Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 23, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

CRANKY....I think Barack Obama has accidentally discovered the easiest way to defeat John McCain this November: make him mad. We've all heard the stories about McCain's legendarily cranky temper, and he sure showed where those stories came from on Thursday when he erupted after Obama had the temerity to disagree with him about Jim Webb's GI Bill extension. Get a grip, Senator.

Kevin Drum 1:55 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (66)

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According to Unca John, those ungrateful youngsters are going to go AWOL if you just start giving away educations like that.

I’m glad we have other wingnut voices here so we can get the whole spectrum of troop-hating crazy. I felt like McCain’s little rant was sort of lacking something.

Posted by: Joshua Norton on May 23, 2008 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

Exactly.

And I know this is cynical (and sad), but I also think this was Hillary's intended strategy against Obama too -- to get him mad, in the hopes that it would create "angry black man" imagery in the media. But it didn't work.

Posted by: Eric on May 23, 2008 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

A lower hanging fruit would be for Obama to incite McCain's mother to say something outrageous about blacks, as she appeared to be, in an interview that I saw, quite perturbed by the fact that an uppity young black man is opposing his son.

Posted by: gregor on May 23, 2008 at 2:30 AM | PERMALINK

McHulk ANGRY!

Posted by: Callimaco on May 23, 2008 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

gregor -- What are you talking about? Got a link?

Posted by: Callimaco on May 23, 2008 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

Well, at least McCain was honest about why he needs the kids to re-up instead of go to college: we've got two wars going and need a larger military for all the wacky adventures he plans under his administration. This should be narrated by a baritone voice-over guy in a campaign commercial: "John McCain -- he opposed giving our heroic veterans an opportunity to go to college because he would rather keep them stuck in the Middle East quagmire he and George W. Bush created... John McCain: he doesn't support veterans; he supports more wars."

Posted by: jonas on May 23, 2008 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, I can understand why Bush would oppose this bill...just kidding. I don't understand why he opposes it, perhaps because a Democrat proposed it? But at this point he seems to view being hated by the public as a point of pride, so it makes sense that he'd dump on the vets like this. Why not? He thinks he'll be vindicated.

But what is John McCain smoking? Does he really want the Democrats to start peeling off chunks of the veteran vote? Does he really think that the whole retention argument holds any water with the public at all? And then to get pissy about it...it's just bizarre.

Anyone else think that McCain's not much of a politician who's gotten lucky with favorable press coverage? Oh, wait, everybody else thinks that. Never mind.

Posted by: Lev on May 23, 2008 at 3:01 AM | PERMALINK

***

Posted by: TangoMan on May 23, 2008 at 3:42 AM | PERMALINK

TangoMan -- McCain has had to be restrained on several occasions. Asshole.

Posted by: on May 23, 2008 at 4:14 AM | PERMALINK

The problem being the last time McCain and Obama tangled, glass jaw Barack lost. This fall is Ali vs Frazier political style

Posted by: down goes Frazier on May 23, 2008 at 4:22 AM | PERMALINK

Babble, babble...

Posted by: Kenji on May 23, 2008 at 4:52 AM | PERMALINK

"Accidentally"? I doubt it. Obama weighs his words. Look for Obama to keep rattling McCain's cage, and McCain to keep falling for it.

Posted by: Mark Kleiman on May 23, 2008 at 5:09 AM | PERMALINK

An unnamed witness quoted by the National Review? Well, that's good enough for me!

Posted by: ajay on May 23, 2008 at 5:09 AM | PERMALINK

This tired old senile turd belongs in the vets home, where he can reminisce with other fossils about their recollections of Pearl Harbor (I'd be willing to be McCain doesn't remember a damn thing about Pearl Harbor - how much do you remember from when you were five years old?).

This outburst proves that this intemperate man clearly should not be anywhere near the nuclear trigger!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 23, 2008 at 6:41 AM | PERMALINK

Nah, TangoMan, having issues with one person does not a pattern make. Who at work hasn't had at least one run-in like this? I see nothing here (then again I'm not straining to find things to see).

Gosh, Orwell, could you possibly, possibly be more flaccid with your sarcasm? Try and stiffen it up just a tad there, son. You know, give it a bit of edge... come at things from an unusual angle... but for Christ's sake give it something! This is just thuddingly dull. If you're going to aspire to use of this rhetorical device, avoid using it witlessly. Dull, above all, is one thing sarcasm should never, never be.

Posted by: snicker-snack on May 23, 2008 at 7:02 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry sweetie I don't have time to improve my sarcastic pontifications.

