We May See Jeremiah Wright Yet

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 4:18 PM EDT

I've long assumed that this campaign would get really ugly in its final weeks. Today, HuffPost finds evidence that my premonition will come to pass.

Here's McCain campaign manager Rick Davis speaking to a conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt late last week:

Look, John McCain has told us a long time ago before this campaign ever got started, back in May, I think, that from his perspective, he was not going to have his campaign actively involved in using Jeremiah Wright as a wedge in this campaign.
Now since then, I must say, when Congressman Lewis calls John McCain and Sarah Palin and his entire group of supporters, fifty million people strong around this country, that we're all racists and we should be compared to George Wallace and the kind of horrible segregation and evil and horrible politics that was played at that time, you know, that you've got to rethink all these things.
And so I think we're in the process of looking at how we're going to close this campaign. We've got 19 days, and we're taking serious all these issues.

Shorter Rick Davis: if we're going to be accused of being racists, we might as well be racists.

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VIDEO: The GOP's Internal Struggle Over Racism and Xenophobia

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 3:30 PM EDT

This is heartening — anti-Islamic bigots at a McCain rally on Saturday were confronted by other attendees and actually sent packing.

A couple points: (1) I hope we seen a post-election rehabilitation of the image of Muslims in America. It's sorely needed. Colin Powell is already helping. (2) There is a war currently ongoing for the soul of the Republican Party. On the one hand you've got the folks in this video who decry racism, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. On the other hand you've got folks like the the man below and the party leaders who seek to exploit him. The positions the party takes on any number of issues — including military detainees, civil liberties, hate crime legislation, gay marriage, and immigration — depend on which kind of GOP voter wins this battle.

Frankly, I wish the nativists all the luck in the world. Their ascent in the Republican Party will only lead to its increased marginalization in a changing world.

Economic Update

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 3:30 PM EDT

ECONOMIC UPDATE....The latest economic news might not quite qualify as "good," but it's slightly encouraging at least. (1) Germany, the Netherlands, and South Korea are implementing some stunningly large bank rescue operations. (Relative to GDP, all are as large or larger than the U.S. rescue.) (2) Iceland is nearing an IMF rescue plan. (3) Ben Bernanke says a fiscal stimulus plan "seems appropriate." (4) After a price drop of 33% since their peak last year, home sales in Southern California shot up 65% in September. (5) And Calculated Risk tots up the evidence and says it looks like the credit crisis is finally easing a bit.

Don't go getting too excited or anything. More bailouts and a long recession are still ahead. But there might finally be a few tiny rays of sunshine on the horizon.

Goodbye, TV Dinners: New Study Says Technology Improves Family Interactions

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 3:24 PM EDT

laptops.jpgThe image of four family members sitting silently around their living room and tapping on their keyboards does not exactly evoke a Norman Rockwell evening. Conventional wisdom has it that everyone in the family is absorbed in his or her own online life—and that the real people in the room are probably not part of it.

But a new report suggests that the situation may be more complex than we think. The internet, after all, is an interactive medium, and using it is not the passive experience of watching television.

The study, conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, found that roughly 95% of married-with-children households—the traditional nuclear families—own at least one cell phone and at least one computer with internet access. That's compared to around 80% for the country overall. And nearly half the people surveyed said that all the technology actually encourages communication—the "hey, look at this!" phenomenon that makes YouTube so successful.

The Candidates' Health Mysteries

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 2:58 PM EDT

Take a look at this New York Times article about the unprecedented lengths both campaigns have gone to conceal the health histories of their candidates. It's worth reading in full, but here are the Cliff Notes:

McCain: Granted a limited number reporters brief access to over a 1,000 pages of medical documents. Questions remain on the severity of his melanoma, which has reoccurred a number of times.

Obama: Released only a one-page letter from his doctor testifying to "excellent" health. Appears to nurse an on-again, off-again smoking habit, the full extent of which is unknown.

Biden: Campaign-approved doctors have been interviewed about Biden and records pertaining to his 1988 brain aneurysm have been released. According to the Times, "it is not known whether Mr. Biden has had recent brain imaging scans or has been evaluated by a neurologist or neurosurgeon recently."

Palin: No medical records of any kind have been released, keeping persistent rumors about the birth of her youngest son from being dispelled.

McCain Picks Tailhook Sexual Harassment Scandal Vet To Oversee Transition

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 2:57 PM EDT

On October 29, 1991, Senator John McCain went to the floor of the US Senate. The former Navy pilot was angry and disgusted. In recent days, the news had broken that the previous month Navy airmen and others had gone wild—engaging in sexual molestation, out-of-control drinking, and other misconduct—at the Tailhook Association convention in Las Vegas, an annual gathering of retired and active-duty naval aviators. "I cannot tell you," McCain proclaimed, "the distaste and displeasure that I have as a naval aviator…concerning this incident." He bemoaned the fact that senior ranking naval officers and civilian leaders had been at the meeting. He called for an investigation and urged the Navy to suspend its traditional participation with the Tailhook reunions. "There is no time in the history of this country that something like this is more inappropriate," McCain said, "and we cannot allow it. It is unconscionable. And we in the military...should be ashamed and embarrassed...that this kind of activity went on. And there is no excuse for it."

Now, McCain has placed one of the men responsible for permitting—and encouraging-- loutish activity at the Tailhook meetings in a powerful position: heading up his transition team.

