Thursday, September 25, 2008

sounds like an asshole I used to know

Senator Barack Obama quietly reaches out to Senator John McCain, McCain says "I’ll get back to you on that," Obama waits, and then McCain goes public with a self-serving, grandstanding statement.

Does that sound familiar? It sure did to me.

From a post I wrote on February 7, 2006:

On a weekend when his party was air-testing the “Hillary Clinton is too angry to be president” message, Republican presidential hopeful John McCain publicly rebuked Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) in what Matt Stoller called “the single most bitter, nasty letter I have ever seen from any Senator.”

Obama had approached the Senator from Arizona about working together on ethics legislation, and then sent a letter asking if McCain would think about co-sponsoring a plan drafted by moderate Democrats.

"I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform were sincere," McCain writes.

When you approached me and insisted that despite your leadership's preference to use the issue to gain a political advantage in the 2006 elections, you were personally committed to achieving a result that would reflect credit on the entire Senate and offer the country a better example of political leadership, I concluded your professed concern for the institution and the public interest was genuine and admirable. Thank you for disabusing me of such notions with your letter. . . . I'm embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble. Again, sorry for the confusion, but please be assured I won't make the same mistake again.

And just to make sure Obama really, really understood how he felt, McCain closed with:

I understand how important the opportunity to lead your party's effort to exploit this issue must seem to a freshman Senator, and I hold no hard feelings over your earlier disingenuousness. Again, I have been around long enough to appreciate that in politics the public interest isn't always a priority for every one of us. Good luck to you, Senator.

And McCain’s motivation in breaking with the time-honored tradition of not publicly criticizing other members of the millionaire’s club? Atrios puts it this way:

The real subtext of this story is that McCain wants an opportunity to preen in front of the cameras and an adoring media as he waxes nonsensically about ‘reform’ for months as we head into the presidential primary season. Oh, and that McCain is pretty much an asshole.

Pretty much.

I had pretty much backed off using the McAsshole epithet in recent months in an effort to concentrate on the epic failures that are McCain’s policy positions, but when you read about the events of Wednesday—September 24, 2008—I really have to call a. . . well, I have to call an asshole an asshole.

It seems pretty clear now that the Obama campaign reached out to McCain first about issuing a joint statement on the economic crisis and bailout. While team Obama waited, either for a response from the McCain camp or for language to further negotiations, McCain unilaterally contacted the press to announce that he was “suspending” his campaign and returning to Washington to. . . actually, not sure what he plans to do except parachute into an institution that he hasn’t visited since April and, um, preen in front of the cameras.

That this move was anything but a political tactic, an attempt to reverse course on a really bad ten days on the Good Ship McCain, has been belied by the day’s events, the fact that nothing changed in the financial markets or on Capitol Hill between Monday and Wednesday, the 52% showing for Obama in Wednesday’s WaPo poll (along with many other bad numbers for McCain), the continued front-page focus on McCain’s lies about campaign manager/lobbyist Rick Davis’s ties to Freddie Mac, revelations that McCain hadn’t spent enough time prepping for Friday’s debate, Johnny Mac’s meeting with rich backer Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Chris Dodd’s comments to Rachel Maddow that the Connecticut Senator had heard from Obama “numerous times,” but had “never heard from McCain on the issue” of the economic crisis, the comedy-rich cancellation of McCain’s appearance on David Letterman (only to be caught using the time to sit down with Katie Couric), and the fact that McCain is, as of this writing, still in New York, likely on his way to shake a few hands at the meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, before he finds his way to DC for what has now become a White House photo op.

And, of course, there was that accidentally leaked memo telling McCain surrogates how to spin this “suspension” to the press.

One’s gotta ask, “Just what does ‘suspend the campaign’ mean?”

Oh, wait, let me rephrase that: “Just what does ‘suspend the campaign’ mean, asshole?

(cross-posted on The Seminal and Daily Kos)

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