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April 17, 2008


I feel bitter about American politics.

I feel bitter about American politics.

Are you bitter about American politics this much (extending fingers), this much (extending hands slightly), or thiiiiiis much (extending hands broadly)?

Also, if your bitterness about American politics were a leafy green vegetable, which one would it be? Brussel sprouts? Spinach?


I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but well done, publius.

My bitterness would be a fruit: to wit, Chinese bitter melon, which is nearly bitter enough to make you contemplate suicide when you eat it.

Like, if Stephen Crane had ever eaten it, he would have had that creature compare his heart to bitter melon when he was eating it.

TTTTThhhhiiiiisssss mmmuucch. I'm bitter like that nasty Chinese candy that is made of smoked plums or something like that. makes you want tot tuem your mouth inside out.

Stephanopolous: Does Reverend Wright love America as much as you do?

Obama: . . . [laughs bitterly]

Stephanopolous: Is this funny to you, Senator?

Obama: No, it isn't. . . . It's tragic.

Stephanopolous: [impatiently] Do you have an answer to the question, Senator?

Obama: Absolutely. My answer is that I don't have the first damn clue. Reverend Wright voluntarily gave up his student deferment and joined the Marine Corps during the war in Vietnam. Maybe he did it for the perks. I'm an educated man, but I'm afraid I can't speak intelligently about the relative patriotism of Jeremiah Wright. I knew him as a man of God.

[clears throat]

Now, are these the questions I was really called here to answer? Preachers and flag pins? Please tell me that you have something more, Mr. Stephanopolous. Among so many other critical issues facing the American people, the lives of serving US Marines are at stake in this election. Please tell me their moderator hasn't pinned their hopes to a flag pin.

Hillary Clinton: [taps nose]

publius, thank you very much for that.

My bitterness is like green tea that has been boiled and then brewed for too long.

Bravo! ;)

I know this is just a pedantic distraction, but Lincoln and Douglas weren't running for President, they were running for the Senate, and Douglas won. There wasn't even a Presidential election in 1858.

"I know this is just a pedantic distraction..."

Xanax [taps nose].

Outstanding, Publius.
(Welcome home, Hilzoy.)

Making funny out of sad, low, and pathetic is a gift, Publius.

Thank you!

LINCOLN: Sounds right -- his ex-wife was from Kentucky.

That's not very Lincolnian! I smell MSM bias.

Thanks very much for this, publius.

What">http://www.samefacts.com/archives/barack_obama_/2008/04/what_obama_should_have_said.php">What Obama should have said

The gist: Jeremiah Wright enlisted in the Marines, Dick Cheney took five deferments. So Wright loves America more than Cheney, at least.

What Obama ALSO should have done is take advantage of being on a LIVE broadcast. Suppose he had said, about 10 minutes in:

"Guys, you think these chickeshit questions matter to voters. I think they
don't. So I'm just going to talk about the difference between me and John
McCain on health care. The voters out there can decide for themselves which is
more important."

Short of hurriedly cutting to a boner-pill commercial or a test pattern, what
could Gibson or Stephy do? Respond that no, making a fashion accessory of the
American flag is a more important "issue" than America's health-insurance

I say it again: Republicans are the opposition; the media are the enemy.

-- TP

Nice to start the day with a chuckle. Well done.

These days, my bitterness is like an old, companionable friend.

We've seen a lot together, he and I. More to come, no doubt.

If your love for America were ice cream, what flavor would it be?


Thanks -

The flag pin thing would be useless drivel even if the national meda would deign to notice that John McCain never wears one.

Well played, sir.

Holy *@#$!

This is Hillarious.

I like to think of my love for america as a giant beaver, gnawing on the tree of liberty to damn up the river of freedom.

If your love for America were ice cream, what flavor would it be?

Irn-Bru sorbet.

clap clap clappity clap!


What everyone else so far has said. And wishing that Obama would follow the lead of Tony P. and southpaw.

The first big problem is to call them "debates". Debaters don't answer questions from "moderators". They present positions on topics chosen in advance and ask questions of their opposing debaters. THe problem is letter the news folks in the deal at all.

Let Hillary and Barack go at it, with perhaps a "moderator" there to control the time. And that's it.

