Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday fun


You know how McCain's above the fray? He's a straight talker who doesn't sink to the level of previous Republicans? He's respectful of the other party and wants to reach across the aisle? Well, forget that nonsense. Republicans previously said Osama bin Laden would rather see a Democrat in the White House than a Republican. Now, the McCain campaign is saying that Hamas, the Palestinian group labeled terrorists by the US government, is pulling for Obama. From CNN:

“Barack Obama's foreign policy plans have even won him praise from Hamas leaders,” writes McCain deputy campaign manager Christian Ferry. “Ahmed Yousef, chief political adviser to the Hamas Prime Minister said, ‘We like Mr. Obama and we hope he will win the election. He has a vision to change America.’”

That uncredited quote is drawn from an interview published Monday by conservative news site World Net Daily, whose current headlines include “District bans 'John 3:16,' promotes demonic leer” and “Lesbian demands custody of Christian mom's 6-year-old.”

The McCain fundraising e-mail says Obama’s stands have earned him “kind words” from Hamas. “John McCain's foreign policy provides a stark contrast to the policies of Barack Obama,” writes Ferry. “While Senator Obama would surrender in Iraq and hold talks with the Iranian regime, John McCain will never surrender in the struggle with Islamic extremists. Please join our campaign today by making a generous donation of $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 or $2,300.”

For some reason I doubt these disgusting tactics will do anything to sour the love affair between McCain and the media.

The other Obama on Colbert

Clinton on Colbert

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I didn't see more than a few minutes of the debate last night, but it sounded pretty awful. The influential TV critic at the Washington Post, Tom Shales called it "another step downward for network news."He added that the performance of the moderators -- Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos was "despicable."

Here's a key portion of the article:

For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.

The fact is, cable networks CNN and MSNBC both did better jobs with earlier candidate debates. Also, neither of those cable networks, if memory serves, rushed to a commercial break just five minutes into the proceedings, after giving each candidate a tiny, token moment to make an opening statement. Cable news is indeed taking over from network news, and merely by being competent.

Gibson sat there peering down at the candidates over glasses perched on the end of his nose, looking prosecutorial and at times portraying himself as a spokesman for the working class. Blunderingly he addressed an early question, about whether each would be willing to serve as the other's running mate, "to both of you," which is simple ineptitude or bad manners. It was his job to indicate which candidate should answer first. When, understandably, both waited politely for the other to talk, Gibson said snidely, "Don't all speak at once."

For that matter, the running-mate question that Gibson made such a big deal over was decidedly not a big deal -- especially since Wolf Blitzer asked it during a previous debate televised and produced by CNN.

The boyish Stephanopoulos, who has done wonders with the network's Sunday morning hour, "This Week" (as, indeed, has Gibson with the nightly "World News"), looked like an overly ambitious intern helping out at a subcommittee hearing, digging through notes for something smart-alecky and slimy. He came up with such tired tripe as a charge that Obama once associated with a nutty bomb-throwing anarchist. That was "40 years ago, when I was 8 years old," Obama said with exasperation.

Obama was right on the money when he complained about the campaign being bogged down in media-driven inanities and obsessiveness over any misstatement a candidate might make along the way, whether in a speech or while being eavesdropped upon by the opposition. The tactic has been to "take one statement and beat it to death," he said.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

McCain = Bush

Progressive Media USA, a new group led by David Brock, the president of Media Matters for America, is out with its first ad. A little background about the group from Ben Smith:

Wealthy Democrats are preparing a four-month, $40 million media campaign centered on attacks on Sen. John McCain. And it will be led by David Brock, the former investigative reporter who first gained fame in the 1990s as a right-wing, anti-Clinton journalist.

The planned campaign is the product of a shakeup in the top ranks of the struggling independent Democratic groups. Brock, now best known as the ex-conservative founder of the liberal group Media Matters, last month quietly assumed the chairmanship of what's expected to be the main vehicle for independent Democratic attacks on McCain, now called Progressive Media USA.

The ad is now up on the cable news stations in the DC market. Check it out.

