Posted tagged ‘Bill Burton’

Should We Be Afraid of “That One”…

October 8, 2008

So it appears that the Obama campaign is not too happy with John McCain’s reference to him last night as “that one”. I missed that part of the debate but have seen it over and over again on the news this morning. I’ve included video of this portion of the debate below.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Obama spokesman Bill Burton sent a one-line message to reporters after McCain made the comment that said, “Did John McCain just refer to Obama as ‘that one’?” And again at the conclusion of the debate, the Obama campaign emailed reporters, “Did John McCain refer to Obama as ‘that one’?”

McCain made the remark tonight when discussing a 2005 Senate vote on an energy bill. “There was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one,” he said, pointing to Obama. “You know who voted against it? Me.”

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe also referenced the remark in his post-debate statement. “John McCain was all over the map on the issues, and he is so angry about the state of his campaign that he referred to Barack Obama as ‘that one’ – last time he couldn’t look at Senator Obama, this time he couldn’t say his name,” Plouffe said, referencing the first presidential debate at the University of Mississippi.

UPDATE: Asked about the remark, McCain campaign adviser Charlie Black said he didn’t believe McCain meant any disrespect and that Obama’s campaign was spinning the remark. “I’d have to go back and look at it. It appears to me that the Obama campaign decided before the debate that they would come in the spin room and instead of debating the issues they would say ‘John McCain is erratic,’” Black told reporters, “The American people think a lot of things about John McCain, but they don’t think he’s erratic. They [the Obama campaign] don’t have any substance in this debate, so let ‘em say it.”

From MSNBC:

Per NBC/NJ’s Mike Memoli, Biden said this morning that he didn’t think McCain meant to diminish Obama last night when he referred to him as “that one,” chalking it up instead to his discomfort in being the aggressor. “When John knows that he’s on the attack and he’s not feeling good about it, John never looks you straight in the eye,” Biden told TODAY’s Ann Curry. “If you notice, John didn’t make a whole lot of eye contact last night because I think John when he’s on the attack mode and making the other guy a bad guy, it’s just not his style.”

From the Huffington Post:

When McCain uses dehumanizing phrases like “that one” to refer to Barack Obama, he is implementing long-standing military techniques for dehumanizing one’s opponent during wartime.

According to military wisdom, dehumanization is a necessary technique during wartime because it enables human beings to kill other human beings without hesitation in combat situations.

Think about that.

Now, think about that in the context of an election in a country where racism is still prevalent and McCain’s opponent is the first black Presidential nominee in our nation’s history.

When McCain refuses to look at Barack Obama and refuses to use his name, he is employing modified versions of this same technique – and versions that could be said to fall on the acceptable side of the line of strategic judgment. But when McCain tolerates expressions of “Kill him!” targeted at Barack Obama during pro-McCain political rallies, he steps over the line – very, very far over the line.

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Breaking News: John McCain Created the BlackBerry

September 17, 2008

I couldn’t pass this one up. I would now like to officially take credit for the Internet…wait Al Gore already did. I’m not sure what else I can take credit for….iPhone, Android?

Associated Press

Credit: Associated Press

From CNN:

Sen. John McCain’s senior domestic policy adviser said Tuesday that the BlackBerry mobile e-mail device was a “miracle that John McCain helped create.”

The adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, discussing the nation’s economic woes with reporters, said that McCain — who has struggled to stress his economic credentials — did have experience dealing with the economy, pointing to his time on the Senate Commerce Committee.

Pressed to provide an example of what McCain had accomplished on that committee, Holtz-Eakin said the senator did not have jurisdiction over financial markets, then he held up his Blackberry, telling reporters: “He did this.”

“Telecommunications of the United States, the premiere innovation in the past 15 years, comes right through the Commerce Committee. So you’re looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create,” Holtz-Eakin said. “And that’s what he did. He both regulated and deregulated the industry.”

During the 2000 presidential campaign, Vice President Al Gore drew controversy when he said that during his time in Congress, he “took the initiative in creating the Internet” — based on his work promoting funding and early research in that area.

The Obama campaign responded to the McCain adviser’s comments Tuesday shortly after they were reported.

