Friday, January 18, 2008

Republican primary eve roundup

Left: Huckabee rocks out at Clemson University. Standing next to him (blue shirt) is former South Carolina governor David Beasley.

Strange bedfellows doesn't even begin to describe it. Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, whose exploits have been written about before on this blog, has endorsed Arkansas Governor and nice-guy Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee for president. One might compare this to Keith Richards endorsing Jerry Falwell, something like that. The Greenville News is on hand with the suitably cryptic references:

Republican Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer on Thursday endorsed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for the GOP presidential nomination.

Bauer, who will campaign with Huckabee today, said he made a late selection of Huckabee after comparing the contenders and determining he has "the character, integrity, and proven leadership to ensure our greatest days are yet to come."

Reflecting on his own political close shaves, Bauer said he admires Huckabee's history of winning against long odds.

"Nobody knows better than I do that it's the people, not the polls, which determines the winner on election day," Bauer said.
Long odds, huh? Is that what they are calling it now?

I think they refer to Bauer's well-publicized freakout in 2003, wherein he ran amok in downtown Columbia, running red lights with abandon and clocking 60 miles-an-hour in a 35 miles-per-hour zone. After stopping Bauer, a police officer found it necessary to hold the Lt. Governor of South Carolina at gunpoint! Bauer has had numerous other wacked-out driving incidents, fueling speculations by irresponsible bloggers such as your humble narrator.

And yes, they re-elected his sorry ass. Those are the "long odds" he is winking at. Does Huckabee have a clue?

Probably not, he is pretending to be a Clemson fan whilst partying with Chuck Norris and Ric Flair. Bauer is small potatoes!

Huckabee brings road show to Clemson
Friday, January 18, 2008
CLEMSON -- Tiger cheers and live music rocked the Jervey Athletic Center gym at Clemson University, while a crowd of about 2,200 waited more than an hour Thursday for GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

It was the biggest turnout of the campaign so far, Huckabee headliner Chuck Norris told the crowd that overflowed the bleachers and filled much of the gym floor.

It was akin to a giant pep rally and was covered by scores of local and national reporters.

Ric Flair, a popular martial artist and World Wrestling Entertainment figure, pumped up support for the GOP presidential candidate as the former Arkansas governor came onstage and joined the band, Mae West, on the bass guitar.

Introduced by former South Carolina Gov. David Beasley, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and state GOP Chairman Mike Campbell, Huckabee joshed about Beasley's past as a student on the Clemson campus before launching into more serious business.

"The decisions I'm going to make as the next president will have some effect on people my age, but not nearly as much effect as they will on people your age," said Huckabee, who is 52.
Good to know!

He is hitting the fundie circuit hard. Wednesday, Huckabee gave a rousing speech at local Southern Baptist college, North Greenville University.

Meanwhile, Ron Paul notably DID NOT get the star treatment over at Bob Jones University, as the antiwar, free-the-weed candidate. They are NOT readily forgiving that shit over there! My spies tell me a core group of libertarian Calvinists (and God Bless em) showed up, but mostly, not a real hospitable place for Dr Paul:
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul paid a visit to Bob Jones University late Thursday afternoon, speaking to a group packed into a small classroom.

Outside, more than a hundred people tiptoed through the snow and stuck their heads through windows to listen to and take photos of the Texas congressman and physician as he made a stump speech and took questions from those who managed to find a way inside.
Apparently, most people didn't even realize he was there. But they couldn't keep his appearance a complete secret in the cell phone age. Our trusty Greenville News reports from the campus of BJU:
Paul, who opposed authorization to invade Iraq, told the audience that calls not to withdraw from Iraq are the same made in 1968 during Vietnam, after which 30,000 more American troops were killed.

Paul said the people who express fear for America's safety in the event of a withdrawal "are the same people who said it would be a cakewalk" to invade the country.

Paul said he opposed plans to build American bases in Iraq.

He also said America's war on drugs has cost the country countless amounts of money in pursuit of a failed cause. And he said that despite marijuana being illegal, it is just as accessible as alcohol.
Can you think of another politician who would actually go into the heart of BJU and say this stuff?

Left: Greenville News photo of John McCain with Bobby Harrell (center), the speaker of the South Carolina House, and Senator Lindsey Graham (right), campaigning yesterday in downtown Greenville.

Senator John McCain, whom I project as the winner, has been all over the state in the past few days. In fact, like The Flash, he almost appears to be in two places at once. As they used to say about Reagan, he is a TIRELESS CAMPAIGNER, and any concerns about his age seem pretty silly, just watching him hustle all over the place like that.

