Sunday, August 31, 2008


The plan
As one McCain aide put it: "We either get Hillary's voters and we win, or we don't. It's not a mystery." . . . [read on]

How’s that working for ya?
[USAT] There is also wide uncertainty about whether [Palin is] qualified to be president. In the poll, taken Friday, 39% say she is ready to serve as president if needed, 33% say she isn't and 29% have no opinion.

That's the lowest vote of confidence in a running mate since the elder George Bush chose then-Indiana senator Dan Quayle to join his ticket in 1988. . . .

Among Democratic women — including those who may be disappointed that New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton did not win the Democratic nomination — 9% say Palin makes them more likely to support McCain, 15% less likely.
From Rasmussen: Some 38% of men said they were more likely to vote for McCain now, but only 32% of women. By a narrow 41% to 35% margin, men said she was not ready to be president -- but women soundly rejected her, 48% to 25%.

Only 9% of Obama supporters said they might be more likely to vote for McCain. . . .

And by a 29/44 margin, men and women together, they do not believe that she is ready to be President.
[Del Ali, the president of Research 2000] Sarah Palin will wow cultural conservatives in areas where they may not have come out to vote before the selection. This is right out of Karl Rove's strategy of getting more of your own to show up and vote. . . .

In fact, as Palin's cultural views become better known -- she oppose abortion in all cases and opposes the use of birth control pills and condoms even among married couples -- she will undoubtedly scare the hell out of the soccer moms and 98% of Hillary voters. In fact, many of these women may feel insulted by this choice in that McCain and the GOP think they are stupid and would bypass their own interest (reproductive and economic) to vote for the ticket due to gender and anger that Hillary was not the nominee.

In my estimation as a pollster and analyst, while historic for the GOP in selecting their first woman on a national ticket, this choice may be the worst selection by a major party nominee for President in modern times.

More assessments of her qualifications

Presidential scholars:
Presidential scholars say she appears to be the least experienced, least credentialed person to join a major-party ticket in the modern era. . . .

The people who know her best:
[Fairbanks] She has never publicly demonstrated the kind of interest, much less expertise, in federal issues and foreign affairs that should mark a candidate for the second-highest office in the land. . . . Most people would acknowledge that, regardless of her charm and good intentions, Palin is not ready for the top job.

[Anchorage] "She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president? said [State Senate President Lyda Green, a Republican from Palin's hometown of Wasilla]. "Look at what she's done to this state. What would she do to the nation?"

Dermot Cole, a longtime columnist for Alaska's second largest newspaper, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, called McCain's choice of Palin "reckless" and questioned her credentials. "Sarah Palin's chief qualification for being elected governor was that she was not Frank Murkowski," Cole said of her enormously unpopular predecessor, who lost favor with Alaskans in part because of unpopular budget cuts. "She was not elected because she was a conservative. She was not elected because of her grasp of issues or because of her track record as the mayor of Wasilla."

Mike Doogan, a former columnist now serving as a Democrat in the state legislature: "John McCain looked all over the United States to find the single Republican who is qualified to be, as the saying goes, a heartbeat away from the presidency, and he came up with Sarah Palin. Really? ... [L]et's be honest here. Her resume is as thin as the meat in a vending machine sandwich.... The long and short of it is this: We're not sure she's a competent governor of Alaska. And yet McCain, who is no spring chicken, has decided she's the best choice to replace him as president if he should win and then fall afoul of the Grim Reaper. Sarah Palin? Really?"

The Anchorage Daily News' Gregg Erickson: "[Palin] tends to oversimplify complex issues, has had difficulty delegating authority, and clearly has some difficulty distinguishing the line between her public responsibilities and private wishes.... It is clear that she has not paid much attention to the nitty-gritty unglamorous work of government, of gaining consensus, and making difficult compromises. She seems to be of the view that politics should be all rather simple. That often appeals to the wider public, but frustrates those who see themselves as laboring in the less glamorous parts of the vineyard."

[Steve Benen] Erickson's description kind of makes Palin sound like George W. Bush, doesn't it?

From the Right:
Charles Krauthammer: "The Palin selection completely undercuts the argument about Obama's inexperience and readiness to lead . . .”

Ramesh Ponnuru called it "tokenism," adding, "Can anyone say with a straight face that Palin would have gotten picked if she were a man?"

David Frum: "The longer I think about it, the less well this selection sits with me. And I increasingly doubt that it will prove good politics. The Palin choice looks cynical.... It's a wild gamble, undertaken by our oldest ever first-time candidate for president in hopes of changing the board of this election campaign. Maybe it will work. But maybe (and at least as likely) it will reinforce a theme that I'd be pounding home if I were the Obama campaign: that it's John McCain for all his white hair who represents the risky choice, while it is Barack Obama who offers cautious, steady, predictable governance.... If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?"

Kathryn Jean Lopez: "As much as I loathe Obama-Biden, I can't in good conscience vote for a McCain-Palin ticket. Palin has absolutely no experience in foreign affairs. Considering both McCain's advanced age and the state of the world today, it is essential that the veep be exceedingly qualified to assume the office of president. I simply don't have any confidence in Palin's ability to deal effectively with Iran, Russia, China, etc." [Update: Lopez was quoting an email, not expressing her actual views. My apologies.]

Mark Halperin: "On the face of it, McCain has failed the ultimate test that any presidential candidate must face in picking a running mate: selecting someone who is unambiguously qualified to be president."

Other newspaper editorials and pundits:

McCain’s decision-making
[LAT] Though John McCain clearly concluded that Palin could attract female voters and grab his campaign some Barack Obama-style media buzz, he also is taking a risk that in elevating a largely unknown figure, he undermines the central theme of his candidacy that he puts "country first," above political calculations. . . .

For a candidate known to possess a quick temper and an unpredictable political streak, the decision raises questions about how McCain would lead -- whether his decisions would flow from careful deliberations or gut checks in which short-term considerations or feelings outweigh the long view.

"Americans like risk-takers, but they also want to know that in times of crisis, you're going to be calm," said Matthew Dowd, who was a senior campaign strategist for President Bush but is neutral in the McCain-Obama race. . . .
[Steve Benen] A top "loyal Bushie" told the Politico's Mike Allen that McCain's decision is "disrespectful to the office of the presidency." That's actually a pretty good way of characterizing it. . . .

[Andrew Sullivan] "Palin isn't the issue here. McCain's judgment is. It's completely off the wall. Is there something wrong with him?"

That may sound like a flippant question, but it deserves a serious answer. Is there something wrong with him? Might this be evidence of some kind of impulse problem, as reflected in his shoot-first, think-second approach to foreign policy?

