Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 24, 2008

HE AIN'T HEAVY, HE'S MCCAIN'S BROTHER.... It's not unprecedented for a presidential hopeful to have an embarrassing brother. Jimmy Carter had Billy. Bill Clinton had Roger. George Bush had, well, actually he was Jeb's embarrassing brother.

And right about now, I suspect John McCain wishes he were an only child.

This report, from the ABC affiliate in D.C., features Joe McCain's call to 911 to complain about traffic in Northern Virginia. Seriously.

Joe McCain called 911 on his cell phone, and when asked what the emergency was, said, "It's not an emergency, but do you know why on one side at the damn drawbridge of 95, traffic is stopped for 15 minutes and yet traffic's coming the other way?" When the operator asked if he were calling 911 to complain about traffic, McCain said, "F**k you" and hung up.

The operator called the number back, got Joe McCain's voicemail, and left a message about abusing emergency resources.

So -- get this -- Joe McCain called back to complain that someone had given him the "riot act about the violation of police."

The McCain campaign has decided not to respond to news outlets' request for comment. I can't imagine why.

Just as an aside, I can't help but marvel at the embarrassing side-stories the McCain campaign has had to endure the last two days -- Palin's $150,000 wardrobe, the highly-paid makeup artist, the hoax in Pittsburgh, and now McCain's brother's insane 911 call. Not exactly the kind of news a struggling campaign wants to deal with 11 days from the election.

Steve Benen 2:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (49)

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sounds like they're one-of-a-kind....

f**k you!!!

orange :)

Posted by: just bill on October 24, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

George W. Bush has Neil, who is easily the most embarrassing member of the family (quite an accomplishment given the competition).

Posted by: Shalimar on October 24, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

The last few days have been a kind of October Surprise Party for the Republicans.

Posted by: duBois on October 24, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

The 911 operator could have politely told Joe the Brother that it's always that way in the Communist part of Virginia.

Posted by: Danp on October 24, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Imagine all of the embarrassing side stories that a competing McCain campaign has able to hush during the last 5 months. Hell, think of all of the stories that were never even taken up.

"You know better Wolfe!"

Posted by: ThatGuy on October 24, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Is Joe older or younger than John?

Posted by: Ron Byers on October 24, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

This is totally hilarious. It has no relationship to the presidential race obviously but it is hilarious.

Posted by: mk on October 24, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

They are victims of their own strategy. The campaign has made winning individual news cycles their primary tactic. The campaign has no over arching theme, no coherent message. So when the news cylce turns against them they are left floudering with nothing to say.

Contrast with the Obama campaign that has a clear message of change and putting the middle class first and STUCK TO THEIR MESSAGE regardless of the news cycle. They made tactical adjustments as needed but they never lost focus. At each change in the cycle, good or bad, they kept their message discipline (because they HAD A MESSAGE). They've been able to stay above the day-to-day dramas.

Unlike McCain's campaign that is now trapped in the dramas with nothing to say.

I admit, I was one of the people in August and early September arguing for Obama's campaign to focus more on news cylces. I was wrong. He's run a great campaign.

Posted by: thorin-1 on October 24, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Why was the bridge so backed up?

I am betting an Obama rally!!!!!

Posted by: TBone on October 24, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like the anger thing runs in the family.

Posted by: Jerry on October 24, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Contrast with the Obama campaign that has a clear message of change and putting the middle class first and STUCK TO THEIR MESSAGE regardless of the news cycle.

Maybe it's not too late to revisit the town-hall debate (I think it was that one) where McCain tried to mock Obama by saying Obama didn't know the difference between strategy and tactics. Given his day-to-day performance, it would appear that McCain missed that seminar on B.H. Liddle Hart and flunked the test. It's pretty clear that McCain hasn't a clue between strategy and tactics.

Posted by: artsmith on October 24, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Crap, there is going to be a big slow down in the "Onion" news value of this McCain campaign come Nov. 5.

Posted by: lou on October 24, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the 911 operator could have offered to dispatch Joe the Brother a waaahmbulance.

Posted by: short fuse on October 24, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, that's B.H. LIDDELL Hart. And, of course, I was referring to McCain's sterling record back at the USNA...

Posted by: artsmith on October 24, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, they'll win the news cycle!

Posted by: John McCain: Glorious Leader on October 24, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

So Joe thought 911 was his own personal OnStar?

Elitist!

Posted by: MissMudd on October 24, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

You mean McCain isn't the black sheep of the McCain family? (boggle) Sorry, that was my mind.

