Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 19, 2008

OBAMA: MCCAIN 'PANICKED'.... In an odd turn, John McCain this morning blamed Barack Obama for the crisis on Wall Street, saying it was Obama's judgment that "contribut[ed] to these problems," and it was Obama who was "busy gaming the system," whatever the hell that's supposed to mean.

Soon after, Obama delivered a speech in Miami where I think he struck the right note: he accused McCain of feeling "a little panicked."

"This morning Senator McCain gave a speech in which his big solution to this worldwide economic crisis was to blame me for it," Obama said.

"This is a guy who's spent nearly three decades in Washington, and after spending the entire campaign saying I haven't been in Washington long enough, he apparently now is willing to assign me responsibility for all of Washington's failures.

"Now, I think it's a pretty clear that Senator McCain is a little panicked right now. At this point he seems to be willing to say anything or do anything or change any position or violate any principle to try and win this election, and I've got to say it's kind of sad to see. That's not the politics we need.

"It's also been disappointing to see my opponent's reaction to this economic crisis. His first reaction on Monday was to stand up and repeat the line he's said over and over again throughout this campaign -- 'the fundamentals of the economy are strong' -- the comment was so out of touch that even George Bush's White House couldn't agree with it."

As narratives go, a "panicked" McCain is a pretty good one. The more McCain campaigns on relentless lies and constant attacks, the easier it is to see McCain's tactics through the prism of a panicked candidate, desperately hoping that one more dishonest smear might be worth a point or two in the polls.

"It's kind of sad to see." Quite right -- McCain is the tragic figure, who traded his integrity for popularity, but ended up with neither.

Steve Benen 3:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (63)

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Comments

I really wish that Obama would just come out and say the six words that will effectively end this presidential campaign. All he has to do is work in the sentence:

"Don't you think he looks tired?"

Posted by: anonymoose on September 19, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, I'm not sure whether it's the editors, or the production values or something, or you just stepping up your game, but just a complement to the stellar work you're doing here. It's even better than CB Report was, and that was a good site. Nice job.

Posted by: Dave G. on September 19, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

That is some serious offense and if his message takes hold it is going to rip into McCain. I am not one who is willing to bet the farm that the McCain campaign is collapsing or anything but i think that they are in shock. They were so happy moving along with Palin and culture distractions and then real life intruded reminding people that important decisions need to be made. McCain fears substance like a seal fears a great white.

Posted by: Gaucho Politico on September 19, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

It's about time for the "willing to do anything to be President" label to be applied to someone who has really earned it.

But I must say, if McCain is out and about violating "principals", it's also time for the police to get involved.

Posted by: noncarborundum on September 19, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Game. Set. BINGO!

Posted by: koreyel on September 19, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

But I must say, if McCain is out and about violating "principals",

well, you have seen his education policy, right? ;-)

Posted by: biggerbox on September 19, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Using the 3AM call as a metaphor for this week, McCain's first reaction is to tell the kids, "Everything's fine, go back to sleep." Then after further thought, he runs back in and screams, "Everything's going to hell. It's not my fault. Someone get me my gun!!!"

Posted by: Danp on September 19, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

He should take it a step further and say that if McCain panics in a crisis as the GOP nominee did during the last few days - making statements at odd with the reality, changing his mind within a day about the AIG bailout etc.- can John McCain be trusted to be the Commander-in-Chief and the leader of the free world?

In any case good offense.

Posted by: gregor on September 19, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

lol @ Danp...

And about as picture perfect as you can make it.

Posted by: koreyel on September 19, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

I guess McCain was referring to Obama's contributions from Fannie and Freddie.

Posted by: MNPundit on September 19, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

But I must say, if McCain is out and about violating "principals",...

If he's talking investment banks, violating the principals isn't good enough. Members of the board of directors should also be violated, and though I don't know why McCain thinks he should see to this important job himself, I'm prepared to be non-judgemental.

