Barack Obama’s reelection campaign of 2012 is increasingly looking like Michael Dukakis’s campaign of 1988, in which the conspicuously Dove-ish Massachusetts liberal governor tried bolstering his commander-in-chief creds by being photographed wearing a helmet and riding in the turret of an M1 Abrams tank.
First, there was the attempt to portray Mitt Romney as mean to dogs for taking his Irish setter along on a vacation trip in a rooftop carrier which exploded in a nationwide gale of jokes after Jim Treacher pointed out that Barack Obama had referred, in his famous autobiography, to eating dog as a child in Indonesia.
Then, there was the short-lived attempt to push voters’ buttons by having various democrats note that Mitt Romney was a descendant of Mormon polygamists. This one also failed when Republicans responded that it was true that, like many Mormons, Mitt Romney had fairly remote polygamous ancestry, a great-grandfather, but Barack Obama’s father was also a polygamist.
The latest attempt on the part of the Obama campaign to gain advantage involved putting Bill Clinton in a video to praise Barack Obama for making the oh-so-very-difficult decision to send in the Navy SEALs to take out Bin Ladin.
The response to what is being referred to as the Obama campaign “spiking the football” has been a combination of criticism of the president for exploiting the bravery of members of the US military and ridicule.
Mitt Romney retorted that even Jimmy Carter would have made the same decision.
John McCain, in a follow-up rejoinder, delivered a withering response.
I’ve had the great honor of serving in the company of heroes. And, you know the thing about heroes, they don’t brag.”
And, worst news of all for the Obama team, this particular campaign ploy provoked pushback from former SEALs.
Serving and former US Navy SEALs have slammed President Barack Obama for taking the credit for killing Osama bin Laden and accused him of using Special Forces operators as ‘ammunition’ for his re-election campaign. ...
Ryan Zinke, a former Commander in the US Navy who spent 23 years as a SEAL and led a SEAL Team 6 assault unit, said: ‘The decision was a no brainer. I applaud him for making it but I would not overly pat myself on the back for making the right call.
‘I think every president would have done the same. He is justified in saying it was his decision but the preparation, the sacrifice – it was a broader team effort.’
Mr Zinke, who is now a Republican state senator in Montana, added that MR Obama was exploiting bin Laden’s death for his re-election bid. ‘The President and his administration are positioning him as a war president using the SEALs as ammunition.
Some political observers think many SEALs are so infuriated by the Obama Administration’s exploitation of their valor for political gain that they are bitterly angry. SEALs commonly believe that, from the time of the actual operation, the White House has shamelessly used the Abbottabad raid, hastily and irresponsibly making details public, and placing its own interests above the safety and security of SEAL team members and American long-term strategic goals.
There is active speculation that an organized group of SEALs may play an active role later in the campaign to “Swift Boat” Barack Obama.
“Tea party Republicans may be a noisy and effective protest movement, but they’re unfit to govern,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said at a news conference on Friday.
Speaker John Boehner’s task in working out a deal with Barack Obama and the democrat leadership of the Senate to avert a default crisis was made more difficult by 22 fiscally-irredentist Tea Party Republicans who refused to support his compromise solution.
John McCain made headlines by labeling the conservative extremists as “hobbits.”
I think “the hobbits” were wrong tactically and philosophically on insisting on trying to pass a balanced budget amendment. The democrats could never accept a balanced budget amendment. Their base and constituencies would never tolerate it. But, even more importantly, a balanced budget amendment is an unworkable idea which is constitutionally highly problematic.
Publius Huldah is quite right: a balanced budget amendment would strike directly at the concept of enumerated powers and it would effectively transfer decision-making authority from Congress to the courts.
The hobbits were wrong about the balanced budget amendment, but I think their hearts were in the right place and I still think they served a highly useful purpose in holding the GOP leaderships’ feet to the fire and restricting their ability to compromise too far elsewhere.
