Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 19, 2008

WHAT FLAILING LOOKS LIKE.... Is it me, or has John McCain's message become completely incoherent this week?

Yesterday, he got things started by insisting he would fire SEC Chairman Christopher Cox if president, which was odd since a) Cox isn't really to blame; and b) the president can't fire the SEC chair. From there, McCain told an audience, "Sen. Obama's own advisers are saying that the [economic] crisis will benefit him politically." Pressed for even a shred of evidence to back that up, McCain's campaign couldn't think of anything. It was just another instance of McCain getting caught in another foolish lie.

And then McCain decided to go after Obama's association with Franklin Raines.

Republican McCain released a new spot Thursday that quotes The Washington Post as saying Democrat Obama gets advice on mortgage and housing policy from a former Fannie Mae chief executive, Franklin Raines. [...]

Obama's campaign says Raines is not an Obama adviser and that McCain's campaign knows it because Raines said so in an e-mail earlier this week to Carly Fiorina, a top McCain adviser. Obama's campaign provided The Associated Press with a copy of the e-mail.

"Carly: Is this true?" Raines asks above a forwarded note informing him that Fiorina was on television saying he was an Obama housing adviser. "I am not an adviser to the Obama campaign. Frank." [...]

Obama spokesman Bill Burton ... said Obama only met Raines once briefly at an event, and that Raines sought an introductory meeting with Obama Senate aide Mike Strautmanis. At that meeting, Burton said no advice was sought from or given by Raines, who also had served as President Clinton's budget director.

"This is another flat-out lie from a dishonorable campaign that is increasingly incapable of telling the truth," Burton said. "Frank Raines has never advised Senator Obama about anything -- ever."

I'd just add that while the attack is plainly wrong, it's foolish even if we accept the attack at face value. If getting advice from an official at a troubled financial institution is a sign of bad judgment, then why is that two of McCain's top advisors include John Thain, from Merrill Lynch, and Martin Feldstein, who serves on AIG's board of directors?

The election is just 46 days away. Just as McCain's message should be getting tighter, clearer, and more persuasive, McCain seems to be getting more reckless, more scatterbrained, and less coherent.

Steve Benen 10:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (50)

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Comments

"Obama only met Raines once briefly at an event..."

That makes him an adviser. After all, McCain only met Palin twice and she's now his running-mate.

Posted by: Speed on September 19, 2008 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Bear in mind that Franklin Raines is black. Given that McCain's already shown himself quite comfortable with sleazy, nod-and-wink, racist dog-whistle attacks (not to mention, willing to accuse *Obama* of playing the race card when he does anything to defend himself), does anyone really want to argue that the McCain campaign tying a random black guy in a position of political/financial leadership to the Obama campaign is an innocent mistake?

Posted by: Chris on September 19, 2008 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

"...more reckless, more scatterbrained, and less coherent."

You mean, um, like the electorate?

Posted by: Greg Worley on September 19, 2008 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Concerning the firing of the SEC chairman:
Prof. Bainbridge begs to differ, and I think he knows what he is talking about.
http://www.stephenbainbridge.com/punditry/comments/massive_misinformation_on_the_web_the_president_can_fire_the_sec_chairman/
This beeing the reality based crowd, I don't think it's nessecary to repeat this (probably false) point.

Posted by: Jörgen in Germany on September 19, 2008 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

SB: The election is just 46 days away. Just as McCain's message should be getting tighter, clearer, and more persuasive, McCain seems to be getting more reckless, more scatterbrained, and less coherent.

Perhaps that's the strategy? Just toss out so many statements denigrating Obama that no one can possibly keep track of them all. By the time one stupid lie is debunked, there are dozens more getting picked up by a gullible press.

McCain & Co. know that most Americans are "low information voters," so it makes sense to flood the media with lies; they know that very few people will bother to try to figure out the truth.

Posted by: JM on September 19, 2008 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

He's a maverick. Mavericks don't play by the "rules" of the campaign. McCain's got your "coherent message" right here!

