Revisiting Palin

On Sarah Palin as McCain’s choice for VP, I came out immediately and said that it was a mistake. I wrote in part:

Count me among those stunned by McCain’s pick for his VP candidate. It neutralizes the strongest argument he had against Obama: Not enough experience. Never again can he utter these words. Further, I can’t comprehend her as president (and with McCain’s age, I think we would have a fair chance of seeing that happen). I think the job is over her head, and I have witnessed the carnage several times when people step into a job over their heads. Imagine letting a first year medical school student do your heart transplant, and you start to get the picture.

After watching a couple of interviews with her, I think she has validated my claims that the job is over her head, and in my opinion the pick has turned into the disaster I anticipated. The spectacle has become a national joke, and I know people who turned away from McCain as a result. (I also know people who initially embraced the move as brilliant). There are even conservative commentators suggesting Palin step down for the good of the party. I certainly questioned his judgement after the pick, and I questioned it again after his bizarre campaign suspension to deal with a crisis that he had downplayed just a couple of weeks earlier.

Our political process makes me nearly ill. I want a candidate who doesn’t pander (like Obama does with his energy policy) or make decisions that are purely political, but not in the best interest of the country (Palin as VP). Both major parties represent parts of who I am, but they also represent parts that are 180 degrees from who I am. That’s why I often find myself ripping into both parties. That’s also why the Democrats often accuse me of being a Republican and the Republicans often accuse me of being a Democrat. Each side tries to define me on the basis of what I oppose. If I am against Obama’s energy pandering, I am a right-wing conservative. If I criticize McCain’s bizarre behavior of late, I am to the left of Ted Kennedy. (I am in fact very centrist in my politics, but I have areas in which I swing right and areas in which I swing left).

The truth is, I think our current political system is broken. It rewards lobbyists and special interests. The candidate who can most convincingly tell the biggest majority what they want to hear is the one who wins. It shouldn’t be like that.

So, do the Republicans here stand by Palin? Do the Democrats think Obama has given sufficient details on how we would accomplish his objectives? (As regular readers here know, I have some big problems with the energy policies of both candidates, but I think McCain’s takes a more realistic view of our energy situation).

51 thoughts on “Revisiting Palin”

  1. I agree that our political process is broken. It pains me that we are stuck with either Democrat or Republican. It polarizes the country and only exagerates the differences instead of pulling us together.

    Now we need to make a decision. Seems that the decision will be the lesser of 2 evils.

    Maybe this financial crisis will bring this problem to a head, but it is very difficult to get past the momentum of history. Interesting times, hope we can pull it out for the sake of our children.

  2. Let’s withold final judgement until after the debate on Thurs. The campaign has Palin tightly scripted thus far because they know the media will pounce on any misstatements(unlike Joe “Roosevelt went on tv after the 1929 crash” Biden) and tear her to shreds. Look what they did to her before she even had a chance to give any interviews.
    If she performs poorly, I’d jump on the “Dump Palin” bandwagon if I thought it would make any difference, but it wouldn’t. A bad
    debate performance will doom the McCain campaign.

  3. The R-Party has us on the bridge to nowhere. What a debacle. From federal surpluses and no major foreign entanglements in 2000 to runaway federal red ink, an unending war in Iraq and a bank meltdown in 2008. Bush is a decadent fool.
    And yet, are the Dems any better?
    I concur with RR; no one has the guts to say what we really need for a national energy policy, including Obama, who has been promising pie-in-the-sky. It is obvious we need much higher gasoline taxes, if only to finance roadbuilding without subsidy.
    It would also depress demand, the key benefit.
    But the R Party always says “no taxes” (along with “I want my baby bottle”) and the Dems chicken out.
    The R-Party has become so dysfunctional, it cannot hatch a financial policy even in light of a national banking collapse. Bush says “our national financial house is burning down, give me the fire hose,” and the R-Party says, “Not if you use our water.”
    Of course, the R-Party wanted a tax cut to fight the global war on terrorism.
    I guess we have become a banana republic. Maybe we can get an IMF loan, or a bailout from the World Bank.
    I guess we should just relax and enjoy. You can borrow money; why bother paying it back? We can fight wars, but who needs to pay taxes to pay for wars? If oil despots want $150 a barrel, that’s the way it is.
    Play that samba music, and get out the tequila. Or find out what life offers in Thailand, Germany, France, Switzerland, or other countries that actually have governments that half-way try.

  4. The problem with the political system is the patently outdated and absurd electoral college, as the 2000 election so neatly illustrated. Unfortunately, the electoral college effectively shuts any given third party out, so both GOP and Dems are in favor of it.

    It would be nice if the US accepted a democratic system. Since it is in the short term interest of neither party to fight for this, I doubt it will happen.

    Bush says “our national financial house is burning down, give me the fire hose,” and the R-Party says, “Not if you use our water.”
    More like: Bush says “our national financial house is burning down, I need to be in charge of the fire fighting, with absolutely no oversight. The R-party, based on past performance, says (rightly): “Not so fast, Dumbo!”

