Rudy Giuliani

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Former Frontrunner

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From day to day I waffle on whether the O'Reilly Factor or Hardball is the more fecund source of shirt-busting hilarity. Today it's Hardball.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I'll try it with Andrea. You know, if you look at it on paper, [John McCain is] a guy who's more seasoned than the current president, President Bush. He's got more military experience. He's been around a long time in terms of national responsibility. He's been a patriot, of course. He served his country brutally as a POW. He's always been honest and respected in the media. He has all the pluses in the world of a sort of a, you know, an Audie Murphy, if you will, a real war hero. It's not working.

(Later in the show) ANDREA MITCHELL: You're on to something, Chris. If he was standing with Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, you know, just a handful of guys, stacked up against them, his experience in foreign affairs, his experience in the Senate, I think, would really dominate a debate.

It's a bizarre exchange because it works on the notion that McCain's abysmal, imploding presidential campaign offers no indication whatsoever of what a McCain presidency would be like. He hires a bloated staff that can't communicate up and down the channels, he blows through $22 million in six months without even running a TV ad, and when he's down he blames that staff for making him wear Mr. Rogers sweaters.

So… maybe the real-time evidence that McCain is a terrible manager might be a more relevant way to judge his presidential fitness than how tough he was 35 years ago. (The caveat would be that George W. Bush staged two brilliant presidential campaigns and his time in office has been, well, you know.)

Matt Welch on McCain here.

NEXT: Drop the Scrubs, Bub

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  1. He just running his campaign the way the Senate is run.

  2. He served his country brutally as a POW.

    What is this, MadLibs?

  3. “He served his country brutally as a POW”

    I see, from Joe’s comment, that I am not the only person who saw this as a nonsensical assembly of words.

  4. His colorless green trees have dreamed furiously

  5. I wouldn’t say bush’s campaigns were brilliant, just proof that someone has to win. He lost the popular vote in 2000 and had to fight for the electoral votes and then in 2004 he barely beat john kerry, a man who’s platform was george w bush’s.

  6. He is accomplished claustrophobic spelunker who conquered his fear of bright darkness

  7. He’s been a patriot, of course.

    What was it, a passing phase?

  8. What do trees have to do with it?

  9. joe you quisling, how can you denigrate McCain’s fine service?

    Of course McCain served brutally! Every time his guards punched him their knuckles bled. Bled, I tell you!

    It got so bad that the guards all requested transfers to the Eastern Front because they couldn’t stand their brutal treatment by McCain! Some of them later confessed that they would rather have guarded Chuck Norris!

    That’s how tough McCain is.

  10. joe wins the thread! I thought that sentence came across as an insult, but now that I think of it MadLibs is a better explanation.

    As for the Fallen Maverick, well, it looks like he ran his campaign like Gonzalez claims to run the DoJ, ie, he didn’t involve himself in any decisions. I can’t believe he would have been OK with spending $22M already; his campaign managers, well, served him brutally.

  11. He has cut down the largest tree in the forest with a herring

  12. Then again, I shouldn’t disrespect the MadLibs-speak too much; I’m a big Lovecraft fan, and an eldritch amount of his stuff bears a daemoniac resemblance to MadLibs.

  13. He served his country brutally as a POW.

    He served his country in a particularly metal way. Duh! It’s all in the context – after Matthews said this he killed Paul Begala and burned down a church.

  14. He has served his country with fava beans and a nice chianti.

    He has served Lorenzo Lamas as a fellow outlaw. A BOUNTY HUNTER. A RENEGADE.

  15. He’s been around a long time in terms of national responsibility.

    Yeah, so has Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd. I consider that a liability.

  16. McCain ’08 is blowin’ up bigger than the USS Forrestal.

  17. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought Matthews’ question didn’t make any sense. I mean, I’m not in the military and all, but I always thought that the armed services tried to avoid turning their members into POW’s, kinda like George C. Scott’s speech at the beginning of Patton, where he says a soldier’s job isn’t to die for his country, it’s to “make the other poor son of a bitch die for his.”

    Maybe instead of MadLibs, this is just proof that “Chris Matthews” has been replaced by an android and they haven’t perfected the natural language function.

  18. he blows through $22 million in six months without even running a TV ad

    Given McCain’s past association of campaign money and corruption, I’d be interested to know whose pocked all that filthy lucre did wind up in.

  19. He has cut down the largest tree in the forest with a herring

    He looks like a fish of some sort in that picture, jeez. Either that or someone is doing something very surprising across the Senate Lobby from him.

