Politics & Media
Sep 29, 2008, 05:59AM

My Guy Won!

As long as you're rooting for either McCain or Obama, you can make a claim to Friday's victory.

Let me start by saying that I too am wearing a bracelet. A store clerk gave it to me, and it’s made out of candy. It’s delicious.

First, flag pins on the lapels became a requirement, and now it’s bracelets. Who knew that Talbot’s would end up playing such an important role in presidential politics? I predict that full-knuckle rings saying “U.S.A” will be the next mandatory display of patriotism for the candidates.

The bracelet moment from Friday night’s debate was a microcosm of something that clouded the rest of the discussion. It’s one thing to make sure you have an adequate retort, but it’s another thing when that retort is basically a mirror image of the initial comment—whether it’s Barack Obama comparing bracelets with John McCain, or McCain responding to Obama’s comments with phrases and slogans frequently used and made popular by the Obama campaign. This is one of the reasons why the only way to lose a debate nowadays is to really fuck something up.

Friday night’s debate was what I like to refer to as a “My Guy Won” debate, as in, unless you support a third party candidate, you could probably watch the debate and find a way to say, “My guy won!” It seemed to me that McCain’s strategy was to make Obama look naïve and inexperienced, while Obama’s strategy was to appear poised and confident (or “presidential,” if you prefer that dumb term).  In that regard, I think we can agree that McCain’s bar was set a little higher, since making someone appear naïve and inexperienced is tough to do without a “knockout” moment and/or a big mistake by your opponent. Obama’s goal, while less ambitious, was something that was under his control and could be achieved fairly easily, unless McCain out-poised him. But then again, McCain is down in the polls, so he should be setting the bar higher for himself.

But while there was no signature moment in the debate, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t anecdotes that I could ridicule as I got drunk watching it. Here, in no particular order, are a couple of moments that stuck out to me:

McCain: We gotta cut government spending!... what was your question again?

Pretty much every one of McCain’s answers to economic questions contained a reference to his plans to cut government spending. I realize that cutting spending is his big crusade, but considering the current economic situation, did anyone else find this move to be ironic? After all, here we are in the middle of an economic crisis that was caused by private actors who were basically free from government regulation, and the consensus to solve the problem is for the government to step in and spend a crapload of money.

My other problem with the “cutting spending” talking point is that it’s just a simple crowd-pleaser. I always laugh* when I see polls showing that a large majority of people say that the government should reduce spending. Well of course people want the government to spend less money—the answer lies in the wording of the question: asking if you think the government should cut spending implies that they have the ability to do so and simply lack the motivation. I’m sure the same majority of people in favor of cutting spending would be in favor of the government creating more jobs if you asked them.

Several of the analysts after the debate talked about how McCain did a really good job of “framing” the economic discussion by making it about cutting spending. Really? So, let me get this straight: he framed the debate just by repeating something over and over, regardless of whether it answered the question? That’s like saying “Dustin Hoffman really framed the movie Rain Man to be about The People’s Court.”

*I don’t actually laugh at polling data. That would be pretty pathetic.

Obama Sexy Talk

In a response to one of McCain’s fist-clenched lectures about government spending (and getting “those damn kids” off his lawn), Obama used the phrases “orgy of spending” and “hard to swallow.” Yeah, down-home folksy colloquialisms like those should play really well in Ohio: “Whelp, we have a sayin’ ‘round these parts: you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t have an orgy with it!” Seriously though, you can’t.  

Listen, Barack, we’re already a little worried about the prospect of you being able to nail everyone in Hollywood if you become president, so let’s try to avoid the sexual innuendo as much as possible. Unless of course you were going after the coveted Deliverance vote, in which case, feel free to tell the moderator he/she has a “purty” mouth in the next debate.

The Lesson of the Iraq War
Jim Lehrer stated that we had learned many lessons from the Vietnam War, and he asked McCain what he thought the lessons of the Iraq War are. McCain said, “The lesson of the Iraq War is to not have a failed policy.” Gee, too bad we had to learn that one the hard way, huh guys? And who says Americans don’t pay attention to history? I feel comfortable knowing that with McCain as president, he will never institute a policy that we already know is failed. If one of his advisors encourages a failed policy, McCain will say “Nay, sir.  I do not endorse your policy of failure.” He will strike that policy with his trusty pen, he will make it famous and you will know its name.

