Archive for the ‘Sarah Palin’ Category

Palin: Didn’t Know Africa Was a Continent

November 6, 2008

I’m truly amazed by the reports coming out of the McCain campaign. Now, according to the New York Times, McCain’s advisers admit that they were blind-sided by Sarah Palin’s lack of knowledge and reluctance to prepare for interviews. The reporting of Carl Cameron of Fox News goes even further, saying the Alaska governor did not realize Africa was a continent:

We’re told by folks that she didn’t know what countries that were in NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, that being the Canada, the US, and Mexico. We’re told she didn’t understand that Africa was a continent rather than a country just in itself … a whole host of questions that caused serious problems about.

It’s true that in the wake of a failed campaign there’s always going to be finger pointing. I’m sure Palin feels that Team McCain is attempting to throw her under the bus: the ill will was clear when McCain permitted Tina Fey to take a shot at his running mate over her 2012 ambitions with him on set. 

At some point, however, blame has to be assigned at the ticket’s top. As soon as McCain picked Palin, I suggested it would be a disaster for the Republicans.

To me, it’s a desperate and reckless pick. The Republicans seem to be ready to throw away their best argument, experience, for the novelty of somebody new. 

Given the all but nonexistent briefing of Palin, we now know how true that was.

The issue all these aides, Palin and McCain himself need to confront is how did they let this happen? Aides owe a duty to their principals to give them their best advice and then their loyalty. McCain had an obligation to the country to select a running mate ready to be president. And Palin had a responsibility to herself and to her country to decline a top post if she knew she wasn’t prepared for it.

EDIT. I’m adding a quote I’ve subsequently located from an anonymous McCain aide describing Palin’s $150,000 shopping spree: “A “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast.” Note that when members of the Blue-Coastal Media and blog community made similar comments around Labor Day, they were dubbed culturally-biased and anti-feminist by the pro-McCain forces.

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Palin v. Biden: Betcha Darn Right Maverick Wink Hockey Six Packs!

October 3, 2008

The big points here are as I expected: nothing game changing took place. Joseph Biden wisely restrained himself from falling into the Rick Lazio trap. He stated and repeated the theme that I believe will win the election for Obama: George Bush’s economic policies have lead to near ruin for America.

As for Sarah Palin, she survived. She had no major blunders — a word she repeated a number of times. I found her language almost hypnotic — gerunds modifying gerunds, archaic phrases interlaced with colloquialisms, such as “like”, an E.E. Cummings-like string of talking points.

Her lack of substance really hurt in points she did not even know how to make against Biden. A good example came when Biden launched a furious attack on the Iraq War attempting to link John McCain to Dick Cheney. When her rebuttal time came, she missed a tremendous opportunity. A candidate with some semblance of knowledge of Washington would have sensed the opening and taken the time to repeat for the public the story of McCain’s war with a major figure of the Iraq War, Donald Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld was the primary administration figure responsible for the low number of troops at the start of the Iraq War. McCain took Rumsfeld on at a time when he still wielded considerable power in Washington and had the full support of Dick Cheney. (“I blame Rumsfeld. It’s his failure that we didn’t have enough troops in Iraq, because he ignored the advice of the military. We never had enough troops over there from the beginning, and that’s where most of our problems come from,” McCain told Esquire.)

That saga is an extremely helpful detail to McCain in distinguishing himself from both Cheney and Bush. Yet the Maverick from Alaska never said anything about it. I doubt she even knows the story.

The Palin-Biden Debate

October 2, 2008

Undoubtedly tonight’s debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin will be among the most watched political events on television this year. Interest in Palin is huge, and voters will be watching to see if they will encounter the sassy, charismatic Palin of the Republican National Convention, or the stammering, unsure Palin of the Katie Couric interview.

I don’t think it matters. With the unraveling of the American economy during the last two weeks, the presidential race has fundamentally changed. While previously the campaign existed on the level of personality and atmospherics, now it is down to one very simple issue — the economy. The Republican, John McCain, comes from the same party as President Bush and owns the poor economy. Obama, the Democrat, represents something different — to use a phrase that has been worked to death, change.

Before Obama’s personal style — not race, mind you — served as an impediment to attracting votes in the Rust Belt; now, the economic upheaval has crowded out both the positive and negative aspects of his political persona. Obama’s grandiose speeches, his sweeping rhetoric, the slight mood of revolution surrounding his campaign — none of that matters any more. Obama may have needed those qualities to challenge Hillary Clinton, but now they just get in the way. For Obama to win, he needs merely to be a steady Democratic hand, a Hubert Humphrey.

That might be a tough sell for Obama, but, to his good fortune, he’s got Hubert Humphrey on the ticket. Well, Joe Biden, a reliable Democrat who can deliver a solid Democratic message at a time when American voters are fed up with Wall Street and a Repubilcan president. A restrained — but not robotic — Biden will do the job tonight. No dazzling displays of foreign policy are necessary. He shouldn’t overreach, which will risk turning some voters off. Merely show up.

The best Palin can do is make an emotional play to the Joe Six Pack audience. It won’t likely advance the cause of the McCain-Palin ticket, but it’s the best hand she has to play tonight.

Palin and Alaska

September 19, 2008

Jim Albrecht writes up a hilarious account of his Alaska upbringing in Slate:

For a long time I’ve been an Alaskan in exile, spending only a portion of each year (the sunny part) in the homeland. As a result, I am the only Alaskan that most of my friends know. So, when Sarah Palin was picked as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, the e-mail poured in. “Not all Alaskan families are as weird as the Palins, right?” wrote a friend from California.
“Let me assure you,” I wrote back. “They are all freaks.”
I then described, at some length, the neighborhood I grew up in. There were my parents, superorthodox Catholics, complete with backyard statuary. Across the street, an Air Force officer and family. Next-door to them, a gay couple. Not just gay, but extra-flaming, mow-the-front-lawn-in-a-nightshirt-and-nothing-else kind of gay, walk-into-a-bar-yelling, “A beer for the queer!” kind of gay (in Alaska, in the 1960s!). My parents kept an extra set of house keys for “T-Bird Tommy,” as the more flamboyant partner was known, so that when he came home drunk and couldn’t find his keys, he would have a nearby spare.