Archive for July 26th, 2008

July 26, 2008

McCain ad mentions Landstuhl blunder

Guaranteeing it becomes an issue:

Via Hot Air, where Allahpundit doesn’t really like the ad’s suggestion that the reason Obama cancelled the visit was because he couldn’t bring media. A valid quibble — the cancellation apparently was due to Obama’s military adviser having a snit over being excluded — but ultimately irrelevant. The point is that this incident has now been woven into the McCain campaign’s attack narrative about Obama, meaning that the Obama campaign will have to respond, in turn guaranteeing that Obama is forced into an ongoing discussion of an incident that puts him in an unflattering light.

UPDATE: Fresh coverage by Fox News, ABC, Associated Press, the Politico, the New York Times, CNN and the San Francisco Chronicle. Here is Obama addressing the controversy with Fox’s Bill Hemmer:

(Via Hot Air.) “Our intention was not to publicize this at all,” he says. So why was the Landstuhl visit listed on the press schedule? If the visit hadn’t been on the press schedule, the cancellation wouldn’t have been news. Duh. Meanwhile, Obama tries to spin it at a London press conference:

John Hinderaker:

In the end, this character-revealing blunder may be the only thing voters remember about Obama’s international excursion.

Hope you enjoyed your tank ride, Governor Dukakis.

UPDATE II: Steven Thomas of McClatchy News catches Team Obama on the horns of the photo-op dilemma:

Within hours of Obama’s speech in Berlin, for example, campaign manager David Plouffe used a video of the event in a fund-raising letter. “Watch Barack’s historic speech and share it with your friends,” Plouffe wrote. The e-mail then included a red button urging them to “donate” and linking to a form making it easy to send online contributions ranging from $25 to $2,300.
“I’m not going to deny there’s value,” said Obama’s chief political strategist David Axelrod during one leg of the trip.

(Via Don Surber.) The fact that the trip was a substance-free media-oriented political spectacle only heightens the damage of the Landstuhl blunder.

July 26, 2008

Blogging sucks: Women, minorities hardest hit

If there’s anything in the world I hate, it’s women reporters writing “Oh, we’re so oppressed” stories in the New York Times:

[M]any women at the conference were becoming very Katie Couric about their belief that they are not taken as seriously as their male counterparts at, say, Daily Kos, a political blog site. Nor, they said, were they making much money, even though corporations seem to be making money from them. . . .
Yet, when Techcult, a technology Web site, recently listed its top 100 Web celebrities, only 11 of them were women. Last year, Forbes.com ran a similar list, naming 3 women on its list of 25.
“It’s disheartening and frustrating,” said Allison Blass, a BlogHer attendee. . . .

Ladies, please: If your blog sucks, it’s not because of some patriarchal conspiracy, OK? And as for making money, you could almost certainly fit into my living room every independent blogger who earns a full-time living off blogging. Generally speaking, bloggers either have some other job to support their blogging habit, or else they’re “blogging for the man” (e.g., the Atlantic Monthly bloggers, the Gawker cartel, etc.).

Like almost every fad from hula hoops to CB radio, there seem to be a lot of people who think that this latest gadget is going to be their Ralph Kramden get-rich-quick ticket. Well, OK, fine — the American Dream and all that. But it’s wrong to turn that dream around and claim that because you’re not getting rich online, therefore you are a victim who’s somehow been cheated out of her just reward.

Hang on, let me check my latest AdSense revenue report. … Yeah, I’m just rollin’ in it, baby. And since I’m so flush with the blogobucks, which one of you feminist chick-bloggers wants to hook up with a big-money sexist right-wing online sugar daddy, huh?

Make. Me. Laugh.

And get me a cup of coffee, hon.

