Friday, March 28, 2008

Audacity of Dumb, Redux

In the comments section to my post on the Jeremiah Wright scandal, Andy points to something that I think says more about Barack Obama than anything having to do with Rev. Wright (link goes to Chicago Sun-Times, but it's an AP story):
White House hopeful Barack Obama suggests he would have left his Chicago church had his longtime pastor, whose fiery anti-American comments about U.S. foreign policy and race relations threatened Obama's campaign, not stepped down.

''Had the reverend not retired, and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I believe is the greatness of this country, for all its flaws, then I wouldn't have felt comfortable staying at the church,'' Obama said Thursday during a taping of the ABC talk show, ''The View.'' The interview will be broadcast Friday.

Most of you by now know what I think of the Wright flap - i.e. that it's a bullshit moral panic and not worth the wasted ink. Obama initially used it as an opportunity to discuss racial issues on a different level, encouraging us to understand black frustrations (and encouraging black people to understand white frustrations too). That was ballsy.

This is not. This is a pander, pure and simple. As I mentioned in the comments, I simply don't buy the notion that someone would leave a church they otherwise enjoy over a political disagreement. Obviously Obama, or someone on his campaign, realized that a plea to understand Wright and comprehend that his relationship with the pastor went beyond a couple controversial statements went over the heads of most Americans. So he decided to tell people what they wanted to hear.

And when you think about it, isn't that basically what the Obama campaign exists upon? Telling people what they want to hear - stuff about hope and change and all that - and avoiding hard truths? Come to think about it, isn't that what all political campaigns in recent years have done? The last hard truth I think anyone heard out of a presidential candidate's mouth was Walter Mondale's promise to raise taxes in 1984... and we know how well that turned out.

I still prefer Obama to McCain by a long shot, and I still don't know whether I'll vote for him or Hillary Clinton in May. But so much for Obama being a new kind of politician.

Related question that America needs to ask itself: we whine all the time about how politicians should have the courage of their convictions. But if a politican actually had the courage of their convictions, would he/she have the vaguest chance in hell of winning a national race? I'll answer that now - absolutely not. So shouldn't we be honest with ourselves and say that we want a candidate who agrees with us rather than one who takes principled stands with which we don't agree? Couldn't we just quit asking candidates to appear principled while they're pandering to us?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

McCain's Brainfart

All candidates, of course, make mistakes. They may issue unreasonable policy statements, get a fact wrong here and there in a debate, or reveal a gap in their knowledge on an important issue. You can't know everything as a candidate - that's not even what we pay you to do. Presidents have advisors for that.

Yet, I still find a reason to be a little bit apprehensive at McCain's blunder last week. For those of you who don't know, McCain, during a speech in Jordan, mistakenly asserted that Iran was training al-Qaeda operatives for battle in Iraq; he was corrected by Joe Lieberman (R I-CT), and then asserted that Iran was training extremists, which is certainly more true. It's an understandable error but not a minor one.

The more cynical among us would assert that McCain is trying to conflate Iran with anti-American terrorism and thus whip up support for military action against Iran should he become President. I don't buy it. Instead, I think McCain is making a more fundamental error. I think he believes that there are only two sides to any conflict - with us and against us, and that everyone who is against us is on the same side. As such, it's natural to confuse Iran and al-Qaeda - they both don't like us, so they must be on the same side, right?

This worries me because it's the same attitude that got Bush into so much trouble. The mistake of conflating two of our enemies - the secularist Hussein regime and the stridently Islamist al-Qaeda - is what got us into this mess. The fact that McCain made this mistake (and, according to the Post's Harold Meyerson, had made it before) makes me wonder whether he has the mindset necessary to deal with a multifaceted conflict where America is one of three or more disputing parties. And that describes most foreign conflicts nowadays. One thing we don't need is another president who can't see past the with us/against us dichotomy.

This little slip-up might not be that meaningful, and maybe McCain will demonstrate his capability to understand complex foreign interrelations at some point in the future. It does mean, however, that we can't simply assume McCain posesses it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Audacity Of Dumb

It is the opinion of this blog that you'd have to be kind of a schmuck to let your vote be affected by the words of a preacher who happens to count one of the candidates among his flock. The fact that Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright are separate entities with different points of view ought to be blindingly obvious to those with average intelligence.

So if the Washington Times is to be believed, 71% of Republicans, 54% of Republicans, and 52% of Democrats are schmucks.

If this isn't a Banditos Theorem proof, I don't know what is.

Update: Some reporter on CNN, as if discovering a new phenomenon: "So the pastor's political beliefs are different from his spiritual leadership?" No shit, really? That's some pretty good police work there, Lou.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Quick Suggestion...

You know how Republicans often have trouble coming up with campaign songs by artists who are cool with having their song used by Republican candidates? John McCain needs a song by a Republican (or at least a Republican-leaner). So I think he should use the theme from "Team America: World Police."

Imagine it. You're a Republican, you're sitting at a campaign rally, waiting for McCain to show up, getting kinda bored and thinking about how screwed your party is in November, when suddenly McCain bursts onto the stage amid Trey Parker's screaming "America! FUCK YEAH!" How could you not get fired up by that? And wouldn't a significant portion of the 18-30 demographic vote for McCain just on the basis of that song? McCain should do this. Now.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Say Hello To My Little Friend

You may have noticed, dear readers, that I haven't blogged in a while. Here's the reason:

She was born February 28th. She was 9lb, 10oz at birth and 22" long - both above the 95th percentile. She's an 'A' baby. We're convinced she's a genius. Also, we pity the baby that has to go up against her in a pooping-for-distance contest.

One more for good measure: