Leaving The Sinking Ship In Style

There are few things as satisfying as watching a fucktard like David Frum get his ass handed to him by Rachel Maddow when he accuses her show of fomenting hate similar to the crap being spewed by the audience members at recent rallies for John McCain and Sarah Palin. After you’ve watched the clip, consider the hackery necessary to make such accusations:

Frum, you’ll recall, is the one who penned the phrase “axis of evil”  for President George W. Bush a few years backfor his State of the Union address. After departing the cozy confines of 1600 Pennsylvania, he then funded smear campaigns against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi when she visited Syria and decided to play amateur psychiatrist with former VP Al Gore when he criticized Bush’s foreign policy.

So you’ll have to pardon me if I find it laughable that this member of the GOP intelligentsia is joining the very slim ranks of those who aren’t pleased with the choice of Palin and saying it doesn’t look good for McCain because of it. This group includes columnist Kathleen Parker, NYT op-ed writer David Brooks, and author Christopher Buckley, who appears to have been booted/resigned from the column at the magazine his father founded for his trouble in saying he would vote for Barack Obama.

I’ve noticed something after reading for the past week or so, these admissions of concern — a lot of it revolves around Palin’s lack of intelligence or intellectual curiosity, perfectly valid points and worth questioning.  However, I have a question for Frum, Parker, Brooks and their ilk*: where the fuck were you the past eight years with the current occupant of the White House, if this was such a problem?

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Foot-In-Mouth Vs. Nothing Between The Ears

More than 12 hours later, and after reading the transcript, reading other opinions, and viewing my Twitter notes, I can safely try to offer some opinions on last night’s face-off. It was certainly much, much more entertaining than last Friday’s presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

Assorted notes:

  • Joe, please look at the woman. It didn’t do hiim a ton of favors to barely look at his opponent. It’s the same crap McCain did last week.
  • Biden had an effective parry for every assertion Palin made. He’s gaffe-prone, but he knows his shit.
  • Meanwhile, Caribou Barbie is clearly reading off note cards and not giving us a whole lot in specifics.
  • Not that’s she’s supposed to. Most of the Republican campaign as of late has been specific-lite, given the economic fallout made McCain’s economic rollout the week before moot.
  • Biden is heavy on the Senate speak and wonkery, but this was a necessary tactic.  Rather than taking it right to Palin, he focused on McCain’s policies and explained them in a way someone who understands the workings of a legislative body has to.
  • Despite all the interviews of the past week, Palin is a much better debater than anyone probably gave her credit for.
  • That said, it would be nice if she’d answer the damn question.
  • Rather than answer said question, she’s “going to speak to the American people.” If Gwen Ifill hadn’t been hit with the sly attack from the Republican ops about her book just two days before, she probably would have hit her with a Jim Lehrer insistence. She has to be steaming.
  • “Nukular.” Nuh uh. Eight years of that shit was enough, Governor.  Learn basic fucking English.
  • Palin tells Biden it’s “DRILL, BABY, DRILL!” Every time I hear McCain, Palin, or a Republican crowd chant that stupid slogan (as if off-shore oil drilling will magically fix everything), I imagine it has to get their men at full mast and their female followers gushing.
  • “Say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again.”  The sound you heard immediately after that was all the Reaganites coming at the same time.
  • McCain should hire Mark McGwire as a campaign spokesperson. Palin essentially told us that “we’re not here to talk about the past.” Apparently trying to fix the bad policies of the last administration isn’t worth talking about.
  • Regarding the gays: Palin would like you to know she is aggressively, full-on, no-holds-barred TOLERANT.  Still doesn’t like y’all getting hitched.
  • Biden says he and Obama don’t support gay marriage, of course. God, I long for the day when a Democratic candidate comes out and says, “Yes, I support the right of gays and lesbians to marry in this country. Marriage is both a civil and religious institution, but since it is a civil institution, it is wrong to discriminate and not give those marriage rights to committed homosexual couples.”
  • Can we get a politician who doesn’t feel the need to proclaim how much he or she loves Israel and say they’re the country’s best friend, please?  I’m sure there are plenty of observant Jews concerned about the Israeli/Palestinian situation who are tired of having their collective knob swallowed.
  • Also, Governor, American exceptionalism is tiresome, and it’s probably what gets us more animus even among our own allies as well as enemies (I’m willing to bet terrorists attack us and decry us for bouts of economic and military imperalism throughout the centuries.)
  • Biden spanks the concept of McCain as maverick. Thank you.
  • Based on Palin’s response to Ifill’s question about the VP and executive power, if elected, I assume she will be just redecorating Dick Cheney’s “undisclosed location” in a nicer shade of gray. Clearly, she has not a damn clue about what the Founding Fathers intended regarding separation of powers. She cited “flexibility in the office of Vice President,” meaning she’d be a Cheney you’d probably like to fuck.
  • Biden’s response about the overreaching of Cheney’s office and the unitary executive: RIGHT ON POINT.
  • Remind me what wars John McCain won again?
  • Biden dropped a Shakespeare reference tonight. Warms my cold, black heart.
  • Described McCain’s econ policy as “the ultimate bridge to nowhere.” SNAP.
  • So nationalized health care is socialism but bailing out Wall Street and buying up bad mortgages isn’t? Oy.
  • Folksy, non-sequitur shoutout to third graders in Alaska, Sarah? I deserve extra credit too for sitting through this. (Would Obama get away with giving a shoutout and self-bump to his homies on the South Side? Probably not.)
  • Joe: never speak in the third person EVER AGAIN. You aren’t T.O., Karl Malone, or Ocho Cinco.
  • But you got me with telling us about the car accident that killed your wife and daughter, sir, I gotta admit. (This was also smart: do not cede the family ground to Palin; Biden, in his commitment to fatherhood, commuted by train from Wilmington to D.C. every day so he could be with his sons.)
  • “It’s so nice to speak directly to the American people, without the filter of the mainstream media.”  Oh, Republicans, please stop trying to work the refs and blame the messenger. It’s transparent, and just because you say the news media is liberal doesn’t make it true in terms of coverage and balance.  If that were true these days, George W. Bush would have been run out on a rail years ago, no one would have fostered the bullshit story that Al Gore said he “invented” the internet and was “the inspiration” for the book and movie Love Story.  D.C. media like easy, cheap narratives and they like their access to power, and more often than not, that has been Republican power.  The bigger names in broadcast and print political media are socially liberal (or at least centrist), but are economically conservative: they want their tax cuts.  Also, they are owned by multi-national conglomerates whose CEOs vote Republican (see Sumner Redstone on the matter.) So, please stop with this “filter” bullshit. It might be a nice tactic to tap into the mis-directed anger of your supporters, but you look dumb to anyone with half a brain.