Mr. Boehner was enabled by their existence to go to Barack Obama and Harry Reid and say, “You know, guys, I’d like to compromise further and let you throw in some class-warfare taxes on the rich, but those crazy hobbits are fierce and fanatical. They’d never put up with any tax increases at all. I’d like to settle for more modest spending reductions, but Bandobras “Bullroarer” Took (R-VA) is insisting on blood.” It’s useful in negotiations to have a “Mr. Jones” you have to answer to, who is completely unreasonable and who is making maximalist demands.
Marc A. Thiessen contends that, in the end, in fact, the Tea Party hobbits did win.
The reported debt-limit deal appears to be a victory for the Tea Party. It includes around $1 trillion in spending cuts and creates a special committee of Congress to recommend cuts of $1.2 trillion more. If Congress does not approve those additional cuts by year’s end, automatic spending cuts go into effect. The package sets an important new precedent that debt-limit increases must be “paid for” with commensurate cuts in spending. According to Sen. Rob Portman, a former White House budget director, if we cut a dollar of spending for every dollar we raise the debt limit, we will balance the budget in 10 years — something that even the Paul Ryan budget would not achieve. And all this is accomplished with no tax increases. ...
The Tea Party is also winning the battle of ideas. Last week, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod crowed that the debt-limit battle was shaping up as a “definitional fight” in which voters would see Obama as defending the reasonable center against Republicans who are “pandering to the extremes.” Well, if Axelrod is so confident that Obama is winning this “definitional fight,” why was the White House so adamant about ducking a second round next year? The president said that “the only bottom line that I have is that we extend this debt ceiling through the next election.” If he were winning the argument, he would have been eager to have this fight again just before the next election.
And Glenn Reynolds notes complacently: Well, you know the hobbits won in the original story too.
The fact that the Conservative Movement is large and diverse enough to have its own more extreme fringe is really a positive sign. Political coalitions large enough to win are never tidy, compact, perfectly ideologically pure, all neat and discreet. A successful political movement inevitably even attracts people you would just as soon not have on your own side along with all the opportunists who can tell which way the wind is blowing.
Paul Begala, at Huffington Post, thinks he’s very clever in quoting the not-clever-at-all John McCain who is also completely wrong.
In a CNN debate with Ari Fleischer, I said the United States executed Japanese war criminals for waterboarding. My point was that it is disingenuous for Bush Republicans to argue that waterboarding is not torture and thus illegal. It’s kind of awkward to argue that waterboarding is not a crime when you hanged someone for doing it to our troops. My precise words were: “Our country executed Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime we are now committing ourselves.” ...
I was referencing the statement of a different member of the Senate: John McCain. On November 29, 2007, Sen. McCain, while campaigning in St. Petersburg, Florida, said, “Following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding.”
Sen. McCain was right and the National Review Online is wrong. Politifact, the St. Petersburg Times’ truth-testing project (which this week was awarded a Pulitzer Prize), scrutinized Sen. McCain’s statement and found it to be true. Here’s the money quote from Politifact:
“McCain is referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as ‘water cure,’ ‘water torture’ and ‘waterboarding,’ according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning.” Politifact went on to report, “A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps.”
Actually, murders, massacres, and death marches head the International Military Tribunal for the Far East’s list of war crimes, and the use of water simply happens to the first item addressed in a subsequent heading titled “Torture and Other Inhumane Treatment.” Since burning, flogging, strappado, and pulling out finger and toe nails are mentioned after the “water cure,” it is far from obvious that the authors of the Tribunal’s list of war crimes were intending to rank it as more inhumane than the others.
Politifact’s anonymous authorities (drawn from presumably the staffs of the St. Petersburg Times and the Congressional Quarterly which created Politifact as a joint venture) are betraying their own liberal journalist prejudices and manipulating the available data to suit their own preferences.
They, and Paul Begala and John McCain, are most particularly and obviously in error in equating the Japanese “water cure” torture with US water-boarding.
In the “water cure,” according to the Tribunal’s war crimes description, [t]he victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach until he lost consciousness. Pressure was then applied, sometimes by jumping upon his abdomen to force the water out. The usual practice was to revive the victim and successively repeat the process.
The Tribunal does not mention it, but historically the “water cure” torture technique was often performed with sufficient brutality that internal organs would be ruptured with fatal results, or merely performed excessively to the point where the victim’s body’s electrolyte balance was fatally compromised, producing death by “water intoxication.”
