Hey Look, The President Found His Balls

   Civilizer
Ever had some neighbors that were really pissing you off?  Letting their dogs run all over the neighborhood, taking dumps all over your lawn?  Having people over all the time, telling them to park in front of your house?  And you try and talk to them every once in a while, try and say “Hey, don’t want to make a big thing out of this, but could you do everybody on the street a favor and clean up after your dogs?,” and they basically tell you to go fuck yourself?

You could respond in kind.  You could slash their visitors’ tires.  You could leave poisoned steaks laying around outside for their dogs to find.  But you decide to be an adult.  “Let’s not escalate this,” you say to yourself.  “I’m just going to keep asking them nicely, maybe offer to let them borrow my snowblower this winter if they’ll keep the dogs chained up, and they’ll see reason sooner or later.  Nobody wins if I start pushing back.”

And that’s where you’re wrong.  Your jackass neighbors win, and they’ve been winning the whole time.

While you’ve been picking up dogshit every day so your kids don’t fall in it, while you’ve been inching out of your driveway every weekend because those asshole friends of theirs pull their front bumpers right up to the edge because screw you, you pussy, what the hell are you going to do about it, their lives are an episode of Sesame Street brought to you by the letters V, I, C, T, O, R, and Y.  This is what being the bigger man gets you, my friend: a lifetime of picking up other people’s shit, while the other people bounce merrily through their day, fat and happy like the infield at Talladega.

It would appear that finally, after a summer of being a pansy the bigger man, the president has picked up his last load of dogshit.

Barack Obama Mans Up

"And my next 3 Supreme Court Nominess? All gay."

Barack Obama came into office promising, as all presidents do, to “reach across the aisle,” to search for “bipartisan consensus.”  The expectation was that this guy was so magnetic, so dignified, that the bitter divides that had characterized the United States Congress ever since Newt shut ‘er down would immediately dissolve into a highly productive legislative lovefest.  Key parties instead of tea parties.

This was an awesome plan that had a lot of promise; unfortunately, everyone involved failed to take into account the fact that a lot of people – people blessed by God and His son Jesus with an utter lack of both shame and self-consciousness, freeing them up to say some of the most awful stuff you’ve ever heard this side of a Klan rally – really hated this guy.  And it didn’t take long for that animus to trickle into the Congress, presenting the president with a choice: do I start cracking heads, Lyndon Baines Johnson style, or do I (*sigh – ed.) be the bigger man?  Of course, Barack Obama decided to be the bigger man.

I suspect he actually meant that bipartisan stuff – why he did, I have no earthly idea.  Perhaps he was arrogant enough to believe his own press, and thought that the frosty Republicans would melt when exposed to his polished, urbane charms.  Or maybe he thought it was the best way to govern.  Whatever it was, it reached the point of farce this summer over the debt ceiling fiasco, when, presented with a sweeping, ambitious bargain that achieved that perfect political balance of pissing off both sides, the GOP more or less Mayweather’d President Ortiz.  Following which, both sides just decided to mail it in and kick the can an election cycle down the road.

I’m not going to rehash that whole thing, mostly because it’s tough to admit that the country I love has gone so far down the rabbit hole.  Also, it kind of makes me hope that virus from Contagion was let loose in the Congressional cafeteria.  But after that disaster, I think the president finally figured it out: no matter what I do, these guys aren’t going to stop their dog from shitting all over my lawn.  I gave them climate change, I gave them financial reform, I gave them Guantanamo.  And what did I get in return?  A hostage situation with the U.S. economy.  Time to load the shotgun.  Time to do what Democrats do best – tax the hell out of rich people.

And so, President Barack Obama, the Compromiser, lays out a plan that gets his pensive mug on the splash page of Bloomberg.com next to the words “$1.5 trillion in taxes.”  Strong, man.  Strong.

I am not going to use this post to defend or discuss the merits of the plan.  I don’t like taxes, but a bureaucracy’s gotta eat, right?  No, I’m just here to congratulate the president for finally deciding screw it, time to start swinging the heavy lumber.  I’m under no illusions as to why he finally did this of course – it’s election time, and if he didn’t start acting like a Democratic president soon, the only bloc he could count on would be Portuguese water dogs (who can only vote in South Carolina, anyway).  But no matter – I was getting tired of this lame dance he was doing where he’d threaten to really start getting tough, and then fold like a card table.  It got to be like watching the movie “Air Force One,” when Harrison Ford would go “Get off my plane!,” only with Obama, five minutes later he’s saying “Well, ok, you can stay, but you’re paying for that wine!”

