Commentary Magazine


Posts For: August 29, 2008

Who’s The Reformer?

It seems we have had a role reversal in the campaign. Barack Obama rode the “change” and New Politics memes to the Democratic nomination, largely as a weapon to dislodge the Clintons from their perch in the Democratic Party. But there is little of that left. The flip-flops, the scathing personal attacks on John McCain, the hardball tactics to shut down Bill Ayers ads, and the race-card gambit left little doubt that it is old politics from here on out. Indeed, Obama’s speech in Denver was a snappier version of the same old tune from the liberal playbook: big government, America’s decline, and class warfare.

Little did Obama suspect that the “change” and reform mantle would be taken up so swiftly by John McCain. Before Friday McCain had relied on a combination of clever tactics (e.g. debunking Obamamania with pop culture web ads) and gained ground by stressing his national security bona fides and touting his energy policy. The maverick profile was blurry at best.

That all changed on Friday with the Sarah Palin pick. As the Wall Street Journal editors noted:

Senator Obama’s acceptance speech made it clear that his campaign strategy is pegged to linking Mr. McCain to the Beltway Republicans and the struggling economy. It’s a powerful argument, and John McCain needs an answer to Mr. Obama’s list of Democratic bromides. The vulnerability in the Obama plan is there’s little in it that is new. He’d mostly replace one status quo with an earlier status quo of government spending schemes. Joe Biden is no help on that.

Mr. McCain’s instinct clearly is to offer himself to voters as a reformer. With Sarah Palin, a genuine reformer, Mr. McCain may have found the right idea and the right person to make his run.

The pick offers more than a strategic maneuver to capture the Hillary voters; it suggests a reorientation back to the 2000 Straight Talk maverick. It also hints at an effort to reinvigorate and broaden the appeal of the Republican brand. Will we have Palin Democrats this year (e.g. middle-aged women, western libertarians and social conservatives from the Rust Belt)? Depends on execution. It is no small thing if McCain can wake up his base while expanding his electoral appeal. And suddenly the Republican Convention looks a whole lot more interesting and more exciting.

It seems we have had a role reversal in the campaign. Barack Obama rode the “change” and New Politics memes to the Democratic nomination, largely as a weapon to dislodge the Clintons from their perch in the Democratic Party. But there is little of that left. The flip-flops, the scathing personal attacks on John McCain, the hardball tactics to shut down Bill Ayers ads, and the race-card gambit left little doubt that it is old politics from here on out. Indeed, Obama’s speech in Denver was a snappier version of the same old tune from the liberal playbook: big government, America’s decline, and class warfare.

Little did Obama suspect that the “change” and reform mantle would be taken up so swiftly by John McCain. Before Friday McCain had relied on a combination of clever tactics (e.g. debunking Obamamania with pop culture web ads) and gained ground by stressing his national security bona fides and touting his energy policy. The maverick profile was blurry at best.

That all changed on Friday with the Sarah Palin pick. As the Wall Street Journal editors noted:

Senator Obama’s acceptance speech made it clear that his campaign strategy is pegged to linking Mr. McCain to the Beltway Republicans and the struggling economy. It’s a powerful argument, and John McCain needs an answer to Mr. Obama’s list of Democratic bromides. The vulnerability in the Obama plan is there’s little in it that is new. He’d mostly replace one status quo with an earlier status quo of government spending schemes. Joe Biden is no help on that.

Mr. McCain’s instinct clearly is to offer himself to voters as a reformer. With Sarah Palin, a genuine reformer, Mr. McCain may have found the right idea and the right person to make his run.

The pick offers more than a strategic maneuver to capture the Hillary voters; it suggests a reorientation back to the 2000 Straight Talk maverick. It also hints at an effort to reinvigorate and broaden the appeal of the Republican brand. Will we have Palin Democrats this year (e.g. middle-aged women, western libertarians and social conservatives from the Rust Belt)? Depends on execution. It is no small thing if McCain can wake up his base while expanding his electoral appeal. And suddenly the Republican Convention looks a whole lot more interesting and more exciting.

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Who Will Blow Up?

Unnamed Republican consultants tell Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic that  they are “struggling with” the Palin pick. “They expect her to have a good week… and then to crash and burn when she hits the campaign trail as scrutiny catches up with her.”