  5. Another reason to hate politics. From the New York Times –

    WASHINGTON — The House and the Senate conceded Monday that they were in a stalemate over proposals to provide tax incentives for the production and use of renewable energy, leaving the future of the nascent industry in limbo.

    Tax credits for investing in solar energy and producing wind energy will expire at the end of the year unless Congress resolves the impasse, and lawmakers said they saw no immediate prospect of an agreement.

    The deadlock comes at a time when economists and politicians of all stripes are saying the United States must rapidly develop solar, wind and other energy sources as alternatives to oil.

    “Congress is furthering our dependence on foreign sources of energy — dirty, polluting sources of energy,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group. “It’s scaring away investment, just as our industry is beginning to get a toehold. Solar projects are already being delayed.”

  6. There is, frankly, a limit to how honest a politician can be. Up here in Canada we’re having an election as well and the Liberal Party is getting hosed in part due to the fact that a carbon tax is part of their platform.

  7. Optimist:
    Point stands. El Presidente cannot compel his party to back any sort of plan to foster financial stability. The R-Party is dysfunctional, inept, corrupt, venal, short-sighted, stupid.
    Pass the tequila, and a little salt. Some tortillas, and play that samba. Count on every asset you own being worth about half that in a few years, and just hope you got steady work.
    You want low taxes? The top tax rate in Mexico is 10 percent.
    You could migrate there, but why bother? We are already in a banana republic now.

  8. RR — a person like you who is interested in data should take a look at the number of votes cast for presidential candidates since Watergate.

    Interesting thing — votes for the Democrat candidate have increased steadily more or less at the rate of population growth; votes for the Republican candidate are all over the place. All the media buzz about “swing voters” is just so much misunderstanding. The real decider of elections is apparently the Contingent Voter.

    Sometimes, the Republicans field a candidate who can attract the Contingent Voter — and then the Republican wins. Otherwise, the Contingent Voter votes for Ross Perot or stays home — and the Democrat wins by default. The Coontingent Voter never votes for the Democrat candidate, and the Democrat voter always votes Democrat.

    Barrack Obama, despite his glaring deficiencies, will get more votes than Kerry, who got more votes than Gore, who got more votes than Clinton …. The issue is whether Contingent Voters will be attracted to Bob Dole, sorry John McCain.

    The good thing about Sarah Palin’s candidacy is that it has exposed the utter hypocrisy (not to mention mysogenism) of all those liberals in the Main Stream Media.

  9. I love Sarah Palin. She’s the anti-Hillary. I wouldn’t mind her being the first female President either. It’s not easy jumping from governor of Alaska to a global stage. Give her a little time. She’ll do fine.

  10. Robert,

    Are you really going to convince me that Palin is any less qualified than Obama using SNL (a has-been show of declining viewership) and an article with enough facts that you could easily replace “Palin” with “Obama” in every line and not be surprised?

    Come on, you are smarter than this.

    Round Rock, TX

  11. Have you heard her speak? Have you heard him speak? No contest. She is like a dumber version of Dan Quayle. That’s why the Repubs are hiding her away and not letting her do interviews.

  12. RR – You challenge people to back up their claims. I am curious what specifically did Palin say or what has she done that make you think picking her is a mistake?

    So SNL makes jokes about her. They are totally in the tank for Obama. Tina Fey said she only wants to do the impression until the first Saturday in November.

    Compare the interview questions she got to the media treatment that Obama gets. They don’t ever ask him tough questions. If she stumbles it is partly because reporters are trying to trip her up.

    Do you remember the 50 investigative reporters they sent to Chicago to dig into Obama’s past and his associations? Oh wait, they didn’t. So who was it that found Obama’s half-brother living in squalor in Africa? US mainstream media – no the Italian version of Vanity Fair.

    I think Palin was a good choice for several reasons, she shores up the conservative base of the Republican Party, she compliments McCain’s credentials as a reformer, and she brings some excitement to a ticket that was about as interesting as watching paint dry.

    If you want to be critical of VP picks, then slow Joe Biden is your man. Last week he told someone in Ohio, “no clean coal in the US” before telling Pennsylvannians he and Obama ARE for clean coal. He slams Palin on the bridge to nowhere, yet he AND Obama voted for it. And Biden inserts his own earmarks for $13 million for an existing bridge to two nowheres (Indian River bridge) that isn’t threatened and is a much lower priority than many bridge projects.

    Let’s see how Thursday night goes before throwing Gov. Palin under the bus.

  13. kupfMaury-
    Sarah Palin for Prezzy?
    Please, pass the tequila, the whole bottle, not a drink. Stick a crack pipe in every orifice I have. Gimme a doobie the size of the Goodyear blimp.
    Cheech and Chong look out. You are pikers.
    Maury, we have huge trade deficits, huge federal deficits, a huge energy problem, a war without end in Iraq, and you want Palin for Prezzy?
    I think Palin actually believes her content-lite filibustering to any serious question — the glib made-for-television retort — constitutes real intellectual discourse.
    We’ll need a bong-pipe bigger than the Empire State building if Palin becomes prezzy.