  20. Can someone inform me why the Right, which gives Joe Lieberman such adulation, hates McCain so much. Lieberman co-sponsored the Campaign Finance Bill, so it can’t be that. Lieberman is actually vocally pro-choice while McCain is at least nominally pro-life. Both McCain and Lieberman support the “war on terror” and its “front” in Iraq quite vocally. The only difference that I can see is that McCain has publicly insisted that torture not be used in that war. Is that the defining issue for conservatives now, to torture or not to torture? If I remember correctly many traditional conservative icons (Chesteron, C.S. Lewis) were part of or sympathetic to the anti-vivisection movement. But being behind waterboarding and sodomizing a human with a broom stick is not only OK, but a criteria for approval?

  21. Bush didn’t run any campaigns, Karl Rove did.

    And even then, it’s remarkable how close he came to losing, both times. His victories are really more a case of running a less incompetent campaign than the guy he was running against.

  22. Caption Contest!

    “What do you mean you didn’t bring the cherub?”

    “My, that’s a stunning sweater!”

  23. LOL@McCain

  24. So… maybe the real-time evidence that McCain is a terrible manager might be a more relevant way to judge his presidential fitness than how tough he was 35 years ago. (The caveat would be that George W. Bush staged two brilliant presidential campaigns and his time in office has been, well, you know.)

    Serving in congress is terrible preparation for executive positions such as running campaigns and leading huge bureaucracies. Congressmen learn to review (and sometimes create) policy, but do not learn how to lead or manage. Governors are far better prepared (not that they are particularly good at the job either).

  25. Mr. Niceguy,

    The foremost concern of the Right in regards to the War on Terror has always been to use it as a club to assist the Republican Party in its attempt to win political fights against the Democratic Party.

    Joe Lieberman has been useful to that end, by providing a model of a “responsible” Democrat – that is, one who repeats GOP talking points while slamming other Democrats. John McCain has been harmful to that end, by providing the public with a vision of a respected, patriotic, war-hero, conservative tough guy who denounces the GOP leadership on issues like torture, rights of the accused, and the management of the war.

  26. joe,

    Do you think it’s the same reason people on the Left like Ron Paul? He disagrees with them up and down the list of domestic issues.

    And, TBH, he actually disagrees with the left on the war as well; he wants to get out because we shouldn’t be meddling in the affairs of other countries, while they want to get out but would have no prob with using the military to “solve” a humanitarian crisis elsewhere *cough*Darfur*cough*.

  27. A triumph for campaign finance reform, I’d say. Yay, McCain, taking the money out of politics!

  28. The foremost concern of the Right in regards to the War on Terror has always been to use it as a club to assist the Republican Party in its attempt to win political fights against the Democratic Party.

    I don’t think that’s true of the Republican base; I think they really do believe in the WoT for its own sake. Now, the Republican leadership, you might be onto something.

    However, you don’t seriously believe that the Dem leaders aren’t using the Iraq war’s unpopularity as a club to beat Republicans with, do you? Please don’t pretend that your team is pure and unblemished while the other team is filled with detestible liars.

  29. Do you think it’s the same reason people on the Left like Ron Paul

    No question in my mind. But if every Democrat in an Open Primary state voted for Ron Paul. I’d be dancing.

  30. crimethink,

    I don’t see liberals holding up Ron Paul as a model Republican, the way conservatives hold up Joe Lieberman as a model Democrat.

    Paul is very obviously not a “real Republican,” but a libertarian. One of those weirdos. Lieberman, on the other hand, was the party’s VP nominee.

    I think a closer analogue to Leiberman is Chuck Hegel.

  31. I don’t think that’s true of the Republican base; I think they really do believe in the WoT for its own sake. Now, the Republican leadership, you might be onto something.

    I agree – that’s an important distinction.

    However, you don’t seriously believe that the Dem leaders aren’t using the Iraq war’s unpopularity as a club to beat Republicans with, do you?

    Now that the war has been thoroughly wedgified, yes, they are. Let’s not forget who made that happen, and who bent over backwards in a futile attempt to let politics stop at the water’s edge.

  32. You don’t ever see liberals pointing to Ron Paul’s isolationism and saying, “This is what real Republicans used to believe. Oh, how they’ve fallen since Robert Taft!” the way you see conservatives point towards Leiberman and say, “This is what real Democrats used to believe. Oh how they’ve fallen since Scoop Jackson and Harry Truman!”

  33. You don’t ever see liberals pointing to Ron Paul’s isolationism and saying, “This is what real Republicans used to believe.

