When Do We Get to Beat Up an Old Man?:
Here's one of the most bizarro attempts to portray absolute consistency on a position as flip-flopping: In his speech to the Annual Convention of Disabled American Veterans this week, John McCain tried to describe "many problems in the shifting positions of my opponent, Senator Obama." Indeed, he reiterated what promised to be shocking proof that Obama lacks conviction: "With just three months to go before the election, a lot of folks are still trying to square Senator Obama's varying positions on the surge in Iraq." Holy fuck, the anxious vets must have thought, shit's about to go down.

And then McCain detailed what on first, second, and third glance, and, indeed, on deep observation, is a completely consistent belief by Obama: "First, he opposed the surge. Then he confidently predicted that it would fail. Then he tried to prevent funding for the troops who carried out the surge." So, just to make sure we got this right, Obama was against the surge, believed it would fail, and refused to vote for its funding. In what fucking universe is that a varying or shifting position? For McCain, this is proof that Obama is putting politics ahead of the country.

McCain's supposed final twist of the knife is to tell us that, even now, after the supposedly splendiferous surge has brought flower-shitting unicorns to the streets of Baghdad, "even in hindsight, [Obama] would oppose the surge." Again, McCain says this is an example of "all of these claims and positions by Senator Obama" for political expediency, when, in what most of us would call "reality," it's an example of a single position held even when everyone around is lying about it.

But that's the McCain candidacy in a goddamn nutshell, innit? The promise that he's going to tell us something or do something big and life-changing, when the truth is that he's just either lying to our faces or forgetting he ever said it in the first place. McCain is a master of bullshit, an unfathomably amoral spinner, all covered in the sheen of his sweat-slickened tortured body from 'Nam. If this motherfucker hadn't had his bones shattered by the NVA, who knew a breakable pussy when they smelled one, he'd be sucking beers in a trailer outside Flagstaff, pathetically cursing his father for making him believe he'd be something some day. Instead, because he can't lift his arms, he's Rove's perfect machine, a hateful fucker with a real military record and not a fake one.

Sometimes, when you're in a bar, a real bar with regulars, like a couple of places in Wrigleyville in Chicago that aren't infected with tourists or filled with flat-screens where the Rude Pundit liked to grab a couple of shots when he was working in that fair city a few years back, there's people who just decide they don't fuckin' like you. Old guys, guys who feel a sense of proprietorship over the place and any activity done or opinions given. Sure, if you've been to enough joints, you've experienced this, the cranky, grizzled fucks who think you're full of shit and think they know everything when they're just assholes who haven't been put in their place enough in their adult lives.

Most of the time, you just ignore it, when Old Man Johnny talks about how he can kick your ass, how he's taken down dudes twice as big as you are, how, even with his bum knee and arthritis, he could still knock your teeth out. Most of the time, you just nod and move to another part of the bar or you try to charm the bastard, get him a round or two. The Rude Pundit's favorite fight avoidance strategy: get 'em talking, for, indeed, chances are they're just looking for someone new to tell war stories to. (And, oh, the things the Rude Pundit has learned, about life, about lies, about history, from these grumpy drunks.)

Every once in a while, though, some wrinkled cock thinks he has something to prove, to himself, to some hot young piece of ass that's given him some attention, to other wrinkled cocks around him. And Old Man Johnny either wants to you to fight or get the fuck out of his bar. The best advice is to just walk away. Fights hurt. A lot.

But there's a rare occasion where everything lines up: Old Man Johnny's in your face, been in your face for hours, and you've had a shitty day, and the drinks have kicked you down the stairs instead of up, and, well, then fuck this old fucker and everything you've ever been taught about respecting your elders and other bullshit. Time for the old man to go back to school.

So here's the Rude Pundit's advice for Barack Obama's campaign: sometimes there's something ineffably and extraordinarily gratifying about beating down an old man. Sure, some will say that you're just hitting a weak old dude, but most will realize that he had it coming. It's like you're saying that the people who are gonna be alive for a while get to decide how shit goes down and what the order of things is gonna be. Even if it accomplishes nothing else but showing everyone else in the bar that you are not gonna take shit from anyone, it had to be done.

'Cause, right now, while Obama is walking out of the bar, telling everyone how it's a shame that Old Man Johnny's an alcoholic, Johnny's still in there, laughing about how Obama's such a pussy that he won't get his manicure dirty.

Or, to put it more directly, Karl Rove plays the long game. If the Obama campaign lets the McCain campaign get away with questioning Obama's patriotism again and again, and it has the desired Swift Boat effect, then, even if he wins, Obama's given his political opponents the way to wreck his agenda. And, sorry, an ad about how McCain's economic policies suck is the response equivalent of punching yourself in the balls.