Sorry, More Palin

I know that I posted earlier about how great it would be to not have to write about Sarah Palin anymore. But this latest bit out of the circular firing squads is simply too good. Watch (here’s a transcript) as Carl Cameron explains Sarah Palin thought that Africa was a country.

You’d think that news like this might precipitate the continued decline of Sarah Palin’s unpopularity, but It seems that as the “base” of the Republican party rallies around Rush, Malkin, and the like, Palin won’t be going anywhere too fast. This will have two positive effects. First, Sarah Palin makes writing about politics easier, and second, casting Sarah Palin as standard barer for the right will hasten the marginalization of the far right.

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Ironicals

I’m very optimistic about never having to point out the daily contradictions of the Sarah Palin candidacy again, but what the hell…

Naturally WordPress can’t show the clip, but here’s a video where Sarah Palin responds to a question about how she will be able to encourage more minority participation in her coalition. Palin doesn’t really have an answer for how to accomplish such a feat, but she does commiserate with the African American man who asked the question by pointing out that Todd Palin is a “native Alaskan” (I assume she means Inuit, though you would have had me fooled) and that “We live it.”

If we take Palin at her word about the minority status of Todd Palin, how then does a native Alaskan who “lives” the minority experience come to be the apotheosis of “Americana”? Furthermore, how do we know that if president, Sarah Palin wouldn’t pursue a radical Inuit-agenda?

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The Call

Not surprisingly, the audio of the Sarah Palin prank call is out. Here it is.

Most of the jokes are hard to get unless you speak French and are familiar with Canadian culture (here’s a guide), so you can’t totally blame Palin for not catching on quickly. If your aide (who is an idiot) puts you on the phone with Nicholas Sarkozy, you’ve got to be inclined to believe them, and asking someone who you’re told is the president of France, “are you fucking with me?” is a pretty bold move. All that said, she is a politician and you have to believe the tone of most conversations between politicians is a bit more collegial (you know like, “That Joe the Plumber shtick was brilliant!” not “I, Nicholas Sarkozy, President of France, am a big admirer of Joe the Plubmer.”)

The call though, makes me wonder if Palin speaks to her own family with talking points. For all the praise lavished on her political abilities, a good politician weaves talking points into a conversation while conveying a sense that they understand what they’re saying. As such, it’s not quite so obvious they’re regurgitating messaging. Sometimes I wonder not if Sarah Palin is a pitbull with lipstick, but rather a pitbull with media training.

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Things to Look Forward To

Monday night will bring the Steelers to Washington, but this is what I’m really eager to hear:

MONTREAL — A Quebec comedy duo notorious for prank calls to celebrities and heads of state has reached Sarah Palin, convincing the Republican vice-presidential nominee she was speaking with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In the interview, which lasts about six minutes, Palin and the pranksters discuss politics, pundits, and the dangers of hunting with current vice-president Dick Cheney.

The Masked Avengers, who have a regular show on Montreal radio station CKOI, intend to air the full interview on the eve of the U.S. elections.

The well-known duo of Sebastien Trudel and Marc-Antoine Audette have also tricked Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and French president Jacques Chirac.

Some intelligence analysts have suggested the possibility of an October November surprise from Osama bin Laden, who knew we’d be hearing from the fake French?

UR Doin it Wrong

Forget health care reform or tax policies that seek to correct growing inequality, arguably the most tangible benefit of an Obama win would the eventual quiescence of Sarah Palin. Today, on a conservative radio station:

If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.

At the risk of nitpicking, I’m fairly confident the entire point of the First Amendment is to secure the media’s ability to “ask questions.”

On a related note, if you are under constant attack from what you yourself deem “mainstream”, isn’t the implication then that you represent the fringe?

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Alaska News

Sorry for the light non-existent blogging today, but I was as they say, “crashing on a deadline.” Anyway, in Alaska news, Ted Stevens is found guilty on all seven counts and those liberal coastal elitists at the Anchorage Daily News have endorsed Barack Obama.

Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth. To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time.

Seriousness

There’s really a lot that’s interesting in this New York Times feature on the various and always changing iterations of the McCain campaign, but its look at the selection of Sarah Palin is striking for just how closely it adheres to the popular notion that she was merely a political pick.

The meeting carried on without Schmidt or Rick Davis uttering an opinion about Palin. Few in the room were aware that the two had been speaking to each other about Palin for some time now. Davis was with McCain when the two met Palin for the first time, at a reception at the National Governors Association winter meeting in February, in the J. W. Marriott Hotel in Washington. It had not escaped McCain’s attention that Palin had blasted through the oleaginous Alaska network dominated by Frank Murkowski and Ted Stevens, much in the same manner that McCain saw himself doing when he was a young congressman. Newt Gingrich and others had spoken of Palin as a rising star. Davis saw something else in Palin — namely, a way to re-establish the maverick persona McCain had lost while wedding himself to Bush’s war. A female running mate might also pick off some disaffected Hillary Clinton voters.

After that first brief meeting, Davis remained in discreet but frequent contact with Palin and her staff — gathering tapes of speeches and interviews, as he was doing with all potential vice-presidential candidates. One tape in particular struck Davis as arresting: an interview with Palin and Gov. Janet Napolitano, the Arizona Democrat, on “The Charlie Rose Show” that was shown in October 2007. Reviewing the tape, it didn’t concern Davis that Palin seemed out of her depth on health-care issues or that, when asked to name her favorite candidate among the Republican field, she said, “I’m undecided.” What he liked was how she stuck to her pet issues — energy independence and ethics reform — and thereby refused to let Rose manage the interview. This was the case throughout all of the Palin footage. Consistency. Confidence. And . . . well, look at her. A friend had said to Davis: “The way you pick a vice president is, you get a frame of Time magazine, and you put the pictures of the people in that frame. You look at who fits that frame best — that’s your V. P.”

