Thursday, November 06, 2008

Election Ellipses

Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent. This is from Republican sources. . . . Of course, some on the right continue to say, with a straight face, that she was “the most qualified” of the four candidates. . . . The county that Palin called “the real America” went to Obama. Awesome. . . . As always, The Onion knows the score. . . . And the Onion's network also captures an important post-election story. . . . Newsweek has a long, multi-part report about the campaigns. The magazine had access to information for the past year, under the agreement that it wouldn’t be revealed until after the election. The series is great, but it’s a bit depressing that reporters only get certain legitimate things to us after the fact. Ah, the press. So brave and useful. . . . Finally, a video to help ring in the Obama-inspired era of change.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't put too much stock in the allegation that Palin did not know "African" [sic] was a continent (ahem). It's from sources inside the McCain camp. They're trying to blame Palin for the loss. If enough people think McCain lost because of Palin, then the people who ran McCain's campaign will be able to find jobs in the future.

This happens in every election cycle.

"The county that Palin called “the real America” went to Obama."

Uhhh, no. She didn't say that only Guilford County was the real America. She said small towns everywhere are the real America. McCain may not have won Guilford County, NC, but he won small town America in a landslide.

By the way, here's the NY Times article on that:

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/17/palin-visits-a-pro-america-kind-of-town/

Notice how they put every single "um" in the quote? Gee, it's a good thing they didn't do that with Obama, Biden, McCain, or anyone else. Just Palin.

-- MattM

2:36 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

I get that it was coming from "inside the house." Fine by me.

OK, Guilford was a place where she said it. I don't think that makes it any less awesome that Guilford went Obama.

Palin in '16, I suppose. Best of luck. I find it very odd that Republicans criticize the "cult of Obama" but feel such a strong need to defend Palin personally, rather than the party generally. She's not worth the defense.

Thanks for the "African" correction. I must have the same exact brain as Sarah Palin, eh?

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not that the allegation is coming from "inside the house." It's that it's coming from political operatives -- the same folks who you recently accused of dishonesty in support of McCain's candidacy -- who are now fighting to make sure they will have jobs in the future. Would they be more honest in defense of their own jobs?

I can't speak for most Republicans, but I think the reason I feel the need to defend Palin personally is because she was attacked so often and so pesonally. And the vast majority of those attacks were patently false. Those are the easiest attacks to respond to, and in addition to having my ire raised over the personal nature of the attacks, I tend to pick the low-lying fruit.

And keep in mind that Republicans were never too crazy about McCain. The majority (53%) of Republicans voted against McCain in the primaries, and the vast majority of those primaries were after McCain had been handed the nomination. Up until Mitt Romney dropped out of the race, McCain had never won a plurality of self-described Republicans or conservatives in any primary. He won the nomination on the "independent" vote.

So Republican policies weren't really at issue, since the Republican candidate wasn't very Republican. And the attacks weren't really against Republican policies, they were against Palin personally. So what else are Republicans going to defend besides Palin personally?

3:50 PM  
Blogger Dianna said...

More credible than that McCain’s aides are trying to save their jobs (which are over, right?) is that the criticisms are actually true. Is it really so unbelievable that Palin didn't know what countries are in NAFTA, or that South Africa is a country IN Africa and not a part OF a country called Africa? The woman couldn't name one magazine or newspaper that she regularly reads, yet you're willing to give her the benefit of the doubt on geography and foreign policy? Quite generous, I’d say.

As for whether or not McCain is actually a Republican, the GOP is not made up solely of Christian conservative, far right wingers (thank God). In fact, as with most distributions, more people tend to fall in the middle of the political spectrum than at the far flung edges. You might say that John McCain is more representative of Republicans than Mitt Romney.

Besides, you really can’t hold it against him for not winning the majority of the vote – a hard thing to do when you’re running against 3 or 4 other people. He averaged 57% of the votes in the primaries/caucuses he won. If you’re giving all that credit to the Independents, then 1) there are a hell of a lot of Independents out there, and 2) the Republicans should get their act together if they can't elect their own candidate.

