BOW Award for this Week
May 24, 2008
Time to give away this week’s BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award. Unlike last week, which seemed to be filled with actos of buffoonery, this week was a bit quiet. And in fact, I’d like to start by acknowledging an act of political courage that deserves some sincere recognition.
Back in February, Mark McKinnon, a member of John McCain’s media team who also worked for George Bush’s campaigns, stated that if Barack Obama wound up being the Democratic Presidential nominee, he (McKinnon) would quit McCain’s campaign rather than be part of an effort to attack Obama. Here’s what he said at the time:
“I would simply be uncomfortable being in a campaign that would be inevitably attacking Barack Obama. I think it would be uncomfortable for me, and I think it would be bad for the McCain campaign.”
This week, amazingly, McKinnon made good on his promise. He announced that he would be leaving the McCain campaign, though he stated that he would still be an “informal advisor” to the presumptive GOP nominee. A political operative who takes a principled stand and then follows through on it. How refreshing.
A few people have recommended that Hillary Clinton be given this week’s award for her awkward statement yesterday, in which she raised the 1968 assasination of Robert Kennedy, seeming to imply that she was remaining in the Democratic race just in case something terrible happens to Barack Obama. Thing is, I really don’t believe that’s what she was saying. Look, I’m an Obama supporter, and though I’ve liked Hillary Clinton for a long time, I feel that she has run a disappointing and at times ethically compromised campaign. But this time I think she’s getting a bum rap. She was answering questions about why she remains in the race, and pointed out that campaigns in the past have run into June. She made the same point nearly word for word in March, and no one batted an eye. With the health problems of Ted Kennedy fresh in everyone’s mind, this time the comment seemed more jarring, but to suggest that she’s hoping for a tragedy is, in my opinion, unfair and unfounded.
I posted about McCain’s pastor problem yesterday, so I won’t bring that up again. But that doesn’t eliminate McCain from BOW Award consideration! No, sir! This week, John McCain voted against the new GI Bill that passed the Senate by a veto-proof 75-22 margin. Clinton and Obama voted for the bill, as did 29 of McCain’s fellow Republicans. The central provision of the bill provides for vastly expanded educational benefits for soldiers returning from overseas and leaving the armed forces. It seems to me, and to three quarters of the Senate, a fitting reward for the men and women who are risking their lives in a war that John McCain supports. But though McCain is willing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to wage an immoral, illegal war, he felt that the extra educational funding for veterans was too much. Unbelievable. But that’s not all. The Bush Administration and the bill’s opponents also feared that by making life after the armed services too attractive to American soldiers, it might undermine recruiting efforts. That’s right, guys. You wouldn’t want to make veterans’ lives too easy. Best to treat them like crap and keep them in line.
House Democrats nearly won the award this week for something so stupid it’s almost embarrassing to write about. The House and Senate passed a farm bill this week, again by veto-proof majorities. (I guess when the President’s approval rating is down around 28% you start to hear the phrase “veto-proof majority” a bit more often….) Bush promptly vetoed the bill and the House voted to override. But it turns out that the Democrats in the House passed the wrong version of the bill and sent it to the White House. They had to have a re-vote on the “right” bill and restart the process. Pretty embarrassing there, folks. No wonder Congressional approval ratings are even lower than W’s.
But today’s winner is, believe it or not, even worse than that. The account of what happened comes largely from a Media Matters talking point that was picked up by www.crooksandliars.com. After it was made public that Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, there was an outpouring of sympathy and well-wishes for the Senator, from the left and the right. Senate Republicans were commendably gracious in wishing Kennedy a speedy recovery, and many of them spoke of how great a legislator Kennedy has been during his 46 years in the U.S. Senate. They made a point as well, of saying that he is also a fine person, who repeatedly reaches across party lines on personal and professional matters alike. Cal Thomas, one of the most conservative columnists in America wrote a moving piece about his close friendship with Kennedy. Everyone in the country, it seems, has been united in wishing Senator Kennedy the best.
And then there’s conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage, who responded to the news of Kennedy’s illness this way: (Again, the quote comes from Media Matters and is repeated on crooksandliars)
“Following the announcement that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, nationally syndicated radio host Michael Savage opened his May 20 show by interspersing audio of Kennedy singing “Ay Jalisco No Te Rajes” with clips of news reporters discussing Kennedy’s diagnosis and audio from the 1990 film Kindergarten Cop in which Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character says, “It’s not a tumor.” Later, Savage played the Dead Kennedys song “California Über Alles” after stating: “The poor guy’s been suffering for years, you know? Unfairly he’s been accused of alcoholism, but we see now that it was something much more deep-seated. And so, to cut this out in some respect for Ted Kennedy, here’s a tune coming at you from the Dead Kennedys. Go ahead and play it, please.”
And so, for his mind-boggling insensitivity, this week’s BOW Award goes to syndicated radio talk-show host Michael Savage. Take a BOW there, Michael. And then please, taking a flying leap off the nearest cliff.