  14. I am curious what specifically did Palin say or what has she done that make you think picking her is a mistake?

    I felt like during her first interview with Charles Gibson she tried to fake her way through a lot, but then the one with Katie Couric was painful to watch. Some of her answers were completely inane; devoid of any content and full of buzz phrases. At one point, Tina Fey is repeating Palin’s actual answer and getting big laughs.

    Palin doesn’t inspire confidence in me. We can debate the substance behind Obama’s words, but he certainly strikes me as someone who understands a bit about the world. We may disagree on many policies, but he is a very good speaker who I have not seen badly fumble the answer to a question. And he (and McCain and Biden) have all done tons more interviews, so there is more potential material out there. McCain, Obama, and Biden are all candidates that have shown they have a grasp on the big issues. How to solve them is the debate. But Palin doesn’t have a grasp.

    I said in the initial post that I thought she was in over her head. Everything I have seen indicates to me that my assessment was correct. Why else would you have even some conservative columnists calling for her to step down? Are you terrified at the prospect of what might happen during her debate? Many Republicans are.

    She wasn’t ready for this. You have probably seen first hand people who were promoted too quickly. It can end careers. In Palin’s case, maybe she would have been a more polished candidate in 10 years. Maybe she would have begun to study up on national and international issues. But she isn’t there right now. If we have a President Palin a year from now, I fear for the future of the country because I don’t think she has a good grasp of too many issues outside of Alaska. I think we have seen that.

    As for energizing the conservative base, what were they going to do if she hadn’t, vote for Obama?


  15. Here’s CNN’s Gloria Borger on Palin. While you may say “She is the liberal media”, I promise you there are a lot of non-liberals thinking the same thing:

    In one bold stroke, John McCain threw away his “experience” argument in favor of reclaiming the “reform” mantle. To call it a gamble is an understatement; it was a crapshoot, with all the chips on one roll of the dice.

    Then they decided to get really careful. And now Sarah Palin has become the first sequestered vice presidential candidate in American history.

    And when she isn’t being hidden as she crams for her vice presidential debate, she has been let into public view for selective interviews and photo-ops that have been alternately silly, painful to watch and sometimes even alarming.

    Republicans are watching what once may have seemed like a brilliant idea turn into a riskier proposition each day.

    The more they hide her, each venture out into the open becomes magnified — and her last attempts at tête-à-tête interviews have been disasters.

    And that’s the word Republicans use.

    The thing about making risky moves like McCain did is that there is a reason the move is called “risky.” I don’t imagine the risk is paying off as McCain’s campaign anticipated.


  16. I’m not a mean person, so at this point I feel more sorry for Gov. Palin than anything else. The wind seems gone from her sails. I wonder if her coaching hurt her more than it helped.

    I won’t watch the debate, because I expect it to be painful in that regard. If she does a turn-around I’ll go back for clips.

    I expect though that Robert has called it right, and that everyone who argued “Palin had more experience than Obama” will have to stand in front of a mirror, look themselves in the eye, and say “I am an idiot.”

    Best – odogragh

  17. I would have liked Gov. Palin to do a little better in the interviews. It seems pretty clear the media is gunning for her. While they dumpster dive in Alaska, Obama and Biden get a free pass. I don’t see how anyone can even argue that the press hasn’t taken sides.

    Under similar circumstances I wonder how foolish any of us might be made to look.

    The argument seems to be that she didn’t do well in a couple of hostile interviews set up to make her look bad – therefore she must be unqualified to lead an exeuctive branch of government. Disregard her actual government experience as an executive – and by all accounts a pretty effective one. No, not ready to give up on her yet.

    When you say, “a lot of conservatives are saying”, I think it is more likely true that “a lot of liberals and Democrats are saying conservatives want to dump Palin”.

    If Sarah Palin is truly this bad, then how can you explain Palin Derrangement Syndrome? The almost obsessive-compulsive need for liberals to go out of their way to take shots at Sarah Palin.

  18. “If Sarah Palin is truly this bad, then how can you explain Palin Derrangement Syndrome?”

    Easy. Both extremes exhibit Derrangement Syndrome, but of course extremists can only see the example on the other side.

    Best – odograph

  19. KingofKaty said…Under similar circumstances I wonder how foolish any of us might be made to look.

    Not nearly that dumb. Hostile interviews? I read the various transcripts floating around and I don’t see any objectionable content. Please tell me that a potential-president shouldn’t be able to answer those questions.

    COURIC: Have you ever been involved with any negotiations for example, with the Russians?

    PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth. We do — it’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia — as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go?

    It’s Alaska, It’s right over the border. It is from Alaska, that we send those out to make sure an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.

