July 13, 2007

Waiting for the blogger conference call with John McCain.

The song playing on hold: "Foolish Heart." I love this song, actually. Steve Perry. Don't know if "Foolish Heart" is the right message for a candidate, but I do like it.

MORE: He concedes the campaign has "financial problems." "The responsibility is mine and mine alone." He's sorry he had to "part company" with "some dear friends."

YET MORE: First two questions are about the war, with the expected answers. Third question is about the campaign's money. The fourth question begins, "Hello, Senator, how're you doing?" He gives a genuine laugh and says "In the words of Chairman Mao, it's always darkest before it's totally black."

AND: He says people keep asking him -- about Iraq -- "What's your Plan B?" He wants to know "what's their Plan B?" That is, those who want the war to end refuse to face up to the chaos that would ensue. They have no plan for how to deal with it. He's asked if he cares enough about Iraq to cut back on campaigning and "exert some leadership" in Congress. He says he will do "whatever is necessary," and he'd "rather lose a campaign than lose a war." He'd find it "difficult to shave in the morning" if he thought his campaigning were in any way burdening those who are sacrificing in Iraq.

On another topic: The Republican "base" became "dispirited" because of overspending. The "bridge to nowhere" was a "tipping point."

AND: What will he do about the war if his campaign fails and none of the candidates who are left have the strong position that he had? The idea of preferring to lose a campaign to losing a war doesn't really add up if he's forced out of the campaign because people don't like his position on the war, does it? You can say you want to move back to the Senate and fight for the war there, but how will that work if the remaining candidates seem to express the idea that people want a weaker stance on the war? His answer is mainly about the enthusiasm he encounters when he appears at a campaign stop and the standard campaign concept that he needs to "get our message out."

There is time for another question, but there are no more questions. He says "Oh, no!" in a humorous way.

NOTE: Since there was room for more questions, why didn't I ask one? Am I so apathetic about McCain? The fact is, I'm writing this in a café, with loud music playing, and I did not have the option of going off the listen-only mode.

29 comments:

AlphaLiberal said...

This post from Josh Marshall is a relevant read.

"But you can't undo the last three-plus years. Someone who is a master of the politics of opportunism can manage countless transformations. Not someone whose whole schtick is candor, authenticity and integrity. McCain is a good example of the fact that life can take almost everything away from you, and usually does. But your dignity you've got to give away. And he did."

Matt said...

I have to wonder what good these blogger conference calls do for the candidate. You've participated in these calls before, Ann, and seem to be anything but enthusiastic for the chance, even to the point (if I recall correctly) of not bothering to prepare a question for the candidate.

Bloggers of all political stripes bemoan the "MSM"'s inability to get past horse-race questions, their obsession with politics over issues, and the inside-the-beltway mentality they say plagues our politicians. Yet, when bloggers get the chance to step up, we get expected questions and expected answers. Or, off-the-cuff questions that are not even prepared beforehand.

Do you see bloggers as kind of dropping the ball on these calls, and if so, when will bloggers step up to the plate and differentiate themselves from the MSM? Or, is it the fault of the candidates not answering blogger questions honestly?

Ann Althouse said...

I couldn't ask a question today, because I'm sitting in a café with loud music playing. It was all I could do to hear the call, and I couldn't respectably have gone off the listen-only mode.

rumtumtugger said...

'foolish heart' is deeply nasty megabland un-music. why don't they just throw a bit of bach on?

rcocean said...

No questions on illegal immigration?

Because that's what killed off his presidental canidatecy. McCain-Kennedy.

The only thing conservatives dislike more than "Amnesty" for 12 million illegals is - Ted Kennedy.

Hugh Hewitt spoke at Nixon Library recently( its on C-span) about Mitt Romney, and during the question period he polled the audience on the Republican canidates. Some were for Gulliani, some for Romeney, Hunter, etc.

No one raised their hand for McCain. No one, zero.

Go to "Free Republic", a conservative website and look at who they are supporting. McCain ususally gets 1 percent of the vote there.