I’m not really sure which attacks you think are personal and which ones are legitimate, but if people felt the need to criticize the potential next VP of the US for such personal issues as a poor understanding of current affairs, geography, and foreign and public policy, as well as a profligate spending habit, I think that’s fair game. $150,000 is what you pay for a house, not for 2 months worth of clothing.

Obama campaigned for 2 years; Palin campaigned for 2 months. I’m not entirely sympathetic to the rough handling some people think she got when the woman gave only a handful of interviews and no press conferences.

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"More credible than that McCain’s aides are trying to save their jobs (which are over, right?) is that the criticisms are actually true."

The criticisms are more credible because they're true? And you know they're true because ... uhhh. Because you don't like Palin?

The point is that their jobs are over. They're trying to get new jobs, and if they don't lay the blame on someone else, they won't get new jobs.

It's absurd to suggest that Palin didn't know the countries in NAFTA. I can't believe I have to explain this because you should be able to figure it out with only a modicum of thought, but here goes:

She's the governor of Alaska. Because of Alaska's location, its primary trading partner is Canada. If goods from Alaska are going to make it to the rest of the US, or goods from the rest of the US are going to make it to Alaska, they need to go through Canada. That type of business shipment is effected by NAFTA. You think the governor of Alaska -- who's negotiated several billion dollar deals with Canada, including a pipeline that ships oil from Alaska through Canada to the US -- doesn't know basic facts about NAFTA? Her husband is a commercial fisherman, who fishes off the coast of Alaska and Canada. Palin was a partner in his commercial fishing business. You think they don't know about NAFTA? She was a delegate to PNWER (Pacific NorthWest Economic Region), which specifically deals with NAFTA issues (google it). She worked on CANAMEX (a transportation corridor between Canada/Alaska and Mexico), which specifically dealt with NAFTA issues (google it). I could go on all day.

If thinking that she has a basic working knowledge of the issues she's worked on (successfully) for several years is "giving her the benefit of the doubt," then yes, I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt. Or maybe I'm not letting emotion cloud my judgment.

You can either believe logic, or you can believe anonymous reports from McCain staffers blaming Palin for their loss. I've got a feeling that Palin knows a helluva lot more about NAFTA than you or I.

"You might say that John McCain is more representative of Republicans than Mitt Romney."

You might, but you'd probably be wrong. John McCain is decidedly to the left of the Republicans. Ask any Republican. Or you can ask Rasmussen:

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_2012/69_of_gop_voters_say_palin_helped_mccain

That article points out that more Republicans liked their VP nominee than liked their Presidential nominee. And 69% of Republicans say Palin helped the ticket.

"Besides, you really can’t hold it against him for not winning the majority of the vote – a hard thing to do when you’re running against 3 or 4 other people."

But for the vast majority of his campaign, he wasn't running against 3 or 4 other people. He was the presumptive nominee by late January/early February, before Super Tuesday (Feb 5). Romney knew he needed a miracle on Super Tuesday, didn't get one, so he dropped out shortly thereafter(Feb 7 or 8?). The only other candidate was Mike Huckabee, who had already been mathematically eliminated.

If McCain couldn't get better than 57% running effectively unopposed in 20 primaries, then maybe he's not incredibly popular within his own party.

Or you can look at it the other way. If McCain is centrist, and the vast majority of Republican politicians are to his right, then who voted for all those Republican politicians who are so far out of the mainstream?

"the Republicans should get their act together if they can't elect their own candidate."

Yep. I totally agree.

"if people felt the need to criticize the potential next VP of the US for such personal issues as a poor understanding of current affairs, geography, and foreign and public policy, as well as a profligate spending habit, I think that’s fair game. $150,000 is what you pay for a house, not for 2 months worth of clothing."

How much did Obama spend on his Greek columned stage at the DNC in Denver? $5.3 million.

$5.3 million. That's over 3500% more than Palin spent, and Obama spent it on one speech. It was used for less than one hour.

Get the mote out of your own eye.

I didn't say all criticisms of Palin were personal. I'm saying that the vast majority of them were. Like your criticism of her alleged "profligate spending habits." How much did Obama spend on suits? How much did Biden? How much did Michelle Obama? If the amount that a politician spends on clothes is relevant, then why do you only know it about Palin?