    You’re are taking tribalism to an extreme. The problem is that she’s fibbing and then gets tied into knots when she’s prodded to explain herself. Take the, “We have trade missions back and forth.” “We” evidently means Alaska legislators because as far as I can tell, Palin herself has never been a part of a trade mission to Russia.

    Hypothetically, let’s say you’re interviewing someone for a job on a rig. You ask them a question about a safety course. They don’t know the answer and fib their way through it. You later call the training company and find out the individual has never completed the course.

    Do you hire this person? Of course not.

  20. As bizarre as it may sound, I would like to suggest that Germany’s current form of democracy might be very instructive for the USA.

    When I moved here 10 years ago, I asked myself how the system could function at all with 4-5 different political parties. Not only does it function but it seems to allow the public to strongly influence the “big 2” parties – the SDP (comparable to our Dems) and CDU/CSU (two parties, long allied, that function largely as one party comparable to our Repubs).

    A while back, the Green Party was one of the little guys, hardly worth notice. But the Greens were the only party seriously focussed on the environment and sustainable, responsible energy. When that issue started to resonate, the Greens won votes – enough that built a governing majority coalition with the SPD. During this coalition, a lot of reforms were passed, two of which were Germany’s decision to exit nuclear power and to use feed-in tariffs to promote wind, solar, biogas, and other forms of renewable energy.

    One can certainly disagree with such policies (full disclosure – I think they’re brilliant). But the point is that through the Greens, the public sent a very clear message to the “big 2”: start addressing these issues intelligently or we will let the Greens do it for you. The Greens have lost a bit of their influence since then precisely because the “big 2” got the message and began tackling the environment and energy policy head-on, albeit with different strategies. And since the Greens were highly focussed on these issues, their arguments were very content-rich. The SPD, CDU/CSU and other parties will never again be able to ignore the issues (particularly energy) nor will they be able to gloss over them with platitudes. If they try, the Greens (still alive and kicking) will eat their lunch in the next election.

    I would love to see something like that happen in America. I seriously believe that with a third party in Congress, particularly one focussed on handling energy issues in a *substantive* way, the congressional impasse over renewable energy incentives, taxes on gasoline, and the like would have been overcome long ago.

  21. I’m not a mean person, so at this point I feel more sorry for Gov. Palin than anything else.

    Likewise, I feel sorry for her. I don’t like to see people embarrassed. Because I think there is a lot of potential for that at the debate, I won’t watch it.

    While they dumpster dive in Alaska, Obama and Biden get a free pass.

    She has floundered – badly – with questions that were not “gotcha” sort of questions. She has rambled incoherently when answering some questions, and she has grossly embellished her experience (as Robert McLeod points out above). I may tend to ramble myself, but I am not auditioning for VP.

    I think it is more likely true that “a lot of liberals and Democrats are saying conservatives want to dump Palin”.

    I have had two tell me that in the past two days. These are guys who are conservative through and through. They both think she was a mistake, but both tried to put some positive spin on it.


  22. Specifically regarding Pallin: this was the best McCain could do? As the Republican candidate for the most important job in the world — with a LOT more time than Obama had to pick a running mate — McCain couldn’t find someone capable of energizing the Republican base and gaining the support of women voters while at the same time demonstrating experience, competence and statesmanship? How are we supposed to take McCain seriously now?
    If McCain becomes our next president, he will need to appoint people to positions of significant responsibility on a regular basis: the Chiefs of Staff, Attorney Generals, judges (perhaps even a Supreme Court Justice, who knows?), and certainly will have a hand in determining who wages our continuing military presence in Iraq/Afghanistan (…Iran, Pakistan, North Korea…?). And many of these appointees will be with us for a good deal longer than 4 years. Sorry but Sarah Pallin does not infuse me with confidence in McCain’s ability to recruit greatness.

    On the other hand, it sounds like Joe Biden has made some slip ups too. I’ll admit I’m not well informed on Joe Biden, so feel free to enlighten me. But based on what I’ve seen so far (and I doubt the VP debate will change this) I don’t think we can afford to entrust McCain with that responsibility.

  23. Odograph,

    I just looked in the mirror, and all I could come up with was “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me.

  24. I looked at this part of the interview and saw it a bit differently. Palin frequently substitutes the term “we” for “Alaska” or “Alaskans”. In that context the statement is true and takes on a different meaning. She didn’t say SHE led a foreign trade mission. But the fact is both the government and private sector DOES exchange various business and trade delegations with Russia.

    Then the sense is, no, we don’t negotiate with Russia, but we do trade with them.

    Every Alaskan resident who lived through the cold war is keenly aware of their proximity to Russia and the early warning systems designed to keep Russian bombers and missiles from crossing the Alaskan frontier.

    The better answer would be: “The Executive Branch negotiates treaties and direct trade deals with foreign nations. However, Alaska has had longstanding business relations with the Russians. Alaskans take US-Russian relations very seriously because we share a common border.”