When I think about the respect that John McCain had worked so hard to develop, the stature he'd taken years to cultivate, and the reputation he'd built his career on, it's breathtaking to see him throw it all away. If there's a more complete collapse in modern political times, from hero to clown, I can't think of it.

We're poised to learn a great deal about Sarah Palin, but we've just learned even more about John McCain. He's fundamentally unsuited for the presidency.
[Matt Yglesias] What you see with the Palin pick, from a political strategy point of view, is I think the McCain campaign’s focus on winning the news cycle taken to a myopic and senseless extreme. The case for Palin in news cycle terms, is pretty good:

1. Crazy pick utterly stomps on the Democratic Convention as a news story.
2. Choosing a woman gives the tired PUMA story new legs.
3. Crazy pick confuses Democratic oppo research and gets into Obama OODA loop.
4. Palin is a hard-right conservative who the base loves so no dissonance.

Crazy pick fits “maverick” image. But when you think about points two and four more seriously, the pick doesn’t make sense. There really are self-identified Democrats who seem resistant to Barack Obama. But there’s very little evidence that their resistance is driven by their ovaries. It’s actually a disproportionately male group. Instead, Obama-skeptical Democrats are older, hawkish, and perhaps not buying Obama as an economic populist. Is going with a young, transparently underqualifed woman with orthodox economic views really such a great way to reach these people? In fact, it’s a terrible way. And the other three Palin virtues, from a news cycle POV, all depend on the fact that it would be crazy to pick Sarah Palin.

Which leaves you, basically, with the fact that this is a crazy pick. In particular, it goes against the image McCain is trying to paint of himself as the serious, sober-minded choice in difficult times. This is not a “country first” pick, it’s an “I have a personal beef with Mitt Romney” pick. Nor does a VP whose most noteworthy quality is that she’s less corrupt than other Alaska Republicans do anything to distance McCain from Bushism — we’ve now gone from one alleged maverick who agrees with Bush about everything to two alleged mavericks who agree with Bush about everything. And that’s all really the best case scenario — normally VP choices don’t make much of a difference politically, but a VP candidate with no experience dealing with the national media who the candidate himself has barely spoken to risks an Eagelton Scenario. Nobody’s going to care in two months about the good coverage on the morning of August 29, but they might care about some horrific gaffe or skeleton in the closet.

Most fundamentally, I think this pick violates the contemporary understanding of the role of the Vice Presidency. With the exception of the four Bush-Quayle years, ever since 1977 we’ve had a POTUS-VPOTUS team that features a charismatic outsider at the top of the ticket (Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush II) backed by a seasoned Washington hand (Mondale, Bush I, Gore, Cheney) with “charismatic outsiderishness” generally being an asset, but an asset whose value is enhanced by showing some humility and good sense by bringing a veteran on board. McCain is reaching back to an outdated model of casually made choices. It’s hardly a crippling blow to the campaign, as such, but over time it’s going to seem increasingly dissonant — it looks and feels wrong, not at all like what we’ve come to expect from a Vice President.
6 things the Palin pick says about McCain . . . [read on]

“McCain’s sexist pick”
[Ann Friedman] John McCain's decision to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate is the perfect end to several weeks in which we saw Republicans make weak claims that theirs is the party of women's rights.

Last month, Bill Kristol was predicting that McCain would choose Palin because "Republicans are much more open to strong women." (He also decried the "horrible sexism and misogyny" Hillary Clinton faced in the Democratic primary, but somehow failed to mention his own comment during the primary that, "white women are a problem, that's, you know -- we all live with that.") As recently as last week he was railing against the "Democrats' glass ceiling." And today, FOX News was already crowing, "Looks like the glass ceiling hasn't been broken by Hillary Clinton, but by Senator McCain."

Palin's addition to the ticket takes Republican faux-feminism to a whole new level. As Adam Serwer pointed out on TAPPED, this is in fact a condescending move by the GOP. It plays to the assumption that disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters did not care about her politics -- only her gender. In picking Palin, Republicans are lending credence to the sexist assumption that women voters are too stupid to investigate or care about the issues, and merely want to vote for someone who looks like them. As Serwer noted, it's akin to choosing Alan Keyes in an attempt to compete with Obama for votes from black Americans. . . . [read on]


Palin’s Buchananite background, and the Jewish vote

Buchanan and women:

Badly vetted

How a college sophomore helped make Palin VP

Some contrary views. Will attacks against Palin backfire? Will she benefit from the tyranny of low expectations?

The popular press gives her a pass (so far)
[Digby] * CBS' Schieffer asserted Palin was "against earmarks" and "bridge to nowhere" without noting her earmark requests, previous reported support for bridge

* AP falsely suggests Palin supports benefits for same-sex partners of state employees

* Media affix "maverick" label to Palin as well

* Fox News host set up false contrast between Palin and Biden, both of whom have sons going to Iraq

* Fox News graphic falsely claimed "Obama campaign disse[d] Palin for small town origins"

* With morning announcement of Palin pick comes morning sexism on cable news

* Mitchell falsely claimed McCain has not set a "threshold" for his VP to be "ready to step in on a moment's notice"

* claimed Palin "oppos[es]" earmarks -- but her administration said it requested them this year

* WSJ reported that Palin "highlighted her opposition" to "that bridge to nowhere" -- but not her previous reported support for it

Other news stories:
Surprise? First Two National Polls Find Palin Gains LESS Support from Women

McCain hits campaign trail with risky VP pick

John McCain met running mate Sarah Palin just once

Pure genius or John McCain’s mad gamble? Sarah Palin choice stuns US

Palin on Ron Paul: "Right On!'

Sarah Palin: McCain's Insult to Women

Sarah Palin: Is she ready to lead?

My Palin prediction: She'll blow foreign policy

McCain's VP pick helps fundraising, draws scorn

Sarah Palin, Wrong Woman for the Job

Local Expert Weighs in on McCain's VP Choice

Roe and Griswold: according to the GOP platform, contraception is murder
[Joe Sudbay] Here's are a couple questions for any reporter who has access to the GOP ticket: Do John McCain and Sarah Palin want to reverse Griswold v. Connecticut? Do John McCain and Sarah Palin want to prohibit any forms of contraception? Do John McCain and Sarah Palin think "the pill" is a abortificant?

The kind of people they are
Conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh boosted Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's pro-life position and mocked Barack Obama on his radio show yesterday with a make-believe riff in which Obama asked Palin "When you found out your baby would be born with Down syndrome, did you consider killing it before or after the due date?"

Limbaugh's "humor" caught the fancy of the Republican National Committee, which, in an internal e-mail, proposed using the bit in a YouTube clip.

The e-mail, which was sent to RNC Communications Director Danny Diaz, and mistakenly to a Tribune reporter, was titled "wow...good YouTube potential..."

