Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 21, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

JUST A BUNCH OF STANS....From The Note:

Asked by ABC's Diane Sawyer Monday morning whether the "the situation in Afghanistan in precarious and urgent," McCain responded:

"I think it's serious. . . . It's a serious situation, but there's a lot of things we need to do. We have a lot of work to do and I'm afraid it's a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq/Pakistan border," said McCain, R-Ariz., said on "Good Morning America."

Iraq and Pakistan do not share a border. Afghanistan and Pakistan do.

Even we partisans can get a little tired of pointing out John McCain's constant verbal flubs and, um, moments of confusion. But Jesus. The question was about Afghanistan in the first place, which was an obvious invitation to talk about its ongoing border problems with the tribal areas of Pakistan. So what does McCain do? He deliberately pivots away to mention the nonexistent Iraq/Pakistan border. Does he even know what a map of central Asia looks like? Isn't this supposed to be his strong suit?

Kevin Drum 11:50 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (91)

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Comments

Eh, I can't blame the guy - all those swarthy countries look the same anyway.

Posted by: phleabo on July 21, 2008 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Well, it is McInsane's strong suit, which just shows you how weak he is everywhere else.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on July 21, 2008 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

This post is a transparent attempt to cast aspersions on McCain's superannuated status by implying that he's suffering from dementia. Every remark about his frequent state of confusion is pure ageism.

Posted by: shortstop on July 21, 2008 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Well, that said, McCain exhibits steely resolve in the face of adversity.

Don't you want that in a president?

Posted by: Ara Rubyan on July 21, 2008 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Just think how the dittoheads of the world would just go nuts if Obama referred to two countries with a common border that didn't exist?

IOKIYAJM.

Posted by: RobertSeattle on July 21, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I think the gaffe does not show confusion so much as monomania. McCain is focused on Iraq so much that everything gets conflated with that.

Posted by: Cap and Gown on July 21, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama had made such a gaffe, it would be front page news and fodder for right wing talk shows for weeks. When will the main stream media begin holding McCain's feet to the fire on his many verbal errors?

Posted by: Bassfish on July 21, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, are you impugning McCain's status as a war hero?

Posted by: on July 21, 2008 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Oh come on. Everyone understands what he meant. It's not like his defense secretary is going to bomb the wrong country because McCain can't remember it's name. They can easily confirm his orders by handing him a globe or having him flip through mugshots of dictators.

Posted by: B on July 21, 2008 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

I have to agree with Cap and Gown. McCain has Iraq on the brain 24/7. He must bring everything back to Iraq. That's all he's got. Besides, if we talk about Afghanistan too much, someone might notice that McCain is mimicking Obama's policy there.

Posted by: ckelly on July 21, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

There has got to be something lovable about a man who suffers from "creative geography syndrome" CGS.

Now to be honest, I have occasionally been known to utter Iraq or Iran inappropriately (i.e. substituting one name when thinking about the other). So it is possible for someone who actually knows the difference to mess up in conversation. And Iran does have a borders with both Pakistan and Afghanistan, although from the context it is clear he was trying to refer to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.

So McCain mixes up Sunni/Shia and Iran/Iraq/Afghanistan, but he clearly is qualified to be CinC, while Obama is hopelessly ignorant of foreign affairs. But since greater than 90% of the voting public couldn't tell you the difference between these countries, and religious groups, making an issue out of this would be "elitist".

Posted by: bigTom on July 21, 2008 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK


How did John McCain become lionized as a foreign policy expert? It's one thing to make flubs - we all do - but McCain's scattershot pronouncements seem to have no common thread except a haywire tendency to mix and match discrete facts. And - of course - to advocate a military approach to virtually every foreign policy issue.

By comparison, Reagan's Mr Magoo approach to foreign policy was relatively benign. McCain's got the myopia down. It's the benign part that needs work.


Posted by: walt on July 21, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

See, John McCain knows how to win wars. It's just like dealing with 6-year-olds--if they're causing trouble, just separate them.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on July 21, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

It's a very wide border. Some people call it Iran.
You got a problem with that?

Posted by: thersites on July 21, 2008 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Now to be honest, I have occasionally been known to utter Iraq or Iran inappropriately (i.e. substituting one name when thinking about the other). So it is possible for someone who actually knows the difference to mess up in conversation. And Iran does have a borders with both Pakistan and Afghanistan, although from the context it is clear he was trying to refer to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. Posted by: bigTom

This might be acceptable if what he had to say about any of these places made any sense.

