John McCain got his face broke this morning in Ohio. The video clip – an instant classic – is embedded below.
What’s beautiful about this clip is, it reinforces a narrative. A narrative about Team McCain being less competent (and less lucky) than Team Obama... on the day after Barack Obama rocked a Hollywood-style mini-movie on national television.
Last weekend, pundits said “Joe the Plumber” was gaining traction as a campaign issue... that this concocted symbol of Hard-Working White America was pulling voters toward McCain.
Now, this embarrassing moment will suck another day’s focus away from the major McCain talking point of Obama-as-socialist. David Shuster highlighted it on MSNBC an hour ago; the Huffington Post is leading with it; the YouTube clip has racked up 155,000 views already.
Just wait until the late-night comics have at it.
UPDATE (10/30/08): This clip was show twice tonight on Anderson Cooper’s show. And, of course, Keith Olbermann couldn’t resist hyping it on “Countdown.”
But McCain’s awkward moment wasn’t shown at all on Fox News, as far as I can tell. (Merely an oversight on their part, I’m sure.)
A half-hour from now, Barack Obama’s 30-minute TV commercial comes on. I’ll be watching on MSNBC, so I won’t have to wait for West Coast prime time.
If I have something to say about it, I’ll post it here. If anybody else feels like commenting, please do.
For me, the real show is gonna be at 11 p.m. Eastern Time (8 p.m. Pacific). That’s when Obama and Bill Clinton appear together at a rally in Florida. (Jimmy Smits will be there too.)
C-SPAN will broadcast the rally live. Yay, C-SPAN!
5:40 p.m. (Pacific Time): Meh. At this stage of the game, it’s still all about making white folks in Middle America comfortable with Barack Obama.
It was a well-produced show... and politically sophisticated, with its targeted shout-outs to battleground states such as Missouri, New Mexico and Colorado. It reaffirms for me the sense that the most impressive thing about Barack Obama, apart from his on-camera skills, is the high professionalism of his campaign team.
If he can run the country the way he ran this campaign, Obama will have a successful presidency.
I don’t know that this half-hour special was necessary, but it can’t hurt. The only thing that bugged me was the recycled material... the stuff about his absentee father and his mother’s cancer, which was shown during the Democratic Convention, I think.
What did y’all think?
8:37 p.m. Wow. President Clinton was just spitting fire down there in Florida!
He made a passionate case for why Barack Obama should be elected president. It was carried live by CNN and MSNBC (but not, curiously, by Fox News... a mere oversight, I’m sure).
All is forgiven, Bill. Way to stand on the mound in the top of the 9th inning and throw that heat. Clinton’s performance tonight, far as I’m concerned, means more than Obama’s own half-hour infomercial.
Everything in that infomercial we’d already heard before. But Bill Clinton doing this is headline news.
But you know what? It could’ve been worse. Because I went dumpster-diving at CNN’s New York offices, and I found some of the jokes that D.L. didn’t use. (Play along with me on this.)
Believe it or not, the jokes he threw away are even more stereotypical and offensive! Read ’em for yourself:
“Obama wanted to bring some of his African relatives over to America to celebrate on Election Day. But the airline wouldn’t let ’em get on the plane with bones in their noses!”
“Guess who Obama is considering for Secretary of Defense? Minister Farrakhan. Yeeaah, that’s what I’m talking about. ’Cause the Fruit of Islam do not play. Hell, if they can clean up the projects, you know they can handle Afghanistan!”
“They say when Richard Nixon got elected, he put a bowling alley in the White House. Barack said, ‘Forget that.’ Y’all know he can’t bowl, right? Barack is gonna change it up his own way. Put a basketball court in the Rose Garden. Yep... right next to the watermelon patch!”
“Ain’t too many black folks working at CNN. But they treat me nice. They treat me real nice. My first day here, Wolf Blitzer came right up to me and said, ‘ESPN’s across the street, nigger!’ ”
“Naw, seriously... CNN got some good black people working here. Soledad O’Brien, Suzanne Malveaux. I swear, I ain’t seen so many light-skinned bitches in one place since the BET Movie Awards!”
