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Tilting at Windmills

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July 23, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

THE EMPTY SUIT MEME....For those of you who don't keep up with the conservative blogosphere, one of the memes they've been trying to push for the past couple of weeks is this: Barack Obama may give a good prepared speech, but his dirty little secret is that he's actually an empty suit who's totally at sea without a teleprompter. Today, for example, Andy McCarthy, channeling John Hinderaker, offers up this snippet from an Obama press conference in Jerusalem:

Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran, as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don't obtain a nuclear weapon.

But Obama isn't on the Senate Banking Committee! Busted!

I dunno. Do they really think this tack is going to work? It's true that Obama flubbed that sentence, but that's all it was: a verbal flub. What he meant was that the Banking Committee had recently reported out a bill that included some provisions from a bill he cosponsored in 2007. So he should have said "my provisions," or something like that, not "my committee."

There's a difference between verbal flubs, which every candidate makes plenty of, and gaffes that reveal some kind of serious misunderstanding of the world. When John McCain refers to Czechoslovakia, for example, that's just a verbal flub. When he tries to convince us that the surge was responsible for the Sunni Awakening, that's a serious gaffe. Somebody who really understands the past few years of history in Iraq just wouldn't make a mistake like that.

Obama makes verbal flubs as often as anyone (57 states, "eight or ten years," the banking committee thing), but he almost never makes genuine gaffes. The reason is simple: he's a very sharp, very grounded politician who's exactly the opposite of an empty suit. As M.J. Rosenberg says today, "He's smart. He reads. He knows his sh*t."

I'll be curious to see if this meme manages to ooze its way upward into the mainstream press, but I doubt it. It's just too dumb. I think the wingosphere would be better off sticking to the messiah schtick.

Kevin Drum 8:03 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (74)

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Comments

I think McCain has proven to be an empty head.
(Ach! Degrading his service!)

Posted by: John McCain: More of the Same on July 23, 2008 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

1. when is a 'gaffe' not a 'gaffe' ? when it is an obvious flub, a verbal typo, such as obama's 'israel...' comment which was intended to start as 'america...' blah blah blah... he obviously misspoke, no big deal...
(*unless* he really IS a secret moose limb ! ! !)

2. further, it hardly seems unreasonable (not that that would ever stop banshees from screaming) to refer to ANY committe a person or kongresskritter might be on, as 'my' committee...
(as opposed to all the others he is not on, which are not 'his' committees...)
whether they are ranking or chairman or whatever...
i belong to a homeowners association (unfortunately), i am just a regular member, not a president or chairman or anything, yet i feel like i can say 'my homeowner's association'... that's a gaffe ? i don't think so, merely a common way of speaking...

again, sillyness squared is the word of the day in 'our' (sic) mainstream media and the punditocracy...

unless/until the media is repurposed from korporate toadyism to informing the sheeple, thisy here 'spearmint in small dee democracy is circling the drain...

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

eof

Posted by: art guerrilla on July 23, 2008 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

I hope that they do push that meme. Then we can see a side by side view of their top ten gaffes. Obama wins.

Posted by: keith g on July 23, 2008 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

The acid test to whether a meme has stuck is whether the late night comedians use it as a punchline. You know...

Clinton: priapic, insincere
Gore: stiff, prevaricator
Bush, Jr.: stupid, stubborn
McCain: old

The only thing that has stuck to Obama is "idealistic" and "messianic". Witness Jon Stewart last night... "During his mideast trip today, Barack Obama stopped over to Bethlehem today to visit the manger where he was born"... or the latest jib jab short where he's frolicking with unicorns.

If this is the worst that Obama gets, he's got this election sewed up.

Posted by: wagster on July 23, 2008 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

The acid test to whether a meme has stuck is whether the late night comedians use it as a punchline. You know...

Clinton: priapic, insincere
Gore: stiff, prevaricator
Bush, Jr.: stupid, stubborn
McCain: old

The only thing that has stuck to Obama is "idealistic" and "messianic". Witness Jon Stewart last night... "During his mideast trip today, Barack Obama stopped over to Bethlehem today to visit the manger where he was born"... or the latest jib jab short where he's frolicking with unicorns.

If this is the worst that Obama gets, he's got this election sewed up.

