Thursday, October 09, 2008

Obama Plays Cat-and-Mouse With McCain

At this point, it's pretty apparent to all that Obama's campaign, led by "the Ax," has outflanked the McCain campaign at every turn. It's telling that Karl Rove refuses to acknowledge "the Bullet" as a protege...I wouldn't either given his pathetic showing.

This is no evaluation of policy or character, simply an assessment of campaign competence.

But now it's really getting ugly. Obama is toying with McCain, much like a cat might play with its future dinner. Here's what Obama said in a recent interview with Charlie Gibson:

"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."

Obama is literally baiting McCain into launching an angry and self-destructive attack. He practically calls McCain a coward for letting his attack ads say what he's scared to do himself, a serious provocation for a man who thinks of himself as a "warrior."

If McCain was smart and disciplined, he'd ignore the attack. But based on everything we've seen in the campaign to date, he'll probably take the bait and launch a choleric and ill-advised attack during the final debate.

Best Mortgage Crisis Video Ever (Thanks SNL)

Looks like SNL has its fastball back. The two biggest beneficiaries of this crazy year have got to be Barack Obama and SNL.

In this sketch (which I found courtesy of Auren Hoffman), SNL puts the Democrats and American people on blast for trying to shirk responsibility for the crisis. It lampoons Pelosi and Frank, and introduces us to the Americans in danger of losing their homes, like the unemployed drug addicts who are outraged that the bank now wants them to pay their subprime mortgages, or the acquisitive yuppies who have to either sell their string of 12 condos, or give up their private boat.

Again, while SNL may be subject to the proverbial liberal media bias, they clearly understand that puncturing the self-regard of hypocrites is good business...and great comedy.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

McCain in Pain: Media Piles On Embattled Candidate

Times are grim for Senator John McCain. The polls look ugly, and many pundits (including me) have already declared victory for Obama (though I did it a week before everyone else). And to make matters worse, it looks like whichever Illuminati control the media have decided that today is "Beat Up McCain Day" (or, as Andrew Sullivan would call it, Thursday).

First up is Rolling Stone's cover story entitled, "Make-believe Maverick." This lengthy piece paints a devastating portrait of John McCain as a spoiled, reckless, selfish opportunist with a long history of flip-flopping and nasty behavior.

Now, since Rolling Stone is a charter member of the liberal media, it's not surprising that they took the hatchet to McCain. But what makes this piece so devastatingly effective is the fact that all the worst accusations come from named sources who are either Republicans or decorated military officers. Here's a few of the lowlights:

On the grounds between the two brick colleges, the chitchat between the scion of four-star admirals and the son of a prizefighter turns to their academic travels; both colleges sponsor a trip abroad for young officers to network with military and political leaders in a distant corner of the globe.

"I'm going to the Middle East," Dramesi says. "Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Iran."

"Why are you going to the Middle East?" McCain asks, dismissively.

"It's a place we're probably going to have some problems," Dramesi says.

"Why? Where are you going to, John?"

"Oh, I'm going to Rio."

"What the hell are you going to Rio for?"

McCain, a married father of three, shrugs.

"I got a better chance of getting laid."

Dramesi, who went on to serve as chief war planner for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and commander of a wing of the Strategic Air Command, was not surprised. "McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man," Dramesi says today. "But he's still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in."

Pinko commie? Here are Dramesi's decorations:

He holds the Air Force Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, bronze Star with "V" Device for Valor with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with one Oak Leaf cluster, numerous Air Medals, the Air Force Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart with four Oak Leaf clusters, Combat Readiness Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with "V" device and one Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Stars and two Silver Stars.

Or how about this passage, which quotes three Republican senators on why McCain is unsuited to be president:

At least three of McCain's GOP colleagues have gone on record to say that they consider him temperamentally unsuited to be commander in chief. Smith, the former senator from New Hampshire, has said that McCain's "temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him." Sen. Domenici of New Mexico has said he doesn't "want this guy anywhere near a trigger." And Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi weighed in that "the thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He is erratic. He is hotheaded."

