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Sunday, September 28, 2008
Skin That Moose

As we move into the endgame of the Presidential campaign, everything seems to have taken on an inflated importance. Every speech, every TV interview, every debate goes under the microscope. So everyone seems to have an opinion about the next Big Event: Thursday night's smackdown between Senate veteran Joe Biden and the moose-skinning former beauty queen Sarah Palin.

Palin's interviews with Katie Couric were so disastrous that Republican insiders are clearly spooked, and lefty commentators are daring to hope that Biden will eviscerate her.

I don't think that will happen.

Well, let me clarify that a bit. I am learning to expect that anything in this crazy-ass campaign can happen, except what is predicted by the mainstream media.

Right now the conventional wisdom is that Sarah Palin will utterly collapse in the face of Joe Biden's experience and political savvy. Now, because a lot of people believe that, I don't think it will happen.

I consider it far more likely that Sarah Palin will begin flying around the room like a bird, or Joe Biden will cackle and remove his mask, revealing himself to be Osama Bin Laden. The conventional wisdom has proven wrong so many times in this election cycle that I refuse to consider it even as a remote possibility.

Here, look, neocon pennyboy Bill Kristol agrees with me!

I’m told McCain recently expressed unhappiness with his staff’s handling of Palin. On Sunday he dispatched his top aides Steve Schmidt and Rick Davis to join Palin in Philadelphia. They’re supposed to liberate Palin to go on the offensive as a combative conservative in the vice-presidential debate on Thursday.

That debate is important. McCain took a risk in choosing Palin. If she does poorly, it will reflect badly on his judgment. If she does well, it will be a shot in the arm for his campaign.

In the debate, Palin has to dispatch quickly any queries about herself, and confidently assert that of course she’s qualified to be vice president. She should spend her time making the case for McCain and, more important, the case against Obama. As one shrewd McCain supporter told me, “Every minute she spends not telling the American people something that makes them less well disposed to Obama is a minute wasted.”

The core case against Obama is pretty simple: he’s too liberal. A few months ago I asked one of McCain’s aides what aspect of Obama’s liberalism they thought they could most effectively exploit. He looked at me as if I were a simpleton, and patiently explained that talking about “conservatism” and “liberalism” was so old-fashioned.

Maybe. But the fact is the only Democrats to win the presidency in the past 40 years — Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton — distanced themselves from liberal orthodoxy. Obama is, by contrast, a garden-variety liberal. He also has radical associates in his past.

Now, Kristol is a nut and as dumb as a bag of hammers, but the scenario he spins here sounds authentic. McCain has a new group prepping her for the Biden debate. They will load her up with pre-digested zingers and policy statements, and she will try to deflect questions about herself and try to spend her time attacking Obama.

Makes perfect sense. Republican strategists at all levels understand that this election must be a referendum on Obama; if it isn't, he wins.

Thursday, September 25, 2008
My God, She's Horrendous
For nearly a month, Sarah Palin has been shielded from the media as a McCain-appointed braintrust gave her a crash course in foreign and domestic policy.

The result? This train wreck of an interview with Katie Couric. Watch Palin whiff on softball after softball:

Incredible. And this was an extremely gentle interview. Tim Russert would have had her in tears inside of two minutes.

My feeling about Palin had been that she was an extremist, green as grass, but nonetheless a quick study with formidable political instincts.

It's becoming clear that I was wrong. I wildly overestimated her.

Sarah Palin is a joke. She is shockingly, jaw-droppingly inane. Ask her any question about policy -- any question at all, about any policy -- and she is suddenly in over her head. No wonder the Republicans are hiding her, trying to run out the clock until November 4. Dan Quayle was Cicero compared to this moron.

What an insult this pick was -- to women, to governors, to the political process. And to the American people.