  25. The most important actions we can all take are from within our own state. Ultimately, your state reps will decide who becomes president(electoral college?)

    If you can’t name somebody who loves you or cares about you in DC or on Wall Street, screw em, they never will. If you can’t talk to your nieghbor calmly about civil issues you may have dropped the ball on political participation and civic duty. I hope everybody knows exactly what and who’s on their state ballot before we pay further mind towards presidental race banter. The presidental reality is: flip a coin and deal, you had little say, it’s of little personal responsibility or consequence.

    My state has 14 ammendments, 4 measures, and a number of judicial elections, on top of the state rep race. At least two of these decisions directly involve energy/infrastructure issues. All of the questions were presented by locals and will directly manifest themselves where i live.

    Neither Obama nor McCain will be able to vote on or care about any of my state’s energy, healthcare, or tax issues. For that I am thankful!! You have to take care of your own town and state before you can help any others.

  26. Benny sez: El Presidente cannot compel his party to back any sort of plan to foster financial stability.
    The less El Presidente gets done in his remaining time in office, the better. The less of his (and Hank Pualson’s) original three page proposal (hey that’s three times as much work as the man is accustomed to) remains in the final version of the bill, the better.

    If we even need a stupid bail-out-the-billionaires bill. Seems by tomorrow the stock market will have recovered all of that “worst day drop in the history of the market”. Without any help from Uncle Sam.

    Benny builds up a nice head of steam: The R-Party is dysfunctional, inept, corrupt, venal, short-sighted, stupid.
    The scary part is that this is the party with more backbone. You might have noticed that the Dems, elected mainly to end the unpopular war, have rolled over and played dead anytime El Presidente called their bluff.

    Before ending on a high: You want low taxes? The top tax rate in Mexico is 10 percent.
    You could migrate there, but why bother? We are already in a banana republic now.

    Oh, I agree, completely. The R-party expanded government like no tax-and-spend liberal could have hoped to get away with. Without the honesty to raise taxes to pay for it all. Hey, we’ll just mail the bill to our children. “Starve the beast? Why bother? We’ll just feed him our children!”

    Brian von Deutschland: I would love to see something like that happen in America. I seriously believe that with a third party in Congress, particularly one focussed on handling energy issues in a *substantive* way, the congressional impasse over renewable energy incentives, taxes on gasoline, and the like would have been overcome long ago.
    BINGO! Only problem: you are going to need both the GOP and Dems to change the system to allow this. Better start thinking about how you will camouflage the true goal of your bill, while developing a cover story you can sell to the Kool Aid drinkers on at least one side…

  27. Evan, you’re absolutely right about political participation at the state and local level. Those ballot measures are underestimated, undervalued, and underreported.

    But I must disagree strongly with the idea that the choice for president is of “little personal responsibility or consequence”. Not so! It’s true, the electoral college can trump the popular vote and it’s also very true (and incredibly embarassing for me as an expatriate) that dirty tricks can disenfranchise voters and swing an election.

    That doesn’t mean the public has to sit there and take it! The USA more or less turned a blind eye to fraudulent election practices in 2000 in the name of national unity and look where it got us: 8 years of arguably the most counter productive, self-destructive administration in our nation’s history. When the incumbent party in the Ukraine defrauded voters a few years ago, the public demanded a proper recount of the votes, national unity be damned. And they kept demanding it…in front of their seat of government…in subfreezing temperature levels…for over 2 weeks. They got their recount and (surprise surprise!) the incumbent was defeated.

    So I urge you to reconsider your position on the presidential election. Every vote *does* matter and any shady election tactics deserve to exposed, picked apart, and prosecuted. And if that means we have to change the election result after two weeks, then that’s what it means. If that means a president must be impeached during “wartime”, then that’s what must be done. If it isn’t important enough to us to do democracy properly in the USA, then we shouldn’t be bankrupting the country trying to export our form of democracy (by force) elsewhere.

  28. Optimist: you said

    “BINGO! Only problem: you are going to need both the GOP and Dems to change the system to allow this.”

    Yes, I know and it’s incredibly frustrating. But taking it as a given that a third political party has no chance in the current system only perpetuates the problem. Voters don’t pay attention to third parties because they don’t believe those parties stand a chance. The media don’t cover third parties because the voters don’t pay attention to them. The voters — seeing no media coverage for any third parties — take that as proof that support for third parties is futile. After all, how can they hope to win an election without media coverage?

    The only way out of this mess (if there is one) is for the public and the media to stop taking the 2 party co-monopoly as a given. In particular the media should stop *entertaining* us and start *informing* us instead. A candidate with sound policies (such was RR espouses) ought to be able to get enough coverage to wage an election campaign. Sure s/he would need a heavy dose of donations and volunteer support as well but that would be a darn sight easier to get with decent media coverage.

    Note: this is something that needs to happen first with congressional and senate races. I absolutely would NOT want to see a third party splitting the vote in the presidential election this year. Ralph Nader’s contribution to Dubya’s victory in 2000 was not lost on me, I assure you.

