Gaffe Day at Camp McCain

By Al Giordano

If it was Monday it must have been Gaffe Day…

Three Republican bigshots made comments to the press yesterday that were outrageous enough to step on on virtual Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s own attempts to propose a $300 million US government prize for whoever invents an energy-saving car battery.

The “gaffes” were so boneheadedly off-message that they were the equivalent of dropping three anvils on McCain’s head in a single day. They also served to trip all over each other. The Field therefore concludes that at least two of the three gaffes were not planned as a matter of campaign tactics (as “gaffes” sometimes are).

There was religious right minister James Dobson saying of McCain's rival, Barack Obama:


"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology... He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."


This, from a minister (Dobson) whose own interpretation of The Bible leads him to conclude that “spanking should be of sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry genuinely,” that women should avoid the workplace and stay home even when their children reach teenage years because “menopause and a man's midlife crisis are scheduled to coincide with adolescence, which can make a wicked soup,” and that “tolerance and its first cousin, diversity, 'are almost always buzzwords for homosexual advocacy.’”

Uh, which US presidential candidate has a “reverend problem”?

We might have spent today chattering about Rev. Dobson but along came Republican political fixer Karl Rove who at a breakfast with "GOP insiders" opined aloud about Obama:


"Even if you never met him, you know this guy. He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."


Karl must have two different guys confused. Who’s that guy with the drink and the cigarette and the fabulous date and all that snide commentary? I know that guy, too! That isn’t Obama…

Oh, my.

It’s me!

The richness of the revelation that Rove naturally presumes that those party insiders belong to country clubs that are expensively out of reach or discriminatory against most citizens might have also made for great chatter today, but then top McCain political strategist Charlie Black had to go and drop the A-Bomb on his own candidate.

Black told Fortune magazine that terrorists could save McCain's flagging campaign if they would only strike upon US soil before November:


The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.


Wow. Just, wow. That’s a pretty scary statement since it telegraphs a message to the sorts of folks that make such attacks. I sure wouldn’t want to be Charlie Black if his dark fantasy ever comes true, because a lot of folks will now be, naturally, viewing him as responsible for inviting such harm and destruction.

A campaign in which key staffers and surrogates believe in their candidate's own message and strategy doesn’t often veer so erratically off-message. Gaffe Day was a consequence of three men who each unilaterally decided that what they had to say was more important than whatever their candidate was saying on any given Monday.

As a reporter, this is very heartening, in a macabre sort of way. If anyone has been missing the searing and off-message drama supplied so regularly by the Clinton campaign and its surrogates during the primaries, and feared that the general election fight would be more controlled and thus boring, McCain’s got a whole herd of Wile E. Coyotes dropping anvils on him and each other to keep us entertained through November. Maybe he ought to offer a $300 million prize to any staffer or surrogate that can keep his mouth shut until then!



Respond to this for how long?

I'm undecided on how long the Obama camp should continue to bring up a comment like this. One one hand, Black apologized and McCain rebuked the comment, so for the Obama campaign to continue to make an issue out of it afterwards may seem unfair or childish to some.


On the other hand, Black said it - and meant it when he did - so merely apologizing every time someone from the McCain campaign makes a gaffe shouldn't excuse them from due retaliation from Obama's camp.


Of course, McCain's people will probably solve this dilemma for me: likely they'll keep up a consistent stream of new gaffes so that we never have to continue bringing up the old ones - fresh gaffefruit every Monday at our doorstep!

Benizir Bhutto

I wonder if you have seen this? Bhutto in a interview less than two months before she was murdered.

Keep responding...

Jason - McCain can "disavow" all he wants - he HIMSELF said essentially the same thing as Black back in December.

Do not know what to think about this?

Do you think the Repugs had anything to do with her assisination? Am I being paranoid by believing this interview?

Does anyone here believe her about Osama being murdered by Omar Shieikh? If he is dead, why do they not want us to know?

O/T leaving soon for 24 hours, attending a gala fundraiser for Barack in LA this evening, I will post about it on fieldhands.

Will read your answers on these questions tomorrow.

thanks Al for the analysis.

thanks Al for the analysis. The Rove quote just left me scratching my head. Huh? It was too funny to even get my blood boiling as ove tends to do.

But the Black comment is in another league. Precisely because of what you mention--the telegraphing of a message to those who might contemplate doing such a thing. But also because we know this is what the Republicans have been thinking but to have it stated so clearly in black and white. Well no self respecting Wile E Coyote would do it differently!

If only the democrats will start hitting McCain really really hard on his hypocracy over campaign financing. That would go a lonf way to making my day.

Glad you will be going to Denver Al, sent you $75.

Bloomin' Turd

Why does Karl hate Country Clubs?  I hope McCain will make 

the effort to denounce and reject Rove.  Country Clubs are the base, and you don't go around talkin' smack about that.