“I’m glad to see Obama and Joe Biden get along so well. One day they were walking by the Reflecting Pool, out by the Lincoln Memorial, and they had to pee. So they took their dicks out. Joe Biden said, ‘Damn, this water’s cold.’ Barack say, ‘Yeah, and it’s deep too!’ ”
Got your attention, didn’t I? Man, I am shameless.
I’m not a liar, though. John McCain indeed uttered the word “nigger” in the audio version of his 2005 book “Character Is Destiny: Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember.”
He spoke it in the context of South Africa’s history of racism.
Click here to listen (and to assess how trippingly the word rolls of his tongue. Hee-hee...).
There is absolutely nothing wrong with McCain saying the word in this context. What’s ironic is that McCain spoke so admiringly of Nelson Mandela – a man who, until this very year, was on the U.S. government’s terrorist watch list.
Perhaps Sarah Palin should ask her running mate whether he “pals around with terrorists.” (Just sayin’... Mandela did bomb shit.)
Mamadou Diabate of Mali is a master of the kora, a West African string instrument. For generations, music has been a family tradition; Mamadou’s cousin, Toumani Diabate, is also a world-class kora player.
Mamadou Diabate now lives in New York state, and he tours the world displaying his chops.
A track from Diabate’s 2008 album, “Douga Mansa,” is available as a FREE MP3. Click here to hear “Bolomabory” on my Vox blog.
TV producer Steven Bochco – the man who used to sign my paychecks – was the guest last week on Elvis Mitchell’s radio show, “The Treatment.”
Bochco’s latest drama series, “Raising the Bar,” is a hit for TNT. But his place in history is due to two police shows – “Hill Street Blues” (my all-time favorite drama) and “NYPD Blue” (which I used to write for).
Click here to hear a 1-minute excerpt in which Bochco places “Hill Street” in the social context of America in the early 1980s.
The Drudge Report went all out yesterday afternoon, announcing with a bold red headline that a McCain campaign volunteer – a young white woman – had been attacked and “mutilated” in Pittsburgh... by a large, dark-skinned black man who didn’t like the McCain stickers on her car.
The young woman’s name is Ashley Todd. And she told police that the giant Negro carved a letter “B” on her cheek with a knife.
“You are going to be a Barack supporter,” the giant Negro said.
I hereby salute right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin, who was suspicious of the girl’s story right away.
Even before Ashley had confessed, Ms. Malkin wrote: “Hate crimes hoaxes – by anyone, of any political persuasion, and of any color – diminish us all.”
Even Lawrence Auster, my favorite far-right blogger – a man who often writes luridly about black criminal “savagery” – even he voiced a bit of skepticism about Ashley’s tale last night.
(Although Mr. Auster also wrote this: “The attack on a white woman because she had a McCain bumper sticker also supports the prediction of some [of my readers] that the election, whether Obama wins or loses, will lead to an outpouring of black anti-white violence.”
(Well, Larry... keep a happy thought.)
I’m about to board a flight back to Los Angeles. But I really look forward to the cable-news chatter about this incident tonight.
UPDATE (10/24/08): Via the magic of the internets, tonight’s Keith Olbermann segment on the Ashley Todd fiasco is embedded below.
The new question is whether a McCain official in Pennsylvania “pushed” the story of the big black assailant to local media yesterday.
From what I’ve managed to glimpse on Fox News this week, there are some right-wing partisans who insist that Barack Obama “hasn’t closed the sale”... that the polls overestimate Obama’s strength... that the “race will tighten” in the coming days... and that McCain still has a real chance to win.
Well, just cast your peepers on the poll numbers above, courtesty of Real Clear Politics. (Click the image to see it bigger.)
Karl Rove – the man who made a president out of George W. Bush – says that in order to win, McCain must capture all of the toss-up states (North Carolina, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota and Nevada) plus Ohio and another big Obama-leaning state.
On “Hannity & Colmes” last night, Rove said that McCain’s electoral strategy depends upon a victory in Pennsylvania.