    And if the Dems/Republicans actively hindered the rise of such a party? That would be ugly. It would need to be ugly. Ugly like millions of people refusing to pay federal income taxes…like general strikes and camping out in front of the capital in sub-zero weather. Sound preposterous doesn’t it? But the Ukrainians did it. And continuing to live with the current 2-party system looks more preposterous itself every year.

  29. Obviously Palin was not chosen for her knowledge (she’s as ignorant as Joe SixPack) or political experience. That said, we can only speculate why she is the Annointed One. I suspect she is destined to be a political sock-puppet like Dubya. Time will tell.

  30. I’d consider myself generally conservative, and while I find much to like in Palin, I’ve reluctantly concluded she’s not qualified for the presidency. Combined with McCain’s flip-flopping on several issues (balancing the budget chief among them) and his grandstanding last week, it’s enough to put me off voting for him.

    I can’t vote for Obama either, largely because I disagree with him on too many issues. That said, he’s the brightest candidate, the most articulate, and the one who can best motivate the country, for good or ill. While inexperienced, he’s clearly “book smart” on policy matters.

    The saddest part is that the one issue where McCain’s position is most clearly aligned with mine (and Obama’s isn’t) is energy.

  31. Well maybe I won’t watch the VP debate after all.

    The moderator will be Gwen Ifill of PBS. On January 20, 2009 (inauguration day) she has a Random House book coming out with the title “Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama”. In the book she outlines the rise of african american politians like Obama and Deval Patrick.

    Clearly her book sales would benefit from an Obama victory. The main point of her book is that black politicians are finally breaking through to win general elections where the majority of their constitiuents are non african american.

    Now suppose that the moderator were Brit Hume of Fox News and that he had a book coming out in January titled “Breakthrough: Politics and Conservatism in the Age of McCain”. Could you imagine the outrage from Democrats and liberals? HuffPo and the Daily Kooks would go nuts.

  32. King of Katy:

    “I think Palin was a good choice for several reasons, she shores up the conservative base of the Republican Party, she compliments McCain’s credentials as a reformer, and she brings some excitement to a ticket that was about as interesting as watching paint dry”

    McCain is 72 years old and has a bad health record–not to mention having been beaten in a North Vietnamese POW camp for 5 years. Should he pass away while in office, Palin–the laughing stock of the world right now, let alone the U.S.–will become President.
    Think about this. Let it resonate around in your head for awhile. A former hockey Mom, and Governor of Alaska, who said (now infamously) that she could see Russia from her house, could become the President of the United States of America.

    The world would watch as the worst president ever, will leave office, only to pass it on his …legacy…to.. “What is the Bush Doctrine” President Palin. This is a woman who hadn’t been outside of North America until LAST YEAR.

    Wouldn’t she just be the tonic to horrendous state of overseas relations that Bush has so left to the next person in the oval office. Bush squandered all the goodwill extended by the international community after 9/11 and has now effectively alienated most of the world. The financial crisis has sealed that one.

    During the VP debate tomorrow, please…watch her carefully and imagine her in dialogue with the Russians, the French, and the Saudis.

    Good God…

  33. I don’t remember his name, but as a conservative writter said: “I’ve never seen a candidate throw as many hail marrys in an election before.”

    john first bet on the Iraq surge working, next he choose the little known female Gov. of Alaska to be his running mate, and then he suspended his campaign to come to DC to help hammer out an unpopular financial bailout package.

    Considering the odds against John McCain winning this election I don’t blame him for choosing Sarah Palin. McCain is fighting strong head winds in this election. The current Republican President is one of the most unpopular leaders in history, and Republicans in general are split, unenthusiastic in this election.

    I think it is human nature to have interest in new things. Often we tend to believe that when something says “new” it means better. when I worked in the food industry I remember the sales and marketing guys taking advantage of the word new. A food item would be slightly changed, new packaging with a new look to the food, slap it will a “New and Improved” label, and the product would draw interest. 70% of sales came from “new” products.

    I think “new” is the appeal of Obama and Palin. Both are first timers to the national scene, and are trying to represent themselves as change – new and improved – but then again when looking under the wrapping their positions represent the same old politcals.

    So far Obama has been able to show himself capable in public speaking. Palin is not doing as well, but then again I don’t believe we have seen enough of her. Generally McCain has wrapped his hail marry away from the press. I think tomorrow in the debate we get to see once and for all if Palin is capable of the job.

  34. this just really creeps me out:

    I agree, that is creepy. I can’t believe some of his supporters thought that was a good idea. I would say it was pretty clever had his enemies done it.


  35. “Well maybe I won’t watch the VP debate after all.

    The moderator will be Gwen Ifill of PBS. On January 20, 2009 (inauguration day) she has a Random House book coming out with the title “Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama”. In the book she outlines the rise of african american politians like Obama and Deval Patrick.”