The news about McCain has been the nasty smears against him by various shadowy forces, one calling themselves Vietnam Veterans Against McCain. During his last run for the presidency, I personally received two such anti-McCain robocalls. (Now that I have the marvel of BellSouth's Privacy Detector, I don't get bizarre pre-campaign calls, but I do still get polled.) The New York Times reports:
Vietnam Veterans Against McCain [have] sent out a crude flier accusing the candidate of selling out fellow P.O.W.’s to save himself.

By Tuesday evening, a group called Common Sense Issues, which supports Mike Huckabee, had begun making what it said were a million automated calls to households in South Carolina telling voters, according to one of the calls, that Mr. McCain “has voted to use unborn babies in medical research.” (The campaign of Mr. Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, said it had no connection to the group and had asked it to stop the calls.)

Mr. McCain quickly fired back, but he has seen this movie before. In the 2000 South Carolina primary, one of the most notorious smear campaigns in recent American politics peddled distortions and lies about him, among them that Mr. McCain’s current wife, Cindy, was a drug addict and that the couple’s daughter Bridget, adopted from Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh, was a black child Mr. McCain had fathered out of wedlock.
Whoa, hold the phone. Am I reading THE NEW YORK TIMES? Don't they have fact-checkers? The part about Cindy McCain is true. This is common knowledge in recovery communities.

Does the NYT know how to Google? It's all right there, in the Arizona Republic:
In August 1994, a group of Valley journalists received an unusual phone call from Jay Smith, McCain's political strategist.

They were offered an exclusive story in exchange for agreeing to certain terms. They would attend individual interview sessions Aug. 19 and sit on the story until Aug. 22. The five journalists - three print reporters, a television reporter and a radio reporter - agreed.

One by one, they went to the McCain home, where they heard an incredible story.

Cindy McCain, 40, told them that she had been a drug addict for three years. From 1989 to 1992, as the Keating Five made headlines, she was addicted to Percocet and Vicodin. Worse, she had stolen pills from the American Voluntary Medical Team, a relief organization that she founded to aid Third World countries.

"More than anything, I wanted to be able to face my children, for them to know I wasn't lying to them," she said at the time. "They're too young to fully understand right now, but someday they will."

Cindy blamed two back surgeries and the Keating Five scandal - a blend of physical and emotional pain - for hooking her on drugs.

Things started to unravel when a Drug Enforcement Administration audit found irregularities in the charity's records, prompting an investigation, Cindy told the reporters.

In 1992, as the Keating affair surfaced again during McCain's run for a second Senate term, Cindy's parents confronted her about her drug use.

What had been clear to Cindy's parents was lost on McCain, who said he had not noticed his wife's addiction.

"I was stunned," McCain said at the time. "Naturally, I felt enormous sadness for Cindy and a certain sense of guilt that I hadn't detected it. I feel very sorry for what she went through, but I'm very proud she was able to come out of it. For her, it was like the Keating affair had been for me, a searing experience, and we both came out stronger. I think it has strengthened our marriage and our overall relationship."

The late Phoenix Gazette political columnist John Kolbe helped break the story.

His Aug. 25, 1994, column was headlined and led with a powerful quote:

"I'm Cindy, and I'm an addict."
So, it's no fiction. Why are they saying it is? In any event, the Times assures us that this time, the McCain campaign is ready for the dirty tricks:
On Tuesday, within hours of the first reports of the veterans’ flier, Mr. McCain’s campaign held a conference call with reporters to denounce the mailing, which showed a cartoon of Mr. McCain in a prison cell. Writing on the wall behind him said “Elect Me, Elect Me, P.O.W. for President” and “An Enormous Crime, The P.O.W.’s I Helped Leave Behind.”

Orson Swindle, a former prisoner of war with Mr. McCain in Vietnam, also issued a statement on Tuesday calling the flier a “vicious” fraud. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” the statement said. “I know because I was there. The truth is, the North Vietnamese offered John McCain early release, and he refused.”
My opinion is that these dirty tricks have strengthened McCain's campaign and made him look like the good guy under attack by lowlifes, while also giving him a chance to remind everyone about his war record.

Making a cynic like me suspicious, all over again. Hm. Too many viewings of The Parallax View and both versions of The Manchurian Candidate I guess.

Stay tuned, sports fans.

Listening to: The Smashing Pumpkins - Disarm
via FoxyTunes