Another Long BOW Award

September 21, 2008

BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award time again, and John McCain and Sarah Palin are definitely making it hard for me to spread the love with this thing.  They’re like a sports team that can’t be stopped — the Big Red Machine, if you will (the name used to describe the awesome Cincinnati Reds baseball teams of the 1970s).  Every week I think they’ve outdome themselves with their buffoonery, and then the next week comes along and they prove me wrong.

But let me begin, as I did last week, with Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, Joe Biden, who, I’m afraid, is going to be picking up a lot of these nominations over the next few weeks.  That’s just how Joe is.  He shoots from the hip.  Conservatives will want me to nominate Biden for his comment early in the week about how paying taxes is patriotic.  Sarah Palin took him to task for this, as did many commentators.  I happen to think Biden was absolutely right.  Paying taxes IS patriotic.  We’ve had a span of several weeks now where government intervention has been needed for a whole host of things.  Yes, the AIG loan and the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac bailout, and now the Bush Administration’s $700 billion economic support plan are all examples of this.  But I’m not even thinking of those things.  I’m talking about the disaster area designations for Louisiana and Texas after the recent hurricanes, the money that is being used to help with the flood clean-ups in the upper Midwest.  I’m talking about the new bridge that just opened in Minnesota to replace the one that collapsed last year.  And I’m talking about the thousands of things government does every day that we take for granted:  paying out for Medicare and Medicaid treatments, paying air traffic controllers so that our planes don’t crash, regulating flood waters in our nation’s rivers to prevent even more disastrous floods, checking our meat and vegetables to make certain they’re safe to eat (they don’t always get this one right, but matters would be far worse if the USDA did nothing at all), testing new drugs to make sure they’re safe (reread last parenthetical comment but replace USDA with FDA), keeping an eye on industry to make certain that our air and water are clean.  I could go on and on, but I won’t.  Here’s the point:  I don’t like paying taxes.  No one does.  Republicans like to say that Democrats love taxes, but that’s bull and Republicans know it.  But for our nation to function we need government, and the only way to fund those services we all need is through taxes.  Texas is as red a state as you’re likely to find, and I guarantee you that folks in the Houston and Galvaston areas are as likely as any other Americans to complain about high taxes and big government.  But I also guarantee you that they’re glad FEMA is there to help them right now.  As they should be.  A strong nation cares for all its people.  And that takes money.  Why is it that the same people who use patriotism as a political cudgel and make issues out of lapel pins and the like are the first ones to complain about high taxes?  Living in this country is a privilege.  I agree with right-wing ideologues when they say that this is the greatest country in the world.  The difference is that for me this is more than a slogan on a bumper sticker.  If living in this country means paying a bit more in taxes so that others can be safe and healthy and well-fed, so be it.  THAT’S patriotism.  And that’s what Biden was saying.

So what was Biden’s nomination for?  For telling people in Ohio that the University of Delaware football team was going to kick Ohio State University’s ass in an upcoming game.  Not smart.  Ohio is a football crazy state, and they LOVE their Buckeyes.  And Obama’s lead there is about 1 point right now.  Use your head, Joe.

But back to McCain and Palin.  McCain kicked off his week by claiming, in the face of deeply disturbing news out of Wall Street last weekend (Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, the first rumblings about AIG and Washington Mutual), that the fundamentals of our economy were “sound”.  Obama pounced, and many in the media wondered what on earth he was talking about.  Later in the day — literally hours later — McCain said that the fundamentals in our economy were in crisis, and he tried to explain away his earlier statement by saying that he’d been referring to “American workers,” who are the finest in the world.  No one bought that, of course. 

As the week progressed, and the crisis on Wall Street deepened, with huge stock sell-offs and more sobering financial news from the nation’s largest banking firms, McCain began to channel his inner populist, railing against Wall Street fat cats and making sure Americans knew that when he became President all of these shenanigans would end.  Never mind the fact that McCain has claimed again and again that he is a dedicated deregulator who feels that the free market is paramount.  And never mind the fact that McCain has long embraced the Bush Administration’s call for investing Social Security holdings in private stock accounts, which would have made this week’s Wall Street roller coaster ride even more catastrophic.  That was Wednesday.  By Thursday McCain had decided that the crisis on Wall Street was the fault of  . . .  (wait for it . . . ) Barack Obama!!  Obama and his kind, McCain said, were creatures of Washington who had “gamed the system” and thus precipitated the crisis.  Part of his basis for this stunning accusation was the fact that Obama had received far more donations from employees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than McCain himself had.  McCain neglected to mention, however, that he had received far more in campaign contributions from corporate officers of Fannie and Freddie.  He also ignored one of the central themes of his campaign, which as that he has the experience to be President and Obama does not.  McCain has been in Washington for 26 years; Obama has been in Washington for 4 years.  And Obama is the creature of Washington?  So how did all of these different stances work for McCain?  Well, by the end of the week, his convention bounce was gone and Obama had retaken his lead in national polls.

