Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Foot, Mouth - Never a Good Combination

Interviewer: "Do you think Sarah Palin has the experience to run a major company, like Hewlett-Packard?"

Carly Fiorina: "No, I don't. But you know what? That's not what she's running for."

Heh, heh.

That response by Fiorina, herself the former CEO of HP and an initial contender for McCain's running mate, would have been just another glib off-the-cuff remark - if she wasn't one of McCain's top advisors and spokespeople.

She made that gaff on St. Louis radio station KTRS yesterday - and, fairly obviously, realized that she'd put her foot in her mouth. So, during another interview, an hour later with NBC's Andrea Mitchell, she tried to explain the above remark in more detail by saying, "Well, I don't think John McCain could run a major corporation. I don't think Barack Obama could run a major corporation. I don't think Joe Biden could. But that's not the same as being the president or vice president of the United States."

Predictably Obama's campaign wonks went bugshit crazy over that remark, and by a number of accounts McCain himself was furious with Fiorina.

But wait, it gets better - McCain's top economic advisor, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, in an effort to address questions regarding McCain's economic and technical knowledge, basically claimed in front of the world yesterday that John McCain invented the Blackberry.


Oh hell yes, this campaign is nothing if not entertaining. Who'd have thought that that John "I was a POW Goddamnit!" McCain and Al "bunnies, and trees and rainbows, oh my" Gore would have something in common? Who says there isn't hope for a bipartisan government? I tell you, when the pinnacle of conservative economic business technology connects seamlessly over the liberal Internet, when John and Al have something in common, well it just gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling all over. And frankly, the thought of liberals looking at their Blackberries with sudden horror, or conservatives suddenly realizing that their communication device is connecting over the Daily-Kos powered Internet give me more than a touch of glee.

Now, obviously (at least it's obvious to me) neither Fiorina or Holtz-Eakin meant their words the way they were taken - but taking sound bites out of context is an old and approved campaign tactic and people like Fiorina and Holtz-Eakin should have known better than to make impromptu remarks.

Fiorina is correct, mostly - the president of the United States is not the same as the CEO of a major company. Alas, maybe our economy would be better if it were. But I do understand where she was coming from with that statement (truthfully, HP's board of directors didn't think Fiorina was able to run HP either, so they ditched her, which you know, kind of makes her an expert, just saying). But seriously, what the hell was she thinking? Talk about a case of uncontrolled verbal diarrhea - help me! I can't stop!

And Holtz-Eakin wasn't actually saying that John McCain personally invented the tool Palin uses like a crack addict (seriously, have you seen that woman's thumbs? I'll bet she could bench press a lipstick covered pitbull with those mitts), any more than Al Gore actually claimed that he personally invented the Internet. Holtz-Eakin was trying to make the point that McCain chaired the Senate Commerce Committee and helped to create a climate of technology based economic growth - i.e. McCain is both technologically and economically savvy. That's what he meant but that's not what he said, and he's been around long enough to know better.

When you're a spokesman, you stick to the script. If you deviate from the approved talking points, especially in campaign politics, you are absolutely guaranteed to end up ass deep in starving alligators.

And McCain himself isn't immune - he and Palin have both engaged in some serious truth stretching if not outright falsehoods. But, yesterday McCain said, "I was Chairman of the Commerce Committee that oversees every part of our economy." Well, no, that's just plain wrong. The Senate Commerce Committee doesn't oversee a couple of critical portions of our economic foundation, in fact by law the committee is excluded from addressing credit, financial services, and housing finance. Those things are the purview of the Senate Banking Committee - and they are the very things that are right now crashing and burning. McCain might want to think twice about claiming to be part of the process that led directly to the current economic meltdown, or to claim knowledge and experience in areas where he clearly has none.

Both campaigns are scrambling - Obama to take advantage of the GOP's hoof and mouth outbreak, and McCain's people are jumping to damage control stations.

Hilarity ensues.

But in between chuckles I'm feeling a ominous foreboding.

If these are the types of advisors John McCain has running his campaign, who does he plan to listen to once he actually is in charge of the economy? And if Obama is the type of person to revel in sound bites taken out of context, clearly out of context, deliberately out of context, what kind of leader and role model will he be?

And suddenly things aren't so funny, are they?


  1. "McCain is both technologically and economically savvy."

    Technologically savvy? Really? He finally learned how to check his own e:mail?


  2. Well, Palin does it for him, on her Blackberry...

  3. Is it just me, or do both campaigns seem to have the stench of desperation clinging to them?

    Because I smell something rotten.

