The post-debate polls are as follows:
Who won the debate? Obama - 54% McCain - 30%
Who was more likable? Obama - 65% McCain - 28%
Who seemed more like a typical politician? McCain - 52% Obama - 36%
Who spent more time attacking his opponent? McCain - 63% Obama - 17%
Thirty-nine percent of the 400 uncommitted voters surveyed identified Barack Obama as tonight's winner; 27 percent said John McCain won, while 35 percent saw the debate as a draw.
After the debate, 68 percent of uncommitted voters said that they think Obama will make the right decisions on the economy, compared to 54 percent who said that before the debate. Fewer thought McCain would do so – 49 percent after the debate, and 41 percent before.
Before the debate, 60 percent thought Obama understands voters’ needs and problems; that rose to 80 percent after the debate. For McCain, 35 percent felt he understands voters’ needs before the debate, and 46 percent thought so afterwards.
McCain did win the question of who is more ready to be president. But I think you can ask Hillary Clinton how far "ready on day one" gets you with voters scared about their 401Ks.
Taegan Goddard (with an extra zinger for the oddly old guy seeming Tom Brokaw, too...)
Tonight's debate wasn't even close. Sen. Barack Obama ran away with it -- particularly when speaking about the economy and health care. Talking about his mother's death from cancer was very powerful. On nearly every issue, Obama was more substantive, showed more compassion and was more presidential.
... Tom Brokaw was terrible as moderator. His fixation with the rules -- particularly when the candidates were not complaining -- was distracting and a disservice to everyone. The format didn't work very well, but Brokaw made it worse.
This was, I think, a mauling: a devastating and possibly electorally fatal debate for McCain... I've watched a lot of debates and participated in many. I love debate and was trained as a boy in the British system to be a debater. I debated dozens of times at Oxofrd. All I can say is that, simply on terms of substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority, this has not just been an Obama victory. It has been a wipe-out. It has been about as big a wipe-out as I can remember in a presidential debate. It reminds me of the 1992 Clinton-Perot-Bush debate. I don't really see how the McCain campaign survives this.
We have a disaster here — which is what you should expect when you delegate a non-conservative to make the conservative (nay, the American) case. We can parse it eight ways to Sunday, but I think the commentary is missing the big picture.
Here's what Obama needed to do tonight: Convince the country that he was an utterly safe, conventional, centrist politician who may have leftward leanings but will do the right thing when the crunch comes.
Now, as the night went along, did you get the impression that Obama comes from the radical Left? Did you sense that he funded Leftist causes to the tune of tens of millions of dollars? Would you have guessed that he's pals with a guy who brags about bombing the Pentagon? Would you have guessed that he helped underwrite raging anti-Semites? Would you come away thinking, "Gee, he's proposing to transfer nearly a trillion dollars of wealth to third-world dictators through the UN"?
Nope. McCain didn't want to go there. So Obama comes off as just your average Center-Left politician. Gonna raise your taxes a little, gonna negotiate reasonably with America's enemies; gonna rely on our very talented federal courts to fight terrorists and solve most of America's problems; gonna legalize millions of hard-working illegal immigrants. ....
... Memo to McCain Campaign: Someone is either a terrorist sympathizer or he isn't; someone is either disqualified as a terrorist sympathizer or he's qualified for public office. You helped portray Obama as a clearly qualified presidential candidate who would fight terrorists.
If that's what the public thinks, good luck trying to win this thing.
Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard -- here's the opening and closing paragraphs:
John McCain had a very strong debate tonight. It’s too bad for him that it came on a night when Barack Obama was nearly flawless.
... Obama’s test in the first debate was to present himself as a plausible president, as a guy who didn’t seem out of place on stage at a presidential debate and wouldn’t seem out of place delivering a State of the Union address. Much as I’d disagree with the policies in such a speech, it was clear that he passed that test. Tonight, his job was to persuade voters – particularly independents – not only that he could be president but that he should be president. I suspect polling in the next couple of days will provide evidence that he passed that test, too.
I thought that Barack Obama won the “visuals” of tonight’s debate. He looked younger and more vigorous, of course, but, in addition, John McCain did too much moving around. He seemed focused on addressing a “town hall,” as he has done so well over the years. But in reality, as Obama seemed quicker to appreciate, the audience tonight was in television land. To them, McCain’s movement must have seemed a bit aimless.
... A win on the visuals and at least a draw on substance (if that’s a fair assessment) is a win for Obama at this point. So tonight he moves a little closer to the presidency. I continue to believe that voters will subject him to one more round of serious scrutiny when the debates are over. Tonight’s performance marginally enhances his chance of surviving that scrutiny, which was already pretty good.
Oh, and Obama also won Frank Luntz's Fox News focus group, too, which prompted Brit Hume to make the most undertakery, deadpan facial expression he may have ever produced for a television camera. Hilarious.
Does the McCain camp's 'terror' slur constitute a threat?
When a supporter at one of his vaunted town hall meetings in Albequerque, New Mexico shouted out that Barack Obama is a "terrorist," John McCain reportedly seemed startled, but didn't correct the slur. Far from it. His running mate has been running around the country saying that Obama "pals around with terrorists." His surrogates, including disgraced former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, New Mexico Congresswoman Heather Wilson (who accused Obama of being "unpatriotic" last week, and all of right wing talk radio, sneer Obama's middle name, Hussein, every time they mention him. And the McCain campaign has, in the space of a single general election cycle, called Obama "the candidate of Hamas," a closet Muslim, and a man who wants to "pal around" with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What is the point of all of this?
After the 9/11 terror attacks, it seems to me that there is no lower slur than to call a fellow American a terrorist sympathizer (many Americans won't make a distinction between the white Mr. Ayers and the world's Muslims, so many of whom are so very, very brown...) Such a charge is far more damaging than what the lying Swiftboat charlatans pulled on John Kerry, and even goes beyond the implications of George H.W. Bush's "Willie Horton" charge against Michael Dukakis in 1988. In those instances, the digs may have been personal, but the "terrorist" charge is also dangerous, particularly to a minority, an African-American like Obama, who needed Secret Service protection immediately upon beginning his run, because of threats to his life from racist nut jobs. By implying, in an America still suffering the after-affects of 9/11, implying that Obama is a terrorist or terrorist sympathizer is tantamount to threatening his and his families' lives.
And it is particularly stunning for such a charge to be leveled by, and on behalf of one Senator against not just a fellow American, but a Senate colleague -- a member of the small club of just 100 people in Washington. For John McCain to countenance such a damning, dangerous slur -- with all the implications for a lone right wing nut who might want to "save" America from the "terrorist" -- is so unbelievable that I almost cannot believe that McCain, who served this country in the United States Navy, is allowing it to happen.
Except that he IS allowing it to happen, including out of the mouth of a law enforcement officer, Lee County, Florida Sheriff Mike Scott, who wearing his uniform, no less, pushed forward the slanderous implication that Barack Obama, an American, a United States Senator, and a man running for president of the United States, is little more than a terrorist.
John McCain, if he has a conscience somewhere inside that brittle, angry exterior, will come to regret the campaign of 2008, if for no other reason than it robbed him, or allowed him to strip himself of, his basic integrity, by allowing him to endanger, really to threaten, a fellow American and fellow Senator's safety, for ambition alone.
A bit of hyperbole? Read on as the WaPo recounts what happened right here in Florida while Gov. Palin was giving her "palling around with terrorists" stump speech:
"I was reading my copy of the New York Times the other day," she said.
"Booooo!" replied the crowd.
"I knew you guys would react that way, okay," she continued. "So I was reading the New York Times and I was really interested to read about Barack's friends from Chicago."
..."Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," Palin said.
"Boooo!" said the crowd.
"And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,'" she continued.
"Boooo!" the crowd repeated.
"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.
Remarkably, or perhaps unremarkably, Palin did not correct him.
UPDATE: The Huffpo has more on the increasingly ugly, racist taint of the McCain-Palin crowds, including one incident involving a black camera operator:
Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."
Is it just me, or are the McCain-Palin rallies starting to be reminiscent of Klan rallies...?
Meanwhile, New York Gov. David Patterson weighs in on the dangers of calling a fellow American a terrorist sympathizer.
The economic crisis demands that we understand John McCain's attitudes about economic oversight and corporate influence in federal regulation. Nothing illustrates the danger of his approach more clearly than his central role in the savings and loan scandal of the late '80s and early '90s.
The bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee launched investigations and formally reprimanded Senator McCain for his role in the scandal -- the first such Senator to receive a major party nomination for president.
John McCain was accused of improperly aiding his political patron, Charles Keating, chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. At the heart of the scandal was Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which took advantage of deregulation in the 1980s to make risky investments with its depositors' money. McCain intervened on behalf of Charles Keating with federal regulators tasked with preventing banking fraud, and championed legislation to delay regulation of the savings and loan industry -- actions that allowed Keating to continue his fraud at an incredible cost to taxpayers.
When the savings and loan industry collapsed, Keating's failed company put taxpayers on the hook for $3.4 billion and more than 20,000 Americans lost their savings. John McCain was reprimanded by the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee, but the ultimate cost of the crisis to American taxpayers reached more than $120 billion.
The Keating scandal is eerily similar to today's credit crisis, where a lack of regulation and cozy relationships between the financial industry and Congress has allowed banks to make risky loans and profit by bending the rules. And in both cases, John McCain's judgment and values have placed him on the wrong side of history.