Posted by: ericfree on October 24, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Two words to describe what is powering the Republican's final campaign strategy: dark energy.

Posted by: tomj on October 24, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

You forgot to mention that the VP is being deposed today in the investigation of her abuse of power. Not a good way to go into the weekend.

Posted by: SteveinVancouver on October 24, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Is Joe McCain related to Joe the Plumber?

Posted by: on October 24, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Two words to describe what is powering the Republican's final campaign strategy: dark energy.

No, no, we haven't found that yet. That's how the LHC is going to create a black hole in the middle of the earth.

I think one word will suffice: hubris.

Posted by: Michigoose on October 24, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

I think they should keep getting their supporters out there cutting themselves up and blaming big black guys who notice their McCain bumper stickers. Just because the first one couldn't keep her story straight, doesn't mean this is not the way to win. So my advice to McCain supporters, punch yourself in the eye and cut your face up.

Posted by: Patrick on October 24, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

What thorin-1 said. If the McCain campaign had a message that they were trying to drive home, then whenever a distraction like this came up, they could respond with: "The American people aren't interested in hearing about these kinds of distractions; the American people are concerned about [MESSAGE]."

But since they don't, they can only meekly shrug their shoulders when asked about stories like this.

Posted by: David Bailey on October 24, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Be smart about it though. Cut an O in your face, so the cops don't figure out you did it in the mirror.

Posted by: Patrick on October 24, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Also, and too, can you believe they've had this many bad stories in one news cycle and Barack's not even on the trail right now!

Karma's a bitch, huh?

Posted by: Michigoose on October 24, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Crap, there is going to be a big slow down in the "Onion" news value of this McCain campaign come Nov. 5.

There was a good story in a recent issue about that guy from Quantum Leap (whose name escapes me right now, he also played the captain in the Star Trek prequel series) getting sent into McCain's body to turn his campaign or at least his personal reputation around.

I know we shouldn't get cocky, as "that one" put it, but it almost seems like that's what it would take.

Posted by: Cyrus on October 24, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

You can just smell the panic over at McCain HQ, can't you? I'm begging Jon Stewart to pick this up for the Daily Show, it would be epic!

Posted by: Curmudgeon on October 24, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Also, and too, can you believe they've had this many bad stories in one news cycle and Barack's not even on the trail right now!

This was actually what I was thinking earlier today - I was worried that with Obama off visiting his sick grandmother, the McCain camp would dominate the news cycle and pick up some favorable coverage this weekend.

I was half right. They certainly have been dominating the news cycle.

The guy who said "There's no such thing as bad publicity" never predicted the McCain campaign...

Posted by: NonyNony on October 24, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Is the whole family composed of semi-stupid hotheads with large senses of entitlement and zero impulse control?

Posted by: shortstop on October 24, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Not willing to have the spotlight taken away by Joe the Brother, Joe the Plumber is mulling a run for Congress!:
http://briefingroom.thehill.com/2008/10/24/joe-the-plumber-says-hes-mulling-run-for-congress/.

Cyrus: Scott Bakula.

Posted by: Neil B on October 24, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Short stop: apparently, yes!

Posted by: Michigoose on October 24, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently not content to shamelessly misuse 9/11, now Republicans are shamelessly misusing 911.

And aside from the arrogance/stupidity of calling an emergency number to bitch about traffic, why would anyone be mystified that there was a traffic jam in one direction but not another? I mean, I'm not Grady the Traffic Cop or anything, but isn't there often a traffic jam going in one direction but not the other?

On the upside, he didn't call 911 to report that traffic was being held up by a group of large, black Obama supporters stopping cars in order to carve "B"s in people's faces.

Posted by: gradysu on October 24, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

This is hilarious. His voicemail is classic. "...working on an important pollitical family project." That project must be how to help sink my brother's bid for the presidency in shorter time than a police response to a 911 call.

Short tempers must run I'm the family.

Posted by: Mick on October 24, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

"isn't there often a traffic jam going in one direction but not the other?"
Yes, it's called "commuting."
This has been another episode of simple answers to simple questions. (ht atrios)

Posted by: smartalek on October 24, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

That phrase comes quickly to both Joe and John. Makes me think they heard it a lot growing up.

Posted by: doubtful on October 24, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Loose lits sink ships.

I mean loose lips stink ships.

aargh.. make that Loose lips sink shits.

There, that's what I was tryin' ta say!

Both brothers also like the 'F' word.

Can you imagine John's call to Joe.

John: What the F**k did you just do to my campaign? You said you didn't want to be a factor, but now it happened.

