Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The day McCain’s party blew its political advantage

The day McCain’s party blew its political advantage
By James Carville
Financial Times
September 9, 2008

As they say, Republicans were willing to put “being” above “well-being”. They would say: “[Insert name of Democrat] is inexperienced. They may give you what you want on economic or social programmes, but they are not up to the task of protecting our country.” No matter how untrue or how scurrilously achieved, their branding of Democratic candidates has worked.

Then Mr McCain picked Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. We often say September 11 2001 changed the world (and it did); we can now say August 29 2008 changed the future of the Republican party for ever. To pacify some talk radio blowhards and the pro-life crowd, the party has thrown away 60 years of successful branding. To count my reaction as stunned or flummoxed would be me just searching for an adjective. Before Mr McCain’s shockingly unimpressive selection of Ms Palin, the Republicans’ case was that, in a world with three critical wars (Iraq, Afghanistan and terrorism), Democrats are weak on defence and lack a commitment to winning – and all the other trite phrases we have been subjected to.

But in Ms Palin the Republicans have a candidate who is a heartbeat (of a 72-year-old heart) away from the presidency, who has left North America only once. Her experience includes a mixed mayoral record in Wasilla, a town with a population of 7,000, and a half-term gubernatorial record in a state with the population of Memphis. And do not forget her vast experiences with machine-guns. Although we disagree politically, she seems well intentioned and well liked in Alaska. And I am sure she is a great parent and hockey mom. But a heartbeat away from commander-in-chief of a country fighting wars on multiple fronts?

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The day McCain’s party blew its political advantage

Palin's Book-banning Efforts

Palin's Book-banning Efforts
By Steve Benen CBS News
Sep 9, 2008

PALIN'S BOOK-BANNING EFFORTS.... There's been a list making the rounds lately, showing books that Sarah Palin allegedly tried to ban from Wasilla's public library during her mayoral tenure. The list isn't true, and in some instances, doesn't even make sense (some the books hadn't even been published in 1996, when the incident is alleged to have occurred).

The McCain campaign is apparently aware of the rumor, and is pushing back.

The McCain-Palin team is continuing its pushback campaign against stories about VP nominee Sarah Palin that have taken on a life of their own on the Internet.On Monday, they sent reporters a memo in response to reports that the Wasilla, Alaska resident had tried to ban a lengthy list of books when she was mayor of that town.

"This is categorically false. The fact is that as Mayor, Palin never asked anyone to ban a book and not one book was ever banned, period," McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers said, directing reporters to campaign research "debunking this smear."

While the purported list is bogus, we do know that something happened with regards to Palin and at least a question about book banning.

Time reported last week, for example, that Palin asked the Wasilla librarian, Mary Ellen Baker, about the process for banning books. Baker was reportedly "aghast" at the question. Soon after taking office, Palin, according to a New York Times report, fired Baker, and news reports from the time indicate that Palin thought Baker hadn't done enough to give her "full support" to the mayor.

Palin reversed course on Baker's dismissal after a local outcry, and later said the discussions about banning books were "rhetorical."

I can understand why the McCain campaign is pushing back against a bogus list that's making the rounds. Deceptive claims are deceptive claims, no matter who the target is. But as long as McCain aides are talking about this issue, maybe they can answer a couple of additional questions, such as, "Why did Palin try to fire the librarian in the first place?" Or how about, "Why did Palin broach the subject of book-banning if she had no intention of trying to ban books?"

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Palin's Book-banning Efforts