September 25, 2008

The Tattlesnake – October and Other McCain Surprises Edition

Or, St. John and His Cowardly Lyin’

“Presidents have to deal with more than one thing at a time.”
– Barack Obama, Sept. 23, 2008, as quoted by Business Week.

All politicians lie to some degree; it’s a gloomy fact of national politics in America, and the higher the office sought, the more likely and frequent the infractions of the truth.

Some self-servingly shade reality intermittently, others cross their fingers behind their backs and deliver the quasi-whopper occasionally, and then there are the full-out Nixonian scoundrels who’ll tell a lie at the drop of a hat in the ring.

John McCain, in his conduct since becoming the Republican nominee, has crossed the Nixon threshold of deceit, most recently by calling David Letterman at the last minute and telling him he couldn’t appear on his show September 24th because he had to urgently drop everything and fly to Washington to delve into the bailout crisis.

McCain’s prevarication to Letterman blew up in his face when the talk show host discovered McCain was still in New York City for many hours after that phone call; indeed, McCain was being interviewed by CBS’ Katie Couric not far from the theater where Letterman tapes his show and could easily have stopped in and kept his commitment to Letterman. As Dave said sarcastically, showing a live feed of McCain talking to Couric, “Need a ride to the airport, Senator?”

This is self-destructive blowback of the first order: Letterman reaches tens of millions of viewers across the land, many of them the politically semi-literate that McCain is trying to reach with his over-simplified messages of ‘maverick reformer,’ ‘reliable leader’ and comfortable ‘regular guy,’ and Letterman spent most of the show last night, including his notorious Top Ten list, savaging McCain for his absence, his suspension of his campaign, and asking the pointedly mocking question of why Palin couldn’t simply step in and take McCain’s place. He even had McCain’s harshest Big Media critic Keith Olbermann on to further pound the stake into the Republican candidate. Presidential campaigns in America are really won or lost in the comedy sketches of the late night TV hosts and viewers form their opinions of the candidates’ characters based on the kinds of jokes disseminated – by that measure, millions of late night TV viewers now know that McCain is a bald-faced liar; a treacherous old codpiece willing to deceive their trusted TV friend Dave. Hmmm, what else might he lie about as president? Not only was this a nuclear one-night hit, but McCain has now made a foe of David Letterman, an enmity that will carry on until the election – it could very well make the difference in November.

Something else that will make a difference, and also presents McCain as a perpetual dispenser of falsehoods and humbug, is his bizarre abandonment of his former friends in the Big Media and Punditrocracy. McCain’s campaign has lately made it a badge of honor to snub and treat with contempt the very same ‘Guys and Gals on the Bus’ who protectively guarded and excused McCain for his gaffes and deceptions in the past. Once heralded for his access to the media, now only pre-tested loyalists are invited to speak with the coddled candidate on his campaign jet, and the rest are shuttled off like cattle to stand behind a shield of sour-faced campaign staff. The turning of opinion amongst the press corps is growing obvious.


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