UPDATE: And as for you, you idiot HuffPo woman whining because the New York Times ran this story in the “Style & Fashion” section: Look a gift horse in the mouth, why don’t you? You’re lucky they even bothered to cover your stupid “BlogHer” conference. As for your big claim, “Women are outnumbering men on the web” — you know what that is, don’t you? It’s (a) my sister-in-law forwarding me spam e-mails about Obama-the-secret-Muslim, (b) my daughter MySpacing “OMG ROTFLMAO” to her friends, and (c) desperate, slightly overweight 37-year-olds with “nice personalities” trying to find a date on Craigslist.

UPDATE II: So cute when they’re angry.

UPDATE III: Sexist patriarchal oppressor Vox Day offers a list of suggestions for women bloggers who want to be taken seriously:

  • 1. Have at least half a brain and demonstrate that it actually functions by not writing egregiously stupid stuff.
  • 2. At least 75 percent of your posts should have nothing to do with you or your life.
  • 3. Don’t post a picture or talk about your romantic life, your children or your pets.
  • 4. Don’t threaten to quit blogging every time anyone criticizes you.
  • 5. Learn how to defend your positions with facts and logic instead of passive-aggressive parthian shots fired off as you run away.

No. 2 and No. 3 are the real deal-killers for a lot of women. There is a remarkable tendency of (some) women to imagine that other people are interested in their narrow personal concerns. This tendency expresses itself in the phenomenon of gossip, as well as in that unreadable literary genre, the feminist memoir.

UPDATE IV: Linked by both Dr. Helen and her husband. Thanks! Meanwhile, in response to Gabriel Malor, I’ve added a follow-up post: “No fear of being cut off for life.”

UPDATE V: Didn’t realize it at first, but Gabriel also cross-posted at Ace of Spades HQ, where the comment field has predictably degenerated into a discussion of whether Ace is a lady Ewok. (Hey, if you want to investigate that, go right ahead.) Also linked by James Joyner at Outside the Beltway, linked (but not endorsed) by Tim Worstall, and linked by Don Surber, who worries that I’ll “never each lunch in this blogosphere again.” Oh, I’ll eat lunch all right, Don — I’ll just have to fix my own #$%&ing sandwich. Also, for my fellow swine: Gratuitous pinup eye candy.

UPDATE VI: Linked by a . . . dog-blogger. Another triumph of shameless traffic-baiting.

UPDATE VII: Greetings to the late-arriving progressive readers (and I think you know who you are) who might enjoy reading my more recent posts, “Latino racism? ¡Sí!” and “The Audacity of Taupe.” And please give my warmest regards to my old pal Duncan — did I mention the comments are moderated?

UPDATE VIII: “Equality Is For Ugly Losers.” The commodification of patriarchal misogynist oppression.

July 26, 2008

Bounce Watch (cont’d)

Obama widens his lead again, moving ahead by 7 points (48%-41%) in the Gallup daily tracking poll — his largest lead in July — and 6 points in Rasmussen’s daily (49%-43%, matching his July 8 lead).

July 26, 2008

Obama’s Landstuhl firestorm

The media furor over Barack Obama’s cancelled visit with wounded U.S. troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center continues burning, and now the candidate himself has been forced to respond personally — during a press conference after meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown:

“The staff was working this so I don’t know each and every detail but here is what I understand happened,” Obama said. “We had scheduled to go, we had no problem at all in leaving, we always leave press and staff off — that is why we left it off the schedule. We were treating it in the same way we treat a visit to Walter Reed which I was able to do a few weeks ago without any fanfare whatsoever. I was going to be accompanied by one of my advisors, a former military officer.”
Continued Obama, “And we got notice that he would be treated as a campaign person, and it would therefore be perceived as political because he had endorsed my candidacy but he wasn’t on the Senate staff. That triggered then a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political. And the last thing that I want to do is have injured soldiers and the staff at these wonderful institutions having to sort through whether this is political or not or get caught in the crossfire between campaigns.”
“So rather than go forward and potentially get caught up in what might have been considered a political controversy of some sort,” Obama said, “what we decided was that we not make a visit and instead I would call some of the troops that were there. So that essentially would be the extent of the story.”