Say Hi to Samuel

Christi - Here we are riding a wave of small donors and you'll get to mingle with the high rollers! I just read that Samuel Jackson will be at that event you're attending. Please congratulate him on his upcoming role as Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, in various Marvel universe movies in production. (He'll probably have his head shaved for the part, still).

And by all means find the archetypal guy against the wall with a Martini and cigarette making snide comments and send him our way.


I will be right there smoking and drinking that martini with him, oh I guess that makes me the beautiful date.

Adding to the thermometer before I leave.

Christi- LOL. Al- did you

Christi- LOL.

Al- did you see the Wapo article that Richard Cohen wrote about how Mccain's flip flops dont matter because he was a POW!?

Also, for anyone that cares Bill clinton will also be joining his wife in Unity NH. He is apparently now "behind Barack".

The Rove quote says volumes

The Rove quote says volumes about him. A case of pure auto-projection. And what did Rove do with his life? He hitched his wagon to a loser country-club coke-head drunk who is no-way near as cool as Obama. Karl is jealous.

McCain and religious right

I like to think of this as an example of the old saw, "What goes 'round, comes 'round."  McCain has so obviously sold his soul to the religious right in order to get the Republican nomination.  Now he is losing some who value actual Christian values over wedge issues, and the ones who are staying with him will be a weight around his neck for the entire campaign.  Such delicious irony.

and then there's Dobson...

To top off the first gaffe on the list, Time has a writeup of Dobson's comments:,8599,1817395,00.html

It ends with the clincher: "Dobson has not backed off his statement that he could not in good conscience vote for McCain because of concerns over the Arizona senator's conservative credentials. Dobson has said he will vote in November but has suggested he might not vote for president."

Well, there you go. Credibility much?


The Rove quote says volumes

The Rove quote says volumes about the Republican's lack of avenues by which to effectively attack Obama. Amazing that this is their best strategy, as seen by their biggest thug. It's pretty much standard operating procedure to hold up the Democrat at elitist, snobbish, out of touch, effitte. But in this case the Democrat should be able to knock those narratives down pretty easily. Obama, unlike McCain, came from humble origins, a broken family, middle class status. He rose through the ranks on his brilliance and ability, whereas McCain played off family connections, including those of his rich wife.


I understand Rove is playing to a demographic I do not really understand, but still it seems silly. Besides, it cuts against some of their other dogwhistle narratives. Obama the effitte terrorist? Give me a break. To me, this strategy is an admission that the Republicans are in serious trouble this cycle.

Cohen's rant in WaPo.

Effing unbelievable. (Al, what is the policy on non-pc language @ The Field)

How do I "win" $300 million?

I went to the McCain site to see if there were any details on this $300 million prize.

All he said was "I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and resolve of the American people by offering a $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars. This is one dollar for every man, woman and child in the U.S. -- a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency -- and should deliver a power source at 30 percent of the current costs."

30% of the current cost of what? The battery? The gasoline used? The whole car?

What does "leapfrog" mean? What does "development" mean -- a real working prototype or just an untested product design? In short, I have no idea how much money I have to sink into trying to win a $300 million prize, nor know in advance whether I've met the standard of being the "winner."

Furthermore, it's not like Toyota and Honda aren't working on this very problem. So what happens if someone in Japan wins -- or do you have to be a US citizen to claim the $300 mil?








HBO Rules

amk - Freed from the constraints of the previous hosts somehow thinking FCC rules governed the Internets, we're on HBO rules here. In memory of the late George Carlin I only ask that commenters be artful in their use of bold language, and not use it to insult or berate other commenters.

don't call me chicken (little)...

not yet, anyway.

charlie black, bill kristol - a number of recent statements, gaffes, whatever - all indicating a thought/wish/intention for serious drama before the election. either to move the voters to mccain, or ensure our presence in the middle east.

i'm taking them at their word, and it is effecting my outlook these days. say, we wake up one morning in october and find our government or israel has bombed iran.

do we just deal with it then? oh well, it's just george being george again.

is there a more proactive stance? or are they playing me?

Thanks Al for the license.

I was pretty pissed off reading that Obama hit piece.

What price the fucking POW, flip-flopping on torture ?

The repugs and the corporate media are already framing this election in the same, eerie fashion they did four years ago. Will the low-info voter buy it again ?

amk, hear hear

yes amk, I am so with you on that hit piece. so McCain gets to do whatever he wants and he pays no price? Ludicruos. He had to bend logic into a pretzel to make his argument.

But you know what? I can bet you anything this time it will not work.

Stronger on terrorism, national security

I just don't get that supposedly voters think McCain is stronger on terrorism and national security.  National security is the number one reason I am supporting Obama, and was the first reason I became interested in his candidacy.  I'm from Ireland, and although the American reputation before 9/11 was pretty bad, for maybe a few days, the entire international opinion changed, even Iran was on our side, but then the Republicans royally f'd everything up.  What more can the Obama campaign do to destroy this notion that McCain is stronger on national security.  What don't people get?

I heard Wes Clark on some cable show recently really going after McCain on just this issue, but I think we need more and more of this.