McCain recently named John Lehman to oversee his transition effort and figure out how a McCain administration ought to get started—and whom it ought to hire for the most senior jobs—should McCain win the November 4 election. Lehman, now an investment banker, was secretary of the Navy during the 1980s, and he played a R-rated role in the Tailhook scandal.

Lehman was no longer Navy secretary when the Tailhook scandal exploded. But in 1991 and 1992, as military investigators and journalists probed what had happened at the 1991 convention—which included the so-called Gauntlet, a line of rowdy and drunk junior officers who harassed and assaulted women passing by--they learned that the events at the Tailhook convention of 1991 were predated by similar behavior in early years. And they discovered that Lehman, as Navy secretary, had been an enthusiastic participant.

In his 1995 book, Fall from Glory: The Men Who Sank the U.S. Navy, Greg Vistica, the San Diego Union-Tribune reporter who broke the Tailhook scandal, described a scene from the 1986 Tailhook meeting:

When the door to the suite at the Las Vegas Hilton opened, a prominent member of President Ronald Reagan's administration and a naked woman were clearly visible. He was lying on his back, stretched out in front of a throng of naval officers. There were probably one hundred men watching him, laughing with him….

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Why Amy Poehler Was the Real Winner of SNL's Sarah Palin/Tiny Fey Palin-Off

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 2:31 PM EDT

When McCain's VP pick showed up on Saturday Night Live this weekend, was it funny or excruciating? Either way, SNL won—drawing the show's highest ratings in 14 years.

Palin's brief performances yielded a couple chuckles—after Alec Baldwin went off on an anti-Palin rant, she responded with "I must say, your brother Stephen is my favorite Baldwin."

But most of the humor heavy-hitting came from Amy Poehler, who did an Alaskan rap while Palin bobbed along, and Fey. Indeed, with her exaggerated Alaskan twang, wink, and smirks, Fey made for a far more entertaining Sarah Palin than Sarah Palin.

See the videos here:

Are Black Athletes Obligated to Support Obama?

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 1:37 PM EDT

Do black athletes, among the most visible and well-paid members of their communities, have a responsibility to support Obama? Perhaps the better question is: Did it ever even occur to them to?

How many of them thought it through and decided to remain silent (rather than officially oppose the brother), and how many just never saw the connection to themselves? I'm willing to bet most of them will vote for Obama (though I'm not willing to bet most of them will vote). So why not play a role in the biggest opportunity facing the community that supports them so fervently (too fervently, IMnotsoHO)?

Turns out that few in this group have either donated to his campaign or publicly endorsed him.
From News One:

McCain vs. Bush

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 1:25 PM EDT

McCAIN vs. BUSH....Atrios sez:

I've never been a fan of John McCain. I never had a mancrush on him as most of the "liberals" in the media once did. But there was a time not all that long ago when I thought that a McCain presidency would at least be a marginal improvement over the Bush presidency. Now I believe it would be much, much worse.

This pretty much describes me too. I was never a fan of McCain, even in his 2004 semi-liberal incarnation, but I did have at least some respect for his positions and his character. As Republicans went, especially compared to the sad sack crew they put up for the presidency this year, he wasn't too bad.

But now? If you put a gun to my head and forced me to pull the lever for either McCain or Bush, I'm not sure who I'd choose. Getting the Cheney/Addington crew out of the White House might be worth it no matter what, especially if I could convince myself that McCain is hale and hearty and Sarah Palin would never have any duty more important than attending foreign funerals. But then again, compared to McCain's barely suppressed rage and erratic, free-form bellicosity, the 2008 model George Bush almost seems like a statesman. It takes a very special talent to make people like Atrios and me come to that conclusion. John McCain is obviously a very special talent.


| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 1:13 PM EDT

SLEAZE....Josh Marshall says John McCain's campaign is the sleaziest we've seen for a very long time:

You may say, wait, Willie Horton? The Swift-boat smears? What about those?

But here's the key point, one that is getting too little attention. President Bush's father didn't run the Willie Horton ad. And this President Bush, however much they may have been funded by his supporters and run with Karl Rove's tacit approval, didn't run the Swift Boat ads. These were run by independent groups. Just how 'independent' we think they really are is a decent question. But even the sleaziest campaigns usually draw the line at the kind of sleaze they are wiling to run themselves under their own name.

This is basically what's struck me about McCain's campaign too: his sleaze has been done in his own name, not kept at arm's length, as it was in 1972, 1988, and 2004.

But although that was my initial reaction to events of the summer and fall, I'm pretty sure it isn't right. Yes, the Willie Horton ad in 1988 was officially an independent expenditure, but the "Revolving Door" ad was very much a Bush-Quayle production. Lee Atwater promised to make Horton a household name, and he did just that. Bush Sr. spoke about him frequently in speeches. And Dukakis's patriotism was a major theme too, as the Bush campaign hit him over and over and over about his stand on the Pledge of Allegiance.

In fact, I'd say 2008 is a surprisingly faithful replay of 1988. On the Republican side it's been sleazy, it's been issue free, and its biggest feature has been a young, attractive, unqualified, base-pleasing conservative vice presidential choice. The big difference is that Obama is a better candidate than Dukakis and 2008 is a far more Democratic year than 1988. On the sleaze-o-meter, however, I think it's pretty much a draw. Anyone with sharp memories of 1988 is invited to agree or disagree in comments.