Frank Rich’s “The Terrorist Barack Hussein Obama”

IF you think way back to the start of this marathon campaign, back when it seemed preposterous that any black man could be a serious presidential contender, then you remember the biggest fear about Barack Obama: a crazy person might take a shot at him.

Some voters told reporters that they didn’t want Obama to run, let alone win, should his very presence unleash the demons who have stalked America from Lincoln to King. After consultation with Congress, Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, gave Obama a Secret Service detail earlier than any presidential candidate in our history — in May 2007, some eight months before the first Democratic primaries.

“I’ve got the best protection in the world, so stop worrying,” Obama reassured his supporters. Eventually the country got conditioned to his appearing in large arenas without incident (though I confess that the first loud burst of fireworks at the end of his convention stadium speech gave me a start). In America, nothing does succeed like success. The fear receded.

Until now. At McCain-Palin rallies, the raucous and insistent cries of “Treason!” and “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” and “Off with his head!” as well as the uninhibited slinging of racial epithets, are actually something new in a campaign that has seen almost every conceivable twist. They are alarms. Doing nothing is not an option.

Published in: on October 12, 2008 at 9:40 am  Comments (1)  

How McCain Lost in Pennsylvania

27 percent of Republican primary voters didn’t just tell pollsters they would defect from their party’s standard-bearer; they went to the polls, gas prices be damned, to vote against Mr. McCain.

Published in: on April 27, 2008 at 12:06 am  Leave a Comment  

The Audacity of Hopelessness

The Clinton camp has been the slacker in this presidential race, and its candidate’s message, for all its purported high-mindedness, is self-immolating.

After promising a cakewalk to the nomination — “It will be me,” Mrs. Clinton told Katie Couric in November — she was routed by an insurgency.

The Clinton camp was certain that its moneyed arsenal of political shock-and-awe would take out Barack Hussein Obama in a flash. The race would “be over by Feb. 5,” Mrs. Clinton assured George Stephanopoulos just before New Year’s.

Published in: on April 5, 2008 at 2:18 am  Leave a Comment  

The ‘Good Germans’ Among Us

“BUSH lies” doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s time to confront the darker reality that we are lying to ourselves.

By FRANK RICH

Ten days ago The Times unearthed yet another round of secret Department of Justice memos countenancing torture. President Bush gave his standard response: “This government does not torture people.” Of course, it all depends on what the meaning of “torture” is. The whole point of these memos is to repeatedly recalibrate the definition so Mr. Bush can keep pleading innocent.

Published in: on October 14, 2007 at 1:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Who Really Took Over During That Colonoscopy

By FRANK RICH

Published: July 29, 2007

THERE was, of course, gallows humor galore when Dick Cheney briefly grabbed the wheel of our listing ship of state during the presidential colonoscopy last weekend. Enjoy it while it lasts. A once-durable staple of 21st-century American humor is in its last throes. We have a new surrogate president now. Sic transit Cheney. Long live David Petraeus!

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Published in: on July 29, 2007 at 11:06 am  Comments (1)  

I Did Have Sexual Relations With That Woman

By FRANK RICH
Published: July 22, 2007

IT’S not just the resurgence of Al Qaeda that is taking us back full circle to the fateful first summer of the Bush presidency. It’s the hot sweat emanating from Washington. Once again the capital is titillated by a scandal featuring a member of Congress, a woman who is not his wife and a rumor of crime.

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Published in: on July 21, 2007 at 10:50 pm  Comments (3)  

When the Vice President Does It, That Means It’s Not Illegal

July 1, 2007

WHO knew that mocking the Constitution could be nearly as funny as shooting a hunting buddy in the face? Among other comic dividends, Dick Cheney’s legal theory that the vice president is not part of the executive branch yielded a priceless weeklong series on “The Daily Show” and an online “Doonesbury Poll,” conducted at Slate, to name Mr. Cheney’s indeterminate branch of government.