The truth is that you don't care how much politicians spend on clothes. Nor should you. You're just making an issue out of it because you hate Palin, you've stopped thinking about the issue rationally, and you're going to oppose everything she does.

As long as we're on the issue of "profligate spending":

McCain in 2006-07: zero earmarks
Obama in 2006-07: 270 earmarks (that's 2 for every 3 days the Senate was in session)
Biden in 2006-07: the worst in the Senate. Never once voted to cut spending in 2006-07.

http://hotair.com/archives/2008/09/22/cagw-says-obama-not-the-worst-senator-on-waste-biden-is/

"I’m not entirely sympathetic to the rough handling some people think she got when the woman gave only a handful of interviews and no press conferences."

Another meme without any basis. Palin spoke with the press on several occasions throughout her campaign, beginning the day after she was nominated. Her interview with Gibson came only days after she was nominated (although it was aired later).

So what's the truth? Turns out that Palin was the only candidate that was actually speaking to the press.

http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2008/10/20/politics/fromtheroad/entry4531447.shtml

If this is important, then do you wish you'd voted for Palin? Of course not. It's just empty criticism.

And Dianna, why is it ok to attack Palin personally -- to suggest that she's a bad mother because her 18 year old daughter is pregnant, to (wrongly) suggest that she jeopardized the life of her unborn child by flying back to Alaska to give birth (which is an ironic argument considering that it so often comes from people who are pro-choice), to (wrongly) suggest that her son is only serving in Iraq because he was given the choice of serving in the army or going to jail -- merely because she's been in the campaign for a few weeks? Would it have been ok to make such charges against Obama after he'd been in the campaign for a few weeks? Again, this argument makes no sense. What purpose is served by personally attacking a new candidate? And why do I suspect that you'd feel very differently if the candidate was a Democrat?

5:19 PM  
Blogger Dianna said...

$5.3 million does seem like a lot to spend on columns, but I don't buy them, so I'm no judge as to how much a reasonable person should spend. The DNC spent approximately $60 million for their convention (where the columns were displayed); the RNC spent $54 million for theirs. The RNC spent approximately $154 million when they hosted the 2004 convention in NYC. They must have had lots of columns.

I stand corrected. Palin had an open press conference on October 17th. That page you linked was gone, but I found another one. You're not really saying she's the only one who spoke to the press, though, are you? McCain, Obama, and Biden ran for 2 years, and you're saying they never spoke to the press?

Her minimal press conferences and interviews (I'm still looking for another press conference) were a big problem for me. That's not an empty criticism. Her speeches at rallies revealed nothing other than that she likes broad brushstrokes and implying that people are socialists and terrorists. I wanted to know why Wasilla's budget increased by 60%; why she left the town of 7,000 with $19 million in debt; why she supported the bridge, then didn't, then took the money anyway. That's why the $150,000 on clothing strikes me as true and important. I’m with Paula Poundstone: "If a person can't dress themselves for $1000 a day, I don't want them anywhere near the federal budget."

I read Palin's donating her clothes. I recall people were up in arms when Edwards spent $400 on his haircut. Maybe if he donated his hair, things would have simmered down.

Obama answered all the questions about Ayers, Wright, the coal industry, where he went to school when he was 4, who his father is, what his faith is. I shouldn't expect the same from Palin?

I never heard the argument about Palin's son. I did hear arguments about her waiting to fly back to Alaska to give birth. It wasn't of much interest to me. (I guess I'm super pro-choice.) And the Obama campaign was pretty clear that discussion of Bristol was off limits. I listen to NPR, so I don't hear a lot of the dirtier debates. But I don't find O'Reilly or Hannity to be voices of calm, dispassionate discourse either.

I don't think Palin's a dumb woman. I do find it believable that she has gaps in her knowledge based on the things I've heard her say. (I said something sort of nice about Palin, so it's your turn to say something nice about Obama. Biden would count, too.)

