Posted by Brad @ 9:14 pm on October 9th 2008

The Dumbest Political Controversy of the Month?

Not even the 10th yet—and in a month already so full of pretty dumb f*#king controversies that I could probably be doing this daily—but we might have an early contender.

From Kathryn Jean Lopez, under the header “Running For President of Europe?”

When Obama says Pock-i-stahn I have an uncontrollable urge to read the New Yorker and find some Chardonnay.

Fortunately I have an old copy of NR and a Coors Light to snap me back to reality.

Seriously though — no one in flyover country says Pock-i-stahn. It’s annoying.

Pock-i-stahn is, of course, the correct way to pronounce it, and nobody outside of fly-over country does it differently. I imagine the Coors Light pronunciation grates on the ears of the people from Pack-e-Stan, but F them, who cares what they think?

Not sure it really qualifies as “controversy”, so I might have to settle on “honorable mention”, but still.

June, July, September (I guess I forgot August).


  1. Adam:

    That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t explain what was so much worse about the swift-boating compared to this.

    Comment by tessellated — 10/10/2008 @ 8:58 pm

  2. Actually, that’s a good question. The Swift Boat veterans were more coordinated, but I think the heart of their attacks were at least factual (as in, disagreements over facts).

    Saying straight up “Obama and his terrorist friends” or “Obama doesn’t have patriotism” or “Obama wants to harm our soldiers in the field” or any of the variations that are constantly pushed is indeed of a different kind.

    Comment by Brad — 10/10/2008 @ 9:46 pm

  3. The more complete narrative of the clip I posted:

    An audience member teed up a great big softball that could totally hit a dark side home run, asking, “We want you to fight at your next debate… we want to see s REAL fight at the debate, we want a STRONG leader for the next four years.” ….

    But then something weird happens: He acknowledges the “energy” people have been showing at rallies, and how glad he is that people are excited. But, he says, “I respect Sen. Obama and his accomplishments.” People booed at the mention of his name. McCain, visibly angry, stopped them: “I want EVERYONE to be respectful, and lets make sure we are.”

    The very next questioner tried to push back on this request, noting that he needed to “tell the American the TRUTH about Barack Obama” — a not very subtle way, I think, to ask John McCain to NOT tell the truth about Barack Obama. McCain told her there’s a “difference between record and rhetoric, and I plan to talk about his record, respectfully… I don’t mean that has to reduce your ferocity, I just mean it has to be respectful.”

    And then later, again, someone dangled a great big piece of low-hanging fruit in front of McCain: “I’m scared to bring up my child in a world where Barack Obama is president.”

    McCain replies, “Well, I don’t want him to be president, either. I wouldn’t be running if I did. But,” and he pauses for emphasis, “you don’t have to be scared to have him be President of the United States.” A round of boos.

    And he snaps back: “Well, obviously I think I’d be better. “

    A. You tell me that’s just a few isolated kooks and not a significant base of his support. Even McCain clearly recognizes this has become a problem, and

    B. How can you not respect McCain for finally waking up and personally chastising these people.

    Comment by Brad — 10/11/2008 @ 2:50 am

  4. “”We are looking for a very aggressive last 30 days,” McCain adviser Greg Strimple told the Washington Post. “We are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis and getting back to discussing Mr. Obama’s aggressively liberal record and how he will be too risky for Americans.””

    Comment by fred — 10/11/2008 @ 7:22 am

  5. Saying straight up “Obama and his terrorist friends” or “Obama doesn’t have patriotism” or “Obama wants to harm our soldiers in the field” or any of the variations that are constantly pushed is indeed of a different kind.

    We appear to have a complete failure to understand each other’s point of view. As for “wants to harm our soldiers in the field”, which is the only thing there that’s really potentially out of bounds, most of the stuff I’ve seen has been pointing out the opinion that Obama’s actions will endanger the troops in the field rather than that being Obama’s primary aim (ie, that what he wants to do will endanger the troops), such as in this article.

    But accusing someone else of not being patriotic enough, or of having associated with a terrorist, is out of bounds? It may or may not be stupid and unbelievable to the electorate, but I am at a loss to understand what workable criteria might make it unacceptable.

    The obnoxious part of the Swift Boat thing wasn’t based on accusations of associations, or lack of patriotism, or poor judgement. It was about making false claims that John Kerry had lied to get his medals. The closest thing that has been aimed at Obama (and not by McCain) is the ‘sekrit moslem’ thing, which is also obnoxious (although I don’t find it as obnoxious as the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” stuff).

    Regarding your question B in comment 53, Brad, I don’t get excited by it either way; if the timing worked to make the comment (and it certainly did) then it was the Right Thing to do. Playing whack-a-mole with the crazies, though, isn’t a good idea, so the timing has to be right.

    In any case, we have different basic opinions on what is and isn’t acceptable from political candidates. Which is fair enough, whilst at the same time being utterly irrelevant, of course, to what’s happening. As for what could be an implicit suggestion that I am blinded by candidate support in this (Tesselated’s comment #30):

    I know you support McCain based on his stance on the issues, but I find it very odd that you can’t seem to recognize what an ugly farce his bid for office has become.

    I can only reply that, like all of you, I am trying to separate my support from my analysis. We will all fail in that regard (although hopefully none so lamentably as Andrew Sullivan has, which is actually almost the worst thing that has happened on the blogs during this entire election year) but I don’t think that I have been inconsistent in my approach to the candidates or the moral dimensions of campaigning strategies. In the end, it’s about winning (in some other places, for example, when some Obama supporters decried him walking back his pledge on matching funds, I said that they should forgive him because they wanted him to win; of course, some others bought the actual Obama line on why he wasn’t doing it, which looked to me like nonsense aimed at providing cover, but opinions, as ever, will vary) and, like a rugby game in which you’re stamping on testicles and sticking your fingers in eyes, at the end of the game both sides know that it’s just the way it’s done.

    Comment by Adam — 10/11/2008 @ 12:18 pm

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