    Wow! Nothing like blaming the press, early and often.

  36. Obama support is almost cult-like, the creepy kids video is just one more example of that.

    Most of us who support McCain are pragmatic about it. He wasn’t my first choice (or even fourth).

    But this Gwen Ifill thing has really shown that journalists have no ethics. She should have disclosed that she had a book about Obama coming out in January and then let the debate commission and both campaigns decide whether or not she should moderate.

    Imagine if you went to a football game and the umpire came out dressed in one of the team’s jerseys, or if you found out they had a personal stake in the outcome of the game. This is totally outrageous.

    When people say that President Bush is unpopular they fail to mention that the press and congress is even more unpopular. After Pelosi’s shamefull performance on Monday I wonder if it is possible for her to fall below 5% favorable.

  37. Anon – now wait a minute. The debate moderator can influence the outcome of the debate just as the referee or umpire can in an athletic contest, perhaps even more so.

    It isn’t blaming the press – this is a serious breach of ethics and of fair play. Gwen Ifill has a book coming out that could benefit her personally and directly depending on the outcome of the election.

    She should have recused herself from moderating, or at a minimum disclosed the conflict of interest. Random House should have said something also. This is an outrage – the Obama campaign also had to know about this book since Ifill apparently had interviewed Obama many times during the course of his run.

    Maybe we should give Ms. Ifill thirty seconds to hawk her upcoming book during the VP debate.

  38. Here is more Katie Couric and Gov. Palin. transcript

    There is also video somewhere. You can almost see Couric dripping with condescencion when she asks Palin about what she reads. I don’t recall anyone asking Joe Biden or Barack Obama what they read. Palin just refuses to play – rightly. This is a classic no-win situation. If she answers the question, then the media will dig into her answers and examine the bias in any of her news sources. Maybe she should have charmed her by saying: “Now Katie, I get all my news from CBS.”

  39. “Palin just refuses to play – rightly.”

    It’s a pattern of the non-answer. Has nothing to do with playing. She wants to be VP. What she reads is a fair question, one she apparently can’t answer.

  40. Anon – so has someone asked Joe Biden or Barack Obama what papers they read? The presumption in the question is that she is stupid or and ill-informed. The woman is Governor of a state, and she worked at a local TV station.

    Looking at the circulation numbers most Americans don’t get their news from newspapers any more either. A lot has been made of her not having a passport. Again, only about 1/3 of Americans have passports and have traveled outside of North America. As if having a passport is a qualification for higher office.

    These are elitist questions, answering them says nothing about her ability to be an effective vice president.

  41. When Palin was picked, I was took a wait and see approach. She did a great job at the Republican convention and I thought she passed her first test with flying colors. But that was the easy one.

    I was expecting to see her do numerous interviews and I wanted to see her get a chance to show us who she is. That has not happened. Her two interviews have been disappointing.

    The Bush doctrine thing would have been OK because asking for clarification on a very obtuse question is understandable. But she did have a deer in the headlights look about her.

    In the Couric interview she rambled incoherently a few times especially on the foreign policy stuff. She would be much better off admitting that she has no experience just like Obama.

    She did clear up a few things, like the creationism thing and the pray the gay away thing. Anyone who has suggested that she is a hard core creationist is either a liar or an idiot. That includes Tina Fey and Amy Pohler.

    I did see Palin live at a convention stop. The republican crowd LOVES her, and she appears very competent when she is reading a script in front of a friendly crowd.

    I will give her another chance to demonstrate that she has substance on Thursday. If she fails, it doesn’t matter for me, because I will only support Obama if he has a rational energy policy, and right now he is not even close.

    So now to Gwen Ifill. The fact that a jounalist who is moderating a debate has a book comming out in support of one of the candidates is ridiculous. I recalled how disgusted Ifill was at the Republican convention after Palin’s speech. She looked like she had just taken a huge bite out of a steaming turd sandwich.

    I looked it up on youtube, and it is there. Then I decided to take a look at a clip of Ifill interviewing Obama. The difference was obvious, the questions were big fat underhand softballs pitched right over the plate with a nice pro-Obama lead-in. I get the impression that Gwen took his stump speech and rephrased pieces in the form of a question, Jeopardy style.

  42. Please, look at this woman and imagine her taking over from an incapacitated (or deceased) McCain . Then, imagine her in a genuine crisis.

    Do you actually believe she could lead the country? At the very least, would she not be a national embarassement?

  43. Do you actually believe she could lead the country? At the very least, would she not be a national embarassement?

    I thought you were talking about Joe Biden.

    Of the 4 on the presidential ticket, McCain is the only one that seems ready to take over to me.

    Many of the same things were said about Margaret Thatcher. Lady Thatcher had served in elected politics for somewhat longer than Palin, but her only executive experience was 4 years as education secretary in the early 1970s. She had little foreign policy experience and served in shadow government positions mostly on domestic issues. In 1976 at the Kensington Town Hall she delivered her “guns before butter” speach about the Soviet Union. The pundits then called her wreckless and inexperienced.

