Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Obama Infomercial, McCain Complains To Larry King, The Accuracy Of Polling, And We Meet Jack Gray (On The Webcast)

Hi everybody. Six more days! Are you surviving? Please oh please let it truly be over this time next week. The show starts us off tonight with a clip from Obama's very expensive (about $5 million to be precise) 30 minute ad. Then we get a clip of McCain on Larry King, whining about all of Obama's money. Please. Like he wouldn't have done the same thing if he had the dough. I know it's cliched at this point, but he really has become the "hey you kids, get off my lawn" candidate.

The clippage then moves us into a Candy Crowley piece that delves into the infomercial a little more. I didn't want them to take my political junkie card away, so I watched. My verdict? Eh. I mean, it probably accomplished what it set out to do, but as someone who's been living and breathing this campaign from the beginning, in some ways it felt like repeat programming. I did think it was cool though how they cut to the live rally and his speech was timed just perfectly. Speaking of someone who has really been living and breathing this campaign, remember how yesterday I implied that Candy was very ready for everything to be over? Apparently, I was spot on. I knew she was getting burnt out when she stopped her cool blogging. Hang on, Candy! Almost done.

We then move on to a Dana Bash piece on McCain and the sad, sad state of his campaign. He's got nothing left except sarcasm and the possibility of connecting Obama to a scary Palestinian. Oooh. Since he doesn't have the money for a 30 minute block of time on the TeeVee, he's appealing to baseball-loving voters, promising to never delay the start of the World Series with an infomercial. All well and good except, uh, Obama didn't delay the World Series, which I guess proves there is nothing too trivial for him to misrepresent.

As for the Palestinian dude, his name is Rashid Khalidi and apparently Obama went to a dinner with him in 2003 where people said mean things about Israel and . . . whatever. Don't care. This guilt by association thing is getting old. But McCain has his boxers in a twist because the LA Times has a tape of said dinner and they won't release it per the wishes of their source. So, now McCain has his shocked outrage on over the press abiding by the tenets of journalism. I mean, they already reported what was on the tape. This is stupid. But, apparently, there's nothing too stupid for this campaign and now Palin is out on the stump crying about the safety of Israel. Boogity, boogity, boo!

Next up, we're joined by Tom Foreman who is actually going to fact-check this crap for us. Score! Now that's what I'm talking about. Tom tells us that the LA Times previously reported that people at the 2003 dinner spoke out against Israel, but Obama advocated for common ground. So radical! Yeah, Khalid and Obama were both neighbors and professors in Chicago, and yeah, Khalid writes about Palestinian causes (which frankly I don't even see as necessarily a bad thing), but other than that, uh, there is no there there. From Tom: "But the bottom line is, unless McCain has some evidence he is not rolling out, some of what he is hinting at is misleading. The rest appears to be flat-out false."

Don't go anywhere though, because we're not done. The other side has hit back and claimed that McCain also has Khalid ties. It seems a McCain-connected group funded research that Khalid was connected to in some way. Or something. I swear, it's like seven degrees of Kevin Bacon, but not nearly as fun. From Tom: "There was such a deal, but to suggest McCain and Khalidi have any relationship because of that also appears to be flat-out false." So basically, this whole entire Khalid thing was just one big helping of BS. Thank you to McCain for bringing it up and wasting everyone's time. And to 360, thank you! See, was that so hard? Do you want a gold star? I know you do.

Strategy Session time! Tonight's pontificators include David Gergen, Gloria Borger, and newbie panel contestant Maria Teresa Petersen of Voto Latino. So, what did they think about the infomercial? The Gerg seems to have liked it so much he has to consciously keep a check on his gushing. He deems it "extremely well done." Perhaps if he let the gushing fly free he would have said it was "effing well done," which was Mark Halperin's characterization on Campbell Brown's show. These pundits are getting kinda saucy as the race dies down. Tee hee. The Gerg wasn't a big fan of the music though. Too dramatic for his tastes, and really, I think I'm with him here. I'm always very sensitive to emotional manipulation. I'm not saying I don't like it sometimes, but I'm always aware it's happening.

Gloria also thought the ad was well done, though she's not sure it's going to change minds. She was going to say more too, but Anderson Cooper totally cuts her off and gives the floor to Maria. Well! He got somewhere to be? Anyhoo, then they talk a bit about Rashid, the economy, and undecided voters. We also learn that the show is going two hours live tonight and the panel will be sticking around. "We're going to give them popcorn, keep them up late," says Anderson. Popcorn? Pshaw. Me thinks they'd rather have that stiff drink I've been talking about lately.