Posted by: wagster on July 23, 2008 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

IT was Carl Bernstein on CNN that said the Bill Clinton thought that Barack Obama was an empty shirt. I think Clinton means that Obama talks big doesn't walk the talk.

Unfortunately after the FISA Bill and Obama’s legal adviser’s Sunstein’s talk about sunlight minus any dissection of FISA lawsuits or investigation of Bush's torture policies, that Obama isn't going to allow anyone to do, that Obama will in fact cover it all up, it sounds about right.

Obama is an empty shirt. Obama talks big, but it all merely talk. Obama doesn't walk the talk.

Posted by: Me_again on July 23, 2008 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

not any dissection, I mean "disinfection" of lawsuits

Posted by: Me_again on July 23, 2008 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Me_again, maybe Obama isn't toeing the "liberal line" as much as the "left" would like, but: if so, he can't really be as "far left" as the rightwing critics say. They can't have it both ways.

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ ♪ ♪ on July 23, 2008 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

He ignorant.

Posted by: Luther on July 23, 2008 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

I am so glad you blogged this Kevin. I was just telling my husband about noticing this same meme and he was dumbfounded. I think for something to pop through it has to resonate on some level and I don't think calling Obama "inarticulate" or "dumb" matches up with any sane person's perceptions.

It interests me that they have the nerve after supporting Bush for 8 years to accuse anyone with a central nervous system of being an empty suit.

Posted by: Teresa on July 23, 2008 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

You're a 46 year old (essentially) black man. Middle name Hussein. Last name rhymes with Osama. Osama for god sakes! You don't get to be the Democratic nominee over John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden by accident. I cannot happen. Obama has written 2 books. If anyone questions his intellect they should just read 10 pages of either book. End of story.

I hope they keep underestimating Barack Obama.

The ironic part is that McCain is every day proving to be all the empty suit that his friend George W Bush has proven to be. McCain is a total train wreck of a candidate.

Posted by: glutz78 on July 23, 2008 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who voted or supported George W. Bush is banned from attempting the "empty suit" meme on anyone in the UNIVERSE.

Posted by: RobertSeattle on July 23, 2008 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

There's a difference between verbal flubs, which every candidate makes plenty of, and gaffes that reveal some kind of serious misunderstanding of the world.

—Kevin Drum

Yes, but that's irrelevant. The real difference is that the MSM will not hold verbal flubs OR gaffes against McCain -- just the way they didn't hold them against against Shrub.

But they will hold BOTH verbal flubs AND gaffes against Obama. And this will not change between now and November.

In fact, pointing out McCain's flubs and gaffes will endear him all the more to all those assholes who simply can't endure a President who's too smart.

That's why Shrub moved to Crawford and began to hem and haw, with a southern drawl. It's worth 10 percentage points in the vote.

Posted by: Econobuzz on July 23, 2008 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

It gets better! Yahoo news headlines is reporting that McCain is denying he mis-stated the surge timing:

http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/topstories/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080723/ap_on_el_pr/mccain

Posted by: keith g on July 23, 2008 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

"Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my provisions..."

Hmmm...no. I'm willing to believe it was just a flub, but you'll have to find something that makes more sense than that. The only thing I can think of is that he used to be on the Illinois Senate banking committee, or something. He's clearly talking about the committee here, unless the rest of the sentence is inaccurate.

Posted by: Mario on July 23, 2008 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

Funny you mention this because I've been looking for Obama clips on YouTube and noticed the odd trend of conservatives crapflooding YouTube with cheap DIY "gaffe" compilations. Guess they're taking orders from Malkin or someone.

Take a look:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=obama+gaffes&search_type=&aq=f

Posted by: on July 23, 2008 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK
When John McCain refers to Czechoslovakia, for example, that's just a verbal flub

Maybe to you and me, but if Iran really is months away from a nuke and missile, if Putin and Hu are really all that bad, if Reagans dream is as much overdo as the pro-starwars crowd says it is, if all the talk about Russian countermoves is nonsense... then obviously keeping track of Czech public opinion and Czech politics is of vital importance! No Czech agreement, no radar, people get nuked!

How could someone who has been reading the two, three articles per week minimum required to keep track of the Polish and Czech politics get the name of the Czech republic wrong?

