William Katz:  Urgent Agenda




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BULLETIN AT 11:01 P.M. ET:  Via NewsBusters:  A new whisper campaign is forming in the blogosphere and creeping into web search engines across the internet as a self proclaimed e-zine called "LA Progressive" is spreading a false rumor that Sarah Palin called Barack Obama 'Sambo' while dining in an Alaska restaurant. Charley James, the author of the article that is unlikely to have his blogspot site shut down for Obama bias, also claims through 'anonymous sources' that Palin called Hillary Clinton a "b#^@h" in the same breath. It is getting pretty desperate out there.

COMMENT:  This is utterly revolting.  No evidence is presented.

UPDATE AT 10:48 P.M. ET: 
NEW YORK (AP) — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton marched for labor and stumped with Democrats on Saturday, but sidestepped questions about the woman who has taken her place as the nation's most-talked-about female leader.  Clinton brushed aside questions about Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin during appearances at New York City's annual Labor Day parade and later during a stop on Staten Island.

COMMENT:  Smart move on her part.  If she attacks Palin, she risks losing the working-class women she'll need in a future campaign.  Hillary does for Hillary.

from Richard Stevenson, political editor of The New York Times, complaining that Sarah Palin hasn't granted press interviews:  "One of the costs to them of not putting her out there," he added, "is the coverage is going to define her as much as the campaign."

Costs?  Did the man say "costs"?  Is he saying, in what appears to be a Freudian slip, that the coverage will be negative?  I suspect he is, because he knows that it will be.  What an admission of bias.



Posted at 10:06 p.m. ET

I've said before that some of the best writing on American politics comes from British journalists.  Now, it's true  that the usual left-wing UK writers have joined the assault on Sarah Palin, describing her the way leftist Brits would - scary, monstrous, John McCain's mistake, and other things they've said a zillion times about anyone to the right of them.

But Nick Cohen has always been a leftist Brit with sense - it must be a gene variation - and he often goes his own way.  Here he risks life and limb with a caustic view of how his American comrades have treated Sarah.  The title alone tells the story:  When Barack's berserkers lost the plot.

It's very good.  Read on:

During the 1997 British general election, the late Lord Jenkins said that Tony Blair was like a man walking down a shiny corridor carrying a precious vase. He was the favourite and held his fate in his hands. If he could just reach the end of the hall without a slip, a Labour victory was assured. The same could have been said of the American Democrats last week. But instead of protecting their precious advantage, they succumbed to a spasm of hatred and threw the vase, the crockery, the cutlery and the kitchen sink at an obscure politician from Alaska.

Well said.

For once, the postmodern theories so many of them were taught at university are a help to the rest of us. As a Christian, conservative anti-abortionist who proved her support for the Iraq War by sending her son to fight in it, Sarah Palin was 'the other' - the threatening alien presence they defined themselves against...

...But instead of following a measured strategy, they went berserk. On the one hand, the media treated her as a sex object. The New York Times led the way in painting Palin as a glamour-puss in go-go boots you were more likely to find in an Anchorage lap-dancing club than the Alaska governor's office.On the other, liberal journalists turned her family into an object of sexual disgust: inbred rednecks who had stumbled out of Deliverance.

The man knows the American press, especially the liberal contingent, which is the major chunk of it.

Hatred is the most powerful emotion in politics. At present, American liberals are not fighting for an Obama presidency. I suspect that most have only the haziest idea of what it would mean for their country. The slogans that move their hearts and stir their souls are directed against their enemies: Bush, the neo-cons, the religious right.

In this, American liberals are no different from the politically committed the world over.

But they're so expert at it.

When a hate campaign goes wrong, however, disaster follows. And everything that could go wrong with the campaign against Palin did.

And then came the Palin surprise.

As it was, her family appeared on stage without a goitre or a club foot between them, and Palin made a fighting speech that appealed over the heads of reporters to the public we claim to represent. 'I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion,' she said as she deftly detached journalists from their readers and viewers. 'I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this country.'

I told you this was good.  And more:

'When a man believes that any stick will do, he at once picks up a boomerang,' said GK Chesterton, and when the politically committed go on a berserker you should listen for the sound of their own principles smacking them in the face.

