Really?

She has a good foreign policy background because Alaska is close to Russia? Please. If this is an indication of the kinds of responses the McCain campaign will have for those challenging Palin’s foreign policy credentials, this will not be pretty.

(HT: Daily Dish)

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Josh Marshal on Palin’s “Troopergate” Scandal

Josh Marshall does a nice job piecing together Sarah Palin’s “Troopergate” scandal. Here’s an excerpt:

So let’s put this all together.

We rely on elected officials not to use the power of their office to pursue personal agendas or vendettas. It’s called an abuse of power. There is ample evidence that Palin used her power as governor to get her ex-brother-in-law fired. When his boss refused to fire him, she fired him. She first denied Monegan’s claims of pressure to fire Wooten and then had to amend her story when evidence proved otherwise. The available evidence now suggests that she 1) tried to have an ex-relative fired from his job for personal reasons, something that was clearly inappropriate, and perhaps illegal, though possibly understandable in human terms, 2) fired a state official for not himself acting inappropriately by firing the relative, 3) lied to the public about what happened and 4) continues to lie about what happened.

These are, to put it mildly, not the traits or temperament you want in someone who could hold the executive power of the federal government.

It remains to be seen if this will have the kind of impact it should have, but it certainly going to be a thorn in the side to the McCain campaign. The results of the investigation will be released in October, just in time to be an awkward issue right before the election.

My advice for McCain and/or Obama

McCain:

Don’t delay the GOP convention. Carry on the convention as planned, but instead of McCain spending any time in Minneapolis, he should post him self in the heart of Gustav’s wake, helping with the relief effort. Don’t spend anytime with reporters, don’t give any staged interviews. Just roll up your sleeves, work with relief agencies and commit himself for a week to the recovery effort. When it comes time to accept the nomination, give the acceptance speech from the area most devastated by the storm and pipe the feed into the convention arena. What better way to counter Obama’s historic night at Mile High Stadium. Turn the unfortunate timing of the storm into a positive by proving you are not the same, clueless leader that Bush is. Champion those who’ve been hit hard by the storm as well as committing to double down on the effort to rebuild N.O..

Obama:

If McCain doesn’t take my advice, do the exact same thing. While the GOP is lambasting Obama’s character at the convention, he’ll be working in the most hardly hit areas, no press, no bullshit. Just pitching in while the GOP is piling on.

Substance, Not Style

It’s become fashionable — particularly among a certain kind of Stevensonian elite — to dismiss Obama’s oratory and rhetoric as, by definition, insubstantial. The implication, often explicit, is that his audiences are rubes, idiots spellbound by a lot of pretty talk. But it is precisely the substance, not the style, of Obama’s oratory that has been winning over his audiences. That substance is egalitarian, democratic, inclusive and aspirational — precisely the opposite of elitist or condescending.

At his best, in other words, Barack Obama doesn’t come across as a college professor lecturing voters, but as the kind of teacher who makes the class want to be better, to be good, to be great, and to believe that such a thing is possible.

That’s the kind of teacher you want your kids to have. That’s the kind of candidate you want your party to have. That’s the kind of president you want your country to have.

–Fred at Slacktivist

Palin on Obama and Iraq

Here’s a quote from two weeks ago:

“Something’s kind of changing here in Alaska, too, for being such a red state on the Presidential level. Obama’s doing just fine in polls up here, which is kind of wigging people out, because they’re saying, ‘This hasn’t happened for decades that in polls the D’ ”—the Democratic candidate—“ ‘is doing just fine.’ To me, that’s indicative, too. It’s the no-more-status-quo, it’s change.”

and on Iraq:

“I’m a mom, and my son is going to get deployed in September, and we better have a real clear plan for this war. And it better not have to do with oil and dependence on foreign energy.”

Wow, such in-depth analysis on the Iraq war. Hopefully she’s learned a few things about Iraq in the past two weeks.

Is this the tip of the iceberg? We’ll see.

(HT: TPM)

Curve Ball

McCain’s choice for VP, Sarah Palin, is certainly an interesting one. I think James Fallows has summed it up very well:

If someone is campaigning for the presidency or vice presidency, there’s an extra twist. That person has to have a line of argument to offer on any conceivable issue. Quick, without pausing in the next ninety seconds, tell me what you think about: the balance of relations between Taiwan and mainland China, and exactly what signals we’re sending to Hamas, and what we think about Russia’s role in the G-8 and potentially in NATO, and where North Korea stands on its nuclear pledges — plus Iran while we’re at it, plus the EU after the Irish vote, plus cap-and-trade as applied to India and China, and what’s the right future for South Ossetia; and let’s not even start on domestic issues.