Seriously, though, I think that guy just says whatever pops into his head at any given moment. Not exactly the best quality for a president.

Posted by: Tim on September 19, 2008 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

The McCain camp is treating campaign intelligence the same way McCain treated intelligence on WMD and Iraq's pre-war ties to Al-Qaeda, isn't it?

They make public statements based on snap judgments. They act as if they are based on solid evidence, but they are not. Their inside sources on what's happening in the Obama campaign are non-existent or not credible, but that doesn't stop the McCain folks from using the info they get from those sources as if it were gospel truth.

Amazing.

Posted by: Bose on September 19, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Franklin Raines has been gone from Fannie Mae for years. So has Jim Johnson.

Daniel Mudd, the disgraced Fannie Mae CEO who just had to step down, is actually a supporter of McCain.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/14/AR2008091401571.html

Posted by: Mary on September 19, 2008 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Arrrr!

That McCain swab is a lyin'. double-dealin' dog that deserves ter be KEELHAULED a'for he's sliced in'ter chum fer the sharks!

For the unitiated, today is a high holy day for the Church of the Flying Spagetti Monster. (http://www.venganza.org)
September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day (http://www.talklikeapirate.com/piratehome.html) -- the day to celebrate His Noodliness' Chosen People.

So raise a tankard of grog and shiver your timbers today!

Posted by: Pastafarian888 on September 19, 2008 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

McCain's campaign reminds me a lot of Memento. Except with worse actors.

Posted by: TJ on September 19, 2008 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

The President may unilaterally replace the Chair of the SEC, and in that sense could "fire" Cox. The President may not remove SEC Commissioners. So the fact is that Cox could be fired as Chair but not removed as Commissioner.
You should change the post to reflect that.
The notion that Cox has particular responsibility or that replacing the SEC Chair is a significant response is ridiculous.

Posted by: J. Bogart on September 19, 2008 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Rethugnican wet drips...

I just had a DittoHead tell me that he received an email that 'confirms' that:

- After the vice presidential debate, Joe Biden is going to resign from the nomination 'due to health problems'
- Hillary Clinton is going to replace him as the veep nominee

Posted by: SadOldVet on September 19, 2008 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

McCain is flailing about because for decades he’s been one of the people who helped create this mess by allowing Wall Street to do whatever it wants.

The Republican approach to financial markets is to let them do whatever they want, and then when they screw things up we get to bail them out.

How many times will people fall for that ‘fiscal conservative’ lie? It’s a fact that the biggest spending happens on the GOP’s watch.

And why is Larry Kudlow and Rush can't admit that if the CRA of 1977 was so bad and is the cause of this mess, then why didn't Republican majorities repeal or amend the act? Could it be because it actually helped their masters on Wall Street to make money?

Posted by: gang green on September 19, 2008 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

it is really getting frustrating to see mccain/palin just sit there and keep lying all the time, even after their lies are exposed. is there no way to stop this crap?

orange

Posted by: just bill on September 19, 2008 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Is it me, or has John McCain's message become completely incoherent this week?

What do you mean, this week?!

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

If the media would just headline every GOP statement with 'McCain Lies Again' or how about a law that says political ads must be truthful.

Posted by: Cameron Orth on September 19, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

There is a large portion of the electorate that does not expect (or even want) its candidate to make sense, they only expect their candidate to make the right kind of noises.

This allows them to have a cover for voting the way their own biases and irrational process would have them vote anyway.

McCain believes that there are enough of these people to be elected. I'm pretty sure he also believes that he tried the sensible argument in the past, and failed miserably. So he's going all-in on the Full Nonsense.

That, plus the incipient Alzheimers, explains the whole thing.

Posted by: biggerbox on September 19, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Sen. Obama's own advisers are saying that the [economic] crisis will benefit him politically.

I'm sure they are saying just that - because it's true. They just aren't saying it publicly. Only a GOP campaign would think that recognizing reality is something to "accuse" your opponent of.