It's something we nervous Democrats almost don't dare say out loud, but what if ... gulp ... the 2008 election is already over, and the sputtering fury of the McCain campaign is just the last, angry, desperate gasps of a campaign no Republican could win? Consider this by commentrator ... I mean Fox News analyst, Howard Wolfson:
Perpetually fretting Democrats will not want to accept it. The campaigns themselves can't afford to believe it. Many journalists know it but can't say it. And there will certainly be some twists and turns along the way. But take it to a well capitalized bank: Bill Ayers isn't going to save John McCain. The race is over.
John McCain's candidacy is as much a casualty of Wall Street as Lehman or Merrill. Like those once vibrant institutions, McCain's collapse was stunning and quick. One minute you are a well-respected brand. The next you are yelling at the messengers of your demise as all around you the numbers start blinking red and stop adding up.
McCain's road was difficult to begin with: the President of his party has had record-low approval ratings for two years and the number of Americans who say the country is heading in the wrong direction is stratospheric. He also had the misfortune to be pitted against an exceptional candidate running an extremely well-executed campaign.
Still, before Wall Street's collapse Senator McCain was ahead. His approval ratings remained high, his VP pick had generated excitement and interest, and his campaign operatives were capable, on any given day, of winning news cycles and giving their opponents fits. And then the underpinnings of American capitalism begin to sink -- and with them sunk McCain.
An election dominated at its inception by the war in Iraq is now overwhelmingly focused on the economy. More than half of voters in polls say that the economy is their top concern and Senator Obama enjoys double digit leads among voters asked who can better fix our economic mess. Put simply, there is no way Senator McCain can win if he continues to trail Senator Obama by double digits on the top concern of more than half of voters.
Wolfson also says McCain's nasty tactics may help him with right wingers on the margins, but that most voters couldn't give a damn about William Ayers (Mike Murphy said the same thing over the weekend on "Meet the Press.") And he concludes:
Republican philosophies have been discredited by events. Voters understand this. This is a big election about big issues. McCain's smallball will not work. This race will not be decided by lipsticked pigs. And John McCain can not escape that reality. The only unknowns are the size of the margin and the breadth of the Democratic advantage in the next Congress.
McCain's erratic campaign has a father: 38-year-old Karl Rovite Steve Schmidt. (Apparently, he's the one who picked Sarah Palin.) If this is who John McCain takes advice from (and Palin is who he agreed to run with, and to present to the country as ready to be president,) can we trust John McCain's judgment on anything?
Paul Begala sounds a warning to Team McCain about what can happen when you play the "guilt by association game..."
I think Governor Palin here is making a strategic mistake. This guilt by association path is going to be trouble ultimately for the McCain campaign. You know, you can go back, I have written a book about McCain, I had a dozen researchers go through him, I didn’t even put this in the book. But John McCain sat on the board of a very right-wing organization, it was the U.S. Council for World Freedom, it was chaired by a guy named John Singlaub, who wound up involved in the Iran contra scandal. It was an ultra conservative, right-wing group. The Anti-Defamation League, in 1981 when McCain was on the board, said this about this organization. It was affiliated with the World Anti-Communist League – the parent organization – which ADL said “has increasingly become a gathering place, a forum, a point of contact for extremists, racists and anti-Semites.”
Now, that's not John McCain, I don't think he is that. But you know, the problem is that a lot of people know John McCain’s record better than Governor Palin. And he does not want to play guilt by association or this thing could blow up in his face.
And it gets worse. Not only could the Obama campaign play the Keating card, or the Alaska Independence Party card, but they also might get interested in John and Cindy McCain's mob ties, and Cindy's father's conviction for illegal liquor sales during the 1940s, subjects the Bushies held in reserve to use against McCain back in 2000. The mobster in question? Joe "Bananas" Bonano (and the story also wraps back into the Keating Five scandal.) The story was explored in depth in a February 17, 2000 story in the Phoenix New Times. And it was picked up by no less a right wing outfit than WorldNetDaily this February, back before right wingers were reprogrammed to fully support McCain as the Republican nominee:
John McCain's personal fortune traces back to organized crime in Arizona, through his father-in-law, according to a report published by a multi-news agency team called Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc.
IRE reporters Amy Silverman and John Doherty, writing in the Phoenix New Times, note that the father of McCain's wife, James Hensley, was convicted by a federal jury in U.S. District Court of Arizona in March 1948 on seven counts of filing false liquor records. Hensley also was charged with conspiracy to hide from federal authorities the names of persons involved in a liquor industry racket with two companies he managed, United Sales Company in Phoenix and United Distributors in Tucson.
The umbrella company, United Liquor, at that time held a monopoly in Arizona, organized and managed by Kemper Marley, who was accused of mob ties by a reporter who was murdered in 1977.
Silverman and Doherty report that by 1955, Hensley had launched a Budweiser distributorship in Phoenix, "a franchise reportedly bestowed upon him by Marley, who was never indicted in the 1948 liquor-law-violation case – or a subsequent one – despite his controlling role in the liquor distribution businesses."
... According to Marley's longtime public relations man, Al Lizanetz, the Marley liquor empire was founded by the Bronfman family dynasty of Canada which operated Allied Finance company Northern Export Company and Distillers Corporation Seagrams, Ltd. empire.
Arizona in the 1970s drew a "who's who" of organized crime figures seeking to retire in the sun, including Rochester, N.Y., mob boss Joe Bonanno, who spent his last days along the Lake Havasu shores and in a quiet home in Tucson.
In 1977, after Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles was killed when his car was blown up by the mob in a parking lot, a team of 36 journalists from 27 news organizations, known as IRE, published an 80,000 word 23-part series on organized crime in Arizona.
Hensley was found not guilty after being defended by William Rehnquist, the future chief justice of the Supreme Court, Nowicki and Muller wrote.
In 2000, Hensley, then 80 years old, still controlled the Budweiser distributorship valued as a $200 million-a-year business, with annual sales of more than 20 million cases of beer.
On Feb. 17, 2000, Pat Flannery reported in the Arizona Republic that Hensley's beer-distribution empire was the fifth largest in the nation, "a Budweiser franchise whose bigwigs hold the No. 2 spot on Sen. John McCain's all-time career list of corporate donors."
Since 1982, according to the Center for Public Integrity, Hensley & Co. officials have pumped $80,000 into the campaigns of McCain, Flannery wrote. More than a quarter of that has been donated since 1997.
Then, there's McCain's association with Arizona developer Donald Diamond:
When Mr. Diamond wanted to buy land at the (closed Army) base, Fort Ord, Mr. McCain assigned an aide who set up a meeting at the Pentagon and later stepped in again to help speed up the sale, according to people involved and a deposition Mr. Diamond gave for a related lawsuit. When he appealed to a nearby city for the right to develop other property at the former base, Mr. Diamond submitted Mr. McCain’s endorsement as “a close personal friend.”
Writing to officials in the city, Seaside, Calif., the senator said, “You will find him as honorable and committed as I have.”
Courting local officials and potential partners, Mr. Diamond’s team promised that he could “help get through some of the red tape in dealing with the Department of the Army” because Mr. Diamond “has been very active with Senator McCain,” a partner said in a deposition.
If you want to beat a Republican, it's a good idea to know their strategy. We've talked a lot about the McCain campaign admitting that it is going to attempt to "turn the page" on talk of the economy by mounting a scorched earth, personal attack campaign against Barack Obama. Well, an email sent out by Human Events today underscores the strategy. After several paragraphs of boilrtplsyr drivel about the Democratic candidate's "dangerous liberalism", fictional opposition to guns, big spending proposals and fantasized mania for abortion, comes this bit, which starts with a strange, but newly standard, right wing endorsement of Hillary Clinton:
Hillary Clinton was late in recognizing the threat Obama posed to her campaign, but once she did, her strategy worked.
When Hillary exposed Obama publicly, her campaign saw a major turnaround.
Hillary won every major state primary in the nation with the sole exception of Obama's home state of Illinois.
And even though Obama was "anointed" by the media and Democratic elites, Hillary went on to win eight of the last 10 Democratic primaries.
How did Obama beat Hillary for the nomination?
Well, using a loophole in Democratic rules, he was able to rack up large majorities in caucus states where he outspent and out organized her.
But in large, contested states she won almost every time. Why? Because when Democrats heard what Obama really stood for, they turned on him.
Make no mistake about it: If we let Americans know the truth about Obama, John McCain can win this election!
But we must employ Hillary Clinton's strategy.
We must expose Obama for the dangerous radical he is.
... This is why the National Republican Trust Political Action Committee is moving to implement a "shock and awe" strategy against Obama in key states.
We plan to take out powerful television ads, Internet ads and other communications to inform Americans about the dangers posed by Barack Obama.
... As a political action committee, we can accept up to $5,000 in donations per contributor.
A $5,000 donation can help us saturate a key market for a full day with television ads.
Why the Hillary Love? Could it be a not-so-subtle appeal to those the media said Hillary spoke to? In other words, this is about ginning up the fears of white voters -- lower middle class white voters, to be precise. But wait, there's more. The right has another weapon in its arsenal to use to stir up white rage against Obama, and her name is Sarah (my teenage daughter's marrying a f***in redneck) Palin. As the AP's Douglass K. Daniel sums up:
WASHINGTON (AP) - By claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is "palling around with terrorists" and doesn't see the U.S. like other Americans, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin targeted key goals for a faltering campaign.
And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.