Journalists who believe in women's equality should not spread sexual smears about a candidate, or snigger at her teenage daughter's pregnancy, or declare that a mother with a young family cannot hold down a responsible job for the pragmatic reason that they will look like gross hypocrites if they do.

There is a British precedent.

In Britain, the most snobbish attacks on Margaret Thatcher did not come from aristocrats but from the communist historian Eric Hobsbawm, who opined that Thatcherism was the 'anarchism of the lower middle classes' and the liberal Jonathan Miller, who deplored her 'odious suburban gentility.'

And they think of themselves as the good people.

In an age when politics is choreographed, voters watch out for the moments when the public-relations facade breaks down and venom pours through the cracks. Their judgment is rarely favourable when it does. Barack Obama knows it. All last week, he was warning American liberals to stay away from the Palin family. He understands better than his supporters that it is not a politician's enemies who lose elections, but his friends.

That's one of the best columns I've read recently, and it's by a leftist.  This proves that a leftist, like a German Shepherd, can perform valuable services for humankind when properly trained and subdued.

September 6, 2008.      Permalink          




Posted at 7:10 p.m. ET

Senators McCain and Obama will both be at Ground Zero this Thursday to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks. 

We all know that these attacks have been the subject of a number of crazed, but probably lucrative, conspiracy theories.  Some of the most vivid involve Building 7, one of the smaller buildings in the World Trade Center complex, which collapsed late in the afternoon of September 11, 2001.

By coincidence, the National Institute of Standards and Technology released Friday the final report on what happened to Building 7.  It demolishes the quack theories, although a core of professional crackpots will probably still claim that Bush did it himself:

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has at last determined, once and for all, what brought down one of the World Trade Center buildings during the 9/11 attacks.

The fall of the 47-story World Trade Center's Building 7 at 5:20 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, was primarily due to fires from the building itself, NIST announced Friday, following an extensive, three-year investigation. This was the first known instance of fire causing the total collapse of a tall building, the agency said.

The first known instance?  Ah hah!  Must have been an inside job. 

No, not quite, says the Institute:

"Our study found that the fires in WTC 7, which were uncontrolled but otherwise similar to fires experienced in other tall buildings, caused an extraordinary event," said lead investigator Shyam Sunder. "Heating of floor beams and girders caused a critical support column to fail, initiating a fire-induced progressive collapse that brought the building down."

The trapezoid-shaped Building 7 was connected to the World Trade Center plaza by an elevated walkway. The building was damaged and set afire by debris - including an enormous broadcast antennae - from the collapse of the nearby North Tower; it burned all day and collapsed itself late that afternoon.

The report addresses the conspiracy theories directly:

"Video and photographic evidence combined with detailed computer simulations show that neither explosives nor fuel oil fires played a role in the collapse of WTC 7," Mr. Sunder said.

I did not see a single broadcast story on this report, which I think is sad, because journalistic silence permits the conspiracy nuts to operate.  If any of you heard or saw such a story, please let us know.

As far as I'm concerned, that closes the book on the case of Building 7.  A new Building 7 has taken its place.

September 6, 2008.      Permalink          


  I just watched part of the McCain/Palin rally in Colorado Springs, carried on both CNN and Fox.  Large crowd, great energy.  Sarah Palin is certainly compelling.  Or, maybe we should say comPALINg.  The words just flow.  She speaks with such confidence.  McCain was also fine, but the fact is that she outshines him.  That's okay.  He has the confidence to accept that, and his life story makes the man.

A few points:  Both Palin and McCain delivered the same speeches they did at the convention - now the standard stump speeches.  That's generally what's done, and reporters get driven crazy hearing the same lines over and over.   The problem is that, with these live TV cable-news pickups, the public now hears the same lines again and again.  Not good.  They're going to have to have some daily inserts that can quickly be added when the cameras are on. 

Also, they've got to get some diversity into the crowd.  Give out tickets.  Promise ice-cream cones.  Anything.  But some diversity is expected these days, and you don't want TV pundits harping on the sameness of those crowds.  Why give them a talking point?