Perhaps. That’s one reaction from people angry that someone was chosen whose campaign business it never even occurred to them to seek. On the larger point, if you had to pick a politician in the United States most likely to say something embarrassing to party and candidate, your best guide to whether that would happen would be whether the person in question had a history of such misbehavior. Palin is from a small far-away state, but she took on a powerful party Establishment during the era of YouTube. There were plenty of people gunning for her. One can presume that if she had a history of gaffe-making, there would already be at least a limited record of it.

On the other hand, Joe Biden is the gaffe gift that keeps on giving — just last year he made two huge blunders, one about Obama being nice and clean for a black man, and another about how you have to speak in an Indian accent to get served at a 7-11. Biden has been making mistakes like this for at least two decades on a fairly regular basis. If you had to bet, the smart money would be on Biden blowing it first — because he has stuck his foot in his mouth so frequently before and because even over the past week he has shown signs of indiscipline and an overenthusiastic mouth.

Unnamed Republican consultants tell Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic that  they are “struggling with” the Palin pick. “They expect her to have a good week… and then to crash and burn when she hits the campaign trail as scrutiny catches up with her.”

Perhaps. That’s one reaction from people angry that someone was chosen whose campaign business it never even occurred to them to seek. On the larger point, if you had to pick a politician in the United States most likely to say something embarrassing to party and candidate, your best guide to whether that would happen would be whether the person in question had a history of such misbehavior. Palin is from a small far-away state, but she took on a powerful party Establishment during the era of YouTube. There were plenty of people gunning for her. One can presume that if she had a history of gaffe-making, there would already be at least a limited record of it.

On the other hand, Joe Biden is the gaffe gift that keeps on giving — just last year he made two huge blunders, one about Obama being nice and clean for a black man, and another about how you have to speak in an Indian accent to get served at a 7-11. Biden has been making mistakes like this for at least two decades on a fairly regular basis. If you had to bet, the smart money would be on Biden blowing it first — because he has stuck his foot in his mouth so frequently before and because even over the past week he has shown signs of indiscipline and an overenthusiastic mouth.

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Commentary of the Day

Davy, on Peter Wehner:

I came across this blog from realclearpolitics.com but judging solely on the post above, this must be a partisan publication. Any political hack, if honest, will tell you that Palin as VP, is a hail mary pass, a half-court heave, an attempt to hit a 10-run homer — whatever sports analogy you want to use — it smacks of desperation.

In a week or so, it will also bring some serious tactical challenges:

1. They are going to have to spend a lot of time filling in the blanks on Palin, more so than was the case with Biden, who came with a ready-made narrative. That means less time for messaging on whatever issues which can win the election, most likely attacks on Obama.

2. McCain has now made age a bona fide and safe issue to discuss. The Dems have tiptoed around but now, America has no choice but to confront the fact that McCain is 72 and Palin would be next in-line to be POTUS.

3. The Dems are moving to neutralize the energy issue with the Gang of 10 compromise which will allow some offshore drilling so Palin’s selling point as an energy-conscious governor will be nullified to an extent.

4. This is the worst way to pitch Hillary voters. Many Hillary voters resisted Barack Obama as another example of the less-qualified male stepping over the more qualified older woman. Palin is now going to be the poster girl for the younger, pretty, less-qualified girl that older women have always had to deal with, whether it’s the boss preferring eye candy over competence or the husband trading in the older model to deal with his midlife crisis. The fact that Palin has very little common ground on the issues with Hillary means that PUMA, in order to vote for the Republicans, have to admit that it is solely about ovaries and nothing else.

5. McCain did next-to-nothing to bolster his credentials on the economy. Palin manages a state that pays people to live there — that’s a very different situation than the lower 48.

6. Joe Biden will relentlessly attack McCain and now Palin. How can Palin credibly attack Obama or Biden on experience or foreign policy?

7. That crowd in Ohio was not terribly excited (or at least that’s how it played on TV) about Palin. Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s initial reaction was probably more representative of the true feelings in the party than the made-for-TV response brought out after the announcement.

Davy, on Peter Wehner:

I came across this blog from realclearpolitics.com but judging solely on the post above, this must be a partisan publication. Any political hack, if honest, will tell you that Palin as VP, is a hail mary pass, a half-court heave, an attempt to hit a 10-run homer — whatever sports analogy you want to use — it smacks of desperation.

