“That Ain't A Rip Cord You're Tuggin' At, Honey...”
When I left the house Wednesday for work, the talk was all about John McCain's poll numbers being on the verge of cratering “Deep Impact” style. There was a perfect storm of bad news for him in recent days—the economy, which he has famously said he knows very little about (as proven by his “fundamentally sound” mega-gaffe last week) dragging its ass so hard that it's got concrete splinters, the abysmal performance of his plastic bubble-fied running “mate” Sarah “In what respect” Palin, his campaign manager Rick Davis getting caught in the lie about his taking money as a lobbyist, and when that gravy train ended (Mere weeks ago), and perhaps worst of all, his mumbly, drifting style on the stump of late, a disoriented demeanor that makes Bob Dole look like Jack LaLanne and Mark Twain rolled into one.
It was looking grim, people.
So, off I went to the job where I immersed myself in my tasks, and when I checked in on the world via Sen. Ted Stevens' informational tubes and pipes that night, I found that ol' Senator Tough Guy basically whined for a “time out” from campaigning and tonight's debate like some frantic-assed basketball coach whose team is in the midst of getting blown off the court by an opponent on a twenty-point run.
'I can't defend against you. So forgive me while I stall to break the momentum.'
That's pretty much what was happening there.
And it wasn't even a well-done stall. Picture McCain crazily waving his arms to the ref on the sideline to get his attention, making a lame-ass “T” with his hands, and then, tripping over a bench player's outstretched feet and falling head-first into a spectator's plate of nachos. “Blapp!” Using the economic crisis and the need for a bailout as the dodge for his own “bailing out” when his campaign went bad was something beyond craven.
It was flat out cowardly.
Spare me the tripe about his service and his bravery during the worst moments of it. That was forty-goddamnned years ago, a time when even he's noted that he wasn't the supposedly more enlightened, more seasoned person he is now. Bravery isn't unconditional in the real world. Otherwise tough-as-nails fellas who've put their lives on the line in the ring, on the battlefield and in other dangerous situations have been known to behave in the most punk-assed of ways in other instances. They will beat defenseless women and kids, or lie to cover their asses about the most trivial things imaginable. One can be brave, and be a yellow-backed cur all at the same time. So, I'll say it again.
John McCain's desperate little stunt on Wednesday was flat-out cowardly.
And in being cowardly, it was also messy. The attempt to make his ducking out of the debate look noble got blown out of the water by one stupid move—his secondary back out of an appearance on David Letterman that night. He tried to come off all “Batman quickly responding to a furtive bat-signal in the gloomy Gotham sky” with his rushing off to D.C. to fix the busted economy and standing Letterman up. What he didn't count on was that his stupid post-cancellation steps would be so easily traced.
You see, McCain didn't hustle off to stately McCain Manor (Number four that is—the one he keeps in D.C.) to become the avenging BatMcCain. He sat his pompous ass down in a make-up chair a few blocks away from Letterman's studio getting make up applied like he was Bette-fucking-Davis on the Warner Brothers lot at CBS' news studio for an interview with Katie Couric. He didn't even leave New York until yesterday afternoon after a bullshit photo-op at the Clinton Global Initiative. And when Dave got wind of McLiar's perfidy, he got a camera hook-up to where he was getting his pancake and old-man-be-gone cream applied, and ragged the hell out of him for his cheesey little dodge. On T.V.
The money quotes?
“Hey John...I've got a question...NEED A RIDE TO THE AIRPORT?”
“We're told now that the Senator has concluded his interview with Katie Couric and he's now on Rachael Ray's show making Veal Piccata.”
He was merciless.
But America didn't need Letterman's scathing call-out to know that McCain was running a 28-cent game with his excuse-making. It was apparent to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear the news of the previous days. And the fact that his “suspension / cancellation / punk-ass fleeing came in the midst of his debate prep for tonight's event stinks to high heaven.
What do you want to bet his increasingly incoherent and discombobulated self was not doing well in the mocks? To where his rage-o-holic ass probably just said, “Fuck it. I'm bagging on this. I'll find a way to make it work.”
For your reading enjoyment, my re-enactment / dramatization of what went brought this loopy lunacy on:
INT. WALDORF ASTORIA HOTEL, NEW YORK CITY - MID-AFTERNOON
WE ARE IN A HOTEL SUITE WHERE JOHN McCAIN HAS BEEN PREPPING FOR HIS DEBATE WITH BARACK OBAMA. CAMERA MOVES IN PAST THE FRONT DOOR AND WE COME TO A CLOSED DOOR OF THE SUITE, ON WHICH HANGS A SIGN READING “DO NOT DISTURB” MOCK DEBATE IN PROGRESS.”
