H. L. Mencken or P.T. Barnum or Karl Rove once said: “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Apparently, Senator John “Muck” McCain has carved that into stone and is using it as the base of his very base presidential bid. He’s wallowing in more slop than found on a thousand pig farms and, dang it, he’s proud of it.
Witness the following headlines: “McCain rejects ‘audacity of hopelessness’ for Iraq,” “McCain: I Know How To Catch Bin Laden,” “Obama would drag US into depression: McCain camp,” “McCain: ‘I’m the original maverick,’” “McCain camp compares Obama to Spears, Hilton,” “McCain Web Ad Is Accused of Linking Obama to Antichrist,” “McCain Camp: Obama Is Playing ‘The Race Card’” and “World’s oldest joke traced back to 1900 BC.”
I threw in that last headline as a sop to readers who enjoy encountering a fact every now and then.
A lot of folks equate MuckCain with George W. Bush. They’re wrong. Whereas BushCo. craps in its hands and flings it, MuckCain’s Mob lobs crap straight up in the air and hopes it will never fall back down.
A couple of weeks ago, speaking before a group of Hispanic military veterans, McCain described what would have happened if America had listened to Obama and not increased the number of troops in Iraq. According to Grizzled Man, U.S. forces would have retreated under fire, the Iraqi army would have collapsed, countless Iraqi civilians would have been killed, al-Qaeda would have murdered cooperative Sunni sheiks and civil war would have erupted.
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“Above all, America would have been humiliated and weakened,” McCain intoned. “Terrorists would have seen our defeat as evidence America lacked the resolve to defeat them. As Iraq descended into chaos, other countries in the Middle East would have come to the aid of their favored factions, and the entire region might have erupted in war!”
Ol’ Johnny stopped short of envisioning Satan erupting from the bowels of Hell and leading a pitchfork and brimstone brigade.
McCain has an unusual relationship with facts. He refuses to acknowledge them.
After Obama proposed a 16-month timetable for U.S. troops to exit Iraq and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that it sounded good, McCain initially denied that al-Maliki said it. Then, he stated: “It’s a pretty good timetable based on conditions on the ground.” Two days later, he denied using the word “timetable.” As we all know, newfangled videe-oh and voice recording machines don’t exist, yet, in McCain’s world.
Addressing a crowd in New Mexico, he fantasized: “I know how to win wars. I know how to win wars – And if I’m elected President, I will turn around the war in Afghanistan, just as we have turned around the war in Iraq, with a comprehensive strategy for victory. I know how to do that.”
McCain didn’t reveal what wars he’d won but, rumor has it, one involved Helen of Troy and a big, wooden horse.
On CNN, he bragged that he would catch Osama bin Laden, saying: “Look, I know the area. I’ve been there. I know wars. I know how to win wars, and I know how to improve our capabilities so that we will capture Osama bin Laden – or put it this way, bring him to justice… We will do it. I know how to do it.”
He wouldn’t say how he’d ensnare the terrorist but hinted that it involved Ed McMahon, an oversized check and a covert operation headed up by Publishers’ Clearing House.
In an interview with Katie Couric he called Iraq “the first major conflict since 9/11,” apparently forgetting about turning the war around in non-conflicted Afghanistan.
He told George Stephanopoulos that, when we invaded Iraq, “We were greeted as liberators.”
In Denver, he boasted: “Senator Obama will raise your taxes. I won’t.” He later quietly amended that statement. “I don’t want tax increases. But that doesn’t mean that anything is off the table.”
Speaking before the Urban League, McCain explained that crime could be fought in the U.S. in a manner that sounded similar to the way Baghdad was tamed by the U.S. “surge.” “You go into neighborhoods, you clamp down, you provide a secure environment for the people that live there, and you make sure that the known criminals are kept under control. And you provide them with a stable environment and then they cooperate with law enforcement.”
He didn’t mention if local law enforcement would have to change the color of their uniforms from blue to brown.
He also claimed he would cure the country’s economic woes via an “economic surge” which, one imagines, includes putting Wall Street under lockdown, placing Blackwater in charge of banks and imprisoning anyone with a bad credit rating.
If MuckCain’s saber/sanity rattling rhetoric is off-the-wall, it pales in comparison to his fact-free approach to political commercials, which are as accurate a portrait of the presidential race as “The Pirates of the Caribbean” films are of maritime history.
They started, oafishly enough, a month or so ago, with a spot picturing Barack Obama placing his face on Mount Rushmore, a $100 bill and the Statue of Liberty.
Once Obama hit Europe, the commercial spots grew in both frequency and bile, sort of a projectile vomiting product placement approach.
The muck first hit the fan when the Pentagon requested that Obama not visit troops in Germany while on a “campaign” visit. MuckCain’s mob released an ad stating “He made time to go to the gym but canceled a visit with wounded troops. It seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras.” The ad concluded with “John McCain is always there for our troops.”
This little excursion into fantasyland prompted MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann to comment: “As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid noted in mid-2007, McCain only showed up for four of the past 14 Senate votes on Iraq. So far this year, he shown up for none, not even the resolution honoring the sacrifice made by the fallen.
“And looking at just part of McCain‘s record of supporting the troops since the war in Iraq began, April 2003, he tabled the motion to provide over $1 billion of National Guard and Reserve equipment. October 2003, he tabled an amendment to provide an additional $322 million for safety equipment for U.S. troops in Iraq. March 2004, he voted against eliminating abusive tax loopholes that would have increased veterans‘ medical care by $1.8 billion.
“March 2006, he voted against closing corporate tax loopholes that would have increased veteran medical services by $1.5 billion. April 2006, he voted against providing an extra $430 million for veteran outpatient care. May 2006, he voted against $20 million for veteran health care facilities.
