Crossposted from MY LEFT WING
To call a spade a bloody shovel means more than speaking plainly; rather, it means saying something that is true but unpalatable — or impolitic.
During an otherwise stellar appearance on David Letterman’s show last night, Barack Obama missed an opportunity to deliver a kidney punch to John McCain. In my view, this missed opportunity vividly exemplifies a weakness in the election style Democrats have used over the past three decades.
(I’m not saying Obama’s campaign exemplifies this style; to the contrary, despite a few missteps — and who among us could do better? I submit that, given the fact that Barack Obama has steamrolled over every obstacle thus far, this man just might know better than anyone how to correct the Democratic Party’s mistakes of the past and finally, FINALLY beat these bastards in this rigged game. But I’m making a point here, so… bear with me.)
Letterman asked, and I’m paraphrasing,
“If you’d been able to pick your Vice-Presidential running mate after McCain picked Palin, would you have chosen differently?”
Obama answered — and again, I’m paraphrasing:
“I chose the person I want in the room with me, giving me wise advice and different points of view…”
Intelligent, cogent and sincere.
But I think he should have phrased it thusly:
“Maybe this is another difference between Senator McCain and me:
I didn’t pick my running mate because I thought he would help me WIN; I picked him because I thought he would help me GOVERN.”
Stark, simple and true. Did John McCain pick Sarah Palin because he thought she was the best of all possible candidates for the role of Vice-President in a McCain Administration?
The very suggestion is a joke. Nobody could make that suggestion wit a straight face unless he worked for McCain or Fox News. McCain picked Palin to help him win the election.
Just one more in an endless series of proofs that John McCain’s campaign slogan of “Country First” is an empty, shallow and insulting lie.
Last night, Keith Olbermann exposed another vivid example of John McCain’s craven, wanton priorities:
… Senator McCain said it most concisely in June.
“Look,” he said. “I know the area, I’ve been there, I know wars, I know how to win wars, and I know how to improve our capabilities so that we will capture Osama bin Laden – or put it this way, bring him to justice. We will do it. I know how to do it.”
Sen. McCain seems to be quite serious, that he and he alone, not the CIA, nor the U.S. Military, nor the current President can capture bin Laden. Thus we must take him at his word, that this is no mere ludicrous campaign boast.
We must assume Sen. McCain truly believes he is capable of doing this, and has been capable of doing this, since last January. “We will capture Osama bin Laden… we will do it. I know how to do it.”
Well then, Senator, you’d better go and do it hadn’t you?
Because, Sir, if a man or woman in this nation, Democrat or Republican, had a clear and effective means of capturing or killing Osama bin Laden… If that person had been advertising his claim, Senator for eight months… But if that person not only refused to go to responsible authorities in government and advise them of this plan to catch bin Laden, but further announced he would not even begin to enact this secret plan to corral the world’s most hated man until the end of next January….
… you are to some degree great or small aiding and abetting Osama bin Laden.
… You, Sir, are blackmailing some portion of the American electorate into voting for your party, by promising to help in the capture of bin Laden only if you are made president!
“I’d rather win an election than catch bin Laden!”
… Senator, as you and your Republicans shed your phony, crocodile, opportunistic tears tomorrow on 9/1 “TM”, in front of the utterly disingenuous banner “Country First,” the fact is, you have shown that it is John McCain first, and the country last.
Now, hopefully most intelligent people can see that McCain’s claim is, indeed, a “mere ludicrous campaign boast,” –most intelligent people probably know that John McCain does not have a “secret plan” to capture Osama bin Laden, and that he is not so despicable a human being as to withhold it on condition of his election to the Presidency…
But Olbermann has a point, and it’s fairly clear: John McCain cares more about winning this election than solving any of the myriad grave problems this nation faces, be they terrorism, a failed economy, the failing public education system, rising poverty and dismal healthcare… well, we all know what those problems are. And if John McCain truly cared about solving them, he’d be spending his campaign time talking about how he’d solve them, instead of spending it talking about — well, talking about himself and how wonderful he is and Barack Obama and how terrible he is.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The horrible irony, for liberals and Democrats, when it comes to “playing politics,” is that we constrain ourselves with rules that “conservative” Republicans never follow. A few weeks ago I lamented the differences between the conventions run by Democrats and Republicans, noting:
Here we all are, paying APPROPRIATE TRIBUTE to John fucking McCain and his honourable fucking service to his country, and the horrific tortures he underwent in Vietnam…
And all I can think about now is what the goddamned Republicans would do to him if he were the Democratic nominee. The purple fucking bandaids they’d be parading around at their convention, mocking that service and that torture. The talk radio blowhards’ belittling and questioning of his being shot down.