Posted by: on September 19, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

He struck a similar tone in the primaries to great effect if I recall.

I think his M.O. - to wait until attacked, and take the moral high ground in reply is a good one.

I think this meme could destroy McCain. Honestly, it's just a hair's width away from "doesn't he look tired?" (as anonymoose pointed out earlier). McCain is dangerously close to making the "i'm too old for this job" argument all by himself.

and it couldn't happen to a nicer guy :D

Posted by: neilt on September 19, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Along these lines, I think a very effective campaign could be built around the line "What has happened to John McCain?" Obama could ask, legitimately, where's the maverick? the deregulator, the person against the Bush tax cuts, etc... but the clear subtext would be "This guy is TOO OLD and confused to be president.

Posted by: Mike on September 19, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon now, McCain lost his integrity long before this. For the image that captured a long brewing moment, see the pic of him hugging Dear Leader.

I think Obama or some surrogate should make the point loud and often that we can't afford one more lying administration.

Posted by: Frak on September 19, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

But I must say, if McCain is out and about violating "principals",

well, you have seen his education policy, right? ;-)

That was the barely literate Ben Smith's error. Always good to clean up Politico's solecisms before reprinting them, Steve.

Danp at 3:32, hilarious.

Posted by: shortstop on September 19, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Now is the time for Obama to bring up Soc. Sec. and McCain's lobbying to have it privatized. Now is the time to question McCain's judgement.

Posted by: Lori on September 19, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

As the kids say, oh snap!

Posted by: Diogenes on September 19, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Gaming the system"? My first thought: that's about one step away from calling Obama a "street hustler".

Posted by: Callimaco on September 19, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Gaming the system"? My first thought: that's about one step away from calling Obama a "street hustler".

Posted by: Callimaco on September 19, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is the tragic figure, who traded his integrity for popularity, but ended up with neither.

The stuff of good fiction. But the mess we're in is nonfictional. Obama is telling it like it is.

That's Just What I Said

Posted by: Dale on September 19, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Youch! That's gonna leave a mark! I think McCain is unravelling. It reminds me of the scene in "Alien" when Sigourney Weaver whacks Ian Holm on the head with the iron bar, and he just spins out of control, screaming and leaking fluid while everybody stands there with their mouths hanging open in shock. He needs a day off of the trail.

Posted by: Jersey Tomato on September 19, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

I'll feel sad for McCain when he is no longer a danger to my country; that is when he holds no public office, has no credibility, has no following. I doubt that he could function as a community organizer.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on September 19, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Lori: Now is the time for Obama to bring up Soc. Sec. and McCain's lobbying to have it privatized.

Actually Obama did talk about that this morning at a rally in Florida (on CSPAN) where he was speaking to women (at least it sounded like all the cheers were in the alto to soprano range :-)- one woman behind him had a sign "Moms for Obama").

Obama also talked about Joe Biden's Domestic Violence bill and how that had helped women and said that McCain had voted against it. The parts I caught were good, I missed the beginning though.

Posted by: Hannah on September 19, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Callimaco, I had a similar reaction to that phrase, which is normally applied to welfare recipients.

Posted by: Trevor J on September 19, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Panicked.

Isn't that what the feds did today? Am I correct in surmising that a ~trillion dollar NEW federal agency is being called for/being created?

If so, I get dibs on the name.

Wealthcare.

Neither McCain nor Obama can call it that.

But it fits the "bill" so perfectly. We already have Medicare, (we don't have universal healthcare), Social Security, and now we'll have

...Wealthcare.

How do I apply for some of the dollars? Can I get
GM, Ford, Boeing to sign up?

Just what in the world hath (we) wrought?

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on September 19, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Can't wait until Obama uncorks his ace in the hole: the ads ripping McDrool for his role in the infamous Keating 5 scandal. You know he's holding that one back, for the coup de grace. Grampy's head may explode when it happens, so get your videocams ready.

