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August 17, 2008

McCain: Senile, But *Really* Quick on His Feet...

...according to Andrea Mitchell, McCain is too dumb to have outperformed Obama in a debate using his two and a half decades of Senate experience. But oddly enough the senile old fart is smart enough to assemble answers out of thin air given just a few minutes' lead time:

MR. GREGORY: Andrea Mitchell, that's a pretty clear contrast.

MS. ANDREA MITCHELL: Oh, absolutely. And, you know, there was the crisp, immediate, forceful response by John McCain, clearly in a comfort zone because he was with his base. And Barack Obama, taking a risk in going there but seeing an opportunity. And a much more nuanced approach. The Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because that -- what they're putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama.

MR. GREGORY: Right.

MS. MITCHELL: He seemed so well prepared.

In other words, there is only one rational explanation for McCain being able to beat The Lightworker.

Obviously, he cheated.

I'm struggling to understand the "journalistic principle" at work here. Let me guess: the media didn't report the Edwards scandal because...

1) It was unsubstantiated, and as we all know, the media would never run with such a serious allegation until it was thoroughly researched.

2) Except, of course, if it comes directly from the Obama campaign (in which the normal evidentiary burdens are waived). After all, what possible motive could the Democratic candidate have for spreading a malicious rumor about his opponent?

Posted by Cassandra at August 17, 2008 09:17 PM

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Ok, who really cheated: This is fromt eh transcript:

Warren: WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO CONSIDER AND EVEN COMMIT TO DOING SOME KIND OF EMERGENCY PLAN FOR ORPHANS LIKE PRESIDENT BUSH DID WITH AIDS ALMOST A PRESIDENT'S EMERGENCY PLAN FOR ORPHANS TO DEAL WITH THIS ISSUE?
Obama: I CHEATED A LITTLE BIT. I ACTUALLY LOOKED AT THIS IDEA AHEAD OF TIME AND I THINK IT IS A -- I THINK IT'S A GREAT IDEA.

So did they cheat or did they get the questions ahead of time is what I want to know

Posted by: Kat at August 17, 2008 10:38 PM

Is there any corroborating evidence that the Obama campaign is suggesting such a thing? It seems like a pretty stupid remark to make (assuming that Andrea Mitchell is telling the truth) when they have so little to lose over this particular event.

Posted by: Jeffrey at August 17, 2008 10:42 PM

It seems like a pretty stupid remark to make...

Which would pretty much be in keeping with The Candidate's own remarks.

Posted by: BillT at August 18, 2008 12:31 AM

These days, dear boy, insinuation requires only the merest whiff of substantiation to instantly become newsworthy fact.

By the way, did you hear that Obama is a follower of Islam?

Posted by: spd rdr at August 18, 2008 12:46 AM

Everyone gets the stupid bug from time to time, Bill. That's not really evidence for this particular claim.

However, here's Frank Rich's take on McCain's "economic stupidity". Just a snippet, and then a link to the full op/ed:

"The term flip-flopping doesn’t do justice to Mr. McCain’s self-contradictory economic pronouncements because that implies there’s some rational, if hypocritical, logic at work. What he serves up instead is plain old incoherence, as if he were compulsively consulting one of those old Magic 8 Balls. In a single 24-hour period in April, Mr. McCain went from saying there’s been “great economic progress” during the Bush presidency to saying “Americans are not better off than they were eight years ago.” He reversed his initial condemnation of mortgage bailouts in just two weeks.

In February Mr. McCain said he would balance the federal budget by the end of his first term even while extending the gargantuan Bush tax cuts. In April he said he’d accomplish this by the end of his second term. In July he’s again saying he’ll do it in his first term. Why not just say he’ll do it on Inauguration Day? It really doesn’t matter since he’s never supplied real numbers that would give this promise even a patina of credibility.

Mr. McCain’s plan for Social Security reform is “along the lines that President Bush proposed.” Or so he said in March. He came out against such “privatization” in June (though his policy descriptions still support it). Last week he indicated he isn’t completely clear on what Social Security does. He called the program’s premise — young taxpayers foot the bill for their elders (including him) — an “absolute disgrace.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/20/opinion/20rich.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Posted by: Jeffrey at August 18, 2008 12:56 AM

Spd_rdr wrote (tongue in cheek) "Did you hear that Obama is a follower of Islam?"

Yes. And then I saw the New Yorker cover and decided that he's actually a member of al-Qa'ida.

Posted by: Jeffrey at August 18, 2008 01:01 AM

Obama doesn't do well when he has to think for himself on the spot.

Real Presidential material, there.

NOT!!!

Posted by: camojack at August 18, 2008 01:05 AM

The New York Times just published a story that says that Pastor Warren told the audience that McCain was in a cone of silence when he wasn't. McCain was in his motorcade.

Then when McCain came onto the show, and Pastor Warren asked him if his cone of silence was comfortable, McCain deadpanned "“I was trying to hear through the wall.”

So why did Pastor Warren say McCain was present and in his Cone of Silence when he wasn't, and why did McCain imply, even jokingly, that he was when he wasn't?