In a week or so, it will also bring some serious tactical challenges:

1. They are going to have to spend a lot of time filling in the blanks on Palin, more so than was the case with Biden, who came with a ready-made narrative. That means less time for messaging on whatever issues which can win the election, most likely attacks on Obama.

2. McCain has now made age a bona fide and safe issue to discuss. The Dems have tiptoed around but now, America has no choice but to confront the fact that McCain is 72 and Palin would be next in-line to be POTUS.

3. The Dems are moving to neutralize the energy issue with the Gang of 10 compromise which will allow some offshore drilling so Palin’s selling point as an energy-conscious governor will be nullified to an extent.

4. This is the worst way to pitch Hillary voters. Many Hillary voters resisted Barack Obama as another example of the less-qualified male stepping over the more qualified older woman. Palin is now going to be the poster girl for the younger, pretty, less-qualified girl that older women have always had to deal with, whether it’s the boss preferring eye candy over competence or the husband trading in the older model to deal with his midlife crisis. The fact that Palin has very little common ground on the issues with Hillary means that PUMA, in order to vote for the Republicans, have to admit that it is solely about ovaries and nothing else.

5. McCain did next-to-nothing to bolster his credentials on the economy. Palin manages a state that pays people to live there — that’s a very different situation than the lower 48.

6. Joe Biden will relentlessly attack McCain and now Palin. How can Palin credibly attack Obama or Biden on experience or foreign policy?

7. That crowd in Ohio was not terribly excited (or at least that’s how it played on TV) about Palin. Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s initial reaction was probably more representative of the true feelings in the party than the made-for-TV response brought out after the announcement.

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“Andrew and the Jew-Baiters”

Jeffrey Goldberg is a terrific reporter. He’s also become, recently, a blooger. I’m glad he has. He always has something interesting and worthwhile to say–including this post on Andrew Sullivan. Goldberg is understandably troubled that Sullivan would be entertained by a Jew-baiting blogger, who refers to Representative Eric Cantor as “essentially an unregistered Israeli lobbyist.” Goldberg’s last sentence says it very well: “I wish Andrew would go back to bashing the Jew-baiters, rather than reveling in their smears.”

Jeffrey Goldberg is a terrific reporter. He’s also become, recently, a blooger. I’m glad he has. He always has something interesting and worthwhile to say–including this post on Andrew Sullivan. Goldberg is understandably troubled that Sullivan would be entertained by a Jew-baiting blogger, who refers to Representative Eric Cantor as “essentially an unregistered Israeli lobbyist.” Goldberg’s last sentence says it very well: “I wish Andrew would go back to bashing the Jew-baiters, rather than reveling in their smears.”

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Palin Reaction Round-Up

I agree with this fair-minded list of pros and cons on the Sarah Palin pick, but I think her position is not all that different from John McCain’s on gay rights. (To the extent it is, it is likely a net plus.)

I am not the only one who thinks the Obama campaign reaction to Palin was dumb. So does Barack Obama.

Can’t say this about too many VP’s: “A highly competitive, athletic woman with a cool high school nickname, who owns a float plane and loves mooseburgers.”

This sounds like an ad.

Jeffrey Goldberg says Sarah Palin’s has superior experience  over  the other three candidates on the presidential tickets: “In running something, that is. She’s been in charge of a state (a large one, so I’m told) for two years. The three men in the race have run senate offices. So McCain, in other words, chooses experience. The blog-wife, who is no Republican, thinks this is a very smart move. ”

And Heather Wilson agrees!

A comprehensive list of the upside.

I agree with this fair-minded list of pros and cons on the Sarah Palin pick, but I think her position is not all that different from John McCain’s on gay rights. (To the extent it is, it is likely a net plus.)

I am not the only one who thinks the Obama campaign reaction to Palin was dumb. So does Barack Obama.

Can’t say this about too many VP’s: “A highly competitive, athletic woman with a cool high school nickname, who owns a float plane and loves mooseburgers.”

This sounds like an ad.

