Thursday, October 02, 2008

Setting the Palin Narrative. Part 3.

In the previous two installments in this series, I outlined the basic story of the Palin experience since she was chosen to be John McCain's running mate. I've also attempted to explain why the McCain campaign has gone to great efforts to keep the media from questioning the Governor from Alaska. If there is any possibility that Palin won't be able to deliver the core message and talking points, her handlers will try to keep her under tight control. Of course she is running for a high national office, and they haven't been able to completely eliminate her media appearances. But the ones that have gotten through have proven to be completely disastrous and she is increasingly drawing criticism.

When I first heard that McCain asked Sarah Palin to join the ticket, I almost couldn't believe it. It seemed to undermine his reputation as a "maverick" within the Republican party, and his promise that he would select a highly qualified candidate that was able to step in if he was able to fulfill his duties as president. The more I learned about her, the more I expected her to be gone by the Republican convention. Obviously I misjudged the GOP commitment to Palin, and this incorrect speculation reinforced my reluctance to make predictions for this race. Now the McCain campaign is facing the prospect of a VP debate that they were unable (despite obvious efforts) to delay or cancel. The nation anticipates this event with a mix of excitement, fascination, and trepidation.

Some political commentators still expect Palin to be removed from the ticket. If McCain was to choose this option, it might make sense for her to be withdrawn before the debate. Palin's supporters tend to believe that it is the "liberals" drivingthis sentiment. But a growing number of "conservatives" are calling for her removal. A short list includes Senator Chuck Hagel, George Will, David Brooks, Charles Krauthammer, David Frum, and Kathleen Parker. These aren't lightweight pundits like Hannity or Limbaugh... these are serious journalists. And contrary to what the McCain campaign has tried to suggest- they are not criticizing her to create lower expectations for Sarah Palin's performance in her debate. They want her to go back to Alaska.

I have to wonder if this would be political suicide for McCain. Certainly he would risk losing the support of the Palinmaniacs. They probably wouldn't vote for Obama anyway, but they might just stay home or choose a third party candidate on election day. Regardless, there is no way to tell how many of these people actualy exist. We have to operate under the assumption that Palin will be showing up to confront Joe Biden. Apparently the McCain campaign has whisked her off to Arizona for what some have referred to as "deabte camp". Do they plan to continue cramming her head with the type of talking points that she has consistently mangled so far? Palin loyalists suggest that is why she has performed poorly in interviews. They want a change too.

With an odd twist upon Campbell Brown's call to "Free Sarah Palin", her supporters are pleading with the McCain people to "Just Let Sarah Be Sarah!". They point out that she wasn't chosen to be the source for facts and information about policy, but rather in order to personalize the campaign and give the "good folks" someone to relate to. While this may be true, it reveals a particularly problematic and cynical strategy. Does America care about who Sarah Palin really is? Do her positions and record as governor and mayor matter? Do we want someone that close to the presidency that lacks crucial knowledge of policy and facts? Maybe you do, but I don't. We'll have to wait-and-see how willing moderator Gwen Ifill is to indulge Sarah Palin's "I'm Just Like Y'all" act.

NOTE: I had to throw this in here... I really can't tell whether McCain is joking in this video... or not. What do you think?

NOTE #2: I keep finding this stuff, so I might as well post it. I'll come out and say it directly- I don't care that he spent five years as a POW, it doesn't excuse this attitude.

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Blogger rainywalker said...

John McCain's camp is trying to get rid of Gwen Ifill as moderator. You couldn't ask for a more fair person. McCain has always liked to chase the opposite sex and perhaps he has something else in mind. There is just somthing here that sets off bells and eventually we will all put our fingers on it.

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that she didn't mention to the independent debate commission that she was writing a book with the name Obama in the title, to come out at the time of inauguration in January, with sales obviously influenced by his being elected or not, does raise a legitimate question of impartiality, no?

4:17 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Obama's nomination to the presidency by the Democrats is truly a historical occasion. Ifill is a serious journalist who has covered the political scene for years (without being accused of bias, it should be noted). John McCain has stated himself that HE IS CERTAIN SHE WILL BE OBJECTIVE. So who's driving this complaint forward?

