McCain: “POW! POW! POW! Take that Obama!”

We know what John McCain hopes will propel him into the White House. It’s his 40 year old POW stories (cartoon) and other simplistic tidbits with as much substance as a Twinkie. He used his oft repeated tales from Hanoi to answer several questions at the Saddleback Church Forum and the audience ate it up. Love those Twinkies. No matter that Obama gave more compelling, if complex and nuanced, answers to the same questions. American likes drama in digestible segments, and that’s what McCain gave them.

Obama needs to find an antidote to McCain’s anecdotes, and he needs to find it soon!

My subjective applause meter indicates that the audience was thrilled by McCain and lukewarm at best to Obama. It hardly mattered to them that McCain gave them little to think about, often repeating self-serving anecdotes from his history which he’d used in his stump speeches and television ads.

McCain must have felt the love as he interjected the phrase “my friends” every three or four sentences.

Host and questioner Pastor Rick Warren must have felt it too because while he mildly admonished Obama several times not to use parts of his stump speeches as answers, he never called McCain on doing exactly that.

For those paying attention, the substantive differences between McCain and Obama were stark.

Those who believe in a woman’s right to choose and plan to vote for McCain best kiss both sexual intimacy and Roe vs. Wade goodbye. McCain believes that life begins at the moment of conception. Thus, since he’s against abortion, this means he’d also be against the morning after pill and any form of birth control that stops pregnancy by preventing a fertilized egg from attaching itself to the uterine wall.

Reading the handwriting on another kind of wall, you don’t need to have much imagination to predict what would happen once McCain had a chance to appoint new justices to the Supreme Court. Last night McCain made it clear he’d appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices.

I wasn’t sure why Warren asked Obama a question about what he’d do to address the plight of the some 150 million orphans in the world until he asked McCain the same question.

McCain deftly responded with another personal anecdote telling about how his wife bright home an orphan infant from Bangladesh.

POW! Take that those of you who dare to suggest he’d allow racial attacks to be used against Obama.

Warren also asked Obama a related question regarding what he’d do about human sex trafficking. Apparently McCain’s orphan tale threw him off stride because, unless I had a mental lapse and missed it, he never asked him the same question.

Too bad. I would have liked to hear McCain talk about the exploitation of women.

Warren posed a good question, asking each candidate to define what was meant by “being rich.”

Obama started with a joking reference to the wild success of the pastor’s book but then went on to answer the question.

McCain, who clearly doesn’t want to be viewed as a member of the super-rich class, told those of us without private jets to shuttle between our multitple mansions, that “some of the richest people I’ve ever known in my life are the most unhappy” and “I don’t want to take any money from the rich. I want everybody to get rich.”

I’m surprised he didn’t urge people to keep buying those $100 Million Mega-Buck lottery tickets, though more truthfully he could have suggested they marry into a fortune like he did.

Obama gave a personal answer to the question about which three wise people he’d listen to if he was president, naming his wife and maternal grandmother, and a number of congressmen from both parties.

When McCain was asked the same question for a moment I thought he was considering saying Jesus Christ. Instead he gave what I thought was his most interesting answer.

He named General David Petreaus, a no-brainer because it allowed him to throw out his I told you so’s about The Surge. But he then named Rep. John Lewis, (D-Ga.) as if this would enable him to distance himself from his campaign surrogates who are using his race against Obama.

Pssst, John, somebody is printing the “Keep the White House White” bumper stickers my friend who lives in a rural town near Atlanta has seen on cars.

Using his valuable last wisdom slot, named eBay CEO Meg Whitman who is a close adviser. The only reason I can think of that he did this is that he was stung by the remarks of his campaign co-chair, Phil Gramm, who got lots of negative publicity when he called America a “nation of whiners” whose economic complaints are mostly “mental.”

If you can’t discern the man behind the multiple masks, then what you see is what you get. A President McCain will get us, to paraphrase and quote Frank Rich (read The Candidate We Still Don’t Know), a courageous and patriotic former POW; a political maverick who “has stood up as rebelliously in Washington as he did to his Vietnamese captors”; who “strenuously opposed the execution of the Iraq war”; who “slammed the president’s response to Katrina”; who “fought the ‘agents of intolerance’ of the religious right”; who “crusaded against the G.O.P. House leader Tom DeLay, the criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff and their coterie of influence-peddlers”.

As Frank Rich put it more diplomatically, every part of this except being a POW, is a lie. (Rich explains why in his OpEd.) And we don’t know for certain whether McCain is embellishing his accounting of his POW experience.

Last night doesn’t count for much since, although carried online and by both CNN and MSNBC, it was only watched by political junkies.

