Monday, April 21, 2008

Won't Get Fooled Again?

From today's editor's column in Failure magazine: Brace yourselves, Democratic supporters. The American populace appears poised to elect another Republican — Arizona Sen. John McCain — as our next president, this in spite of the public's strong dissatisfaction with the direction of the country.

Of course, if Americans want to go with John McCain as president, that's their prerogative. But one can make the argument that the American people will be getting a McCain that is much different than the one they are bargaining for. Recall that George W. Bush was packaged and presented to Americans as a "uniter," a compassionate conservative, and someone who could relate to the average American. (Today, the overwhelming majority of Americans would characterize Bush as a "divider" and a man completely out of touch with the problems faced by ordinary Americans.)

Now consider McCain, typically defined by the media as a "maverick" and a straight talker, an affable "moderate" Republican who is sometimes at odds with his own party. But this is, at best, a woefully incomplete characterization of McCain.

For starters, the media has somehow overlooked McCain's notoriously bad temper, which remains unknown to most Americans outside Arizona. In a March 2000 article entitled "Free Ride," Pat Murphy of the Arizona Republic wrote: "If McCain were to become president, Americans would wake up to more than a commander-in-chief with a prickly temperament and a low boiling point. McCain is a man who carries get-even grudges. He cannot endure criticism. He threatens. He controls by fear. He's consumed by self-importance…."

Meanwhile, Americans also don't seem to be aware that McCain makes it a habit of making vicious, insensitive comments (about everyone from Chelsea Clinton to Vietnamese people) that get little or no play in the national media. Some might argue that we should give him a pass for making disparaging, racist remarks about the Vietnamese; after all, he did spend five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. But at the very least this would seem to be relevant in terms of his fitness for the presidency, particularly when it comes to foreign affairs.

And speaking of foreign policy, McCain might be no more capable of understanding and handling foreign affairs than president Bush. In 2006, speaking about the sectarian violence in Iraq, McCain said, "One of the things I would do if I were president would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, "Stop the bullshit.' " Not exactly the measured analysis one should expect from the president of the United States.

Never mind the fact that not long ago that McCain responded to a question about Iran by singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" to the tune of "Barbara Ann," an unsettling display conveniently overlooked by the major media.

It should be interesting to see if the national press continues to soft-pedal McCain once the Democratic presidential candidate is selected and the race becomes a one-on-one affair. Will McCain's foreign policy positions come back to haunt him? Will he say something so inappropriate that it is impossible for the media to ignore? Will he be exposed as being further "right" than is commonly assumed?

Bottom line: It is perfectly reasonable for Americans to prefer McCain over Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. But let's hope they do so for the right reasons. Much as was the case with George W. Bush, it seems the American people are being sold a candidate who is not what he seems. And Americans seem more than willing to buy.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Isiah Thomas' failed tenure ends

Today Isiah Thomas was removed as head coach of the NBA's New York Knicks after compiling a 56-108 record over the course of two seasons. Of course, Thomas' tenure was preceded by the disastrous one-year reign of Larry Brown, who finished 23-59 with the Knicks two seasons ago.

Don Imus: Barack Obama "almost a bigger pussy" than Hillary Clinton

It has only been a year since Don Imus was fired by CBS and MSNBC for referring to members of the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy headed hos." But if recent comments made on his recently re-launched program (syndicated on ABC Radio) are any indication, Imus is starting to feel untouchable again. During the April 17 edition of Imus in the Morning, Imus asserted that Sen. Barack Obama is "almost a bigger pussy than" Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Commenting on the April 16 Democratic debate, here's what Imus had to say, verbatim:

Imus: Stephanopoulos I thought was great, and the debate was fine. I thought Senator Obama was on the defensive most of the night. But they're both sissy boys or sissy girls, or whatever. Because they talk big when they're out on the campaign trail, wolfing on each other.

[co-host] McCord: But then ...

Imus: And then when they show up at the debate, they fold up like a couple of cheap lawn chairs. I mean, I don't understand that. And he's almost a bigger pussy than she is.

Video clip, courtesy of Media Matters:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

McCain fails to answer political courage test

Only a handful of media outlets have reported the following political development: Last week Project Vote Smart (PVS), a nonpartisan voter education organization, kicked Republican presidential candidate John McCain off its "Founding Board" for his failure to answer and return its Political Courage Test, which asks candidates about what policies they support on a wide range of issues. PVS rules prohibit any non-respondent from serving on its board.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Forgiving Bill Buckner

File this in the category of never say never: Earlier today former Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park prior to Boston's home opener versus the (winless) Detroit Tigers. For two decades Buckner had been vilified by Boston fans who were unable to forgive him for his game-ending error in game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets.

Math students correctly predicted NCAA tourney winner

Congrats to the two College of Charleston seniors - Neil Goodson and Colin Stephenson - who correctly predicted the winner of the NCAA tournament (Kansas Jayhawks) using computer models developed for their Operations Research class. Prior to the beginning of the tourney Goodson and Stephenson analyzed all 65 teams using models that took into account factors that included wins and losses, point differential and margin of victory. For what it's worth, the duo correctly identified two of the four teams that ultimately reached the tournament semifinals; their Final Four included Kansas, North Carolina, Texas and Duke.