Just as McCain's message should be getting tighter, clearer, and more persuasive, McCain seems to be getting more reckless, more scatterbrained, and less coherent.

A good reflection of the candidate himself. This hysteria is a preview of what a McCain administration would be like. Conversely, Obama's methodical, calm and collected campaign is a preview of an Obama administration.

Posted by: jimBOB on September 19, 2008 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

And bravo to the Obama campaign for calling McCain's lie a lie.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2008 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

The MSM is starting to become increasingly aware of some gaps in McCain's thought processes.

The blogosphere has been much more on top of his blather and lies.

The discussion needs to hammer home the fact that all of John's behaviors point smack dab at the very real possibility that he suffers from not only a hearing impairment but vascular dementia as well.

He flails, he lies because he can't remember that he's been told it was a lie. He reinvents himself because he can't recall what his self was yesterday.

He talks in rote phrases.

It's dangerous for us to pretend otherwise.

He ain't pandering, he's meandering!

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on September 19, 2008 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

McCain is employing a hybrid scheme; combining blitzkrieg and lying-like-a-dog mudslinging to divert attention from the message, because the message is fatal to his Palin's chances for election.

Posted by: Steve on September 19, 2008 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Me thinks McCain is getting some of this shit from Rush Limbaugh (and most likely other right wing sources of confusion). I happened to tune in for a few minutes earlier this week and he was blaming the crisis on the democrats' efforts to aid minorities with affordable housing. He also targeted Frank Raines in his diatribe. It reeked of racism.

Posted by: lou on September 19, 2008 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

seems Obama camp should take it the next step. If McCain has to lie to try to connect Obama to the banking fiasco, clearly there isn't any connection.

Posted by: jeff on September 19, 2008 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: Orwell on September 19, 2008 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

SadOldVet, go to intrade. Lots of dorks are betting on it happening.

Tragic. (no really)

Posted by: MissMudd on September 19, 2008 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Preview of John McCain's talking points for next week:

1] When president I will personally fire Osama Bin Laden at the gates of Hell.

2] The economy has never been better, except for the parts that aren't so good which can be blamed on Senator Obama.

3] If elected president I will find a cure for pancakes in our lifetime.

4] Do you smell gas? I smell gas.

5] The American people want to change the way things stay the same. They're tired of the same things changing all the time. My friends, if you want to change the same things I do, and keep the same things from changing, then I know how to do it.

6] Senator Biden took my McRib Sandwich!

7] My friends, you can't milk a cow with boxing gloves on the udders.

8] I swear by God and sonny Jesus, the only change you're gonna get from me is a quarter, a dime, and a nickel.

9] My friends, I'm sure if we all cheer loud enough we can get Sarah to take her top off and shake her money maker. Who's with me?

10] Senator Obama said that last thing. Not me.

Posted by: chrenson on September 19, 2008 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

It's you, Steve!

The McCain Machine is humming!

No worries! All is good! Black is white!

Listen, we're only a couple of weeks away from Jim VandeHei's next "Vaunted GOP GOV Machine" article about how the GOP is just so much better at getting out the vote than the...uh...well, whever the equivalent Democratic acronym is.

[Why don't we have an acronym? Can we have a contest?]

Anyway: McCain is totally on message. In fact, if you listen to what he's saying, it's kind of like a message retrospective from the past thirty-five years of Republican presidential campaigns. And why not? Most of them won!

So don't worry about John McCain, or his apparent incoherence. He's doing just fine. As is his little cabin girl, Sarah. Meow.

Posted by: The Phantom on September 19, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

All of your pointing out of who is advising whom, and who isn't, won't do much to clear up the lying for the general electorate. The largest part of the electorate doesn't read your blog, they won't research the statements, and the MSM won't spend much time explaining the truth. Therefore, mccain/palin can say all kinds of lies and know that it may be years before everything is explained clearly and truthfully. After all, look how many people still think that Al Gore actually said the things that were actually started by the MSM.

