Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 28, 2008
By: Hilzoy

HAVE WE LOST OUR COLLECTIVE MARBLES?...

Yesterday was full of interesting news. Sticking to stories that concern the election: John McCain gave a speech on nuclear non-proliferation. He also wrote an op-ed with Joe Lieberman in which he renounced Bush's policy on North Korea. And then, in the evening, we learned that when he was coming up with his response to the mortgage crisis, McCain's main economic advisor was literally a paid agent of one of the banks most heavily involved in creating that crisis -- a bank that has an enormous amount riding on what our government decides to do in response.

And yet, at about 1am, when I clicked on Memeorandum, I saw -- well, I can't show you, since I don't know how to do that, but I saw something like this (h/t), only twice as big. There were approximately a million stories about the fact that Obama said Auschwitz when he should have said Buchenwald. (The RNC responds, with characteristic understatement: "Obama's frequent exaggerations and outright distortions raise questions about his judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief.") There were also a couple of stories about Scott McClellan's book, which is slightly more interesting, but not much, since all he really did was say things that everyone but the editors at RedState already know. The Newsweek story on McCain and Phil Gramm, which had put in a brief appearance as a tiny entry in the 'More Items' section, had vanished. McCain's nonproliferation speech, and his break with Bush on North Korea, were nowhere to be found.

I suppose one explanation for this might be that people are more interested in gaffes than in policy wonkery. But that can't be it. After all, McCain made a much more serious gaffe in his speech yesterday, but very few people noticed it:

"In John McCain's speech today he says something very very puzzling:

Many believe all we need to do to end the nuclear programs of hostile governments is have our president talk with leaders in Pyongyang and Tehran, as if we haven't tried talking to these governments repeatedly over the past two decades.

So McCain thinks that the President of the United States has been negotiating with the Iranians for the past two decades? Huh? Does McCain not understand that the stated policy of the U.S. government since April 7, 1980 has been to NOT TALK TO THE IRANIANS. And that we have not negotiated with Iran over their nuclear weapons program."

Personally, I think being wrong about official US policy towards Iran, and about whether recent history shows that negotiating with them won't work, is more serious than being wrong about precisely which Nazi concentration camp your great-uncle helped liberate. But then, I also think that at a time when we are involved in two wars, our standing in the world is as low as it has been in recent memory, we have jettisoned our commitment to basic human rights and the rule of law, our economy is tanking, our currency seems to be in free-fall, the energy crisis has finally (and predictably) hit home with a vengeance, food and commodity prices are soaring world-wide, our health insurance system could most charitably be described as badly frayed, our infrastructure seems to be crumbling around us, and a whole lot of people are looking at losing their homes -- at a time like this, there are better things to talk about than flag pins, pastors, and the real explanation for Hillary Clinton's RFK moment.

Honestly: if this campaign is decided on those sorts of issues, we deserve what we get. It's just a pity our election will affect so many other people, who don't.

Hilzoy 3:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (68)

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Comments

Oh dear! Bambi had a bad day, not fair, not fair.

Get used to it.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 28, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

It sounds like you are unhappy with the tenor of coverage your candidate is receiving. That must be disappointing. Good luck with that.

Posted by: david on May 28, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Yes.

Posted by: eb on May 28, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Hilzoy wrote, "So McCain thinks that the President of the United States has been negotiating with the Iranians for the past two decades?"

But, that's not what McCain said. McCain said nothing about the President personally conducting these discussions.

McCain said, "as if we haven't tried talking to these governments repeatedly over the past two decades." That statement is correct. The US has talked to these governments repeatedly -- directly with NK and via back channels with Iran.

Posted by: David on May 28, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

It has nothing to do with the coverage my candidate is receiving, which is why I included Clinton's RFK thing. It has everything to do with the triviality of the issues people are talking about.

Posted by: hilzoy on May 28, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

It's not we're losing our collective marbles. It's our media that won't show us where are marbles are in the first place.

You don't seriously expect they're going to let that colored fella, or the gal (if something freakish happens), get elected, do you?