No one hit too hard, but there were more fireworks of interest here. Palin didn’t embarass herself further, but she didn’t fix the impression that she’s still not cut out for this by sticking to generalities and down-home speech. Biden didn’t put his foot in his mouth and backed off on any attacks that could have been spun as him beating up on Palin, when she gave him ample opportunity to.

It’s a win for the Democratic ticket, because the Republican ticket needed a Biden fuck-up and a sterling, outta-the-park performance by Palin to make a dent in the current poll deficit.

Pure Venom

The raging, unhinged bit of me has always been a fan of Matt Taibbi, despite his tendency to come off like someone trying too hard to be a neo-Hunter S. Thompson, ever since his writings in Russia for eXile and then the New York Press.

Godwin’s Law violations aside, one must admire the rhetorical audacity/complete insanity (depending on your political point of view) it takes to describe Sarah Palin’s RNC speech as “Gidget addressing the Reichstag” in his latest Rolling Stone piece.

Methinks HST would have liked that one.

Additional note: if you have lost Campbell Brown, the wife of a big-time Republican, regarding your campaign’s handling of Palin, you’ve got issues. Free Sarah Palin!

One More Palin Note: Race and Class Baiting

If I didn’t mark this earlier, one of the bits the Republicans spit on hard last night was Barack Obama’s past work as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago — not only in terms of experience, but in terms of whether it was valuable, useful work — that’s how much sarcasm they used wit the words, as if “community organizer” was not legitimate work. It isn’t, as far as that party is concerned, because it’s associated with — surprise, surprise — unions, black people, and politics that oppose corporate domination of every factor of our lives.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a community organizer. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, whatever you may think of them now, are and have been organizers.  People have led rallies and funds to help the poor and lower-middle class in urban communities pool their resources, organize, etc., and the Republicans have nothing but contempt for such actions because they are much more in thrall to the corporate view of America.

Trouble is, as Al Giordano marks at Field Notes, there are plenty of organizers in small towns and big cities, and you just took a swipe at them and the people they help. He provides video of CNN commentator Roland Martin, whose parents were “community organizers.”

You wanna degrade working on behalf of the poor and worse-off, GOP?  Have at it. I guess they found a new way to race and class bait. Whenever a GOP member talks about Democrats doing the whole “class war” thing, take it with a grain of salt.

The Schoolmarm Is Banking On Your Supposed Stupidity

(Again, excuse our politics.)

This woman really thinks you’re all morons. Every single last one of you.  Sarah Palin, with a Bush-aide-written speech, decided to tout several things in her attack dog role against Barack Obama’s campaign.