Loved this

Loved this post.


As for Richard Cohen's screed -- I watched the smarmy bastard this AM on Morning Joe while I tried to get the cable modem to finally work -- this phrase was a real knee-slapper: "lacks the job references McCain picked up in a North Vietnamese prison."

Not according to the CIA docs released in May --  and there are more to come as election day nears -- and not according to the one guy who was there, physically there, with McCain in the same POW camp: Dennis Johnson, a graduate of Officer Candidate School. Johnson "was brought into Hanoi with a broken leg that was never treated. He saw McCain only a few times but heard much about his clean clothes, being showered and clean-shaven and always with a few NVA officers during his stint at the “Hilton.

Johnson had this to say:

He received special treatment and was sent to the hospital days after he arrived because he agreed to cooperate, and yes, he did give radio broadcasts for the NVA, not only to North Vietnam but broadcast over the camp speakers,” Johnson said. “None of the other prisoners wanted anything to do with him because of these issues. It makes me sick to hear him called a war hero. He was worse than Fonda, for she was just an idiot, but McCain was supposed to be one of us.

This comports with what the MACV/L/C-SOG guys told me directly years ago in the safety of a darkened room.

Oops, I think I posted another Anonymous by mistake -- Alexa

That post would be the one that starts:

Loved this post.


"...McCain’s got a whole herd of Wile E. Coyotes dropping anvils on him and each other to keep us entertained through November."

I've been laughing about the anvils image all morning! This is the wrong thread to say it, but I'll sneak in a note that a contribution will come from me for Al's Denver trip when one of my clients gets around to paying me, which will I think be this week.

Another note about anvils

One more thought: The more anvils, the better the flow of fundraising will be for Obama, I'd say.


OK, so Al has said he's not going to point to every new poll as news.  Fine.  But hell if I can contain my excitement over the new SUSA poll showing Obama 48 McCain 47 in Indiana!!!

Hi Al, everybody,

Wow -- I go away for a week and Al's home changes!!

Glad to see you at a new home!

McCain's problems with the truth will continue as long as the RNC is pulling the strings. Anvils, away!

Indiana - Obama land in June


I saw the same thing - too exciting!  Even if he doesn't win it, it looks like it might scare McCain enough to have to figure out how he's going to have to pander in Indiana.




Would another 9/11 really help?

I'm not so sure that another terrorist attack would really help the Republicans that much. Ok, maybe a bomb blowing up that didn't actually kill anyone could scare us, but it seems to me that another 9/11 scale attack would backfire. A lot of people would be left wondering, "Why are we putting up with two neverending wars, humongous national debt and a failing economy? It's not even keeping us safe."


Obama is nothing if not a master of teachable moments, and it seems to me that if he's given enough time after a terrorist attack, he would be able to say, "We need change because the way we're doing things right now is not working."

barry crimmons

I stumbled on this just now.  Barry Crimmons: Dirt Poor Transparency - it's about The Field & Rural Votes...

Today's gaffes

And let's not forget the Tuesday gaffes from the McCain camp ... such as inviting an actual conservationist to sit onstage at your energy event, giving him the platform to lambast your candidate for his environmental hypocrisy. This is getting good.

Campaign finance rules

The new map allows Obama to play in a lot states.  That costs a lot of money.  Here is a helpful summary of where we are at.


Obama obviously needs money since he opted out of public financing.  The DNC also needs money.  The RNC is raking in the bucks and will subsidize the McCain campaign.  The RSCC and RCCC are going to suffer big time if they can't get RNC help.


I think I will post something over on Fieldhands as well but let me say that I hosting an Obama fundraiser at my house in August.  Some people just assume Obama is flush with cash.  Well he spent almost all of it during the primaries.  We hope to raise $7500.  Presumably, a fair amount of this will be from friends of mine who plan to vote for Obama but are not active political junkies like me who are used to opening up their wallets.  I am going to use one of the personal fundraising pages on the Obama website to collect the money.  That will give Barack a whole lot of new emails to solicit.  I will also use the my events page which functions as Evite.  All the tools are there for us.  It's up to us to be creative on how we use them.  How can you help?  It's not that hard. 

Kirsten's link

OK, this guy Feeney is a hero.  Can you imagine, as a pretty regular American, sitting next to a presidential nominee and getting to debate him??  How cool is that?  And how many people would just take a pass out of fear or respect?  Now that I think about it, we need more of this all around.  Not just the townhall Q&A thing but real back and forth dialogue with the candidates.


Also, in reading that article, it re-emphasized for me how much McCain's use of "my friends" really annoys me.  It just seems so condescending.  And with as many people in this country who vote just on a feeling, that can't be a good thing for him.

Denver vs. Minneapolis?

Where have all the volunteers gone?

Have you all seen this?

Appears that the Republican National Convention is having trouble signing up volunteers. 

sorry, barry

Sorry, Barry, I spelled your name wrong in my earlier post.

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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