First, Palin's attack shows that her energetic debate with rival Joe Biden may be just the beginning, not the end, of a sharpened role in the battle to win the presidency.
"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," Palin told a group of donors in Englewood, Colo. A deliberate attempt to smear Obama, McCain's ticket-mate echoed the line at three separate events Saturday.
"This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America," she said. "We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism."
Her reference to Obama's relationship with William Ayers, a member of the Vietnam-era Weather Underground, was exaggerated at best if not outright false. No evidence shows they were "pals" or even close when they worked on community boards years ago and Ayers hosted a political event for Obama early in his career.
Obama, who was a child when the Weathermen were planting bombs, has denounced Ayers' radical views and actions.
So what's a little lying between friends? Well...
Palin's words avoid repulsing voters with overt racism. But is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee "palling around" with terrorists while assuring a predominantly white audience that he doesn't see their America?
In a post-Sept. 11 America, terrorists are envisioned as dark-skinned radical Muslims, not the homegrown anarchists of Ayers' day 40 years ago. With Obama a relative unknown when he began his campaign, the Internet hummed with false e-mails about ties to radical Islam of a foreign-born candidate.
Whether intended or not by the McCain campaign, portraying Obama as "not like us" is another potential appeal to racism. It suggests that the Hawaiian-born Christian is, at heart, un-American.
Most troubling, however, is how allowing racism to creep into the discussion serves McCain's purpose so well. As the fallout from Wright's sermons showed earlier this year, forcing Obama to abandon issues to talk about race leads to unresolved arguments about America's promise to treat all people equally.
Oh, so that's who Sarah was winking at: racist white people ... The desperate McCain campaign has been using a subtly racist argument to take Obama down for months, only now, it's about to get real un-subtle. As a friend of mine said recently, the slogan of the McCain campaign could well be boiled down to: "Forget the economy. Vote to keep the White House white."
From the beginning, there were two ways the McCain could use Sarah Palin: as the feel good face of an otherwise brittle, old mannish campaign, or as McCain's attack dog -- literally, his pit bull with lipstick. After last week's conference call in which the McCain campaign admitted it was about to go nuclear on Barack Obama, I think it's fair to say they've taken door number two...
CARSON, Calif., (AP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Saturday accused Democrat Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists" because of an association with a former '60s radical, a harsh attack on his character that she repeated at three separate campaign events without substantiation.
Palin's reference was to Bill Ayers, one of the founders of the group the Weather Underground. Its members were blamed for several bombings, including a pipe bomb in San Francisco that killed a police officer and injured another. Obama, who was a child when the group was active, has denounced Ayers' radical views and activities.
While it is known that Obama and Ayers live in the same Chicago neighborhood, served on a charity board together and had a fleeting political connection, there is no evidence that they ever palled around. And it's simply wrong to suggest that they were associated while Ayers was committing terrorist acts.
Nonetheless, Palin made the comments at three appearances in separate states.
"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," said told donors at a private airport in Englewood, Colo. Palin echoed the line later in Carson, Calif., and Costa Mesa, Calif.
Falling behind Obama in polls, the Republican campaign plans to make attacks on Obama's character a centerpiece of candidate John McCain's message in the final weeks of the presidential race. Coming late in the campaign, Palin's remark could be particularly incendiary, either backfiring on McCain or knocking Obama off his focus on the troubled economy — or both.
On that question, I'm choosing door number one...
By the by, the Obama campaign isn't just sitting around waiting to get doused in slime. They go up tomorrow with a new add calling McCain "erratic in a crisis." Politico, perhaps locking the Palin-loving Roger Simon in a closet, previews the coming war games:
Obama officials call it political jujitsu – turning the attacks back on the attacker.
McCain officials had said early in the weekend that they plan to begin advertising after Tuesday’s debate that will tie Obama to convicted money launderer Tony Rezko and former Weathermen radical William Ayers.
But Obama isn’t waiting to respond. His campaign is going up Monday on national cable stations with a scathing ad saying: “Three quarters of a million jobs lost this year. Our financial system in turmoil. And John McCain? Erratic in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy. No wonder his campaign wants to change the subject.
“Turn the page on the financial crisis by launching dishonorable, dishonest ‘assaults’ against Barack Obama. Struggling families can't turn the page on this economy, and we can't afford another president who is this out of touch.”
Then Obama says: “I'm Barack Obama and I approved this message.”
McCain officials told Politico that the new offensive is likely to focus on Rezko and Ayers. The officials said the campaign will not bring up the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor, because McCain has forbade them from using that as a weapon. Without being specific, the officials said outside groups may focus on Wright.
Meanwhile, both the NY Times and the Wapo expound on the cause of Team McCain's desperation: the map ... the dreaded, awful, shrinking map. (By the way, I'm not sure how confident I am in Rasmussen, but if this poll is correct, and Obama is pulling away in Nevada, this race is over.)
In tonight's debate, Sarah Palin delivered 90 minutes of word salad. She was like a "talking points shooter" you'd purchase on one of those cable infomercials, growing wide eyed and automatic while churning out whatever was locked in her memory banks regardless of whether the verbal lettuce and cucumbers flying out had any relationship to the question being asked. The theme of the night could have been, "and now, for something completely different." Shouldn't you wait for the moderator to ask you about energy before you start spouting off about it?
In 90 minutes, and a blizzard of non-sequitors, I'm honestly not sure the woman directly answered a single question. Gwen Ifill didn't even need to be there! Asked about A, she answered about tomatoes. Asked about B, she declared that she wasn't going to answer the question at all. She was folksy to the point of being a Clampett. But would you elect Ellie Mae president?
Clearly, Gov. Palin was coached to the hilt, crammed with information (some of it off key, like General "McClellan", the non-existent military general in charge of Afghanistan, or the dangerous announcement that a McCain Palin administration would be moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem) to help her get through the evening. But she spit out those memorized talking points like she was anxious to pump them out of her brain before they dissolved. How many times did she say "Ahmadinejad," exactly? Joe Biden, several times, had to keep from visibly laughing out loud!
This is the woman who wants to not only be a cancer recurrence away from the presidency, but who also would like to expand the powers of the vice presidency beyond with Dick Cheney has done??? What's she going to use her newfangled powers for? To blather the Congress into submission on drilling?
On a factual level, Palin declined to defend John McCain's policies, particularly on tax cuts for the wealthy, or on his healthcare plan which would tax health benefits for the first time in history. Instead of defending the assertions made about McCain, she simply launched into her word fusilade and pretended the question never happened. Stunning.
For his part, Biden was coherent, adult, and presidential. That, frankly, is all he had to be. And his personal story about his first wife and sons was moving. His closing was terrific.
The media will pat her on the back because she didn't drool or stare off into space. Expect that. But make no mistake, Sarah Palin didn't help herself tonight with anyone who wasn't already voting for John McCain.
The Republican National Committee held a conference call for reporters today featuring their chief counsel, Sean Cairncross, and communications director Danny Diaz, to discuss what they billed as "recent developments in Wisconsin regarding ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now."
ACORN, which was founded by a group of mothers in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1970, has been a favorite whipping boy of the right for many years -- they do irritating things like push for low income housing, helping those icky poor people and registering minorities to vote. As in every election cycle in recent memory, the charge on this call was that ACORN is hiring convicted felons to register people to vote. And while Cairncross couldn't cite a single instance where either an ACORN-registered voter voted illegally, or where a felonious ACORN worker committed identity theft againt a registrant, he said the "worry" of those things is there. Okay, but so is the worry that the earth will be wiped out by an asteroid.
The impetus for the call was this AP story on ACORN's use of felons in Wisconsin. Cairncross said WI felons working for acorn were designated as “special registration deputies," giving them "the power to collect and hold voter registration applications from individuals they were soliciting information from." He said that in the past, ACORN has "dumped thousands of registrations on supervisors of elections" close to election day, meaning that ... they're ... effective felons? And a line in the AP story kind of killed the buzz of the call for me:
State law says anyone who is able to vote can be a special registration deputy. Felons can vote as long as they are no longer on probation or parole.
Oh. So they're not doing anything illegal ... are they? Said Cairncross:
“I'm not making a charge here, I’m raising the point that ACORN has once again used their judgment to use felons to gather information and hold onto those voter registration cards.”
Um. ... okay. The call also floated a theme I've heard often from my GOP friends: that ACORN and Obama are intertwined like white and rice -- or black and rice? Diaz said Obama has funneled more than $800,000 to ACORN for voter registration activities, a figure Cairncross later raised to "over $1.5 million." I'm waiting for confirmation from Team Obama. What's troubling about the constant ACORN drumbeat is the tendency of critics to wander into dangerously racial territory, and what looks for all the world like an attempt to "niggerize" and criminalize Barack Obama by casting ACORN in the light of the legendary "welfare queen." To be fair, in response to a reporter's question about allegations that the McCain campaign in Wisconsin had yet to respond to allegations they sent Democrats absentee ballot applications with the wrong return addresses on them, Cairncross and Diaz emphasized that "both the campaign and the RNC are trying as best we can to bring as many new voters into this process as possible and believe that newly registered voters will vote for us."
Uh ... whatever you say. But I still wondered if the point of the call was to get members of the media to pursue what would be a decidedly race-angled story on Obama, even though there is no evidence that even if ACORN is up to something horrible, Obama is part of it. My experience is that the Obama campaign is incredibly self-contained. They don't use outside consultants or groups to do voter registration, because they have about a bazillion volunteers doing just that, and doing it "the Obama way." Why would they outsource?
