Was Gayle Quinnell told to ask McCain the Arab question?

Gayle Quinnell is the 75 year old woman who was corrected by John McCain when she said Barack Obama couldn’t be trusted because he’s an Arab. This gave McCain a chance to demonstrate that he isn’t inciting hatred in his crowds. His response was “he’s a decent family man citizen.” Somehow he couldn’t bring himself to say “American”. Some of my friends suggested the woman was a plant, told by McCain operatives to ask the question. Viewing the exchange seems to lend credence to this charge.Watch the first few seconds carefully.

Note that the woman (added: seems to) say “he’s not?” before McCain shakes his head “no”. I watched this on a DVR and paused it numerous times. I was unable to play it in slow motion. I still can’t tell whether there was an instant between the woman saying “he’s not” which sounded like a question, and McCain’s shaking his head no.

If there was a pause, even an instant, this lends substance to the allegations that someone in the McCain campaign told her to ask the question so McCain would have an opportunity to save face. She would have had known what he was about to say before he said it.

It is also possible she was starting to say “he’s not an American” though her intonation was that of a question not a statement.

If he didn’t, why did the woman say “he’s not”? The only reason I can see, and it is plausible, is that when she didn’t see McCain nodding in agreement or giving more subtle nonverbal cues that was wasn’t agreeing with her she made the assumption he was disagreeing.

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[Click the screen icon (bottom, left of speaker icon) to watch video full screen.]

Plainly and simply put, there has to be a reason the woman said “he’s not” when she did, and at this point we do not know what it is.

Someone in the media should review a high quality recording and slow it down and see if McCain telegraphed his “no” before he said the word.

Since the media knows who the woman is and how to reach her, perhaps the easiest way to determine if someone suggested she ask the question is to inquire of her directly. If a McCain staffer urged her to pose the question and made sure she’d be able to do so, a zealous supporter would most likely jump at the chance to help and have a rare chance to meet her candidate.

If the woman just happened to have the opportunity to ask her question and wasn’t a foil for the campaign, there’s no story here aside from the fact McCain’s answer didn’t change her opinion one iota. Here’s a transcript of the interview conducted with the newly famous Quinnell.

If there’s anyone who wonders whether someone from the Obama campaign put her up to making the comment to embarrass McCain, this should lay that theory to rest.

If she was deliberately used to give McCain a chance to make a statement that put him on the high road, I suggest his “Straight Talk Express” bus has a flat tire on the low road because this represents deception.

11 Responses to "Was Gayle Quinnell told to ask McCain the Arab question?"

  1. almandine  October 13, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Good for McCain if it serves to tone down the belligerance.

  2. Ardie  October 13, 2008 at 10:56 am

    McCain brings gasoline and matches, starts a fire (racism) then says we shouldn’t start fires after the building is burning.

  3. Hal Brown  October 13, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Enemy of my enemy is my friend, (according to Wikipedia)

    is usually considered a foreign policy doctrine that is commonly used to confront a significant enemy through an intermediary in order to undermine the enemy and in a “cold” manner, as opposed to a “hot”, direct confrontation. It’s an ancient proverb that means that solely because two parties have a common enemy, they are friends. Often described as an Arab proverb, there is also an identical Chinese proverb and both may be an extension of another Chinese proverb that says, “It is good to strike the serpent’s head with your enemy’s hand.” A historical example of this policy occurred when the Greeks were attacked by the Persians at Thermopylae; the Greek city states put aside their differences and fought the common enemy.

    Most relevant to the current situation where McCain has apparently welcomed extremists into his fold is the next Wiki quote which has to be considered ironic in that it comes under the heading religion (emphasis added):

    In Exodus, chapter 23:22, it’s said, “I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you.”

    In the Bible, Matthew chapter 22, the Pharisees and the Herodians united against Jesus. Even though they hated each other, they had a common enemy. This simply means the hatred between two parties can easily spread to a third party.

    I don’t agree with your gasoline and matches analogy, Ardie, but I think we are in basic agreement that McCain is inflaming the fears and hatred in some of his supporters.

    What he needs to say clearly is that he does not want the support of anyone who is voting for him because they think Obama is a Muslim they need to be afraid of him, or because they think he has sympathy for anyone (anyone!) they think has terrorist sympathies.

    If McCain had both guts and class, he should say that if he wasn’t running but Obama was as a Republican, he would be campaigning for him.

    He also has to stop allowing anyone under his control to say that Obama is palling around with, friends with, or friendly with Bill Ayers.

