Saturday, January 05, 2008

In Which, Thanks to a Wednesday Deadline, Incisive Political Analysis Takes a Back Seat to Snark and Mockery.

Latest Newspaper Column:

By the time you read this column, the Iowa caucuses will be over. Since I have a midweek deadline, I won't be able to comment on the results. So I'll just spend another column making fun of the candidates.

And let me tell you, the candidates, Republican and Democrat, gave us plenty of value for our entertainment dollar while stumping in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Hillary Clinton, who can't seem to decide whether her gender is a significant factor in whether people should vote for her, suggested that the format of the Iowa caucuses is hard on women because they're all shy and retiring and stuff. In an interview with Meredith Viera, Clinton noted that, in contrast to a primary, at a caucus "you have to go stand in a corner and say 'I'm with this person'," and women "would rather just keep their vote to themselves."

Gee, Hillary, you must be hanging out with a different group of women than I know.

A bizarre moment came when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (Slogan: "God Says Vote for Me") held a press conference to announce that he wasn't going to run a negative campaign. And to prove it, he used multiple big-screen TV's to show the negative ad he'd decided he wasn't going to run against Mitt Romney.

Let me say that again: Huck said he wasn't going to run the ad, then showed it to the national press so they'd report its contents for free. This undoubtedly saved Huckabee millions of dollars he'd have normally spent buying ad time. Genius? Hypocrite? You make the call.

Huckabee also had a great moment when asked about the National Intelligence Estimate that came out in early December, the one that reported that Iran had shut down its nuke program a few years ago. You know, the report that would have embarrassed the Bush administration if they had any shame. The day the report hit the news, Huckabee was asked if he'd read it.

Now, this was an unfair question, as one doubts that the reporter who asked the question had read the report by then either. And Huckabee's response was pretty classic: "President Bush didn't read it for four years; I don't know why I should read it in four hours."

Oh, snap! Too bad he didn't leave it there. Because later, Huck inserted his foot firmly into his mouth: "On the campaign trail, nobody's going to be able, if they've been campaigning as hard as we have been, to keep up with every single thing, from what happened to Britney last night to who won 'Dancing with the Stars.' "

Umm ... Mike? While there are probably a lot of people who'd rank the importance of knowing about a National Intelligence Estimate with knowing the latest news about Britney Spears, we don't really want any of them running the country.

It also seems that, whether or not he keeps up with the latest Brit bits, he's pretty up on the latest news about her little sister. When it was announced that 16-year- old Jamie Lynn Spears was pregnant and was going to keep the baby, Huck jumped in the same day with his opinion, "That is the right decision, a good decision, and I respect that and appreciate it. I hope it is not an encouragement to other 16-year-olds who think that is the best course of action." Glad to know Huck has his priorities in order.

Then of course, there's Mitt Romney (Slogan: "Better Hair Than John Edwards, and Probably Cheaper"). After Huckabee made the statement that President Bush's "arrogant bunker mentality" had been "counterproductive," Mitt saddled up his high horse to demand that Huck apologize to the Boy King. Romney, however, had his own criticism of Bush's handling of Iraq a few weeks later.

"I think we did a less than effective job in managing the conflict following the collapse of Saddam Hussein," Romney said. "I think we were underprepared for what occurred, understaffed, underplanned, and, in some respects, undermanaged." He then tried to explain how "underprepared and undermanaged" wasn't an insult to His Majesty King George, and "arrogant" was.

Looks like Slick Mitty seems to be the Republican who has the best grasp of the only core principle the Republicans have left, which is "It's OK If I Do It."

Romney also isn't above, shall we say, a little laxness with the truth. He criticized Sen. John McCain's immigration plan as granting "amnesty" for illegal immigrants because it allowed said immigrants to gain legal status if they jumped through certain hoops. Problem is, when the same plan was proposed in 2005, Romney told The Boston Globe the same provisions were "reasonable" and that they weren't amnesty.

Ah, so many politicians, so few column inches. We'll be back next week with more mockery.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Real Shock From Tonight's Caucuses

Yahoo! News: Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut was set to abandon his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday after a poor showing in Iowa's precinct caucuses.

This was a particular shock, because most of us had forgotten that Dodd was still running.

Farewell, Flash Harry

The Rap Sheet: George McDonald Fraser dies at age 82

Fraser's best-known character, Harry Paget Flashman, VC KCB KCIE, is one of my favorite anti-heroes in all of literature. A cad, a drunk, a bully, and above all a yellow-livered coward, Harry's saving grace was his blunt and hilarious honesty as he described his rise to become, in spite of himself, one of the great military heroes of Victorian Britain. And, along the way, Fraser managed to teach a painless lesson about one of the most fascinating periods of world history.

R.I.P. Mr. Fraser. You will be missed.

Hat tip to Bill Crider .

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A New Countdown Begins....

BREAKING COVER is now apparently available for pre-order at, at Borders, and, one supposes, at your local bookstore as well. Drop date appears to be July 22.

Those who are inclined to do your Humble Blogger a solid may wish to generate buzz by pre-ordering at any of the above, so that St. Martin's will hear of your deep and abiding love for me and be encouraged to feel likewise. Just a suggestion.

BTW, BC is not, as reported on Amazon, part of the Keller series. It's a standalone.

Monday, December 31, 2007


Because after all, what says "Happy New Year" better than guitar playing snow dragoons?