The Two Stooges
The McCain/Palin campaign is floundering in a most pathetic fashion
The plane taxied to a halt only 100 metres away from the crowd gathered at an airport outside the city of Cedar Rapids. They cheered wildly as McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, descended from the aircraft and trooped through the throng, smiling and shaking hands.
Then things started to go wrong. 'Thank you so much, Iowa. It's great to be here in Grand Rapids,' Palin said as she took the stage, naming a completely different city in the far-off state of Michigan. 'CEDAR Rapids!' came shouts from the crowd. Palin ignored her gaffe and ploughed on with a speech that was quickly interrupted by anti-war protesters. For several minutes the hangar was filled with shouts and chants, drowning out the Alaska governor's words. Then McCain took the stage, and the same thing happened to him, forcing him off his script to address an unruly scrimmage as security hauled out the shouting demonstrators. 'The one thing Americans want us to do is stop yelling at each other,' McCain said in exasperation.
Suddenly, after hauling his campaign back into contention for the White House, the wheels are starting to come off McCain's fabled Straight Talk Express. The gaffe-ridden rally in Cedar Rapids was only one indication. In a week of almost unprecedented economic crisis, when Wall Street seemed on the brink of meltdown, McCain's presidential bid was hit by mistake after mistake, varying from the serious to the surreal.
As stocks dropped off a precipice, McCain said the economic fundamentals were strong. Then a senior aide seemed to suggest McCain had invented the BlackBerry. His top economic adviser, Carly Fiorina, confessed she thought neither McCain nor Palin was capable of running a large company. Then, in the middle of the worst financial collapse since the 1930s, McCain got the public endorsement of Donald Trump, a celebrity tycoon who symbolises raw capitalism. For a candidate trying to strike a populist tone, the backing of 'the Donald' was poorly timed. 'It's like a Saturday Night Live routine,' quipped rival Barack Obama on a campaign stop in Nevada.