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Published in: on June 30, 2007 at 10:42 pm  Comments (6)  

They’ll Break the Bad News on 9/11

BY this late date we should know the fix is in when the White House’s top factotums fan out on the Sunday morning talk shows singing the same lyrics, often verbatim, from the same hymnal of spin. The pattern was set way back on Sept. 8, 2002, when in simultaneous appearances three cabinet members and the vice president warned darkly of Saddam’s aluminum tubes. “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,” said Condi Rice, in a scripted line. The hard sell of the war in Iraq — the hyping of a (fictional) nuclear threat to America — had officially begun.

By Frank Rich

Published in: on June 23, 2007 at 10:11 pm  Comments (4)  

Scooter’s Sopranos Go to the Mattresses

AS a weary nation awaited the fade-out of “The Sopranos” last Sunday, the widow of the actual Mafia don John Gotti visited his tomb in Queens to observe the fifth anniversary of his death. Victoria Gotti was not pleased to find reporters lying in wait.

By FRANK RICH
June 17, 2007

(To read the rest, you’ll need access.)

Published in: on June 17, 2007 at 6:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Failed Presidents Ain’t What They Used to Be

June 3, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

By FRANK RICH

A few weeks ago I did something I never expected to do in my life. I shed a tear for Richard Milhous Nixon. (more…)

Published in: on June 3, 2007 at 9:52 am  Comments (2)  

Operation Freedom From Iraqis


Barry Blitt

by Frank Rich
May 27, 2007

WHEN all else fails, those pious Americans who conceived and directed the Iraq war fall back on moral self-congratulation: at least we brought liberty and democracy to an oppressed people. But that last-ditch rationalization has now become America’s sorriest self-delusion in this tragedy.
(more…)

Published in: on May 26, 2007 at 7:55 pm  Comments (4)  

The Reverend Falwell’s Heavenly Timing

May 20, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

HARD as it is to believe now, Jerry Falwell came in second only to Ronald Reagan in a 1983 Good Housekeeping poll anointing “the most admired man in America.” By September 2001, even the Bush administration was looking for a way to ditch the preacher who had joined Pat Robertson on TV to pin the 9/11 attacks on feminists, abortionists, gays and, implicitly, Teletubbies. As David Kuo, a former Bush official for faith-based initiatives, tells the story in his book “Tempting Faith,” the Reverend Falwell was given a ticket to the Washington National Cathedral memorial service that week only on the strict condition that he stay away from reporters and cameras. Mr. Falwell obeyed, though once inside he cracked jokes (“Whoa, does she look frumpy,” he said of Barbara Bush) and chortled nonstop. (more…)

Earth to G.O.P.: The Gipper Is Dead

May 13, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

OF course you didn’t watch the first Republican presidential debate on MSNBC. Even the party’s most loyal base didn’t abandon Fox News, where Bill O’Reilly, interviewing the already overexposed George Tenet, drew far more viewers. Yet the few telling video scraps that entered the 24/7 mediasphere did turn the event into an instant “Saturday Night Live” parody without “SNL” having to lift a finger. The row of 10 middle-aged white candidates, David Letterman said, looked like “guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club.” (more…)

Published in: on May 12, 2007 at 11:29 pm  Comments (2)  

Is Condi Hiding the Smoking Gun?

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By FRANK RICH

IF, as J.F.K. had it, victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan, the defeat in Iraq is the most pitiful orphan imaginable. Its parents have not only tossed it to the wolves but are also trying to pin its mutant DNA on any patsy they can find. (more…)

Published in: on May 5, 2007 at 8:52 pm  Comments (6)  

Iraq Is the Ultimate Aphrodisiac

April 22, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

PRESIDENT BUSH has skipped the funerals of the troops he sent to Iraq. He took his sweet time to get to Katrina-devastated New Orleans. But last week he raced to Virginia Tech with an alacrity not seen since he hustled from Crawford to Washington to sign a bill interfering in Terri Schiavo’s end-of-life medical care. Mr. Bush assumes the role of mourner in chief on a selective basis, and, as usual with the decider, the decisive factor is politics. Let Walter Reed erupt in scandal, and he’ll take six weeks to show his face — and on a Friday at that, to hide the story in the Saturday papers. The heinous slaughter in Blacksburg, Va., by contrast, was a rare opportunity for him to ostentatiously feel the pain of families whose suffering cannot be blamed on the administration.
(more…)

