Political Deformity

A Handshake of Carbon Monoxide

RNC Live: Rudy!

McCain and Palin are walking around and waving as the theme from “Rudy” plays in the background. I would have preferred the theme to “Jurassic Park.” Because McCain is really old, get it? GET IT?

Good.

UPDATE: Christ Almighty, now they’re playing “Barracuda.” That’s almost as clumsily literal-minded as my Jurassic Park joke.

UPDATE 2: I just realized that “Rudy” could be construed as a reference to Rudy Giuliani. It’s not. I’m talking about this.

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September 4, 2008 Posted by | John McCain, Republicans, Sarah Palin | , , | Leave a comment

RNC Live: McCain Goes Obama

McCain is now talking about how he wants to work with Democrats to do the peoples’ work, partisanship-be-damned. He says he’ll take anyone’s hand to get things done, that he’ll have Democrats in his administration, and that everyone needs to work together for the sake of change.

Surely it’s a sign that Republicans are panicking if they’re lifting, wholesale, Barack Obama’s central campaign message, no?

September 4, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, John McCain | , , , | Leave a comment

RNC Live: McCain Doesn’t Do Arenas

John McCain really isn’t cut out for big, spectacle orations. He’s to sneery, and his voice is too much of a hiss–I feel like his cadence and tone always comes off like he’s scolding someone. It’s strangely patronizing…I can’t quite put my finger on it. But you can understand why he prefers town halls to large-scale speeches: he’s much more suited for in-your-face commentary than the broad, epic rhetoric of arena-style politics. His voice just doesn’t carry, and his rhythm doesn’t flow like Obama’s.

Whaddya think, am I being too harsh?

September 4, 2008 Posted by | Republicans | , , | Leave a comment

RNC Live: Heeeere’s Johnny!

Okay, first off: George W. Bush is getting applause for his leadership after 9/11. Yes, seriously.

Second: McCain’s smile terrifies me. It always looks like he’s trying to hide something, or trying to not fall into a murderous fit of rage. Exhibit A:

Only thing creepier? His use of “My Friends.”

September 4, 2008 Posted by | John McCain, Republicans | , , | Leave a comment

Why I Like Barack Obama

The RNC has been a very juvenile exercise: lots of chest-beating, derision and slander directed toward Democrats, and a whole lot of desperate attempts at self-affirmation. So how does Barack Obama respond? Why, by splashing a well-worded dose of reality on the proceedings:

Barack Obama said Thursday that attacks on him at this week’s Republican National Convention were no big deal: “I’ve been called worse on the basketball court,” he told reporters at an afternoon press conference.

“What did you guys expect?” he asked, smiling, “This is what they do. They don’t have an agenda to run on. They haven’t offered a single concrete idea so far in two nights about how they would make the lives of middle class Americans better. They’ve spent the entire two nights attacking me or extolling John McCain’s biography, which is fine. They can use their convention time any way they want.”

I like this: he’s calling a spade a spade, and noting that the Republican Convention really is politics as usual for the GOP. The Republicans are itching to bring him down to their level, where they can sling mud in his face. I’m glad he’s not biting–at this point, the Republican playbook has become downright predictable.

Here Obama comes across as the more mature, serious candidate–at a time when America’s problems demand a mature, serious response. So keep throwing your tantrums, Republicans–they only make you look more ineffective and delusional.

September 4, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, Republicans | , , | 2 Comments

RNC Live: Biography Overload

Okay, I can’t take this anymore. The entire RNC is built around the idea that the Republican candidates–and even their families–are people you should like and admire, regardless of where they stand on particular issues. Cindy McCain is now lauding her children for serving in Iraq, as though the service of her son is an indication of her husband’s competence as would-be president.

Now she’s saying that her father was “a true Western gentleman” and that “his handshake was his solemn oath.” OKAY! I GET IT! The pedigree of the Republican candidates is impeccable! These are ‘good, decent people.’

But come on! The economy is entering a recession and wages have stagnated since the 1970s; we’re spending an unsustainable $2.1 trillion on health care and almost one-fifth of America lacks health insurance; one out of every 99 Americans is in prison; we’re fighting two wars at once–three, if you count the so-called ‘Global War on Terror’ as its own entity; and we have a deep, possibly unsalvageable, deficit.

Tell me, Cindy McCain, how is your father’s firm handshake going to address these problems?

Really, to ignore these issues in favor of lauding your family tree–which has been a recurring strategy of this Republican Convention–is just disgraceful. Enough, already.

