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September 18, 2008

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[cross posting from previous thread: apologies for repetition]

I believe there may be another explanation: Randy Scheunemann (of Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and Project for the New American Century fame) was pushing his own agenda, i.e., the neo-con disdain for leftist European nations (esp. after Spain withdrew their troops).

We have repeatedly seen top McCain advisors state their take on policy, without evidently clearing it with the rest of the campaign (let alone Sen. McCain himself). I bet we might see some other points of view come out of the campaign before the day is done.

It will also be interesting to see how, say, Tucker Bonds tries to obfuscate the whole incident.

I'm not sure which is more frightening -- that McCain was simply confused (and ignorant) or that Sheunemann was telling the truth. Zapatero is the leader of a NATO country that happens to be one of the closest allies of the United States. What possible reason could McCain have to refuse in advance to meet with an ally, other than a pig-headed (my apologies to pigs, but I can't think of a better expression) desire to punish Spain for doing what we're in the process of trying to do, namely, leave Iraq? This is the Spain, by the way, that has been one of our closest allies in the struggle against Al Qaida. Under these circumstances, I would prefer that McCain was being simply stupid.

I'm not sure which is more frightening -- that McCain was simply confused (and ignorant) or that Sheunemann was telling the truth. Zapatero is the leader of a NATO country that happens to be one of the closest allies of the United States. What possible reason could McCain have to refuse in advance to meet with an ally, other than a pig-headed (my apologies to pigs, but I can't think of a better expression) desire to punish Spain for doing what we're in the process of trying to do, namely, leave Iraq? This is the Spain, by the way, that has been one of our closest allies in the struggle against Al Qaida. Under these circumstances, I would prefer that McCain was being simply stupid.

Maybe McCain thought the interviewer asked about Christopher Cox, head of the SEC, instead of Zapatero.

Let us consider the possibility that S. G. E. W. is right, that Randy Scheunemann went out on a limb here without a decision by Senator McCain.

Any organization will have occasions where a putative spokesperson makes a statement without clearing it and it turns out badly. See Phil Gramm and Carly Fiorina for example.

The question now will be, what happens to Randy Scheunemann? Maybe this will just blow over (no doubt that's what the campaign is hoping). This seems to be a flap that has breached the surface, though, so maybe there is more to come.

I could not find a thread to post this, so I am putting it here.

I think it's worth noting because Time's Joe Klein questions McCain's character: "John McCain has raised serious questions about whether he has the character to lead the nation. He has defaced his beloved military code of honor. He has run a dirty campaign."

That's strong stuff for those who accuse the MSM of being too soft.

I think that this isn't really about vanity. It's about projecting an image of strength. In McCain's world view, the most important aspect of foreign policy is to convince everyone else that America is top dog and nobody wants to mess with us. Threatening to bomb anyone who won't go along with us, refusing to talk to enemies until they've conceded every important point, and the like are all ways of showing how tough we are. The flip side is that any sign of weakness is dangerous. It doesn't just make us look bad. It actually undermines our security by making our enemies bolder and more likely to attack.

If you see things that way, you can understand many of his positions. Attacking Iraq was vital because Saddam Hussein was thumbing his nose at us, proving that we weren't as tough as we claimed. We had to smack him down in order to prove our strength. Similarly, we can't leave Iraq with anything less than total victory because it would be a sign of weakness. By that standard, it's much better to diss Zapatero- which can be seen as a sign of strength- than to show weakness by admitting a mistake.

I just want to chime in saying that I had occasional difficulty understanding the lady who was interviewing McCain, and that I heard "you" when apparently she was saying "Europe." So I was inclined to cut McCain slack on this one.

But Scheunemann's email respnse to the Washington Post (from Eric's post) standing by McCain's response and then launching into the campaign talking points about not meeting with leaders we don't like and how Obama is reckless and naive and will meet with terrible leaders negates my initial inclination to give McCain a pass. Instead, McCain's campaign has stuck by his original statement (which was an understandable gaffe, in my opinion) and is attempting to score political points at the expense of alienating an ally. And you can be sure that Zapetero will hear this and respond accordingly.

This is what they call digging yourself in a hole. Mccain accidentally dug himself into a hole, but Scheunemann's response to the media was a clear indication that they will keep digging.

bedtimeforbonzo,

That article is nice, but doesn't change the fact that the media still judge McCain on a curve and still treat him with far more deference than they do any living Democratic politician. Having a few occasional stories about McCain's flaws isn't enough, especially when those stories appear on page A19 of the paper whereas every smear of the Dem candidate gets A1 coverage. What matters is whether McCain's lies change the overall narrative that frames media coverage. When the press has expended as much time and energy talking about McCain's lies as they did about Al Gore's supposed lies, get back to me. Better yet, when the press publicly disdains McCain for his lies the way they did for Gore, get back to me then. Until then, yawn.