Jeffrey Goldberg says Sarah Palin’s has superior experience  over  the other three candidates on the presidential tickets: “In running something, that is. She’s been in charge of a state (a large one, so I’m told) for two years. The three men in the race have run senate offices. So McCain, in other words, chooses experience. The blog-wife, who is no Republican, thinks this is a very smart move. ”

And Heather Wilson agrees!

A comprehensive list of the upside.

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Hillary Strikes Back

The statement from Hillary Clinton drips with irony: “We should all be proud of Governor Sarah Palin’s historic nomination, and I congratulate her and Senator McCain.  While their policies would take America in the wrong direction, Governor Palin will add an important new voice to the debate.” Her staff no doubt advised cutting a final sentence which likely went something like this: ” And if the Just Words guy had put me on the ticket, this never would have happened.”


The statement from Hillary Clinton drips with irony: “We should all be proud of Governor Sarah Palin’s historic nomination, and I congratulate her and Senator McCain.  While their policies would take America in the wrong direction, Governor Palin will add an important new voice to the debate.” Her staff no doubt advised cutting a final sentence which likely went something like this: ” And if the Just Words guy had put me on the ticket, this never would have happened.”


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Palin v. Biden

There’s now a lot of attention on Governor Sarah Palin and her qualifications (or lack thereof) to be Vice President.

I suppose the first thing to point out is that based on her record, she’s more qualified than Barack Obama–as the former community organizer and state senator from Chicago is running to be President rather than, as is the case with Palin, Vice President. But let’s stick with an apples-to-apples comparison. Governor Palin, it’s said, doesn’t have sufficient experience to be the vice presidential nominee. Compare her record to that of Joe Biden, who has been in the Senate since the early 1970’s.

Let’s do. I would submit as Exhibit A this Wall Street Journal piece by Dan Senor, who served as a senior adviser to the Coalition in Iraq and was based in Baghdad in 2003 and 2004. Dan, who is both extremely knowledgeable and a very insightful thinker, reminds us of Biden’s passionate advocacy for a soft partition of Iraq. But because Biden was, in retrospect, so obviously wrong in his analysis and his recommendation, his biggest foreign policy initiative has dropped into a memory hole.

Joseph Biden has experience. But on a range of matters–from Supreme Court appointments to Iraq to much else–he’s shown deeply flawed judgment. His signature plan was a mistake; as Senor points out, it would be nice if he and Senator Obama acknowledged it.

Sarah Palin has nothing to fear in being compared to, and facing off against, Joe Biden.

There’s now a lot of attention on Governor Sarah Palin and her qualifications (or lack thereof) to be Vice President.

I suppose the first thing to point out is that based on her record, she’s more qualified than Barack Obama–as the former community organizer and state senator from Chicago is running to be President rather than, as is the case with Palin, Vice President. But let’s stick with an apples-to-apples comparison. Governor Palin, it’s said, doesn’t have sufficient experience to be the vice presidential nominee. Compare her record to that of Joe Biden, who has been in the Senate since the early 1970’s.

Let’s do. I would submit as Exhibit A this Wall Street Journal piece by Dan Senor, who served as a senior adviser to the Coalition in Iraq and was based in Baghdad in 2003 and 2004. Dan, who is both extremely knowledgeable and a very insightful thinker, reminds us of Biden’s passionate advocacy for a soft partition of Iraq. But because Biden was, in retrospect, so obviously wrong in his analysis and his recommendation, his biggest foreign policy initiative has dropped into a memory hole.

Joseph Biden has experience. But on a range of matters–from Supreme Court appointments to Iraq to much else–he’s shown deeply flawed judgment. His signature plan was a mistake; as Senor points out, it would be nice if he and Senator Obama acknowledged it.

Sarah Palin has nothing to fear in being compared to, and facing off against, Joe Biden.

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Hillarygate Meets Bittergate

I second Victor Davis Hanson’s take. But one thing to keep in mind: a huge motivating factor behind the pro-Hillary forces is media antipathy bordering on loathing. To the extent they appear dismissive, cruel or snide it will only raise the ire of these already very peeved voters. There is no doubt as to why Palin mentioned both Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro. The latter’s comments are quite revealing.

It always helps to have Democrats out there dissing small town America. They simply can’t conceal their contempt. And the media has noted their venom.