In the “water-cure,” the victim’s mouth is forced open, and enormous quantities of water are poured down his throat. If he fails to swallow any of the rapidly-poured water, it goes into his lungs and he really does experience drowning.
In the US-government-authorized water-boarding of three mass murderers, a cloth or cellophane barrier was placed over the criminal’s face and water poured on it for intervals of 10 to 40 seconds. Water was specifically prevented from entering the subject’s respiratory system.
Elaborate and carefully calculated protocols had been laid down, in precisely the opposite manner of the Japanese case, 1) confining the use of such comparatively harsh interrogation techniques to a tiny number of extremely guilty terrorists likely to possess extremely vital information on major threats to the lives of many thousands of innocent American civilians, and 2) assuring that no real lasting physical or mental harm was ever actually inflicted on the three major terrorist prisoners.
Those are extremely significant differences, Mr. Begala.
Beyond that, Begala, Politifact, and even Senator McCain overlook another very important consideration: the laws and customs of war.
We punished the defeated Japanese after WWII, and US troops commonly punished Japanese encountered in the field by offering no quarter, for Japanese disregard of the civilized European world’s military customs of avoiding the practice of perfidy (i.e. not falsely surrendering and then opening fire, not wearing the wrong uniform, and so on) and according prisoners of war honorable status and treating them humanely.
We do not owe Al Qaeda terrorists prisoner of war status. We do not, in fact, owe them, by the conventional laws and customs of war, anything beyond summary execution following drumhead courts martial at the pleasure of the officer in immediate authority. United States military forces, in fact, would by traditional standards not only possess every right to extract forcibly by any measures necessary any and all information necessary to preserve innocent life, they would have a grave obligation to do so.
It is the Al Qaeda terrorists who, like the Japanese in WWII, reject the civilized world’s customs of limiting behavior in war. And, as we punished the Japanese during and after WWII for failing to adopt our customs, we ought to be punishing Al Qaeda terrorists the same way for the same reasons. That is how the laws and customs of war are enforced.
Terrorist prisoners, in their capacity as hostis humani generis, by the conventional laws and customs of war for thousands of years, are entitled to nothing whatsoever in the form of rights, judicial proceeding, or sympathy. They deserve absolutely nothing other than execution by some harsh method particularly expressive of contumely like hanging.
John Kass, at the Chicago Tribune, has a little story of a middle school student’s experiment which tells us a lot about life in America today. Catherine Vogt’s Oak Park, Illinois could just as easily have been any other fashionable upper middle class community from coast to coast.
Just before the election, Catherine consulted with her history teacher, then bravely wore a unique T-shirt to school and recorded the comments of teachers and students in her journal. The T-shirt bore the simple yet quite subversive words drawn with a red marker:
“I was just really curious how they’d react to something that different, because a lot of people at my school wore Obama shirts and they are big Obama supporters,” Catherine told us. “I just really wanted to see what their reaction would be.”
Immediately, Catherine learned she was stupid for wearing a shirt with Republican John McCain’s name. Not merely stupid. Very stupid.
“People were upset. But they started saying things, calling me very stupid, telling me my shirt was stupid and I shouldn’t be wearing it,” Catherine said.
Then it got worse.
“One person told me to go die. It was a lot of dying. A lot of comments about how I should be killed,” Catherine said, of the tolerance in Oak Park.
“In one class, I had one teacher say she will not judge me for my choice, but that she was surprised that I supported McCain,” Catherine said.
If Catherine was shocked by such passive-aggressive threats from instructors, just wait until she goes to college. ...
One student suggested that she be put up on a cross for her political beliefs.
“He said, ‘You should be crucifixed.’ It was kind of funny because, I was like, don’t you mean ‘crucified?’ ” Catherine said.
Other entries in her notebook involved suggestions by classmates that she be “burned with her shirt on” for “being a filthy-rich Republican.”
Some said that because she supported McCain, by extension she supported a plan by deranged skinheads to kill Obama before the election.