“If John McCain hadn’t said that ‘the fundamentals of our economy are strong’ on the day of one of our nation’s worst financial crises, the claim that he invented the BlackBerry would have been the most preposterous thing said all week,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

From the New York Times:

One of Senator John McCain’s top economic advisers seemed to credit Mr. McCain with helping “create” the BlackBerry in a briefing with reporters here Tuesday – a remark that the McCain campaign quickly stepped back from.

The adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, was briefing reporters on Mr. McCain’s prescriptions for the meltdown on Wall Street, and citing his experience as the chairman of the commerce committee, when he was asked what Mr. McCain had done on the commerce committee that would show Americans that he understands financial markets.

“He didn’t have jurisdiction over financial markets, first and foremost,’’ Mr. Holtz-Eakin said, before wandering into more politically perilous ground.

“But he did this,’’ he said, holding up what looked like a BlackBerry. “The telecommunications of the United States, the premier innovation of the past 15 years, comes right through the commerce committee. So you’re looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create. And that’s what he did.’’

A senior aide to Mr. McCain, Matt McDonald later said that Mr. McCain “laughed” when he heard the comment, according to a pool report. “He would not claim to be the inventor of anything, much less the BlackBerry,’’ he said. “This was obviously a boneheaded joke by a staffer.”

Wall Street’s Troubles = Good News For Barack Obama

September 16, 2008

I saw this blog on  in Newsweek today and thought that it painted an interesting picture of how the economic issues could be great for the Obama campaign. Until now, neither candidate, John McCain or Barack Obama has won the confidence of voters on the issue of the economy. Also remember, there are only 50 days left until the election and someone needs to take charge before November.

From the blog:

The news this morning that two of Wall Street’s most storied firms, Merrill Lynch & Co. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., were following their distinguished former competitor Bear Stearns toward extinction was met with misery and fear in living rooms and conference rooms across the country. “The biggest reshaping of the financial industry since the Great Depression,” wrote Bloomberg News. “Catastrophe,” added the New York Post.

But something tells me that Barack Obama’s brain trust didn’t react quite so pessimistically. For two weeks, Chicago has struggled to stay in the news as John McCain and Co. have distracted the nation–or, more accurately, the nation’s newspapermen, magazinists, on-air bloviators and blogospheric scavengers–with a lot of yadda about lipstick, pigs and kindergarten sexcapades. But today’s massive financial shakeup finally gives us a more important topic to prattle on about: the economy.

For Obama, this is a huge opportunity–a chance not only to be heard addressing an issue that matters, but also to pivot away from a losing message to one that could actually win him the election.

To get a sense of the shift, it’s worth looking at Obama’s “other plans” for today–in other words, what might have been. The campaign clearly intended to spend the day attacking McCain as a dishonorable Bush clone. In St. Claire Shores, Mich., Joe Biden was scheduled to deliver, in the words of a campaign press release, a “major address expanding on the case that electing John McCain would just mean four more years of George Bush’s failed economic policies and that the only change in John McCain is the dishonorable and deceptive campaign he’s running.” “If you’re ready for four more years of George Bush, John McCain is your man,” Biden was supposed to say. “Just as George Herbert Walker Bush was nicknamed ‘Bush 41’ and his son is known as ‘Bush 43,’ John McCain could easily become known as ‘Bush 44’.” Meanwhile, Obama put out an ad called “Honor” (above) slamming McCain for his “vile,” “sleazy,” “dishonest” “smears.” The point, of course, was to battle back: to show that Obama had “taken off the gloves”–yet again–and was responding, as campaign manager David Plouffe promised he would, “with speed and ferocity to John McCain’s attacks.” No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Without the collapse on Wall Street, Obama’s negative theme probably would’ve dominated the news. After all, the political press only covers fours things, as the Illinois senator himself has noted: “polls, scandals, gaffes and attacks.” But while a loud anti-McCain message and aggressive anti-McCain posture may have been the only way to break through the static, it probably wouldn’t have done Obama much good with voters in the end. That’s because undecideds don’t find either part of that message–a.) McCain is “Bush 44” or b.) McCain is a dishonorable liar–particularly convincing.