Two candidates who think it’s kinda funny to call your political opponent a “bitch”

[Matt Yglesias] All the women I know think it’s hilarious to express your political disagreements with female legislators by using the term “bitch” and mocking their physical appearance . . .

Don’t talk to me about experience. She ran for the PTA!

On personality and policy. Eventually, this race is going to get back to the question of governance. Let’s look at how Palin governed
[Kevin Drum] So here's an interesting thing about Alaska governor Sarah Palin: she's a tax raiser. Last September she proposed a new state tax plan called ACES, and by November she had successfully pushed it through the Alaska legislature in a special session. ACES had two goals. First, it replaced a year-old plan called PPT that was mired in corruption and was widely distrusted. No problem there. Second, it was designed to increase revenue. PPT had raised revenues by $1 billion, but that was still less than everyone expected. So Palin's plan increased that by another $700 million.

But it gets even more interesting. ACES, of course, is a tax on the oil industry . . . [read on]


Protestors rounded up in the Twin Cities in advance of the Republican convention

BREAKING NEWS: Cindy McCain is “offended” by attacks on her husband

What McCain will do with the CIA (thanks to Mark Kleiman for the link)

Trouble with the Iraq troop withdrawal agreement,0,1340700.story

Fundamentally unserious
Seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Bush's advisers assert that many Americans may have forgotten that. So they want Congress to say so and "acknowledge again and explicitly that this nation remains engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated organizations, who have already proclaimed themselves at war with us and who are dedicated to the slaughter of Americans." . . .

Sunday talk show line-ups
FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

THIS WEEK (ABC): Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Cindy McCain, wife of John McCain.

FACE THE NATION (CBS): Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.); senior McCain campaign adviser Carly Fiorina and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R).

MEET THE PRESS (NBC): Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

LATE EDITION (CNN): Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.); Boehner; Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.); Pawlenty; South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R); Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R); McCain campaign adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer; Obama adviser Anita Dunn; FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison; former GOP candidate Fred Thompson and ex-Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle.

Bonus item: the GOP ticket as sitcom
HE is an ex-POW turned multimillionaire. He has power, wealth, and more houses than most people have ties. But can anything -- or anyone -- calm his savage temper, and teach him to love again?

SHE's a young creationist who knows little about politics and is in trouble with the law. He'll take her in -- but can he teach her the ways of Washington before she embarrasses him at the big Telecom Ball?

Find out this fall on Dharma and Methuselah . . . [read on]


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Saturday, August 30, 2008


McCain rolls the dice, big time. One thing the selection of Sarah Palin shows is that he believed he had to do something dramatic to change the dynamic of this election. So he picked a fundie Christian, creationist, pro-ANWR drilling, “Feminist for Life,” NRA member, ex-beauty queen.

(And, p.s. – she needs a voice coach.)

I’m not one for predictions, but I predict that within a month this will be viewed as a disastrous choice. I even think it is possible that before this is all over she will have to step down (“for family reasons,” no doubt) and be replaced with someone else. Either way, McCain just lost this election

Who is Sarah Palin?

Reaction from Obama
"Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies -- that's not the change we need, it's just more of the same."

Reactions from the punditry

Reactions from the Republicans
[Marc Ambinder] A few I spoke with or e-mailed were optimistic, using phrases like "brilliant" and "game-changing." One GOP strategist who has worked with Palin says she's coated with Teflon -- "attack at your peril." She "renews McCain's maverick credentials." One person close to Romney said she "looks like a real reformer. She's done what Obama's talked about."

A few are cautiously optimistic that it'll turn out OK, but most of the strategists and consultants I've spoken to, e-mailed with, or read/watched are struggling with it. They expect her to have a good week... and then to crash and burn when she hits the campaign trail as scrutiny catches up with her.
[Anne Kornblut] Though it was high in shock value, the Palin pick left bruised feelings among the short-list contenders who were not picked -- and infuriated some Republican officials who privately said McCain had gone out on a limb, unnecessarily, without laying the groundwork for such an unknown. Two senior Republican officials close to Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty said they had both been rudely strung along and now "feel manipulated."

"They now know that they were used as decoys, well after McCain had decided not to pick them," one Republican involved in the process said.

Palin’s ALREADY embroiled in a scandal and under investigation in her home state, and while the particulars of the case are rather sordid and muddled, the FACT of her lying about them is a bad introduction to the country. Do you want a VP candidate whose main line for the next two months is “I believe that in the end I will be exonerated”?
[Josh Marshall] Gov. Palin is embroiled in her own trooper-gate scandal up in Alaska. In short, she's accused of using her pull as governor to get her ex-brother-in-law fired as a state trooper. The brother-in-law is embroiled in an ugly divorce and custody with Palin's sister. And after his boss wouldn't fire the brother-in-law, she fired the boss. Palin originally insisted there was nothing to the story. More recently, she was forced to admit the one of her top deputies had pushed to get the guy fired.
[Kate Klonick] In today's conference, Palin said that state troopers had taped a phone call from Frank Bailey, Palin's director of boards and commissions whom she appointed last August, in which Bailey inquired about having Wooten fired.

At the press conference today, Palin distanced herself from Bailey's actions claiming that he acted alone, but the recordings suggest that he was acting at her instigation. . . .
[Josh Marshall] This is a perilous story for Palin and McCain. I flagged some of the details earlier in the day. But this is the kind of story, the kind of investigation, where it is highly unlikely that Palin hasn't made public false statements about her involvement in what happened. I think that's generous. As always in cases like this, the question is whether anyone can prove it. There are a couple investigations -- one under the auspices of the state legislature and another of the state Attorney General, which she either supported or 'requested'. That latter investigation already surfaced taped phone calls that forced Palin walk back her original denials and admit that her aides had pressed for the firings, just without her knowledge.
[Josh Marshall] The Post's James Grimaldi got an exclusive interview with Walter Monegan, the canned Alaska Public Safety Commissioner at the center of Palin trooper-gate scandal. And he basically says Palin is lying in her assertion that while some of her aides contacting Monegan about firing her brother-in-law, that she herself did not.
The July firing of Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan by Gov. Sarah Palin, who was announced as John McCain's running mate on Friday, has unearthed a stream of soap-opera-like details about Palin, her husband, her family and top state appointees. The controversy has also cut against Palin's reputation for holding an ethical line and standing up to colleagues in the Republican Party over matters of principle.