[Digression: The GOP, of course, immediately proved with its response that it’s never had a balls problem, accusing the president of “class warfare.”  John Boehner got out there and said “Pitting one group of Americans against another isn’t leadership.”  Now, if you’re John Boehner, it takes a real brass set to say something like that when you consider what they’re doing with gay marriage, evolution, and their Alaskan mascot’s attempt to claim the exclusive rights to define what the “real America” is.  Pitting groups of Americans against each other is what the GOP does now – they love wedge issues!  Love ’em!  It’s how you distract the middle class from the fact that their primary legislative objectives are protecting the wealthy investor class at the expense of the middle and lower class!  “Hey, socially conservative blue collar mom working two jobs…I may not lift a finger to get you better access to health care for your kids, but if you don’t vote for me, those gay guys that live in the apartment down the hall will be able to marry each other!  So make sure you take advantage of that 25 minute lunch break of yours and get down to the polling place double-time!”  And looking at changes to the tax code is “class warfare”?  All right then! End Digression.]

So President Obama, it’s nice to see you laying it out there.  Some of us want a Democrat for President.  Some of us want a Republican.  But nobody wants a pushover.

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All Things In Their Place Endorses Barack Obama

 Civilizer 

“Screwed the pooch.”  It’s a great phrase that uses fornication with a dog as a vivid, absurd metaphor for dorking something up so bad that everyone who sees you doing it can only shake their heads and look away, disgusted but yet a little bit bemused.  And my friends, you look up “pooch-screwing” in the dictionary, you’ll find that it says “See John McCain presidential campaign, managers of.”

When it looked like the Republicans were going to throw in the electoral towel by nominating either an empty suit, a crazy Christian, or a generally crazy person and admit that 8 years of Bush/Cheney/Rove ruined their brand, they got it together and nominated John McCain.  War hero, experienced and popular Senator, guy with a reputation for not being under the thumb of the GOP leadership.  Going up against Barack Obama, quickly becoming the darling of the Daily Show crowd, the Republicans picked the candidate who basically made the Daily Show with his famously well-humored response to Steve Carell’s ultimate gotcha on the Straight Talk Express back in 1999.

And then they told that guy to go screw off, and introduced the country to A-hole John.  Out of touch, dishonest, pandering.  It’s gone about as well as you would expect.

When John McCain did take the nomination, I was relieved.  Republican that I am, I thought “Thank God.  The party has been one big embarrassment for the past several years, but now I can vote for one of the few guys that wasn’t.”  Not anymore.  Given the conduct of the McCain campaign, I must throw my support to Barack Obama, and for the following reasons:

That IS a pretty sweet state quarter, I have to give her that

1.  Sarah Palin – what a frighteningly stupid move picking this chick was.  Thrust from national anonymity into the spotlight of a presidential campaign, she’s initially fawned over by the media and voters as the much-needed “game changer” that McCain was after.  “Old guy listened to his gut,” everybody said.  “What a maverick,” they said.  She makes a carefully scripted but nevertheless punchy, red-meat fortified speech at the Republican National Convention.  And then, in a series of embarrassing interviews with the mild-mannered Charlie Gibson and former America’s Sweetheart Katie Couric, reveals herself to be a clueless dolt.  And then, in a series of stump speeches that continue to this day, reveals herself to be a strident harpy as well.  She displays all the contemptible failures of character that Tricky Dick Cheney does, but none of the effectiveness and villainous intelligence.  Cheney may have used the Constitution for fish-wrapping paper, but at least he succeeded in preventing another attack on American shores with those methods.  With Palin, we’d have a dirty bomb in Epcot Center inside her ticket’s first 100 days.  It’s telling that the McCain campaign had to fall back, predictably, on loud cries of sexism whenever their anointed loon came under attack – unfortunately, it’s not what’s between her legs that bothers me, it’s what isn’t between her ears.