    In Thatcher’s time (sort of where the US is now) the UK was in the process of making a severe left turn into socialism if not communism in response to economic and social problems. Thatcher and the conservatives turned the direction of the country, most would agree for the better.

    In 1975 many people couldn’t imagine Margaret Thatcher as a world leader either.

  44. kingofkaty-

    Nobody has to ask Obama what he reads, because people already know. In case you weren’t aware, he’s a pretty skilled writer himself. Many writers read; it’s what they do. Two seconds of googling came up with quite a few books. Here’s but one story:

    There have been NUMEROUS interviews where people have questioned him about what he reads. It’s clear the guy pays attention to the world. Sorry, but America needs more readers. It’s almost as though you “pragmatic conservatives” look at intelligence as a hindrance. Do you all want us to be stupid? It was a fair question for Couric, or anyone to ask.

  45. The McCain campaign deferred vetting of moderators to the Commission on Presidential Debates. Ifill never disclosed that she was writing a book about Obama and other black politicians that would be released on inauguration day. This is more a statement on Ifill, that she didn’t think SHE had a conflict of interest, than on either McCain or Palin.

    Her biggest decision tonight will be whether Ifill should go with the Obama 2008 t-shirt or just the campaign button.

    Why do we get this every 4 years? The democrat party candidate is always portrayed as erudite, polished, and intelligent. And the republican is supposedly some kind of bible thumping, stupid hayseed.

    I’m sure that Gov. Palin knows what is going on in the world. If nothing else, she likely gets summaries from her staff or a news clipping service. She is a BlackBerry user so there could be a number of online sources for news. The McCain campaign plane is certainly stocked with newspapers and magazines.

    I suppose the only answer that would have satisfied “anon” and Katie Couric is if she said “The National Enquirer”.

  46. Does anyone posting here even know Gwen? Give me a break; she’s written a book about up-and-coming African Americans in politics. Of course Obama is covered. Is she in the tank for the guy? You’ve already decided such. Has anyone speculating on the material even read the book? Insiders don’t even have a leaked copy yet. It may not even be finished. This pablum would be equally silly were it coming from a liberal.

  47. This just gets more and more amazing. A journalist who “openly” writes books, and is “sympathetic” to any part is now “deeply biased”?

    Just a hop and a skip from being sympathetic to deeply biased?

    “The fact that [Ifill] is openly writing a book and that she’s openly sympathetic actually may be a slight advantage to Palin, because everybody’s going to tune in tonight and unlike some of these interviews where people pretended to be neutral, everybody’s going to understand what you have is a reporter who’s deeply biased towards Obama, but who’s trying to be fair,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

    I guess the news here is that the Republicans have “openly” become the party of losers and whiners.

    The fact that they must preemptively whine about questions not yet asked … priceless.

  48. I didn’t say “deeply biased”. Ifill should have disclosed that she had a potential financial interest in the outcome of the election. Her book talks about the success of african american politicians. Should Obama become president her book gets validated, if he doesn’t the book likely goes to the bargain bin.

    I watched the debate – Ifill wasn’t overtly biased, but – she did seem to bail out Biden a couple of times and then she threw in the softball about Cheney. Which Biden then whiffed – “unitary president???” It seemed to me that the debate was conducted on Democratic home turf – issues that favor democratcs. She avoided some subjects that are very uncomfortable for Biden – particularly abortion. No questions about nominating when Biden is on the judiciary committee.

    BTW – my wife got the Dem. e-mail talking points about half way through the debate telling supporters to say she was just memorizing talking points and didn’t answer the questions because she didn’t know the answers. Guess she did so well they had to go with plan B.

    And I’m looking forward to running into Joe Biden down at Home Depot – since he claims to go there all the time.

  49. The liberal media strikes:

    Jonathan Chait:

    Palin’s final quote was from Ronald Reagan, warning that without vigilance, “you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.”

    In fact, Reagan was not warning about a general lack of vigilance about freedom, he was warning what would happen if Medicare was enacted.

    Bob Schneider, CNN:

    Palin’s answers do not lack confidence, they lack coherence.

    David Brooks, PBS:

    When he talked about his family and the death of his wife, that is a moment people remember, what they remember about the debates is the moment when you think you see the person and that was a moment where I thought you saw Joe Biden.

    Bob Schieffer, CBS:

    I must say, I found it a little disconcerting, time and again, Governor Palin would just choose not to answer the question and launch into some dissertation, sometimes talking points, and not really address what Gwen Ifill had asked her.

    Chris Matthews, MSNBC:

    Not only did she say I’m not going to do any more interviews, it seemed, but she was saying, I’m not going to listen to uh Gwen Ifill tonight. She said I’m not going to uh give the answers the moderator wants to ask for. What an extraordinary statement. I’m not going to play by the rules and when I get elected I want more power in the office than it’s had before. Hmm. Not too much humility here.

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