Okay people- Let's get one thing straight.

It's PRIME MINISTER Zapatero, not President Zapatero.

Scheunemann called him President twice in his e-mail to the Washington Post.

This is John McCain's chief foreign policy adviser. Sigh.

I really think he did know who he was talking about. He don't like the guy because he's a socialist and against the Iraq War. And I'm sure he sees Zapatero as peas in a pod with Chavez and all the other South American undesirables.

After all the crazy forpol s*** that's come out of McCain's mouth, you really don't think he'd intentionally snub a NATO ally?

He might have been in a daze but he said what he meant to say.

Most of Spain is technically in the Western hemisphere, but I am guessing that McCain was using the non-technical use meaning "the Americas". I think it is pretty clear that he was simply not following the interviewer.

Jason, the interviewer referred to Zapatero as "president". It's a common mistake, because his title in Spanish is "presidente", not "primer ministro", even though he's a "prime minister" in English.

Okay, to follow up: Zapatero's technical title in Spain is Presidente del Gobierno.

But he's the head of government in a parliamentary system, and should be called Prime Minister in English. Sigh. I guess i'm missing the point here, heh.

. . . the media still judge McCain on a curve and still treat him with far more deference than they do any living Democratic politician . . . .

As has been said elsewhere, that shine is starting to come off the tire swing. E.g.,:

Ex-Self-Admitted-In-The-Tank-McCain-Supporter Richard Cohen's sorrowful dismay at his old buddy's lies.

Joe "Primary Colors" Klein's Time magazine excoriation of the dirty McCain tactics.

And even Fox News is sometimes agog at the campaign's lies.

Here's to hoping that the media finally gets fed up with being treated like idiots. (yeah, I know, it's a frail hope, but I'm all about hope these days)

"Okay people- Let's get one thing straight.

It's PRIME MINISTER Zapatero, not President Zapatero."

And as has been repeatedly explained, his actual title is: "head of government: President of the Government (Prime Minister equivalent) Jose Luis RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO (since 17 April 2004)"; the other members of the executive are: "First Vice President (and Minister of the Presidency) Maria Teresa FERNANDEZ DE LA VEGA (since 18 April 2004) and Second Vice President (and Minister of Economy and Finance) Pedro SOLBES (since 18 April 2004)."

Since we're getting things straight. And since you're wrong.

McCain and his campaign are willing to insult a foreign leader and damage an alliance

To reiterate what I said in the other thread* - this is a feature not a bug, for 50% of the American electorate. Telling off the rest of the world is how you stand tall and strong.

The hired help (aka our foreign policy elites) can always clean up the mess after November, but right now there is an election to be won and that's all that matters.

By Sunday I expect to read a Charles Krauthammer column explaining what a bunch of pinko commie pussies the Spanish govt. are and how McCain is absolutely right to shun them until they grow a backbone and grovel at our feet like proper allies. They could start by learning to speak English - that would show the proper level of devotion to our hegemony.

McCain's campaign has stuck by his original statement (which was an understandable gaffe, in my opinion) and is attempting to score political points at the expense of alienating an ally. And you can be sure that Zapetero will hear this and respond accordingly.

Zapatero's response is very measured. He's said that he'll work with the next administration, regardless of its colour (that's a rough translation, from the quotes given at Cadena SER's website) and that he understands that McCain might want to avoid questions which would commit him in the future (again, that's a rough translation).

*By the way, I've noticed that these comment threads have gotten dangerously overleveraged as a consquence of holding too many worthless CDO's (Completely Deranged Outrages). I think a merger is needed.

Somebody call the Fed to see if we can get a Bridge-to-Moderation loan.

Moderation? Is that anywhere near Terabithia? I'm kind of stuck in the Doldrums, myself.

[Slarti, if you're listening, where is the Phantom Tollbooth thread?]

"Moderation? Is that anywhere near Terabithia? I'm kind of stuck in the Doldrums, myself."

I'm still waiting for the Bridge To The Future to be built.

Spain is in NATO! If McCain thinks he should be so vague about meeting with a NATO ally because the people of Spain chose a more left-leaning party to represent them then he clearly doesn't understand what NATO represents. Does he only support Georgia's joining NATO if they vote for a conservative? What happens when they change governments?

TLTIABQ: Tis election season, and such is the stuff of elections.