Foreign policy is no more McCain's "strong suit" than it is for Shrub.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 21, 2008 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

As the current administration has proven, actual knowledge and facts do not have to be taken into consideration when formulating foreign policy.

Or any policy, for that matter...

Posted by: Ranger Jay on July 21, 2008 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

I also think Cap and Gown is right. Just this morning I heard McCain say he would apply the "surge" to Afghanistan.

Except for the fact that they are both populated by Muslims the facts on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan are totally different so, of course, the same tactics will work in both places. Talk about fighting the previous war.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 21, 2008 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop (unless you're being sarcastic in which case I salute your dry satire), you are a demented moron yourself whatever your age is. *McCain said that stupid thing himself*, asshole! It's perfectly fair game to wonder about him, and yes even the age-related health issue! This is to pick the CIC, jerk, not an ironically liberalish PC love fest about how we have to be sensitive about this or that blah blah.

BTW, B, of course his advisers will have to show him actual pictures since McAncient may still not have learned how to use the Intertubes by then. Let's hope he can learn to handle the code procedure for the "nuclear football."

Posted by: ♪ on July 21, 2008 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

"unless you're being sarcastic in which case I salute your dry satire"

Hang around here more and you'll discover that "dry satire" is a shortstop specialty. Though if Al had said it, you would have been right on the mark.

Posted by: David in NY on July 21, 2008 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's strong suit is reminding people they should be sympathetic to him because he was a soldier held prisoner and tortured for 5 years.

Dumping his wife when he got back...
Calling his present wife a 4-letter name in public...
Surrounding himself with lobbyists...
Disclosing Obama's itinerary...
Hugging Bush while declaring himself a maverick...
Continuing support for the war...
Not knowing difference between Sunni, Shia or sunshine...
Not knowing Iraq doesn't border Pakistan...

not a problem for the press.

Posted by: MarkH on July 21, 2008 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

This is EXCELLENT NEWS!!!! for McCAIN!!!!!

McMentum!!!!!!

Posted by: Jeff S. on July 21, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

"...particularly given the situation on the Iraq/Pakistan border," said McCain,..."

Dear G-d,
Please have mercy on us, please, please, if you have any concern for our well being, and our efforts to turn America around...please don't ever let another Republican be President!

/sigh
/head-in-hands

omg, a Presidential contender and he doesn't even know which countries border which?
No wonder the world is laughing at us.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on July 21, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

The point is, they are all subjects of His Eminence the Grand Turk.

Posted by: John McCain on July 21, 2008 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop (unless you're being sarcastic in which case I salute your dry satire), you are a demented... [bleepity, bleep, bleep]...

shortstop was being sarcastic.

How did John McCain become lionized as a foreign policy expert?

Cause he was a war hero that crashed planes and got hisself captured. Or some such.

Posted by: ckelly on July 21, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I think the gaffe does not show confusion so much as monomania.

Nah, arrogance, plain and simple. It's the same reason Bush never pronounces "nuclear" correctly, even eight years on. They just don't give a shit.

Posted by: DH Walker on July 21, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

What I find interesting is that McCain doesn't seem to make these kind of gaffes on other policy issues. While he has some crazy economic policies, he doesn't seem to make stupid economic gaffes. It's only foreign policy where he does it. It's almost as if he believes that the entire Middle East and Central Asia are already one big caliphate and that Europe is still in the depths of the Cold War. In that context, these aren't really verbal slip-ups, but expressions of a worldview that is not in any way based on reality.

Posted by: fostert on July 21, 2008 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

McCain grew up watching Laurel,Stan, an intellectual role model for young Johnny.

Posted by: slanted tom on July 21, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not one to pile on, but this story made me laugh out loud.

Guliani used to be known as "noun-verb-9/11." It looks like McCain liked it so much, he's adopting it for his own: "noun-verb-Iraq"

Posted by: Jon Karak on July 21, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

>"This post is a transparent attempt...vimplying that he's suffering from dementia. Every remark about his frequent state of confusion is pure ageism."

Unfortunately, dementia and loss of mental acuity due to advancing age is a fact of life. Dunno if he was ever really that sharp as a younger man, but IMHO McCain is showing increasing signs of dementia and confusion.

