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[NY Times] Pitbull Palin Mauls McCain

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by Zboy, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. Zboy

    Zboy Contributing Member

    Aug 19, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Interesting piece. You really have to wonder how much Palin believes in becoming the next president given McCain's age/health conditions. She herself calling their campaign a "Palin/McCain" one doesn't help either.


    Pitbull Palin Mauls McCain


    SARAH PALIN’S post-Couric/Fey comeback at last week’s vice presidential debate was a turning point in the campaign. But if she “won,” as her indulgent partisans and press claque would have it, the loser was not Joe Biden. It was her running mate. With a month to go, the 2008 election is now an Obama-Palin race — about “the future,” as Palin kept saying Thursday night — and the only person who doesn’t seem to know it is Mr. Past, poor old John McCain.

    To understand the meaning of Palin’s “victory,” it must be seen in the context of two ominous developments that directly preceded it. Just hours before the debate began, the McCain campaign pulled out of Michigan. That state is ground zero for the collapsed Main Street economy and for so-called Reagan Democrats, those white working-class voters who keep being told by the right that Barack Obama is a Muslim who hung with bomb-throwing radicals during his childhood in the late 1960s.

    McCain surrendered Michigan despite having outspent his opponent on television advertising and despite Obama’s twin local handicaps, an unpopular Democratic governor and a felonious, now former, black Democratic Detroit mayor. If McCain can’t make it there, can he make it anywhere in the Rust Belt?

    Not without an economic message. McCain’s most persistent attempt, his self-righteous crusade against earmarks, collapsed with his poll numbers. Next to a $700 billion bailout package, his incessant promise to eliminate all Washington pork — by comparison, a puny grand total of $16.5 billion in the 2008 federal budget — doesn’t bring home the bacon. Nor can McCain reconcile his I-will-veto-government-waste mantra with his support, however tardy, of the bailout bill. That bill’s $150 billion in fresh pork includes a boondoggle inserted by the Congressman Don Young, an Alaskan Republican no less.

    The second bit of predebate news, percolating under the radar, involved the still-unanswered questions about McCain’s health. Back in May, you will recall, the McCain campaign allowed a select group of 20 reporters to spend a mere three hours examining (but not photocopying) 1,173 pages of the candidate’s health records on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. Conspicuously uninvited was Lawrence Altman, a doctor who covers medicine for The New York Times. Altman instead canvassed melanoma experts to evaluate the sketchy data that did emerge. They found the information too “unclear” to determine McCain’s cancer prognosis.

    There was, however, at least one doctor-journalist among those 20 reporters in May, the CNN correspondent Sanjay Gupta. At the time, Gupta told Katie Couric on CBS that the medical records were “pretty comprehensive” and wrote on his CNN blog that he was “pretty convinced there was no ‘smoking gun’ about the senator’s health.” (Physical health, that is; Gupta wrote there was hardly any information on McCain’s mental health.)

    That was then. Now McCain is looking increasingly shaky, whether he’s repeating his “Miss Congeniality” joke twice in the same debate or speaking from notecards even when reciting a line for (literally) the 17th time (“The fundamentals of our economy are strong”) or repeatedly confusing proper nouns that begin with S (Sunni, Shia, Sudan, Somalia, Spain). McCain’s “dismaying temperament,” as George Will labeled it, only thickens the concerns. His kamikaze mission into Washington during the bailout crisis seemed crazed. His seething, hostile debate countenance — a replay of Al Gore’s sarcastic sighing in 2000 — didn’t make the deferential Obama look weak (as many Democrats feared) but elevated him into looking like the sole presidential grown-up.

    Though CNN and MSNBC wouldn’t run a political ad with doctors questioning McCain’s medical status, Gupta revisited the issue in an interview published last Tuesday by The Huffington Post. While maintaining a pretty upbeat take on the candidate’s health, the doctor-journalist told the reporter Sam Stein that he couldn’t vouch “by any means” for the completeness of the records the campaign showed him four months ago. “The pages weren’t numbered,” Gupta said, “so I had no way of knowing what was missing.” At least in Watergate we knew that the gap on Rose Mary Woods’s tape ran 18 and a half minutes.