Nah, you quite obviously don't have the chops.

Posted by: snicker-snack on May 23, 2008 at 7:27 AM | PERMALINK

That thought had crossed my mind - that Obama will probably use McCain's temper against him, particularly when it comes to the debates.

I don't get McCain. He always seems to come down on the side of Bush, even to the detriment of his campaign. A few years ago he seemed better than that. Does Bush have something on him?

Posted by: Del Capslock on May 23, 2008 at 7:31 AM | PERMALINK

BDS?

Barack Derangement Syndrome? Typified by the inability say the scary-foreign name 'Barack'?

Or Black Derangement Syndrome?

Sorry. I keep confusing my derangements.

Posted by: g on May 23, 2008 at 7:38 AM | PERMALINK

this pretty much neutralizes the Wright issue for Obama doesn't it? Unless McCain wants to get into a "my pastor isn't as crazy as yours" argument.

Posted by: Del Capslock on May 23, 2008 at 7:50 AM | PERMALINK

But of course I should have known. Those suffering from BDS . . .

Orwell, the BDS thing is really old and tired at this point. It was cool in 2004, but not anymore. Besides, it has spread to the point that almost the entire country suffers from it, or have you missed the approval ratings of Bush and the Republican Party lately?

Posted by: Pug on May 23, 2008 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Problems with retention, if more educational benefits are offered?
Complete and utter bullshit.
If anyone babbles that tripe at you, you only need to reply with two words.

Stop.
Loss.

And if/when they open their mouths to protest, tell them to just shut up.
Then ask if they feel it's OK for National Guard to serve multiple deployments to Iraq, but have no access to GI Bill benefits.
If not, ask why they don't support Sen. Webb's bill.

Posted by: kenga on May 23, 2008 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

It's slightly off-topic anyway, but I believe the earlier commenter made a mistake in recalling the peculiar/bigoted remark by McCain's mother. She made a strange assertion about Mitt Romney at the time of the New Hampshire primary (to the effect that he should be considered disqualified as a legitimate candidate because he is a Mormon), but I'm not aware that she has spoken publicly about Obama. Of course I could be mistaken too.

Posted by: sc on May 23, 2008 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Yep, one could says McCain is having a "Hysterical Diatribe".

It's a game that Karl Rove likes to play, a bit of reverse projectism. Rove knows that McCain has a temper, so he tells McCain to try and quickly label Obama with the words ""Hysterical Diatribe" first.

It may have been Howard Dean that got labeled the angry candidate but that label really, truly belongs to likes of John McCain - who really does have a big anger management and temper problem.

The debates are going to be really hard for McCain - his age is most definitely showing and he clearly is not quick on his feet, and thus, very easy to anger. This is why he exploded the other day with Joe Klien asked him about meeting with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. McCain is very easy to frustrate. So that this is really all Obama has to do - frustrate McCain with facts.

I think in many ways it's good to have Hillary still in, hen pecking McCain on one side and Obama on the other. The only time you see McCain on the headlines, it always bad news, as news focuses mainly on who will be the Dem candidate for now. It almost as if the Republican Party is glad they don't have to showcase McCain too much - because McCain really is extremely slow on his feet, and God knows, those debates are coming soon enough.


Posted by: Me-again on May 23, 2008 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Does he really think that the whole retention argument holds any water with the public at all?

Retention is very, very important if you're not already in the service, and the would-be President is talking about more-and-longer wars. Because the retainees are stopping bullets that would otherwise be stopped by you

'Better them than me' isn't noble, but it's human.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on May 23, 2008 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

McCain's problem from yesterday isn't that he turned in another "Old Man Yell's at Cloud" performance, but that on a day when the Senate was voting on a new GI Bill for veterans AND when his subcommittee was holding hearings on giving Patreus a big promotion, McCain chose to be in California at a big dollar fundraiser. So what's more important to John McCain? Our soldiers or fat cat contributors? That sucker's got attack ad written all over it.

Posted by: NHCt on May 23, 2008 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

I would think everyone in the United States would support helping vets go to college. The idea is briliant! All countries should offer it.

Posted by: Bob M on May 23, 2008 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

It was the gratuitously nasty irritability of the "less than zero understanding" comment from McCain that most struck me about this exchange. Does McCain really want to publicly insult Obama's intelligence and frame the debate in terms of who has the most acute and informed understanding of complex policy issues? Not a good idea for a guy who famously gets Sunnis and Shias mixed up.