Obama’s version doesn’t quite square with what others have said. For instance, “we left it off the schedule”? No, it was on the schedule, which was why the media started asking questions when it was cancelled.

At any rate, Obama’s comments merely added more oxygen to the fire: MSNBC, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Times, the New York Daily News, and Reuters all jump on the story this morning. And what’s news on Saturday morning is sure to be discussed on the Sunday morning talk shows which, in turn, generate stories in Monday’s paper. So there’s your big “welcome home” message, Democrats: Obama disses the troops!

PREVIOUSLY:

July 26, 2008

McCain radio ad hits hard

Obama votes “no” on funding troops:

This is in keeping with the stepped-up aggressive tactics that Steve Schmidt has brought to the campaign. Meanwhile, in Colorado, as John Hinderaker notes, McCain hit hard in a speech:

[A]s our troops took the fight to the enemy, Senator Obama tried to cut off funding for them. He was one of only 14 senators to vote against the emergency funding in May 2007 that supported our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. . . .
If Senator Obama had prevailed, American forces would have had to retreat under fire. . . .
Fortunately, Senator Obama failed, not our military. We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right.

So while Obama was basking in the glow of European admiration, McCain was ripping him a new one at home. And, thanks to his big blunder at Landstuhl, Obama will return stateside to find himself on the defensive. Watch out for that shark, Fonzie!

July 26, 2008

K-Fed gets sole custody

How scummy do you have to be to lose your kids to a backup dancer?

Britney Spears and Kevin Federline’s custody settlement was signed Friday by a judge, officially ending their nearly two-year custody battle. In the deal reached last week, Federline retained sole custody of Preston, 2 1/2, and Jayden, 1 1/2. Spears – who is currently allowed two visits and one overnight per week – will get an additional sleepover by year’s end, barring any setbacks. . . .
Spears also agreed to increase Federline’s child support to $20,000 a month (a $5,000 increase) and pay off his $250,000 legal tab.

Dude. Now she’s paying him to raise her kids! K-Fed just scored a guaranteed income of $240,000 a year for the next 17 years — a settlement with a total value of more than $4 million — and all he’s got to do to keep it is to be a better parent than Britney (obviously not too hard).

K-Fed just became the all-time hero of every dad who ever got screwed over in a divorce settlement. And Britney just became a big yellow warning sign to every girl who thinks she’s all that. Are you paying attention, Miley Cyrus?
July 26, 2008

Video of the Year?

On “Hannity & Colmes,” Gerard Baker does a dramatic reading of his Times of London column about Obama’s foreign trip, “He Ventured Forth to Bring Light to the World”:

July 26, 2008

Cheap smear on Allen West

Last month, I interviewed retired Lt. Col. West, the Republican candidate for Congress in Florida’s 22nd District. Today, one of Col. West’s supporters e-mailed me a New Republic article about the candidate that is truly a disgrace to that magazine’s reputation.

However, the article is not all bad. For instance, I didn’t realize that Col. West reads Bastiat in his spare time. Excellent! And there is one passage in the article that I found particularly informative:

[T]he national party showed little interest in rallying behind someone so controversial. Looking at the giant ziggurats of cash the Democrats were building to protect their newly won seats, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) frantically searched for candidates who were safe and, most crucially, had access to a lot of money. In the 22nd — a district the Democrats took in 2006 but which still boasts more registered Republicans than Democrats — a scion of a famous Florida political family, a well-connected state representative, and the popular mayor of cash-soaked Boca Raton were all begged to run. All declined.

Now, wait a doggone minute. If Col. West is “controversial,” isn’t it because it was his job to actually fight the war that the national party supported? To hell with “safe” candidates and famous “scions.” Here the GOP has the flesh-and-blood refutation of all those “chickenhawk” slurs, a heroic character straight out of a Tom Clancy novel whose candidacy instantly makes FL-22 a contest worthy of national interest, and yet the NRCC “frantically searched” for somebody else — anyone else — to run for this seat? Outrageous!

