Saturday, September 06, 2008
More Palin vetting issues
And, (Newsweek) Many efforts to shut down the "Troopergate" investigation.
DailyKos has a pretty good catchup on all the vetting issues.
Why Palin over Lieberman, or maybe the idea of the "respectable loss."
Let's go back a few weeks and do some imagining on the John McCain vice presidential selection process. The broad picture painted by the press is that McCain had been wanting Joe Lieberman for months, but that he had talked out of it by "advisers" on the Sunday night before the Wednesday when he decided on Palin.
Let's look at the two very different paths we're talking about.
My assumption of John McCain's thinking is that he believed Lieberman might well help him claim more of the center (although I'm a little dubious of that,) and that, despite the anger on the right, enough of those base Republicans would still show up to give him a shot at winning. Again, dubious, but you understand the logic.
However, take just a minute to think what that even slightly depressed evangelical/Republican base turnout could mean on all of those close downballot races.
Many of those "in trouble" and "near trouble" are fairly long term Congressmen and Senators who have a long history of winning 55/45 redistricted districts by staying hard right and relying on the Republican base to pretty much guarantee them through.
While McCain might believe he could pull of "centrist Maverick," all those downballot Republicans who have historically committed themselves to fundamentalist Republicanism certainly could not. Facing the possibility of an increased new voter turnout by the Obama folks, and a depressed Republican turnout by a Lieberman choice, suddenly they're in the stew and left, without national help, to try and drag their voters to the polls.
This, I would argue, was the objection to the McCain-Lieberman ticket. Not so much an ideological block as a "what it could cost the party" block, especially when, even at best estimates, McCain was looking at a 30-35% chance of winning.
On the other hand, Palin pulls out the evangelicals but doesn't help in the center, which likely makes McCain's race harder, but also likely makes all those downballot races in the 55/45 districts more solid for the Republicans (possibly preventing a 60 seat Dem Senate.)
The logical question is then "Why Palin? Why not Romney or Pawlenty or anyone else?
Look at the response she has gotten, even before her speech. Possible illegal use of office as Governor of Alaska, no practical foreign experience whatsoever, a pregnant underaged daughter, and still the right has put itself through ridiculous contortions so that they can still love her.
McCain recognized that he was losing, and not by some small margin, and while Romney and Pawlenty might please the base, and keep the Republican turnout from being depressed, they certainly wouldn't fire that same base and get turnout back up to 2004 levels.
He picked Palin because, in the "respectable loss" scenario forced on him, she was his best slight chance of not destroying the party and still trying to win through he 2004 base plus turnout model.
Frankly, I don't think that 2004 base plus campaign is enough for him to win, but it may be enough to keep him from going down as the man who cost the GOP 40 house seats, and 9 Senate seats.
If he had picked Lieberman, every bit of blame for every lost seat would be dumped onto his legacy. He would be remembered in Republican infamy.
Just a theory I'm chewing on. Feedback?
Picture of the Day
Lots of "people pictures" for Obama over the last few days in Pennsylvania and next in Ohio. Lots of manufacturing plant pictures, too. Smaller crowds, blue collar focused. Wouldn't be surprised to see donuts, pizza, or coffee shops either.
(Sen. Barack Obamagreets employees during a tour at Schott Glass in Duryea, Pa., Friday, Sept. 5, 2008. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson))
(Sen. Barack Obama speaks at the Voith Siemens Hydro Power Plant in York, Pa., Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon))
Friday, September 05, 2008
Pakistan shuts down US supply lines into Afghanistan
In a major development, the federal government on Friday announced disconnection of supply lines to the allied forces stationed in Afghanistan through Pakistan....
Political authorities of the Khyber Agency claimed to have received verbal directives to immediately halt transportation of all kinds of goods meant for the US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan for an indefinite period.
And, look at the weird way this came out, through a frontier command. Does that mean the order didn't come through the political government?
Later: Or is the quiet release for the domestic audience only? After all, it is election day in Pakistan. Maybe this is a one or two day vote getting measure?
Did you know?
Not trying to spread any conspiracies, but I thought that added an interesting context to Russia-Georgia conflict in relation to the US-Israel, Russia-Iran standoff.
