McCain: I Chose Palin Because She Was The Better Candidate, Not Because Of Romney’s Tax Returns

A strong Democratic talking point for the past few days has been a mini-flashback to 2008, namely that John McCain saw 27 years of Mitt Romney’s tax returns and decided Sarah Palin was a preferable choice. McCain finally responded today in an exclusive interview with POLITICO, insisting that Palin was the better candidate, but it had nothing to do with Romney’s returns, and dismissed such speculation as “stupid.”

RELATED: Rahm Emanuel: John McCain Looked At Romney’s Tax Returns And Decided Palin Would Be A Better VP

POLITICO reports that McCain “grew angry” with the claim, and explained that nothing in Romney’s tax returns made his campaign decide Palin would be a safer choice.

“Of course not… I don’t know what depths these people won’t reach. Obviously, it’s just outrageous. That’s just outrageous. It shows the – it’s so disgraceful for them to allege something that they have absolutely no knowledge of.”

The charge has been repeated by Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, CNN contributor James Carville, and Maryland governor Martin O’Malley. McCain said that Romney was looked over and ruled out as other candidates like Tim Pawlenty were, and his campaign concluded Palin was the best choice for the ticket. He dismissed the speculation as “stupid questions.”

For what it’s worth, McCain 2008 strategist Steve Schmidt also denied that the tax returns were a problem for the campaign, and there is certainly no love lost between Schmidt and Palin. However, Schmidt did admit they considered Romney’s wealth a problem.

“Sen. McCain got caught flat-footed answering a question about how many houses he owned… In fact, they were Cindy McCain’s properties but that distinction was lost in the political optics and we knew it would be a big liability that the presidential and the vice presidential candidates together owned more than a dozen homes. It was like something out of a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit. I mean, come on.”

McCain has publicly maintained a good relationship with Palin, and joked in April that Palin would make a good VP nominee for Romney.

h/t POLITICO

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Follow Josh Feldman on Twitter: @feldmaniac

Spare Us The Outrage: The GOP Should Learn To Taste Its Own Medicine

Gov. Mitt Romney treated the world to five major network interviews on Friday night and demanded that President Barack Obamasay that he’s sorry” for the recent barrage of Bain attacks. The Obama campaign said it won’t apologize and, instead, fired back with an ad that features Gov. Romney crooning “America the Beautiful” as a string of accusations about outsourcing and offshore accounts flash on screen.

Voters should have have little sympathy for the Republicans’ hurt feelings, lest we forget the GOP’s history of (effective) smear campaigns.

For the selective amnesiacs out there, Lee Atwater went to his deathbed apologizing for what critics called a “race-baiting” “Willie Hortonmessage against Michael Dukakis in 1988.  A 2002 ad run against Sen. Max Cleland — a war hero who lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam — featured images of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, and questioned Sen. Cleland’s “courage to lead”. 

Though not officially in concert with the Bush campaign, the right-leaning 527 group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth spent the summer of 2004 effectively questioning John Kerry‘s patriotism and his honesty over medals he received for service in Vietnam. The Bush White House did not denounce those ads until months after the first ad was released and well after they had made an indelible impact. In 2006, the National Republican Senatorial Committee ran a widely-denounced ad that had clear racial undertones against Rep. Harold Ford‘s campaign for the Senate.

Both parties use attack ads and have, in the past, crossed the line of what the public considers decent. This is certainly not the first instance of Democratic mud-slinging in history. You could argue that they pioneered the concept of a TV spot “beneath the dignity of the presidency” when President Lyndon Johnson ran his famous “Daisy” ad against Sen. Barry Goldwater.

As Frank Rich argued last month in an eloquent history of negative campaigns, written before the Bain attacks came into vogue in July, the President should stick to his guns and watch the Romney camp squirm.

Gov. Romney could refute many of the claims in “Firms” and other ads (like this hard-hitting “Priorities” ad) if he would release an expansive set of tax returns, as every major party presidential nominee has done since his father ran for president in 1968. The veracity of his claim in a CNN interview that the 2010 and 2011 returns are “all that’s necessary for people to understand something about my finances” depends on your definition of “something.” If a token glance at his finances is all you need to approve of Gov. Romney, then sure, that’s “something.” But if you want to clarify whether Mr. Romney was, in fact, at the helm of Bain Capital when they made certain politically and socially unpalatable decisions, or, if you want to understand why Mr. Romney has financial accounts that no one seems able to explain, then two returns are actually not all that’s necessary.

Is he reluctant to shut down these arguments out of a desire for privacy or because he wishes to take a principled stand? If the answer is either of those, then Gov. Romney will have to take the heat or get out of the kitchen — it is his choice not to volley back with counter-evidence. If he is trying to hide something from the American people, well, that at least in part vindicates the whole point of these attacks.