That is the perfect capsule summary of what’s wrong with the GOP HQ people in Washington. Every conservative who’s tired of the politically tone-deaf idiots who are running the Republican Party into the ground ought to go make a contribution to Col. West’s campaign today.

UPDATE: Now that I think about it, has anybody told the NBRA about this? Does Angela McGlowan know about it? After all the work they’ve done to recruit black Republicans, to see the NRCC actually working against a black Republican is insane. Somebody needs to be raising holy unshirted hell with the national party about this situation.

July 26, 2008

Hannity on Obama’s cancelled Landstuhl visit

From Sean Hannity’s radio show today:

[Barack Obama] wanted to go visit this military hospital. It was on the campaign sheet to go visit the military hospital in Germany. And we find out that the only restrictions the Pentagon wanted to impose was their rule against turning visits by politicians into campaign events. . . .
The Pentagon says, look, you can come but they’re going to impose their rule against turning a visit by a politician into a campaign event. . . . All the Pentagon said is they advised Obama’s staff — yeah of course he can visit the hospital and injured personnel in Germany but only in his capacity as a Member of Congress. . . .
Obama apparently cancelled the visit and went to work out instead. He went to work out and then said it would be inappropriate as part of a trip financed by his campaign. . . .
So if you want my take on this, if you want to remember one thing about this trip is that Barack Obama chose to work out rather than see the wounded troops because he couldn’t bring Katie Couric, Charlie Gibson, and Brian Williams with him.

Allahpundit discusses, giving Obama some benefit of the doubt. The problem here is that Obama listed the Landstuhl event on his press schedule and then canceled. His staff flunked Media Relations 101: When you put something on your press schedule and then cancel it, you’d better have a plausible explanation. Obama’s attempt to spin this story is doomed to failure. They’d do better just to drop the subject and stop giving it oxygen.

UPDATE: As I explain at AmSpecBlog, looks like this story is going viral: Washington Post and CNN do follow-ups, and Associated Press has a story that will be in hundreds of local papers on Saturday morning. The transcript of Friday’s press briefing, in which Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs tries a push-back gives a flavor of the media interest:

Q: When did you originally decide to go?
Gibbs:
I have to get you an exact date but it has been on the schedule for a long time.
Q: Did it not occur to anybody that this might be viewed as a political stop?
Gibbs:
We had taken some of that into consideration, but we believed that it could be done in a way that would not create, it would not be created or seen as a campaign stop.
Q: The schedule was for this plane, with us in it, to fly to Ramstein. By the way we were expected to pay for the flight, what were you suppose to do with the entourage then?
Gibbs:
You would have stayed on the plane.
Q: We would have stayed on the plane, would there have been any pool report?
Gibbs:
There may have been, I don’t know if we ever came to a decision on that.

These reporters’ news organizations have to pay for them to travel with the campaign, and they were going to be charged for a trip to the air base (where the hospital is located), but they would have been stuck on the plane, waiting on the tarmac, with no chance to actually cover the hospital visit. Even a “pool report” (where one reporter accompanies the candidate, then files a description of the event that the rest of the press corps uses for their stories) might have been seen as a violation of the Pentagon rules.

What all this points to (and the reporters seem to be working toward this angle) is a huge planning error by the Obama campaign. The Pentagon has never allowed wounded GIs in hospitals to be used as political props, and any Senate staffer should know this. Unfortunately, the Landstuhl trip wasn’t planned by Obama’s Senate staff, it was planned by his campaign staff, who didn’t know the rules.

All of which, of course, feeds into the anti-Obama narrative of the trip, namely that it was really just one big media photo-op from the get-go, rather than the kind “fact-finding” expedition his campaign had tried to frame it as.

This is a P.R. debacle of the first magnitude. Can’t you just hear George Will talking about this on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning? Oh, and just wait until Ann Coulter comes out with her column on Wednesday . . .