McCain has always been beloved by the MSM, and independents. The wrong crowd, when you're trying to win the REPUBLICAN nomination.

Internet Ronin said...

I think the record shows that the MSM love affair with John McCain ended a few years ago, as the comment by alphaliberal demonstrates.

Simon said...

"[McCain] says people keep asking him -- about Iraq -- "What's your Plan B?" He want's to know "what's their Plan B?" That is, those who want the war to end refuse to face up to the chaos that would ensue. They have not plan for how to deal with it."

And that's a valid point. Victor Davis Hanson just fisked a particularly cold-blooded NYT editorial, in which the NYT urges that we adopt a policy ("[i]t is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit") that by its own admission will potentially (in their view - "likely" in mine) leave “Iraq, and the region around it ... even bloodier and more chaotic," with "reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide ...[,] [p]otentially destabilizing refugee flows [into neighbouring countries]," and the ever-present threat of "power grabs" by Iran and Turkey. Before the war, the rallying cry of the left (in Britain, at least) was "no to war, no to Saddam," which was of course incoherent - the choice was disjunctive. No war meant Saddam stayed. The NYT - as a poster-bearer for "those who want the war to end refuse to face up to the chaos that would ensue" - has adopted the same position, it seems. One must presume that they aren't actually rubbing their hands in glee at the potential bloodbath ("no to America, no to Al Queda," perhaps), but what they aren't doing is taking ownership of the consequences of their position. Arguing against the war was arguing for leaving Saddam in power; arguing for leaving Iraq now is arguing for what everyone agrees is the inevitable result of so doing (or at least, that that's the least-worst option). It's easy to criticize how we got here, to bemoan the missed opportunities and the mismanagement by the administration, but much harder to suggest a way forward.


rcocean said...
"No questions on illegal immigration? Because that's what killed off his presidental canidatecy. McCain-Kennedy."

Well, that and McCain-Feingold.

rcocean said...

"I think the record shows that the MSM love affair with John McCain ended a few years ago, as the comment by alphaliberal demonstrates"

Actually, some like Chris Matthews are still carrying a torch. IMO, the MSM love affair dimmed after McCain's Falwell speech, and the November 2006 elections.

Funniest soundbite on McCain and the MSM is on "Hardball" where Andrea Mitchell opines that McCain was doomed after he spoke at Liberty university. That to her was the end of the "straight-talk express".

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

I still maintain that McCain is certifiably insane. Beyond that, he's up there with Kerry in putting his finger in the political wind to [see] what he stands for next. Then there's the corruption--does anyone else remember the Keating Five? (And don't get me started on McCain-Feingold which has embarrassed everyone who's touched it, including a clueless supreme court.)

Cedarford said...

Matt - Bloggers of all political stripes bemoan the "MSM"'s inability to get past horse-race questions, their obsession with politics over issues, and the inside-the-beltway mentality they say plagues our politicians. Yet, when bloggers get the chance to step up, we get expected questions and expected answers. Or, off-the-cuff questions that are not even prepared beforehand.

Do you see bloggers as kind of dropping the ball on these calls, and if so, when will bloggers step up to the plate and differentiate themselves from the MSM? Or, is it the fault of the candidates not answering blogger questions honestly?


Great questions.

If the selected "blogger elite" does wish to offer something different than a Wolf Blitzer interview on "momentum going into Iowa", the "scandal du jour", and superficial issues questions where non-aswers and talking points given instead of actual answers? And welcomed like it is by Beltway Insiders as simply "all how the Great Game is Played"? Then before bloggers seek to play "mini-Wolfs", "mini-Hannitys" and "mini-Hardball hosts" they should sit down and ask one another:

1. What does the MSM miss that we should talk about rather than treat it like clean up questions Dick Gregory and Chris Matthews forgot to ask?

