Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?


Are GOP partisans as dumb as they seem? My answer to this query is "at least as dumb as turkeys, the mouths of which have to be shut when it rains, lest they swallow too much water and drown." How else does one explain the continued enthusiasm shown by conservative-GOP activists for the "conservative" McCain-Palin ticket?

The rise of Sarah Palin inevitably prompts me to ponder the demise of meritocracy in America.

Never mind the fact that her presidential readiness is measured by the proximity of Alaska to Russia, or the fact that the McCain camp listed Ireland as one of her foreign visits until it turned out that her plane had merely refueled on Irish soil. I'm more interested in the simple test that she has twice flunked about her own state – and the fact that John McCain, using grade inflation, gives her an "A" anyway.

She stated on ABC News that Alaska produces "nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy." The accurate energy statistic, according to the federal government, is 3.5 percent. She subsequently amended her boast, claiming during a stump speech that Alaska produces "nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas." Wrong again. The accurate oil and gas statistic, according to the feds, is 7.4 percent.

Yet none of this matters to McCain, and why should it? In America these days, we award everyone for merit, from the brilliant to the mediocre. Just as in Little League, everyone gets a trophy. It’s the ultimate in populist democratization. Which is why McCain insists, despite all empirical evidence to the contrary, that Sarah Palin "knows more about energy than probably anybody in the United States of America."


Todd Palin is Hillary Clinton circa 1992.

It's clear that the McCain campaign has basically decided on using the Bush playbook for handling the press. But I think the campaign made one critical error. The whole bully/lie/clamp-up method of handling reporters works swimmingly if you're already in power. Not so much if you're still trying to get power. It's fine to appoint unqualified hacks to office, especially if you're in your second term. Not so much when you're still running for your first.

The McCain folks have really pushed the envelope on this press-manipulation thing, which ultimately, I think, will prove to be a costly mistake. First, as I said, these dudes aren't in power yet. But second, and most importantly, anyone who's ever gone to public school knows that even the meekest, most bespectacled, nerdiest kid has a breaking point.

Another state drifts out of reach and Obama pulls the plug. This time it's North Dakota; over 50 Obama staffers stationed there are heading to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Reportedly, the Obama campaign opened 11 offices in North Dakota while McCain opened zero. Yet, Obama finds himself down by double digits. Time to call it quits.


The presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin has taken effective charge of the Alaska state government's response to the legislative investigation into abuse of power allegations against Palin. An investigation that began on a bipartisan basis with several pledges from Palin to participate, is now being manipulated to protect Palin by campaign attorneys who appear to be directing the Palin administration's response, top legislators say.

The first debate, on Friday, will be at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, where in 1962 the enrollment of James Meredith, its first African-American student, touched off a deadly riot. The debate commission had directed that this debate would cover domestic issues, but the two campaigns agreed to change it to foreign policy. Sen. McCain's advisers wanted to lead off with his strong suit, foreign policy. Sen. Obama's advisers wanted to have the last debate center on domestic issues, particularly the economy, which they believe will benefit their candidate. Also, some Obama advisers said they didn't want the issue of race "front and center" during a debate.


At some point, the Goodyear Tire company is going to wish it had simply paid Lilly Ledbetter like a man.


The press is beginning to resist the incredibly sexist handling of Palin by the McCain campaign. There is a simple point here: any candidate for president should be as available to press inquiries as humanly possible. Barring a press conference for three weeks, preventing any questions apart from two television interviews, one by manic partisan Sean Hannity, devising less onerous debate rules for a female candidate, and then trying to turn the press into an infomercial for the GOP is beyond disgraceful.

Fight back, you hacks! Demand access. Demand accountability! It's our duty. If we cannot ask questions of a total newbie six weeks before an election in which she could become president of the country, then the First Amendment is pointless. Grow some!


Cartoon by Ted Rall/Universal Press Syndicate

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