Let’s assume that Sarah Palin is exactly as smart and disciplined as Barack Obama. But instead of the year and a half of nonstop campaigning he has behind him, and Joe Biden’s even longer toughening-up process, she comes into the most intense period of the highest stakes campaign with absolutely zero warmup or preparation. If she has ever addressed an international issue, there’s no evidence of it in internet-land.

The smartest person in the world could not prepare quickly enough to know the pitfalls, and to sound confident while doing so, on all the issues she will be forced to address. This is long before she gets to a debate with Biden; it’s what the press is going to start out looking for.

So the prediction is: unavoidable gaffes. The challenge for the McCain-Palin campaign is to find some way to defuse them ahead of time, since Socrates, Machiavelli, and Clausewitz reincarnated would themselves make errors in her situation. And the challenge for Democrats is to lead people to think, What is she were in charge?, without being bullies about it.

Possible gaffes aside, I also feel this selection will force the McCain campaign to take their eye of the ball. If they have any chance of winning, they need to continue to keep the pressure on Obama, attacking him and making the campaign about his unreadiness. But this selection completely undermines McCain’s ability to call out Obama’s readiness to lead and it also forces McCain to defend this very risky selection. All the energy and time that will be required to deflect the criticism for this choice isn’t really time McCain can afford to waste.

And as far as comparing Palin to Obama, there’s no evidence that she’s even thought much at all about foreign policy while Obama has a track record of taking foreign policy positions and showing wise judgement, especially on the Iraq war. It’s simply intellectually dishonest to say that both are on the same level regarding foreign policy matters.

So while this pick may have caused a stir and has dominated the news, this is a long and grueling campaign with not a whole lot of margin for error. Maybe it works out for McCain but that’s a big “if”. And if he wins, I sure hope he doesn’t kick the bucket any time soon.

History

I risk repeating myself here, but regardless of your political tendencies, we all have to be proud in this historic occasion. Frankly, I’m surprised this has happened in my lifetime. It was a special moment to have my daughter sit down and watch this speech. Amazingly, from her perspective, this is normal. An African-American presidential candidate? “Duh, what’s the big deal, Dad?”

It was very touching to see the emotion of the older African-American folks in the crowd. They must have been deeply moved in a way that’s simply impossible to measure. Wow.

(Photo:Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

McCain Needs to Summon “The Nuge”!

If you are an undecided voter and also a music lover, I propose you let the music decide. Here is a list of the performers for each convention:

Republican Convention:
-Gretchen Wilson
-LeAnn Rimes
-John Rich
-Bellamy Brothers

Democratic Convention:
-Stevie Wonder
-John Legend
-Melissa Ethridge
-Sheryl Crow

If I were McCain, I’d seek out the power of “The Nuge” to help balance it out a bit. Stevie Wonder kind of throws the whole deal out of whack so it’s kind of unfair from the get go. Maybe the RNC could find a musician who isn’t a country music star to participate? Just sayin’.

Right Faith or Right Policy?

McCain is set to announce his vice presidential running mate tomorrow. As far as we can tell, his short list is an interesting one. Mitt Romney, Tom Ridge, Tim Pawlenty and Joe Leiberman seem to be the most talked about possibilities. From my perspective, Tim Pawlenty carries with him the least baggage and is probably McCain’s safest pick in a political sense. While both he and Romney are the only ones on the short list who would make social conservatives happy (both pro-life while Ridge and Leiberman are not), Pawlenty doesn’t bring with him the trickiness of Romney’s Mormon faith. Romney is certainly a more seasoned politician with more experience in government and will also be a feisty debater and good attack dog for McCain. He’s also a stronger fund-raiser. The possible downside for Romney is how his faith will affect the votes of the conservative Christian base that McCain hopes to have behind him in November.

If it is Romney then it will be really fascinating to see how the religious right will respond. The question then becomes, “What’s more important?” Right religious belief or right socially conservative policy? If one takes a look at Romney’s policies in regard to the concerns of the religious right without knowing anything about his Mormonism, they would be very supportive. But while the “pro-life” and “pro-family” agenda are firmly supported by Romney, will conservative evangelicals be able to look the other way when considering his faith?

Will they respond they way James Dobson did in the primary campaign and just take their ball and go home feeling bitter and left out? Or will they keep their eye on the “pro-life” ball and take one for the team in order to win?

For most voters, I don’t think the VP selections really make a huge impact. But most voters don’t live in a isolationist, religious mindset that is constantly aware of the “false religions” who threaten to diminish their market share of American religion. Maybe these folks are too small of a minority to really make a difference in the end. Maybe McCain should abandon this whole issue and just pick Ridge or Leiberman in order to draw from the well of the independent voters?

Either way, I’m on pins and needles and hoping for some fireworks.