I wouldn't say I'm biased against Republicans in general, but after the past 8 years, no, I'm definitely not fond of Christian conservative Republicans – except for my parents and dear friends. Love them. So you're right, I don't like Palin. But I don't think she would much like me either. I live in one of those patriotic states, but she'd probably say my city is pretty anti-American.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, remember when I warned that we should be suspicious of reports that Palin didn't know Africa was a continent and not a country? And remember when you said you can believe those reports because they're true?

Well, golly. They're a hoax.

http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_
stump/archive/2008/11/10/even-more-
palin-cluelessness.aspx

"I stand corrected. Palin had an open press conference on October 17th. That page you linked was gone, but I found another one."

Actually, the link is still there. It just got cut off by the page limits. Let's try it again (you'll have to reconstruct the entire link from the pieces below):

http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/
0008/10/20
/politics/fromtheroad/entry4531447
.shtml

It points out that Palin was the only one speaking to the press the entire time that "Palin won't talk to the media" meme was going on. Not Obama, not Biden, not McCain.

And here she is giving 3 media interviews on Sep 6:

http://hotair.com/archives/
2008/09/06/and-about-the-palin-
bubble/

That's 3 days after her acceptance speech at the RNC.

Her speeches at rallies revealed nothing other than that she likes broad brushstrokes and implying that people are socialists and terrorists.

Then you're only hearing soundbites (or reading them on blogs). You need to actually listen to at least one entire speech before you can judge what they reveal.

I wanted to know why Wasilla's budget increased by 60%; why she left the town of 7,000 with $19 million in debt; why she supported the bridge, then didn't, then took the money anyway.

Wasilla's budget didn't increase by 60%, unless you include a one-time purchase of a multi-million dollar community center as being a "budget item" solely for Palin's tenure.

She left the city with $19 million in debt because they didn't purchase the community center with cash. They got a loan/financing. How did you buy your house? Well, cities do it the same way.

As for the bridge, Obama and Biden both voted for it. (McCain didn't.) So if you think it's bad that Palin initially supported it, what do you think about Obama and Biden supporting it?

Palin didn't support the bridge at first. That's overstatement. When asked, she actually said that she wouldn't oppose it. Nor was she in any position to do otherwise. As governor, it's not her place to tell US Senators and Congressmen how to do their jobs. Senators and Congressmen work for the voters, not Governors.

The first time she actually had a chance to substantively review the funding was after it was approved by Congress (again, both Obama and Biden voted to fund the bridge). At that point, she decided that it made Alaska look bad, so she decided not to fund it.

She used the funds instead on projects that were actually needed and helpful. I don't see anything wrong with that. Nor do I see any point in returning the money to Congress. The money was given to Alaska for improvements, it was used for improvements, and it's not like if the money was returned to Congress they were going to give us all tax refunds or something.

"Obama answered all the questions about Ayers, Wright, the coal industry, where he went to school when he was 4, who his father is, what his faith is. I shouldn't expect the same from Palin?"

Actually, Obama probably misrepresented his connections to Ayers, he almost certainly misrepresented his knowledge of Wright's beliefs, he gave inconsistent answers on the coal industry (he said he supports opening coal plants, he said he opposes opening coal plants, and he said he will allow coal plants to be opened but will tax them so much they'll go bankrupt), and the other issues were stupid and irrelevant and he shouldn't have had to answer them at all. Do you think talking about these 4 issues was enough?

What issues do you think Palin should have discussed that she didn't?

"And the Obama campaign was pretty clear that discussion of Bristol was off limits."

And yet they continued to do so. (But that's what campaigns do. I don't fault Obama for that. I fault people who were so stupid and/or shallow that they thought it was an ok subject to discuss.)

"I don't think Palin's a dumb woman. ... (I said something sort of nice about Palin, so it's your turn to say something nice about Obama. Biden would count, too.)"

Really? You think she's not dumb? That's the nice thing you're going to say?

All right, how about this: I think the country's going to be just fine under President Obama. I actually was extremely close to voting for Obama. (I ended up going with McCain.) I like Obama. I'm just peeved by the utter mindlessness and falsity of the criticisms of Palin.

6:44 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

MattM, thanks for the link to the hoax, which I'll post tomorrow.

