Like many around the country I waited with baited breath, laptop open, pen in one hand and remote in the other to take notes on the Tuesday Oct. 7th, 2008 debate. After the amazing entertainment value of the Biden-Palin sideshow (AKA Say-it-Ain’t-So Joe V. the Gorilla from Wasilla) just a few days earlier, like many among the 70 million of us who watched Biden pummel Palin, I was tuned in and psyched up.
However after an hour and half of the candidates and about that much time with the commentators (not to be confused with the high class taters or the sweetpea taters) I find, to appropriate the ruling cliché of these times, “no one hit one out of the ballpark, so I guess we’ll call it a tie.”
Of course in Biden-Palin, you had the under-card upstarts swinging as wildly as they felt they could get away with. Palin, for example, at that point felt all she could get away with were simple distortions of the Dems record. However emboldened by MSM’s giving her a pass plus WAY too many points credit on the grounds “she doesn’t fail quite as miserably as we expected, so that means she did great,” by Saturday Palin was a wild woman wielding the T-word, “Terrorist,” as if she were the latest version of a wannabe McCarthy-ite testing out the latest red-baiting jingoism. And as Democracy Now watchers know, by the end of the weekend she was comfortable enough to let her audience members call out for Obama’s death.
If not stopped she’ll be pissing on cars at intersections by next week. So, in the interest of the public good and for the protection of paintjobs everywhere, I will devote the rest of this week’s column to some of the old “gotcha soundbite journalism” Republicans so loathe. You know, where they say something that clearly reveals their vile character or evil intentions, thinking that they are safely in a crowd of equally vile characters, and then some awful commie exploitive journalist catches them on an open mic. Republicans call this “gotcha soundbite journalism.”
I call it “truth hurts, don’t it?”
Displaying his typical bitter and dismissive sense of humor, McCain undercut his vague talking points by prefacing most of his expositions with derogatory remarks aimed chiefly to insult Obama, but also having enough bile to insult mediator Tom Brokaw at least once. It was a supposedly refined version of the Palin wail, but it was still the grotesque sound of McCain flailing dirt with both fists. Of course, when he’s playing the game that way, you can’t help but enjoy the gotchas.
One of my favorite early ones was when McCain tried to tar Obama with the Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae crisis, and says he “[bets] most people never heard of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae before the crisis.” Since the twin companies were the nation’s biggest home lenders, it seems McCain loses his bet, but wait, double-down, Obama then gotchas McCain himself by sharing the underreported factoid tidbit that none other than the voice of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, lobbyist extraordinaire Rick Davis, was a chief organizer of McCain’s Campaign. GA-CHUH!
Another good gotcha was the way McCain again attempted to fashion himself as Mr. Anti-Earmark. Quite the image, however, while he was busy trying to grab credit for his non-role in crafting and selling the repub Senate bill which amounted to the House bill from earlier in the week, one had to reflect that the substantive difference between the two is the Senate version was draped in a representative’s favorite fabric: pork. Mr. Anti-earmark is trying to take credit for 150 billion of taxbreaks and porkbarrel spending. He tries to embarrass Obama as a contributor to the 16 billion invested in hometown projects and then tries to take credit for ten times that amount. Gotcha again.
Other good gotchas include McCain’s faint smearing of Obama for not “talking softly and carrying a big stick” to which Obama replied by singing the McCain hit, “Bomb-bomb-bomb Bomb-bomb Iran” right back at him. Or there’s McCain crowing “we can never allow a second holocaust” besides the one he cheerleads for that we’re conducting in Iraq. And how about Obama nipping McCain’s Pinocchi-nose down to a nub, regarding their competing tax cut plans by twice slapping down McCain prevarications about his $700,000 tax cut for CEOs.
There’s the Cheney-to-Bush-to-McCain weapons of mass deception triple play gotcha of McCain’s near foaming at the mouth accusation that if the US were to follow the Obama Iraq Peace Plan, “Al Qaeda would reestablish their base in Iraq.” If only he could have had Lieberman as a lifeline.
Perhaps the most expensive gotcha was when McCain tried to dance around discussing potential revisions in Social Security and Medicare. Even when prodded to address Medicare he feinted away, hoping the rest of us didn’t know that that same day it was reported his economic plan includes cutting one point three trillion out of Medicare. Now that’s some big league gotcha.
Almost as good a gotcha came when the bitter McCain attempted the bait and switch as Obama came up for the after the match handshake. McCain offered his wife, Cindy’s, hand first and then slipped off leaving Obama hanging. The gotcha supposedly goes to McCain, except that the whole exchange was caught centerstage on film, already available on a You Tube near you and so the whole world gets to watch McCain be an ass. Gotcha right back.
Then the sweetest part, the gotcha that keeps on giving came after an hour and a half of watching McCain be a smug self-righteous jerk, a wannabe Bush in Reagan clothing, it came after the CNN commentators obligatorily called the debate a tie (Which is mainstream media-speak for “the Dem kicked the crap out of the Republican, but our sponsors don’t allow us to say that, but since you were just then watching it with your own eyes yourself, we have to say something that seems believable if we repeat it a under times and only replay the parts we want you to see.”)
It came as we watched when the pundits pilloried McCain for getting hoisted on his own petard of mudslinging and shallow promises as the after-debate polls slid ever farther the Obama way.
Lordy, Lordy how it takes me back to about four + years ago just before the ’04 RNC convention. McCain sells off in his renegade-among-republicans status for a slow-dance with the decider in chief. The maverick let himself be branded. And now, like all the other rats going down with the Bush-ship, McCain is finally wising up to the old adage, “you got to dance with the one that brung ya.” Oh that last look on McCain’s face as you could see him watching his hopes sink slowly in the west.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.