Obama Cops Out

McCain was pressing Obama about his lack of visits to the Middle East at several points throughout the debate. At one point, Obama’s response was something along the lines of, “I’m very proud of my Vice Presidential selection of Senator Joe Biden who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee…” While most people would agree that Obama did indeed pick Biden to fill the gaps in his foreign policy resume, you never want to straight up admit that as a presidential candidate. Obama was sort of like, “Foreign policy? Yeah, that’s why I got Biden, remember? DONE.” That would be like McCain saying of his running mate, “I’m very proud of my Vice Presidential pick of Sarah Palin: She’s half my age, and I needed someone to show me how my Tivo works.”

Did You Know McCain is Old?
John McCain, like Barack Obama, has several fine lines to walk in this election, and the one that I find most amusing is that he has to cite his involvement in specific historic conflicts in order to emphasize his experience, but he has to do it in a way that doesn’t make you go, “Dude, that was, like, 60 years ago!” So, he ends up saying things like, “My friends, I’ve been involved in every national security conflict since the Lost Colony of Roanoke!” and you’re left with a lukewarm feeling of assurance.

After the debate, I was sober enough to see the ad that the McCain campaign quickly put out, mashing up the clips of Obama agreeing with McCain. I’m not surprised by the tactic, but I was surprised by the words that came across the screen: “Is Barack Obama Ready to Lead? No.” And I thought to myself, “Oh my God, John McCain has lost so much confidence that he’s criticizing Obama for agreeing with him! He’s going after the anti-McCain vote!” I’ve got a new ad idea for the McCain campaign:

“Barack Obama and Joe Biden on John McCain: [cut to clips of Obama and Biden speaking of McCain’s sacrifices for the country]. We can’t afford to be led by two men who speak so highly of John McCain. That’s not the change we need…”

So who won? My guy, obviously.

  • Philip, your analysis exemplifies one of the worst trends in journalism. Why do you and so many other writers feel it necessary to "balance" an article. This debate was not even close. Mind you, I am not an Obama supporter but felt he won hands down. A) McCain couldn't even look at the guy. B) Each time McCain was caught in a lie, he just denied it. Now, if one does not follow politics or the basic news, I can understand thinking it was a close debate. However, as a writer, you should try to educate the public with a neutral piece that relays the facts. Instead, your major complaint about Obama's use of the word orgy as a reminder that ANY president can get laid in Hollywood, is just plain pathetic. If you can't handle basic reporting, at least have the balls to take a position. Otherwise, you just waste the readers time.

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  • Landlord, I think the tone of my article makes it pretty clear that I was just looking for fodder with which to make jokes, since that's what I do - I'm not sure how you can read this and call it "journalism." I think my criticisms of McCain are obviously more significant than Obama, and your assessment of my "major complaint about Obama" doesn't make sense since I made the jokes "in no particular order." I agree that spin and balancing dominates the media right now, but I'm partially satirizing that by talking about how most people will say their guy won. Having said that, I'd like to deeply apologize for wasting yours and every reader's time. Say, I've got some fresh pieces of coal - would you mind shitting out some diamonds for me?

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  • Phil, Phil, Phil, the only thing worse than your writing is your humor. What "jokes" did you tell?. You sound just like McCain regarding the fundementals of the economy, someone points out that your argument has no merit, so you lie with an even worse stance. "I was just looking for fodder with which to make jokes", keep looking Phil. Perhaps you should go to Arizona and work on Palin's debate prep. Just imagine, you may even find some "fodder" there. Then again, you'd probably think she is brilliant. Besides, if shitting coal into diamonds is the best you can come up with, you need a new job. NO JOKING

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  • Internet tough guy alert! WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP! Landlord, plz post pics of you posing w/ katana or nunchucks! Your audience wants to see!

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  • Sounds like someone shit in Landlord's cereal this morning. I had another point to make about Landlord's original argument, and that was that I am an open supporter of Obama. As such, I figured writing an article saying that I thought Obama won would be pointless. I wasn't a neutral observer, so I shouldn't be declaring a winner. Having said that, I would reply to your second comment, but it doesn't make any sense, so I don't need to. And I promise I'm not just saying that because I think you're a douche.