Having failed in their desperate attempts to get the mainstream media to portray Joe Biden as just as dimwitted as their gal, Sarah Palin, the right wing noise machine is deploying a new strategy on the eve of the most anticipated vice presidential debate in modern history: Take Down The Moderator: Gwen Ifill.
Drudge led the way with a blockbuster headline this morning announcing what many in Washington already knew: that she has a book on black politics in the "age of Obama" that's set to drop on inauguration day. Drudge, of course, links to a reputable and impartial news source: WorldNetDaily, where Ifill is accused by various sources of being "in the tank" for Obama, of hoping he wins so as to boost book sales, and of "giving dismissive looks" following Palin's RNC acceptance speech. Seriously. She supposedly made unpleasant faces. Maybe she and Nancy Pelosi could see the GOP Nanny 911 together...
On this one, McCain, shockingly, keeps his head, while all those around him are acting ... like John McCain... The GOP nominee says he approves this moderator.
I think the GOPers would have a point ... if Gwen Ifill was either 1) not a serious journalist, but rather a political hatchet carrier, like Jerome Corsi, with whom some of them are trying to draw an analogy ... 2) moderating a debate featuring Barack Obama. Neither is the case. Gwen Ifill's reputation is nearly universal, for those without an agenda, as a serious and respected journalist. And Obama will not be on the stage.
Beside, her book, "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama," according to the much linked Amazon.com write-up, is about black politicians more broadly, not just about Obama. The write-up reads:
In THE BREAKTHROUGH, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power.
Ifill argues that the Black political structure formed during the Civil Rights movement is giving way to a generation of men and women who are the direct beneficiaries of the struggles of the 1960s. She offers incisive, detailed profiles of such prominent leaders as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and U.S. Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama, and also covers up-and-coming figures from across the nation. Drawing on interviews with power brokers like Senator Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict and the "black enough" conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history.
Nowhere in that write-up do I see an endorsement of, or even a biographical sketch of, Barack Obama. Rather, Ifill is writing about how "black politics" has changed in light of his candidacy, which by the way will be "stunning" whether he wins or not, simply by virtue of its scope, primary success, fundraising, and the fact of an African-American claiming the nomination of not just any major political party, but of the party that for the most part, led the charge to keep black people in chains until about 40 years ago. A book about that doesn't hang on Obama's election, so Ifill can rightly claim to be dispassionate about the upcoming debate, which once again for those in the cheap seats, DOESN'T INVOLVE BARACK OBAMA.
To make the wingers' analogy work, Gwen Ifill wouldn't be allowed to moderate a debate between ANY black politician and an opponent, because of this book. (And Tom Brokaw couldn't moderate a debate about any member of the "greatest generation," including John McCain.)
But of course, that would be ridiculous.
UPDATE: McCain reverses his initial grown-up stance on Ifill, and pouts on Fox & Friends.
“Frankly, I wish they had picked a moderator that isn’t writing a book favorable to Barack Obama — let's face it," McCain said on "Fox & Friends." "But I have to have to have confidence that Gwen Ifill will handle this as the professional journalist that she is. ...
“Life isn’t fair, as I mentioned earlier in the program.”
Also on Fox's ridiculous morning show, Ed Rendell helps the other side game out how best to use Ifill to their advantage:
RENDELL: Well, what we -- what I would advise my people to do is make a big stink about it but not remove the moderator so the moderator would bend over backward to be fair to me...
RENDELL: ... to show that he or she was fair.
RENDELL: So we'd use it to our advantage.
CARLSON: Well, and it could be used an advantage for Sarah Palin tonight...
CARLSON: ... because all eyes, right or wrong, will be on the questioning of the Gwen Ifill.
Steve Doocy was in on the conversation, too, but I cut him out because ... well ... he's stupid.
Meanwhile again ... the right is lying through its teeth when it claims no one knew about the Ifill book before the debate was agreed to in August:
In fact, media outlets, including the Associated Press, reported that Ifill was the book's author well before the August 21 announcement that she would moderate the debate.
... Ifill's role as moderator of the October 2 vice presidential debate was announced in an August 21 joint statement from the Obama and McCain campaigns, which is posted on the McCain-Palin website.
And Gwen Ifill reacts to all the sturm and drang over the debate.
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Republican leaders hastily convened a top secret meeting this week to grapple with Sen. John McCain's sagging performance in this must-win state.
The inner workings of turmoil sound a lot like what you normally hear about Florida Democrats...
One of the concerns has been the relationship between grass roots volunteers across the state and far fewer paid campaign staffers. Complaints range from not getting yard signs quickly enough to knowing who will speak at events and overall manpower coordination.
"The biggest challenge is communication," said state Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, who is involved in the campaign but was not at the meeting. She said the Broward County effort is running smoothly but that her overall impression is that state campaign officials are somewhat limited due to national directives.
This friction and fretting goes on all the time in stressful campaigns, and especially when one side's candidate has hit a rough patch, as McCain has. Buzz Jacobs, the campaign's Southeast regional director, who sat in on the meeting, denied any tension and declined comment.
McCain supporter and former Republican Party of Florida chairman Tom Slade said he's been hearing rumblings over the past few weeks that the campaign is not fully utilizing volunteers, though he said that was not the case in Jacksonville.
"I get the sense that on the statewide basis, the grass roots Republicans don't quite feel like they have a natural fit within the McCain organization," Slade said.
As for the polls, they are alarming for Republicans both because they represent a reversal of just a month ago, and because the GOP goes into this election with 1) a housing crisis in which Florida is Ground Zero, and 2) a growing registration gap with Democrats. The offending numbers:
• Real Clear Politics average of all Florida polls: Obama up by 3 percentage points.
Pollsters are blaming the Wall Street meltdown, which Qpac called a "dagger in McCain's heart," and the seeping of the air out of the Sarah Palin balloon. But unless McCain has a fix for Florida's careening housing crisis up his sleeve, it's going to be a long 33 or so days.
Among John McCain's many problems (and perhaps an under-reported reason why he was so ineffective at moving the bailout bill along when he swooped into the Capitol "like Mighty Mouse" last week) ... is his personality, which according to Washington reporters and even his present and former Senate colleagues, falls somewhere between Norma Desmond and Attila the Hun. McCain's McNastiness was on display again yesterday, when he shooed away a Politico reporter following his vote for the pork ... I mean "rescue" bill ... and also, apparently, inside the Senate chamber. Per CQ Politics, when the two made their joint appearance on the Senate floor, it was Obama who made the first move:
As the two shared the Senate floor tonight for the first time since they won their party nominations, Obama stood chatting with Democrats on his side of the aisle, and McCain stood on the Republican side of the aisle.
So Obama crossed over into enemy territory.
He walked over to where McCain was chatting with Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida and Independent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut. And he stretched out his arm and offered his hand to McCain.
McCain shook it, but with a “go away” look that no one could miss. He tried his best not to even look at Obama.
Finally, with a tight smile, McCain managed a greeting: “Good to see you.”
Obama got the message. He shook hands with Martinez and Lieberman — both of whom greeted him more warmly — and quickly beat a retreat back to the Democratic side.
Message to Obama: I hate you. Recall that McCain delivered the same performance in last week's debate, and in his testy performance before the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, and on, and on, and on.
McCain likes to own his nastiness, and often brags that he hasn't been elected Miss Congeniality int he Senate. The problem with that is, Americans don't like to elect assholes, and McCain isn't helping himself by acting like one. More important, his central claim -- that he is a consensus builder who can "reach across the aisle" and heal this country's ills through the force of his personality, is starkly at odds with the reality of his history of being a miserable jerk. How does he propose to get an even more solidly Democratic Congress to work with him should he become president, when the only two people he seems to get along with in his current job are Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham (whom McCain regularly belittles)?
Calling himself "the Sheriff" and promising to publicly ridicule members of Congress and "make them famous" for their pork barrel spending, sound more like threats than outreach, meaning that as president, McCain would be fighting like a cat in a paper bag with Congress, rather than working harmoniously with it. Will McCain, who has a history of pissing off his own caucus even more than the Democrats, build consensus like this?
"F--- you," he shouted at Texas Sen. John Cornyn last year.
"Only an a------ would put together a budget like this," he told the former Budget Committee chairman, Sen. Pete Domenici, in 1999.
"I'm calling you a f------ jerk!" he once retorted to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.
With Cornyn, he smoothed things over quickly. The two argued during a meeting on immigration legislation; Cornyn complained that McCain seemed to parachute in during the final stages of negotiations. "F--- you. I know more about this than anyone else in the room," McCain reportedly shouted.
The Honorable Barack Obama United States Senate SH-713 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Obama:
I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform legislation were sincere. When you approached me and insisted that despite your leadership’s preference to use the issue to gain a political advantage in the 2006 elections, you were personally committed to achieving a result that would reflect credit on the entire Senate and offer the country a better example of political leadership, I concluded your professed concern for the institution and the public interest was genuine and admirable. Thank you for disabusing me of such notions with your letter to me dated February 2, 2006, which explained your decision to withdraw from our bipartisan discussions. I’m embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble. Again, sorry for the confusion, but please be assured I won’t make the same mistake again.
What John McCain is promising Americans is more contention, more drama (his campaign is like a circus freak show) and more rancor, even as he's paying lip service to offering more bipartisanship and consensus. Besides, if he wins, isn't one of the Senators he'd have to reach across the aisle and work with named Barack Obama?