The Politico blog describes government in action enforcing honesty and fairness in campaign finance. John McCain should be proud of his own contributions to the present system.
The Federal Election Commission is unlikely to conduct a potentially embarrassing audit of how Barack Obama raised and spent his presidential campaign’s record-shattering windfall, despite allegations of questionable donations and accounting that had the McCain campaign crying foul.
Adding insult to injury for Republicans: The FEC is obligated to complete a rigorous audit of McCain’s campaign coffers, which will take months, if not years, and cost McCain millions of dollars to defend.
Obama is expected to escape that level of scrutiny mostly because he declined an $84 million public grant for his campaign that automatically triggers an audit and because the sheer volume of cash he raised and spent minimizes the significance of his errors. Another factor: The FEC, which would have to vote to launch an audit, is prone to deadlocking on issues that inordinately impact one party or the other – like approving a messy and high-profile probe of a sitting president.
McCain, on the other hand, accepted the $84 million in taxpayer money, which not only barred him from raising or spending more – allowing Obama to fund many times more ads and ground operations – but also will keep his lawyers busy for a couple years explaining how every penny was spent.
Through the end of September, McCain had socked away $9.4 million in a special fund to pay for the audit.
The Obama campaign does not expect to be audited, but spokesman Ben LaBolt said it would be ready in the event it is.
Ross Douthat contemplates the debacle of the 2008 election, and is depressed while being glad that it’s at least over.
I had a succession of meals last week with smart conservative friends, and I found them all relatively sanguine. ... Each of them, in different ways, express a mix of enthusiasm for the “whither conservatism” battles ahead and relief at the prospect of finally closing the books on the Bush years. This has been an exhausting Presidency for conservatives as well as liberals, and for many people on the Right the prospect of being out of power has obvious upsides: No longer will every foul-up and blunder in Washington be treated as an indictment of Conservatism with a capital C; no longer will right-wingers feel obliged to carry water, whether in small or large amounts, for a government that’s widely perceived as a failure; and no longer will the Right have the dead weight of an unpopular president dragging it down and down and down. Defeat will be depressing, of course – none of my friends were Obamacons by any stretch – but it could be liberating as well.
This was how I expected to feel about a McCain defeat, too, and I’ve been trying to figure out why I don’t – why I feel instead so grouchy and embittered (clinging to my guns and my religion, and all that), and more dispirited than liberated…
I think the deeper reason for my political gloom has to do with something that Jonah Goldberg raised in our bloggingheads chat about conservatism – namely, the sense that the era now passing represented a great opportunity to put into practice the sort of center-right politics that I’d like to see from the Republican Party, and that by failing the way it did the Bush Administration may have cut the ground out from under my own ideas before I’d even figured out exactly what they were. ..
I’m not counseling despair here: There were people in 1976 who thought Richard Nixon had irrevocably squandered the chance to build a new right-of-center majority, and looked how that turned out.
Is McCain making a move? The three-day average holds steady, but McCain outpolled Obama today, 48% to 47%. He is beginning to cut into Obama’s lead among independents, is now leading among blue collar voters, has strengthened his lead among investors and among men, and is walloping Obama among NASCAR voters. Joe the Plumber may get his license after all. “Obama’s lead among women declined, and it looks like it is occurring because McCain is solidifying the support of conservative women, which is something we saw last time McCain picked up in the polls. If McCain has a good day tomorrow, we will eliminate Obama’s good day three days ago, and we could really see some tightening in this rolling average. But for now, hold on.”
Come gather ’round liberals
Wherever you roam
And admit Obama’s sitter’s
Named Bernadine Dohrn
And accept it that soon
You’ll have to find solace in online porn
For ole’ Mac is back
And so’s Palin
And you better stop hatin’
Or you’ll die all alone
Yes, the polls they are a-closin’.
Come reporters and startlets
Who prophesize like old hens
Who keep your minds closed
And spew lies from your pens
And you spoke too soon
With your unholy spin
And there’s no turning back
Your reputation’s flamin’.
That ole’ war hero now
Might pull out a win
For the polls they are a-closin’.
Mark Steyn marveled late last night at McCain last minute comeback in the polls.