Posted by: Michael on September 19, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Watching the last 14 years of Republican operation I never would have thought that they'd be the political party that sheds Aristotelian thought and objectivity in favor of multiplicity and the embracing chaos and madness. For the modern Republican party there is no 'either/or', there is only 'and'.

Reality is to be created anew each and every day.

Either they've become the party for the coming New Age or they're just plain old Imperialist Fascist Nihilists with a religious sideshow.

Posted by: grinning cat on September 19, 2008 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: Orwell on September 19, 2008 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

It's just a matter of time before he starts suggesting that Obama is getting advice from the Viet Cong, as his thinking gets increasingly addled and he is no longer able to tell the difference between past and present.

How anyone could still be considering him for president is beyond me. It would have to be based on what he could do for their agenda, it certainly couldn't be based on any demonstrated leadership qualities.

Posted by: Mark on September 19, 2008 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Orwell, why would you say that? You are a disgusting example of what the Publican party is all about, the party of sexual and sensual repression. Other than her alleged sex appeal(not to me and most mature males), she has nothing. To watch McCain when he is in her presence is enough to make one sick.

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
peace,
st john

Posted by: stjohn on September 19, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, NBC is starting to report on the McCain campaign lies on their regular news in addition to MSNBC's shows. A couple of nights ago Savannah Guthrie had a piece on Palin's continuing to lie about foreign expertise, energy, and the bridge even after they'd been debunked. And on First Read right now they've got a fairly hilarious piece about McCain's speech this morning where he called for the firing of the head of the FEC under the headline "Watch out Donald McGahn II!!!" I'm beginning to think that the MSM is going to catch on to this story and run with it right at that point in time where the McCain campaign won't have enough time to regroup before election day. But then, I'm in an optimistic mood this morning. . .

Posted by: Michigoose on September 19, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

I'm glad Chris and Lou weighed in first. This is classic dog-whistle politics. McCain mentioned Frank Raines so that the MSM would run pictures of him and relay the message that Obama is being "advised" by scary black people who will take over the government if he wins.

Typical would-be-amusing-if-it-weren't-so-effective stuff.

Posted by: RayL on September 19, 2008 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Orwell, do tell us what lies are to be found in the Spanish language ad.

And as for your other comment: frankly, I could dick-slap you from here.

[Sorry, mom. He started it.]

Posted by: chrenson on September 19, 2008 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Why is this so surprising? McCain IS tempermental, reckless, and scatterbrained!

Posted by: mfw13 on September 19, 2008 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

From my perspective McCain has been firing AK-47 blanks during his entire campaign. But as long as the media treats them as real gunshots going somewhere in the range of a target, it's an effective strategy. It just amazes me how the nonsense he spews is taken seriously by the media. And so the public is blind to the fact that McCain, and his campaign, are utterly incoherent. There is no method to this madness. But it works, because he's awfully close in the polls.

I don't really care about the SEC "firing" thing. Governments work in peculiar ways when it comes to hiring and firing, unlike corporations, where the boss makes the decisions and carries them out. But the fact that he just blindly points the finger at a chief regulator as the culprit is just insane, especially when you consider that he doesn't even believe in regulation. If he had his way, there would be no SEC in the first place.

The guy is just totally out of it from A-Z, but as long as the media treats him seriously, it just doesn't register with the public. The media has spent eight years pretending that Bush is a real president, so they've had a lot of practice playing the emperor's new clothes, and have taken John McCain in stride.

Posted by: hark on September 19, 2008 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

In that list of advisors from failed institutions, you could also have included Phil Gramm, who sits on the board of a teetering UBS . . . a company now made vulnerable via the throwing-out of the very regulations Gramm himself had and championed (the de-regulating, that is).

Who says irony is dead?

Posted by: John B. on September 19, 2008 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

". . . Gramm himself had and championed (the de-regulating, that is)."