2.  The recent tone of the McCain campaign – in a word, unbecoming.  Unbecoming the man who denounced the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry and frankly unbecoming our entire country.  How embarrassing it has been, in 2008, to watch video in which our oft-lauded “salt of the earth” Americans who I have often stated make up the backbone of the military, economy, and society of this country, sound like benighted dullards at every turn.  And how troubling it has been to see the McCain campaign pounce on this sad state of affairs.  McCain has been trying to get the bigot toothpaste back in the tube over the past few days, but that shouldn’t obscure the fact that he let his shrill toady turn a tenuous connection of Obama’s to Bill Ayers (who, for the record, is a complete asshole that I wouldn’t piss on if he were on fire to put him out) into some sort of insidious partnership cloaked in secrecy.  The McCainanites have stood there as Palin basked in shouts of “kill him” while she let her crowds turn uglier and uglier.  Rep. Lewis was exactly right when he compared the tone of the campaign to the “climate and conditions” created by George Wallace in Alabama.  The campaign isn’t being overtly racist, but has done shamefully little to contain that element at its events.  Fortunately, the McCain attacks aren’t working.

3.  Policy – I am going to sum this argument up with two examples.  First, the quickie:  I was watching TV the other night, and there was an Obama ad and a McCain ad almost back to back, with just another weird Burger King ad between them.  The Obama ad was an explication of the candidate’s health care plan and an argument against McCain’s.  The McCain ad was about Bill Ayers.  The economy is in absolute tatters, there are serious matters at hand, and Obama responds with an issues ad.  McCain responds with a character assassination.  What seems more useful to you? 

Second is offshore drilling.  I’ve written about this before, but I’m going to go over this again for any of you who still think that it’s a good idea (this means you, Aaron Tippin).  You can skip my argument and just go to this tidy little piece from those crazy redwood humpers and polar bear kissers at the Christian Science Monitor, but here we go:

The Minerals Management Service estimates that there are 86 billion barrels of oil in offshore regions.  This estimation keeps going up as the political winds dictate, and just a few years ago the estimate was 45 billion.  But, in the areas that McCain would open up, there are estimated to be around 19 billion.  Let’s be generous and go with the 45, meeting somewhere in the middle.  The United States uses an estimated 20.7 million barrels per day.  That means there is just under 6 years’ worth of oil in them thar oceans.  Six years’ worth, and that’s after the 10 years it will take to extract the oil have passed.

No wonder the Bush Administration’s own analysts have said that offshore drilling will have no significant effect on oil prices through 2030.  It’s just plain stupid, but McCain is all for it.  For me, that kind of poor judgement blows all the goodwill he’d built with me on the surge.

File photo, Arnold Conrad

4.  The Christian Right – McCain had Arnold Conrad introduce him in Iowa a few days ago.  Here is what he said:

I would also pray Lord that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their God — whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his [McCain’s] opponent wins for a variety of reasons. And Lord I pray that you would guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you would step forward and honor your own name in all that happens between now and Election Day.  Oh Lord, we just commit this time to you, move among us, make your presence very well felt as we are gathered here today in Jesus’s name I pray.

I can’t stand and cast my vote with these people.  Not if I want to ever respect myself again, anyway.

Warren Buffet: Apparently a Commie

5.  Warren Buffet – No president, no matter what he says, can “fix” this or any economy.  The market forces involved are by and large beyond the scope of presidential authority or ability.  But on the economy, Barack Obama has the endorsement of Warren Buffet.  Warren Buffet is a financial genius.  John McCain has the endorsement of Phil Gramm.  Phil Gramm is not a financial genius.

Lots of reasons that Warren’s endorsement means a lot, but I want all of you who think that because Obama is going to raise taxes on the 5% of Americans earning over $250,000, we’re suddenly socialists and our economy is going to grind to a halt, read this story.  The gist?  The Oracle of Omaha, the ultimate anti-socialist, says “I see nothing wrong with those who have been blessed by this society to give a larger portion of their income to the society than somebody that’s working very, very hard to make ends meet.”  So I guess Warren Buffet’s a pinko now, right, jackasses at Cape Fear BBQ in Fayetteville, North Carolina?