ADDING: I would like to write about fewer CDOs, but John McCain refused to hold a series of town hall meetings with me.

Any organization will have occasions where a putative spokesperson makes a statement without clearing it and it turns out badly. See Phil Gramm and Carly Fiorina for example.

Yeah, but who are the comparable spokespeople from the Obama campaign. Even Samatha Powers wasn't really off-message, she just used a word that made the Clinonites go all wobbly.

Tis election season, and such is the stuff of elections.

I know that - just trying to get in some practice at Thullenesque snark (@ level 1:beginner).

I wonder what Hunter S. Thompson would have made of this election?

I remember fondly the days when I supported McCain to get the Repub nominations, since I figured he'd actually be a decent president.

Now he's turned into a bumbling liar with a corrupt running mate being managed by the people who brought you the Bush administration.

http://palincounter.blogspot.com/

"I wonder what Hunter S. Thompson would have made of this election?"

I fear it might have driven him to drugs.

I wonder what Hunter S. Thompson would have made of this election?

I think he took some righteous pituitary gland extract, saw a vision of the future, and knew exactly what this election cycle would be like.

Then he killed himself. Poor guy.

I remember fondly the days when I supported McCain to get the Repub nominations, since I figured he'd actually be a decent president.

Now he's turned into a bumbling liar with a corrupt running mate being managed by the people who brought you the Bush administration.

Snarkiness aside, I really wouldn't have minded a race between two competent candidates, both running competent campaigns.

It's just depressing to see a bungler running such a close campaign that he may yet win....

Turbulence: "Better yet, when the press publicly disdains McCain for his lies the way they did for Gore, get back to me then. Until then, yawn."

I understand what you are saying, Turb. But Klein's column and some recent commentary on MSNBC may be a signal change -- calling McCain out for what he is: someone who would sell his soul to win an election.

Howard Fineman made the comment the other day that Obama wears well over time, implicitly saying McCain doesn't. McCain is the dinner guest who won't go home -- the more you see him, the more uncomfortable he makes you feel.

I got it: he was thinking of Zapata (1879-1919), revolutionary, and then remembered Marlon Brando in Viva Zapata! (1952), directed by the left-wing Elia Kazan, who later ratted out his alleged commie friends to McCarthy, the subject of Good Night and Good Luck produced by Steven Soderbergh, who also made Traffic, which depicted the US/Mexican war on drugs - it all makes sense now.

Zapatero's response is very measured. He's said that he'll work with the next administration, regardless of its colour (that's a rough translation, from the quotes given at Cadena SER's website) and that he understands that McCain might want to avoid questions which would commit him in the future (again, that's a rough translation).

This is exactly the sort of response that I would expect. It's also what I think would be an appropriate response--you can't really afford to tell the POTUS to buzz off.

I'm sure, though, that while the Spanish government will continue to be make decisions that they deem are in their best interests that if a situations should arise where they can get back at McCain for this snub that they will avail themselves of the opportunity.

It's like the story I heard from one of my neighbors. He works as a cable repair man and one of the things that they often find themselves having to do when they visit people's houses is to climb up in the attic to access the cable. Attics can be treacherous places, especially the way that some people throw all their junk up there without bothering to leave a path to the maintenance points. Every once in a while a cable guy will wind up falling through the attic. So at the beginning of each visit they require the customer to sign a liability waiver exempting the repair man from responsibility and assuming liability for negligence.

One of his buddies has had the dubious distinction of having fallen through two different customer’s attics. The first time it happened he was visiting this older lady’s home where the house was very disorganized and he had a hard time getting around all the junk in the attic, etc. When he took a wrong step and fell through the attic he was a little banged up, but nothing worse than bruises. The lady came out and saw what happened and was profusely apologetic, checking with the guy to make sure that he wasn’t hurt and generally being concerned with his welfare rather than the damage that was done to her house.

The second time he fell through the attic he was visiting a very nice looking house with two new cars in the garage, an immaculate lawn, etc. The place was beautiful but the lady there kept giving the cable repair guy a real hard time, criticizing him for having parked his van along the street, accusing him of having overbilled them on their last statement (something he obviously had no personal control over), verbally haranguing him and generally treating him the way you’d treat an old dirty sock. When he was up in the attic he took a misstep and fell through the attic into the garage, landing on the new Mercedes in the garage. The lady come out and saw what happened and immediately launched into a tirade. She told him that he was going to have to pay to fix the car and that she would be contacting his supervisor to have him fired. The guy had twisted his ankle in the fall and was limping around, but the lady didn’t even seem to notice what had happened to him.

