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September 06, 2008



It would also be nice, and novel, if the media did some honest reporting on a certain Mr. Barack Obama - ya think?


I am very impressed with Barack Obama's demeanor. We have heard about a "different kind of politician" before, but this time I think we are really seeing one. I saw (Bill?) Burton from the Obama campaign on the cable news, and he said they are not going to overreact to one poll. I think the debates are the time when people can see the two candidates without all of the noise that constantly surrounds. Many statements have been made about John McCain's temperament, most notably by Republicans during the primaries. The difference between the two candidates should be striking. The projections are that 90+ million viewers will tune in. I am starting to think that this huge Palin factor is just an "equal and opposite reaction," and that it will die down. Americans generally don't like extremists. I am hoping that slow, steady, thoughtful, and deliberate will take the day.


Seems to me, the Dems would be unwise to criticize Palin on anything but her professional record and the substance of what she says. There is considerable risk involved in alienating small-town voters in small states who may already feel slighted by the idea that they "cling to guns or religion" out of bitterness. Note that she comes with a soap opera quality (and a full cast of actors for it) that has a very powerful subconscious appeal across the country, esp. to those who vote not out of their interests, but on the identity basis. Am afraid the role of foreign policy will be just negligible in comparison, and the Obama camp is more in need of good social psychologists that foreign policy experts.


Eric: why is it denigrating to point out that Palin was a small town mayor? The place is in size more like a village and seems more like a suburb of Anchorage. The media should emphasize much more that Alaska is number 48 in terms of population (less than 700,000) and that being in charge of the National Guard does not assure foreign policy expertise as McCain and other Republicans claim with straight faces--although they sure know better.

Dianna: I am on the same wave length with you.


Did I say I was "certain that McCain would pull a Harrison?" No,only a statistic. I am also wondering exactly what Geraldine Ferraro has to do with this immediate question about vetting Sarah Palin. Is is because she is a woman? hmmm. And the Republicans are crying sexist?

I believe that it is the job of responsible Americans to ask questions. It used to be that reporters asked hard questions and demanded their right to do so. Now, we are told, Ms. Palin will give interviews with anyone other than Charlie Gibson of ABC when "she is shown the proper respect and deference." What? Respect is earned, and I have seen no disrespect by anyone in Obama's campaign or in the news media. All of this talk about Democrats attacking her for being a mother? The only thing I have seen like that is from Dr. Laura, a staunch conservative. Deference? Why, she is not the Queen and and has shown no leadership skills that are inclusive. In fact, I watched her with an open mind and all I saw was mean and sarcastic invective. A litany of one-liners that did not speak to the needs of Americans. Did Barack Obama not deserve respect?
We are hiring a President and Vice President, and the American voters are the employer. It’s preposterous that the McCain camp has suggested that she will be available to the press when and if she is ready. Again, we are the employer, she and McCain are the employees. The normal way that we see candidates is through answering questions of the national press. That is their role in a democracy, and is not something that an applicant for one of the highest offices in the land should attempt to undercut.

After 8 years of the Bush Administration being the most secretive in the history of the country, the stance the McCain camp has taken rubs a lot of people wrong, including a lot of conservatives.
Have you read Charles Krauthammer lately?

Not all conservatives agree that politics first equals country first. Have you heard the "live mic" episode on MSNBC between Peggy Noonan and Chuck Todd, when they clearly said she was not qualified. That is what they say off camera.
Please, spend some time on the youtubes and listen to it.
While you're there, maybe you will learn how the Governor of Alaska hated Juneau and spent very little time at work. Or, how Alsaka is awash with oil money, and therefore doesn't have fiscal issues like every other state. In fact, there was so much left over, she gave a rebate of $1200 to each citizen, over their $3,600 yearly dividend (not a tax rebate.) My guess here is that if a Democrat did that, Republicans would be crying "Communist!" The Native population needs roads, running water, electricity, and education. It seems to me that she could have done a much better job advancing the needs of all Alaskan citizens.

Your post advanced the idea that Palin is a populist and a reformer. I have heard plenty of talking points, but her very extreme right-wing views are in no way populist. Her record of cutting programs for unwed mothers like Covenant house, and slashing the special-needs education budget are not populist. (And, its kind of ironic given her and her daughter's present situation.)I have heard reformer mentioned, but I have yet to hear any real examples. The slashed monies were diverted to other projects. Her hired lobbyist, Silver, now connected to the scandalous Jack Abramoff affair, went looking for and received more FEDERAL pork and earmarks that equaled a higher per capita distribution that any other state in the US.
And you believe that we don't have a right to probe into these matters?