Posted by: Cuttle on May 23, 2008 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Oh and there is another question too, that all this brings up.

McCain didn't want to vote for this bill - despite the fact that just days before Sen. Webb introduced the bill - McCain publicly said that he would always vote for EVERY Veteran benefit. He didn't vote for Webbs bill - and didn't even show up.

So what is McCain planning on doing about the "backdoor draft", and the "stop-loss" program, since these are real problems and McCain at least wants to keep the war going until 2013 if not 50 to a 100 years? SO, is he for the military draft - I mean, exactly how is McCain going to deal with the break down of the military? If he really wants a war until 2013 - he would have to decree military draft.

Posted by: Me-again on May 23, 2008 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

> I think Barack Obama has accidentally discovered
> the easiest way to defeat John McCain this November:
> make him mad.

Indeed. I think there's great potential in using the "Richard Pryor" tactic against McCain. Years ago, Pryor had a standup routine where he described himself becoming increasingly unhinged and irrational when arguing with his girlfriend: "And the madder you get, the calmer she gets!" I can't imagine two candidates better suited, tempramentally, to play this out during a live debate. We'll all watch the spittle fly in HD.

Posted by: Andy on May 23, 2008 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

McCain will seem as reasonable as Dick Cheney during the debates. He will not lose his temper then. Don't kid yourselves.

Posted by: David in NY on May 23, 2008 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

I dont agree that McCain will be like Cheney in the debates. Cheney is the kind of person who fumes *inside* when crossed (then he shoots you or ships you to Gitmo). McCain fumes outside. Truly, I believe that one of BOs best gambits is to bait JMc in the debates. All we need is one or two choice YouTube rambles.

Posted by: troglodyte on May 23, 2008 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

I don't get the feeling the McCain release is a sign of him getting angry. These things get written by the press team, reviewed and then sent out. So if this is off-the-cuff, his campaign is completely dysfunctional and will soon implode. Instead, I think this is calculated and fits into a grand plan to define Obama as callow, partisan, and inexperienced to the point of dangerous. Maybe they're trying to provoke him. It also could show that they know they're screwed over the GI Bill and need to tamp down criticism asap. More than anger, I think it just shows a tin ear. I doubt few independents would read this and turn against Obama. If anything, they might decide McCain is kind of a dick.

Posted by: NHCt on May 23, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Pardon me, but since when are the men and women of the Armed Forces indedtured servants to be kept on the plantation indefinitely...when do they get the gratitude of the country they put their life on the line? Isn't that what's already achieved in stop-loss?

Posted by: Stewart Dean on May 23, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

McCain may have a war room set up for quick response but in his case, it won't work. He's too stupid and angry.

Obama and supporters should stir the shit every freakin' day and force this angry old asshole to respond. He won't be able to remember what he is supposed to say and will flip out regularly with idiotic, convoluted shit. Then the next day, torture him the same shit -- and NEW shit.

It's just like when we were kids throwing stones at the windows of the old neighborhood asshole. Just repeatedly hit the front windows and the back windows at the same time. In this case, it's not only fun but for the good of the nation.

Just throw the proverbial flaming paper bag full of shit on this asshole's porch every day. And watch the old fool try to stamp out the flames. Believe me, he'll NEVER catch on.

Posted by: Econobuzz on May 23, 2008 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

But superficiality is something the Dems have an eternal lock on

Two words for that. Ronald. Reagan.

My first vote was against Reagan for governor of California.

Posted by: Repack Rider on May 23, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Econobuzz,

That's funny and cruel and true all at that same time. You've got me chuckling and feeling a little guilty about it at the same time.

But if McCain wants to dish it out he better be able to take it too.

Posted by: Tripp on May 23, 2008 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

It is fun to watch the senator from AZ's head explode. Americans should be treated to this small comfort everyday during the campaign.

Posted by: Brojo on May 23, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

McCain neither "erupted" nor did he have a problem with Obama disagreeing with his position with the bill.
His problem with Obama's Senate floor speech was the implication his position on the bill was "partisan posturing."
"There are many issues that lend themselves to partisan posturing, but giving our veterans the chance to go to college should not be one of them."-Sen. Obama
Furthermore, Sen. McCain does not oppose "...giving our veterans the chance to go to college..."

Posted by: majarosh on May 23, 2008 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Sen. McCain does not oppose "...giving our veterans the chance to go to college..."

Not all of them, anyway.