Posted by: hu on July 23, 2008 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

What I've noticed about Republicans is that they rarely try to win on the merits of their position. Instead, they try to shift the discussion somewhere else-- they will do anything to avoid having to actually defend their policies.

Posted by: genghis bong on July 23, 2008 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'll be curious to see if this meme manages to ooze its way upward into the mainstream press...

I'd say the Tribune's Washington bureau counts as mainstream.

Posted by: junebug on July 23, 2008 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

What I've noticed about Republicans is that they rarely try to win on the merits of their position

That would be because they can't win on their positions.

The public is pretty sure they don't want any more Terry Schiavo-ish social conservative intervention.

The public is also pretty sure they don't much want Republicans and government peeking in their bedroom windows.

The public seems mostly sure they think gays are ok.

The public isn't fond of bankers, hedge-fund managers, corporate CEO's, or the idle wealthy shifting their accounts offshore to avoid taxes.

The public seems pretty happy that their kids aren't required to pray in public school.

The public doesn't much want Republicans mucking around in their procreation choices.

The public has had a good taste now of the effective financial stewardship of Republicans.

The public has had quite enough of endless wars soaking up our tax dollars and sending our young people home in body bags.

What do the Republicans have left to run on? Oh, yeah. Taxes.

That's about it though......

Posted by: Art Eclectic on July 23, 2008 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

I don't buy Kevin's WORM either, especially since Obama has apparently inappropriately taken credit for a number of legislative accomplishments. I'm more inclined to think he takes a proprietary view of anything he's been at all involved with, and when he's speaking off the cuff, that sense of "mine" slips out.

Posted by: Swift Loris on July 23, 2008 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

I can't wait for an election. Please dear god give me an impeachment. Please Please Please.
Who gives a rats ass about inside politics stories.

Bah Humbug Throw the Bastards Out Now.

Posted by: dilbert dogbert on July 23, 2008 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know exactly where wmtruth is drawing the line nowadays between "genuine gaffes" and outright lies, so perhaps Kevin Drum could let us know which it is in this case. Likewise with this and all the others. That's one of the dangers of an echo chamber: all the input Kevin Drum receives comes from liberal bloggers and the MSM (nearly the same thing).

[Note: WM and/or KD have a habit of deleting or editing comments without notice, so this comment may disappear or be different from what I posted. Search for "kevin drum" at my site for examples of comments that were deleted.]

Posted by: The annoying LonewackoDotCom on July 23, 2008 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

But Obama can speak eloquently--his occasional verbal lapses are the result of the sheer volume of his pronouncements. Unlike McCain, I am sure he will revise his mistakes to reflect his real policies or actions. And that is what should be talked about.

This whole discussion point is pretty insipid. Tell us again what McCain actually believes and wishes to do for America, besides cut VA benefits, women's reproductive rights, and America's credibility? I am miffed that our political discourse has been reduced to "gotchas!" I watched about 10-seconds of news tonight where the pundit said McCain needs to keep talking surge. Not because the Mad-Lurching Candidate (tm) even knows what it means, but because it appeared to play better than his other "strengths." So, we have an election and the only issues in the media are nonsense stories designed to manipulate. Couric's bullshit yesterday where she changed McCain's answer to her question should have gotten her fired or arrested. Manipulating the news to serve an agenda is the definition of propaganda. CBS and others should be ashamed.

Posted by: Sparko on July 23, 2008 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

And Whack-job: the best place to see new talking points trotted out are trolls in the comment sections. I noticed the teleprompter crap in some Huff-po wingnut troll posts. Pathetic. Is there some policy of Obama's you wish to debate with he or his surrogates, or is ad hominem bullshit the only thing you guys have left? You might as well Rick Roll yourself into oblivion as post links to that intellectually squalid cesspool.

Posted by: Sparko on July 23, 2008 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

"There's a difference between verbal flubs, which every candidate makes plenty of, and gaffes that reveal some kind of serious misunderstanding of the world."

So why did you guys make such a fuss over McCain's iraq-borders-pakistan flub? Where is Kevin's pooh-poohing of that little flap?

It's funny how reasonable and fair-minded you guys get when it's a Democrat who screwed up.

