Friday, April 11, 2014
Mike McFadden Embarrasses His Supporters
Yesterday McFadden gave the second news conference of his ill-fated campaign, which resembled the famous train wreck at Montparnasse in Paris, above. I don't know how many fatalities were caused by that accident but any more performances like yesterday's and McFadden's campaign will flat line, to the extent it already hasn't. Listen to the audio for the first 5.30 minutes here and then switch to the YouTube video which captures the balance of the event here.
If his question and answer period could have gone worse, it's beyond my Irish powers of imagination. His prepared remarks focused on the shopworn trope of wasteful government spending. One should have expected such banality from the team that came up with his campaign tagline, a rip-off from A Better Minnesota of all groups, "Believe in Minnesota." Still, the essential nothingness of the topic is dismaying, displaying a poverty of political acumen and the campaign's essential directionless nature at the same time.
Al Franken is against government waste, for God's sake. Not even Phyllis Kahn would come out in support of it. How that issue is played makes all the difference. "Are food stamps government waste? Why does Mike McFadden want to starve people?" You can see the DFL jujitsu now. Apparently no one on Team McFadden does.
Wasteful government spending. Really? McFadden paid tribute to retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, whom he called a "servant leader." Servant leader is evangelical gobbledygook meaning he's one of them, the true believers. Non-fundamentalist Christians need not apply. Why is he using that code? Worse, is he even aware he is?
At any rate, McFadden thought it keen to pick up the "Wastebook" that Coburn was known for publishing. It worked for Coburn because he'd actually vote against republican leadership from time to time, something no one could ever see McFadden doing should he luck into the Senate. At this point, only Al Franken dying seems likely to accomplish that trick. Then, of course, the Coleman-lite candidate could eek out his win just like the original artifact: by beating a dead man. Once.
After talking for less than six minutes, in a vocal style that most resembled speaking while sleepwalking, the hapless McFadden opened up the press conference for questions. His public speaking style got worse but his substantive response should embarrass his supporters, who tend to be rather full of themselves while oblivious to that fact. Evasive, rote, repetitive and canned, the man behind the podium wasn't simply not ready for the Senate, he wasn't ready for his own press conference. He has only so many tapes to play before they start to loop.
Am I the only one who cares for the actual person of Mike McFadden? What I saw and heard was simply cruel to inflict on another human being. I hope Vin Weber's K Street connections pay off in spades for McFadden if he's our nominee, because he'll lose decisively but not before more, and even greater, humiliating performances.
McFadden failed to answer almost all questions put to him by local media. Surely one of his five figure staffers told him that there was an outside chance of questions being asked by media at a press conference? You know, the kind you call yourself, signaling to the world you're ready to answer them?
When asked about the alleged gender based wage gap (which even Slate has called "a lie") he somehow meandered into talking about the XL Keystone pipeline. This was a dissociative moment worthy of Mark Dayton. When asked if he'd have voted for or against the wage bill the Senate took up just the day before, he declined to answer, claiming it was the "wrong question." That bodes well for the general election, the debates especially. Readers owe it to themselves to see the video, linked to above, in order to appreciate just how disadvantaged McFadden will be face to face with Al Franken, an unfunny and not particularly likeable guy but who will win over viewers by sheer dint of a pulse.
Remember: this is your guy, Minnesota republicans. Even though there's still room on the lifeboats, the ship's crew is keeping you in your cabins at gunpoint. Or worse, you're happy to stay there of your own accord, years of training having done their trick. McFadden's performance should have embarrassed if not outright shamed you. No amount of money can make up for what was, and wasn't, on public display yesterday.
McFadden also whiffed on questions concerning, beside the minimum wage, the personhood amendment (why is that even being discussed?) and Minnesota's disastrous Obamacare implementing exchange MnSure (how hard is that?). A neutral observer was left mystified as to why the campaign would call such a press conference in the first place. A republican hoping to defeat Al Franken was left knowing this guy could never do it. Republicans will continue to fool themselves for a bit longer, though, with the pixy dust of money. It won't work but the parasitical ones will have made their money regardless and will be off to other races, descending like hungry political locusts. Or staying right here, where they always feast regardless of our election night famines.
McFadden's supporters should be most offended by what he offered in lieu of substance: the ridiculous idea that voters will know his "philosophy" and that that will be good enough. What is this campaign? An Andy Kaufman-like exercise to test the political audience's toleration of being profoundly insulted before throwing chairs at the stage? Do my fellow republicans think so little of themselves that they think this is acceptable and hence say nothing? It would appear so.
MPR's Mark Zdechlik quotes the cipher candidate as saying:
"What I think is really important with politicians and leaders [is] you understand their overriding philosophies--how do they make decisions?" said McFadden. "And so I've been very specific in this campaign as to how I make decisions."
No, no you haven't, sir, and I've been paying attention, forcing myself at times. Unless taking a call from Norm or Vin constitutes making a decision and then you might be onto something. But that's not what republicans--or voters in general--in Minnesota are looking for, nor is it a plausible way to win; insulting the intelligence of the voters usually isn't.
What we saw yesterday was a man with no presence, no convictions, no style, no sense of purpose.
Nowhere man. But I repeat myself.