Friday, May 23, 2008

Irony 101

Well it looks like McCain yet again found himself on the wrong side of an issue and got miffed after Obama hit him on it. This time, it was the GI Bill which McCain decided to play Scrooge on, most likely because Republicans just don't like giving Democrats any victories.

So what does McCain do after getting hit? The dude has a minor tantrum in which he attacks Obama for all kinds of things, including not having been in the military. Funny, I don't remember him criticizing any of the non-military jerks who sent our troops off to die for imbecilic reasons. I guess the logic is that those who avoid going to war need to make up for it by sending lots of other people to war. In the end, you got somebody killed and that's all that matters.

Here's McCain's line that broke my irony meter:
"But, as he always does, he prefers impugning the motives of his opponent, and exploiting a thoughtful difference of opinion to advance his own ambitions. If that is how he would behave as President, the country would regret his election."

Uh, John? By insisting that Obama was trying to "advance his own ambitions" you have, in fact, impugned his motives. And perhaps there was more to Obama's statement than I read, but it really didn't look to me as if Obama had impugned McCain's motives. The worst thing Obama said was that McCain sided with Bush, and while I'd consider those to be fighting words if someone said that about me, in McCain's case, it's true. And Obama even went so far as to call McCain a hero!

And that's what's so telling about this skirmish: McCain's reaction was total overkill, at least if his reaction was based only on what Obama said. But it wasn't. McCain realized he was on the wrong side of yet another issue, and was hoping he could bluster his way out of the situation. And if you weren't paying attention, you'd assume that Obama's initial shot must have been some outrageous onslaught, rather than the tap on the cheek it really was.

But that's part of the point: Obama's comments stung, and the best McCain could do was feign outrage and pray that it distracted people from what Obama said. And that's in accordance with one of the main rules of conservative debate: It doesn't matter what somebody said as long as you can attack the way they said it.

And we saw the same thing earlier this week when Obama pushed back on the Bush-McCain appeasement smear, and the best McCain could do was rant about how "hysterical" Obama's perfectly acceptable response was. And again, the same dynamics are in play here: Conservative nutjobs are forcing McCain to take the wrong side of various issues, and the best McCain can do to make up for this is to pretend to be outraged when Obama attacks him for it. And while that wasn't such a bad policy against Gore and Kerry, neither of whom were famous for being great communicators, this plays right into Obama's hands.

Obama's the guy who can concisely pinpoint the flaw in his opponent's armor, and McCain's the guy who gets upset about it afterwards and impotently shakes his fist in anger. Call me crazy, but one of these people is a little more convincing than the other. This is going to be a great election year.

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