Friday, October 17, 2008

McCain Challenged by Lettermen

Because John Stewart and Steven Colbert spend so much time dissecting the news (which is, of course, the basis for both of their shows), they typically get all of the credit for challenging and skewering the politicians. They do a great job, and they certainly deserve the accolades that they have received.

The guy who gets lost in the shuffle, though, is David Lettermen. He does not toss softball questions at politicians, and I think he actually does a better (and tougher) interview than either Stewart or Colbert. He has been skewering the McCain/Palin ticket since John McCain skipped out on his program a few weeks ago. McCain had stated that he had to head back to Washington to deal with the economic meltdown, which wasn't exactly the truth. Instead of leaving town, McCain remained in New York for an interview with Katie Couric. Lettermen picked up the feed and has been poking fun at him ever since.

Well, last night, McCain finally fulfilled his obligation, and Lettermen jostled with him a bit before getting down to business. (He even had Keith Olbermann standing by in case McCain didn't show up again). Now, Lettermen is a really smart guy, and he uses two things to his advantage: 1) real news shows don't ask tough questions anymore and 2) the perception is that he is just a host of a late night comedy and entertainment program, so how hard can it be?

Essentially, McCain was lulled into complacency. He was given an opportunity to state his case, and Lettermen was fine to allow him to do that. You could see it coming, though. McCain has had a habit of late of bringing up William Ayers as a way of knocking his opponent Barack Obama down a peg. It hasn't worked. This is partially because Ayers has transformed himself into a respectable member of the community, but the real reason the issue hasn't gained traction is that, with everything in the country falling to pieces after 8 years of Republican political schemes, no one cares (nor should they, but that's another story).

Sure enough, as the interview continued, McCain tried to turn Ayers into a controversial issue. Of course he was led there by Lettermen, who set him up perfectly after challenging McCain's pick of Palin to serve as his VP. (He also asked why she keeps saying that Obama pals around with terrorists, which clearly isn't true). McCain took the bait, and the sly smile on Lettermen's face said it all. He pounced all over McCain's continuing need to bring up Ayers by asking the Senator about his relationship with G. Gordon Liddy, who served almost 5 years for burglary and admitted to plotting to kill a journalist. McCain tried to brush it off, but Lettermen persisted in defining McCain's relationship to Liddy as current and relevant, which is something the mainstream news organizations have failed to do.

It was a great moment, and you can watch the full interview at Lettermen's site. It's a gem of a interview.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Of Elephants and Donkeys....Part Two

Four years later, I'm still aggravated over what the Republicans did to John Kerry. Or maybe, I should say that eight years later, I'm still angry over what the Republicans did to Al Gore. The flip-flop strategy works, even if it's not true. In two presidential elections in a row, it has been used to make the eventual losing candidate look foolish.

Naturally, it shouldn't really be this way. Do we really want a leader who is so fixed in his views that he (or she) ignores the facts and refuses to alter course, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Actually, a case could be made that we already have one of those running the country, and look where it has gotten us. The U.S. is a mess. Thanks, George.

The Republicans have been trying to get something, anything to stick and break Barack Obama's momentum. They've tried the flip-flop strategy, but it hasn't worked. This mostly has been because Obama has been consistent or has, at least, framed his views well enough that he can't be portrayed as a flip-flopper, when all he is doing is clarifying or refining his position, mostly by shifting the emphasis of his words rather than his overall point of view.

The same cannot be said for John McCain. Since losing the primary in 2000, McCain has lost his mind and my respect. Is anyone sure what he stands for anymore? Here are some examples:

McCain opposed Bush's mammoth tax cuts. He leveled the same accusations at them as the Democrats did. Bush's tax cuts have favored the wealthy, quite heavily too. All of sudden, though, McCain now wants to extend them by making them permanent. Hmm, talk about a flip-flop. McCain claims that it will help the economy, but no highly respected economist agrees with him. America needs a tax cut, but it's the 90% of people who would be unaffected by McCain's plan that need it most.

There also was a time when McCain opposed off-shore drilling. He was never anywhere close to being a champion of the environment, but he did at least believe that the benefits of allowing off-shore drilling were far less than the devastation that the practice would wreak. Now, he's all for off-shore drilling, and it has become one of the cornerstones of his campaign. Sure, it sounds great to say that it would relieve the pressure of America's dependence on foreign oil. Everyone is for that. However, the amount of domestic production that would result from off-shore drilling (as well as drilling in ANWR, for that matter) is so minimal (and so far off in the future) that McCain would be best advised to drop the plan and focus instead upon alternative energy sources.

These are but two examples of how McCain has flip-flopped his positions on important issues. Admittedly, flip-flopping isn't as bad as it usually is made out to be, provided that there is a solid foundation for doing so, one that emanates from sound facts and logic. In these cases, however, McCain has dramatically altered his positions to ones that don't even make sense.