The lapel pin question: The REST of the story
Interesting backstory about perhaps the most stupid and inane question of Wednesday's debate, the one where ABC decided to confront Obama with the video question of a woman with the action hero name Nash McCabe and her concern over whether Obama "respects the flag".
ABC's Gibson tried to distance himself from the stupidity of the question by having a "regular person" ask it, maintaining that this is just what people out there are discussing, and noting that it was "all over the internet".
First of all, so are theories that say LBJ murdered JFK, and that Bush blew up the World Trade Center and that the government have the carcasses of aliens from outer space locked away at a top secret base in Roswell, NM. Trying to maintain that a question is legit because it's on the internet is no sort of defense whatsoever.
So viewers were left thinking that this was indeed a big issue on the minds of, certainly, millions of people. Otherwise why would they squander such precious air-time on it, right? Gibson said it was a question they ran into all the time.
As I watched her question, what I wondered -- and I imagine many other viewers wondered as well -- was where on earth did ABC find this representative of my home state. As a journalist, I kind of assumed that ABC sent a film crew to western Pa., and then culled the most provocative questions from the people that they found. Silly me. In fact, ABC News found Nash McCabe the old-fashioned way -- they read about her, and her thing with the American flag, in the New York Times earlier this month.
So Nash McCabe wasn't located at random at all. Instead, someone at ABC News decided that they wanted to go after Obama on the patriotism issue, and they actively sought a Pennsylvanian who they knew wanted to bring it up. I assume they thought it would sound better if "a typical voter" asked the question instead of Charlie Gibson. "You see, we're only raising the issue the voters really care about," they can claim.
And McCabe's life story makes you wonder if Obama wasn't dead right about his assessment of small-town economically strapped voters and how they gravitate to issues that are so far down the list on what one would think their priorities should be that it boggles the mind.
From McClatchy Newspapers:
But to understand why Obama rubs McCabe wrong is to go beyond the question of what a flag pin has to do with patriotism — it's not really about the flag pin, she said in a telephone interview Thursday — and consider McCabe's life. It's no Hawaiian prep school and Ivy League story, unlike Obama's. It's a slice of working-class Pennsylvania, the core of Hillary Clinton's support there.
McCabe met her husband, Lloyd, in April 1983 at a dance. They married two months later. Six months after that, she says, he was injured in a coal mine accident. He hasn't worked since.
They never had children. He had back surgery. The muscle relaxers he took damaged his heart. He's had three bypasses, nine angioplasties, seven stents and a pacemaker. Three months ago doctors found a brain tumor. His choice: surgery that he may or may not survive, or life in a wheelchair.
Over 25 years of marriage, McCabe was the breadwinner. She said it took eight years to get her husband disability payments, during which time they racked up huge bills.
"I was a nurse's aide, a cashier," McCabe said. "From 1996 to 2000, I was a manager of a cleaning company. I started out as secretary and worked my way up to manager, and then the company decided to close. It took me almost two-and-a-half years to find a job that I got laid off from recently" as a clerk-typist. She has a high school diploma.
Sometimes the McCabes borrow money from her parents, who are in their 70s. She has a request in to the local food bank to see if she and her husband qualify.
"People who have sick spouses or children understand how hard it is," she said.
McCabe sympathizes with working-class people who got in over their heads during the housing boom. She opposes the Iraq war and thinks President Bush has hurt the country. She doesn't support Republican John McCain because he's too close to Bush.
On paper, her stances make her as likely to support Obama as Clinton.
But she sees a difference between the two. In Clinton, she sees someone who has struggled for years, just like her, and has earned the right to be president. In Obama, she sees someone who rose like a rocket, always has a smooth explanation for everything — whether it's about his former preacher or the flag pin — and who makes it all look too easy.
"That's what upsets me about Barack Obama," she says. "He takes everything so nonchalantly."
Yep, there ya go. Can't have that. Why if a guy is nonchalant...it's bad because... well... because.... well, ...... you know, why doesn't he wear a flag pin?
Is this just people who don't like Obama because of his race clawing for plausible reasons not to support him?
The reasons are so non-sensical that it makes you wonder. And it seems to confirm that on the substance, Obama's "bitter" comments that he's so routinely attacked for were absolutely true.