Posted by: a on July 23, 2008 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

A: Because McCain bills himself as an experienced and gifted foreign policy expert. Peace is born of wisdom. And all of that. He doesn't seem to know up from down any more. That was the risk when he decided to run an unprincipled campaign pandering to the far right ideology. He forgets what he should believe, and believes what he has forgotten.

Posted by: Sparko on July 23, 2008 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

We have verbal flubs, like when I was talking about Iran, but said Iraq instead. A gaffe, is a really foolish thing (almost always more than simply choosing the wrong word), such as a major insult, or being (honestly) wrong in ones understanding of an issue. Then their are deliberate distortions, and outright lies. Unless it was simply a matter of his memory not being able to pick out the temporal relations of things, McCains surge caused awakining is in the more serious lie category. And if it simply that his memory is disfunctional, then we have two major issues: (1) that his mental processes are so far gone. (2) That he isn't having trusted advisors vet his statements ahead of time. Or maybe (3), he does do (2) but his advisors have very little integrity.

Posted by: bigTom on July 23, 2008 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Swift Loris. Obama has a tendency to take credit where none is due including making up his own personal biography (Selma, ancestor who liberated concentration camp in Poland) to inflate himself. There was some recent legislation - can't remember what it was -- that he claimed was his that he had nothing to do with.

As for substantive gaffes what about his statement that Iraqi translators were needed in Afghanistan?

If its all about whether Obama really understands the world what I've heard from him is strictly conventional - U.S. foreign policy for generations -- and a superficial rendering of that. Yes yes McCain is worse (I've heard that one!) but that's a different topic - different from asking who is Obama.

Posted by: Amelia on July 23, 2008 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

"He's smart. He reads. He knows his sh*t."

All true, but possibly even more important, Obama believes what he says. He doesn't have to fake it. Even an average person can sound pretty good-- form whole sentences, make a point and support it with useful references if he isn't trying to bamboozle the audience with a pack of lies.

Lying day after day is hard work as Dubyutz has reminded us on many occasions.

Regarding Czechoslovakia vs. Czech Republic, perhaps McCain does know the difference but lost track of which audience he had in front of him. It occurs to me a lot of the people he talks to regularly are 20 years behind the times. He may talk the ancient dialect on purpose to keep them engaged. Then he fucks up by forgetting that the rest of us didn't stop gathering information in 1987.

Posted by: dennisS on July 23, 2008 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

VOTE DIGBY FOR PRESIDENT---VOTE THE INTERNET
Why hire another liar, no matter how sweet they make it sound?

Posted by: Mike Meyer on July 23, 2008 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

dilbert dogbert: Call Pelosi @1-202-225-0100 and DEMAND IMPEACHMENT. I called today and I WILL call tomorrow. TRY IT.

Posted by: Mike Meyer on July 23, 2008 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

Screw it. I'm voting for Mike Meyer!

Posted by: thersites on July 23, 2008 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

OK, here's the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjzb61wfyN0

there's no way this was a case of misspeaking or of misinterpretation or of any such thing. Kevin is
full of shit and is spinning like a top.

Posted by: a on July 23, 2008 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans tried to push the idea that Bill Clinton was a left-wing liberal. It never took, because it wasn't believable. Things don't stick unless they can be credibly believed: there has to be some kind of underlying narrative to back it up.

The dead-enders are pushing the "Obama is a gaffe machine" like no tomorrow. They might even believe it. But it's never going to percolate up to the rest of the country, because it's a claim made with nothing to stand on.

Posted by: Tyro on July 24, 2008 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

Wasnt Obama the (or an) editor of the Harvard Law Review? If these right-wingers believe someone not-smart could get to that position, they are the really dumb. Maybe more likely, though, is that they are practicing the usual elite, typically right-wing, practice of saying what they want people to believe, rather than what they really think. Isnt this a key part of the Strauss/Kristol pseudo-democracy vision of politics? How can we get people (Dems and Repubs) called out on this terrible (elitist & antidemocratic) practice more often?

Posted by: Brian on July 24, 2008 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

thersites: THANK YOU---so am I.

