27 September, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Adios, Paul Newman. You were awesome, and we'll miss you.

Ned Lamont, who challenged Lieberman for Connecticut's Senate seat, remembers:

We were way down in the polls and I was busy leaving messages on answering machines when a young volunteer came bounding into my rabbit warren and announced breathlessly, "Paul Newman is on the line." A little skeptical, I shot back that I was on the line with Vladimir Putin so hold all calls, but our savvy volunteer suggested that this was a call worth taking.

"Thanks for calling, Mr. Newman," I parried.

"Cut the Mr. Newman crap, it's Paul," was his opening line -- unmistakably the real deal.

After remembering Newman's humorous adventures with robocalls, Lamont says:

To me, Paul was Cool Hand Luke, challenging the good ol' boys and the conventional wisdom, with a delighted twinkle in his eye.

We'll miss you, Mr. Newman.

We already do.

Alas, the stoopid doesn't pause just because a great actor and human being died. Stoopid doesn't stop for anything - probably because it's too stupid to realize when it should quit. Yes, I'm talking about McCain and his merry bunch of raving fuckwits. However did you guess?

They're serving up a heaping helping of stoopid today. A friend of Steve Benen's described the McCain campaign's style as "ready, fire, aim," and he was spot-on. McCain did exactly that with his new attack ad. I imagine his foot's bleeding rather heavily about now:

So, McCain, unconcerned about decency or honesty, is doubling down on accusing Barack Obama of not supporting U.S. troops. In a new ad, unveiled this afternoon, the McCain campaign insists, "In the midst of war, Senator Obama voted to cut off funding for our troops." It concludes that Obama supports "risking lives."

McCain desperately has to hope voters are fools. Indeed, this came up last night, and Obama explained reality fairly well:

"Senator McCain opposed funding for troops in legislation that had a timetable, because he didn't believe in a timetable. I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable, and was open-ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable. We didn't have a difference on whether or not we were going to be funding troops. We had a legitimate difference."

What's really idiotic about McCain's attack is that, by his own logic, McCain voted to cut off funding for our troops in the midst of a war. That's an inescapable conclusion -- McCain supported troop funding when he liked the conditions of the spending bill, and opposed troop funding when he didn't. As it happens, Obama did the exact same thing, only in support of different conditions.

If Obama voted to undermine the troops and "risked lives," then McCain voted to undermine the troops and "risked lives." It's as simple as that.

Why is it that McCain doesn't seem to be concerned that his hypocrisy will cost him votes? Voters don't like to be treated as fucking fools, yet that's exactly what he's doing. Maybe he thinks he can throw another Hail Mary pass and distract attention just long enough to trick people into forgetting he thinks they're ignorant assholes. But he's already played the surprise veep (went badly), the POW card (whoops, overplayed) and suspend campaign (ouch, epic fail) cards. What's left?

Ah. Child exploitation (h/t Kagro X):

In an election campaign notable for its surprises, Sarah Palin, the Republican vice- presidential candidate, may be about to spring a new one — the wedding of her pregnant teenage daughter to her ice-hockey-playing fiancé before the November 4 election.

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."

He'd better fucking hope it would. Judging from the poll numbers, the more voters see of McCain, the less they like him. But I don't think watching Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter get married to her redneck boyfriend is going to be the salvation they're looking for. The Palin shine has definitely rubbed off.

Speaking of Palin...
After a debate, campaigns generally want high-profile figures telling the media how great their candidate did. And as a rule, it's hard to top the running mates as high-profile figures.

It was pretty interesting, then, that the Obama campaign was anxious to get Joe Biden in front of the cameras -- while Sarah Palin was nowhere to be found.

Indeed, as this CNN clip shows, Biden was not only out there, he was excellent, offering a forceful and on-message denunciation of McCain, and explaining how right Obama was. (Biden delivered the same critique on CBS and NBC.)

