Ana Marie Cox: I Let McCain’s Crankiness Go Because I Think His Ribs Are Delicious

John Amato links to this fascinating exchange on Howie Kurtz’s show (you have to click through the link for Kurtz–the YouTube is McCain’s daughter talking about how KEWL it is to hang out with the–apparently drunk and–famous journalists). In it, Ana Marie Cox explains how she ignores McCain’s crankiness.

KURTZ: But that suggests that the people who have been traveling with him regularly…

COX: Yes.

KURTZ: … become part of the bubble, part of the team?

COX: Become part of the bubble, and also, I mean, I think what happens is that you — if you’ve been covering him for a long time, there’s a sense that, well, he does that all the time, it’s not worth reporting, because he does — he’s a cranky old man. I mean, to be quite frank. You know, like, and also, I’ve gotten much tougher terseness than Bumiller got just there. And…

COX: But the cameras weren’t rolling. And also, we wrote it off to, like, you know, he hadn’t had his fifth cup of Starbucks today. [emphasis Amato’s]

But Amato doesn’t include the most important context to Ana Marie’s comment. Howie notes that some people have been receiving better treatment from McCain than others of late.

KURTZ: And McCain did hold a barbecue for the press at his ranch in Sedona where some people were in attendance.

COX: Yes, uh, delicious dry rubbed barbecue ribs, actually, baby back ribs.

KURTZ: First hand report!

Goodness! Did Howie catch Ana Marie going easy on McCain because she loves slurping on his his ribs?

A press "critic" worth his salt, of course, might point out that journalists who haven’t been wined and dined by McCain might find the fact that he’s a cranky old man newsworthy–particularly for a guy auditioning to put his hands on the nuclear football. A "critic" might point out that that’s precisely the problem with the press’ little rib-sucking fun with McCain, it makes them less likely to actually report the things we might like to know about these guys.

Not surprisingly, the "critic" in question did none of those things. I suspect Howie’s just hoping to be invited next time around.

53 replies
  1. kspena says:

    really OT- I had missed this earlier: bush claims right to read your mail w/out warrant.


    In bush’s Dec. 20, 2007 signing statement: Bush said he will “construe” an exception, “which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection in a manner consistent … with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances.”

    Experts said the new powers could be easily abused and used to vacuum up large amounts of mail.

    “The [Bush] signing statement claims authority to open domestic mail without a warrant, and that would be new and quite alarming,” said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington.

    “You have to be concerned,” a senior U.S. official agreed. “It takes executive-branch authority beyond anything we’ve ever known.”

    A top Senate Intelligence Committee aide promised a review of Bush’s move.

    “It’s something we’re going to look into,” the aide said.

  2. chrisc says:

    Meghan is doing a fantastic job of making her dad look cool and fun.
    I almost expect a McCain Girls Gone Wild video soon.
    Shouldn’t everyone play along?

    Hmmm…are those girls wearing their seatbelts?

  3. hwmnbn says:

    I’m wondering about these McLove-ins with the press. Is everything considered “off the record?”

    Because I’m thinking if there is enough alcohol involved, there could be some killer quotes worthy of print.

    • emptywheel says:

      It was on the record, but journalists weren’t allowed to take pictures or recordings.

      So there may well be killer quotes but we’re not going to get them bc 1) the journalists who wrote them down wouldn’t get invited back to their free Sedona vacation and 2) their handwriting was likely illegible after the sixth glass of chardonnay.

      • hwmnbn says:

        Not to belabor a point, but during these cook-outs, are the reporters “on the clock” for their publications?

        Because if they’re gettin’ paid for drinking and not doing their job, that’s pretty outrageous behaviour and piss-poor management. No wonder newspapers are going out of business.

        Oh well, at least we have the DFH bloggers doin’ the job!

      • bmaz says:

        Heh heh, they are STILL soft selling how mercurial and really bad McGluehorse’s temper is. Many people are intemperate when they are pissed off, or in a foul mood, and something sets them off; including, trust me, yours truly. That is common enough. McCain is many geometric orders of magnitude worse than that. Seriously. Things out of the blue can trigger him, and it is quite ugly. This is not a man with a temper, this as a man with an anger/rage problem, and a big one. Somewhere, in the last day, I read where someone was questioning his stability in situations where quick, but smart, action might be required of a President (like the 3 am phone call) and opining that McCain was too quick to be angry and fly off the handle. It really is a valid issue. I can’t remember where I saw that; if I run into it again, I will post it. Maybe someone else saw it too?