Shorter version: If the shoe fits, wear it.

Posted by: on July 21, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

RayGun killed time in the WH by lots of naps,watching Soap Operas,lots of naps,old movies,lots of naps,did I mention naps.How will Mcinsane kill time? It won't be surfing the net.

Posted by: Ye Olde Pitchforks,Torches & Pikes Shope on July 21, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

What's worse: McCain's country confusion or Obama's enlarging the US involvement/occupation in Afghanistan?

For my money Obama is the crazier of the two. McCain is inept; Obama is a war without end guy in the Bush/Cheney tradition.

With both the war-driven Obama and the hapless McCain pushing for a US troop buildup in Afghanistan one can see the writing on the wall: our increasing military involvement will only lead to more terror, more deaths ,all with no end in sight.

Afghanistan is a poor, war-torn country and it would be a smart move for the US to work for a power sharing government among the various warring groups—the Pashtuns, Northern Alliance, etc. Along with nation-building, this is the way to insure a peaceful Afghanistan

Posted by: Dr Wu, I'm just an ordinary guy on July 21, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

thersites @ 12:18 wins the thread.

Posted by: Rand careaga on July 21, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

. . . he doesn't seem to make stupid economic gaffes. It's only foreign policy where he does it.
Posted by: fostert

Maybe not gaffes. But can you get any stupider than the "gas tax holiday"?

Posted by: Jeff II on July 21, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

fostert:

Exactly. Rank arrogance. "Why should I have to educate myself or keep up with world events? I was a POW!"

I have an uncle like this - he frequently says really horribly sexist/racist/bullying/dickhead things, and everyone in my family just gives him a pass because "that's just how he is". The idea that someone like that would have his finger on the button scares the hell out of me.

Posted by: DH Walker on July 21, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Not the Gas Tax Holiday again, please.
Don't tell o. weenie, I beg you.

Posted by: thersites on July 21, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is a war without end guy in the Bush/Cheney tradition.

I'm actually, really interested in this: how much does the RNC pay people like you to say batshit insane things like this on "liberal" discussion boards? Do you get paid by the post, or is it a flat fee? Is it a career, or are you a volunteer? And do you coordinate with the national GOP, or a state affiliate? Who would I contact to sign up?

Seriously - I'm really curious to know more about how this whole process works.

Posted by: DH Walker on July 21, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

What I find interesting is that McCain doesn't seem to make these kind of gaffes on other policy issues. While he has some crazy economic policies, he doesn't seem to make stupid economic gaffes.

I got two words for you -- Phil Gramm. The man is a walking, talking, stupid economic gaffe, and he didn't just magically appear as McCain's economic adviser one day. Homo McMaverickus, in his infinite wisdom, decided to make Gramm the face & voice of his economic policy. And the man's a known quantity -- obscenely wealthy, notoriously callous, & famously corrupt (responsible, as he is, for what's known as the "Enron loophole" -- yes, the very same Enron on whose board Gramm's wife sat before that company's chickens came home to roost). I'd say McCain has enough stupid going on to cover most of his policy issues -- not just those of a foreign-relations nature.

Posted by: junebug on July 21, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II,
Is it gas tax holiday season again! Already?

Oh goody, that means I get a new pair of shoes.

Oh Thersy .....

Posted by: optical weenie on July 21, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Dunno if he was ever really that sharp as a younger man,"

Am I right that McCain is the guy who finished 894 out of 899 in his college class? Age may not be the problem here. Maybe he was never "really that sharp."

Posted by: David in NY on July 21, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is a very old man, and his handlers are endangering the country by continuing to run him.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on July 21, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Oh come on. Everyone understands what he meant. It's not like his defense secretary is going to bomb the wrong country because McCain can't remember it's name. They can easily confirm his orders by handing him a globe or having him flip through mugshots of dictators.

While I understand this argument on its face, I will say that its exactly the same thing the right wing told Americans (successfully) about Bush during his first run. Sure, maybe he didn't know jack shit about anything outside of the USA, but he would be surrounded by smart people who would clue him in and work things out!

We all know how that turned out. The problem is that a President who doesn't know jack shit and doesn't care to know jack shit is opening himself up to manipulation and chicanery. Bush is especially bad at this (he will listen to anyone who flatters his insanely deluded sense of self-grandeur) but it applies to anyone really.

