The Carpetbagger Report

McCain Campaign Inadvertently Stirs Nerd Army


When the McCain campaign unveiled its now-infamous Spears/Hilton ad, the NYT's editorial board, like every other sensible political observer, criticized it. Michael Goldfarb, McCain's official in-house blogger, responded by comparing the Times' editors to "the average Daily Kos diarist sitting at home in his mother's basement and ranting into the ether between games of Dungeons & Dragons."

This week, after questions arose about the veracity of a McCain anecdote from his days as a prisoner of war, Goldfarb went back to the well.
It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman's memory of war from the comfort of mom's basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others.

After the first insulting comment, Goldfarb backed away, while sticking to the vernacular: "If my comments caused any harm or hurt to the hard working Americans who play Dungeons & Dragons, I apologize. This campaign is committed to increasing the strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma scores of every American."

This led my friend Adam Serwer to raise an excellent point:

Why are Corporate Media Giving Fat Paychecks to Former Bush Aides?


I’m not surprised Dan Bartlett is going to one of the networks; I’m surprised Dan Bartlett didn’t go to one of the networks sooner. (via TP)
Former Counselor to President Bush, Dan Bartlett, has joined CBS News as a political analyst. Bartlett will provide on-air analysis on a variety of political issues, “including at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and beyond,” according to the press release.
Said CBS News & Sports president Sean McManus, “We’re very pleased to have Dan Bartlett join our team. We now go into the final stages of this fascinating political season with two analysts — Dan and Joe [Trippi] — who have had unique and extensive hands-on experience in major political campaigns and government.”
This is the latest part of a strange phenomenon of rewarding the Bush gang with high-profile opportunities at major media outlets. The Bush White House has been, for lack of a better word, a disaster for the country. From a journalistic perspective, these guys have been a nightmare — embracing almost comical levels of secrecy, propaganda, and media manipulation.


And yet, the moment presidential aides leave the West Wing, media outlets jump at the chance to put them on the payroll:

More McCain Plagiarism?


In December, when most of the leading presidential candidates were releasing holiday-themed ads, John McCain -- who's "reluctant" to talk about his service during Vietnam -- was able to combine two messages in a single campaign commercial: "One night, after being mistreated as a POW, a guard loosened the ropes binding me, easing my pain. On Christmas, that same guard approached me, and without saying a word, he drew a cross in the sand. We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas."

It's a story McCain has not only put in his ads, but has also repeated for several years, including over the weekend, at the forum at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church.

Yesterday, however, questions arose about its veracity:

Corporate Media Get Another Injection of Conservative Commentators

CNN continues to add to its team of political commentators, and announced five new members of the team yesterday. Atrios posted the press release, which touted the network adding "five more top political reporters and commentators to its deep bench of political contributors and analysts."

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Group Headed by James Dobson Asks Christians to Pray for Rain at Obama Speech

As reported here over the weekend, James Dobson's Focus on the Family employs Stuart Shepard to make short, "clever" religious-right videos for the evangelical powerhouse. Shepard creates these videos regularly, and most of them are entirely forgettable.

Last week, however, Focus unveiled a new video, asking politically-conservative Christians to pray for rain on Aug. 28, in order to disrupt Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Shepard called for "abundant rain, torrential rain ... flood-advisory rain." He adds, "I'm talking about umbrella-ain't-gonna-help-you rain ... swamp-the-intersections rain." Explaining why he wants everyone to pray for rain, Shepard explains, without a hint of humor, "I'm still pro-life, and I'm still in favor or marriage being between one man and one woman. And I would like the next president who will select justices for the next Supreme Court to agree."

In other words, Obama disagrees with the religious right on culture-war issues, so Focus on the Family wants God to smite Obama with rain. Got it.

Republican Lawmaker Wants Environmentalists to Know Jesus Has Already Saved the Planet

For a few months, I've been corresponding with a friend and regular reader, "Zeitgeist," who insists that Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is, without a doubt, the single craziest member of the House of Representatives. I usually respond by pointing to Rep. Michele Bachmann, the infamous Minnesota Republican.

Given recent events, King is really going to have to pick up his game -- because Bachmann keeps getting further and further out there.

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McCain is Losing Veterans

A couple of months ago, Time magazine posed the question: "Does McCain Have a Vets Problem?" The question hardly fits into the existing media narrative -- John McCain is a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War. He shouldn't, the argument goes, have any trouble winning over the support of other veterans.

But the narrative is incomplete, to put it mildly. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a grade of D for his record of voting against veterans (Obama got a B+), while the Disabled Veterans of America gave McCain a 20% vote rating. The Vietnam Veterans of America compiled a list of key votes, and found McCain voted against the group's position 15 times and with the group eight times. (Obama, in contrast, voted with the VVA 12 times, and against it only once.)

With that in mind, when McCain went to Las Vegas over the weekend to speak to the Disabled American Veterans, perhaps it shouldn't have been too big a surprise that the presumptive Republican nominee received lukewarm support:

Obama Goes on the Offense on Energy


Last week, it seemed Barack Obama spent just about every day on the defensive. If today’s speech in Lansing, Mich., is any indication, it’s a new week.

“You won’t hear me say this too often, but I couldn’t agree more with the explanation that Senator McCain offered a few weeks ago. He said, ‘Our dangerous dependence on foreign oil has been 30 years in the making, and was caused by the failure of politicians in Washington to think long-term about the future of the country.’

“What Senator McCain neglected to mention was that during those 30 years, he was in Washington for 26 of them. And in all that time, he did little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He voted against increased fuel efficiency standards and opposed legislation that included tax credits for more efficient cars. He voted against renewable sources of energy. Against clean biofuels. Against solar power. Against wind power. Against an energy bill that — while far from perfect — represented the largest investment in renewable sources of energy in the history of this country. So when Senator McCain talks about the failure of politicians in Washington to do anything about our energy crisis, it’s important to remember that he’s been a part of that failure. Now, after years of inaction, and in the face of public frustration over rising gas prices, the only energy proposal he’s really promoting is more offshore drilling — a position he recently adopted that has become the centerpiece of his plan, and one that will not make a real dent in current gas prices or meet the long-term challenge of energy independence.

Is The Religious Right Losing Its Edge?

In January, Focus on the Family's James Dobson ruled out voting for John McCain, if he won the Republican nomination. "Speaking as a private individual, I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances," Dobson said in a statement. In February, just as McCain was wrapping up the GOP nod, Dobson reiterated that McCain was unacceptable.

As recently as April, Dobson told the WSJ, "I have seen no evidence that Sen. McCain is successfully unifying the Republican Party or drawing conservatives into his fold. To the contrary, he seems intent on driving them away." Dobson added that McCain has "written off" social conservatives.

And yet, Dobson has suddenly discovered that his hatred of McCain is not as intense as his hatred of Barack Obama.

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This Week in God


First up from the God machine this week is a poll that didn’t get a lot of attention, but was actually pretty important.

A Quinnipiac University national poll released on Thursday covered quite a bit of ground when it came to “culture war” issues, and perhaps most importantly given the recent campaign discussion, produced some interesting data on faith-based federal funding.

American voters support 53 - 41 percent giving money to faith-based organizations to help them run social programs. But voters say 77 - 16 percent groups which receive federal funds cannot discriminate by hiring only members of their own faith.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, that 41% of Americans don’t want faith-based groups to get social-service grants is a surprisingly high number. There’s a perception, which I’ll admit to buying into on occasion, that these kinds of partnerships and contracts — which have been around for years — are overwhelmingly popular. A poll like this suggests there remains some discomfort about mixing church and state, which I find encouraging.

But that second part of the question is even more striking.
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