  • Her supposed executive experience as mayor of a small-ass town and a state with a very low population
  • The idiotic fallacy of continuing the Iraq War until some abstract concept of “victory”
  • Obama’s saying one thing and then another (referencing the old “bitter people turn to guns and religion” bullshit)
  • She is somehow a candidate of “reform” to change the entrenched Washington interests, as is John McCain

Reform, my ass.  Palin is tied to Alaska Senator Ted Stevens — the same one tied up on federal charges that he’s currently fighting while running, of course, for re-election.  Drilling for oil in Alaska is not energy reform or independence — it’s continuing a stupid depndence upon oil in general, just spreading the drilling further into our own lands.  This is why Palin thinks you’re a moron: she and the rest of the GOP sincerely believe that drilling for oil (or at least are cynical enough to proffer the idea) will give Americans relief from gas prices in the near future.

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You Don’t Usually Debunk A Rumor This Way

(Again, please pardon my politics, so skip it if you don’t care.)

It’s as if I woke up in a dream world this afternoon after working overnight, when we were all Gustav-obsessed (and rightfully so, it doesn’t look as bad as Katrina, but it still sucks; my sympathies to the Gulf residents) and when I read my usual web sites, I had to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

In that picture of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, you see her daughter Bristol holding Palin’s youngest son, Trig. There had been a series of rumors (I first read about them at Sports on My Mind) that Trig might be Bristol’s child, and in order to rebut those particular things, John McCain’s campaign decided to release the information that Bristol is currently five months pregnant.

(I wasn’t quite convinced on the “Trig is Bristol’s baby” rumors, even though the signs were very, very fishy. Who flies from Dallias to Anchorage, with a stop in Seattle, and then drives way out to Wasilla to have a child?)

Asked if Ms. Palin will be able to judge the demands of the vice-presidency with her complicated family life, [McCain strategist Steve] Schmidt said, “She’s been a very effective governor and again I can’t imagine that question being asked of a man.”

The McCain campaign says it was aware of her daughter’s pregnancy before it named her as the running mate on Friday.

Mrs. Palin’s statement identified the father only by a first name, Levi. “Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family,” the statement said. “We ask the media, respect our daughter and Levi’s privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates.”

Schmidt is only now using the whole sexism angle in playing damage control — the campaign had no problem with tokenism on a very light vice presidential candidate whom they didn’t vet properly. He’s being very savvy by letting this out during Gustav and on Labor Day — very few people are going to notice.  When asked about it, Barack Obama took the smart way out of this, at least on his end.

Mr. Obama said the pregnancy “has no relevance to Governor Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president.” He added that, “my mother had me when she was 18. How family deals with issues and teen-age children – that shouldn’t be the topic of our politics.”

Although this is the politically smart thing to say, it’s wrong.

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The Speech And The Fallout

After listening to Barack Obama outline what he would do as president last night in Denver combined with his oratory skills, I’m convinced the man could sell me anything and I’d buy it happily:

Republicans were not expecting that speech. It was a laundry list in the style of Bill Clinton’s State of the Union speeches, but a necessary one — for someone blasted by his opponent as short on substance and high on style, that was a speech for wonks, encased in well-written rhetoric. It pounded nearly all the important points down the line and knocked each one of them, itching for a fight.

The one thing I was disappointed in? Not much mention the whole convention on the blatant Constitutional violations of the past eight years. I mean, the man is an attorney and Constitutional law scholar. This is bad: either the party has decided that Constitutional issues are too heady for big speeches or that they’d rather not mention the violations, so that their politicians can violate it when they’re in power. Not good.

Regardless, this is the first case where the nominee took it to John McCain — and there has been an overreaction on the part of the Republican’s campaign, reaching for a Republican governor who hasn’t finished even a term as an executive for his running mate.  Sarah Palin just finished speaking with McCain at an Ohio rally, and after introducing her family, kissing up to the top of the ticket, and talking about her reformer credentials — as if a politician connected to British Petroleum by marriage can be “free” of special interests — she laid out the real reason why McCain made this pick: a socially conservative woman to try and pick off women that voted for Hillary Clinton in the primary.

The people who voted in primaries for Clinton can’t be that stupid.  Thus, this is the GOP conceding the experience argument against Obama, because they picked someone who’s very green in terms of the national stage, and it’s not going to look good against Joe Biden in vice presidential debates.  The McCain campaign has stolen a bit of the thunder back with the press attention — but people are referencing the pick in contrast to what happened at the Democratic convention.

I’m not buying the supposed “change” that McCain’s selling — in his reformer credentials comes the memory that everyone forgot; he was knee-deep in the S&L scandal of the 80s, he just escaped more trouble because he was the first to squeal in the Keating Five mess.

Regardless, it’s going to be very close come November — and we’ll all be taken for a ride for the next couple of months. I’m willing to bet Obama will be asking a certain former rival of his to take to the trail and the TV shows over the next couple of months.