Looking over the edge
(NYTimes) U.S. Rescue Seen at Hand for 2 Mortgage Giants
I think it's very important to note how they're doing this, releasing it as a leaked "trial balloon" on Friday after the markets closed. Not enough specifics to make a really solid judgment and two days to get used to the idea before markets open Monday.
The idea is so market jolting that they're trying to introduce it as softly as possible. Oy.
Picture of the Day - 2
The US conducted an attack inside Pakistan, flying in on helicopters, landing, conducting a ground operation, and then flying back out. (Seizing someone?)
Another US drone attack inside Pakistan killed 5.
This captures the downspiralling government of Karzai.
And, now a report that the Pentagon is advising a delay in the Iraq drawdown which will also delay new troops into Afghanistan.
Let's play Jeopardy
Now let's add Heart.
(No rock band wants to be associated with this guy.)
(Add Boston, the Rocky theme copyright holders, and Mike Myers.)
Picture of the Day
According to his campaign website, McCain’s health care plan is similar to what the Bush administration has been pushing for years — $5,000 tax credits for families to purchase private health insurance, and incentives for creating health savings accounts to cover out-of-pocket health care costs.
The $5,000 tax credit, even if it were refundable, would not cover the average yearly cost of a family health care premium, which the Kaiser Family Foundation said was $12,000 in 2007.
This didn't sell when Bush tried it. Neither did charter schools or "private retirement accounts" in place of Social Security.
And what was McCain saying last night about ending unemployment insurance?
Am I wrong or is "change agent" really a stretch?
Good for Clinton
Business, Change, God, and Taxes
Here's your news
But, there's also this,
The book also says that the U.S. troop "surge" of 2007, in which President Bush sent nearly 30,000 additional U.S. combat forces and support troops to Iraq, was not the primary factor behind the steep drop in violence there during the past 16 months.
John McCain has been branding "the surge" so long that I'm not sure the truth will penetrate, that it was the bribing of the Sunnis and shift by Sadr that brought down violence, but, Woodward is taken so unquestionably in Washington that McCain might actually have to answer questions.
(And this is the first "tease." He always drags it out for a week. This first tease is the one intended to get Washington talking. The next one is likely aimed at all of us.)
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Maybe I was wrong......
That's gotta say something.
I guess that means they don't believe he can't credibly say "I feel your pain."
Am I crazy or was the Palin applause louder?
And the most boisterous applause line in the first section was for the introduction of Sarah Palin.
Picture of the Day - 3
Why? Because that's exactly what they've said after every single other primetime speaker. Every single one.
Obama camp responds with issues
So far, the main comments and posed questions seem to have become some version of, "Yes, she unquestionably fired up the GOP base, but she seemed empty of issues," which tells me that's the data (polling, focus groups) that's holding sway.
That would also echo the two publicized focus groups out there (I question the partisanship of their genesis,) but it does seem to be the growing mantra. Bill Schneider:
But when it came to solutions to America's myriad problems, Palin was noticeably lacking. She stuck mostly to what she knows: energy. And although she claimed to be as qualified as Obama to be president, Palin didn't tell us what exactly she would do as vice president, a job whose description she wasn't quite clear on just one month ago.
Since we're now starting to see Palin's speech framed in this way, I'm interpolating that the various sides' focus groups didn't show the speech significantly penetrating outside the Republican base.
If that's true, I'm pretty happy with that result, because for McCain to win, Palin needs to be a gamechanger. They don't win with just Republicans.
So, we come back to the question. If that speech didn't reach beyond McCain voting Republicans, was it still a "homerun?"
(Then again, the plan may be for her to be the "red meat," and for McCain to reach to the middle, but so far (6 months?) he has only shown limited success at that. Tonight's speech will offer the complimentary part which will give us a good sense of how they intend to go at it.)
(I would love to get my hands on the campaigns' internal data.)
Later: Then again, we have this. A new CBS poll showing 42/42. (After Palin's pick, but before the speech.)
Picture of the Day - 2
Really, today is when we learn how Sarah Palin did.