Monday, September 22, 2008
Kathryn-Jean Lopez: Her Dander Is Officially Up
From her decidely low perch at The Corner, K-Lo is crabby about a CNN report that the town of Wasilla, Alaska, charged women for their own rape kits during Sarah Palin's administration. Wasilla's chief of police led the opposition to a proposed state law forcing municipalities to provide the kits free of charge. It seems pretty unlikely that then-Mayor Palin wouldn't know about it, (unless she was, you know, disengaged and / or incompetent) but no one seems to be able to confirm that she did. And that burns K-Lo's biscuits, alrighty:

Doesn't CNN have an entire staff of paid reporters? Can't they ask questions before reporting left-wing talking points? I don't know what happened in Wasilla, but if anyone actually does, we've not heard from them yet.

First of all, why is the fact that Wasilla charged women for rape kits -- which is true -- a "left-wing talking point?" The question at hand is, did Sarah Palin know about it? As mayor of a town with a population of 7,000, it seems highly improbable that she didn't know -- the town was at the center of a statewide controversy.

I'm sure Sarah Palin could shed some light on this issue, but like nearly all of the media CNN isn't allowed to ask her any questions.

Not Bad
I could survive for 1 minute, 19 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Forget the banking crisis and the Obama-McCain death match. We've got serious issues to discuss here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
McCain: Spain Is The Enemy
John McCain's latest idiocy: in an interview with a Spanish journalist, he suggests he won't meet with Spain's Prime Minister because the guy isn't sufficiently deferential to America -- you know, the same reason CNN can't meet with Sarah Palin.

Mouth-Breathers For Palin

Pretty much says it all, don't it?

h/t: Bitch Magazine

Sunday, September 14, 2008
Tomorrow Is A Drag, Man
Without question my favorite movie director is Jack Arnold, a man who could never be mistaken for an artist.

I never met him, but I'm pretty sure he would agree with my assessment of him. An artist is erratic, temperamental, unreliable. An artist produces dross nine days in a row and produces gold the tenth. Orson Welles was an artist.

Jack wasn't. He was a craftsman. He saw movie-making as a respectable trade, and he was good at it. Not great at it; he wasn't a genius. But give him a script and he would deliver a well turned-out movie, on time and on budget.

So when MGM wanted a quick exploitation flick about out-of-control juvenile delinquents running wild in our high schools, they handed the project off to Jack Arnold, who handed back High School Confidential! (1958), a fascinating amalgam of midcentury America's hopes and fears about the baby boom generation.

Man, these hepcats were crazy! Check out how this dolly with a classy chassis lays on some unreal epistle at this kookie club, and the cats and chicks get totally cranked, you dig?

Ahem, anyway. That's Uncle Fester playing the piano behind her, by the way.

Now, no one would mistake High School Confidential! as an art movie, or even as a good movie, but if you're interested in seeing the so-called "greatest generation" peer into the abyss, knock yourself out.

Friday, September 05, 2008
No Questions, No Coverage
Here's a jaw-dropping bit from Marc Ambinder's blog:
A senior McCain campaign official advises that, despite the gaggle of requests and pressure from the media, Gov. Sarah Palin won't submit to a formal interview anytime soon. She may take some questions from local news entities in Alaska, but until she's ready -- and until she's comfortable -- which might not be for a long while -- the media will have to wait. The campaign believes it can effectively deal with the media's complaints, and their on-the-record response to all this will be: "Sarah Palin needs to spend time with the voters."

Not out of the question are appearances on lighter, fluffier television shows. But -- not for a while.

My God, is the press really this docile? Are they supposed to just bow their heads and dutifully broadcast her photo-ops and wait until Palin is "ready" and "comfortable"?

She's her party's nominee for Vice President, for God's sake. She damn well ought to be ready today.

Rather than sit meekly waiting for Palin to bat her eyes at them, the media ought to tell McCain camp flatly: "No questions, no coverage."

Thursday, September 04, 2008
Notes From An Alternate Universe
At The Corner, Byron York pauses in the group Palin-worship to ask what is, for most people, a pretty obvious question:

I don't usually engage in these scenarios, but I'll do it here. If the Obamas had a 17 year-old daughter who was unmarried and pregnant by a tough-talking black kid, my guess is if that they all appeared onstage at a Democratic convention and the delegates were cheering wildly, a number of conservatives might be discussing the issue of dysfunctional black families.

Fear not, Byron! Andy McCarthy is ready to leap in and snatch that thought away before it can hurt anybody!