6.  Barack Obama – if you’re able to think critically, you’ve hopefully noticed that I’ve decided to vote for Barack Obama for reasons that have a lot more to do with the McCain campaign sucking like a $500 Dyson instead of Obama being a good candidate.  And believe me, I’m well aware that the man is flawed.  He’s slick, for one.  I don’t like slick.  You don’t survive Rev. Wright, Bittergate, Bill Ayers, and the middle name “Hussein” in a presidential election without being slick.  Obama talked around these issues more often than he tackled them head-on, and I wasn’t a fan of that.  And admittedly, he’s very green for the chief executive role, a point that McCain and Co. somehow managed to fumble by talking about the Weather Underground all the time and then nullifying the point by selecting Our Sarah.  And his support for ethanol is just…so…stupid.

But here’s the deal:  ethanol aside, the dude is smart.  B.A. from Columbia, thesis on Soviet nuclear disarmament.  Harvard Law School, magna cum laude.  Senior Lecturer at Chicago School of Law.  A lot of people look at a C.V. like that and say “he thinks he’s better than you.”  Good.  Good.  I freaking hope that the MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD thinks he’s better than me.  I hope that he is better than me.  I hope the President of the United States is smarter than me, more clever than me, braver than me, more well-read than me, more well-traveled than me…just plain more everything than me.  You know that line of conventional wisdom that goes “People want to vote for a guy they can imagine having a beer with”?  That’s some of the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard.  Let me just say this:  if I can imagine kicking back and having a beer with you, then I don’t want you anywhere near the Russians.  They will eat you alive like the simple rube that you are.  I don’t want you anywhere near the tax code.  You won’t think it through.  Jeffrey Fastow won’t pay any taxes because his lobbyist buddies duped you, but you’ll somehow be trying to collect $78,000 from a family dog in Bismark, North Dakota.  I want somebody who is steeped in brainpower, has a bunch of degrees and a bunch of stamps on his passport, and knows how to think around corners.  Barack Obama is that smart.

Also, I think his opposition to Iraq is one of the most overrated aspects of his candidacy, but the guy has it right on Pakistan, which is the real national security threat of the next decade.  Iraq and Afghanistan are obviously must-wins, but Pakistan is the constantly evolving, inscrutable ticking time bomb of international terrorism.  And Obama knows it, he knows the ISI is keeping the tribal areas safe for al-qaeda and the Taliban, and has the stones to say that if we’ve got a bead on a high-value target, and Pakistan won’t take the bastard out, then our Special Forces will.  No kow-towing to our strategic reliance on Pakistan, no letting that country’s intelligence service leverage our relationship to carry out private and nefarious agenda.  Just hey, your sovereignty doesn’t supercede our security.  Deal.  McCain’s big on his surge, and good for him, but he’s given me no indication whatsoever that he has a plan for Pakistan.  And that’s a big miss.

The guy just gets it more than McCain does.  Obama has proven, throughout the course of the campaign, to be more thoughtful, more intelligent, and more thorough than his opponent.  McCain has flirted with self-destruction as Obama continues to draw crowds, donors, and the respect of military leaders, lawmakers, economists, and hell, even aides to John McCain who worked in the Reagan White House.  I hope that a McCain loss, borne of a craven appeal to the racist, the frightened, and the under-educated, burns my party to the ground.  Because it will be rebuilt again, and I hope the people restoring it pay attention to what happened in 2008.  I hope they noticed that a bright, eloquent, educated, intellectual man won the presidency, and that when they’ve got the GOP up and running again, they have the sense to tell the creationists, the pro-lifers who stop caring about the fetus once it’s out of the womb, the protectionists, and the dittoheads to please get off, the country has passed them by.  There’s a big difference, after all, between “elitism” and being elite.  Get that sorted out, and I’m back on board.  Until then, I’m voting Obama/Biden this year. 

An Open Letter to Barack Obama

 Civilizer

Dear Senator Obama –

Couldn’t help but notice that your “I’m already President” act has continued even after your goodwill tour of Europe and the Middle East has wrapped up – by which I mean you seem to have perfected the old Potomac Two-Step.  And at such a young age for a politician!  That’s impressive.  Did you have somebody from Arthur Murray in your entourage?