Monegan, 57, a respected former chief of the Anchorage Police Department, said in an interview with The Washington Post's James V. Grimaldi on Friday that the governor repeatedly brought up the topic of her ex-brother-in-law, Michael Wooten, after Monegan became the state's commissioner of public safety in December 2006. Palin's husband, Todd, met with Monegan and presented a dossier of information about Wooten, who was going through a bitter custody battle with Palin's sister, Molly. Monegan also said Sarah Palin sent him e-mails on the subject, but Monegan declined to disclose them, saying he planned to give them to a legislative investigator looking into the matter.

Palin initially denied that she or anyone in her administration had ever pressured Monegan to fire the trooper, but this summer acknowledged more than a half a dozen contacts over the matter, including one phone call from a Palin administration official to a state police lieutenant. The call was recorded and was released by Palin's office this month. Todd Palin told a television reporter in Alaska that he did meet with Monegan, but said he was just "informing" Monegan about the issue, not exerting pressure.

"She never directly asked me to fire him," Monegan said.

But he said Todd Palin told him Wooten "shouldn't be a trooper. I've tried to explain to him, you can't head hunt like this. What you need to do is back off, because if the trooper does make a mistake, and it is a terminable offense, it can look like political interference.

"I think he's emotionally committed in trying to see that his former brother-in-law is punished."

The allegation against Palin, "undercuts one of the points they are making that she is an ethical reformer," said Democratic state Sen. Hollis French, who is managing a $100,000 investigation into the firing of Walter Monegan.
[Kate Klonick] It looks like there's even more muck than meets the eye in Trooper-Gate.

After the allegedly improper firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) appointed former Kenai Police Chief Chuck Kopp to the post.

Kopp served just two weeks this summer as the head of law enforcement in Alaska, resigning on July 25, after a past complaint of sexual harassment and a subsequent letter of reprimand surfaced in news reports.

But Palin made sure he had a soft fall for grace, giving him a $10,000 severance package for just two weeks served.

Palin is likely to be deposed soon in the case, according to State Sen. Hollis French, who leads the state Senate's Legislative Counsel Committee.
[Josh Marshall] Now we've learned she's invoked the Alaska version of executive privilege to withhold emails dealing with the case. . . .
McCain Campaign Sending Investigators to Alaska to Check Into Palin’s Troopergate: Did these idiots not vet her? . . . [read on!]

On “experience.” It hardly needs to be said, but how can they EVER raise the issue about Obama again?
[Kevin Drum] I'm just stunned by the cynicism of the whole thing. I'm sure Palin is a fine person, loving mother, devoted wife, learning her way as governor, and so forth. But a heartbeat away from the presidency? Someone with virtually no serious political experience, and no serious experience of any other kind to make up for it? She's going to shake up Washington?

I don't know how she'll do on the stump or in the debates. Maybe she'll be great. Who knows? But a potential leader of the free world? You gotta be kidding.
[Aug 28] McCain spokesman Ben Porritt offered, “McCain is going to pick a VP based on merit; a proven leader with sound judgment and well rounded experience that will give the public confidence that he/she is able to step in and govern at a moment’s notice.”
[Atrios] Republican on MSNBC is arguing that Palin has much more experience than Joe Biden because all he did was run committees in the Senate.

By this logic Palin has much more experience than John McCain.

[NB: But . . . but . . . he was a P.O.W.!]

Now, if you have any concerns about Palin’s lack of experience, senior McCain advisor Charlie Black wants to reassure you (and I am NOT making this up)
[NYT] Mr. McCain’s advisers said Friday that Mr. McCain was well aware that Ms. Palin would be criticized for her lack of foreign policy experience, but that he viewed her as exceptionally talented and intelligent and that he felt she would be able to be educated quickly.

“She’s going to learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that he’ll be around at least that long,” said Charlie Black. . .

Who said it?
"I think he's going to make an intensely political choice, not a governing choice . . . He's going to view this through the prism of a candidate, not through the prism of president; that is to say, he's going to pick somebody that he thinks will on the margin help him . . . He's not going to be thinking big and broad about the responsibilities of president." . . .

"With all due respect again to Governor --- . . . a governor for three years, . . . able but undistinguished. . . . was mayor of the 105th largest city in America."

"So if he were to pick Governor ---, it would be an intensely political choice where he said, `You know what? I'm really not, first and foremost, concerned with, is this person capable of being president of the United States."

Ron Fournier, asshole
[AP] Analysis: Palin's age, inexperience rival Obama's

Palin on EYE-RAQ
“The GOP agenda to ramp up domestic supplies of energy is the only way that we're going to become energy independent, the only way that we are going to become a more secure nation — and I say this, of course, looking at the situation we are in right now, at war, not knowing what the plan is to ever end the war that we're engaged in, understanding that Americans are seeking solutions, and they are seeking resolution in this war effort, so energy supplies, being able to produce and supply domestically, is going to be a big part of that.”

Hear it:

Separated at birth?

On “The Surge”
In an interview with Alaska Business Monthly shortly after she took office in 2007, Palin was asked about the upcoming surge. She said she hadn't thought about it. "I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq," she said.

Her foreign policy experience
Fox: Alaska is Next to Russia!


On Big Oil and Big Mining
According to the Alaska TV news station KTUU where Gov. Palin “appeared occasionally as a television sportscaster,” Palin was so determined to defeat a Clean Water ballot measure this summer that she broke the law to oppose it . . .

On ANWR drilling

On global warming
In an interview released today by Newsmax, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) — Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) newly minted running mate — was asked for her “take on global warming and how is it affecting our country.” “A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location,” Palin said, adding, “I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.”


On creationism and church/state

Feminist for Life

Buchananite, wingnut

Her career as mayor
[Glenn Thrush] Palin, who portrays herself as a fiscal conservative, racked up nearly $20 million in long-term debt as mayor of the tiny town of Wasilla — that amounts to $3,000 per resident. She argues that the debt was needed to fund improvements.

She doesn’t know what the VP does!
[Palin] "[A]s for that V.P. talk all the time, I'll tell you, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the V.P. does every day?”


Hillary supporters? Palin calls her a whiner

The women’s vote?
[Joe Klein] Does the McCain campaign actually think that Hillary supporters will be lured to the ticket by a militant pro-lifer who also believes in the teaching of intelligent design?
"Someone should stand up and say: 'I know Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton is a friend of mine. And Sarah Palin is no Hillary Rodham Clinton.'"

Someone did:
"I know Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton," Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a phone interview with NBC.


The Ted Stevens (R-AK) connection
[Greg Sargent] This morning, an ad from Sarah Palin's 2006 gubernatorial campaign featuring an endorsement from scandal-plagued Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was available on Palin's campaign Web site. . . .

. . . but now the Stevens ad has already been scrubbed. The link is no longer on her campaign site.

