Saturday, August 23, 2008

Two Highlights from Keith Olbermann's Show

First is Keith's table-turning description of McCain:

McCain is so determined to convince working Americans that he's not a rich, out-of-touch, couscous-eating, cappuchino-sipping elitist that he woke up early at his 15-acre Arizona ranch, took a 9-car motorcade to Starbucks, and then, sipping his cappuchino, got to work. A large cappuchino.

I'm not making any of that up.
I think it's hilarious that Keith needed to point out that he wasn't exaggerating.


Then, there's the bit from Eugene Robinson, which is a great bon mot about John McCain's house confusion, but also explains why I hardly ever listen to the pundits on the show and just fastforward right through them.

Here's Robinson:
The impression that has been created over the last 24 hours is that John and Cindy McCain buy houses the way you and I would buy an umbrella. You know, you kind of buy it on the spur of the moment and you forget where you left it.
OK, he's engaging in the DC punditry game of what matters, which is a lot different than what matters to everybody else. They care about the impressions that are impacting the campaign. Everybody else wants to know what's true and what's not.

Eugene Robinson didn't wade into figuring out whether this impression was true or not, apparently, he is just pointing out that it's been created. That sounds like it just as easily could be a false meme that's not supported by facts but has taken root. It's too bad all too often this crucial difference between BS claims and well supported claims is not one that the pundit class sees fit to look into.

If he had looked into it a little bit, he would have quickly realized there's support that this is in fact the way the McCain's buy and forget about their houses.

Taken part by part. First:
You know, you kind of buy it on the spur of the moment

Fair enough - is there any instance when the McCains bought a property on the spur of the moment, in a fashion much more like an umbrella purchase than a home purchase? The answer is Yes.
Cindy McCain discussed the timing of the second condo purchase in a June interview with Vogue magazine (not online) that's newly relevant in light of the explosive controversy over John McCain's inability to recall how many homes the McCains own.

And in another fun fact that could pour fuel on this controversy, Cindy told her interviewer that the reason they needed a second beach condo in the Coronado building was that the first was too crowded because her kids were staying there and as a result she "couldn't get in the place."

Cindy continued: "So I bought another one."

Here's the relevant passage, from the start of the Vogue piece:

It is a late Sunday afternoon in April, and I am sitting in a condominium in Coronado, California, taking in the view of the gorgeous San Diego Bay with Cindy McCain. She closed on the place just two weeks earlier, and the only things unpacked so far are the family photos that dot almost every surface. It's her family's second condo in the building. "I like the ocean, and the kids love it here, and I love that," she tells me, curled up on a nondescript couch that looks like it might have come with the apartment. "When I bought the first one, my husband, who is not a beach person, said, 'Oh, this is such a waste of money; the kids will never go.' Then it got to the point where they used it so much I couldn't get in the place. So I bought another one."

Notice, it's not that she decided to sell the original place to come up with the cash to buy the new one. It was just decide to buy another one. 99% of people can't just decide to buy a new house (and I'm guessing without a mortgage) without selling the new one. But for the McCain's, getting another condo was the simple answer. Sounds very much like the purchase of another umbrella to me.

Then there's the second part of Robinson's comparison:
you kind of buy it on the spur of the moment and you forget where you left it
Is their any truth behind this impression - yes, in fact, there is. The McCains had their condo in La Jolla go into default because they didn't pay their property taxes in 4 years - and the only reason they started to is because they were notified of the default by the media. If that's not losing track, I don't know what is.
Too bad Robinson couldn't have figured that out.


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