Some viewers at home seemed to think it was unfair that CNN interviewed Biden as part of the post-debate coverage, but didn't have Palin on. Eventually, Wolf Blitzer had to explain to the audience that the network wasn't slighting anyone.

"We've been getting some emails from views out there wondering why we spent some time interviewing Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee and not Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee," Blitzer said. "We would have loved to interview -- we'd still love to interview Sarah Palin. Unfortunately we asked, we didn't get that interview.... We're hoping that Sarah Palin will join us at some point down the road."

Heh heh. Funny thing, Wolf, but she was just down the road - at the bar:

Palin appeared at the bar on 20th and Walnut streets last night to shake hands with her fans for about an hour before the first presidential debate. While the crowd inside was friendly, hundreds of people lined the street outside in protest with signs that read things like "Palin is Santorum With Lipstick."

Palin did not take questions from reporters nor did she talk policy. She posed for pictures and chatted with supporters, many of whom were from outside the city limits, and made an approximately minute-long statement.

You'll be utterly shocked to learn that her "statement" consisted entirely of "We've got to fix Washington!" empty fucking talking points.

It's a good thing she didn't bring up John "I'm Clueless About the Economy!" McCain's latest scheme for "fixing" the economy:

When McCain said this nutty thing, I assumed he was just having a pardonable senior moment:
MCCAIN: How about a spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs.

LEHRER: Spending freeze?

MCCAIN: I think we ought to seriously consider with the exceptions the caring of veterans national defense and several other vital issues.
But I learn from Yglesias that McCain was actually serious.

Folks, this isn't an idea. This is just plain nuttiness on the level of a UFO behind the Hale Bopp comet, scientology, and invading Iraq. You don't take it seriously. You laugh at it. You sneer at it. And you use it as an example of the sheer flakiness of the person who mentions it.

Why not take it seriously? Oh, a couple reasons:

And a spending freeze of this magnitude goes well beyond getting rid of a few earmarks. Mark Schmitt explained:

A spending freeze ... is a very specific thing -- some programs will be in the freeze, some out. In a recession, programs that would normally cost more automatically -- like Food Stamps or Unemployment Insurance -- will be unable to respond.

Over the next few weeks, Obama (as well as the press, if it's not too much to ask) should pound relentlessly on the spending freeze: What's frozen, and what's "several other vital issues"? In a recession, are Food Stamps frozen? Student loans? Unemployment benefits? Pell Grants? S-CHIP? Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)? The list is long, and different states and constituencies naturally have their own programs that they would like to know whether McCain would freeze them or not.

And wherever McCain's answer is yes, that program would be part of the freeze, numbers can usually be put to it quickly. For example, freezing LIHEAP would leave X million seniors without heat this winter. Freezing Pell Grants would mean X million students couldn't go to college.

At the end, McCain will be in one of two boxes: Either he's a guy who is willing to slash every domestic program, leave seniors in the dark and kids blocked from college, while dumping hundreds of billions of dollars into Wall Street and Baghdad, plus his tax cuts. Or his "spending freeze" is just another vacuous gimmick.

I'll take "vacuous gimmick!" for $1000, Alex!

Yglesias sums up what a spending freeze means in terms even a high-functioning moron such as Bush could understand:

It’s worth really focusing in on the fact that John McCain’s campaign was running around — proudly! — boasting about the fact that they intend to follow up a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street and $800 billion in tax cuts for the rich with an across-the-board spending freeze. That means, in real terms, less money for your local police department. Less money for the FBI. Less money for Head Start. Less money for Pell Grants. Less money for infrastructure. Less money for everything except failed banks and endless wars.
Throwing money at failed banks and endless wars is all McCain understands. Couple that with a vice president who's even more clueless than he is, and what you have is an insult to this nation. If they loved America, if they truly put country first, they'd abdicate their farce of a campaign and let some grownups take over.

Of course, the stoopid's too stoopid to care.

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