I bet you that the McCain campaign was psyched to find out that Ifill was writing a book on Obama. Perhaps they did know... it certainly gives them one more excuse if Palin does poorly, and it's one more reason to claim victory if she does better than expected. You're making an assumption that no one on the McCain campaign knew about the book Did they say that? If that's true, then it is just one more example of their poor vetting abilities.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said: "You're making an assumption that no one on the McCain campaign knew about the book"

Who are you talking to here? Who is making an assumption? If me, I simply stated that it has been reported that she failed to divulge what might be construed as a conflict of interest to the
Commission on Presidential Debates (until AFTER her selection). I don't think this Commission is run by either party.

Do you have any basis to believe that they DID know about the book prior to her selection? If that were proved, perhaps the point your trying to make would have some validity? Are you suggesting that they withheld that knowledge?

Don't you think she should have divulged the deal?
Don't you think she should have recused herself?
Doesn't it at laeast raise a question of impartiality in the midst of a process that could provide her substantial monetary benefit?

Back to Ifill and impartiality...sitting on a book deal that gets substantially richer if Obama wins the election is it's somewhat like owning a stock, not divulging it, and then voting on a bill that would help that company. I'm not saying Ifill owns stock, or Obama is a corporation, but it just appears to be a close analogy.

Don't you think she should have divulged the deal?
Don't you think she should have recused herself?
Doesn't it at least raise a question of impartiality in the midst of a process that could provide her substantial monetary benefit?

8:06 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

My answers to the questions at the end of your post:

No. You use the word "divulge" as if this was some kind of elaborate deception...It wasn't like it was a secret thing. Her book was already for pre-sale on Amazon, and she was interviewed in the Washington Post about it. Don't you think anyone on the McCain campaign reads that?

No. She shouldn't have "recused" herself. She's a professional on a station that prides itself on objectivity. She's not a talk radio host. She'll have no problem being fair. Reporters have had opinions since the beginning of time... the good ones don't let it affect their business. What makes you think Ifill would do anything different because she's writing a history book?

No. Not in my mind. I believe that the only reason it's an issue is because FOX News and the Right Wing Pundits were crying about it. As you can see from my link... McCain accepted it, so why wouldn't you?

As far as whether they knew- they haven't denied it outright in the media (as far as I am aware). I'm certainly not about to take FOX's Greta Van Susteren's word for it.

Anyway, you certainly don't make it a big issue 20 hours before the event. That just makes you (not you personally) look like an idiot who didn't do your homework.

Finally... you wrote...

"I don't think this Commission is run by either party."

Actually, I posted an entire post about this about a week ago. The Commission is run by the former heads of the Republican and Democratic Parties.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments. Despite what you may have read into my questions, I didn't have an opinion, just thought it raised a question that should be addressed. And, you did that well.

OK, now the debate. Realizing that you'll likely address it in tomorrow's blog, I'll give my quick opinion on it in summary form (in the contest of my expectations going into the debates, and before the media weighs in):

Sarah Palin did very well debating a seasoned veteran, and held her own pretty well. She certainly supported McCain well, was well prepared, talked directly to the audience, and presented her strong points, avoiding the tough questions. The downside for me was her constant use of colloquialisms (the "you betchas"), and did not convince me to see her as the US President. (Score: B+)

Joe Biden impressed me greatly. He came across very presidential, and did not commit any of the "gaffs" that had been reasonably predicted based on his history. He managed to support and endorse the platform of Obama and despite their past differences. And, not a hint of condescension. I didn't see any real downside. (A)

Overall: Give the edge to Biden.

10:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes, Gwen Ifill....seemed to exhibit fairness with both her questions and handling. However, at times she let them go where they wanted to when she should have reigned them in to answer the actual questions she asked. Grade: B+

11:00 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

I suspect that Ifill may have pulled back a bit in her efforts to reassure people that she didn't have (as Palin might say) "a dog in that hunt".

12:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just so you are aware, your video in note 1 no longer exists in that link.

11:59 AM  

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