John McCain: a closet Spartacus fan?
Back in September, Paul Collins was ahead of the curve. Writing in Slate, Collins investigated McCain’s odd catchphrase, deployed quite liberally on Tuesday night during the second presidential debate. Collins tracked these mad dollops to William Jennings Bryan’s Cross of Gold speech from 1896. Bryan, as you may recall, died in his sleep five days after the Scopes Monkey Trial decision.
If McCain appears to be on the verge of losing this race, the least he can do is to consider the sponsorship opportunities. Let’s say that McCain were to replace “friends” with “space” and charge MySpace $50 for every unfurling of the phrase. Not only would McCain stand to make well over a grand from Tuesday’s appearance, but he would, at long last, demonstrate some familiarity with the Internet at the last minute. (Okay, so he’d be a little behind the curve here, because he’s not exactly aware of Facebook. But we expect some unfamiliarity with the social network of choice among our old geezers.)
Alternatively, I’d like to see John McCain sing “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” in answer to a question if he can’t come up with a cogent answer.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have decided to suspend this blog. I feel that my services would be more effectively employed in Washington, DC, where my invaluable input on the current economic crisis and various cultural matters will fall on deaf political ears. Yes, nobody asked me to go to Washington. But, dammit, I’m a maverick. Yes, I do realize that I have many more films to screen at the New York Film Festival. Yes, I do realize that there are deadlines. Yes, I do realize that I have interviews to conduct. But you see, I’m one of those guys who can’t chew bubble gum and walk at the same time. This is why I don’t think I’d be a very good United States President. This is why I feel the time is right to stop blogging and debating and just go to Washington. Even if my activities involve drinking great quantities of bourbon, I feel that this debauchery would be better for the country than living up to any responsibility.
Of course, if I’m feeling better tomorrow, I could very well resume this blog. Particularly if David Letterman tries to mock me or the newspapers and the blogs call my very meaningful gesture towards my country a “Hail Mary” or the act of a coward. Must I inform you of my life experience? I stood in line at the DMV for five years, people. And to anyone who might question my blogging and writing faculties, let me say it again. I stood in line at the DMV for five years. And I ran out of books and food. But I persevered. I still cannot raise my arms above my head because the cruel soldiers at the DMV kept hitting me in the shoulders. But I was a good American and, at the end of the day, I came back to my home with a driver’s license. I will refer you back to this life-changing act of courage if you question my integrity.
I’ve served four terms as a blogger and I know the Arizona heat. I understand that my co-blogger, who has yet to write a post here, has a great view of Russia from her home. So I think I know what I’m doing here. The other bloggers are quite smart. But they will never know how smart I really am, because, goddammit, the blogging is suspended and the literary debates aren’t going to happen on Friday.
Rest assured that I am committed to thinking about thinking about the economy. I may not come up with any ideas, but I will most certainly be thinking in Washington. And should I pop out of my proverbial blogging hole and see my shadow, then perhaps there may be five minutes of literary debate with my opponents.
God bless blogging, and God bless America!
The above interview, which involved Campbell Brown questioning McCain campaign manager Tucker Bounds, caused McCain to cancel a planned interview with Larry King. The reason cited by McCain’s camp? “A relentless refusal by certain on-air reporters to come to terms with John McCain’s selection of Alaska’s sitting governor as our party’s nominee for vice president.” But the interview sees Brown simply trying to find out about Sarah Palin, while Bounds repeatedly declares that she has as much experience as the competition. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And here, questioned by Brown, Bounds cannot produce a single example to support his claim. And he’s their manager! The “relentless refusal” here doesn’t come from Bounds, but from McCain’s people. If they cannot be bothered to prove their argument, then they have no business presenting their impudent claims before the American people.
Barack Obama, by contrast, will be appearing this Thursday on FOX News’s The O’Reilly Factor.
So here we have one presidential candidate incapable of answering the most basic of questions and the other quite willing to appear on a talk show that is biased against him. While McCain certainly showed courage as a POW, it is quite evident that he is unwilling to evince one scintilla of this same valor in the present day. And if McCain truly believes that talking to Larry King, one of the most softball interviewers on television, represents a difficulty, then how can he be seriously expected to deal with the considerably greater challenges that may await him in the White House?
If this interview represents how McCain responds to questions — real questions, not the Leno softball variety, not the questions that result in the old coot offering his trademark “I served as a POW” answer without a followup — I simply cannot wait for the presidential debates to begin. Pass the popcorn and pop open the beer. These debates will feature material more hilarious than Bush’s “Internets” gaffe or his entreaties for us to remember Poland. The man will be flayed alive — should be, if Obama truly wants to win — with almost little to no effort.
But with the presidential race now neck-to-neck, and Obama’s people offering an aesthetic disaster in response to the elitist charges, will the American people continue to believe in this man? The cynic inside me says yes. The optimist insides me says no. And the pragmatist remembering that dark November morning four years ago is somewhere on the fence, likely to trot over his legs upon enunciating the trusted mantra, “The Democrats will fuck this up.”