        By the way, as much as I want to, it is hard to be too hard on the reporters. Sedona and Cottonwood this time of year is beyond belief beautiful and I understand McCain does cook up a real nice BBQ.

        • emptywheel says:

          Yeah, I know Sedona is beautiful. I had my wedding celebration there (on Oak Creek, no less). But it’s also cheap. These fuckers can pay their own way like the rest of us.

          Now they’re all going, “I want McCain to win because covering McCain at the western White House in Sedona will be better than Chappaqua and Chicago (particularly in the winter) and a damn site better than Crawford.

          • bmaz says:

            Quite clearly you haven’t been to Sedona lately, not cheap anymore. Not in the winter/spring anyway; it is snowbird season. Even the old time shacks on Oak Creek are ridiculous.

          • MadDog says:

            Now they’re all going, “I want McCain to win because covering McCain at the western White House in Sedona will be better than Chappaqua and Chicago (particularly in the winter) and a damn site better than Crawford.

            The shiny Knight in demented armor, St. John of McCain rides his spavined, humped-back old warhorse off into the sunset, a brewski as standard under his arm, yodeling “Bomb, bomb, bomb…hic…bomb somebody!” while his fawning, foaming-at-the-mouth, inebriated serfs-cum-journalists, strew gnawed and gnashed baby-back BBQ ribs along his path, the better to lead his “dogs of war”.

        • MadDog says:

          I’m in total agreement with your analysis of Gonzo John.

          As a wee, poor student of human psychology, I’ve noticed that many folks who speak in a toneless, emotionless manner, are in fact attempting to restrain the underlying active, impulsive, and uncontrollable volcano that lies beneath the surface. Gonzo John fits that portrait to a T.

          Though his minders may try to control him, all the medicated goo in the world ain’t gonna keep Gonzo John from losing it. This is not a matter of if, but of when.

          Gonzo John is his own worst enemy, and I have zero doubt that his battles with himself will become a public-cringing spectacle for all to see.

          • Mnemosyne says:

            That’s most interesting, because if I hear a McCain soundbite sans visual

            . . . many folks who speak in a toneless, emotionless manner, are in fact attempting to restrain the underlying active, impulsive, and uncontrollable volcano that lies beneath the surface.

            he sounds just like Ronnie Raygun. Kind of like the oh-so-nice lady who is a seething mass of fury under the well-dressed surface.

            Either way, sets my teeth on edge.

            • Sedgequill says:

              Anyone who would keep the nation and the US Armed Services on the course McCain finds acceptable should look and sound as grim as Lincoln ever did.

  4. BayStateLibrul says:

    If the Dems won Danny Boy’s district, how the fuck can McCain win?
    Or am I being naive?
    He is a low talking pol… who will be an ineffectual bore in the campaign…
    Hell, we could exhume Adlai and win…
    I thunk…

    • freepatriot says:

      Hell, we could exhume Adlai and win…

      wanna bet William Jennings Bryant is thinking “Damn, I was born in the wrong century” too

  5. hackworth says:

    Halle (McCain spawn said Holly) Berry on the tire swing. That’s it – no more Halle Berry movies for me. McCain daughter driving Toyota. “Cabin” appears to be about 4000 square feet. Huckleberry Warmonger/Fearmonger Lindsay Graham got two cameos. One other token black person besides Halle. Lilly white otherwise.

      • bmaz says:

        Thank you for that, I find Halle Berry pretty, um, attractive. Didn’t want to have to jettison all those good thoughts….

      • rosalind says:

        the comments at the holly bailey link are refreshing – totally take holly et al to task for their lack of ethics. also a mention that meaghan mccain had an internship at “newsweek”.

        wonder if we can find out which reporters spoiled the original plan for the event to be “off the record”? it only become “on” the record when some reporters weren’t going to be allowed to join the fun.