We’ll discover the impact today and through the week because we’ll see how the media cuts and pastes excerpts from this non-debate debate between the candidates. Despite the shortcoming of the format, it was the closest thing to a side-by-side comparison of the candidates because they both were asked the same questions.

Let’s see how the media spins this and let’s watch the polls to see whether the public saw through McCain’s canned corny answers.

8/23/08 Update: A what-if I forgot when I wrote this column on McCain’s relying on a 40 year old war story to answer any tricky question:

What McCain says makes him more of a war hero than just any old run of the mill POW is that he was offered an early release because he was the son of an admiral.

What if he accepted that release?

He would have broken the honor code among all POWs that says you don’t accept any favors from the enemy that your comrades don’t also get.

Getting out before those who were there longer than you is the ultimate favor.

If he came home under those conditions he probably would have ruined both any chance for advancement in the military or a political career.

Anyone who risks life and limb in service to their country can be called heroic. But those who embellish, let alone brag about, their heroism, diminish the stature of true heroes.

Be sure to read “A White House press conference from Hell” by Robert Kezelis. about how McCain uses a POW story to answer every question, and Maureen Dowd on the POW subject
“Too Much of a Bad Thing”, the later writing:

So it’s hard to believe that John McCain is now in danger of exceeding his credit limit on the equivalent of an American Express black card. His campaign is cheapening his greatest strength — and making a mockery of his already dubious claim that he’s reticent to talk about his P.O.W. experience — by flashing the P.O.W. card to rebut any criticism, no matter how unrelated. The captivity is already amply displayed in posters and TV advertisements.

Comments

  1. bryan mcclellan

    We’re gonna have to hang around longer than that, so let’s have a voter boycott.

    Nobody votes ,til they bring the boy’s and girl’s home.

    IMPEACH BUSH Jr.

  2. bryan mcclellan

    Provide tons of rock to be pebbled in Kansas.

    The least of our founders would have recognized the need.

  3. Hal Brown

    Arch conservative William Kristol, who I read only when I feel I have to, sums it up:

    … it was McCain’s night.

    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. LINK

    No matter that a person of intelligence would see that Obama’s answers weren’t “windy generalities” but necessarily long and well thought out answers to complex questions. The sad fact is that people who like Rick Warren’s simplistic life view like McCain’s Aesop’s Fable approach to solving the world’s problems.

    Kristol, like most of his right wing brethren, believe the following:

    … while Obama talked of confronting evil, McCain spoke of defeating it. Obama took the view that evil is generally abroad in the world; McCain focused on radical Islam and 9/11. Obama claimed that all of us must be metaphorical “soldiers” against evil; McCain paid tribute to actual American soldiers. And McCain couldn’t resist saying again Saturday night that if he has to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell to get him and bring him to justice, he’ll do so.

    Sensible listeners realize that Obama’s gave a complex and compelling answer to one of the most complex questions facing us: whether evil exists and if it does, “do we ignore it? Do we negotiate with it? Do we contain it? Do we defeat it?”

    McCain gave a campaign speech.

  4. Hal Brown

    Another view of what Obama is up against:

    First, the forum previewed the stylistic battle lines of the contest ahead, and it should give Democrats pause. Obama was fluent, cool and cerebral — the qualities that made Adlai Stevenson interesting but did not make him president. Obama took care to point out that he had once been a professor at the University of Chicago, but that bit of biography was unnecessary. His whole manner smacks of chalkboards and campus ivy. Issues from stem cell research to the nature of evil are weighed, analyzed and explained instead of confronted.

    This approach has a genuine appeal to some voters, especially of a more liberal bent, who believe there is a nuance shortage in American life. But on Saturday night it did not compare well with McCain, who was decisive, passionate and surprisingly personal. READ Washington Post OpEd by Michael Gerson

  5. Hal Brown

    World’s apart, writes Sally Quinn, about the difference between McCain and Obama, also in today’s Washington Post. Addressing the appeal of John McCain she writes:

    I want to live in that world again. I want to live in John McCain’s world. My father was a military man. My parents were friends of McCain’s parents and lived in the same apartment building. My father’s closest friend was Barry Goldwater, McCain’s mentor. Those were the days when men were men, when the differences between good and evil were clear, when they knew where they stood on every issue, when life was less complicated, when there was an air of insouciance, no matter how difficult the issues.

    Although Quinn says she would rather live in McCain’s (fantasy) world than Obama’s but she believes that we live in Obama’s (reality) world. However she “admits” that:

    By the time McCain finished his interview with pastor Rick Warren at the Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, Saturday night, part of a forum that also featured Barack Obama, I was curled up in a fetal position in my chair, wrapped in a mohair throw, practically sucking my thumb.