The GI bill that made my husband an officer after six years was a pretty damned good investment, but under the system he is touting he would have done four and left and not returned. We also know that every dollar spent on the GI Bill was returned seven-fold to the economy and made the middle class possible. Mc$ame wants to limit the benefit to "lifers" and the military is not set up for everyone who goes in to stay for 20, and we both know it.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on May 23, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

majarosh,

Blah blah blah. In politics if you are explaining you are losing.

You are losing.

Posted by: Tripp on May 23, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent points, Blue Girl; worthy of a Senate floor debate on the relative merits of the two bills.
However, Kevin's post and many of the comments that followed are distorted and inaccurate portrayals of what occurred, and we both know it.:-)

Posted by: majarosh on May 23, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Even if the fundemantals of this election were not so overwhelminly against him, McC would probably be undone by his uncontrolled cycles of guilt and subsequently projected rage.

Posted by: penalcolony on May 23, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Rethugs main pain: McCain can't refrain. Huh? Would only be a problem if the MSM portrays it like Howard Dean's scream. Not a likely tactic by MSM since McSame is their guy.

Posted by: slanted tom on May 23, 2008 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

I can't see why anyone would have the nerve to be for that young wipersnapper Obama. McCain has got the experience you know. He voted for the Iraq war you know, and things are much better now in Iraq. He was smart in getting all the endorsements of those fundamentalist preachers that hate Catholics, Jews, Muslims, gays, women, and almost everbody else you can think of. Certainly an experienced and smart person like McCain with great judgment, would not put himself in the position of seeking these endorsements without actually knowing the views of these people, resulting in the need for him to denounce their endorsements later. Clearly, he's the American President Americans have been waiting for to do American things in an American way for America. And I say that as an American.

Posted by: RP on May 23, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

What Mark Kleiman said: I wouldn't bet on "accidentally". A colleague and I (political amateurs both, at best) concluded after a couple of minutes of discussion a few months ago that this approach (make McCain mad on TV) was the easiest route to a Democratic win of the presidency.

If it's Obama vs McCain, the contrast is stark - candidate with apparent near-supernatural emotional control v.s. candidate prone to angry tantrums. Some obvious parallels with the 1964 election.

Posted by: Bill Arnold on May 23, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

McCain may be cancer free, but his mind remains warped by his imprisonment in Viet Nam.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on May 23, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

John Dean screamed, once. McCain has blown up, lost his temper and attempted to punch people out and had to be restrained more than once.

A McCain press conference has all the capabilities of turning into a Springer episode.

Posted by: Jet on May 23, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Howard Dean screamed.

John Dean sang like a bird. Then he turned into a great guy and remains one today.

Posted by: Pug on May 23, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Is anyone familiar with the video of Obama going ballistic when, during his '04 Senate campaign, a Chicago TV reporter asked him a question about his relationship with Rezko?

Posted by: majarosh on May 23, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

McCain will seem as reasonable as Dick Cheney during the debates. He will not lose his temper then. Don't kid yourselves.

Actually, he'll probably seem more like Bush during his debates with Kerry ("Want some wood?") but the press will act like nothing happened. Move along, nothing to see here, who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on May 23, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Is anyone familiar with the video of Obama going ballistic when, during his '04 Senate campaign, a Chicago TV reporter asked him a question about his relationship with Rezko?

Is that like when everyone said that Hillary broke down and wept before New Hampshire, and the video showed her voice cracked a tiny bit and that was about all?

I would love to see a video of Obama going ballistic -- why don't you give us a link?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on May 23, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

majarosh,

With a song and dance routine like that you should be on Broadway. Have you considered tap?

Tea, for two,
and two, for tea . . .

You keep typing but all I hear is Ralph Kramden going "Homina homina himona."

Posted by: Tripp on May 23, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Our strategy is for McCain to perform as "everyman" in the debate. Obama will run rings around him and the majority of voters will identify with McCain, saying to themselves "If that were me trying to debate Obama, I'd lose too! Who'd want to have a beer with him? I'm going to vote McCain."

What? It worked last time.

Posted by: Freedom And Liberty Against Fascist Elitist Liberals on May 23, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Never said I had a link, I saw it when it aired in 2004. Just wondered if anyone else was familiar with it.

Here's a question that might shed some light on "partisan posturing."

If Sen. Obama was not a candidate for his party's presidential nomination and Sen. McCain was not the same for the opposing party, does ANYONE believe Obama would have made that Senate floor speech implying "partisan posturing" by McCain?