Posted by: Joshua on July 21, 2008 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, Weenie, shoes it is.

Poor little Timmy, another year without new crutches. Don't worry, I'll explain it to him somehow.

Posted by: thersites on July 21, 2008 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Not that I pay much attention to the walking gaffe that is John McCain, but as I recall, he made some rather gaffy, or daffy, statements regarding Social Security which suggested he didn't understand how the system worked.

Posted by: ckelly on July 21, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

ckelly, don't be silly.

Of course McSham understands how the system works.

The Republicans run a likeable idiot. The Democrats run an articulate, intelligent candidate. The Dem candidate is too elite/stiff/french-looking or something, and the Republicans win.

Posted by: thersites on July 21, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

McCain doesn't make economic gaffes, if by "gaffe" you mean an unintentional revelation.

His statements are way too incoherent to reveal anything.

Posted by: Downpuppy on July 21, 2008 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's comments must have been mistranslated.

Posted by: AJB on July 21, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Or, to put thersites's comment in another way:

Republicans (as a group) are evil. Democrats (as a group) are stupid. Thus, in a presidential election, Republicans run the least evil, most stupid guy they can find. While Democrats run the smartest, most evil guy that they can find. In this way each side tries to hide their vulnerability, while attempting to steal some of the opposing side's votes.

It saddens me that this is a near-perfect distillation of the American political system.

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on July 21, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Remus,
That wasn't exactly what I meant. The words "elite/stiff/french-looking or something," were meant facetiously.

Unless you're being sarcastic, too. In which case I apologize for being dense.

Posted by: thersites on July 21, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

No, I took you at your word, and I wasn't being sarcastic. Except for the unstated recognition that no political figure is really as evil or stupid as the media makes them out to be. :)

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on July 21, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans run a likeable idiot.

With all due respect, Thers, I have to disagree with the first characterization. I'll grant you that Reagan was likeable -- as Bloom County pointed out, a peach. But Bush I? BobDole? Bush II? I had the guy pegged as a frat-boy jerk of the first order from about the first day I saw him. McCain of the short temper, likeable?

No, Republicans haven't run a likeable candidate since Reagan. They did, however, learn from Nixon's experience, and made sure the media perceived their candidate as likeable -- especially since, in Bush the Lesser's case, he had nothing else going for him.

Posted by: Gregory on July 21, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

You're mostly right, Gregory. I was thinking on a very short time horizon, i.e. since 2000.

Up until the Boy Emperor's Excellent Adventure started going south, a lot of people genuinely liked W. I can't explain it myself, but there it is.
And there's still a lot of residual affection for McSham. Those of us that are paying attention see though it readily enough, but you wouldn't know the real McSham from watching TV.

Posted by: thersites on July 21, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Many Americans found W. Bush likable. They liked his vanity and disregard for the rest of the world, which resembled themselves.

Posted by: Brojo on July 21, 2008 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Except for the unstated recognition that no political figure is really as evil or stupid as the media makes them out to be. :) Posted by: Remus Shepherd

First of all, most American politicians and such, particularly those in both of Shrub cabinets, are most likely eviler and stupider than the U.S. media portrays them. Second, when was the last time the American press portrayed anyone in Shrub's two administrations as evil and/or stupid?

Posted by: Jeff II on July 21, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't this supposed to be his strong suit?

ARE YOU CASTING ASPERSIONS ON JOHN MCCAIN'S INTEGRITY AND, BY IMPLICATION, HIS MILITARY STATUS??? MY GOD THE MAN WAS SHOT DOWN -- SHOT DOWN, I TELL YOU!!!

Posted by: Stefan on July 21, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

.. . he doesn't seem to make stupid economic gaffes.

Umm, Social Security seems to be an economic topic, and if expressing outrage at how the SS system works, all while depositing SS checks every month isn't a gaffe, then I don't know what the word means.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on July 21, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

How did John McCain become lionized as a foreign policy expert?

You know, that's a good question. After all, it's not as if he's contributed any strategic thinking to the subject, or has authored any seminal articles or books. Basically it comes down to the fact that he's pro-war, and if you're pro-war, it (according to the US press) automatically makes you a foreign policy expert.