2. Are there issues that a good deal of us think are being missed or barely covered?

3. Is there some minimum research diligence expected of bloggers? To avoid the question on where a candidate stands on an issue that a candidate has had a strong stand on for 3 years and talks about at great length on their website and yet get asked about ad nauseum?

4. MSM reporters love the smorgasboard of issues and love the politicians lying and saying that each and every issue is a dear priority of theirs. But in real life, we know that a manager or leader is limited to 3-5 issues over 4 years that they can truly pour time, will, and attention into and the rest are backwatered.


Wouldn't it be refreshing to have a Blogger ask a politician that says they will grow ethanol use, stabilize the ME, and get a Flag-burning Amendment passed what other 1-2 issues they will push? And if they add #6 - gay marriage -, ask which of the 3-5 "top issues they have" will be drooped for gay marriage being a priority??

chickenlittle said...

Alphaliberal: How can Marshall be credible on the topic of McCain? Did he ever vote for him and then lose interest? Did he ever talk McCain up to his friends and relatives then accept disappointment?
All Marshall ever did was to deny that such things matter, and that McCain’s fate was due to factors which rhyme with his particular partisan worldview.

Fred said...

It's bad political strategy, either lead, follow or get out of the way, right?

You can complain about how politics trumps the issues, I do it all the time! The fact is politics is entirely gamed right now. It can be won by political soundbytes, rhetoric, and attack ads alone. Sometimes there is an actual candidate with a "good message" that doesn't involve shady tactics, but its rare. Usually it's the guys without a 'snowballs chance' that send that message.

I know I'm in the minority here, but I truly believe even the slightest hint of support for the current administration will destroy a candidate's chance of winning in 2008.

Revenant said...

I'm personally thrilled that McCain's campaign is imploding. I was worried that he'd actually get the nomination and force me to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Luckyoldson said...

Why would anyone waste five minutes talking to McCain...about anything?

He's toast and doesn't have the guts to just admit it and move on.

Matt said...

@ Cedar: Yeah, I agree with those guidelines. I'm struck by how many blog posts end with "Why isn't the MSM asking these questions?" And then when the candidate bypasses the "elite" media, the bloggers ask the exact same shit. I don't know if Tom from Just One Minute is ever on these calls, but I'd expect someone like him, someone who digs deep enough into certain issues to ask an intelligent question, to sack up and get in the candidate's grill. And I honestly don't mean to pick on Ann here, because it's not clear whether or not she actually wants to be on these calls, but two calls with presidential candidates and she can't think of a question? Or the question can't be asked because the call is taken in a cafe? I mean, can we blame some of the MSM types for not taking political blogging seriously?

amba said...

"Foolish Heart." I love this song, actually.

Me too.

Revenant said...

Why would anyone waste five minutes talking to McCain...about anything?

He's one of the most important people in the Senate? Even if he has no chance of being nominated for President he'll remain an influential force in American politics.

AlphaLiberal said...

chickenlittle:
Because Josh Marshall is an insightful observer of the scene. He fairly described McCain's humiliation at the hands of conservatives.

They swift-boated McCain and his family back in the 2000 primaries. In 2004 those web pages were still up, talking about how John MCain didn't really win his medals and wasn't liked by the men he served with.

Sound familiar? (Hint: Same formula used on Kerry, 2004).

AlphaLiberal said...

Apparently, nothing is sacred after all...

White House Rebuffs Congress on Tillman Papers

By Josh White
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The White House has refused to give Congress documents about the death of former NFL player Pat Tillman, with White House counsel Fred Fielding saying that certain papers relating to discussion of the friendly-fire shooting "implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests."

Just when you think the Bush Command can't sink any lower, it's blub, blub, blub all over again.

And McCain cozied up to them big time.

amba said...

Bad link to the WaPo. On your site, too.

hdhouse said...

Foolish Heart is appropos but I would think that Slipslidding Away would be more timely.

AlphaLiberal said...

Oops... my bad.. Here's the link

White House Rebuffs Congress on Tillman Papers

chickenlittle said...