I think, in your comparison scenario, if the tough-talking black kid was there because he was going to be a man, marry the daughter and raise his child, that would be seen as a great credit to Barack and Michelle Obama — and the influence of the functional black family, which they represent.

Let me get this straight: if Barack and Michelle Obama had a 17-year-old daughter who was pregnant out of wedlock, the scribblers at the National Review would laud them as an admirable, "functional" black family?

Ugh. Sorry, the spin is getting to me. I feel a bit dizzy and I need to lie down now.

Your Snobbery Is Only Exceeded By Your Parochialism
NRO's Jay Nordlinger is one condescending dude, all right:

Earlier today, walked by a building marked “Minnesota Public Radio.” I thought — boy, that’s something. Reminded me of being in the (Upper West Side) apartment of a prominent leftist. On her wall was an award from the Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union — not the ACLU, but the Mass. CLU. And the award was, the Roger Baldwin Award.

It’s one thing to be Public Radio. But Minnesota Public Radio — that’s left, baby!

This from the people who are always penning teary-eyed paeons to the virtues of small-town life. Just for the record, the National Review is based in that rock-ribbed, home-spun bastion of conservative values, Manhattan Island.

Oh, and as a native Minnesotan, I get to say this: fuck you, Nordlinger. Go back to your rat-infested, garbage-strewn, crime-ridden burg and leave flyover land to the natives.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Oh, Great
This hilarious bit from the Washington Post:

There was a flutter of attention when McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told a group of Post reporters and editors yesterday that his team was having to rework the vice presidential acceptance speech because the original draft, prepared before Gov. Sarah Palin was chosen, was too "masculine." While we all wondered to ourselves what might make a speech masculine or feminine, no one batted an eye at the underlying revelation: that the campaign was writing the nominee's speech before knowing who the nominee would be.

As John McCain would say, "That's not change we can believe in!"

I Second That Emotion
Here's how Andrew Sullivan predicts Sarah Palin's convention speech will go tonight.

The base will exult at their Joan of Arc triumphing over the evil, despicable vile press, who have had the effrontery to ask a potential future vice-president of the United States basic questions about her life story and record. Such effrontery has now been greeted by a presidential campaign refusing to answer simple questions that anyone with access to Google can figure out. McCain's relationship with the press corps has hit the ocean bed - which is ironic, since McCain has given the press the wackiest and most copy-ready nominee in recent history.

Nonetheless, the GOP machine will ensure that her speech is great.

She just has to read it from a TelePrompter. It's not that hard....And there will be a swing, as there often is, in the polls, maginified by a huge, temporary sigh of relief that the nightmare of the last five days have at least been lanced by an actual public appearance that is more than a quick intro. The GOP is an operation these days that creates its own reality. There were WMDs in Iraq. We do not torture. We are fiscal conservatives. We have won the Iraq war. You know the drill by now: just keep saying it again and again and refuse to answer questions and as long as you have God on your side, everything is okay.

I'm sure Palin's speech will be fine. No one doubts that she is a polished public speaker. She just needs to smile, read the words with great conviction, and not trip over her own feet.

Sooner or later, though, she is going to have to talk -- at length and in detail -- with the media. And it ain't gonna be pretty.

Monday, September 01, 2008
Finland, You Just Don't Get It
Ever wonder how many reporters the Finnish Broadcasting Service has covering the United States?

Well, wonder no more. I met all three of them just the other day.

They had just arrived in Saint Paul for the Republican National Convention. They'd already covered the Democratic convention for all the eager Finns who were worried how it would all come out.

I asked them what they thought of the Denver convention.

"We had never seen a show like that," said reporter Paula Vilen. "In Finland the political conventions are very boring. The politicians are boring. But here everything is quite theatrical."

Vilen didn't know the half of it. Because now it looks like she and her Finnish friends came into town for nothing. The Republicans are getting ready to shorten their convention -- perhaps cancel it altogether -- because Hurricane Gustav is bearing down on New Orleans, a city at least a thousand miles from Saint Paul.

Never mind that, though. The Republicans can't afford to look like they are partying when Gustav slams into the gulf coast. Even though that's exactly what they were doing when Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

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