    It’s against this backdrop that Palin’s public pronouncements, culminating with her debate performance, have been so striking. The standard take has it that she’s either speaking utter ignorant gibberish (as to Couric) or reciting highly polished, campaign-written sound bites that she’s memorized (as at the convention and the debate). But there’s a steady unnerving undertone to Palin’s utterances, a consistent message of hubristic self-confidence and hyper-ambition. She wants to be president, she thinks she can be president, she thinks she will be president. And perhaps soon. She often sounds like someone who sees herself as half-a-heartbeat away from the presidency. Or who is seen that way by her own camp, the hard-right G.O.P. base that never liked McCain anyway and views him as, at best, a White House place holder.

    This was first apparent when Palin extolled a “small town” vice president as a hero in her convention speech — and cited not one of the many Republican vice presidents who fit that bill but, bizarrely, Harry Truman, a Democrat who succeeded a president who died in office. A few weeks later came Charlie Gibson’s question about whether she thought she was “experienced enough” and “ready” when McCain invited her to join his ticket. Palin replied that she didn’t “hesitate” and didn’t “even blink” — a response that seemed jarring for its lack of any human modesty, even false modesty.

    In the last of her Couric interview installments on Thursday, Palin was asked which vice president had most impressed her, and after paying tribute to Geraldine Ferraro, she chose “George Bush Sr.” Her criterion: she most admires vice presidents “who have gone on to the presidency.” Hours later, at the debate, she offered a discordant contrast to Biden when asked by Gwen Ifill how they would each govern “if the worst happened” and the president died in office. After Biden spoke of somber continuity, Palin was weirdly flip and chipper, eager to say that as a “maverick” she’d go her own way.

    But the debate’s most telling passage arrived when Biden welled up in recounting his days as a single father after his first wife and one of his children were killed in a car crash. Palin’s perky response — she immediately started selling McCain as a “consummate maverick” again — was as emotionally disconnected as Michael Dukakis’s notoriously cerebral answer to the hypothetical 1988 debate question about his wife being “raped and murdered.” If, as some feel, Obama is cool, Palin is ice cold. She didn’t even acknowledge Biden’s devastating personal history.

    After the debate, Republicans who had been bailing on Palin rushed back to the fold. They know her relentless ambition is the only hope for saving a ticket headed by a warrior who is out of juice and out of ideas. So what if she is preposterously unprepared to run the country in the midst of its greatest economic crisis in 70 years? She looks and sounds like a winner.

    You can understand why they believe that. She has more testosterone than anyone else at the top of her party. McCain and his surrogates are forever blaming their travails on others, wailing about supposed sexist and journalistic biases around the clock. McCain even canceled an interview with Larry King, for heaven’s sake, in a fit of pique at a CNN anchor, Campbell Brown.

    We are not a nation of whiners, as Phil Gramm would have it, but the G.O.P. is now the party of whiners. That rebranding became official when Republican House leaders moaned that a routine partisan speech by Nancy Pelosi had turned their members against the bailout bill. As the stock market fell nearly 778 points, Barney Frank taunted his G.O.P. peers with pitch-perfect mockery: “Somebody hurt my feelings, so I will punish the country!”

    Talk about the world coming full circle. This is the same Democrat who had been slurred as “Barney ***” in the mid-1990s by Dick Armey, a House leader of the government-bashing Gingrich revolution that helped lower us into this debacle. Now Frank was ridiculing the House G.O.P. as a bunch of sulking teenage girls. His wisecrack stung — and stuck.

    Palin is an antidote to the whiny Republican image that Frank nailed. Alaska’s self-styled embodiment of Joe Sixpack is not a sulker, but a pistol-packing fighter. That’s why she draws the crowds and (as she puts it) “energy” that otherwise elude the angry McCain. But she is still the candidate for vice president, not president. Americans do not vote for vice president.

    So how can a desperate G.O.P. save itself? As McCain continues to fade into incoherence and irrelevance, the last hope is that he’ll come up with some new game-changing stunt to match his initial pick of Palin or his ill-fated campaign “suspension.” Until Thursday night, more than a few Republicans were fantasizing that his final Hail Mary pass would be to ditch Palin so she can “spend more time” with her ever-growing family. But the debate reminded Republicans once again that it’s Palin, not McCain, who is their last hope for victory.