But hey Stretch, just wanted to say that your post-primary tendency to dance like Fred Astaire on the issues is wearing on those of us who were either going to vote for you or considering voting for you.  Moving to the center is understandable so I can’t say that I really cared when you moderated yourself on gun control.  Stuff like that, it’s expected, right?  Who cares if you said one thing and then something entirely different once you clinched the nomination.  That’s politics as usual, and that’s ok.  It would be nice if someone ran for office who promised to change politics as usual, but that would certainly be a difficult standard to uphold.  Am I right?

Hell, a certain amount of blatant bobbing and weaving actually makes me feel better about you.  When you were running in the primary, you laid all that hope stuff on pretty thick.  “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”  Remember that?  Clearly it grabbed a lot of those stupid college kids who love speeches but not issues (good luck turning them out in the general, by the way!), but to a free-agent Republican like myself, you were giving off a babe-in-the-woods vibe that worried me a little.  In today’s world, I don’t want a President who’s so interested in telling world leaders he wants to “work together” or “cooperate for the good of everyone.”  I want a President who will smile and shake hands with Russians for the cameras and then behind closed doors tell Vladimir Putin (sorry, Dmitiri Medvedev) that we’re going to help Europe build a pipeline that circumvents Russian control and if anything should, ah, happen to it, then we begin bombing in 10 minutes, as your buddy Reagan once said.

So really, it’s nice to see that you can lie and deceive without compunction.  It’s “cagey.”  And we need a  cagey leader to negotiate with the Iranians.  There’s a reason that George Lucas picked the stubbly stereotype of an Arab trader for the scuzzball shopowner/slaveholder for Watto in The Phantom Menace, you know?  A certain amount of shaking hands with your right while you’ve got a stiletto behind your back in your left makes me feel better about voting for you.

But offshore drilling.  I gotta tell you Senator – it’s this kind of thing that makes an observer like myself wonder if you didn’t learn a few lessons in triangulation after running so hot and heavy against a Clinton like you did, or if you’re just another sackless politician who will say anything to get elected.  I know that gas prices are one of the biggest populist issues of the election.  I know you want to look like you’re doing something about it.  And I know that it appears that you have no coherent plan right now – you were against offshore drilling and that stupid gas tax, which were wise positions, but you didn’t really have anything you supported except ethanol, which is just as stupid.  

But offshore drilling has become the issue on which I draw the line.  Not just because I’m an inveterate tree-hugger.  I’m actually putting aside environmental concerns for a minute.  I draw the line on offshore drilling because it’s such a myopic, idiotic, worthless idea that will not work.  It won’t bring gas prices down in the short term, because it will take a decade to get that oil out of the ocean and refine it.  Can you think of any commodity that trades at a reduced price because it is anticipated that there will be slightly more of it on the market in 10 years?  Remember that announcement that McDonald’s made the other day where they said “A couple farmers in Montana said they’re going to start raising more cows, and those babies should be old enough for slaughter in about 10 years.  So we’re going to go ahead and lower our prices on the Big Mac today.”  No?  You don’t remember it?  That’s because McDONALD’S WOULD NEVER DO THAT.  BECAUSE THAT ISN’T HOW THE MARKET WORKS.

You say you’re willing to do this in order to “compromise” with the Republicans.  So you could get an energy bill passed.  Well I don’t know what kind of simplistic chimps you’ve got running your campaign, but they’ve evidently subscribed to the notion that after years of folding up like a card table for the Republican Congressional majority, it’s imperative that once they get that majority for themselves, they take advantage of it by folding up like a card table for the Republican minority.  Way to make yourself look strong, Senator – it’s an idea you oppose, an idea you know would have a nasty effect on the environment and no effect on gas prices, but you’re going to just go along to get along.  I’ll say this for Hillary – she may have been a strident harpy, but sometimes she was strident about the right thing and didn’t seem inclined to back off.  You, sir, are behaving instead like an Ivy League nancy-boy. 

I’ve seen you hoop, and I noticed that you’re not one to bang underneath.  Apparently this holds true for your governing style.

What Are Surrogates For, Again?