Schmidt, to whom Davis quietly supplied the Palin footage, agreed. Neither man apparently saw her lack of familiarity with major national or international issues as a serious liability. Instead, well before McCain made his selection, his chief strategist and his campaign manager both concluded that Sarah Palin would be the most dynamic pick. Despite McInturff’s encouraging new numbers, it remained their conviction that in this ominous election cycle, a Republican presidential candidate could not afford to play it safe. Picking Palin would upend the chessboard; it was a maverick type of move. McCain, the former Navy pilot, loved that sort of thing. Then again, he also loved familiarity — the swashbuckling camaraderie with his longtime staff members, the P.O.W. band of brothers who frequently rode the bus and popped up at his campaign events, the Sedona ranch where he unwound and grilled wagonloads of meat. By contrast, McCain had barely met Palin.

The purely political rationale behind many of the campaign’s decisions is the salient theme of the piece, and underscores why the McCain campaign has largely foundered: the Republicans don’t have the luxury of running a campaign as though aesthetics were the only consideration. Iraq has been exposed as a mistake, ballooning health care costs threaten longterm financial stability, and median household income hasn’t grown in eight years. Without addressing those issues in a serious manner, and moreover picking a Vice-President who virtually proves John McCain isn’t serious about solving our country’s problems, no amount of “storytelling” will secure John McCain the presidency.

Reality Bites

While Republican disdain for pointy-headed academics and the so-called liberal media does not represent a particularly new political phenomena, this trend has grown to manifested a remarkable disavowal of reality itself. Watch here as McCain spokesman Nancy Pfotenhauer asserts, even after given an opportunity to backpedal, that liberal leaning Northern Virgina is not “real” Virginia.

This argument would be less remarkable if it existed in isolation, but sadly for the GOP, actual reality is disinclined to acquiesce. Just the other day, Sarah Palin described small towns as “real America.” One can only assume Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), who in spilling a bucket of crazy on Hardball called for a media investigation of the anti-American attitudes of libebral Congressional leaders, was referring to politics inimical to those of “real America.” And most pointedly, John McCain has made the invocation of “who is the real Barack Obama” central to his election efforts.

Of course, this selective reality is noteworthy for more than its novelty or simple existence; unlike the efforts of philosophers ranging from Aristotle to Lao Tzu, the constraints of “small towniness” offer candid insight to the Republican vision of America. Nate Silver runs the analysis:

I looked at the racial composition of voting-age (18+) population in these 44 cities as according to the 2000 census.** They are, on average, 83.3 percent non-Hispanic white, 7.5 percent black, 5.2 percent Hispanic, and 4.0 percent “other”. By comparison, the US 18+ population in 2000 was 72.0 percent white, 11.2 percent black, 11.0 percent Hispanic, and 5.9 percent other. Thirty-four of Palin’s 44 cities were whiter than the US average.

The revelation that “real America” is comprised mostly of whites is hardly surprising, but illustrates a serious, long-term problem for the Republicans that exists independently of George W. Bush’s disastrous presidency. That is, demographic trends point to the increasing marginality of “real America.” By 2042, America will no longer be a majority White country. Roughly 80 percent of Americans live in cities or their suburbs and research suggests that increased population density correlates with liberal partisanship. Finally, if the government adopts more environmentally friendly policies that encourage greater population density, the GOP’s problem will be even further exacerbated.

Fortunately for the GOP however, the electoral college still dictates who wins the presidency and general unpopularity is not enough to guarantee electoral failure. Still, there’s no question that more mainstream adoption of liberal ideas presents an intractable structural battle for the Republicans. Even in the short term, GOP denial can be seen in the 3.1 million fake Americans who contributed to Barack Obama’s mindboggling $150 million September fundraising effort. Indeed, reality is not a pretty picture.

A word of advice to Republican strategists: acceptance is the first stage of recovery.

Favorite Words; Minor Felonies

Great usage of one of my favorite words, albeit in a rather disturbing context:

What I don’t expect is for some troglodyte at a campaign rally to decide that the propper way to express his frustration with Democrats, Barack Obama or the “left-wing liberal media” is to commit assualt on a colleague.

What’s he talking about?

I sidled up to one of the Obama supporters and asked why they were there, what they were trying to accomplish.

As he was telling me a large, bearded man in full McCain-Palin campaign regalia got in his face to yell at him.

“Hey, hey,” I said. “I’m trying to interview him. Just a minute, okay?”

The man began to say something about how of course I was interviewing the Obama people when suddenly, from behind us, the sound of a pro-Obama rap song came blaring out of the windows of a dorm building. We all turned our heads to see Obama signs in the windows.

This was met with curses, screams and chants of “U.S.A” by McCain-Palin folks who crowded under the windows trying to drown it out and yell at the person playing the stereo.

It was a moment of levity in an otherwise very tense situation and so I let out a gentle chuckle and shook my head.

“Oh, you think that’s funny?!” the large bearded man said. His face was turning red. “Yeah, that’s real funny…” he said.

And then he kicked the back of leg, buckling my right knee and sending me sprawling onto the ground.

Stay classy GOP.

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Just a Small Town Girl

It’s becoming banal to talk about the ignorance on display at McCain-Palin rallys, and certainly, it’s worth questioning the integrity of this “Kauffman” character working for that Moooslim network Al-Jazeera, but here’s a slice of Americana for you. Courtesy of Ohio.