While watching people come back to this post (and I love that you do, and I love that you're civil while disagreeing), I've been thinking about things...particularly in relation to MattM, who's sharp and genial. And I've come to two very broad conclusions, neither of which really "say" anything, but whatever: 1. MattM, you're the only non-rabidly partisan person I know -- and I know a few -- who so strenuously defends Palin. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just an observation. And 2. I would feel (or, I would have felt) a lot better about Palin if she could have defended herself one-tenth as convincingly as you do. Which is to say, unsurprisingly, that a McCain-MattM ticket would have done much more for me than what we got...

12:55 AM  
Blogger Dianna said...

MattM and John -

Perhaps I'm reading this hoax revelation differently, but the hoax that Michael Crowley is referring to is the one where some guy named Martin Eisenstadt outs himself as the leaker of the Africa leak. Martin Eisenstadt doesn't exist, so his outing himself is the hoax, not the comments on Palin. That's what Martin Crowley is referring to, I believe, when he links to the hoax in his blog.

Carl Cameron of Fox News reported that campaign aides said she didn't know what countries were in NAFTA or that Africa was a continent. Maybe the leaks are true, maybe they're not. In any case, I’m willing to drop the argument; her rational for her foreign policy expertise is more documented and more laughable.

As for those interviews, I couldn't find them. I don't exactly trust a schedule given by the McCain campaign as proof. On Sept. 5th (the day before those 3 supposed "media interviews"), a senior McCain campaign official told Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic that ""Palin won't submit to a formal interview anytime soon." One of those sources is incorrect.

The meme lasted a longer time than the one day. She did the Charlie Gibson interview on Sept. 11th and the Couric interview on Sept. 24th. I don't have the energy to find all the interviews that Biden, McCain, and Obama did over the 2 months between the primaries and the elections, or even the 3 weeks after the conventions, but I suspect McCain and Obama did more by a factor of 10. Biden by a factor of 5, but we’ve got years of tape on him and all the crazy things he says.

I was joking when I said that the nice thing I was going to say was that she wasn't dumb. I was also joking when I said Edwards should have donated his hair. Palin is a smart, capable woman and an excellent orator. She’s also a public servant and an authentic advocate for her constituents – characteristics I strongly admire.

Whether Biden, Obama, and McCain supported the bridge is another discussion. We were talking about Palin and whether she supported the bridge. Reuters and Factcheck.org, among other sources, both say she supported it when she was running for governor. Whether that was a fiscally responsible thing to do, I don't know. I didn’t say it was a bad thing; I said her documented support wasn’t consistent with her statement, “Thanks, but no thanks — if we wanted a bridge up there we were going to build it ourselves.”

If Palin wanted to return a check to Congress, she could have done so. It would have been very unpopular in Alaska, no doubt, but mavericks and earmark reformers sometimes have to do unpopular things. But if an earmark reformer wants to take money from the federal government when the state gives out $2,600 per person in oil revenue rebates, I guess that’s reasonable. I mean, they could pay for their own bridge, like she said, but who says they should?

I’m not actually against earmarks. Sure, it’s redristributing the wealth, and Palin thinks that socialist, but I think earmarks can have positive effects on states and our country as a whole. Apparently Palin and I agree on this issue.

You think it’s reasonable for a mayor to increase a small town’s debt from $0 to $22million, so how do you feel about increasing a debt from $6 trillion to $10.5 trillion? Maybe that just how things are done, but discussing that topic isn’t personal and it’s not misleading.

There were far more than 4 issues that Obama was questioned on. I'm glad you agree that many of the issues that he was questioned on were stupid. Personal, too, maybe? I thought the topic of his faith crossed the line, but I was fine with him answering many of the other irrelevant, personal criticisms. I think those gave him opportunities to exhibit his calm, reasonable manner. I really liked how he handled himself during the Wright and Ayers situations.

My point was that Palin wasn't given any different treatment than anyone else, and the questions she was asked or the criticism she received weren't patently or overwhelmingly personal or false as you characterize. I told you the issues I wanted her to address. Maybe you don’t like them, but I think they’re fair game.

Now excuse me while I get back to my soundbites and blogs.

12:44 PM  

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