Saturday, July 26, 2008

What's All This I Hear About McCain and Checkoslovakia?

Interestingly, the most popular post on my blog is this one, "You Want Poland, Take Poland. You Want Checkoslovakia? Take Checkoslovakia. Anything Else We Can Help You With?" If you search "McCain Checkoslovakia" on Google, it comes up first. Could be it has something to do with my spelling Checkoslovakia without the z (thanks to my reader for catching my notoriously bad spelling. Apparently, however, I'm not the only one who spells it that way).

Whatever the reason, unfortunately, it has nothing to do with what people are looking for, so let me write an article that's about what people searching McCain Checkoslovakia are really looking for.

They're really looking for some juicy discussion of McCain's referring (in a contemporary manner) to Czechoslovakia, a country that ceased to exist in 1993 (it's now the Czech Republic and Slovakia). Look, as far as McCain gaffes go, I don't think this one is all that serious. (About a 3 on a scale if you put his mixing up Sunni's and Shiites as a 6. All of which pales in comparison to W. Bush, whose doozies were usually off the charts). The funny thing about McCain's Czechoslovakia gaffe though is that, apparently, he keeps doing it.

People may wonder, why doesn't Obama make more of these gaffes? That's certainly a dangerous business though. Is Obama willing to make a bet that he won't make a single gaffe between now and election day? Probably not, so going after McCain on this would probably not yield any dividends.

But there is a general pattern here, one that the Democrats could well use to diffuse claims of Obama's inexperience. Today, we get probably the first real serious look at McCain's temperment by Bob Herbert. Such an article makes us realize that, certainly in contrast to Obama, there's been practically no real media scrutiny of McCain. That may explain why Obama's numbers are shifting, and why, on the eve of Obama's return to the states, his surrogates might now start to really take McCain on. Obama himself may be saving his rejoinder for the debates, where it would do the most good in response to some dig against him about his foreign experience. "I may have only visited Iraq twice, sir, but at least it was in modern times. You don't see me talking about Czechoslovakia, a country that ceased to exist fifteen years ago." A take-down of foreign policy and a dig at McCain's age at the same time, albeit inelegantly phrased.

The problem is, most people who are still on the fence about the two candidates are probably like McCain - they probably don't know that Czechoslovakia doesn't exist either, so that kind of rejoinder (at least if it's phrased as unartfully as I have) would probably just make Obama look nerdy. Though it may be the sort of jab people searching for McCain/Chechoslovakia are hoping to find. Even if he could pull off a critique of these lapses and make it not seem schoolmarmish, Obama may be above that sort of thing. The trick is, can he score points for being above it, and be above it at the same time? Right now, the answer seems to be, no.

1 comment:

tim said...

Um, shouldn't that be "Czechoslovakia"? Or is McCain misspelling it, as well?