Modern Republicans are facing a big problem, which I've dubbed The Macaca Conundrum. And that is, how do you appeal to bigots and assholes without offending the rest of the population? And even worse, if you get caught saying or doing something offensive, do you risk offending the bigots and assholes by apologizing?
As I've said before, if you apologize for the remark, none of the people you offended will believe you and you'll end up offending the bigots and assholes you were trying to woo in the first place. But if you don't apologize, the scandal won't go away. It's really a lose-lose situation for them. But with bigots and assholes being such a large portion of the Republican Party, they really don't have much choice, other than to just try to make sure that they do this stuff when no one can record it for posterity.
And what's funny about this is that this was part of their strategy for several decades; to woo southerners to start voting Republican. And they apparently didn't realize why the southerners were willing to be wooed or what a deal with the devil they made. They've been pushing harder and harder for a voter base that was shrinking and which would offend everyone else. Somehow they had imagined that they could say offensive things to crazy people without the rest of us hearing too. And now they're walking a self-created tightrope that just keeps getting smaller with every passing year.
And this isn't just racist stuff either. Politicians are having serious trouble with religious intolerance too. Because let's face it, many Christians believe that a large segment of our population is going to Hell, and for no other reason than having made one wrong decision. And they really find it quite troubling for anyone to suggest otherwise. For example, it was apparently controversial for Howard Dean to tell Jews that they can get into Heaven. And you can find websites attacking President Bush for saying that Jews can't get into Heaven as well as websites attacking him for saying Jews are allowed in (eerie music alert!).
And it's not just the Jews. Many people in many of the major Christian factions don't like people in the other factions. Born agains really do think that you need to be born again to get into Heaven. It sometimes seems that nobody likes the Catholics and the Catholics don't like anyone. And they all seem to agree that there's just something wrong with the Mormons. That's why Republicans try to get things general and speak of "faith" without really getting into specifics of what faith they're talking about.
In fact, according to the Catholic leaders in this article I read while writing this post (and yes, I'm that skilled), it's not even enough to be Catholic anymore. They have to vote Catholic too, or "risk their eternal salvation." And yes, abortion is the single most important issue, and the Iraq war wasn't even mentioned. Fortunately, most Catholics are much too smart to listen to this gibberish and don't vote as a bloc.
Again, this is an issue that you just can't win and you better hope that you never get asked about in the first place, particularly for Republicans. As it is, they're already getting sucked deeper and deeper into an ever shrinking pit of bigoted delusion as they find that many of the people they've been trying to woo are quite insane and will accept no substitutes.
Beating the Bitch
I mention this because I think this is what got McCain in trouble for the "How do we beat the bitch" question. Sure, the question wasn't his, but it was obvious that it put him in a tight spot and he wasn't sure how to respond. The "right" thing to do would have been to politely insist that such language isn't appropriate, before answering the question. But the thing is, many Republicans do think such language is entirely appropriate when it comes to Hillary, and so to say that it wasn't proper might offend them.
And that's exactly how "journalist" Mike Allen took it, when he said "But what Republican voter hasn't thought that? What voter in general hasn't thought that and what people like about McCain is his straight talk, his candor." See? Not only did McCain not do anything wrong, but Allen actually praises him for not correcting the lady.
But of course, part of Allen's analysis seems to be based on the odd premise that McCain's mistake was that he didn't pretend to not know who "the bitch" was. So "candor" was preferable over the phony charade Allen suggests the "deftest way" of handling the situation was. Somehow, it didn't seem to occur to Allen that the problem wasn't McCain's honesty, but that he not only allowed the slur to stick but referred to it as "an excellent question."
But again, it's obvious from the video that McCain really didn't know how to handle that one. He might even have imagined that his "May I give the translation?" and long pause helped defuse the insult without requiring him to actually admonish the woman. And sure, lots of Republicans think that way, but there is such a thing as dignity and president's usually are expected to have some (present occupant notwithstanding). And there was nothing dignified about McCain's suggestion that it was "an excellent question." Again, it seemed obvious that he had to think about how to handle it, and decided to go for mild encouragement.
Of course, McCain's actual response wasn't much better and he should hope that most Republicans focus on the question and not the answer. It was just some noise about how one poll shows him slightly ahead of Clinton in a matchup. Wow, that's a way to rally the base. Particularly a base that generally scoffs at polls, due to the general bias most polls have towards reality. He could have come out strong on how Americans will reject a far leftie like Hillary, and how he's a manly man Veteran who might just rip out her heart during their first debate.
But no. It was just some muttering about a stupid poll that even he didn't seem to put much faith in. So perhaps it's for the best that everyone's focused on the question and not the answer, because the answer just made him look totally weak. Not that it matters at all. There is no almost no chance that McCain will get the nomination, so all this is just a bunch of noise. The GOP might be better off nominating that crazy woman who asked the question. She won't win, but they'd clearly have more fun with her trying.