Luckily, the ad featuring Stevens and Palin is still available for your viewing pleasure! [Watch]

“The bridge to nowhere”


The pipeline to nowhere
[Mark Kleiman] If Sarah Palin is such a free-marketeer, why is Alaska paying $500 million in subsidies to TransCanada to build a pipeline without even getting a guarantee that the pipeline will be built? And how does it look to have TransCanada lobbyist (pardon me, "former lobbyist") as her chief adviser on the transaction?

On earmarks

Alaska, hotbed of corruption

Kudos to my wife, who instantly recognized this as a last-second choice, insufficiently vetted and made for all the wrong reasons. And she’s dead right. Read this
ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg reports: It wasn't until Sunday night that John McCain, after meeting with his four top advisers, finally decided he could not tap independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to be his running mate. One adviser, tasked with taking the temperature of the conservative base, had strongly made the case to McCain that it would be a disaster for the party and that the base would revolt. McCain concluded he could not go that route.

[NB: VERY reluctantly, I am sure]

The next day, McCain studied the three men at the top of his shortlist: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. All had different strengths and negatives, but McCain was not satisfied. None of them had what McCain believed he needed to do -- and would have done -- with Lieberman. . . .

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's name was in the mix as an unconventional choice for months, but she had not been considered a front-runner.

[NB: McCain had only met her ONCE.]

So, over the next few days, with McCain continuing to believe he needed someone who had more of a maverick streak than his other choices, lawyers reviewed her vetting information. They kept their activities from even some in McCain's most senior inner circle. . . .

[NB: There, THAT tells you exactly what was going on. They knew those advisors would object, and they kept them out of the loop.]

The campaign secretly flew Palin into Dayton last night. She and McCain met privately for a couple of hours. McCain concluded she would "shake up the system" and was "a maverick," qualities he believed Lieberman would have brought to the ticket. But she also would appeal to conservatives -- which Lieberman most certainly would not have done.

After their meeting, McCain concluded he was comfortable with his choice. He notified Pawlenty this morning that he was going in a different direction.

[Kos] John McCain clearly wanted Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman, but he was afraid to buck his party's choice ideologues. So then they looked at Mittens, but having a baker's dozen homes wasn't looking so hot. So he figured that with Pawlenty, he might make a play for Minnesota, but that got shot down over the last week as it become increasingly obvious that Biden would wipe the floor with him in their debate.

Throw in Obama's ground-shifting speech last night, and it was clear that McCain had to throw a hail mary to just remain in the game, much less be competitive. . . [read on]

People say that the VP choice, and how it is made, is the first “presidential” decision a candidate makes, and tells you about their manner and approach to decision-making. I think we just had something confirmed about McCain that we’ve suspected for a while
[Josh Marshall] What does this say about John McCain's judgment? Steadiness in key decision-making moments?
[David Frum, GOP strategist] "It's a wild gamble, undertaken by our oldest ever first-time candidate for president in hopes of changing the board of this election campaign. Maybe it will work. But maybe (and at least as likely) it will reinforce a theme that I'd be pounding home if I were the Obama campaign: that it's John McCain for all his white hair who represents the risky choice, while it is Barack Obama who offers cautious, steady, predictable governance."
A Harriet Miers Moment?

[Andrew Sullivan] Could this be McCain's Miers moment? Some readers think so: the point at which people suddenly realize that McCain is actually less interested in governing than in politics. And willing to let personal liking and respect for utterly unqualified people trump the sober responsibilities of running a country at war, a climate in flux, an economy in trouble, and an empire close to imploding.

One more thing: this was a bit of a F-U pick, a personal, totally idiosyncratic, gut-level, aggressive piece of opportunism. Yes he can! And yes, it does underline his maverick, out-of-the-box brand. It makes me like his empathy for gutsy young women, even former beauty queens (is there footage of her contest out there?). But it also makes me less comfortable with the idea of him as commander in chief. It seems a less steady choice than Biden.
[Trapper John] We're told that McCain really wanted to pick his old friend Joe Lieberman to run with him, but that Karl Rove and the rest of the elite Republican politburo nixed the idea, and told McCain that he had to take a conservative. And as he has at every step of his campaign, the one-time "maverick" sold out to the venal, icy core of the Republican leadership, and acquiesced by selecting Palin. Palin is really a Republican after Rove's heart
[DemfromCT] Can we please stop hearing from the media about how brilliant Karl Rove and Steve Schmidt are? . . .


Useful facts
McCain's Been Running Longer Than Palin's Been Governing . . .

One thing we’re going to discover is the extent of intense lobbying for Palin behind the scenes by the neo-con establishment. The first mention I heard of Palin was from Bill Kristol, back in June. His fellow panelists on Fox News gawked at him, almost laughing, when he came out with this name
[June 29] KRISTOL: Psychoanalyzing Bill Clinton is a tough role, a tough task. I think Hillary Clinton was gracious. She's put behind her the horrible sexism and misogyny the Democratic primary voters demonstrated, which I'm appalled by, personally. Never would have happened in the Republican Party. You know, we're -- Republicans are much more open to strong women. And that's why McCain's going to put Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, on the ticket as vice president.

WALLACE: Is that your prediction?

KRISTOL: That's my -- I'm moving from [Louisiana Gov. Bobby] Jindal to Palin. I'm being even bolder. She's fantastic, yeah. You know, she was the point guard on the Alaska state championship high school basketball team in 1982. She could take Obama one-on-one on the court. Be fantastic.

Anyway, I do think -- I actually think Sarah Palin would be a great vice presidential pick, and it would be interesting to actually -- to have a woman on the Republican ticket after Hillary Clinton has come so close and failed on the Democratic side.

JUAN WILLIAMS (National Public Radio correspondent and Fox News contributor): Well, I think -- how about Colin Powell on the McCain ticket? Don't you think that would be a winner?

KRISTOL: No, no, no.


KRISTOL: That's, again, misogynist thinking. You're not --

WILLIAMS: Misogynist thinking.

KRISTOL: I think you've got to go for the gold here with Sarah Palin.


38 million
[Eric Kleefeld] That's the estimate of how many people watched Obama's acceptance speech last night, according to Nielsen -- and that doesn't include people who watched on PBS or C-Span.

That's more Americans than watched the Olympics opening ceremony, the season finale of American Idol, or the Oscars.

Bouncing higher
Gallup: 49/41

Remember how McCain was going to give Obama a run for his money over the Latino vote?
In The Southwest, Obama Leads By 45

As predicted, the McCain campaign is now having to expend extra money for ads in red states they used to take for granted

Bonus item: Weirdest interview ever

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Friday, August 29, 2008


We learned three important things last night during Obama's magnificent, historic speech. One is that Barack Obama isn’t going to cede the national security issue to McCain – there is an argument to be had over the DIRECTION of leadership and the MEANING of patriotism, and Obama is ready for that fight.