The reactions from the campaigns today, especially the Obama campaign, will give the real sense of what they see in those numbers. (Are both campaigns watching/polling the same groups?)
Read the campaign tea leaves. By mid-afternoon, they'll tell you what you want to know. The side that ends up pushing the more specific demographics (ie single white women under 50K who speak Spanish, go to church, and own dogs) is probably the side with the weaker data.
My hunch is that the Obama campaign will come back pushing issues because that's the primary gap I saw in last night's speech. I think you could argue that, if that's the case, and if surrogates aren't out undermining Palin today, she probably didn't deeply reach the voters the Obama camp was watching.
Have to wait and see.
(If you see Chuck Todd on your TV in the afternoon, listen to him. Because they will all "leak" to him.)
(PS. There was a semi-publicly conducted real time focus group of women last night, but I think the group that put it together is pro-Dem, so be suspicious of its reference.)
But have you stopped to wonder why they're so angry?
They've more or less had their way for the last eight years....
(Also: The WaPo frontpages with fact that they are so white, historically white.)
Picture of the Day - Inescapable thought:
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Palin = Lightweight
She delivered all the lines and had a decent sense of timing, but it didn't feel like her speech. It felt like she was reading (which, of course, she was.)
I could well be wrong, because I am unquestionably biased, but that's my sense of it.
Later: That's it? That's the woman who was supposed to upend the election?
Later Still: I'll be very curious at the difference in reviews between those reporters that were in the stadium and those that were without. Wolf Blitzer (inside) just said, "It's clear a new star has been born."
Am I that far off?
PS. I think having to cut the Palin bio piece to keep her speech in primetime was a big mistake.
And did he just throw out a Don King, "only in America" reference? The crowd got it. How close to the racist line is that?
Picture of the Day - 4
Jerry freakin' Springer.
Peggy Noonan says "It's over."
(Definitely brings up the question of what's being said over the air versus what's being said to reporters in private.
Maybe that's why the media are grilling the McCain campaign over vetting and experience, because that's what they're hearing off the record from other Republicans.
One of the goals of a convention is to trap the media figures in a city and flood them with "off the record" message from just one party. From this, it sounds like Republican surrogates aren't delivering that unified message of victory.)
Picture of the Day - 3 - Really, really, really weird
Is the GOP really applaud these kids on the convention floor?
Now we've got the Republican Presidential candidate warmly greeting the kid who knocked up his Vice President's daughter.
Tell me this isn't really, really, really weird.
(Sen. John McCain greets Levi Johnston, boyfriend of Bristol Palin, Sept. 3, 2008.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak))
There are senior-level advisers in the campaign who opposed the pick and who are leaking details about the vetting process to undercut the pick.
(See below for an arguable example of this.)
Also, interesting from FirstRead,
And judging by the reception she gets, there could be a very real debate on the following question: Whose Republican Party is this -- John McCain's or Sarah Palin's? Talk to the GOP delegates here and it's no contest. This is Palin's party; McCain's just the surprisingly cool guy who "got it" more than these folks thought..
Picture of the Day - 2
A "campaign reset," a second look at the Palin strategy
So, is this the new backbone of the McCain strategy? I see two possibilities.
1) McCain takes on Palin to "lock in" the Republican base vote, so he can then rapidly moderate and go after the electoral center.
Or, far more troublingly, 2) They intend to pivot this into a "base election." Palin "locks in" the evangelical vote, and then the McCain campaign goes ultra negative to try and drag Obama's turnout down below the 2004 evangelical turnout line, the idea being to turn off all the newly registered voters, irregular voters, and youth support which make up Obama's turnout advantage. (They've brought in the infamous Roger Stone and Tucker Eskew.)
The "tick tock" on Palin vetting gets worse
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was not subjected to a lengthy in-person background interview with the head of Sen. John McCain's vice presidential vetting team until last Wednesday in Arizona, the day before McCain asked her to be his running mate, and she did not disclose the fact that her 17-year-old daughter was pregnant until that meeting, two knowledgeable McCain officials acknowledged Tuesday....
