Letterman Skewers McCain

UPDATE: Video added. Original post:

John McCain appeared on the David Letterman Show today after making the bad mistake three weeks ago of telling Dave he needed to cancel an appearance so he could rush back to Washington to deal with the financial crisis. McCain actually stayed in New York and gave an interview to Katie Couric.

McCain's explanation: "I screwed up."

[more ...]

Not the first time, Senator McCain. And not the last. McCain walked right into Letterman's blistering cross-examination about his campaign tactics. With the ease and skill of an experienced courtroom advocate, Letterman exposed McCain's hypocrisy in attacking Obama for his association with Bill Ayers.

Letterman questioned [McCain] about Palin's claim that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama "palled around with terrorists," and McCain backed her up, saying his opponent need to better explain his relationship with former Weather Underground activist William Ayers.

"Did you not have a relationship with Gordon Liddy?" Letterman asked about Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy.

McCain said he knew him. Then, after a commercial break, McCain said, "I know Gordon Liddy. He paid his debt, he went to prison ... I'm not in any way embarrassed to know Gordon Liddy."

"You understand the same case could be made of your relationship with him as is being made with William Ayers?" Letterman said.

Game over. If Obama didn't take the sting out of the Ayers nonsense in last night's debate, Letterman just did it for him. Aren't these the kinds of questions that journalists should be asking?

Frankly, I would like Obama to say about Ayers: "I don't condone criminal behavior he engaged in when I was 8 years old, but let's remember that in America, a man is innocent until proven guilty. Bill Ayers was never convicted of the crimes that the McCain-Palin campaign keeps talking about. And anyway, that was 40 years ago. The Bill Ayers I know isn't who he was 40 years ago. He's a respected university professor who was once named Chicago's Citizen of the Year. I am able to forgive whatever Bill Ayers did 40 years ago because I believe people can change, and I believe Ayers has atoned for his crimes and is entitled to be recognized for who he is today, not just for who he was 40 years ago."

There was once a time when Americans believed that people were entitled to second chances. There was a time when the phrase "paid his debt to society" was common. Until McCain said it today, when did you last hear a Republican express the belief that an offender can ever pay that debt? The concepts of rehabilitation and earning a second chance were supplanted by punishment and vengeance and unforgiving moral judgment during the Reagan years. If McCain believes Liddy paid his debt to society, why won't he give the same benefit of forgiveness to Ayers?

I don't know whether Obama would give my proposed answer if it could be done at no political cost. I do know that my proposed answer would be featured in Republican attack ads, perhaps effectively. Walking away from Ayers is the safe play, but that doesn't stop me from hoping for a return of respect for the phrase "he paid his debt to society."

Letterman, on the other hand, didn't let McCain walk away from Ayers. McCain tried to fudge the comparison to Liddy by arguing that he's been open about that relationship -- implying that Obama has a deeper hidden relationship with Ayers.

Letterman appeared to ridicule McCain about the implication that Obama and Ayers had a relationship.

"Are they double-dating, are they going to dinner, what are they doing?" Letterman asked. "Are they driving across country?"

"Maybe going to Denny's," McCain said.

Letterman said that Obama was 8 when Ayers was 29, and McCain appeared exasperated. "There's millions of words said in a campaign. C'mon, Dave," he said.

That's the problem: just too many words. McCain might want to take the rest of the week off to recover from the Letterman interview.

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    Good for Letterman (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by MTSINAIMAMA on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 09:59:01 PM EST
    I admit, I was pissed when I read that McCain was going on the show, but if this is what Letterman did, excellent!!

    I didn't enjoy the interview (5.00 / 0) (#19)
    by Steve M on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 12:27:24 AM EST
    Usually Dave is a little better at skewering people with humor.  This was just basically him railing at McCain for the entire interview and not even paying attention to any of McCain's answers.

    Dave's points were pretty much all well-taken but that doesn't mean it was enjoyable.  It's like he's so disgusted at finally realizing what a phony that he can't even do his regular schtick.

