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John McCain's G.O.P. is the 'Party of Stupid'

Like modern day dinosaurs searching for their ancestral essence, Republicans have recently bored us all by roaming the country with mantra-like calls to drill, drill, drill for oil... despite recent evidence that the big-oil politicians come out on the losing side of the race.

Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times, calls it "Know Nothing Politics":

So the G.O.P. has found its issue for the 2008 election. For the next three months the party plans to keep chanting: "Drill here! Drill now! Drill here! Drill now! Four legs good, two legs bad!" O.K., I added that last part.

And the debate on energy policy has helped me find the words for something I've been thinking about for a while. Republicans, once hailed as the "party of ideas," have become the party of stupid.

Now, I don't mean that G.O.P. politicians are, on average, any dumber than their Democratic counterparts. And I certainly don't mean to question the often frightening smarts of Republican political operatives.

What I mean, instead, is that know-nothingism -- the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there's something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise -- has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party's de facto slogan has become: "Real men don't think things through."

When it comes to John McCain, not thinking things through has become his hallmark. His political handlers are frightened constantly by his flailing about on the issues. One moment claiming he'd never raise social security taxes, and the next moment declaring nothing is off the table, including tax increases.

This waffling has baffled his handlers. One of the most notable instances to date highlights the extent to which McCain the Maverick has become the McCain the Loose Cannon. If 'the political version of being a maverick' is the equivalent of 'shooting yourself in the foot,' John McCain is becoming the Maverick-Meister....

As Obama was preparing to launch his trip to the Middle East and Europe a few weeks ago the McCain campaign was lining up their ducks and signing off on the talking points leading into the trip.

July 17, 2008:

During an appearance on Fox News Thursday morning, McCain's communications director Jill Hazelbaker leveled the harshest attack to date, calling Obama's trip a "campaign rally overseas."

"Let's drop the pretense that this is a fact-finding trip and call it what it is: the first-of-its-kind campaign rally overseas," she said. The campaign highlighted that quote in an email blasted to reporters.

But McCain disagreed with his communications director. Asked about Hazelbaker's campaign-rally-overseas comment on his campaign bus Thursday in Kansas City, Mo., McCain said: "The fact is that I'm glad he is going to Iraq. I am glad he is going to Afghanistan. It's long, long overdue if you want to lead this nation."

After his campaign staffed reminded him that he'd agreed on the strategy of going on the attack against Obama's trip, McCain later came around and began attacking Obama on this issue, parroting the talking points his campaign staff was feeding him, but this isn't the only time McCain has gone renegade.

Is it his 'maverick style'? Alzheimer's? Or is he not the brightest bulb on the tree? It's hard to say, but one thing is becoming increasingly evident, those closest to McCain do not trust his judgment.

Senator John McCain is so quick to pick up his gold-colored cellphone to solicit advice -- from senators, campaign consultants, even the stray former deputy press secretary -- that aides, concerned about his tendency to adopt the last opinion he has heard, have tried to cut back on the time he has to make calls.[...]

Mr. McCain is known to sign off on big campaign decisions and then to march off his own reservation. Two weeks ago, he publicly disagreed with his own spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker, after she used a line of attack against Senator Barack Obama that he had approved after careful strategizing within his campaign. Ms. Hazelbaker raced out of the Virginia campaign headquarters and refused to take Mr. McCain's calls of apology, aides said, and a plan to have Republican members of Congress use the same critical line about Mr. Obama's foreign trip fell apart.

Out of his hearing, Mr. McCain is called the White Tornado by some people who have worked for him over the years. Throughout his presidential campaign, he has been the overseer of a kingdom of dissenting camps, unclear lines of command and an unsettled atmosphere that keeps aides constantly on edge.

Even now, after a shake-up that aides said had brought an unusual degree of order to Mr. McCain's disorderly world in the last month, two of his pollsters are at odds over parts of the campaign's message, while past and current aides have been trading snippy exchanges debating the wisdom of attack advertisements he has aimed at Mr. Obama.

