Were ours a functioning representative democracy, where elections were about substantive issues, and had we a press corps that could actually pull its collective head out of its singular anus, John McCain's hopes of winning the White House would have evaporated like rain in the Sahara this week. As I wrote earlier this week, McCain called the structure of Social Security "a disgrace", displaying an ignorance of one of the best constructed, best functioning government programs in history that is breathtaking. As Bob Somerby reports, however, there was much more in McCain's little talk that, in his words, come out of a "fever swamp". This alone would have been a candidacy killer in any normally functioning election cycle.
Had this been the only "oopsie" McCain had experienced this week, it would have qualified for a very bad week indeed. Yet, this hardly begins to touch on what happened. There was Phil Gramm, still looking like Deputy Dawg, insisting that ours is a "mental recession" and that we have become a "nation of whiners". These words came the same week the price of oil continued to climb to new highs ($147 a barrell on Friday), the two federally-created mortgage guarantors almost went bankrupt (they haven't yet, but they have lost billions of dollars in market value), and one of the largest bank seizures in history happened only yesterday, another victim of bad, bordering on criminal, lending practices during the housing bubble. While the United States may not - yet - be in a technical recession (two straight quarters of economic contraction), there seems little doubt that we are perched on the precipice of an abyss. That McCain would consider the words and advice of Phil Gramm worth anything, particularly at a time of economic crisis, shows a certain lack of judgment in who he picks as an advisor. Again, were this the only thing that happened this week, this would have been a very bad week indeed for the very senior Senator from Arizona.
Through a campaign staffer, McCain lied about Obama's tax plan, insisting that the presumptive Democratic nominee would raise taxes on small businesses. This is demonstrably false, and the Obama camp ran out an ad across VA and OH highlighting McCain's refusal to tell the truth.
McCain was unaware of his own voting record vis-a-vis health care for women. When challenged on his "no" vote on a measure mandating coverage of birth control, even as insurance companies cover Viagra for men, McCain stammered through a non-response that showed he had no idea that he had voted against a proposal he was touting to a group of Wisconsin business women.
In an interview in Pittsburgh, McCain mangled published accounts of his time as a POW, telling a reporter that he named part of the starting line-up of the Pittsburgh Steelers to his North Vietnamese captors. In earlier accounts, including his memoirs Faith of our Fathers, McCain claimed he named the Green Bay Packers. This is such serious, and obvious, pandering, one almost cringes with embarrassment.
If Obama had a week like this, we would be reading and hearing obituaries of his candidacy all over the place. If Obama had a record of stupidity, ignorance, bad judgment, and outright pandering all in one week, it might be considered good form to just close up shop and return to the US Senate. McCain, however, isn't and won't. Now, this might mean some good, nasty fun had by the rest of us as we laugh at the next few months of howlers, lies, ignorance, and off-the-cuff stupidity that flows from McCain and his surrogates. At the very least, however, it might be nice if the press took note of this very bad week and did a bit of, I don't know, reporting on it.