The campaign is off to a good start, with lots of juice.  Now let's hope for a boost in the polls.

NOTE AT 2:07 P.M. ET:  Reader Robert Adair asks an intriguing question about Joe Biden:  "In my business we would question Biden's experience this way:   Does he have 35 years of experience, or does he have ONE YEAR of experience 35 times?  I would suggest it's the latter."

Hmm.  Provocative point.



Posted at Posted at 1:27 p.m. ET

Now we're talking.  Both of our usual trackers for Saturday have now been posted, with the second happier than the first.

As reported earlier, Rasmussen shows Obama up by three.  He was up two yesterday.  Not good.

But Gallup now reports Obama up only two.  He was up four yesterday, and up eight on Tuesday.  A smile starts to form.  Gallup says:

This includes a strong night for McCain in Friday's interviewing, the first full night of interviewing following his acceptance speech.


The test for McCain will be whether he can do more than return the race to the absolute tie seen at the beginning of the convention period, and actually lead Obama by a significant margin for the first time since late April/early May.

So far, so good.  The entire impact of the GOP convention will first show up in Monday's result.  But we're in very competitive territory, especially with the possibility that tomorrow's result, and Monday's, could show further McCain gains.  That is our hope.

September 6, 2008.      Permalink          


UPDATE AT 9:51 A.M. ET: 
I just checked and found that the full impact of the Obama bounce from his convention wasn't reported in the tracking polls until this past Tuesday, the Tuesday following the Democratic National Convention in Denver. 

The first tracker for Saturday is out, and it's disappointing.  Two thirds of the polling was done after Sarah Palin's acceptance speech, and a third after John McCain's.  Rasmussen reports Obama has a three-point lead.  He had a two-point lead yesterday.

This is not good, but there's no reason to panic.  Sometimes it takes a few days for reactions to materialize.  However, I'd hoped Rasmussen this morning would show a further erosion for Obama, even a McCain lead, and that hasn't happened.  But all polls have a margin of error and statistical noise.  We may be seeing that.

One encouraging result reported by Rasmussen: 

As McCain has begun to chip away as Obama’s convention bounce, most of his gains have come among women voters. Obama still leads 51% to 44% among women, but that seven-point edge is just half the fourteen point lead he enjoyed last Tuesday. McCain leads by three among men, little changed in recent days.

We await Gallup this afternoon. 



Posted at 8:05 a.m. ET

So far, the crowds for McSarah have been great.  The two were in Wisconsin and Michigan yesterday, and tickets are already gone for their rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado, this afternoon.  Some might charge that they're only attracting the base of the GOP.  I doubt that, and the story rebuts the charge, but attracting the base is also critical this year.  If the base is fired up, registered voters become likely voters, and that's what we need. 

The Politico reports:

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich.—John McCain may have swapped one enthusiasm gap for another.

As he touched down in suburbs outside of Milwaukee and Detroit, the just crowned Republican nominee found himself first on the newly-fashioned signs proclaiming the unlikely GOP ticket but seemingly second in the hearts of the thousands who thronged rallies to catch their first glimpse in person of Sarah Palin.

McCain drew loud applause, first at a morning appearance in the downtown of a quaint, Republican-leaning Wisconsin village and then at a more-boisterous amphitheater rally here in Michigan’s working-class Macomb County.

Yet it was Palin who many, especially women, in both crowds were thrilled to see up close just days after she exploded onto the national political scene.

Clutching signs with messages such as “Girl Power” and “Sarah Is My American Idol,” moms and their daughters lined the barricades just outside The Chocolate Shop in Cedarburg, Wisconsin that served as the backdrop for the rally.

Heaven?  Are we in Heaven?

But Palin, with her out-of-nowhere debut, compelling personal story and first-rate convention speech, has injected new life into the GOP and piqued the curiosity of voters who are only mildly interested in politics.

Mary Beth Brennan of Linden, Michigan caught some of Palin’s speech Wednesday, was impressed and let a political junkie friend drag her here to Freedom Theater to see the GOP ticket Friday night, where many women were sporting just-made “Go Sarah Go” buttons on their shirts.

I want my button.