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/18/us/politics/18mccain.html

Posted by: Jeffrey at August 18, 2008 01:25 AM

So why did Pastor Warren say McCain was present and in his Cone of Silence when he wasn't...

The Times reported that he said it. Let's see if there's a retraction in the works.

...and why did McCain imply, even jokingly, that he was when he wasn't?

Because he *was* making a joke. As Freud observed, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

Posted by: BillT at August 18, 2008 02:53 AM

BTW, I was always firmly convinced McCain's not an economic genius. But that's not why I'll vote for him.

Posted by: BillT at August 18, 2008 03:01 AM

Agreed, BillT.

I would also observe that if one must appeal to authority, one might consider using an actual authority on economics, rather than a theater critic.

Posted by: socialism_is_error at August 18, 2008 05:56 AM

"BTW, I was always firmly convinced McCain's not an economic genius. But that's not why I'll vote for him.
That makes three of us.

Cone of silence... heh... Would you believe, that reminds me to see the Maxwell Smart redux.

Posted by: bthun at August 18, 2008 06:19 AM

The helk with the Cone of Silence.

What I want to know about is the freaking Shoe Phone.

Both candidates had the first few questions in advance of the debate, Jeffrey. You know, during the time when McCain was in that motorcade? Supposedly getting some unbelievable advantage from listening in on the questions both he and Obama already had way in advance.

And then he made a joke to cover it up because he know the Daily Kos would eventually catch him red handed.

Posted by: Agent 99 at August 18, 2008 07:46 AM

Oh come now. Frank Rich is just defending Obama from McCain's negative campaigning by... err... swiftbo...... ummm... going neg...

Oh nevermind. Sometimes, the satire just writes itself.

Posted by: Agent 99 at August 18, 2008 07:49 AM

Note: Neither Andrea Mitchell or barack obama are good enough to kiss my salt encrusted ass.
To both of them: GOLF-FOXTROT-YANKEE.

Posted by: GM Cassel AMH1(AW) USN RET at August 18, 2008 08:33 AM

I also like how she prefaced the thing by implying McCain had an advantage because he was "with his base" and for Obama it was risky.

It's kind of interesting anymore with journalists. I can understand bias, we all have them, and it creeps in. But, actually being part of the spin campaign for a candidate, the new objectivity.

Posted by: Allen at August 18, 2008 09:06 AM

Frank Rich an "appeal to authority"? LOL! No, he's just a helluva writer that I enjoy reading. Him, and Maureen Dowd.

Posted by: Jeffrey at August 18, 2008 10:06 AM

A welcome clarification.

A devotee of Manhattan-style cocktail party conversation - entertainingly snide, but of little weight.

I'll try to remember in future.

Posted by: socialism_is_error at August 18, 2008 10:26 AM

Manhattan-style is the one made with tomatoes, right?

Posted by: BillT at August 18, 2008 11:06 AM

You referring to Dowd or Rich? :)

I must say, the Warren Contrast, if you please, probably represents the best format we will see, better than even a town-hall-style debate.

No fast adjustments of one's presentation to take advantage of audience reaction to the opponent’s scores.

Andrea Mitchell was dead-on about the risk; this un-scripted quasi-confrontation widely broadcast has had and will have its effect.

But, "He seemed so well prepared."? Poor Andrea.

To paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke,

"Any sufficiently integrated philosophy is indistinguishable from magic."

Posted by: socialism_is_error at August 18, 2008 11:34 AM

The Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because that -- what they're putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama...[McCain] seemed so well prepared.

This is the way it looks when someone actually is well prepared, Andrea. He was well-prepared, but not by cheating. McCain has had his own thoughts for some time now, has experienced life, done some reading besides Sports Illustrated, has sought out information on the world all on his own. In fact, he made trips to Georgia to learn about them years ago, so he already had knowledge about them and their precarious situation the day they got run over by Russia. He didn't have to Google "Georgia", and he already knew that it was not the state to the north of Florida. In his pursuit of knowledge over the years, he has come to some heartfelt conclusions.

This is the way it looks when someone knows who he is and what he believes. It only looks like cheating to a person who doesn't know what he thinks until he reads it on his teleprompter.

Oh, and BTW, the Cone of Silence is a comedic device from a 1960's sitcom, and it never worked. YouTube is your friend, Andrea.

Posted by: MathMom at August 18, 2008 11:53 AM

Maybe it was all a Jedi Mind Trick by McCain?

He probably learned it while he was torturing North Vietnamese back in the '60's.

Now that Tim Russert is dead, I wonder how long it will be until the whole NBC News department screws itself into the ground. He was like Diogenes with a lamp.

"Any sufficiently integrated philosphy is indistinguishable from magic."

I like that. Best thing I've read in a month of Sundays. :)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at August 18, 2008 12:27 PM

...the Cone of Silence is a comedic device from a 1960's sitcom, and it never worked.

Actually, the Cone of Silence is the airspace directly above a non-directional radio navigation beacon. The cone is "dead air" because the antenna broadcasts laterally quite well, but doesn't transmit straight up worth a darn.

Posted by: BillT at August 18, 2008 01:11 PM

Well, okay, then! I stand corrected!