Posted by: Stefan on July 21, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is too goddamn old to be president, plain and simple. At his age, his mind is clearly slowing and he is often confused about things nobody running for president should be confused about. Hell, my mother is 72 and she needs two naps a day.

And the press, the so called liberal press, will give Grandpa McCain a pass every single time, because they spent so much time building him us as this bogus 'maverick', they cannot dare call him on the obvious that he's a cranky old fart who probably needs to be told every morning that the socks go on before the shoes.

Posted by: Que? on July 21, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

72 is really not that old. Most 72-year-olds I know are pretty sharp. It's just that McCain is a very, very old 72. He's 72 going on 102.

Posted by: shortstop on July 21, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and thanks, David in NY and ckelly, for patiently explaining me to Neil B./tyrannosomething, but not to worry. His every-few-days freakouts at my posts are a nice little break in my routine.

Posted by: shortstop on July 21, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is too goddamn old to be president, plain and simple. Posted by: Que?

Age has nothing to do with it. He's morally and intellectually unqualified to be president.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 21, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan's comment is worth repeating: Basically it comes down to the fact that he's pro-war, and if you're pro-war, it (according to the US press) automatically makes you a foreign policy expert.

Posted by: Gregory on July 21, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't this supposed to be his strong suit?
—Kevin Drum 11:50 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (61)

The Big Lie about McCain that has yet to be punctured is that he is really sharp on foreign policy/ national security issues.
He's actually a big zero in this department.

Posted by: Northern Observer on July 21, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, there is a little-known border that Iraq and Pakistan share, right next to Germany, just southwest of Mexico.

Posted by: Speed on July 21, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

McCain has been in elective office for 24 years, and has seen many politicians, from Earl Butz to Phil Gramm, go down in flames after inserting foot in mouth. He's now, for the second time, in the fishbowl of a presidential campaign. If he can't organize his thoughts and verbalize them coherently, and fails to do serially, it's an issue.

Posted by: allbetsareoff on July 21, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Hey B,

Thanks. I got a real nice laugh from that one.

Posted by: Lew on July 21, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

We're talking about a man who's too lazy to learn how to send his own e-mail, let alone avail himself of a computer for information and education. He's never had an original idea of his own that I've heard about, and can only talk on any subject that he has been sufficiently primed on. He seems to have no depth of knowledge and real-world experience that postdates becoming a politician. This man is as big a waste of space as the present incumbent and possibly just as dangerous.

If he wins the election I'd say it might be time to seriously consider abandoning ship. And, based on his military record, that might be the consideration of the USN too!

Posted by: notthere on July 21, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

OK shortstop, now that I know you're teasing I can remember to lay off - and I figured you more likely might be. But I realized I wanted to get off unloading that fine piece of rhetorical work anyway (just imagine it applying to whomever deserves it out there, there must be plenty of them) - so I made a CMA tip-off of no harm intended in case you were kidding. Hence, I do salute you!

BTW thanks for remembering my sometime handle "tyrannogenius" - I grabbed that one first and only, as a search of The Intertubes will reveal to other than John McCain and a few recluses here and there.

Posted by: Neil B. on July 21, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

72 is really not that old. Most 72-year-olds I know are pretty sharp. It's just that McCain is a very, very old 72. He's 72 going on 102.

No doubt. I blame the Vietnamese, the Arizona sun, and the radiation therapy.

How come we make linebackers take the Wonderlic test and not these guys.

Posted by: B on July 21, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Umm, Social Security seems to be an economic topic, and if expressing outrage at how the SS system works, all while depositing SS checks every month isn't a gaffe, then I don't know what the word means.

No, a gaffe is when you inadvertently say something that reveals what you really think but would prefer to keep obscured or hidden. When it comes to Social Security (or anything else about economics) what McCain said is not a gaffe because he doesn't actually know what he's talking about -- it's not a gaffe, it's rampant ignorance.

Posted by: Stefan on July 21, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Obama should take a bunch of these McCain boo boos (iraq/pakistan border; confusing iran with iraq; not knowing difference between shias and sunnis) and make memorable ads and drive home the following point:

McCain doesn't know his basics. He clearly doesn't care about these important issues of war and geo-politics. How can someone come up with intelligent solutions without knowing the fundamentals of the problem?

I'm hoping there are creative folks out there who can make ads using McCain's own video to drive home this important point.