On the rope line following both events, she received as much attention as McCain, with many women reaching out for handshakes and holding up digital cameras. Some clutched copies of this week’s Newsweek in hopes of adding an autograph to the cover of the new Republican duo.

In Wisconsin, after one side of the podium received attention from McCain, they quickly began a “Sarah” chant in hopes of attracting his number two. They had to wait as she and McCain first dashed into the ice cream shop, where Palin ordered, naturally, Moose Tracks.

This is key:

But for the many who showed up to see the newly-minted Republican team, it wasn’t any issue or political posture that had brought them out.

It was just a women that they saw a lot of themselves in. Or, as one homemade sign put it, “Pro-Life Hockey Moms 4 Palin.”

That's the heart of her appeal.  If used right, it can add enough to bring victory closer.

September 6, 2008.      Permalink          


Posted at 8:01 a.m. ET

The great Ed Lasky, of American Thinker, e-mails us an alert about one Hollis French.  Remember the name?  We referred to him yesterday.  He's the Democrat up in Alaska who's heading the "investigation" into Sarah Palin's activities as governor.  No doubt it will be a fair, thoughtful, balanced probe.


Ed did a search giving the keywords "Hollis French Obama."  He sends us this raw extract for results 1-10:

1.. Riehl World View: Obama's Man In AK: Hollis French Speaks Out On Palin
  Sep 2, 2008 ... "Senator Obama has a plan to end our dependence on foreign
oil and reduce skyrocketing energy prices," said Senator Hollis French of
 - 74k - Cached - Similar pages
  2.. Media Blog on National Review Online
  Sep 4, 2008 ... Obama Using Hollis French to 'Fact-Check' Palin? [Greg
Pollowitz]. I was reading the Democrats' fact-check of Palin's speech (which
I ...
 - 17k - Cached - Similar pages
  3.. Obama's Man In AK: Hollis French Speaks Out On Palin - White House '08
  Obama's Man In AK: Hollis French Speaks Out On Palin - Talk about a
conflict of interest. This guy French should either step down, or at least
stop talking ...
 - 46k - Cached - Similar pages
  4.. Alaska's Hollis French should recuse himself from Palin Probe by ...
  Alaska's Hollis French is a full blown Obama supporter, which is a
conflict of interest in this case being drummed up on Palin. Dan Riehl has
the details. ...
 - 96k - Cached - Similar pages
  5.. Media Blog on National Review Online
  Sep 3, 2008 ... That would be Hollis French, Obama surrogate. (See below.)
Maybe the Times thinks Caroline Kennedy should have been consulted, too? ...
 - Similar pages

Nice, huh? 

This is the way the Obama people play ball.  There's no "change" there.  It's Chicago street politics on a world stage.  Starry-eyed young people, take note.

The Alaska probe is a farce, and should be exposed.  Where are all those "investigative reporters" we've heard so much about?

September 6, 2008.      Permalink          





Posted at 10:47 p.m. ET

It was disappointing.  Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1984, has been gutsy through this election season in refusing to throw her support to Barack Obama because 1) she'd supported Hillary Clinton for the nomination and 2) she had doubts about his readiness to lead.

Now, as I saw on Hannity & Colmes tonight, Ferraro has caved.  She announced she's supporting Obama.  Her reason?  Joe Biden and his "experience."

Have you noticed that Biden is given an automatic pass by the media and the political class because of his "experience"?  Sarah Palin, a governor, is constantly questioned about her "experience," but Biden is considered automatically qualified to be vice president or even president because he's served six terms in the Senate.  Have you also noticed that no one asks what Biden has done with that experience?  What judgments has he made?  How have they turned out?  What has he actually done in the Senate, and what impact has he had?

"Experience" can't simply be a matter of putting in time.  In fact, Biden's judgments have often been horribly flawed.  He opposed virtually the entire Reagan foreign policy, a policy that resulted in the successful conclusion to the Cold War.  He opposed the first Gulf War.  He opposed the surge in Iraq.  He has consistently appeased the Iranian regime.  Yet, no questions are asked.  He has "experience."

Experience can be important, but the nature and quality of that experience must be examined.  Years in grade is not experience.  It is time.