The second is that McCain better find a way to cut himself off from Bush in a complete and unambiguous way – because the Dems are going to hit him with “more of the same,” “the past and not the future,” and the burden of discredited Bush/Cheney policies from now until the election.

The third is that any pipedream the GOP might have had that they could pry off disaffected Hillary voters in any significant numbers is fading fast. They can put a woman in as VP if they want, but it won’t help them there.

Obama, and the Dems generally, looked and acted like winners already. Gore and Kerry looked reinvigorated – if they’d given speeches like these when they ran, they’d have won. The Dems have found the formula, it seems, and they finally, finally have the wind at their backs




The McCain camp “responds”
"Tonight, Americans witnessed a misleading speech that was so fundamentally at odds with the meager record of Barack Obama. When the temple comes down, the fireworks end, and the words are over, the facts remain: Senator Obama still has no record of bipartisanship, still opposes offshore drilling, still voted to raise taxes on those making just $42,000 per year, and still voted against funds for American troops in harm's way. The fact remains: Barack Obama is still not ready to be president."

Watch this:

Other reactions: the Right is apoplectic
Alex Castellanos' response on CNN. To understand the significance, you've got to know a bit about who Castellanos is -- a longtime, street-fighting Republican political consultant . . . In that context, Castellanos' response was very telling. He made no attempt to put the speech in any positive context for McCain. Midway through this clip he sounds like an Obama surrogate. And he concludes by saying that "whoever didn't get picked for Republican VP today may be a lucky Republican."

Across the spectrum:
[Pat Buchanan] Called it the best convention speech ever.

A sampling from the progressive blogosphere

“The election of our lives”

Ron Fournier’s AP embarrasses itself
[Charles Babington, AP] Barack Obama, whose campaign theme is "change we can believe in," promised Thursday to "spell out exactly what that change would mean."

But instead of dwelling on specifics, he laced the crowning speech of his long campaign with the type of rhetorical flourishes that Republicans mock and the attacks on John McCain that Democrats cheer. . . .
[Jim Drinkard, AP] Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination Thursday night with a lofty vision for the nation's future that is far easier to articulate than to accomplish. . . .
[Kos] Babington wrote piece before Obama's speech was finished
Obama's speech ended just shy of 11 p.m. ET. Babington's attack piece was posted at: Aug 28, 11:26 PM EDT

The piece is 603 words. So we are to believe, that Babington watched the speech, gave it due consideration, wrote it, turned it in, had it go through editing, had it go through copyediting, and had it posted online -- all in 26 minutes?

[Keith Olbermann] Mr. Babington got the length of the speech wrong by at least 7 minutes. And this is analysis that will be printed in many, many newspapers, hundreds of them around the country. It is analysis that strikes me as having born no resemblance to the speech you and I just watch. None whatsoever. And for it to be distributed by the lone national news organization in terms of wire copy to newspapers around the country and websites is a remarkable failure of that news organization.

Charles Babington. Find. New. Work.


The rest of the press


Looking back: MLK’s speech 45 years ago

Looking back: JFK’s outdoor acceptance speech in 1960

Here’s a game to play at home
Barack Obama is to John McCain as _____ is to ________. [read on]

Bush may not speak at the Republican convention after all. They say it’s to stay in DC and watch over hurricane damage (they’ve learned from Katrina, it seems) – but I can’t help feeling the McCain people have seriously rethought the benefits of having him there

George? George Who?
[Greg Mitchell] The cover story in this coming Sunday's New York Times Magazine considers George Bush and what it terms "His Final Days," with his view of his legacy - and John McCain - in the forefront. It's written by Peter Baker, the former Washington Post reporter now with the Times.

It opens with a scene from this past May when an uneasy Bush and McCain met for "14 seconds of ritual" on a tarmac for a press photo op. "That was May," Baker writes. "As of late this month, the president and the would-be successor from his own party have not spoken since."

Later Baker reveals: "McCain has not called the president for advice." . . . .

Bush aides "seethed" when McCain called conditions in post-Katrina New Orleans "disgraceful" this past April and "grievances nursed by both sides have only grown from there," Baker observes.

He describes Bush as feeling he needs McCain to win to validate his legacy, while McCain finds himself "saddled" with Bush baggage. John Weaver, McCain's former chief strategist, tells Baker, "I'm sure McCain is thinking, Is Bush going to beat me twice?"

Baker also reveals: "One former Bush aide who spends his days publicly bashing Barack Obama sat down for lunch with me recently and before the appetizers even arrived lamented that the Democrat will probably crush McCain. He ruefully called Obama one of the three three most talented political figures of his lifetime," along with JFK and Reagan. Karl Rove this summer told friends of his "exasperation" with the McCain team's "dysfunctional organization and sclerotic message," as Baker puts it. "And the president himself, according to friends and prominent Republicans, privately rails about what he considers McCain's undisciplined approach to the campaign and grouses about McCain's efforts to distance himself from the administration."

What the Republicans say when they aren’t on camera
[AP] "I just think he doesn't have the temperament to be president," Reid told Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston during the taping of "Face to Face," in Denver on Wednesday. . . .

"I've served with the man 26 years," Reid said. "Do I have the ability to speak with experience about someone who has abused everyone he's dealt with? Someone who does not have the temperament to be president. . . What am I supposed to do? Walk around talking about what a great guy he is? I don't believe that. .... "

"There isn't a Republican serving in the Senate that's happy he's the nominee. Now, they're all supporting him, but I'll tell you they have told me. I've had Republican senators tell me they don't think they'll vote for him," Reid said.

When Ralston asked if Reid thought it would be "dangerous" to let McCain be president, Reid answered: "Well, if you said it, I wouldn't correct you."

Rove deeply involved with McCain’s VP choice, and pushing hard for Romney (and NOT Lieberman)

McCain plays Mister Nice Guy (for 24 hours) – unfortunately, it won’t last

Mr. Straight Talk learns to talk in sound bites,8599,1836909,00.html
What do you want voters to know coming out of the Republican Convention — about you, about your candidacy?
I'm prepared to be President of the United States, and I'll put my country first.

There's a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us?
Read it in my books.

I've read your books.
No, I'm not going to define it.

But honor in politics?
I defined it in five books. Read my books.

[Your] campaign today is more disciplined, more traditional, more aggressive. From your point of view, why the change?
I will do as much as we possibly can do to provide as much access to the press as possible.

But beyond the press, sir, just in terms of ...
I think we're running a fine campaign, and this is where we are.

Do you miss the old way of doing it?
I don't know what you're talking about. . . . [read on!]