So if the McCain camp plays it as smartly as they did the roll out today and the Democrats and media play to type, it could prove to be a savvy pick. Palin will have to prove that unlike Barack Obama she can operate without a script.

I second Victor Davis Hanson’s take. But one thing to keep in mind: a huge motivating factor behind the pro-Hillary forces is media antipathy bordering on loathing. To the extent they appear dismissive, cruel or snide it will only raise the ire of these already very peeved voters. There is no doubt as to why Palin mentioned both Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro. The latter’s comments are quite revealing.

It always helps to have Democrats out there dissing small town America. They simply can’t conceal their contempt. And the media has noted their venom.

So if the McCain camp plays it as smartly as they did the roll out today and the Democrats and media play to type, it could prove to be a savvy pick. Palin will have to prove that unlike Barack Obama she can operate without a script.

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Before Everybody Gets Too Carried Away With Excitement

It’s worth noting that Obama’s address was seen by 38 million people last night, making it he most watched political speech not given by a president . Now, if two-thirds of those people go out to the polls with enthusiasm in November and do what enthusiasts do — which is to try and convey their enthusiasm to others — Obama will be in very good shape. Unfortunately for Obama, though, the most-watched political speech not given by a president before last night was….John Kerry’s acceptance speech in 2004. Kerry did go on to lose — though he did receive 60 million votes, the highest vote total in American history aside from the 63 million George W. Bush received. So besting Kerry by 10 percent might be just the ticket.

It’s worth noting that Obama’s address was seen by 38 million people last night, making it he most watched political speech not given by a president . Now, if two-thirds of those people go out to the polls with enthusiasm in November and do what enthusiasts do — which is to try and convey their enthusiasm to others — Obama will be in very good shape. Unfortunately for Obama, though, the most-watched political speech not given by a president before last night was….John Kerry’s acceptance speech in 2004. Kerry did go on to lose — though he did receive 60 million votes, the highest vote total in American history aside from the 63 million George W. Bush received. So besting Kerry by 10 percent might be just the ticket.

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Important News for the UN

As I noted rather incredulously a couple of weeks ago, the United Nations is adamant that Hezbollah is abiding by UN Resolution 1701. So adamant, in fact, that the joke of a soldier who heads UNIFIL — a foppish Italian general named Claudio Graziano — claims that within UNIFIL’s jurisdiction Hezbollah is unarmed and there is no weapons smuggling.

I wonder what the UN’s toy soldier thinks about this story:

A Lebanese army helicopter that was hit by gunfire in south Lebanon was targeted by Hezbollah fighters who thought the aircraft was Israeli, the Lebanese newspaper as-Safir reported on Friday. The pilot of the aircraft was killed in the shooting on Thursday over Iqlim al-Touffah district. The area is controlled by the powerful political and military group Hezbollah. As-Safir reported the aircraft had landed and taken off again in a training drill. Hezbollah gunmen in the area “thought that there was an Israeli landing attempt (under way) and opened fire in the direction of the helicopter, hitting it,” it said.

Where is the Iqlim al-Touffah district? It is in UNIFIL’s area of operations — the place where the United Nations says Hezbollah doesn’t have any weapons.

As I noted rather incredulously a couple of weeks ago, the United Nations is adamant that Hezbollah is abiding by UN Resolution 1701. So adamant, in fact, that the joke of a soldier who heads UNIFIL — a foppish Italian general named Claudio Graziano — claims that within UNIFIL’s jurisdiction Hezbollah is unarmed and there is no weapons smuggling.

I wonder what the UN’s toy soldier thinks about this story:

A Lebanese army helicopter that was hit by gunfire in south Lebanon was targeted by Hezbollah fighters who thought the aircraft was Israeli, the Lebanese newspaper as-Safir reported on Friday. The pilot of the aircraft was killed in the shooting on Thursday over Iqlim al-Touffah district. The area is controlled by the powerful political and military group Hezbollah. As-Safir reported the aircraft had landed and taken off again in a training drill. Hezbollah gunmen in the area “thought that there was an Israeli landing attempt (under way) and opened fire in the direction of the helicopter, hitting it,” it said.

Where is the Iqlim al-Touffah district? It is in UNIFIL’s area of operations — the place where the United Nations says Hezbollah doesn’t have any weapons.