Another concept that requires a closer look is "temperament."  You've read all sorts of stories questioning whether Senator McCain has the "temperament" to be president.  He has, we're told, a sizable temper.  (So did Eisenhower.)  We're told he can be confrontational.  (So was Lyndon Johnson.)  But have you heard any questions about Barack Obama's "temperament?"  In fact, there are serious worries.  If there's one thing that defines the presidency it's pressure.  Yet, Obama seems incapable of standing up to any pressure at all.  He gets testy if someone asks him a rare challenging question.  He seems to come apart unless there's a script in front of him.  Politically, he's never shown strength of character or backbone.  But only McCain's "temperament" is examined.  Apparently, temper or lack thereof, is the only issue of temperament worthy of study.

So, two concepts - experience, temperament - have been misused during this campaign, and the misuse has benefited - shock - the Democratic side.  Write letters to your local newspapers.  Ask for some journalistic change - change you can believe in.

September 5, 2008.      Permalink          


UPDATE AT 7:14 P.M. ET: 
From ABC News:  ABC News has exclusively learned that Alaska Senator Hollis French will announce today that he is moving up the release date of his investigation into whether Gov. Sarah Palin abused her office to get the Alaska public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, fired. The results of the investigation were originally scheduled for release Oct. 31 but will now come almost three weeks earlier, according to sources.

Comment:  This could be trouble for Sarah, but could also work to her advantage.  This Hollis French chap is a Democrat, and most voters will probably discount anything he says.  Also, the timing - coming out with a report within a month of the election - will probably turn people off.  The McCain campaign, though, must prepare the electorate for the report in advance, ridiculing it and framing it as a political event. 




Posted at 5:46 p.m. ET

Hillary Clinton that is.  Suddenly, the defeated challenger is a hot property to the Obama camp because of the belief that she can counter Sarah Palin.

But the Hillary response will apparently be, "Not so fast."  She's willing to help, but on her terms, as The Politico reports:

Hillary Rodham Clinton has no intention of becoming a Sarah Palin attack dog — but has no qualms going after John McCain, people close to the former first lady say.

“She’s not the answer when it comes to winning conservative women — she never was — and we’re not going to be anybody’s attack dog against Sarah Palin,” said a Clinton insider. “To be fair to Obama’s people, they haven’t asked us to do that.”

No, I'll bet they never even thought of it. 

Clinton will continue to yoke McCain and Palin to President Bush on pocketbook issues. But sources say that Clinton, who supports abortion rights, isn’t likely to criticize the Alaska governor for her anti-abortion stance. She may, however, question Palin’s record on equal-pay issues.

Translated into English, Clinton is smart enough not to alienate pro-life women, a group she'd want in 2012.  Attacking on equal-pay issues is routine, and no one remembers.

The Obama campaign, alarmed by Palin’s instant popularity, has given Clinton’s staff a proposed fall campaign schedule in economically distressed battleground states — including Ohio and Pennsylvania — where she did well during the primaries, according to people familiar with the situation.

The former first lady, who is due to appear at an Obama event in Florida on Monday, hasn’t gotten back to them yet. When she does, she’s likely to add a few stops of her own — fundraisers, including at least one in Texas to help her repay more than $20 million in debt incurred during the primary.

She might even recall that Obama hasn't lifted a finger to help her pay that debt.  What does she owe him, except some go-through-the-motions speeches as a party loyalist? 

It will be a weird sight to behold - Clinton campaigning for a man she almost surely wants to lose, so she can have a clear shot at 2012.  And on the other ticket is the woman she might well face in that year. 

2012:  Clinton vs. Palin for the American presidency.  Now, the Mayan calendar says the world will end on December 21, 2012.  But we'll know the result by then, and maybe we won't care.

September 5, 2008.      Permalink          


UPDATE AT 1:40 P.M. ET:  From TV Week:  Presidential candidate John McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention drew more television viewers than his rival Barack Obama attracted at the Democratic party's event last week, according to preliminary ratings from Nielsen Media Research.



Posted at 1:23 p.m. ET

Both trackers for the day are now out, and both show a drop for Obama.

