Fool Us Three Times, We All Lose

Billmon, a guy I didn’t listen to enough a few years back, is back to blogging, and man is it depressing. Well, his return is not depressing, but what he has to say is. If you will, some quotes from Billmon’s new post at the Great Orange Satan, juxtaposed with some quotes from our illustrious media. Billmon:

McCain’s primary talent has always been his ability persuade simple-minded people (i.e. his media cheerleading claque) that he is flipping or flopping as a matter of great personal principle and at great possible cost to his political career – even as he has used his various flips and flops to climb the greased pole and become the presidential nominee of his party.


Now, if you go back and look, you’ll see that if Keating didn’t comp McCain as generously and vigorously as he did the other four, it was probably because McCain was a very junior senator at the time, with relatively little influence to peddle. But it wasn’t because Honest John was shy about accepting the favors that were offered him. If John McCain had a problem with the way lobbying (i.e. legalized prostitution) was being done in Washington, you definitely won’t find it in the record of the Keating investigation. McCain’s fit of Puritan self-righteousness (or political calculation, depending on your view) came after the fact, once he’d already been caught. And yet, from that single Senate speech sprang the shoot that eventually grew into the sturdy tree of John McCain’s media image.

You have to admit it was a neat trick: Happily accepting the naughty goodies while they were being handed out, but then winning brownie points for admitting he took them – after the world had already found out he took them. But that’s precisely what McCain did. He’s never looked back since.

The St. Petersburg Times:

Virtually all candidates, including Obama, distort their opponent’s record. But McCain has gone beyond reasonable bounds. The self-described “happy warrior” in the 2000 presidential campaign has turned sour in 2008, and the candor and straight talk that once made him such an attractive candidate are rapidly disappearing.

Billmon, discussing McCain in 2000:

So suddenly John McCain, the supposed straight talker, was ducking and weaving around the perennially important issue of whether the Confederate flag should continue to wave over the cradle of the Civil War.

He lost anyway, of course — but here again, as during the Keating Five scandal, McCain managed to make political vice look like virtue, at least in the media’s eyes. In late April, he gave a speech announcing he’d been wrong not to denounce the Stars and Bars. “I chose to compromise my principles,” he confessed, and “broke my promise to always tell the truth” in order to win in South Carolina.

“I do not intend for this apology to help me evade criticism for my failure,” the noble McCain nobly added. “I will be criticized by all sides for my late act of contrition. I accept all of it, I deserve it.”

Once again, the hearts of supposedly hard-hearted reporters melted like butter – not withstanding the obvious fact that McCain had saved his road-to-Damascus moment until after the votes were cast in South Carolina and after Bush had effectively nailed down the nomination. (McCain’s flips and flops on racial issues, such as his forth and back and forth on making MLK’s birthday a federal holiday, are worth a post just in themselves.)

Todd Purdum, today in Vanity Fair:

Bill and Hillary Clinton proved the severe political dangers of running against hope last winter and spring, and McCain’s own great strength has always been his realistic optimism, his conviction that every American should sign up—as he did so long ago—in a cause greater than his or her own self-interest. “I’ll put my country first, and I’ll never let you down,” he told a crowd at a Caterpillar dealership outside Denver on Wednesday. Wise words to live by, for sure.

But by suggesting that Barack Obama is the kind of politician who would put self-interest and political expediency above problem-solving, as McCain did more than once this week, this honorable, intelligent, maverick, cagey, come-from-behind character risks doing precisely that himself.

Billmon, explaining why we are seeing McCain act the way he is the past few days:

But McCain and his new team of Rovian handlers now realize they won’t have a prayer in November unless they can motivate the conservative base and (to use Lee Atwater’s charming phrase) “strip the bark” off Obama. And they have to do it NOW, so McCain can pivot back to a softer, more upbeat message in September.

And when he does, you know what we can expect. All will be forgotten. All will be forgiven. The destruction of Obama’s character will be complete, the Maverick can go back to serving donuts BBQ to the press, and he will be welcomed back in open arms. After all, they haven’t learned anything from his past behavior. Why should we expect a media universe filled with folks like Tapper and Halperin and Broder to begin to learn now?

I Got Nothing But Admiration

Really, you have to admire the chutzpah of it all. You have to really be impressed by the brazenness of the GOP, the party that was just a few weeks ago canonizing Jesse Helms, now accusing the black guy of using race in electoral politics:

John McCain told CNN Thursday it is fair for his campaign manager to claim Barack Obama is playing ‘the race card.’

“I’m sorry to say that it is. It’s legitimate,” McCain told CNN’s John King. “And there’s no place in this campaign for that. There’s no place for it and we shouldn’t be doing it.”

Earlier Thursday, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis lashed out at the Democratic presidential candidate over his comments that Republicans are making an issue of his race.

“Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It’s divisive, negative, shameful and wrong,” Davis said in a statement sent to reporters.

And the media will let them get away with it. Again, it is just impressive. They have no shame, the media has no clue, and we are going to have to deal with this crap for the next few months.

Please Just Shut Up and Go Away

If there is anyone who, regardless of the outcome of this election, has made sure that he will never work again in Democratic politics at any meaningful level, it is this jackass:

ABC News’ Jennifer Parker reports: A longtime friend of Sen. Hillary Clinton said it’s “incomprehensible” that Sen. Barack Obama would choose another woman to be his vice-presidential candidate over Sen. Hillary Clinton.

“The selection of either one of those instead of Sen. Clinton I would find completely incomprehensible,” said Lanny Davis of rumored Obama vice-presidential contenders Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Can we please just send this babbling, ignorant, tendentious fool to Gitmo? That is where the worst of the worst are housed, right?