Now the waiver that both customers had signed protected my neighbor’s buddy from any liability for damages. They also had a clause where the customer agreed to liability should any injury occur to the repair man due to their negligence. In the first case the nice older lady could have been out for the cost of the repairs to her attic/ceiling, but the repair guy saw that she was trying to treat him decently and told his dispatcher that he was at fault, which allowed this lady to receive reimbursement for the cost of her repairs.

The second lady with the nicer house didn’t have the same kind of luck. Since she had treated this guy so poorly the repair guy was not inclined to give her any charity. She didn’t receive any compensation for the repairs to her attic OR for the body work on her new Mercedes. Additionally, since the repair guy had fallen through the attic she was held negligent and wound up having to pay his doctor’s bill for the twisted ankle.

All this is to say that people will treat you with the same amount of respect that you treat them with. And if you casually alienate people that resentment may well come back to haunt you.

"and then remembered Marlon Brando in Viva Zapata! (1952),"

It's not clear to me if you're aware that Viva Zapata is McCain's favorite movie of all time.

"If so, then Scheunemann's spin is designed to cover up for McCain's confusion."

Let's see:

Foreign policy was supposed to be McCain's strength. But unless he has Joe Lieberman or Lindsey Graham whispering in his ear, McCain's "strength" becomes cloaked in confusion.

McCain himself said he doesn't know a lot about the economy, prefering to lean on the wisdom of Phil Gramm, who I would love to hear explain the current bloodshed on Wall Street.

McCain would like to think of himself as a friend of the environment -- of course, he picked a running mate who wants drill in ANWAR.

And on it goes.

What would John McCain bring to the White House as president?

The debates cannot get here fast enough.

All this is to say that people will treat you with the same amount of respect that you treat them with. And if you casually alienate people that resentment may well come back to haunt you.

Great anecdote. Great conclusion. Isn't that one of the lessons of the Bush years.

It's not clear to me if you're aware that Viva Zapata is McCain's favorite movie of all time.

I really had no idea, Gary ;).

The debates cannot get here fast enough.

By debate time the media will be ready for a McCain comeback narrative.

Gary: Read your link about McCain's favorite movies. I'll give him props for "Some Like It Hot," maybe the best comedy of all time.

Couldn't help but notice Bush's favorite movie: "Field of Dreams."

That is too rich.

"Great anecdote. Great conclusion."

It's my observation that working-class people are nearly constantly in a position to get back at people like this, and more attention might be paid to that by people who take them for granted. Act rude to that waiter? Maybe he's spitting in your soup. Be rude to that clerk? Maybe you'll be not told about a key defect in that product. Be rude to that repair person? Maybe they won't go that extra mile in making sure the quality is top-notch.

Etc.

Speaking as someone who has worked a fair number of retail and sales jobs in his past, I've certainly observed this reality play out many times. And it's why, aside from the fact that it's simply the decent thing to do, I believe in over-tipping, always asking people dealing with problems at my dwelling if I can fetch them a beverage, and so on.

Wasn't Zapata the name of Dubya's daddy's first oil company? Could that have been the source of McCain's confusion?

--TP

Wasn't Zapata the name of Dubya's daddy's first oil company?

Arbusto!

"That is too rich."

It could have been Eight Men Out.

Arbusto (Shrub) was Dubya's own venture. Zapata was H.W.'s.

Poppy claims the name was only chosen to be near the end of the phonebook. But I think he was just laying a long-term landmine for McCain.

--TP

Gary: Don't forget to include secretaries and janitorial staff on that list.

But I think he was just laying a long-term landmine for McCain.

And since then he's been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Obama's inclusion of Lawrence of Arabia shows of course that he can't be trusted as POTUS. Glorifying a (possibly gay) masochist who takes the side of the sand [n-word]s against the empire with a descendant of Mahomet as second hero?
And Godfather? No surprise considering his shady deals with that Rezko guy.
;-)

"Lawrence of Arabia" -- superb story, spectacle and suspense. We will never see another picture like that.

"We will never see another picture like that."

Most people never get to see it in the first place, since 70mm is the only way the film should ever be seen. Otherwise it's "Larry Of The Dunes."

Makes for great beverage sales at the concession stand, though.

"Some will come for money . . . the rest will come for me!"

Greatest transitions in epic cinema. Hands down.

That's the real Bush Doctrine: never admit you were wrong.

Maybe he meant the Northern Hemisphere.

"Hands down."