Palin, along with other finalists, completed a lengthy questionnaire that probed many personal issues. Campaign officials declined Tuesday to respond to questions about whether she had returned the questionnaire to the vetting team before she arrived in Arizona, saying they would not provide details of the timing of the process.
I think we can gather that she wasn't a serious contender until that very last moment.
Undermining the core message
Not exactly the reformer image we were sold, eh?
The consolidated Dems.
(WaPo) "Before Speech, Running Mate Gets Some Coaching."
Except for an interview with People magazine the afternoon her selection was announced, she has not taken a single question from a reporter, and it remains unclear when she will speak to the national news media.
Or less flatteringly, the WSJ,
The McCain campaign scrambled to take control of the public debate over vice-presidential pick Sarah Palin, canceling her public appearances and teaming her with high-powered Republican operatives as she prepared for a speech Wednesday night that will be her first, and perhaps most important, chance to define herself to the American public.
(PS. Once you're in the grocery checkout lines and have become the but of late night jokes, the chance to define yourself is gone.)
Picture of the Day
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
"This election is not about issues," said Davis. "This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates."
Which I take to mean that the Republican convention will be entirely issue free.
Tell me I'm wrong. Tell me they're talking healthcare and college loans tonight.
I just can't watch
I've tried, but I just can't seem to watch.
Picture of the Day - 2 - Grocery Checkout Time......
The Palin/Jerry Springer Show has hit the grocery store checkout lane. (Very important to note that the US magazine publisher is a huge Obama supporter.)
But, also, the National Enquirer,
Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin attempted to quietly have her daughter Bristol get married before news of her pregnancy leaked out, the NATIONAL ENQUIRER is reporting exclusively in its new issue.
Palin planned for the wedding to take place right after the Republican National Convention and then she was going to announce the pregnancy.
But Bristol, 17, refused to go along with the plan and that sparked a mother-daughter showdown over the failed coverup......
Palin’s ongoing war with her ex brother-in-law Mike Wooten, a state trooper, has caused multiple sources to come forward with shocking allegations about the governor.
I wouldn't want to have the tabloids chasing me with intimations of "shocking allegations" to come.
(I SHOULD NEVER BE READING ABOUT A FREAKING VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE IN THE CHECKOUT LINE!!!!!!)
Oh, and they were also lying about her travel to Ireland. She wasn't "researching her family." It was a refueling stopover.
At what point does she go from a distraction to an embarrassment for the Republican Party?
Obama wades in....
The Obama campaign rarely takes risks, so I'll be very curious.
How do you think it's going so far?
We're now almost to 96 hours.
Picture of the Day
Asked whether everything that came up as a possible red flag during the review already has been made public, Culvahouse said: "I think so. Yah, I think so. Correct."
The main vetter only "thinks" we've seen everything?
The NYTimes has the most damning "vetting" article, so far.
Monday, September 01, 2008
It just keeps coming.....
Sarah Palin was a member of the Alaska secessionist movement AIP. (That's right, as in seceding from the United States.)
And now.... And now.... there's even a claim that she didn't, in fact, win Miss Congeniality in the beauty pageant.
The Palins eloped on Aug. 29, 1988, and their first son, Track, was born eight months later, a fact that Maria Comella of the McCain campaign, declined to elaborate on..
And don't forget the "mavericky" earmarks
“We are going to flush the toilet,” said Tucker Eskew, who is a senior adviser to Ms. Palin, describing the campaign’s plans for Labor Day....
What all Americans are looking for in a VP selection. Someone where we have to "flush."
If her daughter's pregnancy is such a private and difficult matter, then why did Sarah Palin accept the VP nod guaranteeing a very public exposure of her daughter?
So far, the McCain people don't seem to have an answer.
If you didn't see this.....
Palin "lawyers up" in Troopergate
To me this doesn't indicate any greater jeopardy, but, more likely, an effort to stall/slow walk elements of the investigation past the election.
(Her deposition was expected to happen in the next few weeks.)
Picture of the Day - 3
Very simply, here's the line......
Asking the VP candidate about the abstinence only, sex ed, and "pro-life" positions that she has held out front (over and over) for political gain, legitimate.
Asking about John McCain's judgment, totally legitimate.