        • rosalind says:

          ok, the more i think about that the more pissed i get.

          any foreign press traveling with john mccain? they’re probably the party poopers. bet the entire d.c. press corps accepted the “off the record” invite without a second thought.

          can we institute term limits for the press? i swear any reporter covering d.c. should be rotated out after two years in the bubble. lack of oxygen alone.

          • bmaz says:

            I think that is something we discussed back when jawing about the Hack Who Wrote Rosen, which was on this thread at TNH. Something to the effect of rotating the White House press corps in and out so they don’t get the Stockholm Syndrome like they are clearly prone to do. Might be a good idea for campaign coverage too, so that individual reporters do not get co-opted.

  6. joejoejoe says:

    Do journalists pay for these meals at politician barbeques or what?

    I know politicians accepting meals from lobbyists has been banned but is it still OK for politicians to buy journalists meals? Aren’t they lobbying the press for good coverage?

    It would be a fun ‘gotcha’ piece for some muckraking outfit to see what journalists have accepted from pols that would constitute a violation if a pol accepted it from a lobbyist.

    • emptywheel says:

      McCain paid for them all to stay at the Enchanted Resort–lovely place, very pricey. Probably a $60,000 expense, before the food.

      And that was probably some of the first money he spent going over his FEC spending limits.

      So in addition to McCain giving the journalists stuff they couldn’t give him (though the Politico reporters apparently brought Cindy flowers–was that Pool Boy??), McCain was breaking the law to spend so much money on them.

  7. behindthefall says:

    I’m disgusted by that video, but then, I’m probably terribly naive. Has Sen. Obama had tham all over to his place? They could jam onto that 10-foot-wide strip in his side yard that has caused such a fuss. Or not.

  8. behindthefall says:

    Yet, for all of McCain’s drawbacks, I’m beginning to hear people (inluding a psychiatrist) say that if Sen. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, they will vote for Sen. McCain — and these people are confirmed Democrats.

    • bmaz says:

      Now what in the fucking world of irrational thought would cause any Democrat to vote for freaking McCain over Hillary Clinton? That is beyond insane and demented; I simply do not understand people who say shit like that. Have they not been sentient the last seven plus years? Do they not know who and what John McCain is? WTF???

      • 1divasinger says:

        If I had a dollar for every older woman that called in on C-Span over the past month and said that they were going to vote for McCain over Obama, I might have enough money to pay for a “journalist picnic” for the Democrats!

      • behindthefall says:

        Hi, bmaz. The anyone-but-Hillary impulse seems to come from a conviction that she is in the race out of a desire for power above everything else. McCain, I guess, is seen as a run-of-the-mill politician, although Republican, of course.

    • MadDog says:

      Yet, for all of McCain’s drawbacks, I’m beginning to hear people (inluding a psychiatrist) say that if Sen. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, they will vote for Sen. McCain — and these people are confirmed Democrats.

      I hope these folks will wait until all the McBush laundry gets washed in public.

      This guy is “off-the-charts” gonzo, and while the MSM is too busy right now stuffing their faces from his feedbag, eventually this spring/summer, with the “help” of the Democratic nominee and party, Gonzo John is gonna regret poking his head out of his desert mole-hole.

  9. rosalind says:

    quick, before they scrub the site: meaghan’s blog has lots of photos from the bbq. the one captioned “Press & Adam” shows quite the happy crew. “Sen. Graham with Mrs. Gramm and Sen. Gramm with Charlie Black” also fun.

    it’s under “monday, march 3 – sunday in sedona”

    • MadDog says:

      Meaghan McCain is just so, so…ummm…like Ana Marie. With giggles.

      Watch for Dad being dangerous on the grill with his tongs, Mom’s humor, us rocking out in the car and of course, all the unexpected silliness. Enjoy!

      And those knee-high tennis shoes are to die for!

    • bmaz says:

      I know where his place is; it is actually known to us locals as Cottonwood. It is a very nice area; don’t be fooled by Cornville or Rimrock references. Sedona proper is maybe a 15 minute drive from where McCain’s joint is. If EW is correct that the reporters were all stowed at the Enchantment Resort, no doubt they were all happy campers. It is very nice. Cheapest room there is probably $600-$700 a night.

