Monday, August 18, 2008

Did McCranky lie? Cheat? Plagiarize and fabulize? Say idiotic stuff that shocked even Pastor Rick Warren? Well, of course, but so what?


Sens. McCranky and Obama in their "cones of silence." Oh wait, no, that's Charles Van Doren and Herb Stempel in their "supposedly soundproof" isolation booths on the rigged quiz show 21.

by Ken

A lot of people I respect are in a tizzy over Young Johnny McC's latest public performance, pouncing on this or that lie or fantasy or breach of ethics or whatever.

Did Young Johnny cheat by hearing questions while he was supposedly in a "cone of silence"? Well, everyone seems to agree it was blatantly obvious that he was familiar with at least some of the questions beforehand, so I take it for granted that they were fed to him in some fashion. (The head on today's NYT account is: "Despite Assurances, McCain Wasn't in a 'Cone of Silence.'" This was apparently just a cute fiction. The McCranky staff acknowledges that Young Johnny was in his motorcade on the way to the church, but denies that he listened to the radio broadcast of Senator Obama's interview. I believe this as much as I believe anything else McCranky and his people say.)


Is it of any relevance that Charles Van Doren, who has gone down in history as the man in the center of the '50s quiz-show cheating scandal, recently wrote a memoir for The New Yorker in which he made sarcastic reference to "the supposedly soundproof booths" in which contestants on 21 were supposedly isolated in the higher-priced rounds of the "competition." Of course since the questions and answers were basically rigged anyway, there was no "need" for soundproofing.

Apparently none of the people Young Johnny is hoping will vote for him are thought to care whether he cheats, because his campaign people -- and the infotainment media people -- don't seem to think voters believe that he's the kind of person who would cheat, even though he's spent most of his adult life cheating in every way at every opportunity he could. He has created the impenetrable image of a "straight arrow," and nothing seems to penetrate it? How could it? That would make it penetrable.

Similarly, did McCain brazenly appropriate the heart-tugging "cross of dirt" story he's taken to telling from Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago accounts of his captivity? Again, obviously. There isn't any possible question, is there? Young Johnny isn't even subtle about it, doesn't even try to cover his tracks. Like many right-wingers, he has a long history as an ardent admirer of Solzhenitsyn. The "cross of dirt" story never appeared in his accounts of his own Vietnamese captivity until at some point he decided to embellish his story by "borrowing" his hero Alex's.

After all, aren't all those who suffer political persecution in some sense brothers? Isn't their experience all in some sense shared? Well, Young Johnny is one of the world's most eager sharers. It just happens that what's being shared usually winds up in his possession.

Or maybe Young Johnny has actually persuaded himself that the "cross of dirt" thing actually happened to him! Last night I had a chance to chat briefly online with Howie, who had schlepped his creaky old laptop to something called -- I swear I'm not making this up -- the Psychobabble cafe. His cross-reference for this is the bizarre fantasy that the sainted Ronald Reagan dropped on both Yitzhak Shamir and Simon Wiesenthal of having personally photographed the opening of the newly captured Nazi concentration camps at the end of World War II as a member of the signal corps. The reality is that, as was well known, Reagan never left the country during the war.

In Reagan biographer Lou Cannon's reconstruction, Reagan seemed to be confusing this with the experience of seeing what he described as "secret" films of the opening of the camps. But Cannon assures us that there were no secret films, that what Reagan must have seen were films that were shown in theaters across the U.S., in part because General Eisenhower had been so shaken himself by what was depicted that he did everything in his power to get those films, in all their graphic horror, before the public, to counter any possible misimpression that the horrors were either imaginary or exaggerated.

It seems utterly characteristic for Reagan, long before any onset of Alzheimer's, to confuse somthing he saw on film with something he had personally participated in. He was, after all, famous for making up wildly untrue stories in his press conferences, often repeating these fantasies long after they had been thoroughly debunked. But Reagan admirers didn't care. Like their hero, they preferred the metaphorical truth of those lies to mere facts. And I don't think McCranky voters care either. The only question is whether there will be enough of them to put this often lying, sometimes simply raving loon in the White House.