The McCain campaign was blindsided?
"Senator McCain was aware of this private family matter last week," he said..... Schmidt was repeatedly asked whether McCain knew of the daughter's condition before the announcement on Friday, and each time he used a variation of, "He became aware last week in a private conversation."
Wants us to think he knew, but doesn't want to lie.....
Don't miss this one - Palin ran Ted Stevens' 527
The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported that several experts called the group an example of the fine legal line between a legal effort to conduct political activity and then-new prohibitions against raising unlimited soft-money.
Also today, we find out her husband has a decades old DUI.
It's now officially press "open season" on Palin.
(And these are just the stories they've gotten in 72 hours....)
Palin's 17 year old daughter is pregnant.
I guess THIS takes Sarah Palin out of "fundamentalist of the year" running.
Of course, the right will make excuses, (we do the same thing on our side,) but I do think it's a pretty good indictment of the "abstinence only" Sex Ed that Palin champions , not to mention her positions on birth control.....
And, check this out,
McCain officials said the news of the daughter's pregnancy was being released to rebut what one aide called "mud-slinging and lies" circulating on liberal blog sites.
According to these rumors, Sarah Palin had faked a pregnancy and pretended to have given birth in May to her fifth child, a son named Trig who has Down syndrome. The rumor was that Trig was actually Bristol Palin's child and that Sarah Palin was the grandmother.
A senior McCain campaign official said the McCain camp was appalled that these rumors had not only been spread around liberal blog sites and partisan Democrats, but also were the subject of heightened interest from mainstream news media.
So, the mainstream media is looking into those allegations being floated on Kos?
It's clear the media is digging into Palin very hard. After all, in just three days they've already gotten her to admit an illegitimate grandbaby. Think there are more secrets?
(PS. Unwed mothering isn't a big deal UNLESS you are a crazy Christian Fundy running on those issues.)
(PPS. Brilliant by the Obama campaign to say, "Back off these kinds of stories," because you know the media can't leave this alone.)
Wasilla, which in 2007 had 9,780 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, hired a lobbyist in 2000, public records show, paying him about $36,000 per year.
Or this from the NYTimes,
As the new mayor of tiny Wasilla, Alaska, in 2000, Ms. Palin initiated a tradition of making annual trips to Washington to ask for more earmarks from the state’s Congressional delegation, mainly Representative Don Young and Senator Ted Stevens, both Republicans.
Seems unusually active in seeking earmarks for the mayor of a tiny town under 10,000, no?
Picture of the Day - 2
I'll be really curious to see how much media space the Katrina "cake" photos get. (This one's from the WaPo, A11.)
(On Aug. 29, 2005, the day Hurricane Katrina made landfall, President Bush helped Sen. John McCain celebrate his birthday.(AP/Susan Walsh))
Russia issues a doctrine
Russia, he said, would observe international law. It would reject what he called United States dominance of world affairs in a “unipolar” world. It would seek friendly relations with other nations. It would defend Russian citizens and business interests abroad. And it would claim a sphere of influence in the world.
Perhaps it's as notable that Medvedev feels he can make these statements. (Reuters has an article, too.)
Sunday, August 31, 2008
So I guess New Orleans' true misfortune was that Katrina didn't happen in an election year.....
The RNC convention rewrite
Rewriting speeches, re-staging, re-lighting, going back through all the music to change the tone, rebuilding the speakers list for topic and tone. Figuring out just what the hell they're going to do instead of the celebratory "balloon drop moment."
That seems like alot of changes to pull of on something that's supposed to be so scripted.
Later: Are they canceling all the speeches Monday?
Also, Notice the recurring language, It's not that they don't want to "celebrate." It's that they don't want to be seen as celebrating.
(NYTimes) "Convention planners and delegates arriving in St. Paul said it would be politically perilous to hold a four-day party as Americans were evacuating New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in advance of Gustav..."
(WaPo) "bowing to the political reality that it could not be seen as celebrating as Hurricane Gustav prepared to delivered a body blow to the Gulf Coast...."
(AP) "also an intense desire by McCain and Republicans to avoid the political damage that Bush suffered from his widely criticized response to Hurricane Katrina three years ago."