This is an amazing race. The incumbent president has approval ratings somewhere between Robert Mugabe and the ebola virus. The economy is supposedly on the brink of global Armageddon. McCain has only $80 million to spend, while Obama’s burning through $600 mil as fast as he can, and he doesn’t really need to spend a dime given the wall-to-wall media adoration. And tonight Chris Matthews’ doctors announced that his leg tingle has metastasized leaving his entire body like a vibrating cellphone whose ringtone is locked on “I’m In Love, I’m In Love, I’m In Love, I’m In Love, I’m In Love With A Wonderful Guy.”
And yet an old cranky broke loser is within two or three points of the King of the World. Strange.
I wish to reach around and pat myself on the back. Way back during the Republican primaries—when the battle was between Huckabee and Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, and McCain—we were told by the Republican Party hierarchy that the only chance the Republican Party had (by the way, we were told this also by some of the intellectualoids in our own conservative media) to win was to attract Democrats and moderates; and that the era of Reagan was over, and we had to somehow find a way to become stewards of a Big Government but smarter that gives money away to the Wal-Mart middle class so that they, too, will feel comfortable with us and like us and vote for us.
In that sense, it was said the only opportunity this party has to regain power is John McCain. Only John McCain can get moderates and independents and Democrats to join the Republican Party, “and we can’t win,” these intellectualoids said, “if that didn’t happen.” Well, the latest moderate Republican to abandon his party is William Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts who today endorsed the Most Merciful Lord Barack Obama. He joins moderate Republican Colin Powell. He joins former Bush press spokesman Scott McClellan. He joins a number of Republicans like Chuck Hagel, Senator from Nebraska. I don’t know if there’s been an initial endorsement from Hagel, but Obama is out there talking about how Hagel might be secretary of state or have some position in his cabinet.
Now, I wish to ask all of you influential pseudointellectual conservative media types who have also abandoned McCain and want to go vote for Obama (and you know who you are without my having to mention your name) what happened to your precious theory? What the hell happened to your theory that only John McCain could enlarge this party, that we had to get moderates and independents? How the hell is it that moderate Republicans are fleeing their own party and we are not attracting other moderates and independents? How in the hell did you people figure this to happen? So the Republican Party’s own strategy here not only has it backfired, it’s embarrassing. I don’t have any brief for William Weld, don’t misunderstand, but he’s a moderate Republican.
“The Republican Party, we gotta be a big tent,” and that’s code words for, “We gotta have some pro-choicers in our party to get rid of the influence of these hayseed hicks in the South who are pro-life.” Well, they have gone, and I, for one, say, “Damn well good riddance!” Weld, why don’t you stay a Democrat? McClellan, stay a Democrat. All you intellectual conservative media types, go ahead and stay a Democrat once you move over. By the way, we know what this is about. This is about being invited to state dinners in a Barack Obama administration. This is about the social structure of Washington. This is about style. It has nothing to do with the fact that these people love Obama’s policies. They couldn’t if they’re paying attention. Not if they say they’re Republicans. They couldn’t possibly.
But they figure Obama’s running the show, and they don’t want to be shut out the next four years when it comes time to party. Charles Krauthammer writes about this very eloquently today and very elegantly in his column endorsing McCain. I have it in the Stack. I’ll share it with you. There are probably other names I am leaving out here of Republican moderates who have fled and joined the Democrats and Obama, for whatever reasons. I say, good riddance. And this is why I said to you earlier in the week, “I don’t care who wins this election. The task at hand is going to be rebuilding the conservative movement and making sure that the Republican Party is its home,” because the Republican Party hierarchy, bigwigs, people running McCain’s campaign?
They have proven they haven’t a clue how to win an election. They have proven that they have not a clue that they understand the American electorate. They have proven they have not a clue what it is that inspires people to support their party and go to the poll and support them. When I saw the Weld thing today I smiled and I fired off a note to all my buddies and I said, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! How can this be? How can this be? This is the kind of guy that our candidate was supposed to be attracting, and we were supposed to be getting all these moderates from the Democrat Party,” and we will, by the way. We’re going to get some rank and file, average American Democrats that are going to vote for McCain. But these hoity-toity bourgeoisie… Well, they’re not the bourgeoisie, but… Well, they are in a sense. They’re following their own self-interests, so I say fine.
