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Tilting at Windmills

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August 30, 2009

MCCAIN ON THE TEEVEE.... When I saw that John McCain was going to be on "Face the Nation," I assumed it was simply to reflect on Ted Kennedy's legacy in the Senate. It wasn't.

Both Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Diane Feinstein (D-Calif) emphasized on Face the Nation this morning that the Attorney General's new probe into the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation techniques is ill-timed and counter-productive.

Speaking first with host Bob Schieffer, McCain agreed with remarks made earlier in the day by former Vice President Dick Cheney, who told Fox News Sunday that the interrogation probe was a "terrible decision."

It's a very weak argument, but it nevertheless offers us another chance to ask why John McCain is making yet another Sunday morning show appearance.

For those keeping score at home, this is McCain's 12th Sunday morning appearance since President Obama's inauguration in January. That's 32 Sundays, for an average of a McCain appearance every 2.6 weeks.

Since the president took office, McCain has been on "Meet the Press" twice (July 12 and March 29), "Face the Nation" three times (August 30, April 26, and February 8), CNN's "State of the Union" twice (August 2 and February 15), "Fox News Sunday" three times (July 2, March 8, and January 25), and "This Week" twice (August 23 and May 10).

Now, this might be easier to understand if McCain played a key role in public policy right now, but he doesn't. He's just another conservative member of a 40-seat minority. McCain isn't playing a role in any important negotiations; he hasn't unveiled any significant pieces of legislation; he isn't being targeted as a swing vote on any major bills; and he's not a member of the GOP leadership. He's just another far-right senator, with precious little to say that couldn't have been predicted in advance.

Oh, and incidentally, he lost the last presidential election by a fairly wide margin. Nevertheless, McCain has still made 12 appearances in eight months.

Eric Boehlert recently checked and found that John Kerry, in the eight months after Bush's second inaugural, made three appearances on the Sunday morning shows. McCain's total, obviously, quadruples that number.

As Boehlert concluded, "[A]fter Kerry lost in November, the press walked away from him. After McCain lost in November, the press still crowds around him."

Steve Benen 11:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Why is McCain on the TeeVee just about every Sunday?

The answer's easy.

BECAUSE it's easy. . .

(No hard prep work, research, coming up with pithy, inciteful, hard hitting qwestions. Just say:"Welcome back, Senator. The time is yours. . .")

Posted by: DAY on August 30, 2009 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

McCain and Feinstein: Clowns

Clowns who love them some torture (despite Preznit McCain's, you know, personal experience of such).

The clown car senate wants this country to be grounded on the exceptionalism that is required for american corporations to continue to garner political and cultural power, and obscene profits (which will become increasingly more and more difficult as we move toward a total collapse).

good times good times...

Posted by: neill on August 30, 2009 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the big problem isn't McCain on these shows, it's that you had Senator Feinstein agreeing with him. EVERY time McCain is on TV with the Dems, it MUST be pointed out that the American people picked a winner and McCain is a loser, that America rejected McCain to have a new direction including investigating crimes committed by the a$$hats that ran our country into the ground over the last eight years.

Posted by: Glen on August 30, 2009 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's a brand name. In a country where Velveeta™ is sold as cheese, McCain can be sold as a statesman.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on August 30, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing you could dig through John McCain's public statements over the past few years, since the revelations of Abu Graib, his initial opposition to the Military Commissions Act (when he vowed to block it even if it cost him the Republican nomination, right before he caved into Cheney so that he could still get the Republican nomination) right through the Republican primary, and cobble together a pretty effective case against torture and for accountability. Not that McCain would be embarrassed or any of hte Villagers would change their minds about His Holiness, but at least Democrats, who aren't despicable, morally bankrupt enablers like Dianne Feinstein, would have something to respond with when he starts his sanctimonious Broderist nonsense about how this is all political.

(DXM: Senator Velveeta, a Statesman-food product? A hilarious and depressingly apt analogy)

Posted by: Jim on August 30, 2009 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Who else is there ? I agree with all the reasons why he shouldn't be so ubiquitous, but, really, who else is there amongst Republicans who doesn't come across as a raving lunatic after as much exposure as McCain has had ? He looks avuncular, his demeanor is composed & calm, he sounds reasonable even when he's totally off the wall, has that rarity amongst conservatives: a sense of humor (sometimes self-deprecating, also a rarity) and he gives good television. To coin a phrase: In the realm of wacko pyromaniacs, the one who doesn't shout fire in a crowded theater is king. ;-)

Posted by: fignaz on August 30, 2009 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see how this benefits Republicans though. Just keep trotting out the old loser for more nothing.

McCain is hardly influential and I'd be surprised if he's bringing in new viewers, much less new Republicans. He's washed up and simple-minded.

If Republicans had anything else going on, you'd think they'd get past old man McCain.