Published in: on April 21, 2007 at 9:40 pm  Comments (5)  

Everybody Hates Don Imus

April 15, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

FAMILIAR as I am with the warp speed of media, I was still taken aback by the velocity of Don Imus’s fall after he uttered an indefensible racist and sexist slur about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Even in that short span, there’s been an astounding display of hypocrisy, sanctimony and self-congratulation from nearly every side of the debate, starting with Al Sharpton, who has yet to apologize for his leading role in the Tawana Brawley case, the 1980s racial melee prompted by unproven charges much like those that soiled the Duke lacrosse players. (more…)

Published in: on April 18, 2007 at 12:56 am  Comments (1)  

Sunday in the Market With McCain

April 8, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

JOHN McCAIN’S April Fools’ Day stroll through Baghdad’s Shorja market last weekend was instantly acclaimed as a classic political pratfall. Protected by more than a hundred American soldiers, three Black Hawk helicopters, two Apache gunships and a bulletproof vest, the senator extolled the “progress” and “good news” in Iraq. Befitting this loopy brand of comedy — reminiscent of “Wedding Crashers,” in which Mr. McCain gamely made a cameo appearance — the star had a crackerjack cast of supporting buffoons: Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who told reporters “I bought five rugs for five bucks!,” and Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, who likened the scene to “a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime.” (more…)

Published in: on April 7, 2007 at 10:01 pm  Comments (1)  

When Will Fredo Get Whacked?

March 25, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

PRESIDENT BUSH wants to keep everything that happens in his White House secret, but when it comes to his own emotions, he’s as transparent as a teenager on MySpace. (more…)

Published in: on March 24, 2007 at 10:42 pm  Comments (2)  

Where Were You That Summer of 2001?

February 25, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

“UNITED 93,” Hollywood’s highly praised but indifferently attended 9/11 docudrama, will be only a blip on tonight’s Oscar telecast. The ratings rise of “24” has stalled as audiences defect from the downer of terrorists to the supernatural uplift of “Heroes.” Cable surfers have tuned out Iraq for a war with laughs: the battle over Anna Nicole’s decomposing corpse. Set this cultural backdrop against last week’s terrifying but little-heeded front-page Times account of American “intelligence and counterterrorism officials” leaking urgent warnings about Al Qaeda’s comeback, and ask yourself: Haven’t we been here before? (more…)

Published in: on February 25, 2007 at 12:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Oh What a Malleable War

February 18, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

MAYBE the Bush White House can’t conduct a war, but no one has ever impugned its ability to lie about its conduct of a war. Now even that well-earned reputation for flawless fictionalizing is coming undone. Watching the administration try to get its story straight about Iran’s role in Iraq last week was like watching third graders try to sidestep blame for misbehaving while the substitute teacher was on a bathroom break. The team that once sold the country smoking guns in the shape of mushroom clouds has completely lost its mojo.
(more…)

Published in: on February 18, 2007 at 12:04 am  Comments (4)  

Stop Him Before He Gets More Experience

February 11, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

AS the official Barack Obama rollout reaches its planned climax on “60 Minutes” tonight, we’ll learn if he has the star power to upstage Anna Nicole Smith. But at least one rap against him can promptly be laid to rest: his lack of experience. If time in the United States Senate is what counts for presidential seasoning, maybe his two years’ worth is already too much. Better he get out now, before there’s another embarrassing nonvote on a nonbinding measure about what will soon be a four-year-old war.
(more…)

Published in: on February 10, 2007 at 11:16 pm  Comments (1)  

Why Dick Cheney Cracked Up

February 4, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

IN the days since Dick Cheney lost it on CNN, our nation’s armchair shrinks have had a blast. The vice president who boasted of “enormous successes” in Iraq and barked “hogwash” at the congenitally mild Wolf Blitzer has been roundly judged delusional, pathologically dishonest or just plain nuts. But what else is new? We identified those diagnoses long ago. The more intriguing question is what ignited this particularly violent public flare-up.
(more…)

Published in: on February 4, 2007 at 12:08 am  Comments (3)  

