Last week, when Colombia infiltrated the FARC to successfully free 15 hostages, Fox News falsely tried to tie the rescue to Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) visit to the country. On McCain’s official blog yesterday, Michael Goldfarb glibly insinuated that McCain’s leadership led to the rescue:
Obama’s running on his judgment, so it seems fair to point out that he hasn’t even left the country and he’s already causing a diplomatic row. Meanwhile, McCain goes to Colombia and a bunch of hostages are freed from a terrorist group in a daring raid. Read into that what you will.
Yesterday, McCain (jokingly?) told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that “I’m happy to tell you that I orchestrated the rescue of those hostages.”
Yesterday, McCain adviser Phil Gramm sparked controversy when he said the U.S. had become a “nation of whiners” over the economy because the recession is largely “mental.” Today, Fox News guests defended Gramm’s comments. Matthew Alexander of Fox News, said Gramm was “technically right”:
ALEXANDER: I mean, technically he’s right — two periods of negative economic growth. So he is right, but you don’t wanna be saying that to voters. They’re not going to like that.
Right-radio talker Mike Gallagher applauded Gramm’s “guts,” claiming the current economy is “not that bad”
GALLAGHER: Well, I think Phil Gramm has the guts to say what a lot of you business experts are reading between the lines … Don’t think for one moment that the whiny news pundits and the gloom and doom pundits in the mainstream press aren’t impacting the way people are viewing the economy. … It’s not that bad. Phil Gramm put it best: misery sells newspapers.
“Growth is holding steady at 1 percent. We are still the dominant superpower we always were,” Gallagher said, defending the state of the economy.
Amanda Terkel has a staggering list of things John McCain has done that have earned him praise from campaign reporters, including riding first class on the Acela (“John McCain traveled like a man of the people”), joking about killing Iranian civilians (“like any guy you’d want to have around the dinner table”), joking about killing John Steward with an IED (“a guy with a good sense of humor”) and so forth. It’s almost as if they think Strangers on a Train is a depiction of typical early 21st century American life, all rail travel and murder.
In his effort to distance himself from top economic adviser Phil Gramm’s contention that America is a “nation of whiners” complaining about a “mental recession,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) declared in Michigan today that he “strongly disagrees” with Gramm. “Phil Gramm does not speak for me,” said McCain. Watch it:
But as Politico’s Jonathan Martin points out, McCain’s claim that Gramm doesn’t speak for him is contradicted by the fact that Gramm spoke to the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board on behalf of McCain today. The Washington Post reports:
Speaking today from New York, where he was meeting with the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board on McCain’s economic policies, Gramm said the nation’s economy was initially thought to have grown by an anemic 0.6 percent in the first three months of the year. That was revised up to 0.9 percent, and again to 1.0 percent.
Additionally, McCain has frequently praised Gramm — who Fortune Magazine has labeled “McCain’s econ brain” — as a central beacon for his economic thinking:
- Phil Gramm’s “active participation in my campaign makes a strong statement about our intention to reduce spending and make the tax cuts permanent,” said McCain in an e-mail announcing Gramm as a general co-chair of his campaign. [3/12/07]
- “I love him dearly. On issues of economics and … family values, there’s nobody that I know that’s stronger,” McCain said of Gramm. [1/19/08]
- “I respect no one more in America on issue of economics than I do Phil Gramm,” said McCain after Gramm “vouched” for his conservative credentials. [1/18/08]
As ThinkProgress noted earlier today, when McCain admitted in 2005 that he “still needed to be educated” on economic issues, he reassured the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore by saying that Gramm was “his foremost economic guru.”
Mark Schmitt argues that the center-right “Taking Back Our Fiscal Future” document discussed yesterday is the Stuart Butler’s Leninist Strategy (PDF) for destroying Social Security in a new Popular Front phase.
