Yes, another political post. What can I say?
Here’s Michael Kinsley providing still more evidence that the Sarah Palin seen on television and discussed by the media bears little resemblance to the Sarah Palin that has been governing Alaska for the last two years:
Sarah Palin thinks she is a better American than you because she comes from a small town, and a superior human being because she isn’t a journalist and has never lived in Washington and likes to watch her kids play hockey. Although Palin praised John McCain in her acceptance speech as a man who puts the good of his country ahead of partisan politics, McCain pretty much proved the opposite with his selection of a running mate whose main asset is her ability to reignite the culture wars. So maybe Governor Palin does represent everything that is good and fine about America, as she herself maintains. But spare us, please, any talk about how she is a tough fiscal conservative.
That’s the opening. Go read the rest.
Meanwhile, as John McCain and Sarah Palin tell one lie after another, the press has been all up in arms about the fact that Obama used the expression “putting lipstick on a pig.” This, of course, is a common cliche used to express disdain for attempts to make an unpalatable measure palatable via some cosmetic improvement. McCain himself has used the expression. Here is the full statement:
“John McCain says he’s about change, too — except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy and Karl Rove-style politics,” Mr. Obama told his supporters here. “That’s just calling the same thing something different.”
With a laugh, he added: “You can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change; it’s still going to stink after eight years.”
Pretty standard fare. But the McCain folks noticed that this coud be spun as an attack on Sarah Palin, and the media types have been wringing their hands over the subtle philosophical issues involved ever since.
Paul Begala ably sums up the ongoing national embarrassment of the news media:
In the face of demonstrable, provable, incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, McCain and Palin continue to assert that Gov. Palin opposed the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.” They do so in their speeches and ads, and their supporters say so on television until their pants are on fire. McCain and Palin also claim the Alaska governor opposes earmarks — despite the fact that she’s gotten her state so much pork she’s at risk for trichinosis.
But facts ought not be debatable. The media have an obligation to point out when a politician is lying about a matter of fact, but the right-wing attack machine has so cowed some of them you can almost hear them moo. Steve Schmidt, McCain’s top dog, is a brilliant and audacious strategist. His candidate has had the most favorable press coverage of any politician of the last century — fawning, adoring, sycophantic press coverage. And yet he is brutalizing the press, waterboarding them into pretending that whether Gov. Palin supported the “Bridge to Nowhere,” or hired an Abramoff-connected lobbyist to secure massive earmarks are somehow debatable.
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign seems determined to repeat all of the usual Democratic errors, specifically, thinking that calm, rational discussion of issues will actually work this time. Did you see Obama on Ketih Olbermann’s show the other night? He looked comatose. Olbermann served him one softball after another, but Obama steadfastly refused to take a swing. Here’s an example of how it went
OLBERMANN: I must ask about the next step beyond tough talk and then I’ll let you go with our great thanks. I don’t know if you saw what the Republicans called the 9/11 tribute video during their convention, which was played on all the cable networks. It was graphic and it used video that had long since been put on the shelf, out of bounds by news organizations, to the widespread approval of our viewers, and mental health organizations, I might add. Should a video like that with such graphic images of that horrible day be shown in the context of a political campaign by anybody, by any campaign, by any candidate?
OBAMA: Well, it–it’s not something we would have done, because I think that 9/11 is beyond partisan politics. You know, that’s why I’m going to be appearing with John McCain on–at Ground Zero on Thursday, because that was something that should be pulling us together. It’s not something that should be, I think, trotted out in political moments.
But obviously they made a different judgment. They are free to do so. I believe that the American people are interested in who’s going to make sure that the next administration is keeping us safe in the future and not looking backwards.
Ugh. The correct answer, of course, was, “No, of course it was inappropriate. But utterly tasteless appeals to emotion are the only hope the Republicans have seeing as how they have made a hash of everything they have touched for the last eight years…” Or something like that.
Along these lines, Robert Kuttner has a good post about another Obama failure to sieze on a teachable moment.
The following snippet from Monday night’s Hardball is typical of much of the chat show silliness surrounding McCain and Palin’s incessant lying. In the 2000 election Matthews was perfectly happy to twist anything Al Gore said into a window into the dark and corrupt nature of the man’s soul. But now he has jokey conversations with Republican operatives, and tries desperately to change the subject.
TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, she supported the idea of some kind of link.
But what happened was, when they were talking about it back then, it was some sort of modest link to attach the island…
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: A ferry or something, maybe?