Meanwhile, far, far away in the land down under, we're getting a taste of what the world might look like under a McCain presidency. In short: it will look a lot like the world under a George Bush presidency. Not only is McCain being dismissed by the Aussie press -- Rupert Murdoch controlled though it is -- scroll down to the comments under this post and you get the idea that the citizens of the world won't like or respect us any more under McCain than they do under Dubya.
Just for fun, Melissa McEwan has compiled Senator McNasty's greatest hits.
John McCain's teeth are going to fall out if he clenches them like I think he's gonna clench them after this... Quinnipiac's new polling justifies the internal confidence of the Obama campaign about Florida:
No one has been elected President since 1960 without taking two of these three largest swing states in the Electoral College. Results from the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe- ack) University polls conducted before and after the debate show:
Florida: Obama up 49 - 43 percent pre-debate and 51 - 43 percent post-debate;
Ohio: Obama up 49 - 42 percent pre-debate and 50 - 42 percent post-debate;
Pennsylvania: Obama ahead 49 - 43 percent pre-debate and 54 - 39 percent post-debate. Pre-debate surveys ended at 8 p.m. Friday with post-debate surveys Saturday-Monday.
More than 84 percent of voters in each state say the debate did not change their mind. But by margins of 13 to 17 percent, voters in each state say Obama did a better job in the debate. And by margins of 15 to 27 percent, independent voters in each state say Obama won.
"It is difficult to find a modern competitive presidential race that has swung so dramatically, so quickly and so sharply this late in the campaign. In the last 20 days, Sen. Barack Obama has gone from seven points down to eight points up in Florida, while widening his leads to eight points in Ohio and 15 points in Pennsylvania," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"Sen. John McCain has his work cut out for him if he is to win the presidency and there does not appear to be a role model for such a comeback in the last half century," Brown added.
"Sen. McCain's problem is not with this or that demographic group. Although he still leads among white men, albeit by a smaller margin, his problems are across the electorate.
"Sen. Obama clearly won the debate, voters say. Their opinion of Gov. Sarah Palin has gone south and the Wall Street meltdown has been a dagger to McCain's political heart. Roughly a third of voters, and almost as large a share of the key independent vote, say McCain did more harm than good in trying to resolve the financial crisis, and the share of voters who see the economy as the top issue has risen from roughly half to six in ten."
President Bush's approval rating doesn't crack 25% in any of the three key swing states: Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, McCain only holds five-point leads with white voters and white men in the Sunshine State, and Obama has opened up a 20 ... that's TWENTY point lead among women in the state.
And yet, John McCain could still win this election. How? It's not pretty, but he has to hope that there are enough of three groups in key states to pull things out for him:
1) Republican partisans 2) Evangelicals who think Obama is the Antichrist; and 3) Racist white people
It's not pretty, but that's what it's come down to. Having demonstrated his erratic temperament, inability to lead his own party, fecklessness with the country's interests versus his own, and his utter recklessness -- in short, his unfitness for the office of president, and with George W. Bush's economy hanging around his neck like an anvil, John McCain has one remaining hope of becoming president: he needs for there to be more racist, than non-racist white folks, plus enough knee-jerk partisans and evangelical believers in the most bizarre conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, out there in the country -- and willing to stand in line and vote -- to win.
It's almost like he's from Mississippi instead of Arizona ... oh wait, he IS...
Guess who will be rocking the mike, and the vote, for Barack Obama on Sunday? (If you guessed Beyonce's snotty sister's baby's uncle-in-law, you're on track...!) The celebs have been pouring it on for Obama over the last few weeks, with Tyler Perry, Forrest Whitaker, Cynthia Nixon (from Sex in the City), local baller Alonzo Mourning and out-of-towner Patrick Ewing just some of the celebs passing through. Let's guess who's getting the cool kids' vote this year... (by the way, no swearing, Jigga! Fox News is watching...!)
Is it a good thing ... or a very bad thing ... that Bill Clinton is headed to Florida Wednesday? This release went out to media from the Obama campaign late Tuesday:
Wednesday October 1, President Bill Clinton will host ‘Change We Need’ rallies in support of Senator Barack Obama in Orlando and Fort Pierce. Due to unexpected demand, the event in Orlando has been moved to a larger venue: the Arena Plaza at UCF. At both events, President Clinton will urge Floridians to register to vote before the Oct. 6th deadline.
Barack Obama’s Campaign for Change has conducted a comprehensive voter registration effort that has registered thousands of new voters in Florida over the past few months. The former President’s visit kicks off the final push before the Monday deadline.
Both events with President Clinton are free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, but an RSVP is strongly encouraged. Visit FL.barackobama.com to RSVP. Local rock band ‘Independently Poor’ will play before the rally in Fort Pierce.
So which Bill Clinton is going to show up tomorrow? The one who just oozes with love and praise for John McCain (but little more than chills and schadenfreude for Barack Obama) or the one who gave that barn burner of a speech in Denver? Psychoanalyzing Big Bill and his wife have become the "fantasy baseball" for political junkies, and the betting is, Bill really wants to see Obama lose, but in a way that makes it look like he wanted to see Obama win. ... Tomorrow will tell whether Team Obama erred by bringing him here. By the way, Clinton is headed right into I4 territory -- the part of the state Obama must turn blue in order to carry the state without miracle turnout from Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. His job may not exactly be to "hustle up the cracker vote," as he so inartfully put it last week, but it's something very much like that...
Howard Kurtz hints that, oh wait, there's MORE embarrassing Sarah Palin footage knocking around CBS. Teased Howie:
It may have been a turning point for Couric, who was persistent without being overbearing, in shedding early doubts about her ability to be a commanding presence in the CBS anchor chair. And the worst may be yet to come for Palin; sources say CBS has two more responses on tape that will likely prove embarrassing.
And Politico has details on one of the offending clips in its story about the latest Palin sit-down, in which she was joined on CBS by her dad ... I mean, by John McCain. Politico?
Palin was far more aggressive in another interview with Couric today, this aide said
Sitting with McCain for their first joint interview a week after the widely panned sit-down with Couric, Palin interjected when the CBS anchor brought up a report about the Wasilla Assembly of God, the governor's childhood church and one she still attends at times, seeking to pray gays away from homosexuality.
"Sarah Barracuda showed up today," the aide said, reprising the feisty former point guard's high school basketball nickname and one that has been largely forgotten since her post-convention cosseting.
"We're encouraging CBS to run entire thing," the aide said of today's session. "Run it end to end online."
Of concern to McCain's campaign, however, is a remaining and still-undisclosed clip from Palin's interview with Couric last week that has the political world buzzing.
The Palin aide, after first noting how "infuriating" it was for CBS to purportedly leak word about the gaffe, revealed that it came in response to a question about Supreme Court decisions.
After noting Roe vs. Wade, Palin was apparently unable to discuss any major court cases.
There was no verbal fumbling with this particular question as there was with some others, the aide said, but rather silence.
Um ... just off the top of my head and without using "the Google" ... Brown v. Board of Education, maybe? I think my kids even know that one ... or Plessy vs. Fergusen? That's one evangelicals like to talk about ... Hamdan v. Rumsfeld? That's pretty recent on the whole "held for years without a trial thing..." ... I would say Boumediene v. Bush, but that would be showing off, so maybe, oh, I don't know ... BUSH v. GORE??? Jeez, Sarah... Watch part of the two-person interview here.
Meanwhile, did Sarah endorse Hamas? She may well have unless of course she doesn't...
a) Know what happened in Gaza; b) Know where Gaza is; c) Know who rules Gaza today; d) Care.
Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”
There is already some urgency to the wedding as Bristol, who is six months pregnant, may not want to walk down the aisle too close to her date of delivery. She turns 18 on October 18, a respectable age for a bride — and the same age as Barack Obama’s pregnant mother when she married his Kenyan father. The Democrat has already declared Bristol’s private life off-limits as far as his campaign is concerned.
The selection of Palin, 44, the moose-hunting governor of Alaska, as his running mate was one of McCain’s biggest gambles. It paid off handsomely at first, but she could benefit from a fresh injection of homespun authenticity, the hallmark of her style, provided by her daughter’s wedding after appearing out of depth away from her home state.
Way to pimp that daughter, Sarah! Yup-yup! But I sure hope the f***in redneck really does want to marry Bristol... otherwise that's going to be one short, miserable marriage.
Located in the Portals project just east of the 14th Street bridge and overlooking the Washington Channel and its yacht moorings, the hotel is not convenient either to the marble corridors of Capitol Hill or the office buildings of downtown. The streets nearby are mostly deserted in the evenings.
The hotel's management seems to be counting on the draw of two high-profile restaurants to help to make the hotel a destination. The first, Café Mozu, the hotel's less formal restaurant, opened in March. The second, Cityzen, under the command of Eric Ziebold, formerly at the very highly regarded French Laundry under Thomas Keller, will open for dinner only in September.
Café Mozu belies the Washington rule that restaurants with views don't have very good food. The room is modern, serene, and full of light. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out--across a freeway--to the Washington Channel and the Jefferson Memorial. The hotel's Asian roots are alluded to in the restaurant's waiting area, built to evoke the veranda of a grand colonial hotel and furnished with white rocking chairs.
To run Café Mozu and serve as the hotel's executive chef, the Mandarin Oriental has hired Hidemasa Yamamoto, for many years chef of the Jockey Club on Massachusetts Avenue. Limited by the preferences of the Jockey Club's clientele--a coalition of politicians and cavedwellers who never got much beyond crabcakes, red meat, and chicken salad--Yamamoto never really had a chance to spread his wings. At Café Mozu, the menu is his own.