 Civilizer

“Surrogates.”  Anybody remember when these people became indispensable to the election cycle?  Anybody?  I seem to recall a time when a candidate was running for office, and he or she was all you really heard from.  Maybe there was a spokesman, the coffee-swilling guy wearing an iffy suit who acted as campaign manager, but that was it.  Other politicians would toss in some criticism or some platitudes from the sidelines, but election coverage was basically an anchor saying “And here is Governor Clinton giving a speech on health care,” and they’d play a clip (that one probably laden with STD-related information), and there might be some analysis.  That would be it – anchor, clip, talking head.  Now, when I turn on MSNBC, CNN, whatever, it’s like I’m watching “Where Are They Now, Politics Edition.”  Gee, I wonder what Geraldine Ferraro’s been up to…hey, there she is!  Wesley Clark, wonder if he’s still really into sweaters…hey, he’s on TV talking about Obama!  “Reverend” Jesse Jackson, last time I heard from him he was fathering babies out of wedlock…well shit, there’s Jesse!  (And I guess he’s really into projecting, because why else would a serial philanderer want to cut an as-far-as-we-know faithful family man’s balls off?)

Can anybody out there in the political arena explain to me the benefit of surrogates?  I’m assuming they are to act as proxies, getting in front of a camera and spouting a candidate’s message when the candidate himself or herself can’t be there because they’re in front of a different camera.  All right – then tell me if this concept sounds like a good idea:  take a person who is somehow engaged in politics, peripherally (an academic, business person, etc) or directly (another elected official or a former elected official), give them some talking points, and put them on live TV.  Keep in mind this person doesn’t work for the candidate, probably doesn’t entirely agree with the candidate, has been involved in national politics for several years which means they probably have a rather large ego, and is probably, at least in part, acting as a surrogate to raise his or her own profile, even if it’s at the expense of the candidate.  Certainly, nothing can go wrong there!

The only time you hear about a surrogate is when they biff it, go off script, and say something that embarrasses the candidate.  Otherwise, they’re wasted air.  Jesse Jackson wasn’t getting much attention as an Obama surrogate until he casually remarked that he’d like to castrate the guy he is supporting.  Wesley Clark was bopping along just fine until he said that John McCain’s POW experience isn’t necessarily presidential experience.  No one remembered Phil Gramm even existed until he piped up with this “mental recession/nation of whiners” clunker.  Samantha Power wrote a critically acclaimed book about a sorta-important topic (genocide), and no one paid a lick of attention to her until she called Hillary Clinton a “monster.” 

Does having a bunch of surrogates line up behind you really mean anything?  If you’re on the fence about a candidate, does Geraldine Ferraro casting her lot with Clinton make up your mind?  These aren’t people who can persuade by force of personality – if they were, they’d be running themselves (or in Ferraro’s case, they wouldn’t get creamed in the general).  They’re people who might have a few things to say about a given issue, but not a one among them is really going to pull votes.  Probably the only surefire surrogate from that respect would be Jesus, and that guy had a bad habit of speaking his mind when falling in line would have made his life a lot easier.  Good at staying on message, though.

At Least He Hasn’t Complained About Arugula In A While

 Civilizer

A question: phrasing a personal responsibility speech by telling a room full of black youths that they’re not as good as they think they are at rapping or balling, “forgetting” to tell a ballroomfull of Democrats at a speech to help retire Hillary Clinton’s debt, putting his kids on Access Hollywood, saying it’s “embarrassing” that Americans vacationing in Europe can’t speak European languages…is Barack Obama not only shifting his ideology to more conservative, but his comportment to more prickish?  I swear, after reading this stuff, I am seized by the urge to slap a #8 sticker on my car.

Would Everybody Please Settle The Hell Down About Wesley Clark Already?

 Civilizer

Wesley Clark was absolutely right.  Right, right, 2+2=4 right, Copernicus over Ptolemy right.  And Barack Obama, while right to refuse to apologize or disavow (except through a spokesman), wasn’t entirely right – Wesley Clark’s comments were not “inartful.”  Not at all.

Here’s what the General said:

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Because in the matters of national security policy making, it’s a matter of understanding risk. It’s a matter of gauging your opponents, and it’s a matter of being held accountable. John McCain’s never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility. That large squadron in Air- in the Navy that he commanded, it wasn’t a wartime squadron. He hasn’t been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn’t seen what it’s like when diplomats come in and say, ‘I don’t know whether we’re going to be able to get this point through or not. Do you want to take the risk? What about your reputation? How do we handle it-‘

Bob Schieffer: Well-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: ‘ -it publicly.’ He hasn’t made those calls, Bob.