Hillary Clinton’s Mission Unaccomplished

January 28, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

HILLARY CLINTON has an answer to those who suspect that her “I’m in to win” Webcast last weekend was forced by Barack Obama’s Webcast of just four days earlier. “I wanted to do it before the president’s State of the Union,” she explained to Brian Williams on NBC, “because I wanted to draw the contrast between what we’ve seen over the last six years, and the kind of leadership and experience that I would bring to the office.”
(more…)

Published in: on January 27, 2007 at 9:30 pm  Comments (2)  

Lying Like It’s 2003

January 21, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

THOSE who forget history may be doomed to repeat it, but who could imagine we’d already be in danger of replaying that rotten year 2003?
(more…)

Published in: on January 20, 2007 at 9:46 pm  Comments (1)  

He’s in the Bunker Now

January 14, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
By FRANK RICH

PRESIDENT BUSH always had one asset he could fall back on: the self-confidence of a born salesman. Like Harold Hill in “The Music Man,” he knew how to roll out a new product, however deceptive or useless, with conviction and stagecraft. What the world saw on Wednesday night was a defeated Willy Loman who looked as broken as his war. His flop sweat was palpable even if you turned down the sound to deflect despair-inducing phrases like “Prime Minister Maliki has pledged …” and “Secretary Rice will leave for the region. …”
(more…)

Published in: on January 14, 2007 at 2:23 am  Comments (3)  

The Timely Death of Gerald Ford

January 7, 2007

By FRANK RICH

THE very strange and very long Gerald Ford funeral marathon was about many things, but Gerald Ford wasn’t always paramount among them.
(more…)

Published in: on January 6, 2007 at 11:11 pm  Comments (3)  

Yes, You Are the Person of the Year!

December 24, 2006
By FRANK RICH

TIME’S choice for 2006 Person of the Year — “You” — was a bountiful gift of mirth to America, second only to the championship Donald Trump-Rosie O’Donnell bout as a comic kickoff to the holiday season. The magazine’s cover stunt, a computer screen of Mylar reflecting the reader’s own image, was so hokey that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert merely had to display it on camera to score laughs. The magazine’s disingenuous rationale for bestowing its yearly honor on its readers was like a big wet kiss from a distant relative who creeps you out.
(more…)

Published in: on December 23, 2006 at 10:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mary Cheney’s Bundle of Joy

December 17, 2006
By FRANK RICH

IT’S not the least of John McCain’s political talents that he comes across as a paragon of straight talk even when he isn’t talking straight. So it was a surprise to see him reduced to near-stammering on ABC’s “This Week” two Sundays after the election. The subject that brought him low was the elephant in the elephants’ room, or perhaps we should say in their closet: homosexuality.
(more…)

Published in: on December 16, 2006 at 11:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Sunshine Boys Can’t Save Iraq

By FRANK RICH

IN America we like quick fixes, closure and an uplifting show. Such were the high hopes for the Iraq Study Group, and on one of the three it delivered.

The report of the 10 Washington elders was rolled out like a heartwarming Hollywood holiday release. There was a feel-good title, “The Way Forward,” unfortunately chosen as well by Ford Motor to promote its last-ditch plan to stave off bankruptcy. There was a months-long buildup, with titillating sneak previews to whip up anticipation. There was the gala publicity tour on opening day, starting with a President Bush cameo timed for morning television and building to a “Sunshine Boys” curtain call by James Baker and Lee Hamilton on “Larry King Live.”
(more…)

Published in: on December 9, 2006 at 11:48 pm  Comments (1)  

Bush’s Unreality

December 3, 2006

Has He Started Talking to the Walls?
By FRANK RICH

IT turns out we’ve been reading the wrong Bob Woodward book to understand what’s going on with President Bush. The text we should be consulting instead is “The Final Days,” the Woodward-Bernstein account of Richard Nixon talking to the portraits on the White House walls while Watergate demolished his presidency. As Mr. Bush has ricocheted from Vietnam to Latvia to Jordan in recent weeks, we’ve witnessed the troubling behavior of a president who isn’t merely in a state of denial but is completely untethered from reality. It’s not that he can’t handle the truth about Iraq. He doesn’t know what the truth is.

(more…)

Published in: on December 2, 2006 at 10:13 pm  Comments (6)