  4. Yeah, so far as I can tell, they both like they're losing.

    The first guy to take the high road, and inspire his followers to do the same will be such a breath of fresh air that he'll probably win by a landslide.

    Look out! Here comes Nadar.

    (that's a joke, folks, laugh and move along)

  5. I tell you, when the pinnacle of conservative economic business technology connects seamlessly over the liberal Internet, when John and Al have something in common, well it just gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling all over.

    Personally, I think that feeling has more to do with alcohol.

    And let me say this about the Obama campaign. McCain's ads, lies though they are, have narrowed or erased the lead in the polls that Obama had in several states, one of those being Minnesota, where I see a McCain ad on evening local television stations at least twice an hour. Obama ads? None. And the last poll - 45% for each candidate with 10% undecided. Yeah I know all about polls, but still.

    I'm an independent, but I have Democratic friends who have been wondering what the hell the Obama campaign has been doing since the Republican convention. My answer - not much.

    I'm not saying you can't take the high road, but you can't be little Mary sunshine and hope to win, either.

  6. Well, Vince, my impression (at least from where I'm sitting) is that the Palin choice just blew the socks off everybody. Obama's people just weren't prepared for it, or the resulting surge of support.

    The militant Hilaryites can say what they want, but a lot of women just went gaga over Palin, and so did a lot of men. Palin is such a radical choice for the GOP that it just stunned the hell out of everybody and I don't think Obama's camp was prepared for it, especially after Palin's speech at the RNC. The GOP rallied and is riding the surge, and Obama is standing there with a WTF? look on his face.

    The numbers don't lie (well, OK, they often do, but in this case I think the polls are fairly accurate). The economy is in the crapper, the war is wandering aimlessly, people are falling on hard times (or think they are) and they're worried and suddenly McCain is looking like the firm steady hand people want in a crisis, and Obama is looking like a young inexperienced kid next to him.

    I said it before, don't underestimate Palin, if Obama doesn't rally and soon, Palin will win the election for McCain.

    My two cents, anyway.

  7. ok Since I am driving I have been running through the series of AM and FM talk Radio stations (because I have listened to all my CDs and the music stations suck) and it seems everyone is hanging on every word of all these candidates and potential appointees are letting drool out of the side of their collective mouths. Let me tell ya that both sides of the line (from NPR to FOX news) are lapping the drool up like it's mother's milk.
    With the race going from even to one ahead or the other and back again, and again, etc. It's surprising that Ralph Nader hasn't gotten his 60K signatures and shot right ahead of the pack. UGH why don't they all just talk about what they plan to do rather than make huge stretches to make examples of what they did or didn't do.

  8. Beastly, if you swing by Poulsbo, you know, on your way to Bremerton? I have a perfectly good, unused XM radio setup I can hook you up with. I love the stations, but in rainforest & fjords country the reception isn't stellar. ;)

    And otherwise, I'm just so, so, so tired of politics and campaigning. I'm totally jealous of our enemies to the north ;) who have just ONE MONTH of it before voting on a new government.

  9. I think he's way south of you by now, Jeri. Way south. The guy drives like a man possessed by the ghost of Dale Ernhart. He made it from my house to Dawson Creek in three days.

    In fact, he's probably in Mexico by now.

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  11. And if Obama is the type of person to revel in sound bites taken out of context, clearly out of context, deliberately out of context, what kind of leader and role model will he be?

    Well, he'd be a guy who made his way up in the rough world of Chicago politics, which isn't a defense or an excuse so much as it's something we knew.

    Yes, it makes the "different kind of politics" a bit of a, well, lie. I'd be happier if he ran a cleaner campaign and the "different kind of politics" was true. I'd also be happier with $10,000,000, if you see what I'm saying. I'll take Obama on his policies and the kind of experience he has, and roll my eyes over the way the game is played. What else am I gonna do?

    As for McCain's running mate: at this point I won't be shocked if she leads to a Republican win, but that has more to do with me underestimating the American public than with her, directly: so far the only impressive thing about the Governor is her ability to not answer any question. NPR this morning had a clip of her in a town hall meeting, being asked by a sympathetic independent to talk about her experience; the Governor replied with an ambiguous comment about being "ready" in foreign policy and playing "gotcha politics." It hurt my brain.

  12. Provo, UT last night. Mexico Please, I got enough bad gasoline in Canada. The people were nicer there than they have been here in the lower 48 but the gas. UGH sputter, clunk.

  13. Utah? You're moving right along there, Beastly.

    Up early as usual I see.


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