    Read her OpEd here.

  6. Hal Brown

    Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t have an unfair advantage by knowing what the questions and Obama’s answers were in advance. But what difference does it make considering so many numbskulls eat up his simplistic answers and stories such as his Hanoi homilies.

    Read yet another good take “Despite Request, McCain Resorted to Stock Answers at Faith Forum”.

    EXCERPT: Barack Obama rarely had the opportunity to delve into his stump speech, perhaps because Warren tended to change the subject as it seemed Obama was making that turn towards his stump.

    But John McCain, who has been deemed a “maverick” for years, played the part well and seemed not to play by Warren’s guideline. Instead, he took the opportunity during the discussion, carried live by cable news networks, to stick hard to the message he’s been driving across the country since running for president.

    Almost none of the lines or stories were new, but McCain jumped from sharp, brief answers to weaving through his tried-and-true anecdotes, many of which his audience, and Warren, seemed to have never heard before.

    Read examples here: “Despite Request, McCain Resorted to Stock Answers at Faith Forum”.

  7. pollchecker

    Hal, I doubt that anyone here who watched that spectacle would disagree that McCain sounded like a paid political announcement. It was truly sickening. All I could say was “YUK!

    I just thought it was interesting that THE REVEREND made a POINT of saying that McCain was in a “cone of silence“.

    Just another lie which just goes to show when it comes to politics, you can’t trust anyone!

  8. buckethead

    Thanks Hal for mentioing his POW nickname “Songbird”. It’s time that folks knew what his fellow POWs have to say. Google Viet Vets against McCain and McCain USS Forrestal and see what the hot shot pilot admiral’s son was up to when he was being a hero. POWs against McCain isn’t bad either.

  9. Cailleach

    McCain has never been in ground combat and never in a command position. And-being in a POW camp for five years qualifies McCain to be president exactly how?

  10. pollchecker

    And-being in a POW camp for five years qualifies McCain to be president exactly how?

    When you figure that out, please explain it to me.

  11. bryan mcclellan

    Thats right, and as Scotty used to say; If my Grandmother had wheels, she’d be a wagon.

  12. pollchecker

    Let’s review…

    1)McCain was not in a cone of silence during the questioning of Obama
    2)McCain’s POW cross story was phony AND plagarized from someone else

    and now we find out that his answer about 3 people to consult was just as phony and just as big of a lie as the rest of the forum. Check this out.

    Rep. Lewis: McCain “Does Not Consult Me”

    For those who perhaps did not see Rick Warren’s forum….both men were asked to name 3 people they would consult if they were elected POTUS.

    John McCain says he plans to consult with Democratic Rep. John Lewis when he’s president. That’s news to Lewis.

    During Saturday’s presidential forum at Rick Warren’s California megachurch, John McCain was asked to name the “three wisest people” he would “rely heavily on” if elected president. He didn’t cite close confidantes Phil Gramm and Randy Scheunemann, possibly because they have gotten McCain into trouble politically. Instead McCain chose Gen. David Petraeus; former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, one of his economic advisers; and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a leading figure in the civil rights movement.

    Apparently this is not the first time McCain has dropped Congressman Lewis (an African American from Georgia who is a Democrat) name. But it seems that this is news to Lewis.

    But even though McCain has now repeatedly cited Lewis as a role model and potential adviser, McCain has not established a relationship with the Georgia Democrat in the 22 years they have served in Congress together. At the time of McCain’s Selma speech, a Lewis associate told my colleague David Corn that McCain has never been close to Lewis. Lewis was not told about McCain’s speech in Selma in advance, nor was he invited to attend.

    In response to McCain’s latest invocation of his name, Rep. Lewis said in a statement requested by Mother Jones, “I cannot stop one human being, even a presidential candidate, from admiring the courage and sacrifice of peaceful protesters on the Edmund Pettus Bridge or making comments about it.” But, he added, “Sen. McCain and I are colleagues in the US Congress, not confidantes. He does not consult me. And I do not consult him.”

    McCain is as phony as a 3 dollar bill. Every time he opens his mouth, out comes some lie, mistake or sanctimonious flip flop.

    It’s as if he was emulating GW Bush in EVERY WAY including LIES and STUPID remarks.

    Lastly, I ran across this tidbit when reading the news.

    Senator John Complain

    So, Senator McCain goes on national television and lies to a pastor, pretending that he was in a “cone of silence” holding room during the Saddleback Forum where he couldn’t hear the questions that he would be asked that were also being posed to Senator Obama, gets called on it, and then lodges an official complaint with NBC News because Andrea Mitchell was one of the many reporters to report on it?