    I think Sarah Palin is the catalyst for a lot of this in that Dave sees her as a total joke and thus feels McCain is a total phony when he sits there talking about how awesome she is, how great she'd be if there were another 9/11 with her in charge, etc.  I see that reaction a lot from regular people although obviously, whether you see Sarah Palin as a nonserious candidate is a matter of opinion.

    McCain's "Answers" (none / 0) (#36)
    by Ellis on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 02:10:21 PM EST
    McCain is pathetic. He's desperately trolling the gutter for anything he can find in the hope that something will hurt Obama and substitute for the fact that McCain has nothing to offer but more Republican incompetence and misery.

    Dave should have clarified one point. McCain says he "screwed up." Exactly what was the nature of that screw up? It seems pretty clear that what McCain really did was L..I..E to Letterman. This from the man who recently claimed (with a straight face to the Des Moines Register's editorial board) that he has always been 100% honest in everything he has said (and done). Of course, that, in and of itself, was a huge lie.

    McCain's claims about Obama and Ayers are idiotic and it seems clear that most Americans have seen through McCain's dishonesty to the heart of the matter -- McCain needs something, anything, to give him an advantage against Obama.

    He sounds like a pathetic child stating and restating his claims as if they mean something. Obama has answered the questions, but McCain has made it obvious (in classic playground "I know you are, but what am I" repetitious style) that there is no answer short of an absolute lie (e.g., yes, John, I am BFFs with Ayers and we're planning the overthrow of the American government right now) that would ever satisfy McCain. That's because he doesn't want an answer, he wants a campaign issue -- and there simply isn't one there.

    McCain underlines his desperation by constantly returning to this issue, despite the fact that voters have seen through the ploy and it is hurting McCain. He can't help himself. He's like a little kid with no self-control.

    Since Ayers has worked now John, like the desperately dishonest moron he is, is transferring his attack from Ayers to ACORN, another absurd attempt to get something on Obama that doesn't exist.

    Calling the ACORN business an attack on the fabric or our democracy is ridiculous. It is the job of the states to determine the validity of voter registrations, not ACORN. ACORN can hand in a billion registrations with problems and not a single one of those individuals can vote unless the state gives them a right to do so. Perhaps if the states and federal government took the right to vote seriously they would devote the resources necessary to ensure that 1) every eligible adult is registered to voter and 2) everyone registered is eligible.

    Instead of "skewering" McCain, Letterman should have ignored him -- forever.


    well (5.00 / 0) (#30)
    by connecticut yankee on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 09:44:05 AM EST
    Too bad Dave didnt follow up with various ugly things said by Liddy since his release.  McCain should be embarrassed to know him, he's just getting off easy because the press doesnt want that storyline.

    It's funny that it took a comic to raise the issue.

    Ayres was and is a problem (4.50 / 4) (#10)
    by befuddledvoter on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 11:25:15 PM EST
    He was called the "rich kid radical" during his hay day.  His father was a very influential mover and shaker in Chicago.  That probably has everything to do with the fact that he was not prosecuted.  Many people were and did hard time.  While he may have redeemed himself in some ways, many people are not willing to forgive and forget.  It is wise for Obama to distance himself.  Even among very liberal academics, Ayres has many critics.  Ayres gave the anti-war movement a bad name.    

    He was prosecuted (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by TChris on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 11:52:49 PM EST
    But the case was dismissed after evidence obtained in illegal searches was suppressed.

    Right, I know (none / 0) (#43)
    by befuddledvoter on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 04:01:05 PM EST
    I rest my case . . .

    You know it's close to Election Day when (4.50 / 2) (#31)
    by bslev22 on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 09:45:01 AM EST
    passionate articles and blogposts are written that glorify the skewering of one of the presidential candidates by a late night talk show host.  :)

    For the record, I could care less what David Letterman thinks and I actually find it annoying but ultimately meaningless that someone like him would inject himself into the race, I think Bill Ayer's is an unrepentant criminal and I have no use for him, I think Senator Obama associated with Ayers in the same way that many, many other Chicago politicians did in order to advance politically in that city, I believe that Senator Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers is more than he claimed it was when it was brought up during the presidential primaries, but. . .

    I don't believe for a single, solitary second that Senator Obama shares Bill Ayer's radical and hateful political views, I don't believe that Ayers will have an ounce of influence in an Obama Administration, and I fully intend to vote for Senator Obama regardless of his association with Bill Ayers.  