Posted by: glutz78 on August 30, 2009 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

How are senators and congresspeople booked for tv appearances? Do they have agents? Do the networks actually compete or is it coordinated for "fair" circulation. How far out are they booked? Why are so many of them never seen on national tv? Or only appear for a week or two and then back to obscurity?

Posted by: reduced on August 30, 2009 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

McCain (via HuffPost): "I think the interrogations were in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the convention against torture that we ratified under President Reagan," said the Arizona Republican. "I think these interrogations, once publicized, helped al Qaeda recruit. I got that from an al Qaeda operative in a prison camp in Iraq... I think that the ability of us to work with our allies was harmed. And I believe that information, according go the FBI and others, could have been gained through other members."

At least he got part of it right.

Posted by: converse on August 30, 2009 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

And let me clarify a bit on this - as a guy that was in the USN for fourteen years:

I find no joy or merit in investigating these crimes to throw a bunch of very low level, misguided employees into the klink. Any investigation must drive to the clowns that authorized and ordered this behavior. We must re-enforce the average person's ability to call bullshit to crime in out government. I watched appalled as every investigation to this point in time made it perfectly clear to the DOD/CIA/NSA/FBI workers that anybody who blew the whistle, or spoke up, or got out of line was going to get smashed by the full authority of the government. We MUST go after the enablers and order givers, not the guy caught between a rock and a hard place. I'm not saying what they did was right, it was not, but we only make real progress if we make it clear that each and everyone of these people have the power to refuse illegal orders and stop this bullshit before it even starts.

Posted by: Glen on August 30, 2009 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

A box of jelly donuts buys you some reporter love. Invite 'em over for BBQ and they stay bought.

Posted by: henry lewis on August 30, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Remember, McCain is the next Ted Kennedy!

Posted by: Kryptik on August 30, 2009 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

It's easy to figure out. Television news is entertainment. McCain is entertaining. Kerry is boring. End of story.

Posted by: Jymn on August 30, 2009 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

I notice that Face the Nation had two guests who agree with each other and don't reflect general public opinion. Like all the broadcast networks, CBS isn't making any attempt to report. Rather, they're attempting to influence public opinion. We live in a plutocracy, and the major networks are a significant reason.

Posted by: Chris on August 30, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

As Boehlert concluded, "[A]fter Kerry lost in November, the press walked away from him. After McCain lost in November, the press still crowds around him."

That just goes to show how mavericky he is.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on August 30, 2009 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps one should consider his ties to billionaire aluminum magnate Deripaska, his links to Georgian lobbyists, his position as ranking member on the Senate committee on Armed Services, and his current involvement in the promoting of relations with Qaddafi before deciding he is not politically relevant.
Just sayin.

Posted by: Nom on August 30, 2009 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

As Boehlert concluded, "[A]fter Kerry lost in November, the press walked away from him. After McCain lost in November, the press still crowds around him."

That's because Kerry was incredibly inconsistent and generally annoying. Say what you will about McCain's loss, but the people do want to hear from him.

Posted by: RH Potfry on August 30, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Jymn

True, and God love John Kerry, but he's always working so hard not to offend anybody, that he never gets to the heart of a question, and usually offends somebody in the process. But Dianne Feinstein is no Dorothy Parker. Barney Frank is pretty entertaining. Pat Leahy, Chris Dodd both oppose torture and support an investigation. Russ Feingold is as sanctimonious as McCain, but he also thinks the Holder parameters are too limited. Barbabra Boxer, Chuck Schumer, Dennis Kucinich, Louise Slaughter, Carolyn Maloney, Robert Wexler, Sheila Jackson Lee.... There's no shortage of people to choose from, if FTN were looking for someone to disagree with McCain.

Posted by: Jim on August 30, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

If they are going to have him they need to press him and not let him get by with the same old BS such as his "reasoning" on his pick of Palin for VP. That decision alone should disqualify him as a serious person to appear on any more sunday flim flams of the press. The man put this country at a substantial risk. Why the adulation?

Posted by: lou on August 30, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

What significant pieces of legislation has McCain been involved with over the course of his entire career? Does anyone have a list handy? I'd really like to know.

Posted by: zhak on August 30, 2009 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Hasn't John McCain been an almost daily presence on television for the last decade? Why should this year be any different. Actually, this is a year in which the Republican leadership and the mainstream media might want more of McCain. The Republican leadership would want McCain because he's infinitely more plausible and convincing on camera than Mitch McConnell or John Boehner. And the media would want McCain because he's one of the few major Republicans who doesn't come off as a wacko. What progressives should be doing is challenging the networks to put "real Republicans" like Michele Bachman, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck on their shows. That way, America can see what the GOP is thinking.

Posted by: Ric Caric on August 30, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Why the f--- is Dianne Feinstein abetting torture? Wouldn't that also merit your attention?

