McCain Has Lost The Media

John McCain has managed to go far in politics due to the press uncritically spreading the myth that he is a straight talker, a maverick, and a moderate. The problem with running as a straight talker is that sooner or later the press will go after you should you turn out to be a liar. The days of uncritical favorable coverage of McCain might be over as he has lost the trust of centrist journalists such as Joe Klein and Thomas Friedman.

Joe Klein is especially angry at the McCain campaign for the manner in which they have begun to attack the press in a manner reminiscent of Spiro Agnew after McCain picked an unqualified right wing extremist reminiscent of Spiro Agnew. He writes:

Steve Schmidt has decided, for tactical reasons, to slime the press. He wants the public to believe that there is an unfair–sexist (you gotta love it)–personal assault going on against Palin and her family. This is a smokescreen, intended to divert attention from the very real and responsible vetting that is taking place in the media–about the substance of Palin’s record as mayor and governor. Sure, there are a few outliers–and the tabloid press–who have fixed on baby stories. That was inevitable….the flip side of the personal stories that the McCain team thought would work to their advantage–Palin’s moose-hunting and wolf-shooting, and her admirable decision to have a Down Syndrome baby. And yes, when we all fix on the same story, whether it’s a hurricane or a little-known politician, a zoo ensues. But the media coverage of the Palin story has been well within the bounds of responsibility. Schmidt is trying to make it seem otherwise, a desperate tactic.

There is a tendency in the media to kick ourselves, cringe and withdraw, when we are criticized. But I hope my colleagues stand strong in this case: it is important for the public to know that Palin raised taxes as governor, supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she opposed it, pursued pork-barrel projects as mayor, tried to ban books at the local library and thinks the war in Iraq is “a task from God.” The attempts by the McCain campaign to bully us into not reporting such things are not only stupidly aggressive, but unprofessional in the extreme.

Thomas Friedman warns those concerned about the environment that John McCain is not really on their side:

As we emerge from Labor Day, college students are gathering back on campuses not only to start the fall semester, but also, in some cases, to vote for the first time in a presidential election. There is no bigger issue on campuses these days than environment/energy. Going into this election, I thought that — for the first time — we would have a choice between two “green” candidates. That view is no longer operative — and college students (and everyone else) need to understand that.

With his choice of Sarah Palin — the Alaska governor who has advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and does not believe mankind is playing any role in climate change — for vice president, John McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil.

Given the fact that Senator McCain deliberately avoided voting on all eight attempts to pass a bill extending the vital tax credits and production subsidies to expand our wind and solar industries, and given his support for lowering the gasoline tax in a reckless giveaway that would only promote more gasoline consumption and intensify our addiction to oil, and given his desire to make more oil-drilling, not innovation around renewable energy, the centerpiece of his energy policy — in an effort to mislead voters that support for drilling today would translate into lower prices at the pump today — McCain has forfeited any claim to be a green candidate.

So please, students, when McCain comes to your campus and flashes a few posters of wind turbines and solar panels, ask him why he has been AWOL when it came to Congress supporting these new technologies.

Emails Contradict Palin on Troopergate Scandal

John McCain’s failure to properly evaluate his running mate is backfiring tonight. While McCain hopes that the top news of the night will be Sarah Palin’s speech he might be disappointed to find that the big story is on her abuse of power. The Washington Post has uncovered emails which contradict Palin’s story:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the running mate for GOP presidential candidate John McCain, wrote e-mails that harshly criticized Alaska state troopers for failing to fire her former brother-in-law and ridiculed an internal affairs investigation into his conduct.

The e-mails were shown to The Washington Post by a former public safety commissioner, Walter Monegan, who was fired by Palin in July. Monegan has given copies of the e-mails to state ethics investigators to support his contention that he was dismissed for failing to fire Trooper Mike Wooten, who at the time was feuding with Palin’s family.

“This trooper is still out on the street, in fact he’s been promoted,” said a Feb. 7, 2007, e-mail sent from Palin’s personal Yahoo account and written to give Monegan permission to speak on a violent-crime bill before the state legislature.

“It was a joke, the whole year long ‘investigation’ of him,” the e-mail said. “This is the same trooper who’s out there today telling people the new administration is going to destroy the trooper organization, and that he’d ‘never work for that b****’, Palin’.)”

TMP Muckraker points out that this isn’t the first time evidence has contradicted Palin’s story:

This isn’t the first time that events have appeared to contradict Palin’s story about her role in Trooper-Gate. Palin at first claimed that her administration did not put pressure on Monegan to fire Wooten. But after a phone recording surfaced in mid-August of Palin aide Frank Bailey raising the issue of Wooten’s employment with a trooper official, she was forced to acknowledge her office’s involvement, though she has continued to deny her personal role.