    Am I missing something?

    I'm not so thrilled with Bill Ayers of 7 years ago (3.83 / 6) (#8)
    by jerry on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 10:46:42 PM EST
    And while I don't know much of the Bill Ayers of 40 years ago, what little I know suggests he was a privileged rich kid then, and a privileged rich kid now who learned little in his 40 years as evidenced by his 2001 remarks.

    I think Obama has shown poor judgment in his associates and votes many times.

    I'll vote for him, but I'm not going to pretend he's something he's not.

    By the way, Al Franken, who I would move to Minnesota to vote for if I could, considers G. Gordon Liddy a friend.

    Hey Sher, the Internet is a safe place, TL too (4.00 / 4) (#17)
    by jerry on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 12:16:19 AM EST
    Rather than just modding people down who disagree with your sainted comments, it's even better to actually respond with you know, your argument as to why they are wrong.

    Ah, what am I saying.  Just continue with your drive bys.


    You accept the guilt by association (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by MKS on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 12:40:16 AM EST
    argument that Republicans unveiled via Joseph McCarthy....

    Obama never hired him or had him as an adviser.....You seem to suggest that Obama has a duty to vet other members of the Board on which he served....That Ayers was accepted back into society by prominent Republicans tells me Obama's judgment that Ayers had been rehabilitated was correct....That Ayers said something stupid years later....does not change that....

    I am sick and tired of Republican talking points being slung out here 19 days before an election.


    Tells me he was a privileged rich kid then and now (4.00 / 4) (#22)
    by jerry on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 12:46:35 AM EST
    "That Ayers was accepted back into society by prominent Republicans tells me Obama's judgment that Ayers had been rehabilitated was correct."

    And if you trace this thread, I haven't accepted the guilt by association.  Obama has a history of dubious associations and dubious votes.

    What I said, was that my understanding of Bill Ayers is of a remarkably shallow individual then and now.  I really do appreciate the contrast of his remarks published on 9/11 with his statements later expressing his shock, shock, that we were attacked.


    History of dubious associations (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by MKS on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 01:06:12 AM EST
    Nice.  McCarthyism again....

    You say:

    And if you trace this thread, I haven't accepted the guilt by association.  Obama has a history of dubious associations and dubious votes

    What??  It is not guilt by association because he has bad associations????  Having bad associations is not guilt by association?   What circular rubbish....


    Haven't accepted the guilt by association of Ayers (3.66 / 3) (#24)
    by jerry on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 01:10:09 AM EST
    I have looked at many of Obama's associates as well as many of Obama's votes and figured out that he has some very dubious judgment.

    That's not circular, that's examining a politician's past -- who he associates with, what causes he pushes, how he votes.

    During the primary, this was considered part of being a responsible voter.  

    Sorry if that upsets your tummy.


    No, your bad reasoning confuses me (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by MKS on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 01:16:55 AM EST
    You judge him by his associations....that is guilt by association....You reasoning is very poor and circular....

    Let's try this one more time.  Please explain how judging someone by their associations is not guilt by association....

    Then you throw in poor votes....to bootstrap your other arguments....We weren't talking about poor votes...

    You are a little transparent here...


    No, you are not reading what I've been saying (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by jerry on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 01:25:33 AM EST
    I've mentioned his voting record at least twice now.

    Guilt by association is saying you went knew a commie, therefore you're a commie.

    Guilt by association is not examining his record and saying, I can't figure out why you associate with this jerk, or that jerk, or that jerk, or that jerk either.  I can't figure out why you took this action in that election.  I can't figure out why you nominate this jerk for VP.

    Guilt by association is not examining his record and saying, I disagree with your vote here, and there, and there, and there.

    Guilt by association is not examining his record and saying, you say you want X, but in the past, you've voted for ~X or made statements supporting ~X, so I have no idea why you think you're going to get X now.

    This is not guilt by association.  This is examining his past and his votes and his causes and who he gets money from and who he pals around with.

    I'm going to vote for the guy, but I'm not going to pretend he's something that so many times he's demonstrated he's not, regardless of how many 2's you give me, or how you read my posts will ill intent.