Posted by: Doofus on September 19, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Nice Doctor Who reference, anonymoose!

Posted by: Bill Evenson on September 19, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Want to echo others- this is an outstanding blog!

Posted by: C.J. Roses on September 19, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

The pig never had any integrity.

He was a spoiled rich asshole before he went into that prison cell, he was a spoiled rich asshole in that prison cell, he was a spoiled rich asshole after he got out of that prison cell.

If anything, he survived because of his vanity and self-regard.

Suffering and abuse are not "ennobling." He never had any morals, he never will have any morals.

Why don't you and everyone else in this country get over your stupid and mawkish sentimentality that views everything through the prism of the Lifetime Television Movie Event that you seem to carry with you everywhere you go?

John McCain is not an inspirational tale made for television. If he's any kind of cheesy, hackneyed genre picture, it's the horror pic about the evil, money-grubbing creep posing as the perfect father who attacks and kills when things don't go his way. Don't call it "The Stepfather," just call it "The Senator."

Posted by: Anon on September 19, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Tom, you take wealthcare, I'd like wealthfare instead. Tax dollars going to support the wealthy in their time of need.

Posted by: ajo on September 19, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Obama may not bring up the Keating Five since four of the "five" were Democrats. Perhaps it's best to steer clear of that fiasco and keep on the message of "we need change from the current party in power" approach.

Posted by: Jim on September 19, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Jersey Tomato wrote: "It reminds me of the scene in 'Alien' when Sigourney Weaver whacks Ian Holm on the head with the iron bar, and he just spins out of control, screaming and leaking fluid"

Actually it was Yaphet Kotto ("Parker") who hit Ian Holm ("Ash") on the head with the iron bar, not Sigourney Weaver ("Ripley").

Near the beginning of that sequence, Ripley shoves Ash, who slightly bangs his head on a computer console, and a thin trickle of white fluid starts running down from the cut in his scalp. Ash then attacks Ripley and tries to kill her by shoving a rolled-up magazine down her throat. Parker and Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) arrive in time to save her, at which point Parker hits Ash in the head with the iron bar, and Ash's head comes off, hanging loosely from his neck, with wires and tubes and a fountain of white fluid spewing out. At this point the others realize that Ash is an android robot.

Perhaps John McCain is also an android robot. It would explain a lot.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 19, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Bankers wealthfare" perhaps?

or "Wall Street Wealthfare?"

Posted by: Rick B on September 19, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist

Anyone who knows that much about "Aliens" has too much time on their hands.

Posted by: Rick B on September 19, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

A few days ago I predicted September 24 for the day when a "health crisis" would drive McCain from the race. He hasn't done anything in recent days to change that prediction.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on September 19, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

It really is amazing the powers ReThugs and NeoCon in general attribute to us DFHs. When we aren't ruining civilization by marrying people of the same gender we're causing the economy to go tits up.

Not to mention our ability to attract hurricanes.

I also recall McPOW saying Obama should order Democrats back to the Senate to vote on off shore drilling. Um. Yeah. That wouldn't have been seen as arrogant.

BTW, unsubstantiated rumor on the internons has it that McPOW is pissed because he was making a lot of money from naked shorting.

Posted by: The Answer WAS Orange on September 19, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

You guys don't get it. I'm serious.

This new federal agency is going to need a name.

Ya can't call it wealthfare, doesn't roll off the tongue, and has a negative connotation.

Wealthcare. Simple. Is exactly what it is, no more no less. (The point is to point out that universal healthcare is a political hot potato).

We care about our nation's wealth. The wealthy need to weather this awful finacial storm. Duntadadaa! It's wealthcare to the rescue. God Bush America!


Posted by: Tom Nicholson on September 19, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Rick B: "Anyone who knows that much about 'Aliens' has too much time on their hands."