As reported earlier, Rasmussen has Obama up two, a drop from five yesterday.

Gallup has Obama up four, a drop from seven yesterday.

Ras measures likely voters, Gallup registered voters. 

Two thirds of the polling for both Ras and Gallup was conducted before Sarah Palin's acceptance speech.  None of the polling yet reflects Senator McCain's speech.

By Sunday we should have the full impact of the Palin speech, and by Monday the full impact of Senator McCain's.

Things are moving in the right direction.

September 5, 2008.      Permalink          


UPDATE AT 11:05 A.M. ET:  
More from Rasmussen.  A Rasmussen survey shows Sarah Palin more popular than either John McCain or Barack Obama.  And here's something else:

The Palin pick has also improved perceptions of John McCain. A week ago, just before he introduced his running mate, just 42% of Republicans had a Very Favorable opinion of their party’s nominee. That figure jumped to 54% by this Friday morning. Among unaffiliated voters, favorable opinions of McCain have increased by eleven percentage points in a week—from 54% before the Palin announcement to 65% today.

Go to the link for details.

UPDATE AT 10:30 A.M. ET:  The internals are now available for this morning's Rasumussen tracker.  Rasmussen says:

Virtually all of the interviews for today’s update were completed before McCain’s speech last night. Roughly two-thirds of the interviews were completed before Palin’s speech on Wednesday night.

And still, Obama dropped three points in the tracker.  Not good news for Obama.  Rasmussen also reports:

Fifty-one percent (51%) of voters now believe that McCain made the right choice when he picked Palin to be his running mate while 32% disagree. By way of comparison, 47% said that Obama made the right choice by picking Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his running mate. Voters are evenly divided as to whether Palin or Obama has the better experience to be President.

We'll await Gallup this afternoon.  So far, very good.


BULLETIN AT 10:05 A.M. ET:  Real Clear Politics reports that this morning's Rasmussen tracker shows Obama with a two-point lead, down from five yesterday.  Please note that this survey was taken Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, so only reflects part of the impact of Sarah Palin's speech and probably none of the impact of last night's speech by John McCain.

ADVISORY AT 9:48 A.M. ET:   We are trying to get the results of the first tracker of the day, from Rasmussen.  At first their site was inaccessible, probably due to heavy traffic.  Now it's only showing yesterday's result.  We're monitoring.  We'll get this to you as soon as we have it. 


Posted at 6:58 a.m. ET

Or, as they say in my former industry, the envelope please...

We wait for the results of the Republican convention.  Senator McCain's speech got decidedly mixed reviews.  I felt it was quite good - the kind of speech that appeals to the gut, to Americans who want to have pride in their leaders.  The people shall judge.

The McCain-Palin ticket is in Wisconsin today.  First indicator to look for - the size and enthusiasm of their crowds.  We'll especially be watching for the response to Sarah.  If she ignites, she may do more for McCain than any vice-presidential candidate has done for the top of the ticket since Lyndon Johnson delivered Texas to Jack Kennedy in 1960.  If she doesn't ignite...well, let's not think about that.

One institution that came out of the GOP convention in ragged shape is the media.  In a way, this may help the McCain ticket.  The Republican base is energized, and one of the things that provided the octane was the mass assault on Sarah Palin.  That assault also gives the McCain forces the maneuvering room, the rationale, to move around the press and speak directly to the American people, which was one of the tactics used by Ronald Reagan.  It added immensely to his succeess.

Conventions create, not memories, but images.  Few remember the words.  They do recall how they reacted to the words, to the person on the screen.  That's what will be measured by the pollsters in the next few days.

May the best man/woman ticket win.  I'm not giving you much choice.

September 5, 2008.      Permalink           



Posted at 6:54 a.m.

Why is it that some of the best commentary on our campaign is coming from the mother country?  We've quoted Gerard Baker of The Times of London many times before.  Now he writes another perceptive piece on what's just happened:

The best line I heard about Sarah Palin during the frenzied orgy of chauvinist condescension and gutter-crawling journalistic intrusion that greeted her nomination for vice-president a week ago came from a correspondent who knows a thing or two about Alaska.

“What's the difference between Sarah Palin and Barack Obama?”