Then we'll have some realexhcnages and information for voters.

publius: You left out parts of the transcript. Here's some of the missing Q&A:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think Mr. Douglas has a higher opinion of the members of his party than you do?

LINCOLN: Why no, not at all.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Then why do you call so many of them bitter?

LINCOLN: I call them that because they are bitter - but the reasons they're bitter are based on irrational misconceptions. They, like slaves, half-slaves, and free-slaves, are at an intellectual and moral disadvantage to those of us who see the world at a higher plane of understanding. In this I agree with Judge Douglas: they are not our equals in many respects - certainly not in educational accomplishments and SAT scores and the financial earnings those collage and post graduate degrees confer. I…

GIBSON: Forgive me for interrupting, but are you in agreement with Pastor Wrong, your spiritual confident, who sermonized that no working-class Democrats should be allowed to vote in a primary unless they could prove they never owned, or sold a slave, or ever made any anti-abolitionist comments, or spent any recreational time in a bowling alley?

LINCOLN: Let's be accurate, please. First, Rev Wrong only suggested those rule-sticks be applied to those voting in caucuses, not in primaries. And I certainly am distancing myself from his remarks...

GIBSON: Why, because they're irrelevant at this point, since most of the caucus states have voted?

LINCOLN (after a long pause): Although I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races the college-educated and high-school-educated or drop-out classes, and though I am not in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes those with IQ lower than 120, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people professional people with advanced degrees ... I as much as any other white man recipient of corporate benevolence am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race privileged classes continue unabated, but that does not mean I'm in favor of restricting the bitter classes from voting - certainly not in the general election, where I'm sure they will reach high levels of lucidity in deciding which party to vote for.*

*Lincoln-Douglas 1858 Debates

Wonkie - that Chinese candy is made out of tamarinds.

You're an odd little man, Jay Jerome.

Another contribution:

Tim Russert: Do you know a man by the name of Frederick Douglass?

Abraham Lincoln: I do believe I've met him on one occasion.

Russert: Mr. Douglass has indicated that he feels positively about your candidacy. Are you aware that between 1845 and 1847 Mr. Douglass traveled through England and Scotland where he regularly denounced the United States on foreign soil?

Lincoln: Well, I do not follow Mr. Douglass' every move, but I believe his complaints were regarding the enslavement of his peo---

Russert: Yes, but many Americans feel that denouncing our nation on foreign soil is an unpatriotic act.

Lincoln: Well, I don't quite---

Russert: Next question: you opposed the recent Mexico war?

Lincoln: Yes, I felt that the President did not provide a convincing justification---

Russert: Yet, you have stated your willingness to use force to maintain national unity if the South were to secede. Can you explain this contradiction?

I love seeing people who support one of the two multi-millionaires in the race criticize the community organizer from humble roots as an "elitist". If Barack Obama is a member of the intellectual and social elite, it is a position he earned through hard work and acumen, not one into which he married or was born. Can either of the other two say the same?

Hillary cannot win, except by tearing the party apart. It's unfortunate that her preordained coronation as the Democratic champion was derailed by a popular and charismatic challenger, but her inability to accept the decision of the voters and bow out gracefully has forever tainted her in the eyes of many, if not most, Democrats. All she can do now is ensure a victory for John McCain. Why does it seem like that is her plan?

I voted for Obama in the Wisconsin primary. I plan to vote for him again in the general election and thank God if he is elected because the country really needs someone like him now. If I hear one more word about the flag or lapel pins I believe I will throw open the window and start shouting, " I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore"! But I know what Hilary Clinton meant when she said had she heard those words from her pastor the day after 9/11 and being from New York, she would have walked out. And I know what the good reverend was trying to say and he may be right. Still. Wrong time and place to say it. Think back and remember how you felt. People were hurting. Comforting words would have been in order. However, I think Hilary Clinton could have restored her standing and reputation had she then gone on to say that it was not Barack Obama who said the offending words but the pastor of his church and when he was not in attendance so why are we even talking about this. But she did not. Sigh!

ajay: "You're an odd little man, Jay Jerome."