    Of course, Obama never hired Ayers (1.00 / 0) (#28)
    by Cream City on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 07:26:23 AM EST
    as it was the other way around.  Ayers got the Annenberg grant and was responsible for administering it, including setting up the board.  And Obama got paid as chair of the board.

    In Fact, Ayres Didn't Hire Obama (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by daring grace on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 11:09:26 AM EST
    At least, that's what I've read in several credible sources like this one.

    Have you seen evidence that disputes this?


    Of course not (none / 0) (#35)
    by MKS on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 12:14:58 PM EST
    It is only bad news or dubious reports that gets attention....

    So, who is the Ayers Obama knew on (2.71 / 7) (#3)
    by nycstray on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 09:40:15 PM EST
    Sept 11? That new respectful guy? Someone who atoned for his actions or someone who said he didn't do enough back then?

    Sorry, they both have poor judgment. We all do at times, just a matter of extremes, forethought, etc.

    Ayers didn't make the (5.00 / 5) (#9)
    by IndiDemGirl on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 11:00:58 PM EST
    "didn't do enough" to end the war comments on September 11th. They were made before the attacks of 9-11 and were published around that date.

    On 9-11 Ayers made the following comment,
    "Today we are witnessing crimes against humanity on our own shores on an unthinkable scale, and I fear that we may soon see more innocent people in other parts of the world dying in response."  Another comment by Ayers "I condemn all forms of terrorism -- individual, group and official".

    Obama may have poor judgment on some things, as all humans do, but his limited dealings with Ayers certainly do not qualify.


    Well said Mr. Ayers..... (none / 0) (#38)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 02:21:35 PM EST
    "...and I fear that we may soon see more innocent people in other parts of the world dying in response."  

    I couldn't agree more...does that make me a terrorist sympathizer too?


    McCain repeatedly (5.00 / 0) (#29)
    by prose on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 08:41:03 AM EST
    misrepresents the Ayers interview.  No one calls him on it because no journalist in the Fox age has a lick of integrity.

    Thats just (5.00 / 0) (#32)
    by connecticut yankee on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 09:46:03 AM EST
    right wing nonsense.

    Obama was on the school board with Ayers (none / 0) (#37)
    by coigue on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 02:15:02 PM EST
    My guess is that he was there for the schools, not the company.

    Liddy The Plumber. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Salo on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 09:33:20 PM EST
    Mccain walked in with his chin.  I had a good laugh at that with my chums at the bar.

    Ay oop I thought is he referencing Nixon?

    Mccain is obviously losing it (none / 0) (#2)
    by Salo on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 09:36:48 PM EST

    because I thought the Ayers stuff was always supposed to lead into this statement:

    "Obama is a socialist at heart and if you look at his longer term associates it shows that he has sought the company of various far left radical--socialist political figures, just saying."

    It was a slow moving pitch really...but maybe McCain is just too dumb to  make that ideological point.

    How do you get Letterman (none / 0) (#5)
    by cal1942 on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 10:14:40 PM EST
    so early?

    He doesn't come on here until 11:35 EDT.  By my watch it's now 11:13 PM EDT.

    Letterman is taped late afternoon (none / 0) (#11)
    by TChris on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 11:50:11 PM EST
    The McCain interview was released to the press right after taping.

    I knew (none / 0) (#14)
    by cal1942 on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 11:59:04 PM EST
    it was taped in the afternoon, but seem to remember that one commenter said he/she saw it.

    Anyway, thanks TCHRIS, I appreciate the response.


    Might have seen it on Olberman (none / 0) (#20)
    by TChris on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 12:30:51 AM EST
    A long snippet of the interview was played on Countdown.

    Correct. Around 4 or 4:30 (none / 0) (#15)
    by nycstray on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 11:59:38 PM EST
    I used to work across the street and when the line disappeared, I knew it was close to quittin' time. Which meant hitting the bar/grill across the street to partake with the Letterman folks, lol!~  :D

    The link has interesting info (none / 0) (#6)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 10:22:30 PM EST
    about ratings, inferring a correlation . . . without any context or evidence that suggests a correlation, that I can see.  Maybe it gets dark earlier, so people don't stay up as late?  Dunno.
    But I can't imagine that Letterman going negative on McCain is the reason for a decline in ratings.