It was fingers used to snuff the match, and cut to the sun, actually. ;-)

Lawrence is one of my top favorite movies of all time; if pushed to pick one, which I hate, I have sometimes picked it, though recently The Royal Tennenbaums might edge it; but mostly I hate to pick one, but otherwise Aurens is the one I've long gone with. Aquaba!

Most people never get to see it in the first place, since 70mm is the only way the film should ever be seen.

I went to an open-air screening of 2001 at the Cambridge Observatory last weekend, they used an inflatable screen and this massive, old 70mm projector - not for the purists, but lots of fun. They put up some pictures here.

"If you bomb them, they* will come"

*The writing staff of The Corner

"I went to an open-air screening"

My last place in Seattle, from 1984 to early 1986, was a couple of blocks from here, just off the monorail, and a couple of blocks from the Seattle Center, and a few blocks from the Pike Place Market. The Cinerama is one of two remaining Cinerama theaters in the country, the other being in LA.

At some point in the early Eighties they had a Ten Best Cinerama Movies marathon, which I was mad enough to attend. I don't recall all the films shown, but it included Lawrence of Arabia, the Charlton Heston Ben Hur, How The West Was Won, Around The World In Eighty Days, It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ice Station Zebra, Krakatoa, East Of Java, and I forget what the tenth was.

Muy fun, although I was impressed that my five-years-younger friend fell asleep throughout all of Ben-Hur.

Top 2 movies -- I vacillate over which one is "tops": Princess Bride and My Favorite Year (everytime my girlfriend tells a joke, she asks for 5 dollars!).

Gail Collins is amusing here, btw.

And since McCain’s willingness to make speeches that have nothing to do with his actual beliefs is not matched by an ability to give them, he wound up sounding like Bob Dole impersonating Huey Long.

Really, if McCain is going to keep changing into new people, the campaign should send out notices. (Come to a rally for the next president of the United States. Today he’s a vegetarian!)

There's more, but Typepad is giving me an error message, again, if I try to quote more in one comment.

"Princess Bride and My Favorite Year"

Both fine pictures, though I'd lean slightly towards PB -- though William Goldman's book is even better.

since then he's been waiting for the other shoe to drop

Thread closed due to pun activity.

Let me note only this: My review of the interview indicated to me that Johnny Mac thought the lady was asking him about a Latin American leader, and perhaps Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatistas.

But hey, maybe he just needs his hearing aid tuned up.

John McCain: Hard of hearing or just recklessly belligerent? The 'youkidsgetoffamylawn' campaign will never tell.

McCain is being especially mavericky, btw, by announcing he'd fire the head of the SEC. Which the President can't.

Gary Farber wrote:

It was fingers used to snuff the match, and cut to the sun, actually.

Exactly. "It will be fun." Ye gods, I still get shivers when I think of that cut.

Had a chance to see th' 70mil at the Ziegfield. Fan-frickin-tastic. And yes, everyone got a drink during the intermission.

. . .

We must elect Barack Obama to put good taste in cinema back into the White House!

by announcing he'd fire the head of the SEC. Which the President can't.

Well, the President could have him declared a fiscal terrorist and shipped off to Gitmo, there to be waterboarded with Federal Reserve supplied liquidity, until he reveals where those Weapons of Financial Mass Destruction are hidden, the ones that Warren Buffett (with 2 t's!) warned us about.

We can't let the smoking gun be a Credit Default Swap cloud.

- so there.


Oh and by the way, I really liked your very droll comeback line at 3:21pm. It was full of win.

Speaking of cinema in the White House, something I've been meaning to blog is what films Richard Nixon screened while in office.

That crazy mfer sure watched a lot of movies. I'm not the president, and I don't have time to watch that many. Seems he watched more as time went on, except for 74. Funny that.

Saint Ronny's favorite was Hellcats of the Navy iirc. I read that there were only two things that someone was allowed to wake him for in the middle of the night: A Soviet attack or HotN on TV. Did any other US president star himself in a (fiction) movie?
[or had such abominable taste ;-)]

It's a very spanish syndrome (see my cartoon, please)

The latest on this story, from El País, is that

Barack Obama, ha confirmado esta mañana en una entrevista con las emisoras de Unión Radio, entre ellas la Cadena Ser, que si llega a la Casa Blanca estaría dispuesto a reunirse con el presidente español, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. "Por supuesto", ha respondido el senador por Illinois, "España es un país aliado de la OTAN", ha agregado.

Which translates as: Barack Obama has confirmed this morning, during an interview with the channels that make up Unión Radio, including Cadena Ser, that he's prepared to meet with the Spanish Prime Minister/President. "Of course," the senator from Illinois responded, adding that "Spain is an ally in NATO."

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