Thanks, I've been trying to achieve 'odd' for a while -- now if I only can get tall enough to dunk without elevating, I'll try out for the Lakers again...

"it was not Barack Obama who said the offending words but the pastor of his church and when he was not in attendance"

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil… -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends -- Martin Luther King, jr.
Oppression can only survive through silence. -- Carmen de Monteflores
Lying is done with words and also with silence. -- Adrienne Rich

Jay - Yup. Wright's an evil, evil man...

Got any quotes from Bonhoeffer about disillusionment, disenfranchisement, and double standards, or are we just doing hyperbole today?

Lincoln: I do not understand that because I do not want a flag for a lapel decoration, I must necessarily want one for toilet paper.

Yes, taken out of context by political and journalistic hacks with no ethics at all, we might conclude that Reverend Wright was not a great patriot, but anyone who bothers to learn the context knows that he is a far greater patriot than the fools who are running this country into ruin today.

My God man, this was hilarious! The first time I've laughed out loud today.

Does SNL take unsolicited material?

This is better than anything they've done it the last 20 years.


Ah, an attempt at humor. I think the analogy is quite right. Stephanopolous and Gibson would have been in the tank for Douglas, simply because he was a Democrat. As would every "liberal" here.

nous: "or are we just doing hyperbole today?"

hyperbole, mostly, for emphasis, not exaggeration.

Put this one in for blog of the year. Classic, Publius. I needed a laugh.

nous: "or are we just doing hyperbole today?"

hyperbole, mostly, for emphasis, not exaggeration.

The funny thing is, Jay, that in quoting Bonhoeffer and King, you're quoting two of the guys most likely to support the idea that the church should stand in a prophetically critical role toward government.

I don't know if they would have agreed with the particulars of Wright's statements, but they would certainly have supported his making them.

Thanks -

Just as funny, relevant (and depressing, when you think about the current state of political discourse) as "If Ann Coulter had liveblogged the Gettysburg Address".

Hey Singularity...two millionaires? Barack not a millionaire? Surely yee jest. This guy was raised by his wealthy grandparents, went to elite schools, attended Harvard.... if that's not elite I'm not sure what is.

Hard work? Again you must be joking. Obama has been campaigning for president since his first elected office if not before.

If he spent so much time helping poor people why is it that he is so out of touch with the real world? The pretty words that he spews is not going to do a thing for ordinary Americans except pull the wool over your eyes.

Obama is used to preaching his sermons and having people swoon over them. If he is elected he is going to have to clean up the mess Bush/Cheney are leaving behind. Sermons won't do that.

Personally I detest being preached to but then I won't have to deal with him. Let's hope that he doesn't try to talk down to world leaders the way he has done on this campaign.

I'm superficially bitter.This economy has forced me to downgrade my ride from a BMW to a Lincoln and I'm buying my coffee at 7-11 instead of starbucks.My life sucks. I'm seriously ready to start clinging.Is it appropriate to take your guns to Church.Good job publius!

While the war in Iraq and health care are certainly important topics, I think its important to not trivialize the number of pieces of flair our candidates are wearing. Do you want a president who wears only the minimum number of pieces of flair?

But I know what Hilary Clinton meant when she said had she heard those words from her pastor the day after 9/11 and being from New York, she would have walked out. And I know what the good reverend was trying to say and he may be right. Still. Wrong time and place to say it. Think back and remember how you felt. People were hurting. Comforting words would have been in order.

I felt exactly the emotions Rev. Wright expressed. Exactly. Did nobody else feel that way? Did nobody else think to themselves, "Oh god, now we're going to trump up an excuse to go on a holy crusade and kill lots of people who aren't the same color as us"? Was nobody else aware at the time of what we've done to make much of the world feel that way? Was nobody else ashamed of their nation's response to tragedy?

Not everybody wanted to be "comforted," to be shushed by their mommy and made to feel that everything was okay. Everything was not, in fact, okay; everything has failed to be okay pretty much ever since. Not because "9/11 changed everything," but because our leaders failed in their courage, sought to take action that was "comforting" rather than action that was correct.