      • Loo Hoo. says:

        That should be a story in itself. I like how your work on Bush immunizing the telecoms took off, bmaz. You must be proud!

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Pretty cheap way for the GOP’s heir apparent to nobble the press: a few pounds of ribs, sauce and charcoal, and a few kegs. Must make lobbyists frustrated at having to pay so much more to Congresscritters. The GOP didn’t have to spike the red meat for the public’s watch dogs. That’s what you get when dobermans turn into poodles.

  11. behindthefall says:

    If Clinton and McCain both lose it, like, totally on national TV during a debate, do we get a chance to do the whole primary thing over again with new characters?

  12. chrisc says:

    One of the things that seems strange about McCain is that he never seems to have his whole family around.
    I know he has older children that he adopted from his first marriage.
    Two of his sons are in the military.
    But I would expect to see his 16-yr old adopted daughter Bridget at the family and friends gathering.
    Wouldn’t ya think?

    • PetePierce says:

      Bridget is the daughter who was adopted from the Bangladesh orphanage that the Bush Swift Boat team morphed into “having a child out of wedlock in South Carolina” in 2000.

      Maybe she doesn’t want to be in the limelight.

  13. bmaz says:

    Well, here is McCain on my TeeVee telling everyone he is just as good natured as could be when the reporter asks about his temper. Guess we are all wrong….

  14. arvada says:

    a conversation with a nurse in a greeley,colorado hospital

    nurse “the democrats are gonna raise my taxes”

    me “you’ve got a trillion dollar war you haven’t paid a dime on”

    nurse “i don’t want my head chopped off”

    me “in greeley”

    • PetePierce says:

      I’ve had a lot of conversations I’d like to forget with doctors and nurses whose sole reason for voting Rethuglican while excluding everything else is their perception that they get a tax break (when none of them are in the category that is really protected by those of the Bush administration.

      I noticed that there is a new rider on the bus to prison from Hillary’s campaign contribution stars–Abdul Rehman Jinnah. [Of course only Rezko who Obama never knew was giving him ilicit funds in the Senate campaigns, not the Presidency is thrown around like a dirty word by MSM who wouldn’t know a Cert Mint from a cert. grant]

      A big shout out to two of the finest citizens to ever contribution to Hill. One of them produced a film showing an American doctor Removing Organs from Civilian Prisoners to sell:

      Hill Raiser Out; Clinton Campaign Knew But Wouldn’t talk to NY Post

      Hillary proudly listed Mehmet Celebi on her web site until a couple days ago. He was a “Hill Raiser.” You are a “Hill Raiser” if you give 100 grand to Clinton.

      Odd Film By Hillary Backer

      The other is Clinton, Boxer contributor Abdul Rehman Jinnah

      If Obama wanted to get down in the gutter with the Clinton campaign, he could start showcasing these contributors and Norman Hsu. I don’t expect Clinton to stop the kitchen sink negativity; I expect her to accelerate it.

      The media and his surrogates are already doing what Obama won’t do over the weekend.

      Many in the media are asserting that Obama won’t be “tough enough” to vet her negatives. I don’t know if tough is the word, but plenty of people will be vetting her during the time until Pennsylvania.

  15. Hmmm says:

    Curious messaging choice in there: I would think that “the car” in which the girls “rock out” being a Toyota Prius would cheez off Detroit and Big Oil somethin’ fierce.

  16. LabDancer says:

    Just in case I miss-hit on bmaz’ comment early in this thread – Could you be thinking of the recent piece on McCrusty’s intemperance, Mark Benjamin, who writes lengthy specialty pieces for Salon, very often on the military.

    If so this is the link:…..print.html

    I actually don’t know why this piece hasn’t attracted more attention, because it captures one of the two major rationales that drove me to resolve my own dilemma between Hillary & Barack shortly after Super Tuesday.