I'm not saying they shouldn't cancel, but isn't discussing this in the terms of what it might cost you pretty crass?
Then, of course, there's this....
Republican officials say their radically curtailed convention offers a big political opportunity for the party to redeem itself on the competence issue — and for John McCain to step out of President Bush’s shadow once and for all.
Because people's lives being destroyed is an opportunity for McCain.....
On the bright side, at least we know the hurricane aid will be swift and thorough.
PS. The latest track looks like it may miss New Orleans. (Crap, I'm on the left edge of the cone!!!) If it's only Houma or Lake Charles or Port Arthur, do they turn the convention back on?
Picture of the Day
Anecdotal and early polling says Palin not a hit with women.
And the NYTimes has an anecdotal saying it will shore up Republican women, but Clinton supporters aren't biting.
Palin seems to have lots of enemies in Alaska.
Also, it's interesting to me that that the McCain campaign feels the need to push back against the first "tick tock" version they released of her selection. (I guess that "VP on a whim" storyline just isn't working out.)
(But we do learn they only met for 15 minutes at their one meeting at the Governor's association.)
And, "Troopergate" reaches the front page of the WaPo.
(Their introduction of Palin at the convention will be everything.)
Much of the GOP wants no part of its convention
So many GOP lawmakers have sent regrets -- citing tough reelection battles, previous commitments or other scheduling conflicts -- that a Senate official notes 'it's probably easier to say who is attend....
With the hurricane also affecting the event, attendance, and tone, this is going to be a weird convention.
Later, check out this trial balloon,
McCain was scheduled to deliver his acceptance speech Thursday but now may do so from the devastation zone if the storm hits the U.S. coast with the ferocity feared by forecasters.
Really? You think that's what the people there want?
Michael Gordon and the NYTimes enter a whole new level of shilling
There's a giant NYTimes story framing the decision on "the surge" as a courageous Bush moment when he made a risky decision despite the doubts of so many...... But what you need to know is the full context of the article.
First off, you need to understand it's written by Michael Gordon who has a long reputation as an administration shill. (He was aluminum tubes means Iraq nuclear. He was the furthest on the discredited Iran intelligence in Iraq story. He was the one overhyping the Israeli military exercise on the front page when the administration wanted him to.... I could do many more.)
Next, you have to understand that George Bush's speech at the GOP convention is going to praise John McCain's "unique" judgment on Iraq in supporting the surge. That's going to be the theme and primary endorsement.
Then, today, one day before that Bush speech, we get a Michael Gordon "framing piece" reporting how difficult and unique such a choice on "the surge" was. A storyline that just happens to exactly support the theme and endorsement in the Bush speech.
I don't even know what to say.
One day before Bush is going to make his endorsement of McCain, a framing story "leaks" through an administration shill, complete with interviews and internal memos, praising Bush (and indirectly McCain) for their foresight in seeing past all those in the military and administration to be the only ones who wanted "the surge."
This is a whole new level by Michael Gordon and the NYTimes.
And nobody else is going to tell you that.
PS. Since this is a Sunday story, I'd be really curious if it's used the way Cheney used the aluminum tubes or Mohammed Atta story (Gordon,) leaking a story for Sunday publication, then going on the Sunday shows and citing the story they leaked/sourced as independent verification of their viewpoint.
(On the other hand, it is possible that Bush won't even attend the convention if the hurricane looks bad, but, I'm sure, the story was already in motion. (Taped message?))
Iraq changes its SoFA negotiating team
The LATimes says that the swap is a stalling maneuver, but I have to say, taking out the SIIC Foreign Minister and replacing him with Mowaffak Rubaie, who has been very friendly with the US in the past, doesn't seem like stalling.
Probably the main takeaway is that Maliki has removed some of his coalition members and replaced them with those closest to him right as the documents were supposedly being finalized.
Also in the article, the new goal on the SoFA is December (during Bush's lame duck. You could argue a completed SoFA, as it was being discussed, would have been political trouble for McCain.)
A State Department spokesman in Washington told reporters last week that the United States hoped to finish an agreement by December./