WE HEAR A LOUD BANG ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR AS THE SIGN SHUDDERS, AND THEN FALLS OFF. THE DOOR SWINGS OPEN AND WE SEE A STAFFER EXIT WHILE HOLDING HIS HEAD WHICH IS BLEEDING FROM A SMALL CUT. HE SHAKES HIS HEAD AS HE GOES AND THE CAMERA PUSHES IN. WE NOW SEE A SMASHED MUG ON THE FLOOR AND A HUGE PUDDLE OF POSTUM™ THERE WITH IT.
THEN WE SEE AN ANGRY McCAIN PROWLING ABOUT THE ROOM—RED-FACED AND SCREAMING.
McCAIN: (SCREAMING AT THE EXITING AIDE) That's right, THAT'S RIGHT! And there's more where that came from buddy! Try to embarrass me with your fancy-shmancy financial talk! I KNEW Dow Jones was different from Dow Chemical! I just wanted to see, if you knew! So suck on that, smarty-pants!
AIDE 2: (TENTATIVE) Sir, I understand your anger, what with-
AIDE 2 and McCAIN : (IN UNISON)-your / my being in a POW camp for four Goddamned years...
AIDE 2:...But you didn't have to throw a mug of Postum™ at him.
McCAIN: The son-of-a-bitch asked me tough questions! What kind of shit is that? It's un-American! He might as well have called me a “baby-killer”! I was a POW! Don't I get to have.. I dunno, a book in front of me when I answer the questions?
AIDE 2: No, sir.
McCAIN: Can I wear a wig? To hide the wire to...whaddyacallit...a transformer?
AIDE 2: Don't you mean a transmitter?
McCAIN STIFFLY PICKS UP THE JAR OF POSTUM FROM A TRAY AND CHUCKS IT AT THE AIDE, WHO DUCKS IT AS IT SMASHES AGAINST THE WALL.
McCAIN: Little tired of this “correction” crap, pal. Sick and tired of it. I don't do numbers. I do...stiff-assed fist pumps when a a drone blows up brown people. That's how I roll. I don't believe I have to put up with trivial shit like this. They'll try to trip me up, asking me silly stuff about...about fucking ARMs and whatnot. See, they'll think I'm gonna screw up and get mad 'cause I'll be thinking they're makin' fun of my actual arms—m' guns! (FLAPS THEM STIFFLY) But they won't give me credit for knowing that A-R-M really stands for manufacturers suggested retail price—
AIDE 2: Its stands for Adjustable rate mortgage...(DUCKS BEHIND THE CLIPBOARD HE'S HOLDING)
BOILING MAD, McCAIN LOOKS FOR SOMETHING ELSE NEARBY TO THROW. THERE IS NOTHING. HE STIFFLY WALKS TOARD THE AIDE.
McCAIN: Get on your knees so I can choke you unconscious. Now.
AIDE 2: (SIGHS) Please, sir...it's my job to prep you.
McCAIN: Grrrrrr! I don't need this! Damn economy! All this number sh-mumber crap. (IN A WHINY VOICE) “Senator, how many houses do you have?” (REGULAR VOICE) Um, thirteen of course. Jesus!
AIDE 2: Sir, you have seven homes. Seven.
McCAIN: Seven?! I had thirteen five years ago!
AIDE 2: You have seven.
McCAIN: Seven? Seven measly houses? Francis-fucking-Scott-Key! I'm practically destitute!
AIDE 2: (MUTTERING TO HIMSELF) Oh, for Christ's sake...
McCAIN I CAN'T DO THIS! Too many numbers! Too much to memorize! My God, I've lost six houses and probably one of my many hot-air balloons! There's no way I can debate on Friday. I'm fucking traumatized. America's traumatized! (BEAT) Okay. That's it. We're blowing this shit off. You pack my bag with great anger, right now! Just throw my stuff in there all haphazardly like they do in the movies. I'm off to D.C. to save my ass—um, save America's ass from an economic meltdown. (BEAT) Now, man! Angrily pack my shit!
AIDE 2: Yes sir.
McCAIN Gas up the jet and we'll get the hell outta here pronto! After we hit Couric for the interview, Nathan's for a hot dog, the Bronx zoo so I can pet a Lemur, Yankee Stadium, 'cause I hear Whitey Ford's on the mound tonight, and maybe a nosh at Toots Shor's. Then, (SMACKS HIS HAND TO INDICATE A PLANE'S TAKE-OFF) we're bats outta hell from Idlewild. I've got an economy to pretend to fix! Chop, chop!