And, in a personal parallel, I think of my father, and what might have happened to HIM, had he survived and gone into politics as a Democrat. The SAME FUCKING THING that happened to John Kerry, that’s what. And the same fucking thing that WOULD happen to John McCain if HE were a Democrat — the thing that HE CANNOT or WILL NOT see, that his TOTAL LACK of empathy allows him to ignore.
They are fucking SCUM, these goddamned so-called “conservatives.” These motherfucking REPUBLICANS. They will waltz into Minneapolis or St. Paul — which is it, anyway? — and they will puff up their faux-patriotic chests and call themselves “lovers of country” and think THEMSELVES the TRUE PATRIOTS — all the while HATING HALF OF AMERICA.
And the Democrats in Denver will have stood to attention during the raising of the flag and the singing of the National Anthem and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance — and they will have bowed their heads and nodded solemnly – AND SINCERELY — while Democratic politician after Democratic politican reminded them and the national audience that John McCain DOES love his country and DID serve his country honourably and suffer terribly for her…
And next week HORDES of “conservative” Republicans will JEER and LAUGH at Democrats and BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA and his RADICAL WIFE — those FOREIGN, WEIRD, BLACK BLACK BLACK LEFTISTS — and MOCK their LIBERAL, QUEER, UNAMERICAN-NESS and their LIBERAL, QUEER, UNAMERICAN supporters…
And THEY’RE the PATRIOTS???
And the fucking corporate media will lap it up and stoke the flames and goddamn if half this motherfucking country will go to the polls and vote for John motherfucking McCain and the party of HATE.
Sure enough, the Republicans remained true to ugly, predictable, hateful form; their convention was an exercise in shameless dishonesty and supposititious patriotism. Given four days to speak to the American people and make their case for John McCain, they chose instead to spend the vast majority of their time mocking, belittling and sneering at Barack Obama — and his proposals for solving this country’s problems and for this country’s future — and, by extension, his millions of supporters.
One of my few complaints about the Democratic convention goes to those rules we liberals always feel compelled to follow:
… to those of us more rabidly partisan among the “ANGRY LEFT,” the myriad acknowledgements of the laudable and honourable service of John McCain to his country were like icepicks to our lizard brains. “NOOOOOO! Kick him in the NUTS!!!”
I could almost hear my fellow frothing left wingers in their respective living rooms screaming it with me.
My discomfiture extends to the post-convention period; I know I am not alone in feeling heartily sick of hearing Democrat after Democrat acknowledge that “John McCain is a patriot, John McCain loves this country, too — we just have different ideas about how to go forward…” Blah blah blah.
Look, I know the rules. Following them is the liberal, decent, moral thing to do. But there is a difference between (laudably) eschewing the politics of hatred and putrescence the Republicans embrace — and making this perennial decision to PUSSYFOOT around the FACTS because to state them plainly and baldly sounds… not nice.
THE FACTS… are not nice. To state them in the way that I would, and am — “These people do NOT love their country” — is the very definition of impolitic. I’m not suggesting that Barack Obama hold a press conference and quote ME.
But these guys are the best and the brightest, right? It sure as hell seems to me that Aaron Sorkin is on the team over there at Obama HQ. Surely he and his staff could craft a plethora of perfectly phrased statements that STATE these ugly facts in words that live in the middle ground between my sort of “These motherfuckers are full of shit” blog-stylings and the last thirty years of failed Democratic discretion.
I am free to let loose all manner of invective on John McCain and the Republicans — and as many can attest, I frequently do. Unconstrained by the rules of politesse or by the common sense required when one’s audience is not merely a relative handful of blog readers but an entire nation, I daily loose my cannons of rhetorical bombast on the mendacious, manipulative, maleficent swarm of miscreants that is the Republican Party and its right wing base of christo fascist neocon zombie brigade (see what I did there?).
Barack Obama and his campaign — being neither insane, self-indulgent nor politically suicidal fools — must to a great degree adhere to the rules of prudence and sagacity that require both expert timing and superb verbal craftmanship as they continue the epoch battle for the future of this nation. To date, they have proved themselves artful and astute…
I only hope that as the McCain campaign and the nest of vipers with whom John McCain has allied himself continue to prove themselves devoid of anything resembling honour, true patriotism or even common decency, Barack Obama and his campaign prove themselves willing to speak not only plain truth but brutal truth when necessary.
Sometimes a spade is not just a spade. Sometimes that spade is a bloody shovel, and you have to be willing to point to it and to the man holding it.