Posted by: Mike Meyer on July 24, 2008 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK

The independents that are still undecided don't share Kevin's smug assurance that the surge had nothing to do with the Sunni awakening -- they put it in the same category as lefties saying Reagan didn't end the cold war, it was all a coincidence. If we had followed Kevin's advice back then [We.Need.To.Get.Out.Now...] the tribes would have known that they needed to accomodate al Qaeda, not fight it.
I think the more interesting, and frightening, issue is why McCain's poll numbers are holding up so well if Obama is the anointed one? Right now I think the only way Obama will win is if the MSM start pounding on McCain's gaffes for what they are - senior moments. I'm reminded of two items from past campaigns - one was Poppy Bush's bumper sticker "Annoy the media, vote Bush" the other was Pauline Kael's dinner party comment: How could Nixon have beaten McGovern, I don't know a single person that voted for Nixon? McCain is up 10 points in Ohio today, even if he's lost this comment section.

Posted by: loki on July 24, 2008 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

Obama must have run out of anonymous staffers to throw under buses, because explaining what he really meant seems to be the parlor game du jour on the left these days. Maybe someone else can come up with something more convincing banking front than the version Kevin's floating here.

Folks who haven't been tracking actual military maneuvers on the ground very closely don't seem to have any idea that the surge troops themselves were only one component of a comprehensive shift to counterinsurgency operations. Those operations were already underway before they arrived and are continuing on, even though the official surge troops are now back home. Indeed, I believe Petraeus' experience in his own earlier deployment informed the manual he ultimately produced. One can argue over whether the Anbar Awakening formally "began" before the "surge", but the fact that they did not remain discreet operations and that the magnitude of their successes derived directly from cooperation is only disputed by those who weren't paying much attention.

Posted by: JM Hanes on July 24, 2008 at 4:03 AM | PERMALINK

OK, here's the video:

Note the little pat on the chest as he says, "my committee."

This is neither a flub nor a gaffe (in Kevin's definitions). Is it a lie? Not if he believes it, strictly speaking. But it's really quite creepy and definitely worthy of notice.

From a HuffPo item on the mistake:

"UPDATE: An Obama spokesman tells CNN 'it was his bill, not his committee,' referring to the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act that the Illinois senator sponsored and introduced in May 2007. The measure was then referred to the Banking Committee, and passed a vote of 19-2 on July 17.

"In a meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday, Obama told the former Israeli Prime Minister, 'I could fall asleep now standing up,' after Netanyahu asked him how his whirlwind trip to the Middle East and Europe is going."

It wasn't even his bill, just some provisions from an earlier bill. I'm sure he's exhausted, but that doesn't seem to be the kind of mistake one makes when one is tired. Getting the name of the committee wrong would perhaps be understandable, but not thinking one is on a committee when one isn't.

Posted by: Swift Loris on July 24, 2008 at 4:03 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, but the clothes have no emperor.

Calling Obama an empty suit is an insult to empty suits.

Posted by: myiq2xu on July 24, 2008 at 4:40 AM | PERMALINK

"Getting the name of the committee wrong would perhaps be understandable, but not thinking one is on a committee when one isn't."

Maybe if Obama had attended a few committee meetings he's know which ones he's on.

Posted by: myiq2xu on July 24, 2008 at 4:42 AM | PERMALINK

For conservatives to suggest that Barack Obama is "an empty suit" after eight years of the Retard from Crawford goes beyond hypocrisy or irony.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 24, 2008 at 5:56 AM | PERMALINK

Third Third Choice explains more:

McCain's right about the pre-"surge"surge and Kevin et al. are incapable of understanding that.

Posted by: Passerby on July 24, 2008 at 6:46 AM | PERMALINK


Obama said;

"This, this, uh, this past week we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to, uh, call for divestment from Iran."

"which is MY committee".

LIAR.
That's it. He lied to make himself look like more than he is. Period, end of story.

Posted by: xerock on July 24, 2008 at 6:54 AM | PERMALINK

"Wasnt Obama the (or an) editor of the Harvard Law Review? If these right-wingers believe someone not-smart could get to that position, they are the really dumb"

It's called Afirmitive Action.

If I'm so dumb, then you tell me the name of one improtant article that Obama has ever written.

Go ahead. Do it. Now.

Posted by: xerock on July 24, 2008 at 7:04 AM | PERMALINK

I'll be curious to see if this meme manages to ooze its way upward into the mainstream press, but I doubt it. It's just too dumb.