    If the man cannot be trusted to tell the truth to a “man of God” let along the audience, if the man cannot be trusted to play by the rules, if the man cannot be trusted to take responsibility for his actions, HOW THE HELL can he be trusted to lead our country.

    The answer is simple…..HE CAN’T!

    UPDATE: Here is another story he recanted the other night that is apparently UNTRUE:

    McCain cites questionable story on ‘evil’

    Psychiatric case files of two female suicide bombers who killed nearly 100 people in Baghdad this month show that they suffered from depression and schizophrenia but do not contain information indicating they had Down Syndrome, American officials said Wednesday.

    In the aftermath of the Feb. 1 bombings — the most devastating attacks in Baghdad since summer — Iraqi officials said that the women had Down syndrome, a genetic disorder. They based their opinion partly on the appearance of the remains of the women, whose heads, as often happens in suicide bombings, were severed by the blasts.

    A senior American commander in Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Jeffery W. Hammond, also said there were indications that the women were mentally disabled and were unwitting victims of insurgents.

    The information led to reports that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown Sunni extremist group that American officials say is led by foreigners, had been using mentally disabled people as suicide bombers.

    But a senior American military spokesman said Wednesday that it remained unclear whether the women had Down syndrome or suffered from any medical condition that would have prevented them from understanding what they were doing.

    Psychiatric case files?????? Yeah, right! In Iraq….that has minimal electricity, health care, etc. This is just more US propaganda.

    It appears under Bush/McCain we are now living in the USSA! No, that’s not a typo. Just think about it. And people are still going to vote for this fool?

  13. D-TOx...

    D-TOx…
    Many years ago a very wise man said: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” I cannot wait to see these not so wise men smacking each other around with sound bites from the Bible! Why are we all being subjected to this?!?! Divine punishment?

  14. bryan mcclellan

    Better to find them battered by the Stones they throw so plentifully in their weakness.

    Onward to Leavenworth with the lot, via the justice dept.

    DISCOUNTDEMOCRACYDEFUNCTREPUBLIC…HACK!

  15. Hal Brown

    Quick with a quip –

    Insightful and provocative Washington Post columnist David Ignatius writes in today’s OpEd:

    It was February 2006 in Munich, and John McCain’s eyes were flashing with the mischievous spark that comes when he’s about to fire a verbal rocket.

    Ignatius continues to describe how McCain’s rhetorical style may be counter-productive in international relations noting that “American leaders shouldn’t make threats the country can’t deliver or promises it isn’t prepared to keep. The rhetoric of confrontation may make us feel good, but other people end up getting killed.” But the following offers a picture of who the real McCain is:

    ….McCain likes zingers. We’ve all seen that mischievous look — just before he shot a quip or sarcastic one-liner at GOP rivals such as former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. It’s one of his appealing qualities, but in this case it worries me. Zingers don’t make good foreign policy. They embolden friends and provoke adversaries — and in the Georgia crisis, that has proved to be a deadly combination. The Risk of the zinger – LINK.

    “It’s one of his appealing qualities?” Not to me and I hope not to that many other voters. To me it demonstrates a streak of bully-boy meanness.

  16. ekaton

    new Submitted by jwritesel on August 17, 2008 – 10:19pm.
    “I also find it hard to believe that someone who was involved in a savings and loan scandal that cost taxpayers millions can get elected President.”

    It was several hundred billion.

    — Kent Shaw

  17. Flapsaddle

    The last American president to have actually commanded troops in combat was Theodore Roosevelt. Dwight Eisenhower served during two world wars, commanded the largest military formations in American history – but never saw a single hour in ground combat.

    Kennedy was never in ground combat, either, and he managed to get his “command” run over by a Japanese destroyer in the middle of a large ocean; therefore, it would seem that he, too, was implicitly unqualified to be the C-i-C.

    I suggest that military records are spotty at best in determining whether or not someone is qualified to serve.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  18. Hal Brown

    Playing the POW Card:

    Facing a Democratic Party positively giddy over his recent admission that he didn’t know how many houses he owned, John McCain quickly returned to a political trump card: his POW experience.

    Speaking to the Washington Post, aide Brian Rogers, in full damage-control mode, acknowledged that his boss had “some investment properties and stuff,” but added: “This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years — in prison.”

    Read Sam Stein’s HuffPo essay where he gives more examples.

    Keith Olbermann brought this up tonight as well, noting that using the POW stories so frequently would eventually cease to be effective.