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Aug 04, 2008

The McCain Buffalo Chip (Un-)Cover-Up


A hat tip to all of you who have been flagging today's notorious McCain appearance in the threads for the past few days.  (For background, see Sam Stein's "Topless Women, Kid Rock, Bikers, And John McCain" at HuffPost.)

And you were right.  Only the wildly hypocritical McCain could could have made the scene at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally at the Buffalo Chip campground in Sturgis, S.D. and escaped any blowback from the wild debauchery and female exploitation that characterizes the event.

And, as an act of collusion, the media totally blinked, particularly the visual media.  Out of the measly eight AP photos made available on the wire, four were rather distant crowd shots, one was a thoroughly romanticized shot of the McCain bus pulling out of the dusty fairgrounds at sunset, and another offered John and Cindy walking alongside their bus, an American flag soaking up more than half of the scene.

But then, I'm sure John and Cindy had no idea when they were posing in front of this t-shirt rack that the front of one of the shirts was showing -- although I did appreciate this attempt at a coded allusion to the ambiance offered by AP, via CBS:

McCain and his wife, Cindy, paused at several points to examine the products and their labels, with Cindy McCain quipping that the entourage could use some to cure campaign trail ills.

Certainly this is one of those instances where a photographer, in a discreet way, in a photo almost guaranteed not to run anywhere, records at least one picture in order to call bullshit on how the media fails to cover (or uncover) McCain.

(image: Mary Altaffer/AP.  August 4, 2008, Sturgis, S.D.)


John and Cindy keep showing up in places where they don't belong and which pose significant political risk. It's hard to see what constituencies they're appealing to when they appear with an oil rig in Bakersfield or at the Sturgis motorcycle gathering. Are they going to show up for Burning Man?

Maybe McCain's staff has fully measured the risks and have decided it's a way to dog-whistle for support they otherwise wouldn't get. But I doubt it. People who are glad to see John and Cindy pretending to be ordinary folks in Bakersfield or Sturgis are probably going to vote for him anyway. However, the risks are real. The longer the McCains go without getting embarrassed, the more flustered they'll be when the inevitable happens.

It's possible that the McCains are politically tin-eared. For instance, what's he doing wearing $500 loafers? George Bush the elder famously appeared in a supermarket and was impressed with scanner technology which wasn't new. If it's true that John and Cindy have no political instincts of their own, they are going to be caught flat-footed. They can't avoid it. Look for them to huff and puff and try to make the embarrassment go away. However, they're rich and disconnected, and it's going to show.

The noble photo journalist, in search of the truth - were that but true.

The wrong thing's in focus in that photo.

Does anyone really think J.Mc. showing up at a huge biker rally with his blonde wife and being photographed like this is a negative for him with the "I voted for bush because he looks like the kind of guy you could have a beer with" crowd?

I am going to go out on a limb and say there were more moose sightings than Obama stickers at the rally. (Please prove me wrong)

This is a safe crowd.

the "I voted for bush because he looks like the kind of guy you could have a beer with" crowd?

Posted by:Ti molo

I am certain the kind of guy you could have a beer heiress with is also popular with that demographic.

No doubt McCain's handlers were careful that nothing too crass or alluring got close enough to be framed with him. Ironic because "crass" and "alluring" could be labels for John and Cindy, respectively.

One thing you can do when your candidate can't fill the breakfast nook at the local Sausage Haus is go some place that already has a crowd. The annual bike rally in Sturgis is guaranteed to be crowded. Who's to know that the crowd was there first?

The Wall Street Journal describes the scene in the pic:

"Before selecting those tops, McCain quickly glanced at a rack of red T-shirts which your pooler saw featured a topless Miss Buffalo Chips with her arm and a denim jacket strategically placed. A few feet away stood the woman herself, who goes by Jessica, wearing a black bikini and black leather chaps, signing autographs. McCain did not make his way over to her but several other male patrons did. “I don’t want John McCain’s autograph,” one man slurred to Jessica. “I want yours,” he said, holding up a T-shirt for her to sign."

Pretend for a moment that the bikers haven't been coming to Sturgis in August for years:

“Thank you, I thank you all very much for that unique Sturgis welcome,” McCain yelled. “As you may know, not long ago a couple a hundred thousand Berliners made a lot of noise for my opponent. I’ll take the roar of 50,000 Harleys any day! Any day, my friend!” The rowdy crowd went wild, cheering their support for the candidate.

