McCain on Cuban Missile Crisis (and 9/11, Iran Hostages), Palin on Biden and Terrorism

The McCain / Palin Campaign Debacle continued to roll through like the, pardon my French but there’s no better word…clusterfuck that it is.

This particular post is going to be mostly focused on the interview the McCain / Palin “Team” gave to NBC (GE)’s Brian Williams, and some of the questions is raises about John McCain’s historical responses to crises. There’s also some Palin bits at the end, just for fun.

Also, after much searching a bullshit, I was able to find Joe Biden’s full quote, which I think I’ve only heard once, and then it was lost in a sea of political rhetoric.

We’ll start with McCain being “tested” during the Cuban Missile Crisis. From the transcript…

WILLIAMS: You mention Senator Biden’s comment the other day about a new president and a test of the new president’s mettle. One of your very closest friends in the Senate, Joe Lieberman, said on “Face the Nation,” quote, “Our enemies will test the new president early.”

And it has happened throughout modern history.

MCCAIN: Well, look, I’ve been tested. They know me, they know me very well. I’ve been tested. Senator Biden said it. What if Sarah or I had said it? Oh, my God, it would have been terrible, imagine. His own running mate said it’s because he’s young and new and untested. That’s why Senator Biden said, “Mark my words,” “Mark my words,” is what he said, that there’s going to be an international crisis. And then he compared it to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

My friend, I was in the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was on the aircraft carrier “Enterprise” in the air wing. We were close to nuclear war. I wouldn’t predict that for me — I mean, that’s remarkable. When a vice presidential candidate predicts, because a young, untested president is going to face an international crisis like the Cuban Missile Crisis? Unbelievable.

Americans know I’ve been tested.

We’ll get to Senator Biden’s oft-repeated, always-shortened, “gaffe” in a moment, but right now I want to focus on McCain. Note how McCain brings up his experience during the Cuban Missile Crisis [refresher] to say how he, himself, was tested.

McCain is on record, and on YouTube, retellng his experience on the “Enterprise” (and yes, it’s just coincidence that I watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of McKahn this morning) . You should watch that war story retelling now. Watch it all the way to the end, so you get to the part how he wanted to respond to the “test”.

It should be noted that the Cuban Missile Crisis occured in 1962. John S. McCain was born in 1936. He was, therefore, 25 or 26 at the time. This was five years before he would be captured in Vietnam.

In response to the follow-up question, McCain says:

Sure, we were tense, because we listened to what the President had to say, and we had targets in Cuba, and you had your planes loaded with weapons to deliver.

But I also have to tell ya, when you’re that age, there’s a certain spirit of excitement and adventure, and that’s what you’re trying to do. As so, it was also some enthusiasm for carrying out our mission.

So when he was faced with nuclear war, McCain wanted to start bombing. He was kinda excited about it.

This is a quality of John McCain that I mentioned in my general critique on his leadership style and potential.

McCain was not alone in this interview. By his side sat the faithful Palin. Ready to answer the tough questions with gibberish.

Nice. It’s only terrorism when they do it. How about killing a black bear and putting Obama stickers on it?

The carcass of a black bear that had been shot in the head was found wrapped in Sen. Barack Obama campaign signs on a North Carolina campus on Monday, Greenville station WYFF reported.

How about replacing an Obama flag with a Confederate one?

The 4-foot-by-8-foot Barack Obama campaign sign that McLaughlin had posted in the front yard of his Chesterfield County home was gone.

A Confederate flag hung in its place.

Surveying the scene that night, McLaughlin, 78, a Baptist minister and an Army veteran who lived to see the first black person nominated to a major-party ticket, had a message for whoever left the flag, viewed by many as a symbol of racial oppression: “I love you, and God does, too.”

Hmm, I guess that’s actually a pretty good way to respond to this kind of crap.

One other way is to point out the truth of things…which is where I’m going to address the Biden comment. As most the vast majority of political gaffes, this one is all based on the editing.

Now…I’m going to edit in all the parts of the this interview where they make Biden’s comment the new centerpoint of a failing campaign. It’s a decent idea on one side…but the basis of it is a falsehood. I’ve already illustrated how McCain responded to Kennedy’s test.

Before we get to the edits, here is how he responded to George W. Bush’s test, 9/11 (yea, that’s right, it fits, sadly).

On the morning of the 9/11, just moments after the World Trade Center collapsed from the terrorist strikes, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) went on television and immediately began focusing the nation’s attention on Iraq. In an interview with CBS’ Dan Rather on 9/11, McCain said:

To be honest with you, Dan, I never thought that an operation of this sophistication and size would take place. I just never did. But I don’t think there’s any doubt that there are countries — Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea and others — who we know engage in proliferation of — of capabilities and, from time to time, involve themselves in state-sponsored terrorism. But never did we imagine on a scale such as this.

The next day, on 9/12, McCain reiterated the point in an interview with Chris Matthews. “It isn’t just Afghanistan,” he said, “we’re talking about Syria, Iraq, Iran, perhaps North Korea, Libya and others.”

So that’s 2 out of 2 for “Let’s Go To War!”

How about the Hostage Crisis?

Looks like he was just kinda mis-remembering that one.

This is getting much longer that I anticipated, I hadn’t realized McCain had done so poorly on these tests.

I was going to make fun of Palin for this…


But now it just seems like I’m piling on.

I will say this, however, because of her interview response…

WILLIAMS: Governor Palin, yesterday you tied this notion of an early test to the new president with this notion of preconditions that you both have been hammering the Obama campaign on. What — first of all, what, in your mind, is a precondition?

PALIN: You have to have some diplomatic strategy going into a meeting with someone like Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong Il, one of these dictators that would seek to destroy America or her allies. It is so naive and so dangerous for a presidential candidate to just proclaim that they would be willing to sit down with a leader like Ahmadinejad and just talk about the problems, the issues that are facing them.

So that’s some ill-preparedness right there. But following up with your comment about Biden also, when Biden — what he had done the other night to his Democrat donors, in talking to them in a fund- raiser, warning them saying, “Mark my word, there will be an international crisis if Barack Obama is elected,” he was confirming what he had been saying all along in the primary race.

He had warned voters that Barack was not prepared yet to be president, and that the presidency is not a place for on-the-job training. So there was confirmation that in the comments that he made.

First up, Ahmadinejad isn’t a dictator, and real power in Iran is with the Supreme Commander (or whatever his made-up title is) but pointing that out 100 times won’t work, so I’m going to point out the rest of Joe Biden’s quote, since nobody seems to be able to remember the whole thing.

Mark my words. Within the next, first six months of this administration, if we win, they’re going to — we’re going to face a major international challenge. Because they’re going to want to test him, just like they did young John Kennedy. They’re going to want to test him. And they’re going to find out this guy’s got steel in his spine.

Nice, huh?

Quote the set-up, forget the punchline, and tell the joke over and over. It would work if this was a b.s. election year with a budget surplus and no real problems (i.e. like 2000). Did you hear Al Gore designed, built, and deployed the Internets? Yup, tuned every dump truck himself.

I wonder if they’re doing this to try and keep people from looking into how McCain has done on life’s previous “tests”.

He graduated fifth from the bottom of his class at the academy, and seems to have stayed fairly consistent since.

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