Debunking Republican Convention Lies

The Republicans have repeatedly been making untrue statements during their convention, but this is to be expected. After all, the Republican convention is packed with Republicans, along with Joe Lieberman who might as well be a Republican. corrects just a few of the incorrect statements made last night. From their summary:

Joe Lieberman and his former Senate colleague Fred Thompson both made misleading claims about Obama in their prime time GOP convention speeches on Tuesday. We’ve heard two of them before – many times.

  • Lieberman said Obama hadn’t “reached across party lines” to accomplish “anything significant,” though Obama has teamed with GOP Sens. Tom Coburn and Richard Lugar to pass laws enhancing government transparency and curtailing the proliferation of nuclear and conventional weapons.
  • Thompson repeated misleading claims about Obama’s tax program, saying it would bring “one of the largest tax increases in American history.” But as increases go, Obama’s package is hardly a history-maker. It would raise taxes for families with incomes above $250,000. Most people would see a cut.
  • Lieberman also accused Obama of “voting to cut off funding for our American troops on the
    battlefield.” But Obama’s only vote against a war-funding bill came after Bush vetoed a version of the bill Obama had supported – and McCain urged the veto.

Factcheck provides further detail in their full post. Unfortunately they missed the worst lie of the night when Fred Thompson said, “And we need a President who doesn’t think that the protection of the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay grade.” This is quite a distortion of Obama’s actual words regarding how determining when life begins is above his pay grade. While Factcheck didn’t address this point in discussing the convention, they have a previous posting which debunks the right wing lies that Obama supports infanticide.

This is one reason why the Republicans have been doing poorly the last couple of years. They are still picking up votes from low-information voters who believe these lies, but as more voters realize what Democrats really believe the Republicans lose support. When Republicans concentrate on such straw men arguments they have no effect among those who realize such claims have little bearing on actual Democratic beliefs.

There should be plenty to Factcheck tonight also. Mitt Romney showed why many Democrats hoped he would be McCain’s pick (not suspecting McCain would pick someone as unqualified as Sarah Palin). Romney repeated all the standard claims of the right wing as to what Democrats believe. What is amusing is that a very large number of Republicans really do believe that Democrats believe what Romney claims. When the actual views on the issues are considered, most people will support the views of the Democrats over those of the Republicans. This is why the McCain campaign does not want the election to be decided over the issues.

Update: Rudy Giuliani has also demonstrated how dishonest he is tonight. He must really be afraid of Obama’s record and experience to feel compelled to distort it in the manner he did.

Watching this convention I also cannot decide which is the biggest absurdity. We have the Republicans who have been in control of the government trying to run against Washington. We have the party responsible for tremendous increases in the size of government claiming to be the party of small government. We have the party which promotes authoritarianism claiming to be the party of freedom. We have the party of corporate welfare claiming to be the party of free enterprise. We have the party which ignored warnings, including those from Democrats, on the risk from al Qaeda leading to the 9/11 attacks occurring on their watch. Then they got us involved in a war against the wrong country based upon lies. Now they claim they are the party which can be trusted to keep us safe.

Update II: I almost forgot Mike Huckabee. He falsely claimed that Sarah Palin got more votes as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Sen. Joe Biden got running for president. Taegan Goddard notes that Biden received more votes in Florida alone than Palin received, and this was in a primary which officially did not count after Biden withdrew from the race.

Update III: We’re in the midst of Sarah Palin’s speech. She has already told a few whoppers of her own, including the exact same lies about Obama raising taxes which McCain has repeatedly been corrected on by sites such as Factcheck. She also has repeated the same lies about her role in supporting the “bridge to nowhere” which the press has previously debunked.

How can we trust a party to govern when so many of their leaders cannot tell the truth? We have seen the dangers in this over the past eight years.

Small Room For Hope Palin Would Not Move The Country Far to the Right

From a purely political point of view the choice of Sarah Palin has been fantastic because this greatly increases the chances of Obama being elected, but the selection was a bad thing for the country. From a pragmatic point of view John McCain’s running mate has a  very real chance of winding up becoming president. Therefore I would prefer to see more moderate and competent Republican candidates so that the country would be better off regardless of who wins the election.

I’ve noted Palin’s far right views in several previous posts, including her opposition to abortion rights (even in cases of rape), her opposition to stem cell research, her support for teaching creationism in the schools, her opposition to sex education beyond abstinence-based teaching, and her denial of the scientific consensus on climate change. AP is running this story which does suggest that Palin has not pushed such a right wing agenda as governor of Alaska.

The story does provide a small amount of hope that things will not be as bad as I fear they would be under four more years of Republican rule. Unfortunately this is far from reassuring. There would be far more room for potential harm from Palin as president than as governor of Alaska. She would be picking Supreme Court justices who could wind up ruling on topics such as abortion rights and separation of church and state. She would be in a position to extend George Bush’s ban on federal funding for stem cell research. She would be setting national policy with regards to climate change.