Well, the "director's cut" versions of Alien and the sequel Aliens were in rotation on cable for a while recently and I watched them to see the scenes that were deleted from the theatrical releases, so they are fresh in my mind ... they were both really great movies of their kind; the original Alien is a genuine classic, and for anyone who really appreciates film, worth studying.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 19, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

When Alien first came out one of my wife's co-workers went to see it. The next morning she spotted him walking along half asleep with a big cup of coffee. She hid around a corner and as he rounded it she clamped a hand over his face.

There was a big brown stain on the ceiling the next time I visited...

Posted by: Butch on September 19, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Anyone who knows that much about "Aliens" has too much time on their hands."

Or else it might be someone who recognizes that it's better to watch a great movie 10 times than to watch 10 not so great movies.

Posted by: stephen1947 on September 19, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

The "panicky" line brings back GHWB's line: "If you can't stand the heat, get the heck out of the kitchen." It worked well against Dukakis who was struggling to find a way to react to Bush's attacks.

Posted by: LJ on September 19, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

I was really disappointed they didn't go with Aliens Aliens Aliens as the title for the third movie (but not as disappointed as I was in the third movie itself).

Posted by: croatoan on September 19, 2008 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

This new federal agency is going to need a name.

The Federal Anodyne Nomenclature Administration will do the job, fear not.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on September 19, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

McInsane-Pain 2008
Way worse than Bush.

McCain doesn't make
ANY sense anymore.

He has nothing let.

It would be sad if he weren't so dangerous.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on September 19, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Not that anyone will remember it or believe me, but I was posting lots of comments begging the Obama Campaign to say McCain was prone to panic during the Russia/Georgia crisis. To me this always seemed like the best way to describe his tendency to react to every world crisis by calling for sending in the 42nd Airborne.

People were saying "he's hotheadded". I said he is panicking.

Example from Aug. 20

And another.

Posted by: Rob Mac on September 19, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Perfect.
This has always been Obama strong suit, making the voter think. Doesn't matter the topic, when Obama shoots down non-sense with a "is it like this or that, because it can't be both" the voter is forced to actually think and let's face it, a thinking voter is rarely going to go with McCain this year.

Posted by: on September 19, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

I said last week that it appears the Obama's camps long term strategy on this election was to change the meme on McCain from 'POW', 'honorable' and 'maverick' to "good man gone bad'.

The Palin pick knocked them off track a bit and sucked up all the media oxygen. But now the Obama camp is in full swing with this meme.

McCain's campiagn is filled with the lobbiests he used to decry.

The McCain camp switches positions daily.

McCain hired Rove disciples to run the campaign.

Etc etc etc

As I said before, the smart thing about this strategy is that it allows the MSM to save face. They can still believe that McCain was a good man in 2000 and that they read him correctly but they are now free to criticize what he as become.

And now that the pushback is coming from the McCain camp and its surrogates Obama seems to have a ready reply the feeds right back into the meme they've been working to establish.

I'm still a little worried. But I'm definately gaining a greater appreciation for how the Obama camp seems to be playing this game for the long haul with a long term strategy. Some people might decry the loss of individual news cycles but tide seems to be turning at the right time.

Posted by: thorin-1 on September 19, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

The panic in John McCain's eyes is merely a reflection of the panic in the eyes of his handlers. The old tried and true fear/smear/mock technique just isn't working anymore and they really truly have nothing else to offer.

They're screwed sixteen ways from Sunday and are starting to resemble a flock of deer in a very bright headlight. It feels good to laugh again, doesn't it?

Posted by: Curmudgeon on September 19, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

McCain "tragic"? He "traded his integrity for popularity..."? Give me a break. He has not, in politics, possessed integrity, however much he might have blurted "maverick" comments in those many cosy little tete-atetes with the easily flattered national media over the years. A man who dumps his disfigured wife for a millionaire heiress is not a man of integrity. A man who calls the millionaire heiress he marries, and who bankrolls his political career, a "c---" in front of witnesses is not a man of integrity. A man who lies and lies and lies, then and now (Keating anyone?) is NOT a man of integrity, nor is his decline remotely tragic.