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McCain Counters

McCain aide Jill Hazelbaker:

It is pretty audacious for the Obama campaign to say that Governor Palin is not qualified to be Vice President. She has a record of accomplishment that Senator Obama simply cannot match. Governor Palin has spent her time in office shaking up government in Alaska and actually achieving results — whether it’s taking on corruption, passing ethics reform or stopping wasteful spending and the ‘bridge to nowhere.’ Senator Obama has spent his time in office running for president.

Eh. The McCain camp is on the defensive here. Suddenly they have to demonstrate how someone edges out Obama on experience. That’s an argument that was beneath the seriousness of this campaign 24 hours ago. Obama’s inexperience was more than a valuable talking point; it was–and is–a danger to the future well-being of the country. To have to enter the ring and engage in this tit-for-tat is problematic. Whatever “shaking up” Palin has done, the fact remains she’s done it in an executive capacity for a scant two years.

McCain aide Jill Hazelbaker:

It is pretty audacious for the Obama campaign to say that Governor Palin is not qualified to be Vice President. She has a record of accomplishment that Senator Obama simply cannot match. Governor Palin has spent her time in office shaking up government in Alaska and actually achieving results — whether it’s taking on corruption, passing ethics reform or stopping wasteful spending and the ‘bridge to nowhere.’ Senator Obama has spent his time in office running for president.

Eh. The McCain camp is on the defensive here. Suddenly they have to demonstrate how someone edges out Obama on experience. That’s an argument that was beneath the seriousness of this campaign 24 hours ago. Obama’s inexperience was more than a valuable talking point; it was–and is–a danger to the future well-being of the country. To have to enter the ring and engage in this tit-for-tat is problematic. Whatever “shaking up” Palin has done, the fact remains she’s done it in an executive capacity for a scant two years.

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Putin’s Big Lie

Yesterday, Russian Prime Minster Vladimir Putin charged that the Bush administration had put Georgia up to attacking South Ossetia in order to influence the upcoming election in November. “We have serious reasons to believe that directly, in the combat zone, citizens of the United States were present and if this is the case, then the suspicion arises that someone in the United States has on purpose created this conflict with the view to exacerbate the situation and create a competitive advantage for one of the presidential candidates in the United States,” he said to CNN’s Matthew Chance. “They needed a small victorious war.”

In a Moscow press conference yesterday, Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the General Staff, said that Russia had found a U.S. passport in a building occupied by the Georgian Interior Ministry near the capital of South Ossetia. Nogovitsyn held up a color photocopy of the passport, issued to a Michael Lee White, but did not identify the American other than to say he is from Texas. The United States had 130 military personnel in Georgia training Georgian forces for Iraq duty, but the State Department has said that none of them were involved in the recent fighting. The Russians have offered no other evidence for their sweeping claims.

“To suggest that the United States orchestrated this on behalf of a political candidate just sounds not rational,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino yesterday. She’s correct, of course. If Putin’s claim were not so ludicrous, we would think, as Perino suggests, that he had taken leave of his senses. Yet it’s unlikely he has suddenly become deranged.

It is more probable Putin has realized that the West is not resisting his initiatives. We need to remember that it is Russia, and not the Atlantic Alliance, that is cutting ties. So, like other aggressors, the prime minister feels emboldened by recent success. Therefore, it is natural for him to tell a big lie by accusing the United States, with virtually no evidence, of committing grave offenses. Only Putin can tell us why he is embarking on this highly irresponsible and dangerous course of conduct, but it is apparent that, through inflammatory comments like those to CNN, he is testing the resolve of America’s leadership.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, President Bush has adopted the least confrontational tactics possible. It’s clear, however, that this mild course of action is not working. Putin’s wild assertions yesterday reveal that substantially tougher measures are required. And by the look of things, they are required now.

Yesterday, Russian Prime Minster Vladimir Putin charged that the Bush administration had put Georgia up to attacking South Ossetia in order to influence the upcoming election in November. “We have serious reasons to believe that directly, in the combat zone, citizens of the United States were present and if this is the case, then the suspicion arises that someone in the United States has on purpose created this conflict with the view to exacerbate the situation and create a competitive advantage for one of the presidential candidates in the United States,” he said to CNN’s Matthew Chance. “They needed a small victorious war.”