As for the RNC and prominent Republicans, their outrage over the Obama campaign’s negative ads probably isn’t worthy of acknowledgment, let alone an apology. Not after they tied one war hero to Bin Laden and Hussein and tacitly allowed an outside group to demean another’s service without real evidence. Not after they used NSRC funds to produce that racially-tinged ”call me, Harold” ad. Former President Bill Clinton made a more persuasive argument than I can against this kind of hypocrisy a few years back, but it rings eerily relevant today and is worth revisiting.

For once, Democrats have decided to level with the Republicans, and the right can’t stand a taste of its own medicine. The difference between the Obama attacks and those effective right-wing spots of the recent past is that Mr. Romney has chosen to make the his private sector work the core reason for his candidacy. Sen. Kerry and Sen. Cleland may have leaned on their military records (we all probably still cringe while watching Sen. Kerry awkwardly ‘report for duty’), but those were certainly not their central arguments to voters. Gov. Romney’s insistence on highlighting his private sector career has invited open scrutiny of that career, whether he likes it or not.

To be clear: Politics is a dirty game, and the Obama campaign is no more moral than any other campaign in American history. It could be driving an entirely false message about Mr. Romney and, if so, kudos to him for putting up with the attacks. But whatever the final verdict is on the Bain attacks, the press and voters should not let Republican operatives play the ‘morality’ card here, not for one second. The American people’s memory is longer than that.

Viacom Reopens Access To Full Episodes Of The Daily Show And The Colbert Report

Viacom has finally relented in its battle with DirecTV and allowed all online users access to full episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report after pulling them for almost a week. It was a bold move taken by Viacom in a dispute over higher content price demands on Viacom’s part that led DirecTV to pull the company’s channels from its airwaves.

RELATED: Jon Stewart Blasts Viacom For Removing Online Content: ‘What Are You, China?’

On the websites for Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, etc., Viacom has a powerful ad campaign running to encourage consumers to call DirecTV and complain. The Daily Show‘s official Facebook page yesterday posted a status with the same message. But if the comments are any indication, many people seem to think Viacom is in the wrong on this one.

And with Jon Stewart ripping his own parent company for taking down the full episodes last night, this morning’s reinstatement of the video service may not come as a big surprise. However, a Viacom spokesman explained today this was their plan all along.

You will remember that we never said we were taking all our full length episodes down, just sliming down our offerings. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report were on hiatus, so no recent programs were available. We know their fans have missed them — and sadly subscribers of DirecTV who have not yet switched distributors are still forced to be without all the Viacom networks they love — so we wanted to get them back on our sites as soon as we could.

Meanwhile, for what it’s worth, it looks like full episodes of Viacom’s other entertainment properties are back online, so good news for those of you who enjoy watching Jersey Shore. (People like that exist, right?)

h/t All Things D

[Image via]

Louis C.K. Discusses Tosh Controversy: ‘Feminists Can’t Take A Joke And Comedians Can’t Take Criticism’

Louis C.K. really does exist in some kind of a rarefied air right now. The guy has made so much unqualified good happen in recent years (tv shows, talk show appearances, stand up specials, completely challenging distribution methods, that time he fed all those people with bread and fish, etc.) that people care about his opinion in a way that only happens to a few entertainers per generation. So, when it appeared that he had come down whole heartedly on the pro-Daniel Tosh Rape Jokes during the huge controversy last week, people took notice. Last night, C.K. appeared on The Daily Show to give the much more nuanced take on the subject that we expect from him. Basically, everyone is being an idiot.

RELATED: Harris-Perry Takes On Daniel Tosh’s Rape Jokes And What Is Appropriate For Comics To Joke About

C.K. told Jon Stewart that his tweet that many had viewed as a defense of Tosh, was literally just him complimenting the guy on a good show and that he had sent it without even knowing there was a huge controversy going on (if this were anyone except Louis C.K., I’d view this story as slightly convenient but, either way, it’ll make for a great plot for Louie season 4). He then explained that, now that he’s actually looked into the story, the main problems were that it was a battle between sides that will never back down (Comedians spewing bile vs. Bloggers spewing bile, and Comedians who can’t take criticism vs. Feminists who can’t take a joke).

However, while C.K. explained that he still thinks any topic, no matter how awful, should be fodder for jokes, he realizes that the dialogue going on, no matter how angry, is always a good thing.

“I think you should listen. If someone has the opposite opinion as mine, I want to hear it so I can add to mine. I don’t want to obliterate it with mine. That’s how I feel. Now, a lot of people don’t feel that way. For me, any joke about anything bad is great. That’s how I feel. Any joke about rape, the Holocaust, the Mets, whatever.

But now I’ve read some blogs about this whole thing that enlightened me to things I didn’t know. This one woman said how rape is something that polices women’s lives. They have a narrow corridor. They can’t go out late, they can’t go in certain neighborhoods, they have to dress a certain way. And that’s part of me now that wasn’t before. And I can still enjoy a good rape joke so I have both now.”