AIDE 2: Yes sir.
Needless to say, the stunt didn't work. His save was was as effective as a paper doll's walking into a raging inferno to get cans of gasoline before they exploded. And the save wasn't just of himself, but his now-totally-exposed-as-a-stumbling-half-wit running mate Sarah Palin. The attempt to shift people's attention from her awfulness, even under highly controlled situations failed miserably. Her poll numbers are Grand Canyon-ing as we speak, aided (or rather, further ruined) by these disastrous, managed interviews. When a minimally talented interviewer like Katie Couric “pwns” you as badly as she did in this week's sit-down, you know you've got problems and a half. McCain's grandstanding was a “hail mary” to do something...anything to move eyes away from the trouble. The old magician's trick—“the misdirect”. From his recent choke job and his running mate's. What's almost lost in all of these reports about how terrible Palin's been is the mounting concern in GOP quarters over her in-over-her-head-ness. Republican strategist Rob Stutzman urged McCain to do the debate, but for all the wrong reasons:
“He needs the value of the side-by-side match-up, and now that there’s an apparent deal on the bailout, I think he’ll be in Oxford tomorrow night. The hullabaloo increases viewership 15 percent. Net win for McCain. Plus they need to do something to bury the Palin CBS interview!”
The original request was to postpone tonight's debate until next Thursday, where it would have replaced the Vice-Presidential one scheduled for that night—in effect, a double-stall, giving McCain more time to quaff serotonin and get his shit together, and to stave off Palin's potentially disastrous “Cindy Brady Camera Light” moment for another day. And the worry over her is real, with campaign insiders describing her debate prep as “disastrous”, “clueless” and wondering aloud “What are we going to do?”.
And loyal conservative pundits are so pissed, even they're taking shots at her idiocy.
From “Morning Joe” today, via Daily Kos:
SCARBOROUGH: If she can't answer basic questions, that's tough. Katie did not ask her tough questions, her questions were very fair. Apparently Katie asked her, “what's the worst thing Dick Cheney did”, and she answered “Shooting his friend with the gun”. Us Elections aren't a meritocracy, about picking the most qualified people, it's obvious she has very little knowledge of US facts. She may be a good person and a good governor, she has also has a high approval rating, but is this is the best person you can find for Vice President? but what does this say about Palin and McCain's judgment?
MIKE MURPHY: (Former McCain Campaign Manager) Is my Mike on? Well you know Pat, I never agreed with the Palin pick in the first place. I said she's a good base pick, but this is not a base vote type of year. The McCain camp has problems, because it seems CBS has more footage, and it's not any better, then what we've already seen.
And worse still from GOP shill Kathleen Parker also today:
“It was fun while it lasted,” Parker writes. “Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who is clearly out of her league.”
To paraphrase the Beatles:
“Heeeee-eyyyyyyy, you've got to hide your Veep a-waaaa-aaaaaay!”
Thus, the panic move. Not just for himself, but his spiral-eyed running mate. And more than a little bit of naked, rank opportunism. John Sidney McCain tried to use the economic crisis—one that a man with seven homes and thirteen cars wouldn't feel if he was in one of the homes as his wife Cindy plowed the fourth Escalade through the living room while shrieking “There's an economic problem in this country, John!” as a shitty dodge for his flagging political fortunes.
He basically “jaked it”. That's a sports locker-room term for feigning an injury to either get out of playing a game or for cheap sympathy. People are losing their jobs and savings, while this dangerously flawed, machiavellian little martinet used their agony as cover for his bagging on a debate and campaign when the going got rough. A man that couldn't be bothered to go anywhere near the Senate for all manner of important legislation all Goddamned year—to the point he probably needed a GPS device and bloodounds to find his fucking office, all of a sudden is a half-assed Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” the second his campaign starts collapsing on itself like a kid's over-sucked juice-box?
Cowardly. There's no other word that fits here. Not to mention, he monkey-wrenched a standing agreement with his know-nothing dance of egotism yesterday.
He tried to use the financial bail-out to facilitate his own cowardly bailing out and it failed. Miserably.
What tonight will bring...I don't know.
But I do know, and increasingly, the American people know that steady leadership and sage decison-making are not John McCain's strong suit, as evidenced by the last 48 hours of erratic behavior, capping off a manic-depressive ten days of ping-ponging about opinion-wise on matters of grave concern to us all.
Should we as Americans be in any way comfortable with the scattershot choices he makes? Absolutely not.
Should this man be anywhere close to the presidency? Hell, no.
Is he dangerously flawed? You damn betcha.