Yes, well it seems a satisfied palate is the best foundation for arms length deal-making. Even more about the fine dining establishment from the Mandarin Hotel website:
Lunch and dinner menus showcase irresistible selections such as Roasted five spices Duck, raisincouscous, orange scented curry jus”, Crispy Wild Salmon with fingerling potatoes, Brussels sprouts and haricots verts, Braised Pork Belly with sweet potato puree, baby onions and goat cheese polenta and Black Sea Bass with bok choy, string beans, snow bean sprouts and aromatic lemongrass broth.
Heavenly desserts from our pastry department include a Bitter Chocolate and Passion Fruit Mousse, Flourless Poppy Seed Cake, Lychee Crème Brulee and Champagne-Verbena Parfait.
Mmm-mm. Pass the bailout, AND the fingerling potatoes!! Hey, did you say couscous? John McCain LOVES coucous! (It's very down-home...)
By the way, why did the completely "fair and balanced" Politico feel the need to scrub its references to McCain's dinner? Per the Huffpo:
Politico reports (update: Politico has updated the article and removed the reference to McCain's dinner, but as you can see in this Google search, the reference was there in the original article):
As his colleagues worked on the deal at the Capitol Saturday night, McCain and his wife, Cindy, dined with Sen. Joe Lieberman and his wife, Hadassah, at CityZen, one of Washington's best restaurants. [Note: they got the right hotel, wrong restaurant...]
Could it be that Roger Simon has pulled yet another Ron Fournier on behalf of McCain? After all, Simon was almost alone among the pundits not working for Fox News, in saying that McCain was the winner of Friday's debate...
To be fair, McCain did say of his whereabouts last night:
I was working on all of the other stuff that I was working on, and contacting people, and working away."
Yeah, working away on a $300 bottle of wine (after which even Joe Lieberman probably sounded interesting...)
Following up on his tour-de-force performance Friday (ahem) in which he spent much of the debate talking about Dwight David Eisenhower, John McCain in a stammery performance this morning on Stephanopoulos' show (in which he said he didn't return to Washington Saturday to vote on a key element of the bailout because, "I was working on all of the other stuff that I was working on, and contacting people, and working away" ... if that makes any sense to you...) managed to reference Teddy Roosevelt three times. Roosevelt became president in 1901 ... 1901, man! Saying, "I'm a Teddy Roosevelt Republican" may be a great way to get 90-year-olds excited, but it isn't going to resonate with anyone under, say, 90!!!
John McCain is already wicked old. Does he really have to go out of his way to SOUND old?
The New York Times editorial board writes that Obama won the discussion of the economy and that McCain seemed out of step with the current moment:
Mr. McCain fumbled his way through the economic portion of the debate, while Mr. Obama seemed clear and confident. Mr. McCain was more fluent on foreign affairs, and scored points by repeatedly calling Mr. Obama naïve and inexperienced.
But Mr. McCain's talk of experience too often made him sound like a tinny echo of the 20th century. At one point, he talked about how Ronald Reagan's "S.D.I." helped end the cold war. We suspect that few people under the age of 50 caught the reference. If he was reaching for Reagan's affable style, he missed by a mile, clenching his teeth and sounding crotchety where Reagan was sunny and avuncular.
Tom Shales sums up the night as 'McCain too nasty, Obama too nice':
Obama supporters must have been displeased, then, to hear their candidate keep agreeing with McCain, a case perhaps of sportsmanlike conduct run amok. Doesn't Obama want to win?[...]
Many of McCain's answers were preceded with belittling references to Obama as if he were talking to a college freshman way out of his depth.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board felt that McCain won on foreign policy while Obama won on the economy:
As planned by the commission on debates, most of the night was devoted to foreign policy and there we give the clear edge to Mr. McCain. This is the ground where the 72-year-old is most comfortable, and you could see it in his self-confidence, as well as his command of history and facts.[...]
Where Mr. Obama did score better was on the domestic front, where he tried repeatedly to link Mr. McCain to President Bush and to what he called a failed "economic philosophy."
Time's Joe Klein calls it a narrow victory for Obama:
Obama emerged as a candidate who was at least as knowledgeable, judicious and unflappable as McCain on foreign policy ... and more knowledgeable, and better suited to deal with the economic crisis and domestic problems the country faces.
And overall, bottom line, the winner is Barack Obama. He comes into this race where the country wants change, his number one goal was to show that he belonged on that stage...he could hold his own on national security, he did that tonight, he gets the win.
Appearing alongside him was George Will, who also said Obama came out ahead:
I think Barack Obama came out and looked comfortable and as though he belonged there. So, in a sense, the structure of the debate, indeed, the fact of the debate had to give a mild leg up to Barack Obama.
Not to mention the public, which clearly favored Barack, who did miss opportunities to attack mcCain, but who I also believe won the debate.
Not for nothing, but wasn't this the debate McCain was considered most likely to command, since it ostensibly focused on foreign policy? Even those in the media who are clearly pulling for him couldn't say McCain scored a knock down -- the best he got was Pat Buchanan and the other MSNBCers (except for Keith and Rachel) saying he "won on points." Well that's not good enough to move the needle when the race is stuck, with your opponent up about five points.
After tonight, it's going to be the economy, stupid, and McCain's chances of having a game changing event in his favor only go down from here -- especially with Hurricane Palin set to make landfall next Thursday. This race will not reset after tonight, and that's darned good news for Barack Obama.
BTW, for a great breakdown on how to judge a debate winner, check out Judd Legum's guest post at The Washington Note.
Ignore the commentariat. John McCain in the debate tonight came across as rigid, grumpy, and frankly, old. McCain indulged in several of his pet obsessions: repeating over and over "he doesn't understand," along with worn out phrases from his stump speeches like "I wasn't voted Miss Congeniality." He literally harped on "the surge," even when bringing it up was a non-sequitor, first saying Obama had acknowledged its success, and then insisting that Obama refuses to acknowledge its success. And while his stories may endear the crew on MSNBC, they make him look like a grandpa ... and a mean, grumpy one at that.
Obama, on the other hand, was better in this debate than in any of his meetings with Hillary Clinton, where his responses sometimes seemed to meander. Tonight, he was clear and focused, and at times, even threw an elbow or two. He clearly understood the issues, and appeared prepared and "grown up" enough to be president. Most importantly, his answers were keyed to a specific target: middle class voters, and he consistently repeated two themes: McCain's past wrong judgments (on the economy and Iraq) and his determination to give more tax cuts to the rich and to corporations. That's something the D.C. reporter class (whom I still think tend to tilt toward McCain) missed, big time, and it will resonate with voters.
On the downside, he could have scored more points, and indeed, he let several soft balls go right over home plate:
Obama could have hit McCain on the 60 lobbyists running his campaign during his long volley on how lobbyists push earmarks;
He could have hit him on Sarah Palin's earmarks, particularly when McCain himself made a reference to his runningmate.
He could have slammed McCain on the Boeing deal that McCain brought up, saying McCain killing that deal cost thousands of American jobs.
And he missed the opportunity to hit McCain on his failure to support the G.I. Bill, or his low ratings with veterans' groups when it comes to his voting record.
Lastly, Obama should never, ever, EVER again say the phrase "John McCain is absolutely right" (and he should instruct Joe Biden and if he can swing it, Bill Clinton and the other surrogates not to do so either.)
But by coming across as the bigger man -- literally and figuratively -- and by being both knowledgeable and congenial, (maybe he would win Miss Congeniality) Obama simply looked more presidential than John McCain, who for his part, looked tightly wound, surly, and even angry. McCain appeared to take Obama's criticisms personally, while Obama literally laughed McCain's off. And as the MSNBC team all pointed out tonight, McCain refused ... for the entire length of the debate ... to look at his opponent. McCain's physical, visible, obvious contempt for Barack Obama came through the screen like 3D. I suspect that most voters won't like it, or him.
My prediction at the end of the night was that whatever the commentariat said, Obama would win every online poll 60-40. So far, I've been right. Here are the first snap polls:
"Unfortunately, I think Obama won this debate," said Dick Morris on Hannity and Colmes.
"I don't know which debate you were watching, Dick," said Sean Hannity. "It was book knowledge."
Morris responded:"Obama showed himself to be more concerned about the average person, or at least acted that way."
Bottom line, debates aren't won on substance, per se. They're won on a combination of comfort with the issues, and on style. Obama may seem somewhat aloof and professorial, but he also seems like someone you'd be comfortable with in the White House. McCain, as Chris Matthews just said, comes off like a troll. At the end of the day, though I think the debate won't change many minds, and will only harden people's preferences, whatever they were before the debate. If anything, people who were leaning toward Obama but needing him to pass the experience threshold probably got what they needed tonight. I suspect that those who wanted to come away liking McCain enough to quell their doubts did not.
Best line of the night: Obama hitting McCain on not wanting to talk to the prime minister of spain, tied with his line about McCain singing "bomb Iran."
Sen. Barack Obama in Miami September 19th. Pictured to Obama's left, is Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. To Obama's right, is Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
On Friday, September 18, I had the opportunity, along with James T (of top Miami urban station Hot 105) to interview Senator Barack Obama.