    You have to wonder how long it will be before they plead with him to think of his health, get out of the way and pull the ultimate stunt of flipping the ticket. Palin, we can be certain, wouldn’t even blink.

  2. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

    Dec 5, 2001
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    In this light, I could see how Palin's recent disruptive comments serve to solidify herself as a future national Republican fixture. Make the most out of a sinking Valdez.
  3. Bullard4Life

    Bullard4Life Member

    Aug 11, 2001
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    Well, her performance so far hasn't impressed the people back home: Palin Approval Rating Drops in Alaska. I talked to one of my friends who runs campaigns for the Democrats (state-level races). And she thinks while maybe Palin could parlay this into a Senate seat at some point, there's no way she could ever mount a run for President. Two reasons.

    1. There are just too many 40-something rising stars in the Republican party. The GOP is much better at grooming talent than the Dems and there are a lot more people who are electable in a national race. Romney is the most likely 2012 candidate. Palin was chosen to energize the base, not because she's a viable national figure.

    2. Following from the end of one, she's too polarizing. The important thing about your standard arch-conservative candidate is that they almost always have an economic/foreign policy pedgiree. With such glaring inexperience/inability in those areas, there's nothing to make up for her exteme social views to bring more moderate republicans and independents on board.

    But I do agree with the essence of your point, she's helping her self more than McCain at this point. She's Machiavelli with rimless spectacles.
  4. rimrocker

    rimrocker Contributing Member

    Dec 22, 1999
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    I don't believe that at all. They may be better at recruiting people willing to run on the formula, but in terms of real talent, I don't think so. This will become pronounced in the years ahead as Repubs will only know how to run certain kinds of races that are no longer relevant and will be boxed in by their interest groups and geography. Romney's no spring chicken and is anathema to much of the base. If he's the best candidate for 2012, say hello to Obama's second term.

    Plus, Dems are doing very well at the state levels and that's like the minor leagues... lots of folks going to be moving up in the next few years.
  5. Shroopy2

    Shroopy2 Contributing Member

    Feb 16, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Before the debate I was kinda thinking Palin would fare decently well in it, for certain reasons. Then later at work the mail pickup guy arrived and worded it for me saying
    "She gon' do a'ight. Women like yappin about stuff already"....

    Its a perfect scenario for her. Here role is to be an energizer and she's making the absolute most it if...She came in the under(bull)dog with nothing to lose, everything to gain, and little to no expectations. In contrast to an aging semi-stiff running mate. Anything coming out of her that resembles "feistiness", "spunk", "bubbliness" are traits that signify the "modern" woman. Traits they usually get rewarded for. So she can use all the charms and pushiness and tricks she can.

    Her wanting to be president is understandable, who wouldnt? It'll be seen like the Michael Beasley comment about going for the MVP, that it takes that type of mentality to be the BEST. Just in her case it seems more opportunist than anything. But thats what they're all in the race for, the opportunity.

    *Sighs* This country's keeps turning into a big fat vagina, for the world to f***"

    Mildly Threatened Mid-Western Guy
  6. Bullard4Life

    Bullard4Life Member

    Aug 11, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I don't think we disagree that much. I'm talking about identifying talent and quickly moving it up through the ranks, purely organizational. Just look at the difference between Student Republicans and Student Democrats across the country. The 'Franchising Model' the GOP uses treats the entire party like a corporate model, some discussion here. Look at the Federalist Society as opposed to the American Constitution Society. The Republicans have been much better about organizing historically. The GOP tends to be filled with more people who think along corporate/authoritarian lines, so it makes sense their promotional structure would have a tighter logic/procedure.

    Now when it comes to ground campaigns, what I've read about Obama's ground game suggests that may be changing. Democrats relied on the unions for so long and after that network was busted up, they're finally starting to adopt a different model that obviously paying dividends in this race.
  7. mc mark

    mc mark Contributing Member

    Aug 31, 1999
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