July 26, 2008

‘The McCain contraption’

Allah coined this term and Karl at Protein Wisdom picks it up — in contrast to the supposedly infallible “Obama machine” — as a metaphor for the heretofore weak and inconsistent operation at Team McCain, especially in terms of “message.” This bears some discussion.

First, I think the more aggressive approach since Steve Schmidt came aboard is both (a) long overdue, and (b) arguably working. To try to judge the success of the McCain campaign in the midst of this week’s worldwide media Obamagasm is rather unfair. But with Schmidt in charge, McCain has gone on the attack and stayed on the attack (even though attack politics is not the candidate’s preference or forte), and you saw an impact this week: Obama was badgered by Katie Couric (!) about whether or not he believes the surge has been succcessful. When Obama is forced to confront his opponent’s message this way, that’s success.

Second, it’s a tall order to turn chicken manure into chicken salad. John McCain is not any campaign consultant’s ideal candidate. He’s old, short, bald and grumpy — Bob Dole with less hair. He has never been a magnetic orator, and advanced age has not improved his stump performance.

Furthermore (and this is generally overlooked), McCain’s never been in a competitive general election against a strong liberal Democratic opponent. Arizona has been a Republican state for decades, and once McCain won the 1986 GOP primary for Barry Goldwater’s seat, he’s never faced a serious challenge. He simply is not experienced at the kind of political warfare George W. Bush had to wage in order to defeat “Ma” Richards and the Texas Democrats.

Given the inherent shortcomings of the candidate, it is unfair to blame the problems of the McCain campaign on his staff. This isn’t like the problems Ronald Reagan had with his team in 1980, where the basic solution was to “let Reagan be Reagan.” Reagan had immense natural gifts as a politician that he had honed during his decades on the “mashed potato circuit.” So when things started going sideways in 1980, the fix was both obvious and easy — get out of the way and let the Gipper work his magic.

Team McCain has no such quick fix available, although arguably they might benefit by trying to inject into the current campaign some of the “fun factor” that McCain enjoyed during his 2000 run. Occasionally give the candidate a chance to do what he enjoys best — informal bull sessions with reporters — even if it means less time for staged campaign events.

Third, the “enthusiasm gap” is real and it’s hurting. To some extent, this can’t be helped. Maverick’s 10-year jihad against his own party’s conservative base makes it impossible for some Republicans to care whether he gets elected or not. Beyond that, the McCain campaign is on the losing end of what I call a “reverse bandwagon effect” — the belief in Obama’s invincibility (which is widespread even among Republicans) makes people unwilling to support what they perceive to be a losing effort.

There are ways for an underdog to turn the bandwagon effect around (ask Casey Cagle’s campaign how they beat Ralph Reed in 2006), but unless the McCain campaign can find a way to shake conservatives out of their doom-and-gloom mood, the negativity coming from inside the Republican Party will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It may be that the problems of “the McCain contraption” are irreparable, and that all this blogospheric second-guessing is just a waste of bandwidth. Frankly, I have a professional disdain for journalists who play the amateur strategist game of offering unsolicited advice to politicians. (Yes, I mean you, Ramesh and Rich.) It’s like a sports columnist telling a baseball coach which reliever he should bring in from the bullpen. If you’re such a freaking strategic genius that you feel justified giving advice to professional political operatives, quit your magazine job and start your own consulting firm.

Insofar as I’m qualified to kibbitz, I will say that the mysteriously canceled “media availability” Wednesday in Wilkes-Barre was a blunder. When you promise reporters a press conference, you’d better damn well give ’em a press conference. I drove three hours to be there, only to be told on arrival that the press conference had been cancelled. This is not good media relations.

Nobody’s paying me to figure out a way for the Republicans to beat Obama, but it’s always a bit annoying to see the people who are getting paid do a lousy job of it. Since Schmidt came aboard the McCain contraption, they seem to be doing a less lousy job — but I’m still sore about that canceled press conference.