HARRIS: No, no, it was a bridge, but then what happened is, it goes to Washington and the pork barrelers get their arms around it.
HARRIS: And, suddenly–she was not for a…
HARRIS: She was not for a $400 million bridge, which Barack Obama, by the way, voted for. And she fought Ted Stevens and Don Young, both of whom are Republicans from her own state.
MATTHEWS: So, she supported one of those civil–one of those bridges they build across Europe when we were chasing the Nazis, one thing at a time?
HARRIS: Exactly, a little pontoon.
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. I’m sure that what she…
MATTHEWS: You’re kidding me, of course.
HARRIS: If you ask Ted Stevens and Don Young what they think of Sarah Palin, they will not have kind words to say, because, as they were sending pork to Alaska, she was fighting it.
MATTHEWS: On the particular point, did she support the bridge in the beginning?
HARRIS: She supported some kind of link, but not a $400 million…
MATTHEWS: OK. Why is this an important debate? Because the people out there–I’m trying to keep track. I have sort of sworn to myself over the weekend that I’m going to try to keep this campaign focused on real issues that really matter, like how are we going to compete in the world economically?
Charming. I have no doubt Matthews and his fellow pundits consider that being tough on the Republicans.
How vile and ludicrous has McCain become? Have a look:
The McCain campaign has released a new ad, “Education,” that suggests Barack Obama favors teaching sex education to kindergartners. A McCain aide tells CBS News the ad will air on Fox News and in select markets in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“Education Week says Obama ‘hasn’t made a significant mark on education,’” an announcer says as the spot opens. “That he’s ‘elusive’ on accountability. A ‘staunch defender of the existing public school monopoly.’”
The announcer continues: “Obama’s one accomplishment? Legislation to teach ‘comprehensive sex education’ to kindergartners. Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family.”
Families with brains will roll their eyes at this. They will note that even if by some fluke Obama actually did privately believe that comprehensive sex education for five year olds was a good idea, the sheer politics of it would keep him from supporting it in public. They would suspect that the ad is not giving them the full story:
Campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs told CBS News the legislation Obama supported provided information to children on what to watch for when with an adult they don’t know, such as inappropriate advances or touching.
“It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls – a position that his friend Mitt Romney also holds,” Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement. “Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn’t define what honor was. Now we know why.”
Anyone optimistic that families in those swing states will find the ad shameful and perverse? Or do you think a lot of them will be grateful for having been informed of what a perv Obama is?
Finally, Andrew Sullivan serves up an eloquent reminder of why I continue to read his blog even though he has been wrong about so much over the last eight years (supporting Bush over Gore, the Iraq War and his demonization of early war critics as fifth columnists, his utterly irrational hatred for the Clintons, condemning P.Z. Myers in the big “Crackergate” scandal):
So far, he has let us all down. My guess is he will continue to do so. And that decision, for my part, ends whatever respect I once had for him. On core moral issues, where this man knew what the right thing was, and had to pick between good and evil, he chose evil. When he knew that George W. Bush’s war in Iraq was a fiasco and catastrophe, and before Donald Rumsfeld quit, McCain endorsed George W. Bush against his fellow Vietnam vet, John Kerry in 2004. By that decision, McCain lost any credibility that he can ever put country first. He put party first and his own career first ahead of what he knew was best for the country.
And when the Senate and House voted overwhelmingly to condemn and end the torture regime of Bush and Cheney in 2006, McCain again had a clear choice between good and evil, and chose evil.
He capitulated and enshrined torture as the policy of the United States, by allowing the CIA to use techniques as bad as and worse than the torture inflicted on him in Vietnam. He gave the war criminals in the White House retroactive immunity against the prosecution they so richly deserve. The enormity of this moral betrayal, this betrayal of his country’s honor, has yet to sink in. But for my part, it now makes much more sense. He is not the man I thought he was.
And when he had the chance to engage in a real and substantive debate against the most talented politician of the next generation in a fall campaign where vital issues are at stake, what did McCain do? He began his general campaign with a series of grotesque, trivial and absurd MTV-style attacks on Obama’s virtues and implied disgusting things about his opponent’s patriotism.
Guess you can add McCain’s character as another thing Sullivan has been wrong about. For most of us it’s been obvious for years that McCain was just another political opportunist. As for the post, I felt bad cutting off the excerpt there. Go read the whole thing.
And all of this happens as Slate’s Election Scorecard, to which I have recently become addicted, reports that the nationwide bounce for McCain is now showing up in the state-by-state numbers.