Posted by: SF on September 19, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

croatoan wrote: "I was really disappointed they didn't go with Aliens Aliens Aliens as the title for the third movie"

Yeah, I thought they should have called it Alienses. On the other hand there was only one alien in the third movie.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 19, 2008 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

I love a good implosion, is somebody making popcorn? Barack is playing this one very well; he's letting McSame and pAlien 3 destroy themselves.

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on September 19, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

@ Danp: Using the 3AM call as a metaphor for this week, McCain's first reaction is to tell the kids, "Everything's fine, go back to sleep." Then after further thought, he runs back in and screams, "Everything's going to hell. It's not my fault. Someone get me my gun!!!"

Absolutely, except that you forgot the "immediately firing it in all directions" part.

Posted by: on September 19, 2008 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah -- this is exactly the kind of attack that Obama needs to make -- it's correct in substance, emphasizes his own steadiness, and it's guaranteed to drive McCain absolutely bugfuck.

Still looking forward to McCain doing a full-blown Ren Hoek imitation during the debates. Or, at the very least, an Inspector Dreyfuss.

Posted by: Joe Bourgeois on September 19, 2008 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

There is nothing tragic about McCain. He deserves to go down like the flaming pile of shit he has proven himself to be.

Posted by: gorp on September 19, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK
Yeah, I thought they should have called it Alienses. On the other hand there was only one alien in the third movie.

This is wandering pretty far afield, but there were, in fact, two, and that fact is rather central to the plot of the film.


Posted by: cmdicely on September 19, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

I think the brighter members of the McCain campaign ("bright" in this context being used only for comparative purposes) sensed the sickening loss of momentum when the MSM started noticing - and let themselves be seen noticing - McCain's lying in his ads. The evidence of that was Karl Rove saying in public, "McCain may have gone too far". Rove doesn't want to be blamed for McCain's implosion - it might hurt his chances of grooming future Republican hopefuls.

In a fair world McCain, sensing all was lost, would throw himself from the top of a tall building, and land on Rove.

Posted by: Mark on September 19, 2008 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK
I like the way Obama slipped "change any position" in there. Vote McCain/Palin if you want, erm, "change".
Posted by: Jassalasca Jape on September 19, 2008 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

This is all part of Obama's gameplan. He's in McCain's camp head right now. They're trying their best to shut him up.

Do McCain really want to play the guilt by association game? I can't wait for Obama's new ads Monday.

Posted by: Jackson on September 19, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is the tragic figure, -- Steve Benen

Didn't know you were a fan of classic Greek tragedies... But you're absolutely right; McCain *is* a "tragic hero" in the classic sense: someone whose downfall, due to an inherent and ineradicable *fault in character*, is inevitable. Given a bit of a nudge from the gods to change the circumstances, the fault is either exposed or put pressure on, till it becomes so large that it destroys the hero, giving the audience its catharsis at the end of the play.

I just hope that "the gods" *do* give that nudge which is necessary to set things in motion. And that they do it in time enough for us to get the catharsis on Nov 5.

Posted by: exlibra on September 19, 2008 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

I would echo dave g.'s comment- this has become one of the best sites for election coverage recently. Nice job guys.

Posted by: kilgoreTrout XL on September 20, 2008 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

I would echo dave g.'s comment- this has become one of the best sites for election coverage recently. Nice job guys.

Posted by: kilgoreTrout XL on September 20, 2008 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

Has somebody commented on this? I liked the joke at the end, when Obama suggested that McCain's remark was so far out of touch that even George Bush's White House couldn't agree with it.

Posted by: wmmbb on September 20, 2008 at 6:35 AM | PERMALINK

Wealthfare vs wealthcare.

Tom, either way it is your creation, I was only riffing on it. But you said wealthfare shouldn't be used because it has a negative connotation. My answer would be, exactly.

Posted by: ajohng on September 20, 2008 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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