Coming back from commercial, Anderson reads us CNN's excuse for not airing the Obama infomercial. Apparently they thought their own coverage was better or something. Whatever. That was 30 minutes I spent over at MSNBC instead of CNN. Anderson then tells us we're going to get played clips of both candidates to be followed by fact-checks, so I get all excited. But after the subsequent clips from the infomercial and McCain's interview with Larry King, there is no fact-check. Duudes. This is especially egregious because in the Larry King clip, McCain makes the charge that Obama lied about taking public financing. If that's not screaming to fact-checked, I don't know what is. But fear not dear readers, I'm picking up the slack.

Or, actually, the Washington Post is helping me pick up the slack. See, back in the primaries, Obama noted in a questionnaire (which McCain didn't bother to respond to) that he would "aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election." The agreement he wanted involved accounting for spending from outside groups. Did he pursue this aggressively with the McCain camp? Well, not so much--at least that's how it looks. So, while this issue has way too much wiggle room and quantifiers to make this a "read my lips" kinda moment for Obama, if we're gonna be honest and cut through the bull Campbell Brown-style, then yeah, McCain is mostly right here (though really dicky about it).

But you know what? I don't care. These guys are politicians and you can't tell me McCain wouldn't jump at the chance to have more money. Plus, the main reason campaign money is often viewed as bad is because it brings up images of lobbyists and corporate fat cats who are then going to expect payback once the candidate gets into office. Obama is making most of his money in small donations from, well, the people. There is no influence buying here. He's being financed by the public. Hey, maybe he didn't go back on his word after all.

Okay, so back to the show, Anderson wasn't flat out lying about the upcoming fact-checks. Tom does come back to truth squad a bit of what was said in the infomercial. Some of this is same old, same old. Obama makes a lot of promises, but doesn't really say how he's going to pay for them. At this point, it's pretty much conventional wisdom that both of these guy's plans will balloon the deficit more, although McCain seems to think he's going to balance the budget in four years. I guess that will happen in the alternate reality where he is currently living. Another thing Tom points out is that Obama's claim to save every family $2,500 a year on health care is misleading because, well, experts say so. Wow, that was vague. I'm not saying he's wrong, but geez, at least name someone.

Finally, tonight Obama talked up the revolutionary changes at Mapleton School and how we can use them as a model for all schools. Not mentioned was that Bill Gates and his foundation were behind the changes and obviously it's not possible to have a billionaire supporting every school in America. That being said though, nobody has noted exactly what the changes were. Was it really just about money or was there a change of philosophy as well? Obama should have disclosed the Gates factor, but I'm not going to let it make me dismiss the whole thing outright. So, that was it. You might have noticed that they fact-checked none of McCain's statements. Nice.

Erica Hill has the headlines tonight and we learn that researchers have found the color red makes women more attractive to men. She then does some tongue-n-cheek sexin' it up, by putting on a red scarf. "They say all it takes is a little splash of red and, woo, you've never seen a finer lady," she says. We then hear a "woo!" from the peanut gallery and are informed by Anderson it came from one Mr. John King. Oh, Dana Bash is so stealing that scarf later. "We're on the air here, people," says Anderson, then noting he's all flustered by the red. Yeah, I'm sure.

Speaking of the wooer, John King has finally reclaimed his Magic Map from Miles O'Brien, and if you can believe it, things are getting even better for Obama. Why that only makes me more nervous, I do not know. Anderson gives us his oft-cited spiel about how he doesn't take sides, but wonders why the polling numbers of the liberal, conservative, and moderate bloggers he reads differ from each other. John pretty much says that it's all in how you run the numbers. But going back to the bloggers, maybe Anderson can hook me up because I'm looking for a non-insane honest conservative blog to read. Do those even exist? Andrew Sullivan doesn't count. He's almost more pro-Obama than I am.

Next up, we have a Joe Johns piece on polls, and how determining the accuracy of the little devils is oh so tricky. See, this is why I'm so nervous right now. Will the new registered voters actually vote? What about the cell phone factor? Which way will the undecideds swing? These are all unknowables. Remember people, on the afternoon of November 2, 2004, it looked like Kerry had it locked up.

Following Joe's piece, we bounce back to our panel and they continue with the subject of what's going to happen on election day. Maria points out that no one is really talking about the big demographic shift in some states due to an influx of Latinos, the majority of which are trending toward Obama. Somewhere, Lou Dobb's head is exploding. I noted before that the show went for two hours tonight (to cover the Obama-Clinton rally). I will not be. So, that about wraps things up.

