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Horsefeathers and Rattlesnakes

September 13th, 2008 · 2 Comments · Journalism, Media, News, Politics

It’s amazing, but suddenly the press seems to be showing distinct signs of calling out the McCain campaign on its recent and continuing orgy of horsefeathers and very bad judgment.

Via this diary on Daily Kos, for starters we have yesterday’s scathing editorial in the NYT:

As we watched Sarah Palin on TV the last couple of days, we kept wondering what on earth John McCain was thinking.

If he seriously thought this first-term governor — with less than two years in office — was qualified to be president, if necessary, at such a dangerous time, it raises profound questions about his judgment. If the choice was, as we suspect, a tactical move, then it was shockingly irresponsible.

The merciless drubbing continues (boldface mine):

The idea that Americans want leaders who have none of those things — who are so blindly certain of what Ms. Palin calls “the mission” that they won’t even pause for reflection — shows a contempt for voters and raises frightening questions about how Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin plan to run this country.

One of the many bizarre moments in the questioning by ABC News’s Charles Gibson was when Ms. Palin, the governor of Alaska, excused her lack of international experience by sneering that Americans don’t want “somebody’s big fat résumé maybe that shows decades and decades in that Washington establishment where, yes, they’ve had opportunities to meet heads of state.”

We know we were all supposed to think of Joe Biden. But it sure sounded like a good description of Mr. McCain. Those decades of experience earned the Arizona senator the admiration of people in both parties. They are why he was our preferred candidate in the Republican primaries.

… and then there’s this:

Ms. Palin talked repeatedly about never blinking. When Mr. McCain asked her to run for vice president? “You have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission,” she said, that “you can’t blink.”

Fighting terrorism? “We must do whatever it takes, and we must not blink, Charlie, in making those tough decisions of where we go and even who we target.”

Yes, Gov. Palin seems to believe that the most important element of great foreign policy is that one never blinks. But you know who else doesn’t believe in blinking? Reptiles. Reptiles don’t tend to blink very much. And yet, I’m not sure I’d want an alligator or a rattlesnake, with or without lipstick, occupying the Oval Office.

But it’s not just the NYT. Scot Lehigh in the Boston Globe started out yesterday’s column this way:

HERE’S THE QUESTION voters should be asking themselves this week: Just how stupid does the McCain-Palin campaign think I am?

The answer: Dumb enough to hoodwink with charges so contrived and cynical they make your teeth ache.

And after methodically dispatching the McCain campaign’s various strawmen and red herrings, Lehigh concludes:

Voters, meanwhile, should be insulted that the McCain campaign is trying to peddle them this kind of transparent trumpery.

For pete’s sake, even the AP is telling it like it is today (boldface mine yet again):

McCain stood by two of his campaign commercials — one which said Obama favored comprehensive sex education for kindergarten students and another that suggested Obama had called Palin a pig. Both are misleading and factually inaccurate.

Back in the NYT, Bob Herbert writes:

While watching the Sarah Palin interview with Charlie Gibson Thursday night, and the coverage of the Palin phenomenon in general, I’ve gotten the scary feeling, for the first time in my life, that dimwittedness is not just on the march in the U.S., but that it might actually prevail.

How is it that this woman could have been selected to be the vice presidential candidate on a major party ticket? How is it that so much of the mainstream media has dropped all pretense of seriousness to hop aboard the bandwagon and go along for the giddy ride?

For those who haven’t noticed, we’re electing a president and vice president, not selecting a winner on “American Idol.”

… and Dick Cavett turns in a sharply worded dressing down that’s a pure pleasure to read:

Every time I nostalgically try to regain my liking of John McCain, he reaches into his sleaze bag and pulls out something malodorous.

If there were a prize cake available, McCain’s lowbrow ad attempting to paint Obama as a virtual pornographer and peddler of sex to kindergarteners would take that pastry. Plate and all.

And it might be, if not instructive, at least fun to give McCain’s trash-peddling Karl Rove acolytes some truth serum and ask them if — in their heart of hearts — they really think Obama meant to call our Sarah a pig.

To believe that, wouldn’t you have to be at least as dumb as Georgia Republican Lynn Westmoreland? The man who used the word “uppity” about Obama?

Westmoreland, a living embodiment of that stock cartoonist’s character the Good Old Boy southern senator — complete with slouch, beer gut and eyes over his bags — courageously claimed ignorance of any racism in that favorite term of those who murdered Emmett Till and Medgar Evers. Anything involving Westmoreland and ignorance is unlikely to be disputed.

I find myself feeling uncharacteristically encouraged after reading all this. Is it possible that this time around, the truth will actually get its boots on in time to catch up with the swiftboat armada of the right? Or is this all just some kind of massive head-fake, a last pretense of even-handedness before the press spends the final month of the campaign swallowing everything the McCain campaign shovels out like a boa constrictor devouring a (purely rhetorical) pig?

Stay tuned.


2 Comments so far ↓

  • jim s.

    i’m not too optimistic. like i told my other half (whose parents live outside of Scranton, Pa.) this week, this reporting is from the NY Times, the Boston papers, Dick Cavett (Dick Cavett???) et al., which, for the most part, may be preaching to the choir and I don’t think it will really resonate with the country at large until it is carried in papers in places like Scranton, Buffalo, dare I say Peoria? etc…

    However, I was quite excited to see the ladies on The View this week question McCain like few other supposedly real reporters have. So maybe things will come around. Keep hope alive.

    P.S. It’s great to see you posting once again. Hope the time between posts was because of general busy-ness and nothing unpleasant.

  • Aaron

    In the convention speech: “I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks, on that Bridge to Nowhere.'”

    On an ABC clip: “I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks, on the Bridge to Nowhere.'”

    She repeated that so often over the last two weeks that it started to sound like that Margaret Cho bit about “Gwen” in the hospital. I kept waiting for her to say:

    “And I told Congress, ‘I’m here to WAAAARRRSH your vagina!'”