Joe: I'm sorry John, but I just lost my temper. I hope no one starts thinking that temper-tantrums run in the family, cause that would f**king suck big time. By the way, I agree Cindy is a c**t.

John: F**k you.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on October 24, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Is the whole family composed of semi-stupid hotheads with large senses of entitlement and zero impulse control?

Excellent shortstop, oh, and yes.

Posted by: ckelly on October 24, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

How does the news handle the "F"Word during prime time when all those children are watching the news? Do you think they don't know what the word is that is covered by the bleep? As a parent(which I am not), I would want the FCC to charge these news corporations with violation of the obscenity laws and pull their licenses. Oh, its not a bare titty? OK, then it is OK. Ah, Joe the Brother replaces Joe the Plummer(misspelled to avoid lawsuits by "real" plumbers with licenses). All these Joes is becoming confusing: we have Biden, McCain, Lieberman, the Plummer. Can you tell which is the Good Joe? That is the McCain TEST.
peace and love,
st john

Posted by: st joh on October 24, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

No, it doesn't have much to do with the election, but I love the story just the same.

Before this came out, I kind of felt a little guilty thinking that McCain was an angry hot-head unfit for the presidency. Was it his time in Vietnam that caused this?

Now that I know that he congenitally an asshole, I feel much better. Thanks!

Posted by: jillbee on October 24, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

So Joe McCain thinks he can treat Northern Virginia's emergency services like a Triple A help desk? This just a week after he called northern Virginia a bunch of Communists?

The McCain family is not only arrogant, they're clueless. Who do they think they are that they can treat people this way?

Posted by: pj in jesusland on October 24, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK


Wonder what number Rudy dials in a traffic jam?

Posted by: here4tehbeer on October 24, 2008 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

st joh:

Ah, Joe the Brother replaces Joe the Plummer(misspelled to avoid lawsuits by "real" plumbers with licenses).
Nice try, but now Christopher "Captain von Trapp" Plummer and Jake "The Snake" Plummer are going to sue you into oblivion. You really can't win.

Posted by: Rieux on October 24, 2008 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Jimmy Carter had Billy. Bill Clinton had Roger. George Bush had, well, actually he was Jeb's embarrassing brother.

Sorry for the worthless comment...
I REALLY liked this one and hadda say so.


Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on October 24, 2008 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Also, and too, can you believe they've had this many bad stories in one news cycle and Barack's not even on the trail right now! -- Michigoose, @15:11

Obama is a political genius but he seems to be something of a catalyst, at least as far as McCain' hapless campaign is concerned (doggone betcha also). The elements which come in contact with him change, but he himself remains untouched.

Posted by: exlibra on October 24, 2008 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

This is truly hilarious stuff . . . the "Born To Rule" brigade caught, as Allen Funt used to say, "in the act of being themselves".

Meet the McCains: Ready, willing and able to follow in the footsteps of the illustrious Bush family . . . America's very own "royalty". Country first my ass.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on October 24, 2008 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

exlibra: Obama is a political genius but he seems to be something of a catalyst, at least as far as McCain' hapless campaign is concerned (doggone betcha also). The elements which come in contact with him change, but he himself remains untouched.

Yes. Here in Chicago we've watched in amazement and amusement as this unfolds. First Blair Hull (one of Obama's challengers in the Dem Senate primary) and then Jack Ryan (the Republican in the general) self-destructed through their own hubris--both went down when the details of nasty divorces with allegations of bullying and/or abuse came out. Alan Keyes disappeared in a puff of smoke, not that he ever had a chance. Hillary, a formidable challenger who began with every advantage, melted away. And now McCain is flailing hopelessly, getting everything wrong, with every attack he launches against Obama boomeranging back to smack him instead. Curses! Foiled again!

Clearly the people claiming Obama is a sinister force are onto something. Better get Sarah Palin's pastor in there to cast out the witchery. :)

Or we could say that keeping one's cool and biding one's time are hugely underrated talents, political and otherwise. As an impatient hothead, I think I could learn a lot from this guy.

Posted by: shortstop on October 24, 2008 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

911 works about as well for Joe the Mc Cain as it did for Giuliani's Guido goes to Washington Presidential Fail.

Posted by: Idi Amin's Last Meal on October 24, 2008 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

I always call 911 for traffic updates. C'mon, my friends, it's OK in communist country.

Posted by: RJ Kruger on October 25, 2008 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

Mrs. McCain really reared two fine, estimable boys, didn't she?

Posted by: Jewel Mathias on October 25, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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