Palin’s extremist views might not have mattered as much while governor of Alaska, but they would likely create serious problems should she become president. The election of McCain/Palin is simply far too risky for this country to take a chance on.

Chris Bowers on the Hypocrisy of Picking Sarah Palin

Open Left has never been one of my favorite liberal blogs but Chris Bowers certainly gets it right in arguing that the primary problem with the selection of Sarah Palin is hypocrisy, along with the prediction that Palin will do well tonight:

…one big danger we face with Palin’s speech tonight is that expectations for Palin have dropped so low, that it will be almost impossible for her not to surpass them. If the focus on Palin is that she is inexperienced and incapable, then as long as she doesn’t immediately deliver as many gaffes as Dan Quayle did in an entire year, she will look fine. As CJ said on the West Wing once, Palin will have to set the podium on fire in order to blow this one. Given that her speech was prepared for her, whole cloth, before she was even selected, it seems unlikely that will happen.

The focus on Palin should not be on her lack of experience, but on the hypocrisy of McCain picking her after attacking Obama’s lack of experience. This goes for a whole host of other issues surrounding Palin, too. It isn’t that she has secured a record number of earmarks for Alaska and her hometown, it is that she claims to oppose earmarks while acquiring them. It isn’t that she has a pregnant, teenage daughter, but that she slashed funded for pregnant teenagers. It isn’t that she favored the Bridge to Nowhere, but that she claimed to oppose it. It isn’t that she is decrying sexist coverage and comparing it to the media coverage of Hillary Clinton, but that she called Hillary Clinton a whiner for doing the same thing. It isn’t that the McCain team failed to vet her closely, but that McCain’s lack of preparation on Palin blows a huge hole in his claim that he is “ready to lead.” It isn’t that she claims to be a reformer, but that she does so while under ethics investigation. Etc.

Everything about Palin’s selection and candidacy is a gigantic, hypocritical, pandering lie.  It is, in that way, exactly like just about the entire Republican platform. We need to make sure that we keep focusing on the vast layers of hypocrisy and falsehoods that underlie the choice, and make sure to avoid attacking her experience directly. Generally speaking, I think that this is something that Democrats and progressives have done a decent job of so far, but there have been slip-ups. The moment that we move away from the hypocrisy and falsehoods and start focusing on inexperience is the moment when we give Palin an opening to surpass expectations.

Sarah Palin’s Attempt To Ban Books

I’ve already noted how Sarah Palin’s extreme conservative views are reflected in her public policy positions including opposition to abortion rights (even in cases of rape), opposition to stem cell research, and support for teaching evolution in the public schools. Time reports she also inquired about banning books she did not approve of from the local library:

Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. “She asked the library how she could go about banning books,” he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. “The librarian was aghast.” That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving “full support” to the mayor.

Quote of the Day: Joe Lieberman on Barack Obama


“The gifts that God has given to Barack Obama are as enormous as his future is unlimited. As his mentor, as his colleague, as his friend, I look forward to helping him reach to the stars and realize not just the dreams he has for himself but the dreams we all have for him and our blessed country.”

— Sen. Joe Lieberman, introducing Sen. Barack Obama at the 2006 Jefferson-Jackson-Bailey dinner in Connecticut. (Hat tip to Political Wire)

Palin Involved In Another Ethical Scandal

There is yet another scandal regarding Sarah Pallin and alleged abuse of power when mayor of Wasilla, which shortly follows questions of abuse of power as governor. ABC News reports:

Gov. Sarah Palin is already facing ethical questions over her firing of the Alaska public safety commissioner, and now she faces questions over the firing of a longtime local police chief.

After taking over as Mayor of the small town of Wasilla, Palin fired the longtime local police chief. The former police chief, Irl Stambaugh says he was fired because he stepped on the toes of Palin’s campaign contributors, including bar owners and the National Rifle Association.

Stambaugh’s lawyer, William Jermain, says the chief tried to move up the closing hours of local bars from 5 a.m. to two a.m. after a spurt of drunk driving accidents and arrests.

“His crackdown on that practice by the bars was not appreciated by her and that was one reason she terminated Irl,” said Jermain.

In his 1997 lawsuit, Stambaugh also alleged that his stand on restricting concealed weapons upset the NRA.

“Mayor Palin has stated on several occasions that the National Rifle Association encouraged her to fire Chief Stambaugh because of his stance against the concealed weapons legislation,” the lawsuit claimed.

Palin says she was up against entrenched insiders when she was elected mayor of Wasilla in 1996.

“We had a lot of people that were kind of dead wood,” said Colleen Sullivan Leonard, a staff member in Palin’s office. “We needed people with new energy and a new vision.”