    I may have come around earlier, but our friend eriposte at The Left Coaster, who many hear will remember from before Ms E Wheel did the exodus thing from TNH to here for doing such splendid [& splendidly overfocused] work on Cheney’s multi-spiggoted Niger/Iraq yellowcake uranium deal/talk/fiction/utter crapola, had assembled this characteristically massive opus on how we should all be rationalizing our choice among the two currently still on the island plus Edwards, the latter being to whom I was leaning heavily, which threw me for the better part of two weeks as I worked assiduously through his [again characteristic] labryinthe of links & inner links & side linkettes. Then Edwards left, and for whatever reason I was reading some attempted sideswipe in a reader comment on another blog, on the theme of Obama disingenuity, which the commenter felt was somehow ’proven’ by an interview a few years ago by The New Yorker’s David Remnick, which I, being still in search of the magic bunny answer, then read — which immediately sparked me to get up off my mouse thumb & read ”The Speech” Obama delivered in 2002 that Hillary now is sound-biting as the sum total of Obama’s insight into foreign affairs in general & Iraq in particular. The magic bunny turned on the light at that point & now I’m 100% Obama bound.

    Anyway the Benjamin piece doesn’t just briefly re-visit one of McCrusty’s recent classic tantrums [I recall seeing a good one where he essentially threw a shopping centre fit sitting next to Carl Levin on the SAS Committee & though I have my reservations about Carl, notwithstanding his attempted act of sanity in 2002 with the Levin amendment, he earned some points in my book for his patient endurance of McCranky’s spitting up an interminable stream of irrational oppositional defiance all over the public record.] –

    it also suggests that an awful lot of the Pentagon general staff who escaped infection by the nasty virus carried by Wolfowitz & Feith & Perle et al [nurtured in Dr Rumsfeldenstein’s laboratory of monstrosities] actually feel & are willing to admit that Obama is precisely the kind of Cool In the Face of Stress character they associate with both high level military leadership & Commander in Chiefship.

    I liked the comments of all the ex-general staff officers except the one clearly representing the RNC line in supporting McCrusty, but in particular the comments of Paul Eaton seized my interest on the difference between the sort of on-the-line in-combat passion which some are crediting McCrusty with having [I’m with bmaz actually- it’s more like adult ADHD undiagnosed & untreated} & the large vista strategic thinking which characterize the best & brightest of our military’s officer corps.

    Eaton made that in the US military first reactions are far too often just not the best reactions [as in life], & implied that there certainly something to be said for being able make military decisions on instinct.

    I come from a family steeped at least as long in the military as McCrusty’s. IMO quick reaction time & quick thinking & impulses & instincts for those are among the primary drivers behind the US military approach to combat training. I have military forebears who were successful boxers & wrestlers & track athletes & they all did great in combat. [I also have military forebears in intelligence & logistics, & they did & are doing far more & better.]

    The limitations of quick twitch forces are also among the bases for why we’ve trended over the decades since Viet Nam away from massed force attack strategies towards a greater commitment to tactical response times & specialized forces for particular missions & threats.

    But [& I would think Eaton would agree with this] acting on instinct is inherently less reliable when the stimuli a fighting unit has to respond to is less immediate & more nuanced.

    That is the reason why we tend to draw such a large percentage of our general staff officers from different streams & not just from tactical forces & others where the emphasis is on the ability to demonstrate survival instincts & even leadership in close intense combat responses.

    All you have to do is look at the career lines of general staff officers to see that.

    For example, among the Second World War officers we accept as having outstanding records were Patton of course, but much more Eisenhower, MacArthur, Marshall, ”Beetle” Smith – all of them big arena strategizers able to command & succeed in stuations which are quite far outside conventional & popular notions of the military context.

    Recall that MacAthur for example was from the engineer corps & he got associated with the Phillipines because so much of the infrastructure there which brought that country into modernity & able to draw together as a cohesive political entity was planned & developed & built at his instigation & under his command.

    And Marshall was credited & in my opinion properly with going to FDR & arguing that US military forces were best situated & best able to lead the post WWII restoration of the European infrastructure needed so desperately to allow western Europe to resist the coming Soviet threat of those days – & then assuming command of the effort to do just that – an effort that extended over well over a decade & proved so successful it’s come to be credited with forming the basis for the European Common Market & today’s European Union.

    A lot of people might not know ”Beetle” Beddle Smith as a co-architect of the American spy service during WWII – or that he’s probably the most successful [maybe the only] DCI ever [He built up the CIA during its heyday to become a player in the Cold War.]