More importantly, do you really believe that John McCain did the proper vetting? I do not. I think if McCain's camp realized what a mess her family really is, he would have properly surmised that covers of National Enquirer and US Weekly were highly likely. I heard John McCain say they were going to sue the NE. Why haven't they? Because the facts of her affair is in a divorce record that is not contested. And all that sweet talk about her son enlisting (she can use her children for political gain, but no one else can ask about them) is now raising questions as to an incident where he was drunk and vandalized school busses. The daily paper up there is alleging that the judge gave Track Palin a choice: Enlist or be in legal trouble. How come teen pregnancy in New York is a problem, but for her it's a blessed event to be celebrated? And doesn't that speak to the efficacy of abstinence-only education, which she believes for other people's children? What about college? My goodness, what about graduating High School? This is a role model for women? Thanks, but no thanks.

Palin did say in an interview earlier this year that Hillary should quit whining. So her supporters should take her advice and quit whining.

Eric Chen

Professor Nacos,

So, your answer is 'yes'?

The media will pick back up. Palin just counter-punched better than they expected, better than Clinton did. They'll get back up, reassess and come back. It's already happening.

The Dems did take the 1st strike by denigrating Governor Palin as a small-town mayor. When you criticized Palin along the same lines, you at least included her governorship. Again, it was a surprisingly dumb choice by the Dems given that Palin is now a governor and Senator Obama's earlier alienating remarks about small-town America that Senator Clinton pounced upon.

The Dems set up their own candidate with such a poor choice: 44-year-old Palin's pre-Governor experience is to mayor as 47-year-old Obama's pre-Senator experience is to community organizer. Just what did the Obama campaign expect to happen?

Eric Chen

Dianna said: "For John McCain to recklessly appoint a person to the Vice Presidency that has NO national or International experience is ludicrous.."

Again, I just don't see proof behind the notion that Senator McCain failed to sufficiently vet Governor Palin.

As far as Palin having no national experience, you realize you're talking about an actual state governor, right? It's normal for governors to have less international experience, but that hasn't stopped us from recently electing other governors to be President. High-level executive experience has always counted for something . . . at least it did until Palin critics decided Alaskan chief executive experience doesn't count.

In terms of the election, the Palin pick has precedent. It's similar to Walter Mondale's choice of Rep Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. The opposition treatment of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 was similar to the Dems treatment of Palin now. Before she became the VP candidate, Ferraro's political career was 6 years in the House of Representatives. It remains to be seen whether the Palin choice will help McCain more than Ferraro helped Mondale, but President Reagan in 1984 was a more formidable candidate than Senator Obama is now. Unlike the comparison of Rep Ferraro to President Reagan, Governor Palin's experience does compare favorably to Senator Obama's experience.

Why didn't Senator Obama choose Senator Clinton to be his running mate?

As far as media interaction with Palin is concerned, patience - they'll get their fill. The election is 2 months away. Palin's achievements and mistakes as an executive are public record. Heck, I just watched part of an exceedingly dry 2006 Alaskan governor election debate on C-Span. (Gasp! Alaskans are concerned about governance, services, and quality of life issues like the rest of us.) It's not as though Senator McCain introduced Governor Palin the night before we voted - a lot is going to happen over the next 2 months.

McCain's age is a disadvantage, but really, if you're certain that Senator McCain's destiny as President is to pull a William Henry Harrison, then I understand this emphasis on judging Governor Palin as though she's running for President right now. Putting aside that her experience actually compares well to the Dems POTUS candidate, if we're going to be fair and assume Obama is fated to pull a President WH Harrison like McCain, then what do we make of President Biden? He of the 900,000 population in the 2nd smallest state of the union, which he hasn't governed, what-was-he-thinking? triple partition plan for Iraq (though, to be fair, Biden has a relatively solid record supporting our Iraq mission), and no background - either by promise (Obama) or history (McCain) - to continue the current Dems POTUS candidate's 'hope and change' platform.

As of now, Palin's running for VP, not President. Maybe in 4 years, she will run for President. I understand we've been conditioned by 24 of the last 28 years in that we've become accustomed to former governors choosing VPs (Bush Sr, Gore, Cheney) to shore up their tickets' foreign policy credentials. But just because Senator Obama's pick of Senator Biden reflects Obama's lack of confidence in his own foreign policy credentials, that doesn't mean the formula is set in stone. McCain's VP choice is more like then-VP Bush Sr's, who trusted his own foreign policy background enough to pick a VP, Dan Quayle, based on other considerations.