And how does John McSame explain the chaos that surrounds the McCain decision-making process? Apparently he can't admit to just plain forgetting the talking points he's being fed, and chalks it up to a dynamic decision-making process.

In an interview, Mr. McCain said he believed an organization consisting of sometimes colliding centers of power made sure that a candidate, or a president, reached fully informed decisions. "You've got to have competing opinions," he said.

"I think a certain amount of tension is very healthy, and a certain amount of different views," he said. "Because of the bubble that a president is in, and the bubble that a candidate is in, sometimes you find out afterwards something that -- 'Oh boy, I wish I had heard thus and such and so and so.' So I appreciate and want some of the tension; I don't want too much of it, obviously, because we have to have certain efficiencies. But I think there is a balance there."

Would you like some syrup with that waffle?

The man isn't bright enough to remember his positions on key points, and we certainly don't need an aging puppet in the White House. John McCain gives all of the appearances of just not being all that bright, and it doesn't matter if it's his age, or style, or some form of creeping illness that's behind his feebleness. He's the wrong man at the wrong time.

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Comments (9)

Paul Krugman is uniquely qualified to opine on the subject of "know nothing".

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

More whistling through the graveyard.... not very smart.

In handicapping this race, I'm going with the inarticulate non traditional over achiever. Guys like Krugman (high IQ, not much street sense) will never understand a McCain.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Are you suggesting McCain is an 'over-achiever"?

Didn't he rank third from the bottom in his class?

I guess it's all a part of the GOP plan -- if you set the bar so low (McCain as Pres) everyone in America will feel good about themselves because they are smarter than the President of the United States. econ recovery will be a cinch with all of us "over-achievers" out there showing up President McCain.

or something... Maybe instead America pick a president who can think his way out of a tight parking spot without drooling on his tie... just a hunch.

"Didn't he rank third from the bottom in his class?"

Yes, six from the bottom if I recall correctly. Lee, read some of the bios and history of Mccain. I did only because I don't like the guy and friends who supported him suggested some titles. I read them and came away with a different view.

John McCain has been a rebel, millitary brat for his whole life, a niche whose personality traits have been the subject of many writings. He hated Annapolis. He over achieved by not getting kicked out. Is that setting the bar low? Not by legacy Naval Academy standards.

If you are going to seriously comment on this election I suggest you spend some time getting to know who this guy really is.

To say,

"Maybe instead America pick a president who can think his way out of a tight parking spot without drooling on his tie... just a hunch."

I know you are better than that comment. Here's a thought: Go to Amazon and find two books on Obama to send me, I'll pick two on McCain to send you. I'll pay the cost.

Up for it?

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Seriously, Hugh, I don't care what roads this old white-haired fart has gone down. I'm going with the really smart black guy.

It's a brave new world, one that left Senator John McCain behind. I'd send him an email to this effect, but he doesn't know how to retrieve email. Those new-fangled internets!

Dinosaurs can support McCain and oil and a sledge-hammer approach to terrorism that shuns diplomacy in favor of no-bid contracts to their pals -- all the while sending someone else's 18 year-olds off to die defending Exxon's interests in the Middle East - I'm going in a different direction. Obama's direction.

John McCain is a not-very-bright racist who attacks his opponents like a wimp. Pass. Been there, got that "thank god for the two-term limit" t-shirt... moving on.

See you at the finish line. I hope you make the right choice this November. The rest of us intend to...


One point: McCain puts his money where his mouth is when voting to send America's youth to war. He has one son with experience in theatre (Marine) and another on the way.

I look forward to seeing you at the finish line this November. Whoever wins, it will undeniably be interesting. Probably the most interesting election of our lifetime.

A short primer on McCain and 18 year olds going to combat:


TIME is no bastion of conservative apologists.

George Santayana:

HughS: Have you figured out yet that you're a moron?


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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