Now, what you've all been waiting for: the appearance of 360 blog-comedian Jack Gray on the webcast! We love us some Jack Gray. But just like any celebrity, he doesn't grace us with his presence right off the bat. You gotta wait for the greatness, people. So instead, Erica talks to us about how exciting and long election night is going to be. She also tells us that they tried to book Jack's dog Sammy, but she apparently had prior obligations. Something about a modeling contract and restaurant opening. It seems Sammy's riding out this downturn in our economy fairly well. And not for nothing, but she sounds like a bit of a diva. Maybe she's been palling around with Sarah Palin. We'll know for sure if she shows up someday decked out in duds from Neiman Marcus.

It is in the second webcast that the man finally arrives. He is cute, soft-spoken, and looking a wee bit nervous. Aw. Don't be nervous, Jack--you already have a built in fan base. He and Erica do some joking about him not being allowed in the studio, and fake security guy is called over and stands in the shadows. And I swear to God, it took me about 20 seconds to realize that fake security guy was actually Anderson. Granted, I could barely see him (seriously, does everyone have this shadow issue?), but that just might be the only time Anderson has ever been mistaken for a random fake security guy. Somebody might want to record it for history.

Anyhoo, there is more joking and Jack actually introduces himself to Anderson as Lou Dobbs, but I'm not really feeling the requisite insane outrage. C'mon Jack, you gotta make me believe that your number one goal in life is a border fence. As for the Obama infomercial, Jack notes there were lots of shots of wheat and it had a very Frontline-y feel. It's funny, because it's true. A random Jack Gray fact: Jack Gray does not sing. Hm. Jack doesn't sing. Anderson doesn't dance. You all are really killing my dream of a 360 musical extravaganza.

Also? Jack tells us Sammy is foregoing the webcast because she's usually drunk by the time of broadcast. And she loves the smokes. Oh my. Keep her away from the slots, Jack. It's all downhill from there. John King then joins the party and even plays a little show-n-tell with, well, something. I don't know. Again with the shadows. Finally, we learn that Anderson has lots and lots of gin in his office. I knew it! But hey man, would you work with Wolf Blitzer sober? Thanks for visiting us, Jack! That'll do it.


Blogger Pati Mc said...


What John King had was a chip from the casino. So he musta gambled a little. Heh heh.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Pati Mc said...

Sorry, me again......just wanted to say thanks for the New Republic article on Candy and the other pol reporters. That was really cool and rather entertaining!

Oh and one other quick thing: I attended a political panel discussion last evening and had to get up and leave. The McNasty camp made a horribly rude and disgusting comment to the effect that "you will never see McCain paraphenilia being distributed at a Gay Pride Parade". Can you imagine????? And let me just point out that this event was in a CHURCH and the panel was made up of campaign reps who are christians. Holy moly my head exploded and I stormed out.

So, I wanted to say..."let me get this are saying that John McCain will not accept the votes of gay Americans now"? Because that is what this said to me! unbelievable. (well, maybe not). Suffice it to say that I was so angry that I made it the whole way home and did not even rememeber the drive.

All I can say is be careful whom you vote for. We hardly need this kind of hate in the White House. Geez!

I am done now. Thanks for listening.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi Eliza,

Can someone please inform McCain that whining isn't very appealing. It's the combination of the whine and lying that does me in. I mute him whenever possible. I was relieved to see that Tom Foreman addressed the latest McCain spin/lie on Khalidi. My 89 year old great-aunt told my mother she is voting for "the black man". She grew up during the depression in rual Arkasas. Arkansas used to practice strict segregration practices. She belongs to a rigid church that doesn't allow dancing (or laughing - I'm kidding). She has alway been part of the conservative religious right. She now calls McCain "the other one". She said she doesn't want to see any more Bush like years. She stated she wants change. I would have never expected this from her, ever. Eliza, there is hope. I felt better after hearing that. Her church members are backing McCain but once they get to the voting booth, hmmn.... Anne D.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Gates Foundation funded the Mapleton School District reform program 3 years ago. Not just the Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts (public school, not a charter). This is not a well funded school or district. Read the recent article in the Denver Post...crumbling districts.

11:15 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@pati mc--Oh, a chip. Thanks for letting me know.

You're welcome for the article. I actually came across some similar interesting write ups today and I'll post them later if you remind me. I'm a bit tired right now.

A political panel discussion in a church?! They better watch their tax exempt status. Ugh, homophobia sucks. I would have left too. I'm so glad I go to a liberal church, where the only talk of gay people involves how we need to make ourselves more welcoming to them.

@anne--Yeah, the whining is annoying. But it's the lying that drives me insane.

It's strange, I'm reading all these anecdotes about people with racist tendencies who have decided to vote Obama. They have a problem with electing a black man, but they're going to do it anyway because they know he's better than McCain on the issues. It's kind of amazing, really. I'm beginning to wonder if Obama might change this country more than any of us could have imagined.

@anonymous--Thanks for the tip.

6:10 AM  

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