In response, Stewart joked, “I don’t like the way you evolve as a person.”

Damn that sensible bastard.

Watch the clip from Comedy Central below:

(h/t Splitsider)

Rush Limbaugh: ‘Without Equivocation, [President Obama] Hates This Country’

On his syndicated radio show Monday afternoon, conservative firebrand Rush Limbaugh went off on President Barack Obama for his recent comments on successful businesses, claiming that the president “hates this country.”

Limbaugh discussed the president’s recent suggestion successful businesses would not exist without government investments in education, infrastructure and law enforcement. He quoted President Obama’s Friday address to supporters in Virginia: “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.”

That particular line set off Limbaugh: “I think it can now be said, without equivocation – without equivocation – that this man hates this country. Barack Obama is trying to dismantle, brick by brick, the American Dream.”

- RELATED: Does President Obama’s New ‘Forward’ Slogan Prove He’s A Marxist?

“There’s no other way to explain this,” he continued. “He was indoctrinated as a child. His father was a communist. His mother was a leftist. He was sent to prep and Ivy League schools where his contempt for the country was reinforced.”

This claim echoes similar sentiments expressed by conservatives like Glenn Beck, who has suggested the president is a Marxist with contempt for capitalism; and author Dinesh D’Souza who argues that the president inherited anti-colonial “rage” from his father.

“This is what we have as a president. A radical ideologue, a ruthless politician who despises the country and the way it was founded and the way in which it became great,” Limbaugh concluded. “He hates it.”

Check out the audio below, via Daily Rushbo:

(h/t Daily Rushbo)

>> Follow Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) on Twitter

Jon Stewart Blasts Viacom For Removing Online Content: ‘What Are You, China?’

Comedy Central’s The Daily Show returned to the air last night after a two-week hiatus, and Jon Stewart was admittedly happy to be back with all his viewers. Except, of course, his viewers who happen to be DirecTV subscribers. With the DirecTV-Viacom contract dispute still unresolved, Stewart took to blasting Viacom for going as far as removing its free content from the Internet, asking the company, “What are you, China?”

“If you’re a DirecTV customer not watching tonight, it’s not because a rain cloud passed in front of the satellite,” Stewart joked, and then went on to mock the viciousness of the contract dispute: “Viacom, DirecTV, what are you doing here? You got ad campaigns blaming each other for taking the shows away, telling people to rise up and demand it like it’s some kind of basic cable Arab Spring. I got news for you: It’s not. None of this matters.

“Do you remember Oprah? Exactly. She went off the air for three days, millions of viewers were like, ‘Oh, no! What are we going do?’ After day four people are like ‘Who is this Ellen?’”

- RELATED: Viacom Removes Free Online Content Including Jon Stewart As DirecTV Dispute Trudges On

Stewart then went after Viacom for pulling full episodes of its programming from the web.

You’re pulling the shows from the Internet? Viacom, what are you, China? And, by the way, you don’t think the kids don’t already have a work-around? This morning when I woke up, my 8-year-old son was watching The Dark Knight Rises in 3-D. They’re already figuring it out. So basically you’re blocking the old people from watching the show.

The comedian then joked that Viacom’s free content removal is just giving people an excuse to discover other forms of entertainment: “sports games, the Bible, masturbation. There was a guy I saw at the beach this weekend with a device, it was like an iPad, only thicker, it entertains you for hours. It’s like individual screens with words on it, like a movie you can direct in your own head,” Stewart joked in reference to a book.

Check out the segment below, via Comedy Central:

>> Follow Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) on Twitter

Old Meets New: Larry King Debuts New Online Talk Show On Hulu

For 25 years, Larry King interviewed everyone from celebrities to world leaders on his CNN talk show. Now he’s taking his schtick to the web with an online talk show on Hulu: Larry King Now. The half-hour show debuted on the online service yesterday afternoon, with King sitting down with Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane in the first episode, and instead of taking phone calls, he’ll be taking audience questions via Twitter.

RELATED: Larry King Sits Down With Sacha Baron Cohen In Character As ‘The Dictator’

CNN officially severed ties with King in February, 14 months after the final episode of Larry King Live, after working together on a series of specials for the network. According to The L.A. Times, King came up with the concept for the online show last year with billionaire Carlos Slim. The show is produced by Slim’s Ora TV.

Hulu has come out with original content before, but did not have an interview show in its collection, so they leapt at the chance to bring King into the mix.

“We are trying to make a show that is a blend of what Larry does so well, which is having great conversations with interesting people, but also updating the show,” said Jon Housman, chief executive of Ora TV…

Hulu also is betting that its younger-skewing audience, whose median age hovers around 36, will warm to King.

“Larry is somewhat timeless,” Forssell said. “The guy never stops, and so I think that [his age] will become a non-factor.”

In the premiere episode yesterday, King interviewed Seth MacFarlane, and he has guests from Meghan McCain to Betty White lined up for future episodes.