Bob Schieffer: Well, well, General, maybe-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: So-

Bob Schieffer: Could I just interrupt you. If-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Sure.

Bob Schieffer:I have to say, Barack Obama has not had any of those experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down. I mean-

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be President.
That last part about the fighter plane is what has really gotten Clark in trouble this week, primarily because it has been fresh water drizzled onto the parched lips of the post-Democratic primary 24-hour news media.  I mean, you can only squeeze so many broadcast days out of analyzing Michelle Obama’s appearance on The View, right?  And hey, here’s an actual surrogate saying something that can be misconstrued as controversial!  Let’s beat this one to death all week, all those in favor say “Aye!”

Well let’s take that last quote:  “I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be President.”

He’s right.  It’s not.  Let me tell you what John McCain getting shot down in a fighter plane means, what John McCain getting taken as a prisoner of war means, what John McCain refusing to leave the Hanoi Hilton even though Charlie is opening the door unless the rest of his men came with him:  it means John McCain has gigantic balls.  Gigantic balls matched only by a sense of honor and duty not likely present in very many of his contemporaries in the Congress.

Now, I like duty and honor.  And frankly, when it comes to picking a candidate, I can be very ball size-oriented.  It bothers me that Barack Obama had a civil conversation with Bill Clinton recently and asked for his help on the campaign trail.  Doing that instead of saying “Hey, go fuck yourself you race-baiting Dixie lech, half the state of Ohio thinks I’m a gay Muslim because of you” is, to me, symptomatic of a ball size deficiency.  So I’m in no way dismissing the fact that John McCain’s conduct during his imprisonment, and in fact his entire military record, is something to be honored.  I think he’s a bad. ass.

But the fact remains – courage, the kind of courage required to sustain one’s self throughout such an ordeal, does not automatically translate into the requisite executive aptitude necessary to be the President of the United States.  For Clark to point that out is blunt, certainly.  Military service, especially the kind that leaves a man unable to lift his arms all the way above his head because he has been tortured by the enemy, has been so elevated in this country’s culture as to be sacrosanct.  When a person utters anything other than unqualified praise, then, it’s risky.  But you have to look beyond context in this particular circumstance, and get right to content.  That’s why Clark’s comments, when you shake off the politically-charged environment in which they were uttered, weren’t “inartful,” much less wrong.  They were simply correct, and worth listening to.  If you want to promote McCain’s executive credentials, you can point to his time in the Senate working with past Presidents, or running his Senate office, or handling foreign relations matters.  But you don’t get to say the guy can govern because he’s a tough son of a gun and not expect that rationale to be challenged by anybody with the capacity for critical thought. 

She’s Not Going To Be VP (This Is Not A Hillary Rant)

 Civilizer

So Hillary has finally conceded, and now the talk turns more pointedly than ever to the “dream ticket” scenario with the Junior Carpetbagger from New York accepting a nomination for Vice-President.  Will not happen, and this is where I get pretty damn annoyed with the mainstream media, and the mainstream bloggers, who keep trying to pump life into this story.  I think it really drives home the point that the media these days is populated by a lot of incredibly ordinary people, of average intelligence at best, who are trying desperately to fill time.  Because if you pay any sort of attention to politics beyond the headlines, and you know what a “search” or “vetting” committee does, then you know that Hillary as VP is a non-starter.  Not because of her well-chronicled baggage, not because Barack Obama must hate her the way Michael Scott hates Toby by now, but because of her husband.  Bill Clinton.  The guy who helped cost her the presidential nomination also takes her entirely out of consideration for the vice presidency.

You can read for yourself the myriad reports of Clinton’s shady business dealings that would give the Democratic National Committee some serious indigestion here, here, and here, but I’ll just leave you with this.  If Hillary were to become the vice-presidential pick, it would be completely appropriate for a reporter to ask her the following question:

“Senator Clinton, are you aware of a number of free trips your husband has taken on a private plane referred to by staffers of this plane’s owner as ‘Air Fuck One’?”

Working-class voters who somehow became Hillary’s base just love rallying behind a candidate whose spouse jets all over the globe on a private plane with an appellation like that!