The interview came a couple of hours after he held a rally with some 8,000 people at the University of Miami's Bank United Center, as part of the "Women for Obama" campaign. I did the interview on assignment for a few outlets, and it has already aired in total or in part on American Urban Radio Networks, Hot 105 FM Miami, and on "The James T Good Morning Show" in Atlanta and Valdosta, Georgia. We talked about whether black turnout was a certainty, even in this historic year, about what he'd do about the crashing economy, and about his overall political philosophy. Here it is:
How can you back down and agree to attend a debate you didn't want to attend, when in fact, you've already won? That's the scintillating question inquiring minds are asking John McCain.
Mac blinked today, announcing that yes, he will attend the debate at Ole Miss after all (as if the aides prepping the stage for him yesterday and the fact that HE'D BE AN IDIOT NOT TO SHOW UP hadn't already given him away ...
But now, for the really spooky part: it turns out tonight's debate isn't even necessary, since McCain has already won it...
... if you believe an Internet ad an astute reader spotted next to this piece in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal this morning.
"McCain Wins Debate!" declares the ad which features a headshot of a smiling McCain with an American flag background. Another ad spotted by our eagle-eyed observer featured a quote from McCain campaign manager Rick Davis declaring: "McCain won the debate-- hands down."
Here's the screenshot:
Meanwhile, a former McCain adviser explains the old Navy dog's dilemma:
"It just proves his campaign is governed by tactics and not ideology," said Republican consultant Craig Shirley, who advised McCain earlier in this cycle. "In the end, he blinked and Obama did not. The 'steady hand in a storm' argument looks now to more favor Obama, not McCain."
Shirley added, "My guess is that plasma units are rushing to the McCain campaign as we speak to replace the blood flowing there from the fights among the staff."
It's got to be clear to anyone but the extreme partisans and right wing radio hacks that John McCain is no longer a serious candidate for president. He's more like a drunken man careening through the crystal section at Macy's, side swiping dishes and dessert plates and candelabras as he stumbles between the tables, leaving flustered cashiers to race through the aisles catching breakable objects as they wobble.
Worse, he's a drunken man in the crystal section while Macy's is on fire.
Nothing says "I'm a desperate, unhinged candidate" like McCain's wild volley of stunts this week: supposedly canceling his campaign so he can fly back to Washington and screw things up. Except that one thing does say that even more clearly: his choice of the clearly inadequate Sarah Palin as the person who he would hand the nuclear football.
Palin's painful interview (part two here) with Katie Couric was the last straw for conservative columnist Kathleen Parker (hat tip to Jill Miller Zimon over at the Moderate Voice) who wrote:
Ms. Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.
No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Ms. Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.
Ms. Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage, and there’s not much content there. Here’s but one example from her interview with Mr. Hannity:
“Well, there is a danger in allowing some obsessive partisanship to get into the issue that we’re talking about today. And that’s something that John McCain, too, his track record, proving that he can work both sides of the aisle, he can surpass the partisanship that must be surpassed to deal with an issue like this.”
Parker's solution is for Ms. Palin to drop out of the race, for the good of Sen. McCain and her country. I don't see that happening. Having sworn that he selected her on the merits, McCain cannot now admit that he had no clue she would be so clueless. He's stuck with her, and so is the GOP.
Meanwhile, a guy calling himself Crunchy Con adds this:
Couric’s questions are straightforward and responsible. Palin is mediocre, again, regurgitating talking points mechanically, not thinking. Palin’s just babbling. She makes George W. Bush sound like Cicero….
... and describes Sarah as akin to a kid who didn't study for a big exam, and is just winging it on the way to an F.
Over at National Review, big time Palin defender Kathryn Jean Lopez admits to feelings of angst and says she refuses to watch another Palin interview, because as much as she likes the "hackey mam":
... I also watch these interviews and I cringe a little. That Russia answer with Couric. Oy. It was a loaded question to be sure. But I thought a certain governor of Alaska had told us this was a time for no blinking. For (Uncle) Sam’s sake. You’re Sarah Palin. You’re governor of Alaska. You’re the mom of five. You’re married to a tough guy. You can handle America’s Former Sweetheart. And yet, you didn’t. She may have come off catty, but you came off hesitant and unprepared. What happened to the pitbull? I see the lipstick.
I don’t know Sarah Palin. Having missed the last cruise to Alaska, I’ve actually never met her. National Review wasn’t on her list of stops this week in New York. So I can’t pretend to know what her wiring is all about. But I know I like a lot of what I’ve heard her say. I also know a lot of what I like about her could be projection. I’m not where my friend Kathleen Parker is — wanting her to step aside to spend more time with her family and Alaska — but that’s not a crazy suggestion. She's right to say that something’s gotta change.
My guess — based on nothing but hope for a change — is that Sarah Palin just needs some freedom. I don’t know who is holding her back but if John McCain wants to win this thing it had better not be him and his staff. When I watch these interviews, I see a woman who looks like she’s stayed up all night studying and is trying to remember the jurisprudential chronology of privacy vis-a-vis reproduction, the war on terror, and public figures (add 12 more things, described in the most complicated way possible, to the list to be more accurate). She looks like a woman who’s been cramming talking points and great Matt Scully lines and Mark Salter-McCain war stories and Steve Schmidt marching orders into her head since that first plane ride from Alaska. She looks like a woman who has ceased being the confident, successful executive who got herself elected mayor of Alaska without the full force of her party behind her and managed to have an approval rating of which most can’t even dream.
Back at the Mod Voice, Zimon herself adds:
A strong democracy requires that nominees for our highest office possess basic threshold competencies. This is because democracy means there will always be millions of people who will be governed by someone they did not vote for. But we stay intact as a government because we trust that even if we don’t agree with the political leanings and decisions of the winner, we trust that he or she will do what’s best for all 300 million of us.
There are tens of millions of voters, now, on both sides of the aisle, who find Sarah Palin to fall below this basic threshold for competence as a vice president or president of our country. And at least two of us are asking for her to step down.
Again, I don't see Sarah going anywhere, anytime soon. Not unless something untoward happens to Todd, courtesy of McCain's organized crime friends in Arizona... Therefore, the Republicans are stuck with her. Frighteningly, if enough Americans decide that their racial discomfort is more powerful than their economic discomfort, we all could be stuck with her after January 20, 2009.
On an up note, Slate's Christopher Beam has some advice from experts on how in the next interview, Sarah can rise above the "constant low hum of mediocrity." Bottom line: do more interviews.
John McCain finally stopped doing interviews and kibbitzing with folks at the Clinton Global Initiative to make his "emergency" return to Capitol Hill today, but the reporting suggests his presence wasn't exactly a profile in presidential-style leadership:
Senator John McCain had intended to ride back into Washington on Thursday as a leader who had put aside presidential politics to help broker a solution to the financial crisis. Instead he found himself in the midst of a remarkable partisan showdown, lacking a clear public message for how to bring it to an end.
At the bipartisan White House meeting that Mr. McCain had called for a day earlier, he sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, said people in the meeting.
In subsequent television interviews, Mr. McCain suggested that he saw the bipartisan plan that came apart at the White House meeting as the proper basis for an eventual agreement, but he did not tip his hand as to whether he would give any support to the alternative put on the table by angry House Republicans, with whom he had met before going to the White House.
He said he was hopeful that a deal could be struck quickly and that he could then show up for his scheduled debate on Friday night against his Democratic rival in the presidential race, Senator Barack Obama. But there was no evidence that he was playing a major role in the frantic efforts on Capitol Hill to put a deal back together again.
On the second floor of the Capitol on Thursday night, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and one of Mr. McCain’s closest confidants, complained to a throng of reporters that Democrats were using Mr. McCain as a scapegoat for the failure of the rescue package. But Mr. Graham was met with a barrage of questions on why Mr. McCain never explicitly said he favored the bailout proposal.
The situation was evolving so rapidly that it was all but impossible to judge the political implications; with the government under intense pressure to avoid another breach in confidence in the global financial markets, it was possible that a deal could be struck without further reshaping the campaign and that Mr. McCain could still be able to claim a role in a positive outcome.
Still, as a matter of political appearances, the day’s events succeeded most of all in raising questions about precisely why Mr. McCain had called for postponing the first debate and returned to Washington to focus on the bailout plan, and what his own views were about what should be done. Those political appearances are a key consideration for Mr. McCain less than six weeks from Election Day and at a time when some polls suggest he is losing ground against Mr. Obama, especially on handling the economy.
Meanwhile, the day gave Obama the chance to look presidential:
by nightfall, the day provided the younger and less experienced Mr. Obama an opportunity to, in effect, shift roles with Mr. McCain. For a moment, at least, it was Mr. Obama presenting himself as the old hand at consensus building, and as the real face of bipartisan politics.
“What I’ve found, and I think it was confirmed today, is that when you inject presidential politics into delicate negotiations, it’s not necessarily as helpful as it needs to be,” Mr. Obama told reporters Thursday evening. “Just because there is a lot of glare of the spotlight, there’s the potential for posturing or suspicions.”
“When you’re not worrying about who’s getting credit, or who’s getting blamed, then things tend to move forward a little more constructively,” he said.
So far, all John McCain has proved is that he has neither control nor influence over the right wing of his party, even having dangled the shiny (well, after that dreadful Katie Couric interview, somewhat less shiny...) Sarah Palin object in front of them. And he has no more influence over the process than does the lamest of lame ducks, President Bush. He exerted no leadership in the meeting, which in itself apparently helped blow up the process that had been well underway before McCain showed up. And now, right wing Republicans, led by the Boner, are actually proposing a regime of more tax cuts, and the complete elimination of regulations on Wall Street as their version of a fix, plus forcing banks to buy private insurance. Seriously.