Posted by: thersites on May 28, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

I am not sure how Memeorandum does their collating, but in spite of that fact that liberal blogs get a bazillion times more traffic and links than conservative blogs, pet conservative projects immediately jump to the top. I think they must give conservative blogs a lot more weight, or else sheer traffic and links would keep liberal issues permanently at the top.

I think Memeorandum is largely useless at this point.

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on May 28, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

where our marbles are located.

And BTW if I remember some history (whatever the f*ck) that is) during WWII the USSR was one of our allies.

Posted by: thersites on May 28, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

"freakish"?

asshole

Posted by: david on May 28, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

We haven't lost our marbles, but the leaders of our pathetic media institutions, however, lost their marbles long, long ago (maybe in the mid-90s, or perhaps even as early at the 1980s...I mean, Reagan was manifestly a moron and largely skated through his two terms despite a major constitutional scandal).

Posted by: Reader on May 28, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

@weenie: "Bambi had a bad day, not fair, not fair."

It's sad how some Clinton supporters choose to behave. Lose with some grace and dignity, please.

@hilzoy: "It has everything to do with the triviality of the issues people are talking about."

Mostly, it's the right wingers who are talking about this trivial issue. But you are right in stating that they've lost their collective marbles.

Posted by: AllenOs on May 28, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

"It has nothing to do with the coverage my candidate is receiving..."

That's what they all say.

Posted by: david on May 28, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

thanks, david, for straightening me out. I was too hasty with words there.

by "something freakish" I meant "some change in circumstances that seems highly unlikely at this point in time, but is not entirely outside the realm of possibility and so cannot be entirely discounted."

Better?

Posted by: thersites the foulmouthed loser on May 28, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

McCain said, "as if we haven't tried talking to these governments repeatedly over the past two decades." That statement is correct. The US has talked to these governments repeatedly -- directly with NK and via back channels with Iran.

Ask yourself this: which route has been a qualified success, and which route has been a total failure? Then ask yourself which route McCain plans to pursue.

And it's not just about the President. If it were, we would have had State Secretaries & Undersecretaries in Tehran. We haven't.

Posted by: junebug on May 28, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'll have to check, but I'm pretty sure "freakish" was on Gingrich's "How to talk like me" list from 1993. Your use of it with respect to the Dem contest must be a proud moment for you.

Posted by: david on May 28, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Those of you who didn't see anything wrong with the media's treatment of HRC, take note: It's only going to get worse for Obama once HRC is out of the picture.

Posted by: mary on May 28, 2008 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody, not even in darkest Idaho or Texas, really cares about or sees significance in which camp Obama's grandfather helped to liberate. But it's SOP for the GOP to flood the zone with stories like this. It'll be forgotten next week, but meantime they've pre-empted the actual political news, which is usually bad for them and always a big risk.

Posted by: Stuart Eugene Thiel on May 28, 2008 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Mary, if Obama starts behaving as if voters are stupid, he'll deserve it.

Posted by: Trevor J on May 28, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

hilzoy wrote: "HAVE WE LOST OUR COLLECTIVE MARBLES? ... if this campaign is decided on those sorts of issues, we deserve what we get."

America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. owns all the marbles.

America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. also owns virtually all of the mass media from which most Americans get the overwhelming majority of their information, and will absolutely use that media to glorify their preferred candidate John McCain and to wage an onslaught of character assassination against the Democratic nominee.

The goring of Al Gore and the Swiftboating of John Kerry will pale by comparison with what the corporate-owned mass media have in store for Barack Obama.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 28, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

...[I]t'll be forgotten next week, but meantime they've pre-empted the actual political news, which is usually bad for them and always a big risk.

They're masters of stagecraft.

If you have to make an elephant disappear stage right, does it really matter what color puff of smoke you set off stage left? What matters is that it be big, and the explosion be noisy.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on May 28, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

david,

In spite of your calling me an asshole I tried to civilly explain myself, and to correct my admittedly unfortunate choice of words. I wrote as if I was communicating with a reasonable person.

My mistake.