And, is that what people are upset over? That those words weren't what they would have wanted to hear at that time? That would be a good argument for not joining pastor Wright's church, sure. Are you upset that members of his congregation didn't want to be "comforted"? That they felt differently than you? That their fears were, and are, different from yours? That's absurd.

Oh, and in response to the elitism charge: John Stewart finally said publicly what I've thought all along about charges of 'elitism' in a presidential candidate.
Here's the link. (It's about seven minutes in.)

Don't we WANT a highly educated, highly intelligent president? Aren't high levels of education and intelligence kind of what's necessary to be a good president? We've seen what a stupid president looks like. Is that what we want? Isn't it MORE elitist and condescending to pretend that one ISN'T a highly educated intellectual?

Tony P. I agree with your hypothetical. But when it finally came around to Obama's time to talk about real issues, he fumbled and mumbled on topics. I don't believe any of our candidates have any plans to "change" things. They work for the status quo just like McSame, only with a slightly different angle from the special interests.
When will a real candidate actually stand up and say something like this? The thing is people don't want to hear this. People know deep down things are messed up. But we cover that up with "consumerism" and to actually acknowledge that things are messed up, would destroy some people and they would probably riot. People are scared of the reality of it all. They fear the change that would go along with acknowledging things being messed up. They enjoy their consumerism and some have a position of power that they benefit from the current structure. We need a new party and a new candidate.

Hooray! Thanks for taking inane "moderators" to task.

a perfect observation. a perfect parody of the obscene.

Thanks for the reprieve; now I'll just go back to rolling over again...

In regards to Barry's comment: "Let Hillary and Barack go at it, with perhaps a "moderator" there to control the time. And that's it."

That's basically how it's done in France. Aside from an absence of pedantic questions, it is also wildly entertaining. You get to find out how they really feel.

Ah, those Gallic Frenchies, hey? So emotional, so..out of control.
Not like America, land of the greed and home of the frayed.
If we did that here, they who pull the purse-strings of the Media Empire would lose control of the debate. Who knows what those candidate folk might say?
We know how to keep the lid on. How do you think we got our hegemony?

And except for the P.R., which OK, has had its uses, Lincoln contributed nothing to our global empire.
These days he’d be the first one to get thrown under the bus. To be fair though, he shouldn’t be blamed for being so short-sighted.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you honestly think you can win in the general election against Senator McCain?

KARL: Mmmhun... I studied about it. The Bible says you ought not to. It says if you do that, you go off to Hades. Some folks call it Politics, I call it Hades.



I truly enjoyed Andrew Olmsted's version of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, as performed with ABC News.


Thank you, Andrew. Good to know somebody is even more snide than I am.

Might I, perhaps, gently suggest rereading, this time more slowly?

"Karl," above, refers to this.

Is this the first time that ObiWi has had a Boing Boing link?

Is this the first time that ObiWi has had a Boing Boing link?

Can a T-shirt be far behind?

"'Karl,' above, refers to this."

Thanks. Haven't gotten around to seeing that yet, so I found the comment somewhat confusing.

Hey lytefoot, and others. "Elite" is different from "elitist". Please look up your dictionary. "e·lit·ism or é·lit·ism n. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources. The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class. Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class."
Yes I would love a President that is well-educated; while I don't mind one from an elite group, and I don't mind one from a non-elite group. What I canNOT stand is a guy that says he loves his God and his religion in public, and then goes into a closed door situation and talks trash about the same people. Barry may not be part of the elite - he certainly has not proven he has any great skills or intelligence of any kind, but he is definitely an elitist, who thinks he is God's gift (the same god that he believes bitter people believe in) to humanity.

Lincoln would have answered the questions directly, not avoid them like Obama.

Your post is utterly ridiculous.

Can a T-shirt be far behind?

Awesome. Kitten swag.

Lincoln would have answered the questions directly, not avoid them like Obama - posted by: Jim C.


My ass he would have Jimbo. Do you seriously think he would have suffered those idiotic empty questions posed by preening morons gladly? If you do then you are drunk. Or a liar. Or most likely both.

Thank you Publius for an excellent send up of those godAWFUL "debates". I laughed until my respect for American politics withered and died. It didn't take long.