That's an Applause Line We Can Believe In.

I suppose McCain was the biggest boob at the boob fest...

Wonder how many drunks yelled at Cindy to take it off?

Oh, and then I find this:

Indeed, McCain felt so comfortable at the event that he even volunteered his wife for the rally’s traditional beauty pageant, an infamously debauched event that’s been known to feature topless women.

“I encouraged Cindy to compete,” McCain said to cheers. “I told her with a little luck she could be the only woman ever to serve as first lady and Miss Buffalo Chip.”

McCain upholding the dignity of women, as usual. How sweet. Then again, he's been known to refer to Cindy as "you cunt".

Just imagine if it were that n***er at that event instead of the doddering old fuckwit.

Or imagine if the Christian right is going to make one peep at McCain's blessing of crystal biker/meth traffickers at this debauched 'festival.'

Didn't think so. Only democrats are pilloried for any kind of the slightest brush with amorality - let alone debauchery.


Tin ear is it. I think lots of footage from this - and the bizarre appeal to drill offshore taken from an oil pump...onshore (we couldn't get our offshore photo-op -oil spill doncha know).

How many "Where's Waldo" type moments is McCain going to have before it turns laughable?

I must say, I genuinely feel sorry for Cindy McCain - she's an elite bitch who would probably love a return to slavery - and yet she's really running the gauntlet for this guy.

Can you even imagine what it would feel like to become a kind of prop in support of your spouse's ambition - and then to be further be-littled by your own spouse? Ouch.

Wonder how many drunks yelled at Cindy to take it off?

Plenty and maybe she obliged because that blue button up she's wearing looks as if it came out of the vacuum packed bag mere minutes ago, not enough time for the assembly line creases to hang out.

The photo flatters McCain. He's Just Like Us. So's his wife in this one. We've all stood there, half-bored consumers, regular folk. Obama and Michelle would look good in this setting, with these ordinary expressions. We can understand and even like McCain in this photo. (I don't really think the slightly-covered breasts on the rack illustrate anything about McCain, or Obama if he were there. You could probably buy a T-shirt like that at Sears today.)

And then there's Obama in yesterday's photo as prophet, bigger-than-life, great. Before we get all scared that Rove's people are dissing him for being like a celebrity, let's recognize that a big part of this nation yearns for someone to reflect greatness. Yes, another part fears and ridicules it, especially if it's based on being smart. But in the end, the winner of a record 70% of registered voters would have only 35% of the population, so Obama doesn't have to try to get everybody on his side -- just choose which 35%.

I think the story about Obama that has energized people is his background as a community organizer, together with his smarts. This genuinely sets him apart -- from McCain, W, and most politicians. Going to law school, even if you're Afro-American, doesn't really set you apart. But working in community organizing, that's new (especially if you went to law school.) He had the ability float immediately to the top and chose to go down, not as a fake, not for an image, but because that's what he genuinely cared about. People who didn't even agree with Reagan voted for him because they saw him as principled, even if his principles went against their interests. If Obama stands on principle, stands for something other than getting the most votes, he'll get the most votes this time.

America doesn't want astute thinkers for President: Jimmy Carter tried it and lost after winning. Besides, that's what Cabinets are for.

If Obama continues to look like a suit-and-tie Ivy League smart guy, he'll lose. Unfortunately, he can't betray his own nature and plausibly look like anything else.

McCain's campaign is wisely taking the opposite tack. The more he looks like a regular guy from Average, USA, warts and all, the easier he'll win.

Like Tom, I noticed Cindy's just-out-of-the-bag shirt - not ironed yet, something I'm sure she's not used to. This was an on the spot grab purchase for her because she didn't have anything actually suitable for showing up at this kind of event. Everything she had was probably "too elite" for such an affair. I agree that Cindy is going all-out for her man, and probably has to to keep from getting unpleasant consequences later at home. I don't know if I feel sorrow or disgust for her - probably both. She's lost part of herself to this bad marriage,but it's too late for her now.

I wonder what Cindy was doing by wearing that wrinkled shirt. It had to be a choice.

Cindy's being a good biker chick -- dressing for her man.

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