  4. zuzumamu  October 13, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Hal, I have a pretty strong doubt that anyone, other than Cindy McCain,is under John McCain’s control. Well, maybe the servants on the 13 properties. I dunno about the plant theory, concerning Ol’ Gayle there, although she DOES look a bit more like a homeless person with a crisp $50 bill in her pocket than the usual Republican supporter.If she WAS induced to stammer out the question, the clips of his come-to-Jesus moment, sure don’t make him look any better, as he hasn’t “suspended” the inflammatory insinuations at all, or come up with a single idea to tempt anyone other than anti abortion freaks drooling over Sarah Palin. Maybe he gained a few embarrassed Republicans, but he confused and enraged, and probably lost, a whole hell of a lot more of his knuckle dragging base.John McCain just isn’t that bright, which is why he’s in the position he’s in. Somewhere between his lust to be president, and his Rovian handlers. Let’s see how much ass whipping he does at the next “debate”.
    **********
    MORE: I didn’t watch this clip you provided Hal, before I made my comment. I thought it was just the clip we all saw of the moment. Now that I watched this clip, you may damn well be right. I hadn’t realized she was actually a supporter, printing up rubbish at KINKO’S, and mailing out lies for the campaign. Geesh! Yep. I’m more in agreement with the plant theory now.

  5. Hal Brown  October 13, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Crossed posts:

    Zuzu, we were online at the same time. I wrote the following before you put on your addendum:

    She’s seems to be a McCain zealot from her interview. I doubt she’d want or accept that crisp $50 bill to ask the question. She’d be so thrilled to have a chance to ask a prepared question she’d think nothing of whether this was ethical.

    Of course I could be totally wrong. But on repeated viewing of the video it still appears to me that McCain was listening intently and not showing any reaction until after she made the Arab comment. If I’m correct then the question remains unanswered said to why she said “he’s not?” before McCain shakes his head “no”.

  6. Hal Brown  October 13, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Since this column is about the trouble McCain got into because of the reaction of the crowds at his and Palin’s rallies I’m posting a quote (emphasis added) from one of my two favorite Huffington Post (boo hiss) bloggers, Jason Linkins (Sam Stein who consistently comes up with some great material, witness today’s revelation (LINK), is the other):

    Today, the key line of John McCain’s rebooted stump speech is directed at his rival, Barack Obama, and it goes a little something like, “We have him right where we want him.” That was the plan, all along, you see! Be down double digits in the polls, possessed of the necessity of campaigning in West Virginia, and in need of tempering your supporters’ passions because they have suddenly veered wildly in the direction of psychosis. I love it when a plan comes together, even if that plan is only indicative of the fact that McCain’s moved to the “denial” stage of grief. Brace yourself, because anger and depression are still to come!

    Anger is yet to come! Uh oh, brace yourselves!

    Most of Linkin’s piece, “Lashing Out: McCain Flack Turns On Bill Kristol” is apparent from the title. I enjoyed his sticking it to Kristol and agree with his opinion (and many others) of his selection as a New York Times OpEd columnist. I don’t think I’m biased because I think I’m a better writer than he is.

  7. Hal Brown  October 13, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Note that the woman (added: seems to) say “he’s not?” before McCain shakes his head “no”. I watched this on a DVR and paused it numerous times. I was unable to play it in slow motion. I still can’t tell whether there was an instant between the woman saying “he’s not” which sounded like a question, and McCain’s shaking his head no.

    If there was a pause, even an instant, this lends substance to the allegations that someone in the McCain campaign told her to ask the question so McCain would have an opportunity to save face.

    I may be making much ado about nothing if the woman saw McCain beginning to indicate she was wrong before she said “he’s not”.

    It is also possible she was starting to say “he’s not an American” though her intonation was that of a question not a statement.

  8. JudyB  October 14, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Hal.. My daughter said she thought the Gayle Quinnell question was a set up, while the news tape of the incident was still running the first time. I thought she was just being overly biased and said so, but now, I’m not so sure she wasn’t right…she gave the exact reasons for having questioned Quinnells’s spontaneity and authenticity as you….now, after my having viewed it several times over the past two days, I also have a feeling Quinnell may have been a plant.

  9. woody188  October 14, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    The President fields pre-planned questions all the time. I don’t like it. But we have not had a real White House Press Corps for some time now. And anyone that would dare embarrass Bush and not stick to the script was ignored and never allowed to ask a question again.

    I remember as a kid watching the Press chew up Presidents. They had to think on their feet. And they couldn’t blacklist a journalist because they didn’t like the question.

    We need to get back to that. But the mainstream media seems content to be spoon fed by the government without question. Which is why they are in a continued demise while blogs and alternative media are increasing their viewer/readership.

  10. odiousmurch  October 26, 2008 at 3:25 am

    re: “he’s not” –

    She wasn’t saying “He’s not?” as in “Obama’s not an Arab?”

    She was continuing an incomplete “thought” that she began prior to calling him an Arab.

    Lady: “I can’t trust Obama… I- I have read about him and he’s not- He’s not… he’s a [sic] Arab……… He’s not-

    McCain: “No ma’am.”

    Lady: “No?”

    Who knows what she was trying to say & who cares.

    Get it?

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