Faker baker

The Huffington Post stumbled on a funny mistake on the McCain website. It turns out that some of the family recipes displayed in the "McCain Family Recipe" section of the site (yes, there's a "recipe" section of the site) were ripped directly from the Food Network's website. From the Huffington Post:

This past Sunday, Lauren Handel, an eagle-eyed attorney from New York, was searching for a specific recipe from Giada DeLaurentis, a chef on the Food Network. Yet whenever she Googled the different ingredients in the recipe, the oddest thing happened: not only did the Food Network's site come up, as expected, but so did John McCain's campaign site.

On a section of McCain's site called "Cindy's Recipes," you can find seven recipes attributed to Cindy McCain, each with the heading "McCain Family Recipe." Ms. Handel quickly realized that some of the "McCain Family Recipes," were in fact, word-for-word copies of recipes on the Food Network site.

At least three of the "McCain Family Recipes" appear to be lifted directly from the Food Network, while at least one is a Rachael Ray recipe with minor changes.

Update: Blame it on the intern.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ambinder on elitism

Marc Ambinder wrote about the most common charge flying around the campaign these days: "elitism." He says it better than I would, so I post Ambinder's argument here:

Elitism is a tough charge and it's a legitimate attribute to be debating. But to use as signifiers one's bowling score and one's interlocutory manner with a diner hostess ... that's a little ridiculous.

Both Obama and Clinton have had Secret Service details for a bit. Neither of them has had to open a door by themselves for a long-while... nor driven a car... nor shaken a hand without an elitist rope stretched between them and the public. Both are coddled by fundraisers, yes-ma'am-and-sir'd-by advisers, hugged by supporters.... A sense of entitlement is thereby built in to a presidential candidate. (The only exception I can think of: Barack Obama's aides -- senior AND junior, call him "Barack.")

Campaigning in Iowa in 1988, Michael Dukakis famously asked for some Belgian endives. Remember when George H.W. Bush professed to be amazed by the new contraption of a supermarket scanner? Remember when Trent Lott confessed that he'd just taken the DC metro for the first time? When Hillary Clinton, professing her feminisity, said she wasn't going to stay home and bake cookies like Tammy Wynette? George W. Bush likes back massages? Bob Dole lives in the Watergate? Pat Buchanan lives in a manse in Virginia? How many houses does John McCain own?

The point, I guess, is that it's silly to debate elitism by pointing to the alleged elitism of your opponent. Because this is Washington, D.C., and if you're a presidential candidate or a national political figure, chances are pretty good that you're developed a bit of an ego and a bit of a sense of entitlement.

Republican called Obama "Boy"

Ben Smith noted that at the Northern Kentucky Lincoln Day dinner, Rep. Geoff Davis called Obama a "snake oil salesman" and said: "I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button." Wow.

The Senate's Minority Leader and one of the leaders of the Republican Party, Mitch McConnell, was at the event.

Update: CNN is reporting that Davis has written an apology to Obama. From CNN's report:

In a letter to Obama, Kentucky Rep. Geoff Davis said his “poor choice of words is regrettable and was in no way meant to impugn you or your integrity. I offer my sincere apology to you and ask for your forgiveness. ….

“My comment… in no way reflects the personal and professional respect I have for you.”

I'm glad Rep. Davis wrote the apology and I see how he can claim it was a "poor choice of words" (certainly Obama can sympathize), but how he can still claim he has "personal and professional respect" for Obama is beyond me.

It's about time

Finally, a major media outlet wrote about McCain, the conservative -- not McCain the moderate, not McCain the straight talker, not McCain the maverick. The Associated Press decided to look at where McCain is on the issues and here is what it came up with:

The likely Republican presidential nominee is much more conservative than voters appear to realize. McCain leans to the right on issue after issue, not just on the Iraq war but also on abortion, gay rights, gun control and other issues that matter to his party's social conservatives.

The article went on to dissect his positions and cast them as they should be cast -- CONSERVATIVE. Now the rest of the media should use this as a jumping off point.

Willow at 15 weeks