September 4, 2008 Posted by | John McCain, Republicans | , , , | Leave a comment

RNC Live: Cindy McCain Rubs Me the Wrong Way

She hasn’t done anything particularly wrong during her speech (yet), but I have an instinctive repulsion to her Stepford/trophy wife aesthetics. I know this isn’t particularly fair, but what can I say? I am a disaffected, got-less-sex-than-I-wanted-in-high-school kinda guy. Damn you for not giving me the time of day in AP American History, Cindy McCain!

Also? The way she’s delivering this speech comes off like a informercial or a bad talk show.  Me no like.

September 4, 2008 Posted by | John McCain, Republicans | , , | Leave a comment

RNC Live 2: Tom Ridge

He’s cuddly.

What? I’m sorry-it’s true. Whatta lug.

September 4, 2008 Posted by | Republicans | , | Leave a comment

Selective Headlines on Biden/Palin

So the media, which spent so much time needling through the seedy underbelly of Palin’s life before last night’s speech, has now fixated on a new narrative, moving from “what was McCain thinking?” to “My God, she’s fantastic.” This of course, makes for a great story: Palin is now the underdog that blew away naysayers; the down-home American who took on the big boys; the Ms. Smith gone to Washington.

News outlets are so oddly fixated on this new arc of Palin as the come-from-nothing -heavy-hitter, that they’re even undermining their own reporting. The New York Times has a story titled “Biden on Palin: ‘Whoa'” The suggestion here, of course, is that Palin impressed Biden so much he was speechless. But here’s what Biden actually said about Palin’s speech:

“It was a very skillfully written, very skillfully delivered speech. But there was not a word about the middle class or health care or how people are going to fill up their gas tanks or a single word about how we’re going to get our kids through college.”

Even though the Times reported this comment, they chose to grab their headline from the following:

“I thought ‘Whoa,’ ” Mr. Biden said [about Palin’s zingers toward Obama]. “They’re good, funny lines, but I’m glad they’re not about me.”

Biden’s not speechless about Palin’s skill or competence, he’s just saying “hey now, that’s harsh.” That’s not what the headline suggests, however.

Other major newspapers are also playing up the ‘Biden’s blown away’ angle. The Wall Street Journal blog has a piece headlined “Biden Praises Palin for ‘Amazing Speech’.” Here again, Biden says the speech was good, but utterly lacking in substance. Why not have a headline saying “Biden: Palin’s Speech Has No Answers for America” or something similar? The Washington Post also says that “Biden Acknowledges Palin’s ‘Great Night'”, even though, in the same article, Biden says that “I was…impressed with what I didn’t hear. I didn’t hear a word mentioned about the middle class.”

You can tell a lot about the story that the media tries to tell from events based on the headlines. It seems that they’re dead-set on the “underdog breaks out” arc for Palin, emphasizing how she’s impressed a 36-year veteran of the Senate. That’s an exciting tale, but the truth is that Biden’s just being civil.

Oddly enough, after doing its best to eviscerate her before her speech, the media now seems eager to trump Palin up into some sort of phenomenon.

September 4, 2008 Posted by | Media Coverage, Sarah Palin | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Palin As Obama? Heck No

The site Right Wing News has compiled some reactions from right-wing bloggers to Palin’s RNC speech last night. Naturally, they’re thrilled by it. But perhaps the most disturbing reaction that I can find comes from William Lobdell, who was a reporter for the L.A. Times for 14 years:

Palin has just hijacked the presidential campaign. I’ve got a skeptical, Obama-loving wife and some liberal sons, and they all think she killed it...Palin has managed to make Obama look insignificant, McCain appear heroic, and herself: a grassroots American who won’t back down from a fight.

…I wasn’t prepared to like her, and I don’t. I LOVE her.

Governor’s jet on E-Bay? Classic.

Do you hear that? It’s America falling in love with Sarah Palin.

So far, she’s killing it.

Why so disturbing? Because Lobdell was an actual reporter, not just a blogosphere wingnut. And he’s falling for Palin’s “I’m a tough mama, Obama’s a pussy, and that’s all you need to know” act, hook line and sinker.

So, apparently, is Chuck Todd over at MSNBC, who says that “Conservatives have found their Obama.” Oh, come on. Her speech was competent and decently delivered, but so what? I agree with Timothy Noah that there’s no way this speech wouldn’t go over-praised if it was delivered with even the merest hint of gusto (which it was).

Why? Because expectations were set so low for Palin. Continue reading

September 4, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, John McCain, Media Coverage, Republicans, Sarah Palin | , , , | Leave a comment