    And I don’t think I need to say much on Eisenhower, except that he had a very limited combat experience in WWI which one would be hard pressed to suggest contributed in any major way to the role he was called on to play in WWII – which was essentially a diplomatic role – to oversee the coordination of the militaries of a large number of functioning democracies & diverse political entities towards a determined & desperate common enemy – which sounds a lot like the kind of thing we expect of someone who has to take command of the civilian leadership of a large diverse political entity like the US — & apparently I’m not alone in coming to that conclusion.

    Point being: Eisenhower, Marshall, Smith, MacArthur – all of them – hell any one of them was at least as important to the outcome of WWII & the post war environment as Patton, & not one of them had more combat experience than a cup of coffee compared to Patton –or compared to McCrusty for that matter.

    Moving on to the contemporary military experience, again just consider a very few names all general staff: Zinni Abizaid Petraeus & Fallon.

    Incidentally: consider the ethnicity implied in the first three of those names. A sign of the times IMO. Also bear in mind the great percentage of ethnically diverse names among current US military forces in every service & at every rank. Indeed don’t lose sight of the great increase in force strength of female troops & officers in pretty much every role – including some now showing up in general staff positions.

    McCrusty is from the US military tradition of father grandfather etc – but Clinton’s being a woman carries no longer carries the kind of assumed relevance to leadership capacity as in the past.

    And a name like Obama is hardly out of step with the modern US military given the great number of black troops & Hispanic troops among our combat forces & our officer corps & even in our general staff. The while-in-the-service successes of Colin Powell surely put an end to any ideas to the contrary.

    Even the name Hussein – there have got to be thousands in today’s US military who have someone in their family or in their circle of friends with the name Hussein & not just a few Husseins actually serving. Moreovedr I would think that an awful lot of officers in the Pentagon today would accept pretty readily that we’d be in far better shape right now if we’d had having a lot more troops with Arab Semitic names before invading Afghanistan.

    Zinni made his name in the sort of military outpost diplomacy that Bob Kaplan writes about in Imperial Grunts – combat capable combat ready but not combat focussed by any stretch. Abizaid’s retired from command now but you’d have no problem finding big support for his command capacity around here or anywhere else he’s served & he too had a career arc that reflected the pre-Iraq invasion focus of peacetime force organization – more from the logistics side than Zinni though. Fallon – current commander in chief CENTCOM – he’s one up the command ladder from Petraeus – all you have to do is take a look at what he’s up to these days & you can see his focus & point of view in action – that maximizing the effectiveness of military force power doesn’t lie entirely or even mainly in using it to force that US point of view on other players on the world stage. He’s all about geopolitics & making US military presence count for something beyond killing The Enemy.

    Even Petraeus – the guy’s at least as much an academic as a combat type – some would say more of a politician too [I’d say more of a self-promoting sell-out lying piece of shit – but that may be the Loyal Bushie Republican in him showing] – & his role is necessarily at least as much about diplomacy as it is about troop deployment.

    Not a single one of those names owes more to Patton’s legacy than he does to those of Eisenhower & Marshall & MacArthur & Smith. Like them they’re training & their personal characters & their strengths in leadership lay in being able to perceive larger issues & the implementation of big wide-ranging strategies – negotiating with parties very often with deeply ingrained biases against the US & labouring under geographic pressures & historical circumstances which have to be acknowledged & accounted for — to preserve any chance for mission success & lasting security gains & in many ways opposed to the maintenance of our foreign policy goals & the extension of US military influence in serving those goals.

    None of that brings McCrusty to mind.

    All of it brings to mind Obama.

    This comments is way too long but what the hell:

    If Obama’s male progenitor – also Barack Hussein Obama – was himself Muslim, then it strikes me very likely that the variation would have been in the vein of either the legendary Bomba of the 1800s or someone like him: for the sub-saharan version of Islam is very dramatically different from the Sunni Arab Salafist cultural revenge line which is identified with Waterbush’ War on Terra – oops, Terror. Sub saharan Islam is the Islam of Youssou N’Dour & Ali Farka Toure – & if they are the model for future American presidents, count me in.

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