All P.O.W., all the time

P.O.W. bingo:

John McCain on labor

John McCain on Social Security

McCain advisor says people don’t need health coverage, because they can always go to emergency rooms. And the McCain gang scrambles to disassociate themselves
[Dallas Morning News] But the numbers are misleading, said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-leaning Dallas-based think tank. Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen. John McCain's health care policy, said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort. (Hospital emergency rooms by law cannot turn away a patient in need of immediate care.)

"So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said. "The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American - even illegal aliens - as uninsured. . . . So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."
[Josh Marshall] We've yet to have the McCain campaign return our calls about campaign advisor John Goodman's suggestion that everyone in the USA actually does have health care insurance in the form of access to emergency rooms where no one in need of immediate medical care can be turned away. But they're now telling TNR's Jon Cohn that he's actually not a McCain advisor.

Really? . . .


The weather for Obama’s outdoor speech couldn’t have been more perfect. For next week’s Republican convention? Not so much
Check out this Karl Rove quote buried in a Fox News article about the threat Hurricane Gustav poses to the GOP's convention plans . . .

BREAKING NEWS: Fearful of meeting and partying during a disastrous hurricane (sound familiar?), the GOP may POSTPONE their convention

A tale of two campaigns
[CNN] Thousands stood in the warm temperatures in Denver, Colorado, on Thursday to wait in lines that are nearly six miles long, according to local police.
According to the Dayton Daily News, Sen. John McCain is still giving away tickets to his Friday rally where he will unveil his running mate. He's having trouble filling a 10,000 seat arena.

The Bush gang is running out of options to keep Miers and Bolten from testifying before Congress

Afghanistan learns from Iraq

Cheney’s pals at KBR face a major lawsuit


Bookmark this link: it’ll be a great little tool come election night

Bonus item: Meet the PUMAs

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Three great speeches: one of which you probably didn’t hear

"Everything I learned in my eight years as President and n the work I've done since, in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job...My fellow Democrats, I say to you, Barack Obama is ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world. Ready to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Barack Obama is ready to be president."


[Josh Marshall] Bill's and Biden's speeches were great, each in their own way. Democrats had the night they'd been waiting for tonight. But you probably didn't see John Kerry's speech because most of the networks cut away to feature they're yakkers. As I said earlier, in its own way, I think it was the best speech of the convention, certainly the best speech I've even seen John Kerry give. . . .


You can imagine them chucking around the McCain campaign table: “Do you think they’ll let us get away with this one? Oh, hell, let’s try.” So, will the press call them out for the most purely deceitful ad of the campaign season so far?

[Greg Sargent] The ad's narrator says: "Obama says Iran is a 'tiny' country. 'Doesn't pose a serious threat.' Terrorism? Destroying Israel? Those aren't serious threats?"

[What Obama actually said] "Strong countries and strong Presidents talk to their adversaries. That's what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That's what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That's what Nixon did with Mao. I mean think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela -- these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying we're going to wipe you off the planet."
[Andrew Sullivan] What does McCain disagree with in that? And do yourself a favor. Read the quote and then watch the ad. Now think about what it says about McCain that he would lie this blatantly for power.
[Steve Benen] I'll give the McCain campaign credit for one thing: these guys are among the most accomplished liars in a generation. Sure, some shameless charlatans have come and gone over the last few decades, but when it comes to genuine, almost pathological, dishonesty, the McCain campaign is setting the bar very high (or low, depending on one's perspective).
[Kevin Drum] I swear, it's like watching Anakin Skywalker turn into Darth Vader in Star Wars. It's not as if McCain hasn't always been brazenly opportunistic, but the depth of his flat-out lying is becoming pathological.

The ad only gets a little bit of press critique
[Jake Tapper, ABC] We, in the media, have given a lot of airtime to the TV ads of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., this week, starring, as they do, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

There's been evidence emerging that McCain's campaign isn't really running these ads anywhere, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group.

"These were basically video press releases," CMAG’s Evan Tracey tells the Wall Street Journal.

OK, so that's kind of dishonest of the McCain campaign.

Today's new McCain ad -- "Tiny," which you can watch HERE -- crosses a new line into dishonesty . . .
[AP] ANALYSIS: The ad is misleading because it states that Obama said Iran is "tiny" and "doesn't pose a serious threat" without noting that Obama was comparing the threat Iran poses today to the Soviet Union, the nuclear-armed adversary of the U.S. during the Cold War.

Free media
[Steve Benen] Just about every day, the McCain campaign releases a new "ad," which is released to the media along with a vague promise that the commercial will air somewhere, at some point. Cable networks, predictably, run the ad over and over again, for free, as part of their coverage of the campaign. This has been especially true this week, with a series of McCain campaign "ads" featuring Hillary Clinton.

The WSJ's Aaron Rutkoff noted that this is part of a well-executed scam that the news networks keep falling for. . . .
[Jason Zengerle] Eve asks whether the McCain campaign will release a new Hillary ad every day this week. Of course it will--so long as we in the media keep linking to the ads and doing news segments about them on TV. I'd love to know from our readers in these "key battleground states" where the ads are supposed to air whether they've actually seen any of them on TV, other than the times they've seen reports about them on CNN and Fox and MSNBC.
[Kevin Drum] I'll go a little further. The majority of these "YouTube ads" are designed solely to get media attention, not to be seriously used as part of the campaign. If they were podcasts, or blog posts, or flyers, or email blasts, the media would ignore them if their purpose were so transparent. I mean, who cares about a flyer produced in small quantities and handed out only to the media?

But if it's video, it's news! . . .


Tom Brokaw, a generally sensible person, buys into the P.O.W. myth

This is what happens when you have a campaign debate about foreign policy that gets stuck in buzzwords like “experience,” or “leadership,” or “who spent time in a P.O.W. camp,” and not over WHAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY THINK SHOULD BE DONE
Sen. John McCain has repeatedly proclaimed that it is time to kick Russia out of the "Group of Eight" organization of industrial powers, even before Russia's recent conflict with Georgia. But the idea has not been embraced by many foreign policy experts, who tend to view it as needlessly provocative.

Today, the top diplomat of one of the U.S.'s closest allies, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, weighed in, calling the notion "knee-jerk," though he did not mention McCain's name. . . .
[Andrew Sullivan] The op-ed in today's WSJ by the McCain duo of Lieberman and Graham is far more important for this election, it seems to me, than parsing the dynamics of the Clinton-Obama marriage. What they are laying out in very clear terms is the agenda of a McCain presidency. The agenda is war and the threat of war - including what would be an end to cooperation with Russia on securing loose nuclear materials and sharing terror intelligence, in favor of a new cold war in defense of ... Moldova and Azerbaijan. I'm sure McCain would like to have his Russian cooperation, while demonizing and attacking them on the world stage, but in the actual world, he cannot. Putin and Medvedev are not agreeable figures, and I do not mean in any way to excuse their bullying. But this is global politics, guys, and these are the cold, hard choices facing American policy makers.