Alpha-I don’t buy that John McCain lost SC because he was "swiftboated". He was character assassinated (more like reverse borked) but the charges you mention were not decisive or hardly stuck, otherwise you wouldn't rely on obscure references (were those websites even influential then?)

Karl Rove certainly didn't invent “swiftboating“, which I understand as ad hominem attacks on candidate’s military record. I’m not a historian of such events, but a slightly older example is what happened to Bob Kerrey.

Marshall is throwback to older muckraking journalism. He tries to be thinking person’s Drudge. Before the days of the sham of “fair and balanced” news reporting, healthy journalism of all flavors and bias existed competitively. “Fair and balanced” came about as a reaction to the waning influence of newspaper journalism. Thanks to Al Gore, we once again have unfettered access to all flavors and spin of the news via the information superhighway. Marshall is but one channel and must be counterbalanced by conservative sources in order to get the whole story.
To circle back to my original question Alpha: Why should anyone believe what Marshall says about McCain? Would you trust or even believe a conservative news source for a post mortem on a liberal candidate?

Luckyoldson said...

Revenant said...about McCain: "He's one of the most important people in the Senate? Even if he has no chance of being nominated for President he'll remain an influential force in American politics."

then why did he pass up on about 90% of the votes in the last term?

Mr.Murder said...

McCain's mutiny of a blogger press conference: YET MORE: First two questions are about the war, with the expected answers. Third question is about the campaign's money. The fourth question begins, "Hello, Senator, how're you doing?" He gives a genuine laugh and says "In the words of Chairman Mao, it's always darkest before it's totally black."

McCain said that or one of his staffers? He really was brainwashed in 'Nam or someone is sabotaging his effort from within the GOPers.

On another topic: The Republican "base" became "dispirited" because of overspending. The "bridge to nowhere" was a "tipping point."


New Bridge Strategies, key no bid contract operation in Iraq. Haley Barbour and Joe Allbaugh run it. There's where the NOLA levee fund went before Katrina...


He's asked if he cares enough about Iraq to cut back on campaigning and "exert some leadership" in Congress. He says he will do "whatever is necessary," and he'd "rather lose a campaign than lose a war." He'd find it "difficult to shave in the morning" if he thought his campaigning were in any way burdening those who are sacrificing in Iraq.


Already preparing a retreat statement and will blame everyone who doesn't follow him during the campaign season. It's your fault we f'd things up at the GOP.


Losing is a big part of McCain's vocabulary...

There is time for another question, but there are no more questions. He says "Oh, no!" in a humorous way.


Heh, indeed.

Bloggers on the reich wing don't have any new ideas, so they don't have any new questions.

Or their priorities(talking about the war issues they claim to seriously support) take a back seat to public appearances, self promotion, etc.

"NOTE: Since there was room for more questions, why didn't I ask one? Am I so apathetic about McCain? The fact is, I'm writing this in a café, with loud music playing, and I did not have the option of going off the listen-only mode."

Althouse has her priorities, blog with McCain and discuss the war while avoiding the distraction of opportunities to boost her own visibility.

So, do you always talk with Presidential hopefuls when you go out or am I just one hell of a lucky Badger fan?

Joe said...

... “swiftboating“, which I understand as ad hominem attacks on candidate’s military record.

That happened to George Washington.

Revenant said...

then why did he pass up on about 90% of the votes in the last term?

Think hard, Lucky. I'm sure you can think of something McCain has been doing this last year that might have taken up his time. Hint: rhymes with "gunning for resident".

And if that was just some half-assed attempt at scoring rhetorical points over McCain's lack of Senate performance I recommend you try it on someone who has actually ever liked McCain -- i.e., someone who isn't me.

Revenant said...

New Bridge Strategies, key no bid contract operation in Iraq. Haley Barbour and Joe Allbaugh run it. There's where the NOLA levee fund went before Katrina...

Who is this "Mr. Murder" character? He posts some amusing paranoid conspiracy theories I don't encounter on the normal moonbat sites.