I believe McCain's POTUS-VPOTUS formula is more of a division of labor. While McCain has a platform for domestic issues, it seems to me that he's much more interested and energized by the foreign policy part of the job. I don't expect McCain would ignore the state of the union in order to conduct foreign affairs exclusively and I expect Palin would receive the governors' crash course and similar on-the-job training as given to Bush Jr and Clinton. But, I see Palin's main role as an activist VP to be McCain's complement while focusing on domestic issues. Palin has solid populist credentials, chief executive experience, a reformer rep, she's proactive and tough, and her outstanding subject matter area is supposed to be energy issues. At this point, it does appear Vice President Palin should have utility for the nation after the election.


Eric, I never post, but I must strongly disagree with you. There is no comparison between the media treatment of Hillary Clinton and that of Sarah Palin. Senator Clinton is well known. Anyone that had any questions about her had plenty of time to research or vet.

A 72 year old candidate has a 30% chance of not finishing a term in office. It is imperative that we get to know the unknown candidate for the VP office.
The refusal to allow questions by the press is disturbing at the very least. I believe that Roger Simon on Politico said something to the effect that - because she won't talk to the news should then be the news itself.

The GOP saw scary numbers in the electoral college breakdown, so they threw a Hail Sarah at the American people with no regard to What Is Best For America? No, it is take this and shove it, it is all about winning.
Eric, do you think that we do not have a right to know about her?
Well, because we did not know, and because there was little public record, we went looking. Now that the big political play has a soft and vulnerable underbelly, the Republicans are crying foul.
I saw a video of Sarah Palins preacher saying that Jews deserve terrorists because they do not accept Jesus. Have you seen this played ad nauseum like the Rev. Wright videos? Was Hillary's life not dragged through every kind of mud and innuendo in an effort to diminish her. Hell, they were so scared of her, they started it years ago!
For John McCain to recklessly appoint a person to the Vice Presidency that has NO national or International experience is ludicrous. It is deeply, deeply insulting to women. If a man had her resume, they would not have gotten the job. Period. So, as a show-boat with those Hottie VP buttons at the RNC she is a sexist pawn.
I have found out much about her since last Friday. She is not a reformer, she is an opportunist. The talking points you so happily repeat are not borne out by the facts. The WSJ has an article about her mis-handling of Wasilla for the short time she was mayor. She took a town with a $12 million operating budget, and left it $22 million in debt. She is under investigation for Abuse of Power ethics charges that on the surface might have merit. And no, the jet did not sell on ebay, or at a profit.
If John McCain had vetted this candidate, and still gone with his pick, there would have been precautions taken to address some of the family issues. I take offense at your characterization that attempts to learn Who Is Sarah Palin as "attacks."
(by the way, it's "Democratic primaries")


Eric,of course, the media have the right to say and write what they want--especially with respect to a public figure.
My point here is that many in the media,particular but not only the talking heads on cable TV, went overboard in their nasty attacks on Senator Clinton. The same talking heads celebrate Palin's and thus the self-proclaimed pit bull's nasty, divisive speech at the convention and similar remarks thereafter; they seem intimidated by her and the McCain/Palin campaign's attacks on the media's initial reporting.
And,yes, it is by now clear that McCain and his people knew very little about the governor of Alaska, when she was selected.
Politically, it may well prove to be a home run.
But Country First? Whom are they kidding...

Eric Chen

Professor Nacos,

You seem to be saying that any media treatment of Palin is fair game, but do you advocate for the same media bias that favored Obama over Clinton (as a woman) during the Democrat primaries, which you lamented then as unfair, should now be turned against Governor Palin?

Attack dogs against Clinton, Lapdogs for Obama http://www.reflectivepundit.com/reflectivepundit/2008/06/attackdogs-agai.html

You said: "Those in the media who voice their opinions have a right to do so. Readers and radio/ TV-audiences know the ideological and partisan preferences of columnists, editorial pages, and talk show hosts. But even in the realm of opinion, press ethics require adherence to truth and fairness and balance.

Unfortunately, gross partisanship is part and parcel of today’s mainstream media’s campaign coverage—and not only when it comes opinion pages and talk shows on radio and television."