A federal judge later ruled the mayor, under city law, had the right to fire the police chief for any reason she wanted.

Palin is now facing similar allegations in the state capitol, that politics played a role in her firing of the Alaska public safety commissioner, Walter Monegan.

Posted in Sarah Palin, Scandals. Tags: . 1 Comment »

McCain Had Previously Opposed Earmarks Obtained by Palin

While Sarah Palin has excited the social conservatives there is much in her record which might disturb fiscal conservatives if they looked at her record objectively. Take, for example, Senator John McCain who often disagrees with candidate John McCain, as John Kerry recently pointed outThe Los Angeles Times reports that McCain had been critical of her earmarks before picking her as running mate:

McCain has made opposition to pork-barrel spending a central theme of his 2008 campaign. “Earmarking deprives federal agencies of scarce resources, at the whim of individual members of Congress,” McCain has said.

But records show that Palin — first as mayor of Wasilla and recently as governor of Alaska — was far from shy about pursuing tens of millions in earmarks for her town, her region and her state.

This year, Palin, who has been governor for nearly 22 months, defended earmarking as a vital part of the legislative system. “The federal budget, in its various manifestations, is incredibly important to us, and congressional earmarks are one aspect of this relationship,” she wrote in a newspaper column.

In 2001, McCain’s list of spending that had been approved without the normal budget scrutiny included a $500,000 earmark for a public transportation project in Wasilla. The Arizona senator targeted $1 million in a 2002 spending bill for an emergency communications center in town — one that local law enforcement has said is redundant and creates confusion.

McCain also criticized $450,000 set aside for an agricultural processing facility in Wasilla that was requested during Palin’s tenure as mayor and cleared Congress soon after she left office in 2002. The funding was provided to help direct locally grown produce to schools, prisons and other government institutions, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group.

Wasilla received $11.9 million in earmarks from 2000 to 2003. The results of this spending are very apparent today. (The town also benefited from $15 million in federal funds to promote regional rail transportation.)

The community transit center is a landmark: a one-story, tile-fronted building with a drive-through garage. Its fleet of 10 buses provides service throughout the region. Mat-Su Community Transit Agency officials say the building was made possible with a combination of federal money and matching gifts from a private foundation.

None of this comes as much of a surprise to me, having long ago given up any hope of fiscal responsibility from Republicans, which is hardly the party of small government as it claims. It might also be argued that seeking out such earmarks is part of the job of the mayor–except that it wasn’t until Palin took the job:

Wasilla had received few if any earmarks before Palin became mayor. She actively sought federal funds — a campaign that began to pay off only after she hired a lobbyist with close ties to Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who long controlled federal spending as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He made funneling money to Alaska his hallmark.

Steven Silver was a former chief of staff for Stevens. After he was hired, Wasilla obtained funding for several projects in 2002, including an additional $600,000 in transportation funding.

That year, a local water and sewer project received $1.5 million, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, which combs federal spending measures to identify projects inserted by congressional members.

Palin’s contradictory statements on the “bridge to nowhere” have been brought up frequently by the media as is also summarized in this report:

When Palin spoke after McCain introduced her as his running mate at a rally in Ohio last week, she made fun of earmarking. She said she had rejected $223 million in federal funds for a bridge linking Ketchikan to an island with an airport and 50 residents, referring to it by its derogatory label: the “bridge to nowhere.”

In the nationally televised speech, she stood by McCain and said, “I’ve championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress thanks, but no thanks, on that bridge to nowhere. If our state wanted a bridge, I said, we’d build it ourselves.”

However, as a candidate for governor in 2006, Palin had backed funding for the bridge. After her election, she killed the much-ridiculed project when it became clear the state had other priorities. She said she would use the federal funds to fill those needs.

This year she submitted to Congress a list of Alaska projects worth $197.8 million, including $2 million to research crab productivity in the Bering Sea and $7.4 million to improve runway lighting at eight Alaska airports. A spokesman said she cut the original list of 54 projects to 31.

“So while Sen. McCain was going after cutting earmarks in Washington,” said Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense, “Gov. Palin was going after getting earmarks.”

McCain Fears October Surprise On Palin Scandal

The McCain campaign apparently fears that bad news coming out of the report on the Sarah Palin troopergate scandal could turn into a damaging October surprise.

Is the McCain campaign afraid of an ‘October surprise’ involving vice-presidential pick Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska?

The Alaska state senator running an investigation of Gov. Palin says the McCain campaign is using stall tactics to prevent him from releasing his final report by Oct. 31, four days before the November election.

“It’s likely to be damaging to the Governor’s administration,” said Senator Hollis French, a Democrat, appointed the project manager for a bi-partisan State Senate Legislative Counsel Committee investigation of claims that Palin abused her office to get the Alaska public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, fired.