April 19, 2008

Suggested questions for McCain

In light of George Stephanopolis' performance at Wednesday's debate, and the fact that he asked at least one of his questions verbatim on behalf of Shaun Hannity, and due to his excuse that he was only asking questions that the right would ask anyway, Keith Olberman last night offered some suggestions for questions Stephanopolis might ask Sen. John McCain when he conducts an interview with him this coming Sunday.

In keeping with the tabloid tone of the debate, Olbermann, capturing the mind-set of the press with uncanny accuracy, suggested that Stephanopolis simply pretend that McCain's a Democrat and ask him some of these questions:

1. What's with the hookers?
In your book Senator, you mentioned visiting "burlesque houses" and you said that while in Rio, you indulged in, quote, "the vices sailors are infamous for".

Exactly how many times have you employed prostitutes? Or were you just referring to public drunkenness?

2. On your association with shady characters... As a member of the Keating Five, you helped delay regulators from going after a savings and loan that ripped off elderly investors of their life savings and cost taxpayers more than $2 billion dollars.

Senator, why do you hate the elderly? And taxpayers?

3. Your continuing association with radicals from the '70's.

A man who tried to destroy the two-party electoral system and subvert democracy and who to this day remains utterly unapologetic, saying only that he wishes he'd done more of it and better. As recently as Nov. 8th, 2007, you had a public conversation with this man, G. Gordon Liddy, not merely a criminal, but an unrepentant enemy of the constitution, who is now in radio.

Senator, why do you hate the constitution?

4. After first calling Jerry Falwell an "agent of intolerance", you took that back and began praising that man, despite the fact that he blamed America for 9-11.

Why in six years have you not repudiated Mr. Falwell's damning of this country? Why do you symbolically share the same pew with him?

5. You proudly sought and accepted the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee, who wants to start a nuclear war as part of the Apocalypse, who calls Catholicism "the Great Whore", and who said that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for holding "a homosexual parade".

Sen. McCain, does Pastor Hagee love Catholics, Muslims, New Orleans, gay people, parades, and life on earth as we know it, as much as you do?

6. Senator, why did you commit adultery?

No, not that lobbyist stuff, I mean with your wife back in the '70's while you were still married to the first wife.

7. Last year you admitted lying to voters when you said South Carolina's Confederate flag was strictly a state issue when you knew it wasn't, when you knew it was offensive to many Americans, presumably those who wanted America to win the Civil War.

Why sir, did you lie to protect a racist symbol of terrorists who wanted to destroy this country when you could have..... not.

8. Finally sir, a lot of Americans judge their politicians entirely by simple symbols; flag lapel pins, where your hands are during the pledge of allegiance. Wouldn't you agree Sen. McCain that perhaps the most potent symbol of loving America is whether or not you chose to be born in America?

Sen. McCain, why did you choose to be born in Panama?

How can voters be sure, that this kind of elitism doesn't mean that you will not owe your allegiance to Panama, and the Panamanian way?


Of course, we can expect Stephanopolis to ask McCain some of these questions this Sunday. After all, he does take questions from partisan commentators, and they're just stuff that the left will be asking eventually, right?

And though the last one is obviously tongue-in-cheek, the rest of the questions, sadly, you can actually imagine them asking of a candidate were he or she a Democrat.

I've seen other variations of this list which suggest bringing up McCain's wife Cindy McCain's past drug addiction and her theft of drugs from a non-profit organization she was involved with which provided medical care to disaster areas and needy children.

The family had to stage an intervention and McCain eventually entered treatment and was able to wean herself from her addiction to pain pills.

Needless to say, these facts are irrelevant to John McCain's character or his fitness to be president, and even more importantly, someone's struggle with addiction and recovery is not something to be used to ridicule or to cast negative aspertions.

It's properly out of bounds and should remain so.

Those bringing up these facts do so by way of asking whether, if this had been Michelle Obama, rather than Cindy McCain who was a former drug addict who'd stolen drugs from a children's charity, would the right wing and the press refuse to touch the topic, as they have for McCain?

Do you think for a split second that the right wing troglodytes of AM radio and Fox news wouldn't be sneering and bringing it up on a nearly daily basis? That there wouldn't be a blizzard of goofy chain e-mails making the rounds of right wing dupes telling the tale in chilling exagerated detail?

Yeah, right.

One hopes so, but I doubt it. There is literally nothing that is so sordid or cruel or unfair that the right won't gleefully exploit.

And on another note, do you think for one moment that if an ordinary person with a low income had been caught with illegal prescription drugs and caught stealing them from a children's charity, that they wouldn't have been slammed in jail so fast they didn't know what hit them?

Cindy McCain's punishment was.... absolutely nothing.

(but they say Obama's "elite")


At 4/19/2008 11:35 PM, Anonymous orville portforker said...

