Tuesday, April 15, 2008


1. The Army Times reveals that McCain doesn't quite understand what General Petraeus does for a living:

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona may not have been paying the closest of attention last week during hearings on the Bush administration's Iraq policy.

Speaking Monday at the annual meeting of the Associated Press, McCain was asked whether he, if elected, would shift combat troops from Iraq to Afghanistan to intensify the search for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

"I would not do that unless Gen. [David] Petraeus said that he felt that the situation called for that," McCain said, referring to the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

Petraeus, however, made clear last week that he has nothing to do with the decision. Testifying last week before four congressional committees, including the Senate Armed Services Committee on which McCain is the ranking Republican, Petraeus said the decision about whether troops could be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan was not his responsibility because his portfolio is limited to the multi-national force in Iraq.

Decisions about Afghanistan would be made by others, he said....

Years ago, I was involved with a woman who knew her classical music and whose sister played in a big-city symphony orchestra. I'd come late to classical, but I'd gotten to the point where I more or less knew the canon, knew what I really liked and didn't like, and was eager to hear more. My girlfriend surprised me once by saying that I actually knew more about music than most of the classical musicians she'd met.

I thought that was absurd. But she insisted that most of the musicians of her acquaintance didn't know music -- they knew what they'd learned to play.

I don't know if that's true. There probably are at least some musicians for whom it's true. In any case, it's something I think about when I think of McCain and foreign policy.

Most people just assume he's an expert, given his military background. But it seems likely that he didn't enter Congress with any special overarching understanding of military and foreign-policy matters -- in terms of the military, he just knew about the things he used to do.

And yet nobody in the political establishment can conceive of the possibility that he might not know what he's talking about.


2. This is trivia -- but it wouldn't be if McCain had a D next to his name rather than an R:

...This past Sunday, Lauren Handel, an eagle-eyed attorney from New York, was searching for a specific recipe from Giada DeLaurentis, a chef on the Food Network. Yet whenever she Googled the different ingredients in the recipe, the oddest thing happened: not only did the Food Network's site come up, as expected, but so did John McCain's campaign site.

On a section of McCain's site called "Cindy's Recipes," you can find seven recipes attributed to Cindy McCain, each with the heading "McCain Family Recipe." Ms. Handel quickly realized that some of the "McCain Family Recipes," were in fact, word-for-word copies of recipes on the Food Network site.

At least three of the "McCain Family Recipes" appear to be lifted directly from the Food Network, while at least one is a Rachael Ray recipe with minor changes....

That's from the Huffington Post. Go to the link and you can see the other purloined recipes.

Let's count the ways this would play out if the plagiarism were on the Obama or Clinton site. "Elitist"? Check. (The recipes aren't particularly fancy, but any hint of the frou-frou -- not tuna but ahi tuna? -- would be seized upon by the usual bloviators, and contrasted with the real-Amurrican hot dogs served when McCain went to the White House for President Bush's endorsement.) In either Clinton or Obama's case, the woman in the couple would be accused of inadequately representing her gender. Hillary would be called a "phony." The Obamas would be accused of having an unearned sense of "entitlement" -- of feeling they had a right to these recipes. This would be a low-level but persistent drone; we'd hear about it for days.

But it's McCain, so you'll never hear about it again.

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