In a Moscow press conference yesterday, Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the General Staff, said that Russia had found a U.S. passport in a building occupied by the Georgian Interior Ministry near the capital of South Ossetia. Nogovitsyn held up a color photocopy of the passport, issued to a Michael Lee White, but did not identify the American other than to say he is from Texas. The United States had 130 military personnel in Georgia training Georgian forces for Iraq duty, but the State Department has said that none of them were involved in the recent fighting. The Russians have offered no other evidence for their sweeping claims.

“To suggest that the United States orchestrated this on behalf of a political candidate just sounds not rational,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino yesterday. She’s correct, of course. If Putin’s claim were not so ludicrous, we would think, as Perino suggests, that he had taken leave of his senses. Yet it’s unlikely he has suddenly become deranged.

It is more probable Putin has realized that the West is not resisting his initiatives. We need to remember that it is Russia, and not the Atlantic Alliance, that is cutting ties. So, like other aggressors, the prime minister feels emboldened by recent success. Therefore, it is natural for him to tell a big lie by accusing the United States, with virtually no evidence, of committing grave offenses. Only Putin can tell us why he is embarking on this highly irresponsible and dangerous course of conduct, but it is apparent that, through inflammatory comments like those to CNN, he is testing the resolve of America’s leadership.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, President Bush has adopted the least confrontational tactics possible. It’s clear, however, that this mild course of action is not working. Putin’s wild assertions yesterday reveal that substantially tougher measures are required. And by the look of things, they are required now.

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What Palin Does

For the first time this year, there will be some pop-cultural interest in a Republican. Her family story — a conservative Republican with a blue-collar worker of a husband  who takes primary responsibility for childrearing with a special-needs baby — is like a dream People Magazine cover. Even though her pro-life views will make her anathema to New York City women’s-magazine editors, the possibility of huge newsstand sales in Red State Wal-Marts is just going to be too tempting for them to ignore her or belittle her.

It won’t swing an election, but it’s the kind of thing that can help change the narrative of the election.

For the first time this year, there will be some pop-cultural interest in a Republican. Her family story — a conservative Republican with a blue-collar worker of a husband  who takes primary responsibility for childrearing with a special-needs baby — is like a dream People Magazine cover. Even though her pro-life views will make her anathema to New York City women’s-magazine editors, the possibility of huge newsstand sales in Red State Wal-Marts is just going to be too tempting for them to ignore her or belittle her.

It won’t swing an election, but it’s the kind of thing that can help change the narrative of the election.

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Shrewd

Governor Palin was, I think, a very shrewd pick. She will energize the GOP base, which was considered almost an impossibility a few months ago. She has a very appealing life story, and a nice, agreeable, easy-to-listen-to speaking style. In her remarks, she made all the right points in all the right ways. This was not a Dan Quayle moment or anything close. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Republicans came away reassured rather than concerned.

In addition, Palin helped settle the question about what McCain’s narrative ought to be during the next 67 days. He and Palin will position themselves as true reformers and authentic change agents, as fierce advocates for common people and the common good. That has always been McCain’s best argument on domestic matters; Governor Palin, by virtue of her record and her manner, seemed to give that line of argument new life and energy.

Governor Palin is still a person who is largely unknown to most of America, and she’ll be facing a withering spotlight. Any slip-ups by her will be magnified and mocked. But based on her speech today, I think McCain made a very wise choice, politically and as a governing matter.

Good for him; and good for the GOP.

Governor Palin was, I think, a very shrewd pick. She will energize the GOP base, which was considered almost an impossibility a few months ago. She has a very appealing life story, and a nice, agreeable, easy-to-listen-to speaking style. In her remarks, she made all the right points in all the right ways. This was not a Dan Quayle moment or anything close. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Republicans came away reassured rather than concerned.

In addition, Palin helped settle the question about what McCain’s narrative ought to be during the next 67 days. He and Palin will position themselves as true reformers and authentic change agents, as fierce advocates for common people and the common good. That has always been McCain’s best argument on domestic matters; Governor Palin, by virtue of her record and her manner, seemed to give that line of argument new life and energy.

Governor Palin is still a person who is largely unknown to most of America, and she’ll be facing a withering spotlight. Any slip-ups by her will be magnified and mocked. But based on her speech today, I think McCain made a very wise choice, politically and as a governing matter.