That Saturday was a glorious night for the Lying Folk is attested by no less an authority than the unspeakable William Kristol, by common consent the stupidest, most ignorant, and most dishonest person on the face of the planet. He writes in his NYT pile of turds today: "Obama made no big mistakes. But his tendency to somewhat windy generalities meant he wasn’t particularly compelling. McCain, who went second, was crisp by contrast, and his anecdotes colorful." As anybody with a working brain knows, Billy the Vicious Dunce has it backward: Obama addressed the real world; McCranky burbled clearly prescripted and yet still incoherently jumbled cliches.

There doesn't seem to be anything our McCranky can't get away with saying. Apparently he managed to shock even Saddlebrook's Pastor Rick Warren with his definition of "rich." On The Carpetbagger Report, Steve Benen quotes the answers both Obama and McCranky gave to Pastor Rick's simple question "Define rich" -- Obama trying to score substantive economic and social points while actually answering the question, McCranky rambling incoherently from right-wing talking point to right-wing talking point, doing everything in his power to avoid answering the question -- and then describes what happened:

Now, McCain’s been around politics a long time, and he’s learned how to use these interviews to his advantage. He knows to ignore the question asked, and offer the preferred answer, whether it makes sense or not. People will remember what you have to say, not whether you answered or dodged the question.

In this case, it was a two-word question: “Define rich.” Obama answered it. McCain rambled a bit about richness in our lives, which transitioned to misleading rhetoric about small businesses, which transitioned to bizarre complaints about a government take-over of the healthcare system. Before long, we were into bear DNA, congressional recesses, and energy prices. McCain didn’t really like Warren’s question, so he told us all about the various other issues on his mind. The audience didn’t seem to mind.

But somewhere along the line, we got to the answer: $5 million. As far as McCain is concerned, if you make $4.9 million a year, more than 99.9% of the population, you’re not quite rich.

Just how out of touch is John McCain? On the one hand, he’s running ads talking about how “tough” times are “for the rest of us,” but on the other, McCain, one of Congress’ wealthiest members, thinks people who make millions of dollars a year aren’t quite rich, and he doesn’t want to bother them with taxes anyway.

If anything from last night comes back to bite McCain on the butt, it’s this.

Note how cagey Steve is here. If anything comes back to bite Young Johnny on the butt, he says, allowing for the possibility that nothing will. That seems to me almost certainly the case. In fact, between the enthralled complicity of the infotainment media establishment and the reality-averse mood of a large segmentof the electorate (two factors that may in fact be connected), I'm pretty well convinced that Young Johnny can get away with just about anything -- and I include the "just about" only as a concession to the theoretical likelihood that there must be something he could say or do for which he would have to pay a price with prospective voters.

At the moment, the only thing I can think of, though, would be a slam-dunk-documented involvement in same-sex activities. I'm not saying that I believe there are or have been such activities (though with these right-wingers it seems to be unwise to declare it "not possible"). I'm just saying I can't think of anything else that would shatter this wholly fabricated image the public has of Young Johnny.

Labels: , , , ,


At 8:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still do not understand why Rick Warren is such a celebrity that he can get both candidates to come answer questions for him?

At 8:24 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Interesting question, WJ. Apparently some things are beyond understanding.


At 8:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like Jimmy Swaggart, Rick Warren is a frustrated musician, a performer who found an easy audience to please. He essentially cut out the middle man and he appears more "likable" than Jimmy. Since Pastor Rick and his gullible flock seemed to swallow the war stories hook, line and sinker, someone should tell them that McFudd stole his "cross in the dirt" story from Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archapelago.

At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

McCain in same-sex affair? Well, you know, when he was a POW he suffered so that sometimes these things just happen to a former POW, because of the experience he had as a POW. Did I mention that he was a POW? Cause you know we here at the former POW's campaign don't like to mention his having been a POW, so we just don't. Mention his POWness, that is.

At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Warren is a 3rd generation Pastor from a Texas Seminary and I can't believe how he has fattened up on the 25 million $ales$ of his book.

One thing we know for sure is that when Pastor Warren says McCain is in a "Cone of Silence" to his church and Cable Audience of millions he is: (pick two)



Post a Comment

<< Home