“March 2007, he didn‘t bother on a resolution to start redeploying troops from Iraq by March 2008. September 2007, he voted against Senator Webb‘s amendment that would specify minimum rest periods for troops in-between deployments; and in May 2008, he first spoke out against Senator Webb‘s G.I. bill and then didn‘t bother to show up to vote on it.
“But none of that stopped him from accepting President Bush‘s praise when the bill ultimately passed.”
Undeterred by reality, the MuckCain mob then released the infamous Obama = Britney Spears + Paris Hilton spot, declaring Obama “the biggest celebrity in the world.”
When people marveled at the idiocy of the ad, Joltin’ Joe Lieberman, who is being vetted as a possible MuckCain veep, said critics “should just relax and enjoy it.” The latter phrase, by the by, is the punchline of a famous quip about rape.
Perhaps the best response to the ad came from Paris Hilton, who, in her own spot, threw her hat into the ring, smiling: “Hey America, I’m Paris Hilton and I’m a celebrity too. Only I’m not from the olden days and I’m not promising change like that other guy. I’m just hot!
“But then that wrinkly white-haired guy used me in his campaign ad, which I guess means I’m running for president. So thanks for the endorsement white-haired dude, and I want America to know I’m, like, totally ready to lead.”
Another ad promoted Obama as a Messianic figure, complete with footage of Charlton Heston as Moses parting the Red Sea, referring to Obama as “The One.” The ad played into the hands of religious zealots, who worry that Obama either IS or is paving the way for the Antichrist.
This prompted David Gergen, on “This Week,” to note: “When McCain’s camp calls Obama ‘The Messiah’ and ‘The One,’ he’s really calling him ‘uppity.’ I’m from the South, and we understand what that means. That’s code.”
Yet another ad portrayed Obama as an elitist rake, using F. Scott Fitzgerald terminology: “Life in the spotlight must be grand, but for the rest of us, times are tough.” This comes from a candidate born into a prestigious family, who married into mega-wealth (after dumping his first wife), who’s able to travel around in his wife’s private jet and whose golfing apparel includes $520 loafers. The ad went on to describe how Obama would raise your taxes and ruin you. The name of the abovementioned spot was “Painful.” It lived up to its name.
McCain’s foray into “Mad” avenue histrionics, led Joe Klein to title one of his blogs “The Scum Also Rises.”
Surprisingly, some Americans were swayed by the ads. Not surprisingly, some people’s IQs are the same as their belt size.
Not content with pandering to the basest of his base via video, McCain went on the stump, appearing at Sturgis, South Dakota’s Motorcycle Rally and offering up his wife, Cindy, as a contestant in the Miss Buffalo Chip contest; a fete that is, per ESPN, “essentially a topless beauty pageant. And occasionally bottomless, too.”
Now, THAT’s classy. Or, as a CBS headline put it: “John McCain’s Sexist Gaffe: Cindy McCain In A Topless Biker Pageant?” Start polishin’ that presidential seal!
Clearly, McCain’s porcine publicity machine takes us for idiots. Then, again, so do McCain’s boosters. “The Wall Street Journal” actually ran an article saying that Obama might be too thin for most American voters. “In a nation in which 66% of the voting-age population is overweight and 32% is obese, could Sen. Obama’s skinniness be a liability? Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them.”
In terms of McCain’s “fuzziness” when it comes to separating facts from fiction (Note: check out Talking Points Memo’s “Dazed and Confused” video. It’s a sort of the “best of” the “worst of” McCain.), the Associated Press offered this nicety: “McCain Has Trouble With Details Because of ‘Breezy Nature.’”
Coincidentally, this article appeared the same time as long-time McCain booster (he was even offered a job on the campaign) Ron Fournier was officially put in charge of AP’s Washington bureau. Breezy Nature, meet Buffalo Chips.
Now, while Yosemite McCain has been a’ hootin’ anna hollerin,’ several itsy bitsy news items have been obscured by the din. “The Wall Street Journal” attempted to gin up Bush’s world stature by comparing him to Batman. (“There seems to me no question that the Batman film ‘The Dark Knight…’ is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of war and terror.”)
The government, which has already put the kibosh on showing returning flag-draped coffins or Iraqi vets military funerals, has surreptitiously begun weeding out news photographers from “embedded” positions, thus avoiding any photographs of American casualties to arise. By a recent count, there are only six Western photographers covering the war.
Recently, the Marines booted one photographer by stating that his photos of the dead provided “information on the effectiveness of enemy techniques” and, thus, violated embed rules.
And Homeland Security has quietly put the nation on “Heightened Alert” status, citing this summer and fall’s lineup of two political conventions, a presidential election and the forthcoming months of transition into a new administration. According to ABC, this Big Boo status will exist until July 2009. Just call it a Shhhh surge.
Meanwhile, back on the campaign front, until MuckCain unveils his next ad (“Obama. This uppity elitist will steal your job, let terrorists run amok, legislate defeat, kiss Putin, caress Castro, force your children to eat vegetables and make you drink foreign beer with your pinky raised. Oh, yeah, better hide the white women, too. Remember ‘Mandingo?’”), we’ll just have to make do with headlines such as:
“McCain Mocks Obama’s Accurate Claim About Tire Pressure,” “McCain calls for probe of company he once aided,” “McCain campaign to return 50K in questionable donations,” “McCain Bundler’s Donors Raise Eyebrows,” “McCain Donor: McCain Worse Than Bush,” “McCain Adviser: Budget Will Balance Itself,” “McCain’s attacks on rival fall flat with vets group,” “How Low Can McCain Go?” and “Study: ‘Pre-dementia’ is rising, especially in men.”
I think that last headline explains a lot.
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