Right, because no other dumb conservative meme has oozed its way upward into the mainstream ("Matt Drudge rules our world") press. Sheesh.

Posted by: Gregory on July 24, 2008 at 7:24 AM | PERMALINK

The distinction between a flub and a gaffe isn't inherent in the subject but in its salience. "Czechoslovakia" would have been a gaffe just after the "velvet divorce" in December 1992 when Mečiar was threatening to turn Slovakia into an authoritarian state. Now there are no consequences. If Obama had made a mistake over his FISA vote in the Senate, that would have been a gaffe.
The step beyond gaffe has a word in French: bavure, literally drool or puke, but regularly used of police shootings of suspects who turn out to be innocent. Rumsfeld's "stuff happens" was a verbal bavure.

Posted by: James Wimberley on July 24, 2008 at 7:58 AM | PERMALINK

It's called Afirmitive Action.

If I'm so dumb...

Must seek greater challenges...must not pick low-hanging fruit...

Posted by: shortstop on July 24, 2008 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone who thinks Obama's statement about the banking committee was a lie is a moron. (Yeah, xerock, I just called you a moron, and your spelling confirms that. No wonder you take refuge in myths about affirmative action.)

A lie is a false statement, made by someone who knows it is false, with the intention of making someone else believe that the statement is true. It is very easy to check which Senator is on which committee, and Obama knows that. He also knows the eyes of the world are on everything he does and says. And he's not stupid. Ergo, he wouldn't lie about something so easy to check, regardless what you think of his character.

Therefore, the statement was some kind of slip. There's more than one way to slip up in a marathon of public speaking such as the one Obama has been running for the past year. The fact is that the provisions in that bill regarding divestment from Iran were Obama's provisions, so the most likely explanation is that he slipped in asserting a connection to the committee instead of a connection to the provisions.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on July 24, 2008 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, shortstop, such restraint! You're makin' me look bad.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on July 24, 2008 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

The weak-minded, ignorant, neo-brownshirt mental slaves of Rush Limbaugh are out blog-commenting in force, robotically regurgitating their scripted talking points. Must be an election year.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 24, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "When [McCain] tries to convince us that the surge was responsible for the Sunni Awakening, that's a serious gaffe. Somebody who really understands the past few years of history in Iraq just wouldn't make a mistake like that."

When McCain tells Americans that the surge was responsible for the Sunni Awakening, that's a deliberate lie. Somebody who really understands the history of the corporate-owned mass media glorifying Bush and character-assassinating Gore and Kerry to help Bush steal the last two elections knows that he can tell whatever lies he wants and get away with it.

Kevin wrote: "I'll be curious to see if this meme manages to ooze its way upward into the mainstream press, but I doubt it. It's just too dumb."

If anything, it is less "dumb" than the corporate-owned media's various lines of relentless attack on Al Gore ("earth tones" anyone?) throughout the 2000 campaign. The so-called "mainstream" corporate-owned mass media will no doubt report as news the fact that the right wing media is saying this. That's a big part of how the corporate-owned "mainstream" media and the corporate-owned "right wing" media work together to promote the agenda and interests of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 24, 2008 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Let me get this straight. We have rightards, neocons, and wingnut tools pointing at Obama and yelling "liar"? Oh good Lord.

Posted by: ckelly on July 24, 2008 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

the most likely explanation is that he slipped in asserting a connection to the committee instead of a connection to the provisions.

That's a very weird kind of slip, especially given the syntax of what he said and the little pat on the chest emphasizing "my committee."

I don't buy it. He meant to assert a connection to the committee.

What he should have said:
"...We passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee a bill that contained my provisions to call for divestment from Iran..."

What he actually said:
"...We passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran..."

I think that because the commmittee passed out a bill containing his provisions, he thinks of it as "his" committee, a committee over which, in his mind, he has control.

If so, it would be a Kinsley gaffe, one in which a politician accidentally says what s/he believes.

Posted by: Swift Loris on July 24, 2008 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

When [John McCain] tries to convince us that the surge was responsible for the Sunni Awakening, that's a serious gaffe.

