Corn has broken stories on presidents, politicians, and other Washington players. He's written for numerous publications and is a talk show regular. His best-selling books include Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.
Who's the most socialistic governor in the United States? You betcha--it's Sarah Palin. That's what I said on Hardball (video below). But before we got to a highfalutin' discussion about ideology and the campaign, Chris Matthews, conservative radio talk show host Heidi Harris, and I discussed the troubles of GOP Republican Michele Bachmann, who might lose her seat because she played Hardball last Friday and lost. Bachman calling Democrats "anti-American," Palin spending $150,000 on clothes (which I discussed earlier on MSNBC)--these days, for left-of-center pundits, it's as easy as shooting pit bulls in a barrel
The latest neocon to turn tail on John McCain is Kenneth Adelman, a former foreign policy official in the Reagan administration. Adelman is most famous--or infamous--for having predicted in February 2002, 13 months before the invasion of Iraq, that "demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk." Explaining his decision to vote for Obama, Adelman recently told The New Yorker:
"When the economic crisis broke, I found John McCain bouncing all over the place. In those first few crisis days, he was impetuous, inconsistent, and imprudent; ending up just plain weird. Having worked with Ronald Reagan for seven years, and been with him in his critical three summits with Gorbachev, I've concluded that that's no way a president can act under pressure."
And he said of the Sarah Palin pick:
"That decision showed appalling lack of judgment. Not only is Sarah Palin not close to being acceptable in high office -- I would not have hired her for even a mid-level post in the arms-control agency. But that selection contradicted McCain's main two, and best two, themes for his campaign -- Country First, and experience counts. Neither can he credibly claim, post-Palin pick."
He sounds so reasonable, right? But I remember the days when Adelman sounded more like the mad McCainiacs I recently encountered at a McCain rally. In fact, I once wrote about Adelman's use of extremist rhetoric, and that kept him from obtaining a spot on the board of a prominent Washington advocacy group.
From a Nation magazine column (not on-line) I penned in 1988:
At a John McCain rally in Virginia this past weekend, Mother Jones ran into a group of angry and frustrated McCain supporters looking for reporters to yell at. The now famous "Tito the Builder" was front and center. Here's what happened.
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 wildengaging in sexual molestation, out-of-control drinking, and other misconductat 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 permittingand 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 startedand whom it ought to hire for the most senior jobsshould 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 conventionwhich 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 .
UPDATE: On Sunday, Colin Powell did endorse Barack Obam. Appearing on Meet The Press, he presented an eloquent statement of support in which he hailed Obama's "transformational" role, leadership ability, and intellectual curiosity. Powell emphasized that he believed that John McCain, his longtime friend, could be a good president, but he maintained that the GOP has become too much in hock to its right-wing base and that Sarah Palin was not at all ready to be president. Despite Powell's tarnished reputation--due to his starring role in the Iraq WMD fiasco--his unequivocal endorsement is a boost for Obama and yet one more problem for McCain. The below piece was written before Powell did the deed, but note Larry Wilkerson's explanation of the timing of Powell's endorsement. In this instance--unlike when he backed Bush's invasion of Iraq--Powell stuck to the Powell Doctrine, at least the Powell Doctrine of Decision-making....
With NBC News reporting that Colin Powell will appear on Meet the Press this Sunday, speculation is mounting that former Republican secretary of state will endorse Barack Obama for president. Politicoreports
Retired Gen. Colin Powell, once considered a potential running mate for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), now may endorse his opponent, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), according to Republican sources. But an air of mystery surrounds Powell's planned live appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," and no one is sure what he will say.
Note the use of the word "may."
Predicting the most anticipated endorsement of the 2008 campaign has been a pundit standby for months. In June, Robert Novak asserted, "Powell probably will enter Obama's camp at a time of his own choosing." In August Bill Kristol declared that Powell would endorse Obama at the Democratic convention and "quite possibly" speak at the convention. Last week, Lawrence O'Donnell wrote, "It now seems beyond doubt that Colin Powell will endorse Barack Obama and thereby hammer the final nail in the coffin of the Republican campaign to hold onto the White House." He cited no sources.
Will Powell take the leap this weekend? In tracking the Powell story these past few months, I have periodically checked in with Larry Wilkerson, who was Powell's chief of staff at the State Department and who had worked with Powell in a variety of positions going back to 1989. Wilkerson always said the same thing: with Powell, it's all about the 60-percent rule--that is, the general manner in which he makes big decisions. Wilkerson explains: