11 October, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

I just got off the phone with my best friend, who floored me with the news that he's decided to vote for Obama. At this rate, I won't have any staunch conservatives left in my life.

He's not the only one who's jumped ship and struck out for happier shores this week:

Author Christopher Buckley, the son of William F. Buckley, offered a hearty endorsement of the Democratic candidate today. Given that Christopher Buckley remains a columnist for the National Review, this was not at all expected.

What's more, Buckley has known McCain personally for more than a quarter century, has defended him, and has even worked for him. But he's seen enough to know that Candidate McCain hasn't earned his support.

[McCain] said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, "We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us." This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget "by the end of my first term." Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?

What's more, Buckley seems to think highly of Obama, too, lauding this "first-class temperament" and a "first-class intellect."

Obama has in him -- I think, despite his sometimes airy-fairy "We are the people we have been waiting for" silly rhetoric -- the potential to be a good, perhaps even great leader. He is, it seems clear enough, what the historical moment seems to be calling for.

Indeed, sir. Welcome aboard. We'll keep you safe over here until the anti-intellectual, neo-theo-con, mouthbreathing fundamentalist lackwits have completely self-destructed, at which time you'll be able to reconstruct a true conservative Republican party upon the old one's smoldering foundations. While you're over here, you'll have plenty of company.

Conservatives, it seems, want nothing to do with McCain, and are starting to find Obama's ideas and attitude attractive. McCain, in fact, is becoming so poisonous that even blood-red Republicons are fleeing his vicinity:

John McCain was in Minnesota yesterday, home to a very competitive U.S. Senate race. Given the attention that comes with a visit from a presidential candidate, one might assume that Sen. Norm Coleman (R) would want to travel alongside his Republican colleague.

But Coleman apparently concluded he was better off without McCain.

Coleman told reporters that he would not be appearing at a planned rally with McCain this afternoon. Could it be McCain's sliding polling numbers in Minnesota? His attacks on Obama? Coleman said he needs the time to work on suspending his own negative ads.

"Today," he said, "people need hope and a more positive campaign is a start."

What an interesting response. If Coleman wanted to quietly snub McCain, he could have told reporters he had a scheduling conflict and just couldn't make it to McCain's event. Instead, Coleman made it clear he was deliberately snubbing McCain, siding with "hope" and "a more positive campaign."

Hope... more positive politics... now, who does that remind me of? Oh, yeah: Obama.

And it could also have a wee little bit o' something to do with the fact that the McCain/Palin team is truly unique in our nation's history:

Now that Sarah Palin has been found to have abused her powers, violated state ethics, and lied about it, I did a little digging and found an interesting historical footnote.

The McCain/Palin ticket is the first in American history in which both candidates were found to have violated ethics standards before a national election.

McCain, of course, was admonished by Senate Ethics Committee "for exercising 'poor judgment' for intervening" with federal regulators on behalf of Charles Keating, as part of the infamous Keating Five scandal.

And now McCain's running mate has also been found to have violated state ethics laws and abused the powers of her office, as part of the "Troopergate" scandal.

What a claim to fame. Here, I think, we begin to see why it is that the McCain/Palin nightmare dream team isn't winning friends and influencing people among the "those capapable of basic cognition" set. It's one thing for your record not to match your rhetoric. It's another thing entirely for your record to point to your rhetoric and dissolve into hysterical laughter:

Just moments ago at a townhall rally in Davenport, IA, John McCain delivered this statement:

As a Senator, I’ve seen the corrupt ways of Washington and wasteful spending and other abuses of power, and its corruption. We now have former members of Congress residing in federal prison. That’s how bad it’s gotten. As President, I’m going to end these abuses whatever it takes.

Does he realize that every time he opens his mouth, he insults the intelligence of the American people? Oh, right. He surrounds himself with buffoons, neocon opportunists, lobbyists, and the last fragments of the Republicon base that have given up thinking entirely in favor of knee-jerk jingoism and hate. That might explain why he tells transparent lies and makes utterly unbelievable statements. Look at his sounding boards.

Of course, he and his campaign are working desperately to spin the conclusions of the Troopergate report so as to retain some infintesimal shred of credibility. How's that going, there, Johnny?

Here's a statement from the McCain-Palin camp on the report.

"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."

Noper. That pail, it holds no water. Just because the report concluded that Sarah Palin could legally fire Monegan for any reason whatever doesn't mean she can get away with a buttload of ethics violations. If Wooten's "violent and rougish" behavior had been all that violent or rougish, reasons would have been found to fire him after all that pressure. There were none. And you really can't distract by the icky facts - i.e., Sarah Palin violated Alaska state ethics laws - by saying this was all Obama's fault. Especially not when the many Republicons on the council voted to release it. I know plenty of Republicons have jumped for Obama's ship, but they weren't among them. So, credibility: epic fucking fail. My friend.

And please, please tell your running mate to learn how to read:

While Sarah Palin was boarding her campaign bus this morning, a reporter seeking comment on the new Troopergate report shouted out to her, “Governor, did you abuse your power?” She responded:

If you read the report, you’ll see that there’s nothing unlawful or unethical about replacing a cabinet member. You’ve got to read the report, sir.

As Jake Tapper notes, Palin is dodging the question and parsing her answer. “It’s true that there’s nothing ‘unlawful or unethical about replacing a cabinet member’ in principle,” he writes, “but the report is not as Gov. Palin is presenting it.” The report explicitly states that she did abuse her power and acted unethically:

For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 2952.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.

Moreover, the report states that compliance with this Act “is not optional,” and that her conduct violated the Ethics Act.

Sarah Palin's reading comprehension? Epic. Fucking. Fail.

I don't even have to wonder why thinking conservatives like my friend are fleeing the Republicon ticket as if it were a firehose loaded with Ebola. Every time the McCain/Palin dog and pony show rolls into the national spotlight, the reasons are made manifestly clear. One thing impresses me about this ticket, however: I never thought it possible that the Republicons could nominate people who make Bush look like a pointy-headed intellectual and Cheney seem a Scout leader.

I stand in awe.

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