Friday, October 17, 2008
If the mainstream media had done its job properly these past eight years, perhaps the entire political landscape would be different. Perhaps voters would be more informed; would understand the issues better. Perhaps the Iraq war would be a bigger priority among Americans. Perhaps there'd be much more accountability in Washington. Perhaps Bush would not have been re-elected. But the press has been utterly neutered during the Bush years, and they've been no less silent and ineffectual in the current presidential campaign. Thankfully, we have hard-hitting "journalists" like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Joy Behar and David Letterman to aggressively ask the direct questions that the "real" journalists are curiously too afraid to ask.
Sen. John McCain, who infamously dissed Letterman weeks ago by cancelling an appearance with the excuse that he had to "rush to Washington" to save the country from financial crisis, only to appear minutes later on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, returned to the program Thursday night. He received more than a subtle tongue-lashing from Big Dave, whose performance made this week's debate host Bob Schieffer seem like a high school newspaper reporter. Letterman admirably pressed the feisty little Republican on several key issues in a manner that should embarrass the hell out of working journalists.
Here are some highlights from the interview:
On the choice of Gov. Sarah Palin as McCain's vice presidential running mate:
Letterman: ...the question is, if she had been a man, would you also have selected him as a man?
McCain: Yes, because I believe that Sarah Palin is a reformer.... very proud to
have Sarah with me and I think she has energized our ticket and energized a lot of
Letterman: No question about that. But I’ll tell you… I mean, was she your first choice?
Letterman: Had you spent time with her?
McCain: A couple of times, I’d met with her. I didn’t know her real well but I knew her reputation and I didn’t know her well at all. I didn’t know her well at all. I knew her reputation as a reformer...
Letterman: ...if you are unable to fulfill your office, we get a 9/11 attack, Sarah Palin is the president who leads us through that.
McCain: Sure. She’s been the governor of a state with 24,000 employees....
Letterman: Let me just get back to my question. Well, I mean, either you’re right or you’re wrong. You know what you’re talking about or you don’t know what you’re talking about. But I’m just telling you from my perspective that I thought, Oh, oh my God. I’m sure she’s a lovely woman. I’m sure she’s done a great job in Alaska. But in terms – this country. I’m 61. I’ve never seen it in this big a mess. I’ve seen economic problems. I’ve seen war. I’ve never seen a combination of things quite like this. I’ve never seen the free fall diminishment of the impression of the United States around the country. I’ve never seen anything like this. I have a four-year-old son. I wonder what the hell, is it going to be 160 twenty years from now on his birthday? So I’m thinking, alright, this is a pretty important job.
McCain: But with all due respect, she’s had the leadership experience that’s necessary to run bureaucracies, to reform…And because she was not known inside the Georgetown cocktail circuit, doesn’t matter to me.
Letterman: Let me ask you a question. In your guts, in your stomach – you’re a smart, tough, savvy guy –...If I were to run upstairs, wake you up in the middle of the night, and say, "John, is Sarah Palin really the woman to lead us through the next four, eight years? Through the next 9/11 attack?"
McCain: Absolutely. She has inspired Americans. That’s the thing we need. We need
inspiration now....But I think America is crying out for change. And she represents
the kind of change that we need. Have we pretty well exhausted this topic?
On 1960's radical William Ayers, and the McCain campaign's relenteless attenpts to connect him to Sen. Barack Obama:
Letterman: No, no. I’m just getting started! Now she’s also, she’s the one, I think who says that Barack Obama pals around with terrorists. Has she in fact said that at rallies?
McCain: I don’t…yes. And he did. And refused to acknowledge the fact.
Letterman: Who did he pal around with?
McCain: William Ayers who said on 9/11 that he wished that he’d bombed more. OK?
His wife was on the Top 10 of FBI’s Most Wanted.
Letterman: But this all took place…when he was active, Barack Obama was eight years old.
McCain: Eight years old. And Mr. Ayers in 2001, September 11, 2001, said, "I wished I
had bombed more." It’s an unrep—
Letterman: But what is that relationship?
McCain: It’s all we need to know. Senator Clinton said, "We need to know about the
relationship." First he said he was just a guy in the neighborhood. And so it’s a matter of trusting the word of someone....
Letterman: But did you not have a relationship with Gordon Liddy?
McCain: I met him, you know, I mean…
Letterman: Didn’t you attend a fund raiser at his house?
McCain: Gordon Liddy’s?...
McCain: I know Gordon Liddy. He paid his debt. He went to prison, he paid his debt, as people do. I’m not in any way embarrassed to know Gordon Liddy. And his son, who is also a good friend and supporter of mine.
Letterman: But you understand that the same case could be made of your relationship with him as being made with William Ayers.
McCain: Everything about any relationship that I’ve had I will make completely open and give a complete accounting of. Senator Obama said that he was a guy who lived in the neighborhood. OK, it was more than that.
Letterman: They served on a committee at one point....Are they double dating? Are they going to dinner? What are they doing? Are they driving cross country?
Letterman: Now she (Palin) said "pals around with terrorists." OK, so alright. Let’s say we give her William Ayers. He was eight and William Ayers was 29. But they palled around. (Letterman had also asked why Palin had been using the plural "terrorists" at her rallies, but McCain did not answer)
McCain: There’s millions of word said in the campaign. Come on!
So, if you're John McCain, it's ok to pal around with a convicted Watergate criminal who attempted to steal an election; it's ok to use incendiary rhetoric and outright lies to define your opponent; you stand firm in your shameless contention that Sarah Palin is the absolute best choice in the country to be your second-in-command; and...terrorist...terrorists...what's a little "s" among friends, right?. And he's the "Country First" candidate?
Props to Letterman for further exposing this fraud for exactly who is he is, and isn't, and for giving voters a greater glimpse into McCain's shallow character. Mainstream media...you can take a lesson from the Letterman playbook...
On another subject......TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE for the November 17 Second Annual Adrienne Shelly Foundation Fundraising Gala at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Join us for a terrific evening of music, comedy and film, with scheduled appearances by Paul Rudd, Jeremy Sisto, Ken Burns, Cheryl Hines, Mary Louise Parker, Kristen Bell, Ally Sheedy, Marisa Tomei, Keri Russell, Gina Gershon and others. To learn more about our mission, to make a tax-deductible donation, and to purchase tickets, please visit our website. Every contribution helps preserve Adrienne's legacy, allows us to help others, and creates something positive out of the tragic loss two years ago of an incredibly loving and talented woman.