    No? I believe I have. At least I’ve seen them prompt Ron to say it himself.

  34. You could have used that McCain photo for the Not-So-Mighty Aphrodites thread as well.

  35. I agree with you Joe that the GOP leadership, probably Rove et al., just see this as a great issue to club the Democrats on (you want rights, for those KILLERS and ANTI-AMERICANS, how unpatriotic can you be—of course those “rights” are to make sure we have the real killers and anti-americans, they are called the rights of the accused for petes sake and are not ‘soft’ but to make sure we get the right bad guys). But I still cannot fathom the anti-McCain hatred on the right. This is a martial movement and this man, unlike their current savior (Bush) of favorite Dem lapdog (lieberman) is a genuine war hero. He just wants to fight the war better and without tarnishing us, and as a result he is hated by the rank and file GOP. WTF?

  36. Warren,

    I’ve seen Paul himself make that point, certainly.

    I can’t say I’ve seen any national political figures from the Democrats make that point.

    Mr. Nice Guy,

    Have you ever seen any of the Keyboard Kommando-type bloggers declare that their efforts to, for example, help George Bush get re-elected are actually part of the War on Terror? They have actually convinced themselves that Republican vs. Democrat is indistinguishable from America vs. al Qaeda. I’m not making this us – there has been no shortage of actual righties (Hindrocket, Captain’s Quarters, NRO) who have openly and proudly stated that they consider their blogs a front in the War on Terror. Therefore, anyone who gives ammunition to the Democrats in their criticism of George Bush is doing bin Laden’s work. John McCain’s criticisms of Bush, even those he offered in an attempt to fight that war more effectively, had the political effect of undermining Commander Guy, and that’s all they need to know.

    I know, it’s a sick mindset.

  37. I can’t see how you’d slag on a brave man like Glenn Reynolds, joe. He’s out there in the trenches, every day, typing away three letter neologisms for us, for AMERICA.

  38. joe,

    Well, to be honest, the worst thing that could happen to RP at this time would be to have the Dem leadership start saying nice things about him. The “are you sure you’re in the right party?” questions would really start pouring in.

    But, one thing that I think Ron should really do to woo Republicans, is work to differentiate his opposition to the Iraq war from the Democrats’. Liberals have shown in the past that they don’t have any problem sending troops into situations with dubious significance for our national security (see Truman in Korea, Johnson in VN, Clinton in Kosovo, etc). The Dem frontrunners certainly didn’t shrink from saber-rattling towards Iran during their debates, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they’d simply pull troops out of Iraq and send them to Darfur or some similar hellhole with zero national security importance.

  39. I think McCain’s campaign is crashing because of the photos of him in Reason. You guys are like friggin’ assassins with those things! I love that you keep doing that, it’s a great running gag. This one is particularly awesome. Have you considered publishing a collection?

  40. crimethink,

    Ron Paul makes exactly that point about Truman and Johnson every chance he’s given. Have you watched any of his interviews/debates?

  41. I agree with Windy, that picture is priceless. I mean, I didn’t know a person’s face could bulge like that.

  42. (The caveat would be that George W. Bush staged two brilliant presidential campaigns and his time in office has been, well, you know.)

    Cut Taxes which has lead to historically low unemployment, historically low interest rates and historically low inflation.

    That bastard!

    Oh did you notice that the budget is damn near balanced?

    Oh wait…you are only talking about things you don’t like and ignoring things that are good…sorry…i forgot.

  43. joshua corning,

    Damn, you must be doing well if a few hundred billion dollars in the red is “damn near balanced”.

    Also, I’d love to see your proof that the tax cuts are the cause of the things you specify.

  44. So McCain kisses up to the Christian right, loses, and opens the way for cross dressing, homo friendly Rudy Guilliani to be the Republican candidate.

    So the question is, is the Christian right dead as a serious political force? And how unthinkable would this have been just a couple years ago?

    Good riddance I say, unless the death leads to a Hillary presidency.

  45. Anyone else see that picture and think of “Scanners”?

  46. So the question is, is the Christian right dead as a serious political force? And how unthinkable would this have been just a couple years ago?

    They’re about as much of a political force as African-Americans are. That is, the leaders of the party they consistently vote for give them a lot of pleasing rhetoric, and every once in a while throw them a minor bone. However, they’re not going to risk alienating more independent groups that might actually vote for the other side.

    And, this has been true since (at least) the Reagan years.

  47. Caption:
    McCain thinks the April Reason cover violates BiCRA

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