I had a very positive view of John McCain before this election cycle, but I'm afraid that his reputation is going to be one of the main victims of his botched campaign. Don't believe me? Here's what David Kuo (who worked for the W. Bush administration) had to say on the conservative blog Culture 11:

That McCain will lose is now a virtual certainty. This great American war hero, this truly great American has been broken by a campaign that has overwhelmed him. He does not know how to handle the unexpected economic horror that has been revealed over the past several weeks. He does not know how to break the increasingly confident, comfortable, and unflappable Barack Obama. Worst of all, John McCain has no real idea why he should be president. He knows that he has grueling contempt for his opponent. He knows, intuitively, that he is a better, more tested man. But when it comes to specific policies and solutions he is intellectually, philosophically, and politically vacuous.

Peter Suderman followed up with this passage:

One thing that’s clear from this debate is how little there is to John McCain and his campaign. He’s running on a few, vague issues -- tax cuts, an aggressive response to Russia in specific and terrorism in general, something about energy -- and a whole lot of non-policy fluff: America’s inherent strength and goodness, Obama’s inexperience, scorn for Washington insiders. But mostly, he’s running on a platform anchored by a single assumption: that John McCain is inherently, singularly qualified to lead the country, and, subsequently, deserving of the office of president. McCain views the White House as something to which he is unequivocally entitled. Beyond that, nothing else matters. Indeed, if you hold this view, nothing else would.

Obama, on the other hand, despite all the criticism and complaints that he’s running a personality cult rather than an issues-based campaign, is running a much more expansive campaign. It’s about Obama, yes, and Obama’s singular personality, but it’s also about Obama’s specific plans and proposed policies: on health care, on the environment and concerns about energy, on the economy, and on foreign policy. I don’t agree with much of what Obama proposes; he shares a fundamentally different view of how the economy works and how it should work. But the plain fact is that Obama is running a smarter, more detailed, more thoughtful and relevant campaign than McCain -- and it’s showing at the polls.

At this point, McCain is fighting a lost cause. My advice would be to re-orient the campaign from increasingly desperate Hail Mary passes to losing with dignity. Bob Dole got pounded in 1996, largely because he couldn't articulate a good reason for being president other than "It's my turn, darn it!" But he remains a popular figure, both within and outside his party. A far grimmer fate awaits John McCain if he does not turn from the dark side.

Debate #2: Obama Wins On Style Points

It's late, so only a few quick observations.

1) Obama won this debate. As in the previous debate, he got the best single shot in (Last time, it was "You were wrong." This time, it was "Next up, Baghdad." The old adage is all too true--live by the sword, die by the sword. McCain's sword is Iraq.) And the pollsters agree.

2) Neither candidate gave a strong performance. As I sat in traffic and listened to the debate, I kept cringing as the candidates rehashed their stale talking points. I know that Obama is just running out the clock, and McCain is throwing Hail Marys, but it would be nice if someone answered the frakking questions.

(Side note: When I was listening to the radio, the debate sounded close to even, if slightly shading Obama. Watching the debate, it was no contest. McCain looked bad; his appearance and manner undermine his words. As I said during the primary season, "McCain looks horrible when he goes up against Romney. He seems old and out of touch. What's he going to look like when he goes up against Obama, who is 10 times the orator Romney is?" We have our answer.)

3) "That One" should be a non-issue (but probably won't). I think it's pretty clear that it was just a flubbed line. I think McCain meant to draw a distinction between "this Senator" (i.e. himself) and "that Senator" (i.e. Obama). Instead, he bungled both halves of the statement, with "that one" ending up as the kind of gotcha gaffe that the cable news outlets love to replay.

Finally, you should definitely check out Will Wilkinson's debate commentary. It is awesome in its accuracy, intelligence, and scorching contempt. I said a few weeks ago that the election was in the's Wilkinson's own take:

Gut read. Obama owned it. This election’s over unless he murders and eats the flesh of a child on live television.

Of course, given the twists and turns this election has taken, who knows what the final month has in store for us!