Errrr, delete that "and"

Posted by: John B. on September 19, 2008 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Possibly OT, but I read that on Larry King Live Suze Orman said that the action to pour billions of dollars into the financial markets was a good idea, though it should have been done sooner. From the little I have watched her on her rants against run away consumers, I wonder what she would advise the reckless practices of the financial markets, using the same criteria she uses to bash uninformed and struggling consumers? She is one more hypocrite of the right, and doesn't deserve to be given the time of day. Where was she 6 months ago or a year ago when this was all beginning to unravel? Or, 7 years ago?

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on September 19, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Look, people, McCain isn't running such a desperately deceptive campaign just for laughs. He's doing it because if he tells the truth, the Republican Party is sunk.

Of course, we Democrats have known that since at least the days of Adlai Stevenson...

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2008 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Sen. McCain's own advisers are saying that saying Sen. Obama's own advisers are saying that the [economic] crisis will benefit him politically, will benefit him politically.

Whatta ya mean incoherent?

Posted by: Capt Kirk on September 19, 2008 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Suze Orman gives advice like, shop at Goodwill. I wonder sometimes if Repubs hear themselves. I'm sure that's where she shops in order to have money to invest...

Didn't McCain just say he wanted to establish another Agency to oversee Wall Street? Won't that make gov't BIGGER????

Posted by: Always Hopeful on September 19, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Good thing Obama announced his VP pick, so McCain could stage his publicity stunt. Good thing Obama got votes with the Change theme, so McCain would know what to say.

Good thing I read 1984 so I know who Orwell really is.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on September 19, 2008 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Sen. McCain's own advisers are saying that saying Sen. Obama's own advisers are saying that the [economic] crisis will benefit him politically, will benefit him politically."

What a joke! Even if it was true, so what???? Like Repugs don't take advantage of everything that happens, like Osama issuing a tape just before an election...or passing out water at Hurricane relief outposts in Florida?

Posted by: Always Hopeful on September 19, 2008 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Re Cox ... why didn't he reverse the 2004 SEC net capital rule change that helped get us here? His appointment was after the rule was changed, but surely he bears SOME responsibility here by allowing such a rule change to stand?

Posted by: res ipsa loquitur on September 19, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

And I just saw McCain's latest ad, featuring one menacing picture after another of Raines (who is black) and one picture after another of Obama with a voiceover talking about how Obama gets all his advice on mortgage and housing policy from Raines. ("Under Raines Fannie Mae commited extensive financial fraud. SHOCKING") And the ad ends with a picture of a little old white lady.

Now tell me McCain hasn't injected a big dose of racism into the campaign!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JM1UoOWcdJs

Posted by: 3reddogs on September 19, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

As many have correctly pointed out, over and over again, John McCain will do and say anything he must in order to get elected. If it works, and he is successful, you can thank the Mainstream Media for putting Geriatric Johnny in the driver's seat.

As many have also correctly pointed out, all the Republicans know - and all they put their crazed effort into - is winning elections; they haven't got the first idea how to govern, and are not interested in learning. How would one punish something so big as the MSM for such a crime?

Posted by: Mark on September 19, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Um, let's not fear the truth.

the bad economy is a result of Bush policies and McCain adores trickle down economics and deregulation.

A bad economy helps Obama. We don't LIEK it. We wish it would get better because we'd rather see people prosper than win an election, but if it has to be... yes, it will help Obama.

If peaceful Democracy takes hold in Iraq and Afghanistan, we, as Democrats, would be very happy. We'd be chagrined that our talking point would be gone, but we'd be happy. The Charlie Foxtrot that is Iraq helps Obama. We don't like it, but there ya go.

A terrorist attack on our home turf would likely (and paradoxically) help McCain. I'm unsure they could muster enough sorrow and anger to overcome their glee that such an event might push their guy over the top. I'm not such a partisan that I can dismiss the possibility that they would be capable of avoiding exploiting national tragedy to help their political fortunes. (*cough* 911 TM)

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on September 19, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

"McCain seems to be getting more reckless, more scatterbrained, and less coherent."

And you seem to think that this will turn right-wingers against him how? For them it's just SOP.

Posted by: Georgette Orwell on September 19, 2008 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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