Posted by: rational on July 21, 2008 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

But I realized I wanted to get off unloading that fine piece of rhetorical work anyway (just imagine it applying to whomever deserves it out there, there must be plenty of them) - so I made a CMA tip-off of no harm intended in case you were kidding.

"Fine piece of rhetoric"?

Swan's got a new handle?

Posted by: on July 21, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Both candidates, if you're not overly partisan, are garbage. The election will pivot on the vice presidential candidates.

Posted by: Luther on July 21, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

The election will pivot on the vice presidential candidates.

If I were a Republican, I'd be pretending the same thing.

Posted by: shortstop on July 21, 2008 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

From the Politico:


"AMMAN, Jordan—An Obama campaign ban on green clothing during the candidate’s visits to Israel and Jordan has created wide puzzlement among observers of the Middle East.

In a memo to reporters, described as “a few guidelines we sent staff before departure to the Middle East,” Obama advance staffer Peter Newell laid out rules on attire for Jordan and Israel."

It appears that green is the color of Islam and so by banning it Obama has potentially insulted at least a coupla million muslims. So McCain's verbal mix-up today has now been cancelled, and Obama now leads in the gaffe count.

Oh and girls, don't wear nail polish, or tank tops.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 21, 2008 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Which is it, weenie? Is Obama insulting all Muslims by telling his staff not to wear green, or is he insulting American women by asking his staff not to wear tank tops in a Muslim country?

Oh, it's just that you want to be insulted regardless of whatever asinine contradictions you have to keep making to do it. Got it.

Posted by: shortstop on July 21, 2008 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Which is it, weenie? Is Obama insulting all Muslims by telling his staff not to wear green, or is he insulting American women by asking his staff not to wear tank tops in a Muslim country?

Oh, it's just that you want to be insulted regardless of whatever asinine contradictions you have to keep making to do it. Got it. Posted by: shortstop

Ooooh! Cat fight!

Weenie's got a point, however. Not too many people in Jordan or Israel vote for president. So, who gives a shit what the local dress code may or may not be (Amman is hardly Riyadh in any case).

That being said, I have a problem imagining, one too many female staffers in the first place and, two, any of them being so stupid as to think that a green cone bustier would be appropriate work wear no matter how hot things were.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 21, 2008 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

This is exactly the type of thing that Obama should be using to erode McCain perceived expertise on foreign policy.

I can see the ad now....McCain's statement to Diane Sawyer about Iraq & Pakistan sharing a border....then a voiceover noting that Iraq and McCain do not actually share a border....followed by a statement asking whether or not you really want a president who doesn't even know the map of the Middle East.

Posted by: mfw13 on July 22, 2008 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Shortstop: You forget how sensitive conservatives are to insulting Muslims. They consider that something that should be avoided at all costs.

Posted by: DH Walker on July 22, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Ah yes, geographic gaffes. In talking about translators, Obama said this...

“We only have a certain number of them, and if they are all in Iraq, then it’s harder for us to use them in Afghanistan."

Catching either of them in gaffes is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Posted by: SJRSM on July 22, 2008 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

SJRSM, I may have lousy irondar, but in reality of course talk of translators being here versus there has nothing to do with proximity of the locales.

Posted by: Neil B on July 22, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Neil, the two places speak two different languages. That was the irony.

Posted by: SJRSM on July 22, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Neil, the two places speak two different languages. That was the irony. Posted by: SJRSM

Actually, its more like three (four?) languages between the two countries, depending on where you are in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 22, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK
Neil, the two places speak two different languages.

Afghanistan has something like 5 languages that are the primary language of at least 1% of the population and on the order of 30 minor languages, Iraq has four languages that are official (Arabic, Kurdish, Assyrian, and Iraqi Turkmen) in at least some region and several minor languages. So, no, your statement is not quite accurate.

That was the irony.

There might be some irony related to that if the languages spoken in the two countries didn't overlap, and if all of our translators only spoke one language other than English.

In the real world, however, it is non-ironic, as some languages are common to the two countries, and because translators may not be limited to only one language.

It seems the "gaffe" here is yours.

Posted by: cmdicely on July 22, 2008 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

They key language spoken in Afghanistan from the perspective of talking to the people who dislike us is Pashto (Pashtun tribes in the south and a similar dialect of it spoken in Waziristan) which is not Arabic.

Thanks for playing.

Posted by: SJRSM on July 22, 2008 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

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