Posted by: thersites on May 28, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

[Pointing in shocked fashion at Thersites]: He called Hillary "highly unlikely," the sexist IslamoBaptistofascist!

Posted by: rea on May 28, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

@david: "Your use of it with respect to the Dem contest must be a proud moment for you."

As is your demonstration of willful misinterpretation, David.

Posted by: AllenOs on May 28, 2008 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

junebug wrote: Ask yourself this: which route has been a qualified success, and which route has been a total failure?

I guess would junebug would call NK a qualified success and Iran a failure. Time will tell whether the "qualified success" in NK is really a success or a disguised failure.

Our best successes in nuclear disarmament have come from war more than from talk. Saddam twice tried to develop nukes. In 1981 he was stopped by an Israeli bomb. In 1991 Saddam was close to developing nukes, but he was stopped by the American invasion. Whatever bad consequences may flow from our overthrow of Saddam, one good consequence is that Iraq is no longer a potential developer of nuclear weapons.

Another success was persuading Libya to discontinue their existing nuclear program. That was accomplished by a combination of negotiations and the example of Saddam's overthrow and capture.

Posted by: David on May 28, 2008 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

allenOS and Thersites: Misinterpretation, my ass. Cut the "who me?" crap, you sound ridiculous. I'm sure I've never "unfortunately chosen" to characterize your candidate's plans as freakish, that must be my unreasonableness showing.

Posted by: david on May 28, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Resistance is futile.

Your marbles were assimilated...

Posted by: João Carlos on May 28, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Has anything really changed?

1) The MSM has no integrity
2) The American public has a wafer thin attention span and the intellectual curiosity of lint (present company excepted)

Despite that, we may still defeat McCain. But in the long term, we are screwed unless we change #'s 1 and 2 above.

Posted by: e henry thripshaw on May 28, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

[John McCain] also wrote an op-ed with Joe Lieberman in which he renounced Bush's policy on North Korea.

Really? Which policy was that? The manly one that didn't work, or the successful one he re-borrowed from Bill Clinton?

Diapers McCain winds up looking like an idiot either way.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on May 28, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

david: that must be my unreasonableness showing

Yes, that must be it. Or some deep-seated insecurity that's best left between you and your psychiatrist. Good night, david.

Posted by: thersites on May 28, 2008 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Our best successes in nuclear disarmament have come from war more than from talk.

While the prospect of a third & concurrent hot war in a Muslim country sits just fine with the McCain-Lieberman-Hagee-NRO worldview, regardless of whether we've demonstrated ourselves capable of succeeding in any of them, exactly how does this strategy pan out with North Korea -- that is, without completely roasting Japan, South Korea, & the however-many-thousands-of-troops we have in the region in the process?

Posted by: junebug on May 28, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Another success was persuading Libya to discontinue their existing nuclear program. That was accomplished by a combination of negotiations and the example of Saddam's overthrow and capture.

There's already one Krauthammer out there, writing crap like this. Do you really think there's a market for another?
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on May 28, 2008 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

"So McCain thinks that the President of the United States has been negotiating with the Iranians for the past two decades? "

McCain didn't say that. He was obviously referring to the EU3 and IAEA negotiations in which the US has been closely involved, albeit not a direct participant.

Even a Leftist cannot be this stupid, so we assume that this was a deliberate misunderstanding to keep to cocoon dwellers happy.

Posted by: a on May 28, 2008 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

So McCain thinks?

who knew?

Posted by: thersites on May 28, 2008 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Keep in mind, Hilzoy, that the issues that right wing bloggers are concerned about are not the issues that will decide the election.

This won't affect November. It would be nice to see McCain get what's coming to him every day of the news cycle, but what counts is what happens in November.

Posted by: Tyro on May 28, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

McCain didn't say that. He was obviously referring to the EU3 and IAEA negotiations in which the US has been closely involved, albeit not a direct participant.

This is obviously some strange new use of the word "we" of which I was not previously aware.

so we assume that this was a deliberate misunderstanding to keep to cocoon dwellers ...