Posted by: MathMom at August 18, 2008 02:01 PM

The Corner has up a post that seems to cover all the angles on this. With regard to what the candidates were told by Warren: both candidates knew the first two questions; Obama also knew about the adoption question but McCain did not (nothing sinister just logistics); both candidates knew all four categories and were given general pointers on the sorts of questions that would be asked.

With regard to whether McCain heard part of Obama's Q&A, McCain was in a motorcade for part of Obama's session. His staff says he did not hear any of Obama's session. Once arrived at Saddleback, McCain was in a room with staff people and no audio or video. I suppose if you're determined to do so, you can claim McCain was listening in while in the motorcade but that's a substantial lie for him and his staffers to tell.

BTW - the McCain campaign is protesting NBC’s coverage of the campaign in general and citing Mitchell's remarks as particularly egregious. In a letter to NBC, campaign manager Rick Davis said:

Make no mistake: This is a serious charge. Andrea Mitchell is repeating, uncritically, a completely unsubstantiated Obama campaign claim that John McCain somehow cheated in last night's forum at Saddleback Church. Instead of trying to substantiate this blatant falsehood in any way, Andrea Mitchell felt that she needed to repeat it on air to millions of "Meet the Press" viewers with no indication that 1.) There's not one shred of evidence that it's true;...

I have not, however, seen anything that definitively proves this claim came from the Obama campaign. It would be interesting to press Mitchell on that point.

I have to say, I think the McCain campaign owes the Clinton campaign big time for providing a roadmap of where to push back against the Obama campaign and for laying the groundwork for that push back. Surely the perception (at least) that a good part of the media was openly (and often vociferously) backing Obama against Clinton makes it easier for the McCain campaign to call NBC on this kind of thing.

Posted by: Elise at August 18, 2008 02:47 PM

I didn't see the event, only read about it here in blog-land.

But I do wonder if anyone kept count of the "umm, er, ah" by each of the candidates. I did count a few from Obama (during the Thomas moment (where Thomas is clearly unqualified, while Scalia is a legal genius)).

Obama's pauses ("Um, that's a good question .....") mark someone for whom every question is brand new and takes serious thought. Experienced men have already faced the questions and can tell us what they think.

Posted by: ZZMike at August 18, 2008 03:39 PM

I think what Mr. Clarke said was about any sufficiently "advanced technology," not integrated philosophy -- ?

Posted by: Texan99 at August 18, 2008 06:25 PM

True. That's why I identified it as a paraphrase.

Posted by: socialism_is_error at August 18, 2008 06:41 PM

Sorry, my mistake.

Posted by: Texan99 at August 18, 2008 10:25 PM

As a soon to be senile old fart I frequently like to believe that "Age and Treachery Will Beat Youth and Skill Anytime".

Well we had such a contest Saturday night, and while the Youth was there, well, the skill part--not so much.

An empty suit and waffling just doesn't get it up against an old pro like the grumpy old man.

Machmud Adminejhad (or the AquaVelvaMan as some like to style him) would have Obama stripped down to his skivvies before Obama could frame his first answer in negotiations.

Posted by: Mike Myers at August 19, 2008 12:20 AM

"Age and Treachery Will Beat Youth and Skill Anytime".

If you're gonna join the ranks, you need to know the motto -- it's "Old Age and Treachery Will Beat Youth and *Enthusiasm* Anytime".

Youth don't *have* skills -- *us* does...

Posted by: BillT at August 19, 2008 06:03 AM

It is also permissible to substitute "Every Time" for "Anytime"...

Posted by: BillT at August 19, 2008 06:04 AM

Funny Bill, I always heard it as "Old Age and Treachery Will Beat Youth and Vigor Anytime".

Posted by: MikeD at August 19, 2008 02:48 PM

Once more, the Left cannot grasp that anyone can hold positions different from their own and not be gibbering idiots.

It's why they keep losing -- because they can't grasp that the person opposing them is not only as smart as them, they're possibly smarter.

Bush, for all his lack of articulateness, isn't stupid.

You don't learn to fly unstable fighter jets by instrumentation alone if you're stupid. It's just not possible.

But to the left, he's Chimpy McBush, "The Escaped Village Idiot".

And so they continually underestimate him.

And now they're doing the same with McCain -- he's too "old", too "senile" --- but he's going to kick their asses, nonetheless.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at August 20, 2008 03:53 AM

"And now they're doing the same with McCain -- he's too "old", too "senile" --- but he's going to kick their asses, nonetheless."
We can only hope. Well, hope and vote.

I raise my morning coffee in a toast! To cranky, old, treacherous, intelligent characters with liver spots!

Posted by: bt_in-an-indeterminate-state_hun at August 20, 2008 07:06 AM

I raise my morning coffee in a toast!

I drink mine from a mug, but chacun à son goût, I guess...

Posted by: BillT at August 20, 2008 08:46 AM

Heh, I may have to adopt the mug method. Coffee on toast is... messy, on a par with the venerable SOS brunch delicacy.

Posted by: bt_in-an-indeterminate-state_hun at August 20, 2008 08:49 AM

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