    Another of those head-scratchin' media reports.

    I usually go to bed earlier (none / 0) (#13)
    by nycstray on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 11:57:22 PM EST
    with early darkness, but I'm in busy time both personally and work wise. It'll be a couple weeks before I get on winter sched. It really screws up your day when it doesn't get dark until 9PM! (if you're me!) I end up eating dinner way late, lol!~

    I quit watching Letterman except for specific people (Bill Clinton anyone?!) because of some of the sexist remarks he was making and the over the top on McCain. I preferred him as an equal opportunity political comedian/talk show host.


    Maybe (none / 0) (#16)
    by cal1942 on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 12:11:37 AM EST
    a decline in ratings BECAUSE McCain was going to be on.

    Letterman was off for a week a short while ago.  Maybe that is an element in the ratings decline or perhaps his recent guest offerings.


    Youtube here: (none / 0) (#18)
    by jerry on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 12:20:00 AM EST
    There's nothing wrong with teaching black pride (none / 0) (#34)
    by MyLeftMind on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 12:10:36 PM EST
    but what the heck is afro-centric attitudes?  There are many Africa cultures and many influences on AAs; which attitudes should be taught?  Clearly, all cultures have both good and bad facets.  The question is, who decides what's promoted, and how are the concepts taught.  

    If people have a problem that black-pride or afro-centric attitudes were taught, why shouldn't they be?

    This is where it gets messy because white guilt prevents many white liberals from properly analyzing our racial problems.  For years, feminists have fought against cliterodectomies on little girls in other countries.  But white feminists were told they should just shut up about cliterodectomies, that they had no right to criticize another culture.  The same is true of other contemporary issues that are racially or culturally defined.  If you think that rap music videos are mostly pornographic, do you want groups working with school children if they glorify rap stars? If you think AAs calling each other the N-word is hurtful, racist and nonproductive, can you speak up if organizations that help the poor in AA communities hire and promote people who continue to disparage each other with that term?  Pastor Wright rants and raves against whites in his sermons against candidates like Hillary Clinton.  Most people recognize that she's not a bad person just because she shares skin color with people who hurt AAs.  But what do AA children take away from sermons like that?  Part of the problem with the Ayers and Obama working together on the Annenberg Challenge board is that it's very easy to paint organizations like that as radical or flawed, especially if they act in ways counterproductive to accepted standards.  Pastor W's rants is a prime example.  Perhaps Obama doesn't discuss the relationships because he recognizes that his only hope to get elected is to tread that line between cultures.  

    Often, white liberals are told they aren't supposed to criticize any component of contemporary AA culture.  That means the only people discussing the actual problems are exactly those people who exacerbate race issues because they come from a racist perspective.  Until liberal whites shed their white guilt and join in the discussion of what's acceptable, we'll continue along this road of tip toeing around some very real problems that racists are the only ones challenging.  

    Why 'afro-centric' (none / 0) (#42)
    by andrys on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 03:33:35 PM EST
    I think they meant that you teach them about life taking into consideration the environment and somewhat different culture they are born into and develop within, while learning from the whiter American world of tv and movies the rest.

      I was born in Chinatown in San Francisco and spent my first 10 years there, and there is a difference in how you look out at the world and learn from it all.  The neighborhood in my case was 100% Chinese, and when we were visited one day by a class from another school, we were actually stunned that they were all so pale and we wondered what might be wrong. Seriously.

      Now I'm talking the 40s.  There was no tv, I was about 7 or 8 when that occurred so I'd no experience with that.  I started being brought to movies after that age and learned a bit more  :-)


    every one please help me (none / 0) (#40)
    by erika on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 02:53:19 PM EST
    Go to floppingaces.net I've been having it out with them for some while now.  I need some reinforcements, they are spreading lies and hate. my name on it is voter, please check it out.

    flopping aces (none / 0) (#41)
    by erika on Fri Oct 17, 2008 at 02:54:01 PM EST
    check out the post about obama funded afrocentric teaching