They have just admitted that Republican Party “big tent” philosophy didn’t work. It was their philosophy; it was their idea. These are the people, once they steered the party to where it is, they are the ones that abandoned it. ...
We’re going to rebuild it even if McCain wins. We’re going to have to. These people, these moderates who wanted the big tent, they have taken the party exactly where they said they wanted it to be—and when it got there, these little cowards jumped the ship! I have lost all respect for these people. And, folks, when I said at the beginning of this that I wanted to turn around and pat myself on the back, it’s because I (and so many like me) knew this exact thing was going to happen and tried to warn people about it during the primaries and so forth. I am not happy it’s happened except for one reason. We flushed ‘em out. We found out they’re not really Republicans and they’re by no means conservatives, and now they’re gone. Now the trick is to keep ‘em out.
Obama is so confident of victory that he’s already selected the color of the new drapes and upholstery in the Oval Office, and his chief retainers are busy fighting over the best offices in the West Wing. As the New York Times reports: “(Leon) Podesta (head of Obama’s transition team)... has already written a draft Inaugural Address for Mr. Obama.”
John McCain slammed Barack Obama Saturday for being overconfident about his lead in the polls and predicted election night would feature a Dewey-Truman scenario.
“What America needs now is someone who will finish the race before starting the victory lap,” McCain said to the crowd of several thousand at a rally here. “Someone who will fight to the end, not for himself but for his country.”
In remarks dripping with sarcasm and disdain, the Republican presidential candidate said brought up a story from the New York Times that said former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta has already penned a copy of Obama’s inaugural address.
“I’m not making it up,” McCain said. “An awful lot of voters are still undecided but he’s decided for them that well, why wait, it’s time to move forward with his first inaugural address.”
Obama spokesman Bill Burton quickly refuted the attack. “While this charge is completely false and there is no draft of an inaugural address for Senator Obama, the last thing we need is a candidate like John McCain who just plans on re-reading George Bush’s,” he said.
But McCain had more zingers, fresh off the presses—with his own kind of startling confidence: “When I pull this thing off, I have a request for my opponent, I want him to save that manuscript of his inaugural address and donate it to the Smithsonian so they can put it right next to the Chicago paper that says ‘ Dewey defeats Truman’!”
The reference was to the 1948 presidential race, where Thomas Dewey ran against Harry Truman. The Chicago Daily Tribune–now known as the Chicago Tribune–ran a banner headline proclaiming Dewey’s victory. Several hundred copies were printed before the mistake was realized.
But McCain didn’t stop there. “There’s 10 days left in this election, maybe Barack Obama will even have his first state of the union address ready before you head to the polls,” McCain quipped. “You know, but I guess I’m a little old fashioned about these things. I’d prefer to let the voters weigh in before presuming the outcome.”
Just like General Arnold, who, after he went over to the British, proved particularly eager to undertake raids on American towns, Kathleen Parker is today trying to bash John McCain for selecting Sarah Palin one more time.
My husband called it first. Then, a brilliant 75-year-old scholar and raconteur confessed to me over wine: “I’m sexually attracted to her. I don’t care that she knows nothing.”
Finally, writer Robert Draper closed the file on the Sarah Palin mystery with a devastating article in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine: “The Making (and Remaking) of McCain.” ...
As Draper tells it, McCain took Palin to his favorite coffee-drinking spot down by a creek and a sycamore tree. They talked for more than an hour, and, as Napoleon whispered to Josephine, “Voilà.”
La Parker could say the same thing about the entire democrat party, the liberal establishment, the mainstream media, and, yes! the GOP turncoats like herself, all visibly besotted by the svelte and stylish liberal candidate with the voice like a warm sweet Machiatto and the glow of a winner. He may be a socialist whose friends all hate America, but he’s so cool.
You can’t blame McCain for picking an attractive female Republican. Female Republicans, it is commonly recognized, are very frequently attractive, notoriously more attractive than democrats. Remember the well-known poster?