Okay. Now check those Big Ten poll numbers again. Obama’s ahead in Ohio by 12 points. Obama leads in Pennsylvania by 11.
New Orleans holds a special place in the imagination of the world. That’s because of black music.
At that second line parade I visited on Sunday, I saw a couple of young Japanese tourists who chatted with the brass-band musicians during breaks.
As for the sounds of traditional New Orleans jazz, those are being kept alive by performers across the globe. Such as a group in Argentina called the Small Jazz Band. Let me point you to a FREE MP3.
In 2004, the Small Jazz Band released a version of “If You Want to Be My Sugar Papa,” a tune popularized in the 1920s by clarinetist Johnny Dodds (who recorded with King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong).
More sad news. Singer Dee Dee Warwick, younger sister of Dionne Warwick, died Saturday in a New Jersey nursing home. She was 63 years old.
Dee Dee was a major-label recording artist in the late ’60s and early ’70s, but her solo career never took off.
Ironically, she recorded the original versions of two songs that later became huge hits for other stars – “You’re No Good” (a smash for Linda Ronstadt) and “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” (a No. 2 hit when recorded by the Supremes and the Temptations).
Ms. Warwick was also a busy background vocalist during the 1960s, appearing on records by Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, the Drifters and others. She got her start in a gospel group, the Gospelaires, along with Dionne.
To hear Dee Dee’s 1963 version of “You’re No Good,” click here.
I was out walking with David Simon last night, and there wasn’t much happening in New Orleans. Hardly even a street musician to be found in the French Quarter. (And New Orleans is supposed to be the busking capital of the United States.)
Culture warrior Bob Davis of Soul-Patrol.com has put a lot of sad news in my email basket over the years. Today he reports that comedian Rudy Ray Moore has died. He was 71.
According to EURweb.com, the cause of death was complications from diabetes.
I have blogged about Mr. Moore’s foul-mouthed performance art twice before (here and here). Now let me stream his classic rendition of “Signifying Monkey,” released in 1970 on “The 2nd Rudy Ray Moore Album: This Pussy Belongs to Me.”
Rudy Ray Moore has influenced rappers such as 2 Live Crew and Too Short. Anybody who grew up black in the 1970s has either heard one of his LPs or seen one of his movies. White hipsters started embracing him in the 1990s.
I suppose it’s time to share a piece of news. My old buddy David Simon – creator of “The Wire” – is working on a new project for HBO, a drama series called “Tremé.” It’s about post-Katrina New Orleans, with a focus on the music culture.
HBO has greenlit a pilot episode and ordered a few more scripts, but we won’t know until next year whether “Tremé” goes all the way to series.
Simon, a huge music fan, knows New Orleans well, and Overmyer lives in the city for part of the year. But I never even visited New Orleans before arriving yesterday with Simon for a weeklong excursion. (Overmyer will join us today.)
In my first day, I got an eyeful and an earful. We marched for two hours alongside a second line parade as a young brass band funked it up.
From September thru December, a Sunday parade is almost a weekly occurrence in black New Orleans. Yesterday’s was organized by the Men of Class Social Aid & Pleasure Club.
Simon and I were rolling with Davis Rogan, a pianist, teacher, raconteur, gadfly and all-around funky white boy.
During the parade, local rap star Cheeky Blakk stepped up to dance with him and then meet the out-of-towners.
(Click here to hear a track that Cheeky recorded with Davis.)
We also stopped and chatted along the parade route with trombonist and bandleader Glen David Andrews, who was more than happy to meet a TV producer doing a show about New Orleans music.
Later, I tagged along as Simon hit Sidney’s Saloon – a.k.a. Kermit’s Lounge – to say hey to Kermit Ruffins, trumpet player extraordinaire. (Kermit was wearing an Obama-Biden button on his chocolate-brown pinstripe suit.)
After that, we went to the Bywater neighborhood to see Davis Rogan and his band play a set at a wine lounge.
Topped it all off with a stroll down Bourbon Street, where rowdy tourists go to vomit.