Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Anonymous Liberal" Gets It Right

When I watched the highlights of yesterday's twin train wrecks in the McCain campaign yesterday, I said to myself, "well, the only reason that John McCain cut out of the David Letterman taping (video at link) was to do damage control for the earlier massacred Couric-Palin interview.
In the course of that interview, Sarah Palin all but signaled John McCain's intention to vote for the bailout package. And if it wasn't his intention, it is now. She equated not voting for it to initiating a new Great Depression, and you can almost hear the one-liner from Obama: "He voted FOR the Great Depression, before he was against it!"
Not that he couldn't use this line anyway.
Too, Palin's "I'll get back to you" comment regarding whether McCain had ever passed a single piece of legislation that increased regulations was pretty much butchered, and showed her to be totally lost at sea when it comes to answering questions she doesn't know the answer to.
Anonymous Liberal posts a brief transcript of this exchange (video at link):
COURIC: But he's been in Congress for 26 years. He's been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.
PALIN: He's also known as the maverick, though. Taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he's been talking about — the need to reform government.
COURIC: I'm just going to ask you one more time, not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation?
PALIN: I'll try to find you some, and I'll bring them to you.
 Now, I'm no Republican, but I can think off the top of my head of at least two bills that McCain supported that increased regulations on education (No Child Left Behind) and homeland security (The Patriot Act). I can't say that he *pushed* for passage of either of those, but I do know that the McCain-Feingold bill set new regulations regarding money in political campaigns and is indeed his signature bill in the Senate!
It's OK to draw a blank in an interview and say "I'll get back to you," but your damned handlers ought to be on a phone in another room, getting those answers to you. And if they can't get to you during the taping, they ought to get you as you walk out and hand you a slip of paper, so you can turn around and go back to Couric and say "McCain-Feingold" for her to add later.
So The Anonymous Liberal gets it right that McCain's stunt was damage control, to appear on Couric in the next news cycle...yes, news cycles can now be measured in hours, not shore up his credentials. And kudos to Couric for asking a tough question.
But McCain suffers far more from his obfuscation to Letterman than he does from the stunt. If Senator McCain had been honest with Letterman, and said "Listen, I have to do damage control today, and if you'll keep it under your hat, I promise to drop by at the earliest opportunity to appear," Letterman would have been fine with that, and the endless replay of "Hey Senator, I have a question! Can I drive you to the airport?" wouldn't be getting more airplay than Sarah Palin's gaffes would.
Letterman said it best last night: "What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!" That's common sense and it's going to ring a lot louder and longer with independent voters than "I'll get back to you" ever would.
Indeed, McCain could have called Letterman during the taping (both The Late Show and The CBS Evening News tape around the same time) and perhaps made a surprise appearance. This would have salvaged the day, and truly mitigated the unmitigated disaster that was the Palin interview.
As it is, McCain managed to limit its exposure, first by "cancelling" campaigning, and then by cancelling on Letterman, both dishonest acts of cowardice. And now, CNN is reporting that McCain wants to delay the VP debate! I wonder if he's thinking of replacing her with someone who's a bit more...seasoned. After this story, it's possible.
Letterman said it best last night: "What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"
Presidents are supposed to multitask.