No, he's a lying sack of shit. Big difference.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 24, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Swift Loris wrote: "I think that because the commmittee passed out a bill containing his provisions, he thinks of it as 'his' committee, a committee over which, in his mind, he has control."

Wrong. You don't think. You regurgitate inane, scripted talking points.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 24, 2008 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

i'm starting to think i'm the only person in this country who assumed obama was joking when he said "57 states". in the way that people often do, exaggerating a number past the expected point to emphasize their feelings about the subject- "let me just do these eight million dishes first", "i really shouldn't have had 60 beers last night", etc. as in, "man, i've been to so many states campaigning...something like 57 of 'em."

Posted by: scire on July 24, 2008 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Swift Boat Loris:

It's an unusual type of slip, that much is true. But regardless of your armchair psychology, I take it you admit that he wasn't telling an intentional falsehood. That's a pretty weak meme.

Now, let's consider McCain's statement that the surge caused the Anbar Awakening, which is either intentional bullshit or frighteningly clueless. How do you psychoanalyze that?

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on July 24, 2008 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

scire,

You can check it out on YouTube. My read is that he meant 47, because he said "one left to go," and then clarified that his staff wouldn't let him go to Alaska and Hawaii. Take Alaska and Hawaii off of 50 and then subtract the "one left to go," and you get 47.

Toad

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on July 24, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Secular Animist:
You don't think. You regurgitate inane, scripted talking points.

Actually, what I wrote is original with me. If others have said the same thing, maybe they're regurgitating my points.

Mr. Fabulous Load:
It's an unusual type of slip, that much is true. But regardless of your armchair psychology, I take it you admit that he wasn't telling an intentional falsehood.

I didn't "admit" it, I asserted it.

Now, let's consider McCain's statement that the surge caused the Anbar Awakening, which is either intentional bullshit or frighteningly clueless. How do you psychoanalyze that?

As a non sequitur on your part.

Posted by: Swift Loris on July 24, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

I always assumed he said 57 because he'd had that number of primaries and caucuses on his mind, as in 50 states plus DC, the USVI, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Guam and Democrats Abroad. Wait, that's 56. Beats me, then.

Posted by: shortstop on July 24, 2008 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Loris:

I'm confused about whether you think Obama believed he was on the Banking Committee. Here's why I'm confused.

At 4:20 a.m., you seem to accuse Obama of "thinking one is on a committee when one isn't."

Then, at 10:31 a.m., you speculate that "because the commmittee passed out a bill containing his provisions, he thinks of it as "his" committee, a committee over which, in his mind, he has control."

Now, you agree that he wasn't lying, which has to mean one of three things: either (a) he wasn't saying he was on the Banking Committee, or (b) he was saying that but wasn't aware that it was false, or (c) he was saying that but wasn't trying to make anyone believe that it was true. Or, I suppose, both (b) and (c).

Which is it? I'm genuinely confused.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on July 24, 2008 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

I attributed it to Obama being taught that New Math so popular in the late 60s.

Posted by: keith g on July 24, 2008 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Swift Loris wrote: "Actually, what I wrote is original with me."

Actually, the drivel that you wrote is a rehash of the baseless slanders and fake, phony pseudo-psychoanalysis that was used to attack Al Gore as an "exaggerator" in 2000.

You are not only regurgitating scripted talking points, you are regurgitating scripted talking points that have been putrefying for eight years. No wonder they stink so bad.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 24, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I heard a panelist (I think Dan Senor) on the Diane Rehm show yesterday morning make a similar comment: the reason Obama does not have much direct contact with the press is because he can't think on his feet.

Posted by: on July 24, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Kevin,

Sometimes, intensely political people tip their hand on what they try desperately to defend. I know you are smart enough to know the difference, what Obama got caught in here:

Let's face it trying to defend the statement "the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, " as a verbal flub or even gaffe does not pass muster. It is something much worse and you know it. Please admit it.

1. It in an appositive. This means it was a part of the sentence that was completely unnecessary to be added. It was deliberately put in.

2. It was an added distinction or clarification.
Sure art guerilla@8:20 can claim that its just a way of speaking, but all he is doing is blowing smoke.
To clarify what I mean, when a member of a condominium project state "my homeowner's association" he is making a distinction. He lives in that condominium project. Everyone knows people live somewhere, he is specifying that this happens to be the place he lives - in the condominium project.
Likewise everyone knows that senators serve on committees. Therefore, "which is my committee" is not a manner of speaking, it is a clarification that he is on that committee as opposed to not being on that committee.