Eric Chen

Professor Nacos,

From what I've seen, the negative talk against Governor Palin by Dems and some in the media has been harsh. The first attacks were leveled against her, and the McCain campaign and Palin effectively responded. The attacks were blunted for a moment while the Dems, media and the rest of us learned about Palin, but the attacks are picking up again.

Senator McCain surprised me by going in an unexpected direction with his campaign, by presenting himself as a virtual Independent and GOP reformer, and skillful timing. He effectively timed the announcement of his Palin pick to blunt the DNC bounce for Obama and then timed her unveiling at the RNC to fuel his RNC bounce. Round 1 of the Palin period of the campaign goes to the GOP. The Dems were knocked off balance and placed on the defensive for the 1st time in this election contest. It was only a learning or feeling out period, though. Now that Round 1 is past, and both sides have established their strategies and know each other, we can watch the real contest unfold. This election just got interesting.

Assorted observations:

Age-wise, Palin is 44, Obama is 47, and Bill Clinton was 46 when he became President. The age issue is an asset for the Dems in this election, but how do you raise it without sounding age-ist and alienating a large segment of the electorate? Biden turns 66 in November.

McCain's arguments against Obama resonate in large part because they're borrowed from the arguments formulated by Clinton against Obama.

It was a surprisingly dumb move by the Dems to disparage Palin as a small-town mayor in general, given Obama's controversial statements about small-town America during the Democrat primaries, but especially so when Palin is a sitting state governor, no longer a mayor. It practically invited the obvious counter-punch against Obama's experience.

So far, Governor Palin has shown herself to be a better counter-puncher against the Obama campaign than Senator Clinton was. Palin, it appears, is no Dan Quayle.

The Dems have to take special care attacking Palin, because the obvious avenues of attack boomerang back to Obama or Biden. For example, you point out Alaska's low population to devalue Palin's experience; however, Dems VPOTUS candidate Biden's state has an approx 900,000 count population compared to Alaska's approx 700,000 count population, while Alaska is geographically the largest state with its own unique governing challenges whereas Delaware is the 2nd smallest state. (I say this mostly tongue in cheek, but recall that popular TV series West Wing featured a President who was governor of New Hampshire.)

It's undeniable that Governor Palin owns the executive advantage in this election, which matters given that 4 of our last 5 presidents were governors while the other president was a 8-year VP. Which is to say, it doesn't help the Dems to highlight that the GOP VPOTUS candidate's experience compares favorably to the Dems POTUS candidate's experience. Even the scrutiny of Palin's controversies serve to highlight Obama's controversies (condescending against small town America, Rev Wright, Ayers, Rezko, etc).

The better criticism of Governor Palin's political experience is to point out that Alaska has an exceptionally large budget for an exceptionally low population, which is not representative of the rest of the US, although again, governing Alaska carries its own unique challenges.

Regarding your point about Sarah Palin's family under public scrutiny, it struck me watching the RNC how comfortable her children and husband looked in front of the cameras and under the lights, especially her youngest daughter. I don't know what kind of politics they play in Alaska, but the Palin family seems surprisingly well-trained for the political game. At least, they're certainly photogenic. Moreover, Palin's reaction to public scrutiny of her daughter's pregnancy was to push Bristol and her fiance out front, which shows Palin to be a counter-puncher rather than a cover-upper. It also shows that Palin teaches her kids to step forward, not back down, when faced with adversity.

My criticism of Palin regarding her children: While it reflects very well on Palin as a parent that her eldest son Track volunteered to serve as a soldier (balance: Biden's son is also a soldier deploying to Iraq, which reflects well upon him as a father), I wish she had kept her son off camera and didn't announce when he was deploying to Iraq as an infantryman. Remember how Prince Harry was pulled prematurely from his tour of duty in Afghanistan? Conceivably, Palin's son - Biden's son, too - can be serving in Iraq as the son of the VPOTUS, a high value target.

I don't understand the assertion that Governor Palin wasn't properly vetted by Senator McCain. What evidence is there of that? Certainly, Palin has appeared to be an effective pick so far with multiple strengths added to the campaign. If McCain did pick Palin based solely on 'gut', that's some kind of instinct. Also, if McCain meant to fish for the Hillary vote instead of energizing the GOP base, he easily could have picked another GOP woman. For example, Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle actually appealed to my tastes (as a voter!) more than Governor Palin during the RNC speeches, and Lingle reminds more than Palin of Senator Clinton or even Geraldine Ferraro.

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