Editor's note: WARNING!!! This is not just a little tongue & cheek...it is A LOT of cheek!!! While the news events described did occur...Tanya Acker took little creative liberty with the dialogue...
Attorney, political analyst and Obama supporter
John McCain must be very depressed. What do people in the public service live for, except a little attention from those they “serve”? (Oh, and the chance to “serve” in the first instance, of course. Silly me).
In any event, he can’t get a second look from the press if he tried.
Case in point: during a Middle East tour, he makes the claim that al Qaeda, a Sunni terrorist group, is getting funding from Shiite Iran. (Just a little footnote here – Sunnis and Shiites don’t get along so well, see... e.g., the current civil war in Iraq). Hearing the stumble and eager to get things back on track, Joe Lieberman whispers a correction in his ear.
(Thank God for that trusty old Joe.)
“Oops,” the senator says, acknowledging his mistake. “Of course I didn’t mean that . . .”
Or did he? Remember, this is John “master of foreign policy” McCain, he who knows all about all things off-shore. Might this slip-up have been a ploy to direct some attention in this frenetic election season back to himself? A desperate cry for help (or at least news coverage) from the media masters? A passionate plea: “pay attention to me! Enough of the lady and the black guy!”
The press corps responds in turn. “Is it a ‘senior moment’ or something more sinister?” certain media inquisitors wonder aloud. “Might John McCain not have a handle on one of the key conflicts now informing much of American foreign policy?” inquire others (between breaking news segments about the all important flag lapel pin question.)
“Nope,” says the McCain campaign. “He just misspoke.”
“Oh, okay.” Says the press corps. “Thanks for the clarification. Now, back to the real news. About that flag pin issue . . .”
“dammit!” says john McCain. “Let’s try this again.”
Cut to a senate armed services committee meeting. Senator McCain is questioning general Petraeus about the presence of foreign fighters in Iraq.
“Here’s my chance,” the senator thinks to himself.
JOHN MCCAIN: "There are numerous threats to security in Iraq and the future of Iraq. Do you still view al Qaeda in Iraq as a major threat?"
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: "It is a major threat. Though it is certainly as not as major a threat as it was say, 15 months ago."
MCCAIN: "Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shias overall?
PETRAEUS: "No, sir."
MCCAIN: "Or Sunnis or anybody else then?
“I did it!” the senator silently exclaims. “Someone will certainly notice that I have once again confused the Sunnis and Shiites! I can most assuredly expect cycle upon cycle of news coverage now! Victory!”
Indeed, the media does take up the question. “Is this another McCain ‘senior moment’ or is he really not aware of the historic enmity between Shiites and Sunnis?” inquiring media minds inquire.
“Neither.” Says the McCain campaign. “He simply stumbled on his words.”
“Oh, okay, thanks.” Says the media. “Sorry to have bothered you. But if you’ll excuse us, we’d really like to get back to the story about the lady (who, as luck would have it, is up for the same job as the Senator) claiming that she dodged gunfire in Bosnia. We’ve got endless news cycles to fill and need to get cracking. Thanks for your time. Later.”
“Blast it!” says McCain.
But wait. Another hopeful opportunity springs from the horizon. Turns out an angry black preacher said some outrageous stuff, and the black guy (who, as luck would have it, is up for the same job as the Senator) went to his church. Questions surface about loyalty to country, government conspiracies, and hating white people (never mind the fact that the black guy is only a half-black guy and that he was raised by his white mother and white grandparents with whom he was incredibly close).
“Aha!!” says the senator from Arizona. “This is my moment. If crazy preachers saying outrageous stuff are the talk of the town, then surely someone will pay attention to me now! I chased after an endorsement from this guy Hagee – who said that the catholic church is the “great whore” and that victims of hurricane Katrina have only their gay-loving selves to blame! He’s crazy too, right?! Someone will have to pay attention to me now, right?!”
Wrong. The fiery black preacher commands quite a bit of attention (in the interest of brevity, some points here are deliberately understated. I apologize for any confusion.) In any event, the fiery white one turns out to be not such good TV.
“Foiled again!” laments the senior Senator from Arizona.
And then the (half) black guy says that Americans are “bitter” and the next set of news stories breaks. The (half) black guy is an “elitist.” Raised by a single (white) mother on food stamps, he is “out of touch.”
“What about me??” exclaims our hero. “My wife is a gazillionaire beer heiress and we won’t turn over her tax returns!! Isn’t it apparent we are trying to hide our massive wealth – wealth that puts us in a league of elites of which most Americans cannot conceive! Now is my chance! I will get news coverage! I will! I will! I will!”
Well, not really. Turns out that when it comes to “elites,” the (half) black guy – raised by the single mother on food stamps – is a much better story. Indeed, who are the “elites” but those who don’t bowl well or chug beer properly? Our hero’s community fortune (the Mrs. estimated worth being something in the neighborhood of $100 million) pales in comparison.
And so it goes. How will this story end? Will the hopes and dreams of one of America’s great statesmen go unfulfilled? Will he languish in obscurity, only to be redeemed by the promise of some future post in which, all other aspirants having been vanquished, he can now command the attention of a news cycle for more than half a day (or so)?