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  • Let me start off by saying I am an avid Bob Barr supporter, so I think it is good to have an outsider's opinion on things here. First things first; Phil, Landlord is right about your efforts in Journalism. Jesus H., nowhere in this entire journalistic approach do you do not even mention THE FACTS. Helloooooooo, I come to this site for facts, not this room-temperature pile of shit. I need some facts. Hopefully I have made my point with the f-ing facts. Second, and not to harp on what Landlord was saying, but your idea of a "joke" is really not what the rest of America thinks is funny. Where the hell are the pictures of people falling down or a cat in a pot with the caption, "The suopz is hotted, OUCH?" THAT'S the funny stuff. All you're doing here is basically supporting McCain; it's pretty Goddamn obvious, (yeah, that's right, capital 'G'). I mean, who the hell uses the word "fodder" anyways? Basically, unless you're going to write something that I would hear verbatim from Air America, don't bother writing...But seriously I liked this article, though. Good job.

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  • Gee, Landlord, for someone who is not an Obama supporter, you sure sound like ... an Obama supporter. Maybe you're one of those disgruntled "lifelong Republicans" the press is always interviewing, that seem to have a curious habit of donating to democrats when you check them out on opensecrets.com. But don't let the fact that this column is in obvious jest deter you from spouting your talking points. Blood for oil!

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  • I'll try this again since the "comedian" Phil had my last post removed for hurting his feelings by telling a Phil joke. Phil, let's review the order of events here: 1) You write a completly pointless article. 2) I point that out. 3)You reply claiming that you were "making jokes" and as proof of your clever humor you do the old coal, shit, diamonds schtick. 4) I once again inform you of your utter lack of skills regarding humor. 5) You have my comment pulled and then call me a douche? Where is the funny? Buzz, what makes you think I'm an Obama supporter? Just because I point out the obvious about grandpa McCain and Palin? As for the rest of your comment, keep drinking Buzz

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  • Haha, wow, at least now I know I'm dealing with a crazy person. No, I did not have your comment removed, and you know how I can prove that? YOUR COMMENT IS STILL UP THERE! Moreover, I don't work at SpliceToday and have no power to remove comments or ask that comments be removed. AND consider this question for one second without your head exploding: Why would I have a comment removed and then post a comment in which I reference the comment that I supposedly just had removed? Let me clarify my original response to you, back when you had at least a semblance of a point: You frustration with with certain media organizations feeling the need to "balance" is a legitimate one, but it is MISPLACED in directing it at my article. Andrew Klein's article was a journalistic recap of the debate; my article was meant to make fun of statements made during the debate. And yes, it is true - you are a douche.

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  • No Phil, it is not. Furthermore, for a "crazy" person, I sure seem to have touched a nerve! I guess you are finally realizing the truth about your failure as both a comedian and writer. Boo Hoo Phil! Asamsky, I don't have a picture yet, but you can get an imprint of my boot off Phils ass

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  • Daaaaaaaaang. You got him good Landlord. Syke. Let me go ahead and try to say what Phil is trying to get across to you. He is not a journalist. This is not a journalist piece. These are jokes. You clearly don't think they are jokes because you feel offended for some reason. He could apologize for offending you, however, you are still compelled to keep coming back and defend your hatred for the article, showing that you are either actually interested in the article OR you are a douche. Phil recognizes and assumes your comments are meaningful, thus negating the possibility that you are an interested reader. Hence, douchness. In all seriousness, though, this is just an article that is trying to make light of a situation that is deemed very serious. He is merely pointing out things that no one feels the need to touch on in the "debate after the debate." They're just jokes. If you don't think they're funny; ok. If you don't think this article is ready for the Wall Street Journal; that's ok too. But I would like to think that a 39-year-old from Dallas has better things to do than get in a comment war with someone who is just trying to lighten up the mood of things. Jesus H.

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  • Ditto. I really like Phil Medley's writing, and, as a bonus, he's funny. I don't know about this "douche" business, but he's a quality writer.

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  • funny funny funny!

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