""Cocoon dwellers"? Heh. Otherwise known as 85% of the country
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on May 28, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Obama's frequent exaggerations and outright distortions raise questions about his judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief."
-RNC

Commander in Chief? When? In 1945?

The RNC thought that George Bush would make a good Commander in Chief, so what the fuck do they know?
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on May 28, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, Thersites is sure snarky today. Guess he must have had to fill up his Extinction again.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 28, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

"When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost... All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.' The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

Posted by: gab on May 28, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

freakish"?

asshole

Posted by: david on May 28, 2008 at 4:26 PM

david,
I am sure that the freakish thing that Thersites was referring to was my scenario of a candidate discovered in a hotel room wearing a tin foil hat and sucking on a dill pickle. This was many weeks back. Obviously you are new to this blog.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 28, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

The Extinction's gone. A gang of illegal aliens stole it, drove it into my backyard, and set it on fire. For some reason, the insurance company doesn't believe me.

Next time I'll hire some hardworking Americans who will at least have the decency to drive it a mile or two away.

Posted by: thersites on May 28, 2008 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Weenie,
I knew I could count on you to back me up, in your own way. Thanks.

Posted by: thersites on May 28, 2008 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

A gang of illegal aliens stole it, drove it into my backyard, and set it on fire. For some reason, the insurance company doesn't believe me.

Maybe if you very publicly capture an older gang member, who has since retired, the first gang will give up the weapons they don't have.

Krauthammer told me it wouldn't work, and he wouldn't have just been waving his teeny peeny ... would he?

Say it ain't so!
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on May 28, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

McCain didn't say that. He was obviously referring to the EU3 and IAEA negotiations in which the US has been closely involved, albeit not a direct participant.

He wasn't "obviously" referring to anything, unless you saw a footnote that it's completely invisible to the rest of the planet. What is obvious, though, is that McCain has some fundamental gaps in his knowledge -- to wit:

-- he doesn't seem to recognize that Czechoslovakia hasn't existed since 1993;
-- he's not clear on who runs the show in Iran;
-- and he's famously muddled on the difference between Sunni & Shia.

Combine these facts with with his public acknowledgment that he struggles with economics, and it becomes clear why right-wing shills need to go to bat for him and point out the things to which he's "obviously" referring when he neglects to mention them, or -- more likely -- gets them wrong.

Posted by: junebug on May 28, 2008 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Thersites,
My pitchfork is your pitchfork.

Speaking of pitchforks, where has Norman Rogers been? I sincerely hope he is not ill or that anything untoward has happened.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 28, 2008 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

if(David == Charlie)
{
DontFeedTrolls(TRUE);
}

Posted by: Boronx on May 28, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

completely OT:

What happened to Eschaton?

Where's Dad?

JC

Posted by: John Casey on May 28, 2008 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like blogspot.com server is having trouble - can't get Eschaton or Digby

Posted by: optical weenie on May 28, 2008 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

we deserve what we get

The people of Germany and Japan received what they deserved with their unconditional defeat in WW II, then they obtained what they really deserved afterwards, liberal social democracy.

Posted by: Brojo on May 28, 2008 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like blogspot.com server is having trouble

Blue girl has also been hard to get.
On the plus side, Swan's blog is also inaccessible.

Posted by: thersites on May 28, 2008 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo,

Very nicely put. We can only hope for the same for ourselves, and that we won't have to suffer as terribly to get there.

(You been taking poetry enhancement pills or something? There's this girl I'm trying to impress...)

Posted by: thersites on May 28, 2008 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Paging the third Billy Goat Gruff; Mr. Gruff.

Will the third Billy Goat Gruff please trip-trap trip-trap trip-trap over this comment thread's bridge, immediately ?

Thank you.

Posted by: joel hanes on May 28, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Try not to use the words got or get.

Posted by: Brojo on May 28, 2008 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

You're right, Brojo. I have been given excellent advice.

I should have said: Blue Girl's blog has been difficult to connect with.

Posted by: thersites on May 28, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

THE INTERNET IS THE NEW THIRD PARTY AND THE BLOGOSPHERE ITS POLITBUREAU. Get a candidate YOU can vote for in good conscience, instead of the ones they got. There are millions of people on the Net, hell, pick one.