Posted by: majarosh on May 23, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

"However, Kevin's post and many of the comments that followed are distorted and inaccurate portrayals of what occurred, and we both know it.:-)"

Dear heart, what color is the sky in your world? Because you clearly don't occupy the same world the rest of us do.

"If Sen. Obama was not a candidate for his party's presidential nomination and Sen. McCain was not the same for the opposing party, does ANYONE believe Obama would have made that Senate floor speech implying 'partisan posturing' by McCain?"

Why yes, dear, actually we would, although it might have been Webb that beat him to it, since all of McCain's dealings on this bill have been nothing but "partisan posturing". McCain's behavior has been disgraceful and I'm delighted to hear Obama calling him on it. And even more delighted to read McCain's intemperate response, since it clearly plays into Obama's hands.

Posted by: PaulB on May 23, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Dear heart, what color is the sky in your world? Because you clearly don't occupy the same world the rest of us do."-PaulB.

Thank God.

"..all of McCain's dealings on this bill have been nothing but 'partisan posturing'."


So, based upon the consensus of this comment thread, McCain's position on the two GI Bills will cost him votes, especially votes of veterans, yet he's the one accused of "partisan posturing."

Has anyone read the entire statement released by McCain? If not, please do.

Posted by: majarosh on May 23, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

yet he's the one accused of "partisan posturing."

No one said he was any good at it. In fact, consistent with his advanced age, he consistently sucks at the posturing part of campaigning, because it's been so flagrantly stupid.

Posted by: Nash on May 23, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

"Thank God."

I agree, dear. But hey, you just keep living in that little fantasy world of yours if it makes you feel better.

"So, based upon the consensus of this comment thread, McCain's position on the two GI Bills will cost him votes, especially votes of veterans, yet he's the one accused of 'partisan posturing.'"

Yes, dear, he is. I could explain it to you, up to and including Webb's comment that McCain is "full of it," not to mention that losing votes from one group can buy him votes from another, but since you're so obviously clueless, not to mention delusional, I don't think I'll bother. Free clue: know what you're talking about before you start spouting off on this blog.

"Has anyone read the entire statement released by McCain?"

Why yes, dear, we have. Personally, I found it to be one of the funniest things I've read in months. He has a great future in comedy.

Posted by: PaulB on May 23, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

"In fact, consistent with his advanced age, he consistently sucks at the posturing part of campaigning, because it's been so flagrantly stupid."

Point of the day.

Actually, if you look into this a bit, you'll see that there is another factor at work. Poor little John also got his widdle feelings hurt because Webb wouldn't defer to his "judgment" on this bill and refused to pander to him.

Posted by: PaulB on May 23, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Mark Kleiman is right. Obama, like (Mr.) Clinton before him, knows how to piss people off without looking like he's trying to bait them--and he's been using it, and he's going to keep using it throughout the campaign. This should be entertaining.

Posted by: Tom Hilton on May 23, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

majarosh -- Yes, McCain is rightly accused of "partisan posturing". But you need to go back a bit in time, before the current spat, to see that.

Why did McCain wait to introduce his bill (actually an amendment to another bill) until after Webb's? Why didn't McCain think it important enough to be present to vote on the bill that contained his own amendment?

The bald fact is that McCain didn't give a rat's ass about this issue until he was forced to respond, and when he did respond it was obviously half-hearted and intended to do little more than provide political cover.

Posted by: has407 on May 23, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

A McCain press conference has all the capabilities of turning into a Springer episode.

Posted by: Jet on May 23, 2008 at 1:43 PM


Good idea! Millions would watch. Perhaps Mr. Springer would be available to MC or at least make a video.

Posted by: slanted tom on May 23, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

"It's my bill or they get nothin, period." He's going to take his marbles -- the ones he's got left, anyway, and go home!"

OK, now THAT would be a cheap shot!

Posted by: urban legend on May 23, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

I think this will continue because it works for both of them.

Remember, Obama doesn't have a white problem, he has a old fogey problem.

McCain's response is 100% "get off my lawn you damn kids". It will aid polarization of the electorate along age lines.

Obama is betting that McCain's intemperance will hurt him more than identity politics will help him. McCain is betting the reverse.

Posted by: Adam on May 23, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

"know what you're talking about before you start spouting off on this blog." - PaulB

You haven't been coming here for long, have you.

The whole point here is to be able to spout off without really knowing anything.

Then we can feel like MSM pundits, who do the same.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on May 24, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

I agree. Obama's calm demeaner and grace under pressure will serve him well against McCain.

Posted by: leslie on May 26, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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