3. It added strong punch to the statement if it was true. It may be just an added clarification, but it certainly boosted up the importance of the statement - but only if it was true.

4. To ever believe that a U.S. Senator did not know which committees he is on and which he is not on is a joke.

So what happened here, how do we explain it. It was simply added B.S. to make the statement more powerful. Admittedly, this kind of stuff might work in law school debates, but its not going to work on internationally televised interviews with millions of ears listening. Why would Obama resort to something like this obvious untruth to boost his message?

It can only be explained by force of habit. He always thinks of himself as doing more than he deserves credit for. The sycophants in the media let him get away with it. Sometimes he overdoes it and says something stupid.

I'm not suggesting that this is a deal breaker and should make some liberal say "oh, no, now I'm voting for McCain", but let's face what kind of man the Democratic Party has nominated. Someone who plays fast and loose with the truth. Has a gigantic ego. And has gotten away with it for years. Not my choice for President.

Posted by: John Hansen on July 24, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen wrote: Sometimes, intensely political people tip their hand on what they try desperately to defend.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Projection Award nominee for the day.

The sycophants in the media let him get away with it.

Yeah, they even edited the videotape to hide the gaffe from their viewers.

Oh, wait, no -- that was CBS and McCain. Pretending the media is biased toward Obama when they're mostly giving a pass to McCain's endless series of embarrassing gaffes reveals you as a dishonest tool or extremely lacking in critical thinking skills -- or, since you come here and regurgitate bullshit from right-wing blogs, likely both.

No one pretends you're anything less than a partisan tool who's going to vote for McSame come hell or high water, Hansen. No one mistakes you for a good-faith commentator either. And no one is the least bit convinced by your delusions.

Better trolls, please.

Posted by: Gregory on July 24, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Notice that John Hansen at 1:31pm is regurgitating the exact same scripted character-assassination talking points as Swift Loris did earlier -- which are in fact a nearly verbatim rehash of the scripted character-assassination talking points used against Al Gore in 2000.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 24, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Someone who plays fast and loose with the truth. Has a gigantic ego. And has gotten away with it for years. Not my choice for President.

Yeah, I didn't vote for Bush either. You'll be pleased to learn that he is term-limited this time.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on July 24, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Swift Loris ... Hillary STILL isn't the nominee. I'm mystified why any former Clinton-supporter is spending more time on this than on McCain's complete and utter fucking cluelessness about policy.

Posted by: Gonads on July 24, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Vin Weber was on "Talk of the Nation" last night spouting this very meme.

Posted by: pacificardea on July 24, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's creating a false dichotomy. It's not empty vs. smart. Empty isn't the same as stupid. Obama's not stupid. He's Oakland. Ain't no there, there.

He has no real beliefs of his own. He only has ambition. So he mouths the beliefs that he thinks will get him the job. Left to himself, he's a liar, he's arrogant, he's well left of center (but not deeply so, just that shallow comfort of "hey, that's what my friends think), and he's got nothing to offer.

All that comes out sharply when he's not reading someone else's words.

Posted by: Cal on July 24, 2008 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Toad, in the course of my three comments to this post, I've been trying to figure out his puzzling blunder, running through the possibilities. My post at 10:31 represents my best guess as to the most likely: He thinks of it as "his" committee, a committee over which, in his mind, he has control. Sorta like the mayor of a city might refer to "my police force."

Secular Animist, you might want to consult Mr. Dictionary for the meaning of the words "scripted" and "talking points." I don't think they mean what you think they do. Oh, and then check the words "nearly verbatim rehash" as well. Might want to look up "character assassination" while you're at it. (Incidentally, I voted for Gore in 2000 and wish he were running this time so I could vote for him again.)

Gonads, I'm responding to Kevin's post, which was about Obama's gaffe. Other than pointing out that McCain is completely and utterly fucking clueless about policy, which is almost too obvious to mention, what is there to say? And I'm not sure what any of it has to do with Hillary.

Posted by: Swift Loris on July 24, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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