I really don't think that Obama, or the Democrats, want to turn November into a battle of Character and Integrity.

At 4/19/2008 11:54 PM, Anonymous nooncat said...

Republicans don't get asked such questions because it's unfair of the news media to do so. Democrats get asked such questions because it's unfair of the news media to do so. So much for the "liberal news media."

At 4/20/2008 2:25 PM, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Except for your last paragraph, there is little to disagree with in your piece. More evidence that seven weeks between elections leads to a press preoccupation with chickenflop.

Your last paragraph makes a presumption common to many folks. Many prosecutors are uniform in offering deferred prosecution to drug diverters who are either first offenders or who came into their addictions as a result of legitimate pain control that either went on too long or where insufficient attention was paid to weaning. Generally speaking, it is not a matter of wealth or position. It is a matter of adopting a policy approach to mercy, the disease view of addiction and resource allocation. The particular prosecutor involved in her decision was a committed street drug fighter but pretty uniformly afforded addicted first offenders a chance to get clean and avoid prosecution.

Now, let's be clear. If Michelle O had the same experience Hannity would be on it six hours a day, every day.

But you are barking up the wrong tree on the "wealth" and "privilege" argument.

Finally, I realize that was the tiniest throwaway line in your discussion.

Continued Success.

At 4/20/2008 3:03 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

No, against all the above, clearly McCain is as pure as the driven slush. No way the Dems are as un-corrupt and morally pure as The Mummy.

At 4/20/2008 3:55 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Point taken, but I still have to believe that if it were a poor defendant (especially a minority) they'd simply assume that they were abusing the drugs and be much more likely to throw them in jail. I'm sure it happens on a daily basis.

Needless to say I think that the method of addressing such cases that you outline is the proper one, as no one that gets caught up in such things is going to be served by time in jail under most circumstances.

But that said, I'd argue that the same compassion should be shown to people who get caught up with other highly addictive drugs.

What's the difference?

By all accounts, crack cocaine is several orders of magnitude more addictive than Vicodin. Who has a more likely chance to quit through self-control, someone who's been exposed to Vicodin, or crack?

Of course that argument hinges on the fact that Vicodin is legally prescribed, while I'm not aware of any MDs handing out prescriptions for crack.

But perhaps it should be instructive that if obviously intelligent and responsible people with every advantage in life such as Cindy McCain can fall prey to something such as Vicodin, then why the utter absence of any sort of compassion for someone who falls prety to a vastly more addictive drug which, after all, in many areas a person is a thousand times more likely to encounter than anything like Vicodin?

On the one hand, the courts rightly acknowledge that someone's addiction caused them to break the law (stealing Vicodin illegally) and so they do absolutely nothing to punish them.

On the other hand, the law looks at someone who's addiction to a far more addicting drug caused them to continue to break the law, and they get thrown into prison with no questions asked.

Just sayin'.

At 4/20/2008 6:32 PM, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Let's come back to the many meaty subtexts you raise when we don't have THE PRIMARY LIKE NO OTHER in progress. There about five good posts in just your reply to me and, again, I realize the subtopic of privilege and deferred prosecution was literally just punctuation for an informative and challenging post.

Addiction is one of those invisible elephants in every room of life and I'd look forward to doing at least the forensic side of it justice someday soon.

Continued success.

At 4/21/2008 3:34 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

On re-reading my response, I see that there's a couple aspects that I left out.

The first is that apparently Cindy McCain was essentially grabbed by the scruff of her (very lovely) neck and forced to take the cure, so to speak.

That she did so successfully is both fortunate (she had family that gave a damn and could afford it) and admirable (no matter who you are, breaking an addiction isn't a walk in the park.)

The fact that she was indeed in treatment or had already undergone treatment would obviously be considered by a court in letting her off the hook, and properly so.

Not being familiar with the courts in these matters, is it also true that someone who was addicted to crack, broke the law in obtaining it, but then successfully completed a treatement program, would also be give deferred prosecution or some similar non-punishment? (first offense assumed)

Maybe this is the case, and if so, then the system isn't as lop-sided or injust as I imagine it may be.

I do know that in urban areas kids are picked up and tossed in prison for a few rocks of crack, and other sorry cases are thrown in prison for trying to buy a few rocks on the street.

This brings me to the second thing I didn't mention, and that's the fact that crack is so much more addictive, that courts may rightly toss people in jail rather than rely on treatment, since relatively few crack-heads get straight and stay straight.

I don't know what the relapse rate is for those addicted to pain pills, but maybe it's better.

I guess I'm trying to see why courts treat crack and those that happen to get sucked into it so much more harshly than society women who abuse prescription drugs.

There may be legitimate reasons. Then again maybe not.

Maybe it's simply that there are so many more crack addicts than society pain pill poppers that treatment is simply not an option.


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