Good for him; and good for the GOP.

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Re: Re: Re: Bittergate II

Well, you can’t really say that Obama’s pre-Senate days have been off-limits for the Right. He’s called out on–as he should be–his “community organizer” role all the time, and for very same reasons he’s bringing up Palin’s previous position: it doesn’t exactly scream White House.

Well, you can’t really say that Obama’s pre-Senate days have been off-limits for the Right. He’s called out on–as he should be–his “community organizer” role all the time, and for very same reasons he’s bringing up Palin’s previous position: it doesn’t exactly scream White House.

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Re: Re: Bittergate II

The TV image is powerful and entirely jaw-dropping. As for Bittergate, there is no reason to dredge up her last job, rather than note her current one, unless the purpose is to slur, diminish and insult her background. The implication is that she is a hick from nowhere. Again: this was her former job, not her current one.

What’s more — they should have waited for the speech where now everyone understands that gee, she’s a governor with a pretty good record. Others seem to agree.

The TV image is powerful and entirely jaw-dropping. As for Bittergate, there is no reason to dredge up her last job, rather than note her current one, unless the purpose is to slur, diminish and insult her background. The implication is that she is a hick from nowhere. Again: this was her former job, not her current one.

What’s more — they should have waited for the speech where now everyone understands that gee, she’s a governor with a pretty good record. Others seem to agree.

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The anti-Obama

Sarah Palin is better without a teleprompter than Obama with one.  Obama’s self-aggrandizing style is off-putting to a lot of women.  He sounded so angry last night I think he’ll scare women who don’t like that bombastic style.  Palin, on the other hand, has the energy and quick-wittedness to give a speech without a script and to flow with the crowd.  She is really a phenomenon. 

Sarah Palin is better without a teleprompter than Obama with one.  Obama’s self-aggrandizing style is off-putting to a lot of women.  He sounded so angry last night I think he’ll scare women who don’t like that bombastic style.  Palin, on the other hand, has the energy and quick-wittedness to give a speech without a script and to flow with the crowd.  She is really a phenomenon. 

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Re: Bittergate II

Jen, I’ll risk bringing down the wrath of Rubin by stating I actually think Obama has a point here. Is he really knocking small towns by pointing out that that they’re, well, easier to run than large ones? Now, I suspect as regards foreign policy experience, McCain must know something about her we don’t. He’s been consistent in his vow to pick a tough and knowledgeable national security running mate. Ditching that or wiggling around it would constitute an alarming about face on his candidacy’s most important dimension. I’m sorry I’m not as taken with Palin as everyone else, but that could be because I’m not watching the proceedings on television.

Jen, I’ll risk bringing down the wrath of Rubin by stating I actually think Obama has a point here. Is he really knocking small towns by pointing out that that they’re, well, easier to run than large ones? Now, I suspect as regards foreign policy experience, McCain must know something about her we don’t. He’s been consistent in his vow to pick a tough and knowledgeable national security running mate. Ditching that or wiggling around it would constitute an alarming about face on his candidacy’s most important dimension. I’m sorry I’m not as taken with Palin as everyone else, but that could be because I’m not watching the proceedings on television.

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They Are Even Impressed On MSNBC

Chuck Todd: “It a a gee whiz story.” He notes that the networks aren’t covering the Barack Obama story for last night. Andrew Mitchell makes the obvious point about her appeal to women and and less obvious point about her sell to western voters. The 35-50 year-old working mom voters are sitting on the sidelines right now, Todd observes.

If they watched this, they may be putting on their pantsuits.

Chuck Todd: “It a a gee whiz story.” He notes that the networks aren’t covering the Barack Obama story for last night. Andrew Mitchell makes the obvious point about her appeal to women and and less obvious point about her sell to western voters. The 35-50 year-old working mom voters are sitting on the sidelines right now, Todd observes.

If they watched this, they may be putting on their pantsuits.

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This Is Pretty Dazzling

For someone who has never spoken before a national audience, in the most challenging moment of her life, Sarah Palin is displaying a kind of comfort that is, well, Obama-like.

For someone who has never spoken before a national audience, in the most challenging moment of her life, Sarah Palin is displaying a kind of comfort that is, well, Obama-like.

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