Here’s why. Every insurgent politician since the dawn of history has accused his opponent of being “more of the same.” Given that 70 percent of America disapproves of Bush’s job performance, Obama’s eagerness to follow in their footsteps is understandable. But the problem is that voters aren’t dumb. They realize that John McCain is not George W. Bush. He’s a different person–and for most folks, that’s enough. As liberal blogger Ezra Klein has noted, “[the American people] know John McCain because he ran against George W. Bush in 1999 [and] spent a few years being a pain in George W. Bush’s ass. Yes, as a Republican, McCain has often voted in accordance with the Republican agenda … [But voters] get people better than they get policies.” What’s more, they probably have an instinctive sense that McCain has reached across the aisle more often than Obama, with Democrats making up 55 percent of his partners over the last two Congresses (Obama only partnered with Republicans 13 percent of the time).

McCain knows this. It’s why he spent the entire Republican convention claiming that he’s a “maverick” who will “shake up Washington” and “put country first.” And it’s why Obama’s advantage on the question of who will “bring the needed change to Washington” plummeted from 32 percent in June to 12 percent after St. Paul. The fact is, campaigning against Bush–i.e. “more of the same”–won’t work unless swing voters agree that McCain IS Bush. But increasingly they don’t. By continuing to push this narrative ad nauseam, Obama risks sounding like the reflexive, angry partisan in the race–while leaving McCain to deliver the message of “postpartisan change” all by himself.

The second half of Obama’s planned message–the part where he pivots from convincing voters that they don’t want “more of the same” to convincing them that they don’t want John McCain–may not have fared much better. Call it the Outrage Offensive–citing the mainstream media to claim that McCain is running a “dishonorable and dishonest campaign.” The problem here, as Slate’s Mickey Kaus noted this morning, is that most voters don’t really care what my MSM chums and I say about anything anymore; these days, truth is the eye of the beholder. As regular Stumper readers know, I happen to think that McCain’s lipstick onslaught was idiotic and condescending. But as Mickey rightly points out, there’s “no way of knowing what Obama meant by ‘lipstick’–just because he and McCain used the word earlier doesn’t mean he didn’t think using it now, after Palin’s speech, didn’t add a witty resonance.” The truth, in other words, is often indeterminate. As a result, when Team Obama–or the media–lectures the public on what’s “true” and what’s a “lie,” it “plays into some of the worst stereotypes about liberals–that they are preachy know-it-alls hiding their political motives behind a veneer of objectivity and respectability.” Ultimately, Obama is preaching to the choir–and the rest of congregation isn’t even listening. In 1988, Michael Dukakis released an ad called “Counterpunch” claiming that the election was about President George H.W. Bush “dragging the truth into the gutter.” “I’m not going to let them do it,” he vowed. We all know how well that worked out for him.

That’s why today’s economic crisis is such a godsend for Obama–because it changes the subject. This morning, McCain told rallygoers Jacksonville, Fla., that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” Noting how starkly McCain’s message clashed with the bleak news from Wall Street, delighted Democrats immediately seized on his slip as evidence (along with his inability to remember how many houses he owns and his statement that only those who make over $5 million are rich) that the Republican nominee is “out of touch” with the economic concerns of average Americans, a group of people his top economic adviser once called “whiners.” “Apparently his 26 years in Washington have left him incapable of understanding that the policies he supports have created an historic economic crisis,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. “This is someone who’s going to defend the Bush economic policies all the way until November,” added Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill. In St. Claire Shores, Mich.; and Grand Junction, Colo., Biden and Obama delivered the day’s “McCain is a dishonorable Bush clone” message as planned. But given the headlines, it’s now their remarks on McCain and the economy that are making news.

It’s not that I think John McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of most Americans,” Obama said.”I just think doesn’t know. He doesn’t get what’s happening … Senator–what economy are you talking about? What’s more fundamental than the ability to find a job that pays the bills and can raise a family?… What’s more fundamental than knowing that you’ll have a roof over your head at the end of the day?… The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great–that promise that America is the place where you can make it if you try.”