In short, what leadership has McCain exercised, and how can his supporters argue that he has made things better, not worse?
Tonight, the WaPo's Chris Cilizza is reporting that a memo released by the suspended? but curiously still operable McCain campaign indicates that McCain won't be attending tomorrow night's debate. Okay, and his continued presence in Washington, given that he is on neither of the relevant Senate committees, Banking and Financial Services, and that his only chance to lead was a bust, what is it that he'll be doing?
Of course, it is possible (and in my opinion, somewhat likely) that the Bush administration is overstating the crisis, in order to make one last grab for power, and for a last dash at emptying what's left in the treasury on behalf of their fat cat friends -- sort of a "shock doctrine" applied to finance, as it was to war. That could be. But with Washington Mutual going under on Thursday, no one in Washington is going to want to be blamed for an economic meltdown, should it turn out the Bushies aren't lying for once.
McCain's boisterous intervention -- and particularly his grandstanding on the debate -- was less a presidential act than the tactical ploy of a man worried that his chances of becoming president might be slipping away.
John McCain has mastered the rhetoric and appearance of bi-partisanship. But at this point, the only evidence of it is his constant sidekicking with Joe Lieberman (isn't that "tripartisan?") If McCain claims to be the king of bipartisan leadership, he should start by leading his own caucus. If he can't do that, then he should do us all a favor and just go to Ole Miss.
John McCain goes to Washington, tries to look busy...
An unwittingly hilarious account of John McCain's "wince-worthy" return to Capitol Hill to "shepherd" the bailout process (and the lame attempts by Republicans to make him look relevant):
Sen. John McCain returned to Washington on Thursday after declaring that he has suspended his campaign, but he appeared largely detached from the flurry of negotiations on a $700 billion economic rescue package that appeared to be headed to a successful conclusion.
McCain's "Straight Talk Air" landed at National Airport just after noon, and McCain's motorcade sped toward the Senate. But by then, senior Democrats and Republicans were already announcing that a deal in principle had been reached.
That news appeared to be somewhat premature as House Republican leader John Boehner told his members that "no deal" had yet been reached. McCain arrived at 3:40 p.m. at the White House, where he and his rival, Sen. Barack Obama, were scheduled to meet with President Bush and congressional leaders at 4 p.m.
The leading Democratic negotiator on the Bush administration's $700 bailout plan accused John McCain of undermining the proposal and prodding House Republicans to lay out a wholly different approach that is opposed by the White House.
"This is the presidential campaign of John McCain undermining what Hank Paulson tells us is essential for the country," said Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. "This is McCain at the last minute getting House Republicans to undermine the Paulson approach."
McCain really, really wants to help out ... I mean REALLY...
But for most of the afternoon, McCain has not visibly been part of the action on the issue. He was not present when House and Senate negotiators emerged from a two-hour meeting to declare success. That announcement was made by Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Robert F. Bennett (Utah) and Frank.
McCain, by contrast, spent some time in his office with several Republican colleagues, briefly stopped at Boehner's office, then left for lunch at the Capitol's Mansfield Room before returning to his office in the Russell Senate Office Building.
Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus (Ala.) said he had spoken to McCain yesterday, had breakfast with two McCain advisers this morning and spoke to McCain again immediately after today's meeting. But, Bachus said, "John's not trying to call the shots for the House caucus, I can tell you that. He's just opposed to the plan in its present form."
Frank reacted angrily to Bachus's statements, insisting that lawmakers were well on their way toward an agreement they could put to a vote, and that this afternoon's meeting at the White House was largely irrelevent.
"We'll be glad to go and tell them there really isn't that much of a deadlock to break," Frank said. "But I'm always glad to go to the White House."
McCain aides expressed cautious optimism, saying that there is "no deal until there's a deal," but McCain made no comments to the reporters trailing him around the Capitol.
Maybe he should just find a Starbucks and wait till someone calls ... DOH! Not computer literate, so WiFi availability not enticing...
So, yes, apparently there is a deal ... and all before the presidential candidates even got to shoot the shizznit with Dubya...
The leaders of House and Senate banking committees reached a bipartisan agreement Thursday on the framework for legislation authorizing Treasury’s ambitious $700 billion rescue plan for the financial markets.
The final language of the bill must still be negotiated with Treasury, which watched nervously from the outside as the closed-door meeting ran close to three hours in the Capitol. But the announcement gives renewed momentum to the massive government intervention, which the administration badly wants approved before the markets open next week.
The plan would phase in the bailout, but still give Paulson virtually free reign with the first $350 billion. Also:
There is a greater emphasis on efforts not just to relieve Wall Street firms of their bad debts but also to help homeowners threatened by foreclosure. Companies that benefit from the plan would be expected to limit pay and severance packages for their executives, and community banks are expected to benefit from a new $3 billion tax break as a result of their stock losses in the government takeover of the two mortgage finance giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The announcement came just hours before a White House meeting planned for Thursday afternoon, at which President Bush and the two presidential candidates, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, are expected to meet with congressional leaders as well as some of the same lawmakers from the House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committees.
Nice picture, but where is our captain, John McCain??? Oh right ... the meeting... hope it helps!
Has John McCain really suspended his campaign, or is he just taking it with him to Washington? According to Politico, the list of attendees at today's meet and greet with President Bush include McCain, Sen. Obama, "the four Senate leaders and their chiefs of staff, and some five policy aides to the president, and White House press secretary Dana Perino according to the list." Accompanying Obama will be his legislative counsel, Ian Solomon. Hanging with McCain will be a campaign aide: economic adviser (and BlackBerry invention credit reassigner) Douglas Holtz-Eakin.
Well I guess if the campaign is suspended and he's got nothing else to do... Full list of attendees here.
McCain and Obama meet with Dubya today. Meanwhile, via an astute Politico commenter, a new SurveyUSA "snap poll" of 1,000 Americans finds little support for John McCain's debate delaying "time out" for his campaign. Key findings from the poll:
Should the debate be delayed? -- 50% say hold it as scheduled. -- 36% say hold as scheduled but make the focus of it the economy. -- 10% say delay it. -- 4% say they aren't sure.
Should the Presidential campaigns be suspended? -- 31% say continue campaigns as is. -- 48% say continue campaigns but focus on the economy. -- 14% say suspend campaigns. -- 7% say they aren't sure.
If Friday's debate is delayed, is that good or bad for America? -- 14% say good for America. -- 46% say bad for America. -- 35% say no difference. -- 6% say they aren't sure.
Going inside the tabs, it turns out those who support delaying Friday's debate tend to think McCain would win a debate with Obama, while those who support going forward, either as is or with a changed focus, think Obama would win. So again, the reactions are mostly partisan. Not exactly a win for McCain.
The Obama campaign finally comes out with that joint statement, more than 12 hours after Obama contacted John McCain privately, to suggest they put one out, and nearly eight hours after McCain double-crossed him by rushing before television cameras to try his "suspend the campaign!" stunt. Here's the statement:
Joint Statement of Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain
“The American people are facing a moment of economic crisis. No matter how this began, we all have a responsibility to work through it and restore confidence in our economy. The jobs, savings, and prosperity of the American people are at stake.
“Now is a time to come together – Democrats and Republicans – in a spirit of cooperation for the sake of the American people. The plan that has been submitted to Congress by the Bush Administration is flawed, but the effort to protect the American economy must not fail.
This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.”
And in a smart move, I think, the campaign has taken a cue from McCain, and gone their own way, with Obama releasing the following statement on his own:
Speaking for himself, Senator Obama outlined the following principles that he calls on Senator McCain to support:
I believe that several core principles should guide this legislation.
First, there must be oversight. We should not hand over a blank check to the discretion of one man. We support an independent, bipartisan board to ensure accountability and complete transparency.
Second, we need to protect taxpayers. There should be a path for taxpayers to recover their money, and to turn a profit if Wall Street prospers.
Third, no Wall Street executive should profit from taxpayer dollars. This plan cannot be a welfare program for CEOs whose greed and irresponsibility has contributed to this crisis.
Fourth, we must help families who are struggling to stay in their homes. We cannot bail out Wall Street without helping millions of families facing foreclosure on Main Street.
Fifth, we both agree that this financial rescue package should move on its own without any earmarks or other measures. We have different views about the need for other action, but this must be a clean bill.
This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. This is not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem – this is an American problem. Now, we must find an American solution.
Sound principles, and again, Obama waxes presidential, while McCain just goes bat crap crazy. As Chris Matthews said on Rachel Maddow's show tonight, the McCain strategy is that every time the compass needle points to "true north," which is change from the party that's screwed things up, McCain pulls a "razzle dazzle" play. As Chris then said, "do you want four years of razzle dazzle?"
David Letterman rips into John McCain, per Drudge:
David Letterman tells audience that McCain called him today to tell him he had to rush back to DC to deal with the economy.
Then in the middle of the taping Dave got word that McCain was, in fact just down the street being interviewed by Katie Couric. Dave even cut over to the live video of the interview, and said, "Hey Senator, can I give you a ride home?"
Earlier in the show, Dave kept saying, "You don't suspend your campaign. This doesn't smell right. This isn't the way a tested hero behaves." And he joked: "I think someone's putting something in his metamucil."
"He can't run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sara Palin. Where is she?"
"What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"