Certainly the “centrist” elements of this team seem to be making a good run at being useful idiots. Why, if you’re interested in balanced budgets, would you team up with folks like Butler who supported Bush’s budget-busting tax cuts. The “balanced budgets are the most important thing in the world when Democrats are in power, but don’t matter at all when there’s a Republican President worldview” has a certain logic to it, but it’s not one anyone who claims to be any sort of progressive ought to embrace.
Photo by Flickr user wordcat used under a Creative Commons license
On the House floor this afternoon, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced an article of impeachment against President Bush “for high crimes and misdemeanors” and “deceiving Congress with fabricated threats of Iraq WMDs to fraudulently obtain support for an authorization of the use of military force against Iraq.” Watch part of his speech:
While the House tabled previous articles of impeachment against Bush offered by Kucinich, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) suggested this morning that the Judiciary Committee may “have some hearings” on Kucinich’s new impeachment resolution.
Transcript: Read more
This morning, Karl Rove refused to appear before the House Judiciary Committee to testify about the politicization of the Justice Department, despite a subpoena. During the hearing, Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) revealed that Rove had not only skipped out of the hearing, but had skipped out of the entire country. Watch it:
When ThinkProgress contacted Rove’s lawyer, his office confirmed that Rove was out of the country “on trip scheduled long before the subpoena was sent.” Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) said Rove’s attorney “never mentioned” this trip to the committee. Rove’s bogus claims of executive privilege were rejected by the Committee as “not valid” by a 7-1 vote. The committee gave Rove five days to comply with the subpoena.
Sanchez indicated she was unlikely to hold a contempt vote until late this month.
,Marcy Wheeler astutely notes that Bush did not, in fact, invoke executive privilege for Rove.
Josh Marshall had a series of posts up yesterday seeking a “Grand Unified Theory of McCain Crappiness.” Some good points are made, but I think most of these posts wind up implicitly overstating the extent to which McCain was an effective politician at some point in the past and has only recently become crappy.
The reality is that he’s been coasting for his entire political career, and his toughest race — the 2000 GOP presidential primary — was won where he lost badly. This feat of getting trounced by George W. Bush has somehow entered the collective imagination as an astounding political feat, but I’m willing to venture that it would actually be pretty easy for any vaguely plausible Senator or Governor to go up against the GOP frontrunner, imply that the party had become too right-wing, and lose the primary while winning a few contests in liberalish states with moderatish Republican Parties. McCain’s 2000 campaign was appealing to liberals because it consisted of us watching a Republican talk smack about Republicans, comparing the conservative machine to the Death Star, pointing out that GOP tax policies serve only the interests of a tiny elite, etc. But as an electoral strategy this was perverse and the results were predictable.
This whole fiasco gained McCain “Maverick” status which he spent the next several years deploying quite cannily to “corner the market” on bipartisanship in the US Senate and turn himself into a very influential legislator. And, clearly, even though he comes off as utterly uncharismatic to us peons who have to watch him on television he’s great at wooing the press in person. But this is his strong-suit — he’s a phenomenal Beltway player and operator, heir to a long line of skilled legislative players. But there’s a huge difference between the kind of actions that appeal to the sensibilities of the press (breaking with your party, campaign finance reform, “straight talk,” bashing Social Security) and the kind of actions that appeal to voters — projecting empathy and outlining ideas that will make people’s lives better.
On top of all that, McCain is currently facing the stark dilemma Reihan Salan points to of “keeping the Bush bundlers on side while also reaching out to working class voters” and I would say more generally the large majority of people who think Bush has been a terrible president. To win, McCain needs a coalition of basically everyone who still likes Bush (and he needs some of them to support him enthusiastically) plus almost a third of the normal anti-Bush people. That’d be hard for even the most charismatic of leaders to pull off.
Photo by Flickr user soggydan used under a Creative Commons license
[A post by Ken Levenson.]
Britain’s Telegraph reports:
The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter.”
He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock….
One official who witnessed the extraordinary scene said afterwards: “Everyone was very surprised that he was making a joke about America’s record on pollution.”
Mr. Bush, our 9-year-old boy king — goodbye cannot be soon enough.