Posted by: Mike Meyer on May 28, 2008 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

HAVE WE LOST OUR COLLECTIVE MARBLES?...

The human race has been insane for, well, at least ten thousand years if not more.


As for Norman Rogers, I hope he is well, even though the guy threatened to destroy me [LOL] somehow.

Posted by: Jet on May 28, 2008 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

"as if we haven't tried talking to these governments repeatedly over the past two decades." -Johnny Mac


Yet McCain forgets to mention that it was the US negotiating with his captors that got him released from the POW camp.

Its better to Jaw Jaw than War War

Posted by: Jet on May 28, 2008 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Honestly: if this campaign is decided on those sorts of issues, we deserve what we get.

Of course America deserves the government it votes for. Eight years of Bush is exactly what the nation wanted and what it deserved.

McCain will be the perfect president for the next four years or more. How can anyone honestly believe America deserves anything less?

I was shocked that America elected Clinton over Bush in '92 -- but Perot had a lot to do with that. A majority of Americans did not vote for Clinton, and so it was easy to reject prosperity and peace in 2000 and 2004.

The last thing America deserves after the crimes it has committed in Iraq is a change in direction. Foreclosures, bankruptcy and war is what America wants -- it is what it will get.

Posted by: Dicksknee on May 28, 2008 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

Hilzoy's post is correct on all counts.

Posted by: ChristianPInko on May 28, 2008 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

The liberal blogosphere is so frenzied it's nearly been speaking in tongues for weeks about every stray Clinton or Obama utterance, deciphering the deeper meaning of the words "fairy tale" and "you're likeable enough" and chewing the furniture for hours on end over whether or not a passing reference to RFK's assassination was a subconscious desire for Obama's death.

Now they're complaining that we aren't talking about real issues? Blogger, heal thyself.

Posted by: masterdisaster on May 28, 2008 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

All your marbles are belong to us!

Posted by: R.L. on May 28, 2008 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Is there any evidence that this story is even on the radar outside of Wingnuttia? I stopped paying attention to their periodic and completely contrived ragegasms years ago and I am quite sure I have extended my lifespan because of it. I would suggest everyone else do the same. They are complete idiots who get everything wrong all the time. Ignore 'em. You'll feel better.

Posted by: brent on May 28, 2008 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Yet McCain forgets to mention that it was the US negotiating with his captors that got him released from the POW camp.

No, man, it was Rambo.

Or Chuck Norris.

I forget which, but I remember I saw the movie.

And anyhow, we don't negotiate.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on May 28, 2008 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

And don't forget Ronald Reagan and Bush the Elder selling Hawk missiles to Iran in 1985 or Secretary of Defense Gates selling cluster bombs to Saddam Hussein.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 28, 2008 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

A better question is: "What prison camp did Prescott Bush help to finance?"

Posted by: Sparko on May 29, 2008 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

while it might be true that "not many people noticed" this story, i heard the mccain quote on NPR yesterday morning and my jaw dropped open. i certainly noticed, especially his dissing of our current north korea approach which the bush administration is activly persuing.
i wonder if mccain even follows the news.
rusty

Posted by: dj spellchecka on May 29, 2008 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Dicksknee wrote: "Eight years of Bush is exactly what the nation wanted and what it deserved."

No, the nation wanted and deserved eight years of Al Gore, who was the legitimately elected President in November 2000. The nation did not want and did not deserve to have the election stolen and George W. Bush installed as president in a bloodless coup by a gang of career white-collar crooks and war profiteers.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 29, 2008 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Captures my sentiments exactly.

Well done.

Posted by: Stacy on May 29, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Looks like blogspot.com server is having trouble
*
Blue girl has also been hard to get.
On the plus side, Swan's blog is also inaccessible.

Posted by: thersites

you mean someone actually goes over there to read his stuff? you're a far braver man than i, thersites.

as for norman, i just assumed he was back in jail.

your pal,
blake

Posted by: blake on May 29, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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