Hi, I really liked your post so I submitted it to yearblook.com. Yearblook is a competition to find the best blog posts, and they print the winners in a book. Good luck!

The idea is getting more widespread:
An editorial cartoon is of course not the equivalent of a lengthy thoughtful text (that's not its job)

What I canNOT stand is a guy that says he loves his God and his religion in public, and then goes into a closed door situation and talks trash about the same people.

I wouldn't call that 'trash talking'. Are you suggesting that the relationship that parts of rural America has with guns and religion is healthy? If you listen to his speech, and bear in mind his audience, it's clear that what he's saying is exactly the opposite.

He's speaking to an audience that has certain opinions. One of the beliefs his audience holds, at least subliminally, is that the people he's talking about are your basic "stupid rubes." They believe that, and he knows they believe that. What is he saying to that belief? He's saying, "You cannot dismiss these people as stupid rubes. You must consider where they're coming from. They're bitter, and they have reason to be. They cling to the things that give them comfort."

It's the choice of the word 'bitter' that makes people uncomfortable. If he'd chosen "angry" instead, people might have been more comfortable with it... except that then he'd be suggesting that they were dangerous. It's a point that has to be made, because it's true. Have you ever BEEN to a small town where all the factory were gone, all the family farms had been driven out of business, all the children were living? I grew up in one, and I can tell you, THOSE PEOPLE ARE BITTER. Anyone who denies it is selling something--or running for office.

Oh, and when you quote the dictionary definition of elitist? That isn't the way it's being used. The sense in which it's being used is, "He thinks he's so much smarter than you, with all his book learnin'. Doesn't that make you mad?" It's used in a cynical attempt to manipulate people through their sense of inferiority.

"Are you suggesting that the relationship that parts of rural America has with guns and religion is healthy?"

Yes, it is very healthy. And both are protected by the Constitution. Anyone who suggests otherwise is indeed an elitist, ignorant, and contemptuous of Constitutional rights.

Needs more commercials. :-P

That was funny. Of course, the fact still remains that Obama is a racist, a traitor, and a liar. All of which are, in my book, kinda bad things.

Regardless, that's still a funny bit. Not Gettysburg Address PowerPoint funny, but funny.

I shouldn't ask...

Oh, heck, I'll ask.

Okay, I get the "liar" part. He did not maintain perfect consistency in the way he talked about all things at all times in his life. Therefore, he is a liar.

I get the "racist" part. He is friends with someone who sometimes says mean things about white people, therefore he himself is a racist.

But why "traitor"? According to the U.S. Code, treason consists of "lev[ying] war against [the U.S.] or adher[ing] to [its] enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere." Should I infer that in your mind, publicly disagreeing with the Holy President as to the best course of action during an undeclared war constitutes giving aid and comfort to the enemy? And yet, the Constitution gives Congress the power to withhold funding - are they meant to decide whether to do that without ever discussing it? An odd world you seem to live in.

Well, according to leading voices on the right dissent in times of war is treason (at least, if it is a Republican war). Certain people even foamed that voting Democratic in times of war should be seen as and punished as high treason because it gives comfort to the enemy by implying that the US is divided and therefore weak.

Uhm..., hasn't this thread been trolled to the point of losing sight of the purpose of this blog? To be funny.

Luckovich at the AJC put this same concept (Steph moderating the L-D debates w/ the flag pin question) into a political cartoon which got reprinted in Newsweek.

You've hit the big time, publius.

I feel reminded of a Monty Python's Flying Circus specialty: the (TV) interview. It was either a serious interviewer with a silly person to interview or (and that is the case here) a serious person that is bombarded with extremly silly questions that have nothing to do with the official purpose of that interview.

This is a stupid article. It has no historical basis on any actual events in history. Plus I do not believe Lincoln would have called anyone's wife a whore. It is completely irrelevant to any point that was every attempted to be discussed in this summary. You people are confusing creativity with idiocracy. Please stop contributinng to the break down of MY generations brains... and get some for yourself. On the flip side you surely do personify George Stephanopolis as a true child in comparison to the subject he has chosen to base his career around. If you read your comments you will find that you are simply confusing the general public instead of helping them. P.S. I am a high school student who clearly knows more about politics than you people ever would.

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