And in this telling op-ed Lieberman and Graham simply do not even confront them. It's all about a moral posture, with no practical grappling with the consequences. It's the mindset that gave you the Iraq war - but multiplied.

John McCain is making it quite clear what his foreign policy will be like: tilting sharply away from the greater realism of Bush's second term toward the abstract moralism, fear-mongering and aggression of the first. Not just four more years - but four more years like Bush's first term. If the Democrats cannot adequately warn Americans of the dangers of a hotheaded temperament and uber-neo-con mindset in the White House for another four years, they deserve to lose. If Americans decide they want a president who will be more aggressive and less diplomatic than the current one, then they should at least brace for the consequences - for their economy and their security.

In my view, the fear card has only one truly compelling target in this election: McCain.

[Josh Marshall] He puts it very well. This danger has actually got me to thinking that should McCain win in November, the likely strong Democratic majorities in Congress will need to begin making a concerted effort to rein in the war powers of the president to keep the country safe between 2009 and 2013 -- far more than most of us might normally be comfortable with. I know that sounds hyperbolic. It's not. And people need to understand this. For better or worse, the reality of the danger for the security of the country that is posed by a McCain presidency is not coming through. So the Democratic Congress would likely be the only bulwark against the gambit of his advisors and his own instability. What McCain is pushing for is much more stark than most Democrats, let alone independents and moderate Republicans understand. Hopefully, we won't need to face these choices.
[Matt Yglesias] Part of the perverse logic of conservative foreign policy founded on a bizarre combination of hysteria and hubris is that there’s this kind of quicksand phenomenon where the worse things get, the more you need to keep flailing. I think that’s the best way in which to understand this miasma of strategic confusion from Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham. As expected, it’s riddled with contradictions. Russia is simultaneously powerful enough to mount “a challenge to the political order and values at the heart of the continent” (i.e., Europe) but also so pathetic that an approach to Russia based on hollow sloganeering about “solidarity with the people of Georgia” will be sufficient to turn back the challenge. They call vaguely for “an alliance can frustrate these designs and diminish our dependence on the foreign oil that is responsible for the higher energy prices here at home” but propose no concrete steps to reduce oil dependence. And their only tangible policy proposal is a bunch of missile defense nonsense . . . [read on]
[Smintheus] In a bold leap forward in his nationalistic rhetoric, John McCain yesterday warned the World to get off America's lawn. Addressing the American Legion Convention in Phoenix, McCain complained about Barack Obama's Berlin speech of last month. Obama had declared that by working together the nations of the world could more effectively address international terrorism and other problems we face in common. You'd have thought that was pretty uncontroversial, but you wouldn't have reckoned with John McCain's slick presidential team. It decided that what Americans want to see is more confrontation with the rest of the globe, in the guise of "leadership". It turns out that America also wants to be reminded yet again that McCain was once a POW.

From McCain's speech:

“My opponent had the chance to express such confidence in America, when he delivered a much anticipated address in Berlin. He was the picture of confidence, in some ways. But confidence in oneself and confidence in one's country are not the same. And in that speech, Senator Obama left an important point unclear. He suggested that the end of the Cold War proved that there was, "no challenge too great for a world that stands as one." Now I missed a few years of the Cold War, as the guest of one of our adversaries, but as I recall the world was deeply divided during the Cold War -- between the side of freedom and the side of tyranny. The Cold War ended not because the world stood "as one," but because the great democracies came together, bound together by sustained and decisive American leadership. . . .” [read on]


The lameness of ducks
[Dan Froomkin] This is what it's come to. On Monday, President Bush issued a statement very sternly calling on Russian leaders not to recognize the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries.

Within hours, the Russians went ahead and did it anyway.

So on Tuesday, out came another statement, in which Bush very sternly told the Russian leaders they shouldn't have.

What explains Bush's manifest lack of leverage? Russia, fat on oil profits, is clearly intent on reasserting its sphere of influence, and an act of provocation by Georgia gave them just the excuse they were looking for. But there's something almost personal about the way Russia is flouting Bush's warnings. Is it because of all those times Bush poked the bear? Or is it because our military is otherwise occupied? Is it because Bush has squandered America's moral authority? Or is just because he's a lame duck? Maybe it's on account of Bush's demeaning nickname for Vladimir Putin. Take your pick. . . . [read on]

So, Barack’s stage set features Greek columns. How presumptuous, how arrogant, how . . . . oh . . . . never mind
[Greg Sargent] You've no doubt heard about the GOP's valient efforts to make an issue today out of this Reuters story reporting that Obama will make his Thursday speech before a reproduction of "an elaborately columned stage resembling a miniature Greek temple."

The Republican National Committee blasted the news out to reporters under the title "audacity watch." Lots of wingers have been chortling about this, too. We assume the idea, if you can call it that, is to suggest Obama believes he's a Greek god or something like that . . .

Bush, 2004:

McCain, 2008:

[Josh Marshall] [T]he Obama backdrop actually looks like -- whether intended or not, I don't know -- the Lincoln Memorial. (Remember, they're both Illinoisians.) Perhaps because Obama's speech is on the 45th anniversary of King's 'I Have A Dream' speech.

Convention bounce, no convention bounce? Does it matter?

Behind the polls: the Obama camp explains how they’re going to win

Reader Bryan W. says McCain will definitely pick a woman as VP. One of these?

Fiorina? Palin?



Why it probably won’t be Lieberman, much as McCain wants to pick him
Republican strategist Karl Rove "called Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) late last week and urged him to contact Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to withdraw his name from vice presidential consideration," according to Politico.

Lieberman dismissed the request. . .
Robert Novak, who retired after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, is back writing occasional columns throughout the election season.

"Reports of strong support within John McCain's presidential campaign for Independent Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman as the Republican candidate for vice president are not a fairy tale. Influential McCain backers, plus McCain himself, would pick the pro-choice liberal from Connecticut if they thought they could get away with it."

"But they can't get away with it -- and this has been made clear to McCain by none other than Joe Lieberman himself." . . .

[NB: Lest there be any remaining doubt that Novak is and has always been a mouthpiece for Rove.]

Quote of the day
[Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood] “A woman voting for John McCain would be like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.”


A serious split in the Republican party over the platform. Can they be unified again? Will lingering bitterness cause some groups to stay home and not support McCain? Does this show his weakness in appealing to members of his own party? These are the questions I am SURE the press will focus on next week, right?

Bonus item: The silliness of the Obama/Ayers “link”

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***