“One is a well turned-out, good-looking, and let's be honest, pretty sexy piece of eye-candy.

“The other kills her own food.”


Now we know, thanks to her triumphant debut at the Republican convention on Wednesday, that Mrs Palin not only slaughters her prey. She impales its head on a stick and parades it around for her followers to jeer at. For half an hour she eviscerated Mr Obama in that hall and did it all without dropping her sweet schoolmarm smile, as if she were handing out chocolates at the end of a history lesson.

Also perfect.

Not since Paris handed that apple to Aphrodite has a man's selection of a woman had such implications for the future of our civilisation.

And he's just warming up.  Baker points out that vice-presidential choices rarely make that much of a difference.  This time, though, may be different:

But let me try to explain why Mrs Palin, whatever impact she might have in November, may be a figure of real consequence in our lives...

...It never ceases to amaze me how the Left falls again and again into the old trap of underestimating politicians whom they don't understand. From Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher to George Bush and Mrs Palin, they do it every time. Because these characters talk a bit funny and have ridiculously antiquated views about faith, family and nation, because they haven't spent time bending the knee to the intellectual metropolitan elites, they can't be taken seriously.

Well said.  May the left continue to blunder.  On Sarah Palin:

No one paid much attention to the fact that she had been elected governor of a state. Or that she got to that office not because, unlike some politicians I could mention, her husband had been there before her, or because she bleated continuously about glass ceilings, but by challenging the entrenched interests in her own party and beating them. In almost two years as Governor she has cleaned out the Augean stables of Alaskan Government. You don't win a statewide election and enjoy approval ratings of more than 80 per cent without real political talent.

Correct. But the Washington media isn't interested in talent.  It's interested in being courted.

So here's why she matters.

First of all she offers an opportunity for an ailing Republican party to reconnect with ordinary Americans. She's conservative, but her conservatism is not that of the intolerant, uncomprehending white male sort that has so hurt the party in recent years. She is much closer to a model of the lives of ordinary Americans - working mother, plainspoken everywoman juggling home and office - than any Republican leader in memory.


The Republicans have decided that they are not going to make the mistake Hillary Clinton made and run against the effervescent Mr Obama on the premise of experience.

Experience hasn't got Americans into a very comfortable place. They want change. Before he signed up to some of the less attractive Republican attitudes this year, Mr McCain's career had embodied that change - the anti-establishment candidate running against his own party. Now he is joined by a woman who, in her short career, has done the same thing.

She could be the change they've been waiting for.

The opportunity for McCain-Palin is not reaction, but reform - a reform rooted in a distant conservatism that could be due for a comeback

Hailing from Arizona and Alaska, the Republican ticket has a chance to rekindle a western conservatism different from the old Yankee paternalist sort or the Bible Belt version. They like their guns out there (some still kill their own food) and they are pro-life and deeply pro-America, of course. But at a time of grave challenges, the themes of economic freedom and opportunity, the resistance to the idea that government holds all the answers, could resonate with voters.


This is an election, as the Democrats have realised all along, about an America on the cusp of change. With the moose-hunting, establishment-taunting Mrs Palin at his side, Mr McCain might represent a bigger change than the one that his opponents are offering.

You don't have to agree with all that Baker says, but I think he's on to something.  I only wish that more American journalists were as incisive as he is.

September 5, 2008.      Permalink          




"What you see is news.  What you know is background.  What you feel is opinion."
    - Lester Markel, late Sunday editor
      of The New York Times.



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It's a privilege for me to post periodic pieces at Power Line. To go to Power Line, click here.

To link to my Power Line pieces, go here.


This space will regularly raise questions that relate to the news, but transcend daily headlines.  The idea is to stimulate talk about basic issues. Our last question asked: 

Last week we asked,

What would you like to see President Bush accomplish in his last five months in office?

You can view the answers here.



This question was drawn from an idea by reader Bill Palmer:

What are the three most absurd positions put forward by Barack Obama?


If you'd like to send us your thoughts, click:
(Please stay within two or three paragraphs.  We try to print every reply, if space allows.  Place your name at the end of the message if you wish your name published.  This question will stay up through Sunday.)




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