Posted by: Funkhauser on August 30, 2009 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

I always thought Kerry's disappearance from TV after he lost the election was because he was showing some...umm .what's the word....class. You know, like not trying to show up the guy who beat him by constantly being on TV criticize him.

Posted by: Jon S on August 30, 2009 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK


The instructive comparison is Al Gore, who actually won the popular vote and has since 2000 won a Nobel and an Oscar, yet I bet he's been on the gasbag shows fewer times in the last eight years than McCain has been on since Obama beat him thoroughly. Another instructive comparison is Liz Cheney, who has no resume except a nepotism job with the State Dept., and yet is unavoidable on Sunday a.m. t.v.

Posted by: john sherman on August 30, 2009 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

What strikes me about the duplicity of John McCain is how he has built his career on "I was tortured you should care about me." Of course, when other people are tortured he wants us to forget about them because torture isn't that big of a deal, making them unimportant.

Posted by: enslaved on August 30, 2009 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Zhak - "What significant pieces of legislation has McCain been involved with over the course of his entire career? Does anyone have a list handy? I'd really like to know." Add to that what has HE put forward to help all Americans?

Posted by: Timbertom on August 30, 2009 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that the corporate MSM has a lot invested in seeing Obama fail, and McCain is a convenient mouth-puppet.

Posted by: rbe1 on August 30, 2009 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Congrats to DXM.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Senator%20Velveeta

Posted by: ascap_scab on August 30, 2009 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

"the Attorney General's new probe into the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation techniques is ill-timed "

In the sense that it is about four years late.

Posted by: Joel on August 30, 2009 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Say what you will about McCain's loss, but the people do want to hear from him" - RH potfry


Huh? you mean the 35%+ that would vote for him again...ain't enough to clog up the airwaves with his repetitious, deluded wing-nut rhetoric. He is on teevee all the time because he is connected with the corporate elite, same as Feinstein is...and it is just a good day for them (corporatist) when they have both minions on from 'opposing parties' simultaneously agreeing with each other.

Posted by: H.Finn on August 30, 2009 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

They like his barbecues.

Posted by: par4 on August 30, 2009 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

The media LOVE McCain. Always have, always will. My former college roommate, a Washington journalist, seriously thought he was going to win the election last year "because he was so charming."

"No, actually, he's a real jerk," I said. "Haven't you heard what the members of his own party say about him? About his temper?" (As an aside, the husband of a distant relative served as a Navy pilot w/McCain. He's a conservative and was going to vote for him, but said he was a lousy pilot and a total asshole.)

"No," she kept saying. "He's really charming. He's always been so nice to me."

Of course he's charming -- to those who can do him some good. Face it. They love him, and this is never going to change, no matter how much of a doofus he seems.

Posted by: Molly Weasley on August 30, 2009 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

That's because Kerry was incredibly inconsistent and generally annoying. Say what you will about McCain's loss, but the people do want to hear from him.

Evidence for this startling claim? Aside from the fact that McCain doesn't usually have anything coherent and original to say, he gives no appearance of being a leader of the Republican party or the conservative movement. Why not put the actual party leaders or opinion leaders on the air instead of this random senator who shows no sign of influencing any votes other than his own?

To put it bluntly, the Beltway social club has always had its own pet polticians, and McCain is one of them. He'll keep getting on the shows and wasting air time saying little of import until their ratings get so low that they have to actually start putting on people with real influence and insight.

Posted by: Midland on August 30, 2009 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

Sen. Velveeta?

Genius, DXM. Pure. Genius.

Ya know, the reason the folks on Jim's list aren't on every other week is because they know stuff. And there's nothing the likes of Gregory and Wallace and the rest of the Bobblehead Poohbahs hate more than people who know stuff.

[Broder]
By having a Dem and Rep on who agree with one another, it proves that we can have bipartisanship. And Sens. Velveeta and Rice Cakes are serious people, not like that flake Kucinich or smarty-pants Feingold.

So what if laws were broken, or treaties violated, or people killed? We have a consensus! Besides, you can't make an omelet without yadda yadda yadda ... [/Broder]

Our media is teh stoopd. It's no wonder that 39% of our nation wants the government to not get involved in Medicare ...

**bangs head on desk**

Posted by: Mark D on August 30, 2009 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: replica watches on August 31, 2009 at 3:57 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't see the interview, but it is reported elsewhere that McCain contradicted Cheney by saying the torture was a violation of law and just recruited thousands of new AQ. So he is saying it was against the law, but a criminal probe is not ok?

Posted by: bob h on August 31, 2009 at 6:21 AM | PERMALINK

Diane Feinstein (D-Calif) emphasized on Face the Nation this morning that the Attorney General's new probe into the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation techniques is ill-timed and counter-productive.

With friends like this, who needs enemies?

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