Willing Accomplices

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t:

What the McCain campaign doesn’t want people to know, according to one GOP strategist I spoke with over the weekend, is that they had an ad script ready to go if Obama had visited the wounded troops saying that Obama was…wait for it…using wounded troops as campaign props. So, no matter which way Obama turned, McCain had an Obama bashing ad ready to launch. I guess that’s political hardball. But another word for it is the one word that most politicians are loathe to use about their opponents—a lie.

This is what some people are calling the Hannity strategy. Right wing nut-muffin Sean Hannity employs a slick strategy of repeating canards very quickly over and over, day in and day out, which aren’t challenged by his TV co-host Alan Colmes or by any of his radio listeners. By relentlessly repeating falsehoods day after day, the theory goes, it becomes embedded in the media. There is truth in this. In 2004, the Bush campaign ran an ad and daily repeated that John Kerry was a flip flopper, running a Kerry clip with the Democratic candidate saying he voted for an $87 billion military appropriation before he voted against it. It sounded bad when ripped out of context. Kerry voted for it in committee, and then voted against in on a floor vote when the bill included giveaways to Halliburton he didn’t support.

The distortion took on a life of its own, parroted by mainstream media including Chris Matthews, and even the Tom Brokaw and the late Tim Russert. It is a case study in how effective advertising can work when it is done relentlessly and consistently…even if its untrue. Hannity enployed the same strategy conflating a passing acquaintance between Obama and former unconvicted Weather Underground activist William Ayers with “an association” with Obama…for months. He talked it up every day. He finally goaded ABC’s George Stephanopoulus to ask Obama about it in a televised debate. It didn’t matter that Obama has nothing that could be construed by a thinking person like “an association” with Ayers. He raised the question just by repeating it daily.

Welcome to the new McCain cum Schmidt cum Rove campaign.

And the media, willing accomplices, stenographers until the end, sit by and assist the McCain campaign (who, by the way, ACTUALLY ARE USING THE WOUNDED TROOPS AS A WEAPON with this line of attack, as noted in the comments).

(via the GOS)

Bonus Idiocy

Ben Smith delivers:

In the primary, Obama’s campaign, with the partial exception of South Carolina, never overtly drove the cries of racism. Part of the candidate’s selling point to the white majority is that he isn’t a bearer of racial grievance, and he is very careful to preserve that impression. Meanwhile, his surrogates and the media pursued the stories, doing real damage to Clinton’s campaign and her husband’s legacy.

The audience in the general election is different. Swing voters likely have a different set of beliefs and feelings about race than Democratic primary voters. Obama’s campaign seems to be aiming to keep race out of the foreground — despite his call for a national conversation about race this spring, he’s talked about it relatively little. And his widely-viewed biographical ads depict only his white, Kansan family.

The ad in question:

Alright, Ben, honey, after watching that ad, do you want to take a stab at why only his “white” family was covered? Could it have anything to do with the fact that they raised him? Could it have anything to do with the fact that he did not have a ZOMG BLACK WIFE and OHNOES TWO BLACK KIDS when he was growing up? I mean, I suppose he could have put a picture of a black family in there, even if it wasn’t his. Maybe this one would work better for you:

***ATTENTION REPORTERS*** This is NOT Obama’s real family

The idiocy of our media has never been on more prominent display than during this election cycle.

At Least Someone Is Doing Well

More record profits:

Profits at oil companies this quarter continued to reflect oil prices that almost doubled in the second quarter from the year earlier.

Exxon Mobil on Thursday reported that second-quarter profit rose 14 percent, to $11.68 billion, the highest-ever profit by an American company. Exxon broke its own record.

The profit of $2.22 a share compared with $10.26 billion, or $1.83 a share, in the quarter a year ago.

And you know what? I still oppose windfall taxes. On the other hand, if I were a Republican running for office in 2008, I would be a little uncomfortable running around screaming “DRILL MORE! DILL MORE! DRILL MORE!” at the top of my lungs while everyone else is suffering the effects of the Bush recession and the oil companies are raking in BILLIONS.

The Voices In Jake Tapper’s Head

You heard:

“John McCain right now, he’s spending an awful lot of time talking about me,” Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said today in Rolla, Mo. “You notice that? I haven’t seen an ad yet where he talks about what he’s gonna do. And the reason is because those folks know they don’t have any good answers, they know they’ve had their turn over the last eight years and made a mess of things. They know that you’re not real happy with them.”

Obama continued: “And so the only way they figure they’re going to win this election is if they make you scared of me. So what they’re saying is, ‘Well, we know we’re not very good but you can’t risk electing Obama. You know, he’s new, he’s… doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency, you know, he’s got a, he’s got a funny name.’

“I mean, that’s basically the argument — he’s too risky,” Obama said, per ABC News’ Sunlen Miller. “But think about it, what’s the bigger risk? Us deciding that we’re going to come together to bring about real change in America or continuing to do same things with the same folks in the same ways that we know have not worked? I mean, are we really going to do the same stuff that we’ve been doing over the last eight years? … That’s a risk we cannot afford. The stakes are too high.”

Jake Tapper heard:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but does it not seem as if Obama just said McCain and his campaign — presumably the “they” in this construct — are saying that Obama shouldn’t be elected because he’s a risk because he’s black and has a foreign-sounding name?

The title of his post is “Did Obama Accuse McCain of Running a Racist, Xenophobic Campaign?” He then goes on at length to extol the virtues of John McCain, who does not have a racist bone in his body, we learn. The piece would have been embarrassing for the stupidity alone, but the shameless boot-licking really put it over the top.

For his excellent work, Jake Tapper is the first ever winner of the new Balloon Juice award for shameless media fluffing of John McCain, The Golden McPenis. Congratulations, Jake. The award is below the fold as it is NSFWish.

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