And still, McCain wasn’t done.  In the middle of the week, while fielding for a radio interview on issues of interest to Hispanic voters, McCain reversed himself (surprise, surprise) on normalizing relations with Spain and its Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero.  McCain seemed to be including Zapatero in a list of leaders, the rest all in Latin America, who had taken anti-American positions, and it wasn’t entirely clear that McCain knew who the questioner meant when he referred to Zapatero.  The issue has not drawn a great deal of notice here in the States, but it has caused quite a stir in Spain.

And then there was McCain’s top economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who claimed midweek that McCain had helped to invent the Blackberry.  The candidate and campaign backpeddled from the claim so fast they almost pulled a muscle, and finally settled on the explanation that this was simply a “bone-headed joke,” but one wonders what on earth Holtz-Eakin was thinking.

What did Palin do, you ask?  Well, as many of you know, Palin had a tough interview with Charles Gibson.  Tough, in that he actually asked her questions that weren’t gimmes (and this woman thiks she can go mano-a-mano with Vladimir Putin because Alaska is near Russia?).  Well, after such a trying experience, Palin needed something a bit easier.  She needed a little Hannity Love.  Yes, that’s right, her second one-on-one interview was with Fox TV personality (I will not call him a newscaster) Sean Hannity, and true to his reputation as a GOP lackey, Hannity asked her lots of questions about how “dangerous” an Obama Presidency would be in various ways, and the oh-so-many ways in which she’s a “maverick.”  It was disgusting.  And yet, in the midst of this, Palin found a way to work in one more lie about herself.  Yes, she did.  She told a charming story about how she had asked her daughters whether she should take the VP spot on the GOP ticket.  They voted in favor and the rest is history.  Great story.  Not true.  She didn’t tell them about McCain’s offer until AFTER she had flown them to Ohio for the rally at which the decision was announced (at which point she had already told McCain yes).  The McCain campaign had to correct the statement the day after the interview.  Remember in 2000 how the Bush Campaign made Al Gore out to be a habitual liar who couldn’t be trusted?  Gore looks like George Washington next to this woman.

But the real Buffoons this week were guilty of far more serious things than trivial lies and ridiculous campaign accusations.  We have three examples of transparent attempts by the GOP to mislead voters and/or suppress voter turnout in key battleground states.  First there is word out of Florida of a push-poll that targeted Jewish voters and asked them if they’d be more or less willing to support Barack Obama if they learned that he had contributed money to the Palestine Liberation Organization.  Then there was word out of Michigan that GOP poll watchers intended to use foreclosure lists to challenge the residential status of voters in that key state.  The Michigan GOP has since backed away from this position (since election law actually protects voters who have been forced from their homes by foreclosure) but a GOP activist in Michigan did confirm that holding down Democratic turnout was part of their strategy for winning Michigan.  And finally, older voters and Hispanic Democrats in Florida have been receiving mailings informing them that they are registered as Republicans and asking for campaign contributions for McCain.  The GOP dismisses this mailing as “a fundraising piece” that “isn’t worth writing about.”  Democrats fear that this will create greater confusion among voters, since the mailings include false voter registration ID numbers. 

Any way you slice it, these are examples of the same sleazy campaign tricks the Republicans used in 2000 in Florida and 2004 in Ohio, and it confirms what many observers have already been saying:  The only way the GOP can win this election is to steal it with lies, dirty tricks, and voter suppression.  And so this week’s BOW Award goes to the GOP party organizations in Michigan and Florida who refuse to wage their campaign on the issues, but rather are looking for ways to keep Democrats from exercising their right to vote.  Take a BOW there folks.  You’ve earned it.  And then get the hell out of the way and let this election go forward in a fair and legal manner.

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3 Responses to “Another Long BOW Award”

  1. Brian said

    It really is scary what the GOP will do to win an election.

  2. Frank said

    Amen, Brother! Preach it!

    I have always wondered about folks who dress in Red-White-and-Blue Star-Spangled cowboy hats, with “God Bless America” spelled out on their trucks in rhinestones shaped like little bald eagles, who tear up whenever that Lee Greenwood song comes on, and then turn around and start cursing the “dad-blame gov’ment” for wanting to take some of their hard-earned money in order to keep functioning.

    They love their country, but hate their government. This seems logically impossible to me, but oh well, there you go.

  3. davidbcoe said

    Yeah, Brian, it is very scary.

    Frank, I gotta say that for the last eight years I’ve loved my country while hating my government, but I think you’re probably getting at something slightly different. They claim to love their country, but they seem to hate our Constitutional system. And I agree — that’s totally illogical.

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