Presidential Campaign

Presidential Campaign

Who Knew No. 2?

We still don't know if the Palins' journey from Alaska to the vice president's mansion would be more like Mrs. Smith's family coming to Washington or the Clampetts. In other words, we really have no idea what John McCain's running mate is about.

The problem is there are strong indications he doesn't either. His aides are spinning like whirling dervishes right now, desperately putting out the word that Gov. Palin was thoroughly vetted.

What do we make, then, of her daughter's pregnancy? If we take the McCain campaign's word that they were aware of it, wouldn't it have been more honest simply to make it known when she was named to the No. 2 spot on the ticket?

McCain Thinks Women Care Less Than Men About Issues

Do women care less than men about issues? John McCain (and Sarah Palin) seems to think “Yes.”

But the answer, or course, is “No.” Yet there seemed to be that assumption — in my view, if so, patronizing and politically wrong — underlying at least part of Sen. McCain's judgment to select Gov. Palin as his vice presidential nominee.

It appears Sen. McCain hopes that the governor's gender will help his appeal to disenchanted female Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters — and Gov. Palin explicitly was aiming to do so when she appealed to the "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling" represented by Sen. Clinton's total vote in the primaries. However, while some Hillary supporters may still not have completely gotten over their disappointment at her loss to Sen. Barack Obama, or his failure to make her his VP choice, is it likely they will be attracted to vote for a McCain-Palin ticket because Gov. Palin is a woman — even after they learn that the governor who, if elected, will be by constitutional definition one heartbeat away from the presidency, and who opposes the right of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy under all circumstances, even if caused by rape or incest, in the earliest stages of pregnancy? I don't think so.

Beyond the Pale on Palin

ST. PAUL — Flipping on the site this morning, I was appalled to read "On-Faith" columnist Sally Quinn's post regarding the pregnancy of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's (R) young daughter. Quinn, a self-described "Washington Insider," describes how she was shocked and then angered that John McCain would "[choose] a running mate simply because she is a woman and one who appealed to the Republican's [sic] conservative evangelical base." Where to begin?

Does Quinn offer any proof that Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.) chose Palin simply because she is a woman — other than her opinion? No. I would have thought the liberal establishment, long advocating equal rights and equal protection, would be thrilled by the choice of an intelligent woman who is a rising political star. I suspect this only applies if one is a liberal, rather than conservative woman.

Pork-Barrel Palin, The Earmark Champ

Now John McCain learns, as we do, that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) sent a 70-page memo to Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) in February seeking $200 million for new Alaska earmarks, and as mayor of the village of Wasilla she lobbied hard for and won more than $26 million of earmarks.

If you believe Sarah Palin is a reformer, you will believe that the College of Cardinals will summon me to Rome as successor to the pope. Palin long ago hired the prime pork lobbying firm in Alaska, which features Ted Stevens's son, and Ted Stevens's former chief of staff, who serviced her pork lobbying account.

The regular junkets of Palin and her staff to Washington, hustling earmark dough, are legendary in Alaska. Someone will soon add up the airfare, hotel and fine dining tabs to push for the pork, plus the lobbying fees, all at taxpayer expense, starting with Wasilla, continuing as governor.

Ms. Pork-Palin — And They Call This Reform?

Earmarks. Pork-barrel politics. Money from Washington. McCain and Palin hit the campaign trail by boasting about “reform” in government.

The truth comes out. First, Sarah Palin said on Friday: “I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks on that Bridge to Nowhere.’ ”

Cheering crowds actually thought she opposed the $454 million for Alaska bridges. Wrong.

Articles in Alaska papers blew the whistle.

Olbermann. Find. Old. Work.

While watching Democrat nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) deliver his speech last week, I was prepared to be highly entertained. It is possible to enjoy the rhetoric and flair of a public figure while disagreeing with his public policy solutions. Former Gov. Mario Cuomo (D–N.Y.) was such a figure for me, as is political activist Jesse Jackson. Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Keane’s “Pastel Patriotism” speech comes to mind as well.

While a little unmoved by the beginning of Obama’s acceptance speech, I perked up when he promised to “spell out exactly” what he would do as president. It was clear in my mind this is where the Democrats could really shore up their weak spots.

About 10 minutes after hearing him utter that phrase, I had little to hang my hat on and was sure I’d dozed off and missed what “exactly” he’d “spelled out.” I hit rewind on the TiVo and watched that part again. But to no avail.

Not So Quiet for Officially Subdued Day One

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Today is the pretty much canceled Day One of the Republican National Convention and it isn't as quiet as you might think with everyone talking about Sarah Palin's "babygate" problem. News that John McCain has decided not to avoid the place and arrive in time to accept his party's nomination in person is good for his campaign — he better get control of the message and fast.

McCain's initial instincts were right, to avoid the appearance of a political celebration while a monster storm threatened the Gulf Coast. And having President Bush and Vice President Cheney monitor the situation and avoid Minnesota was clearly the smart thing to do. They're wildly unpopular and the base doesn't need them now that they have Palin — the conservative sweetheart — instead.

Republicans and African-Americans

Jon Ward's piece in today's Washington Times highlights an ongoing problem for the Republican Party — outreach to African-Americans.

With Barack Obama as the Democrats' nominee, most Republicans are completely ceding the African-American vote. This is a mistake.

The GOP must make minority outreach a party-wide priority, while speaking about issues important to African-Americans. What too many Republicans fail to recognize is that the issues important to African-Americans are the same issues important to all Americans. Visit Largo Town Center in Prince George's County, Md., and you're much more likely to find people talking about property taxes, the housing crisis, traffic congestion and rising food and energy costs than affirmative action and District of Columbia voting rights.

Something is Fishy in Alaska, And It Isn’t Halibut

Actually, it is all in the family, except when it extends to the governor’s office.

In Alaska they are calling it Troopergate. For several years Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, were trying to get their former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, fired as a state trooper. It began before her 20-month term as governor. The case was investigated, a 10-day suspension (later reduced to five) was put in place and in 2006, Wooten was kept on as a trooper.

A messy divorce, a custody fight, and the Palins were not satisfied.

Palin Designation Nullifies Obama Bounce

Note: This post updates Mr. Morris’s previous entry, dated Saturday, Aug. 30. — Ed.

It is incredible, but the designation of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate seems to have totally obliterated Obama's bounce from his convention and after his magnificent speech. Zogby actually has McCain two ahead and Rasmussen's Friday-only data shows Obama only three up! This confirms what we have suspected — that the linkage of McCain and Bush was the weak link in Obama's convention. By showing how different he is and by taking the step of choosing an independent, outspoken, gutsy, reformist candidate like Palin as vice president, McCain has shown how much he is the un-Bush. Bush chose Cheney. McCain chose Palin. That, apparently, says it all.

Palin, whom I know personally, is articulate and very bright. She has courage and defied the entire corrupt Republican establishment in Alaska, causing the resignation of the state party chairman and the attorney general and the defeat, in a Republican primary, of the governor (whose daughter is a senator). She is very impressive up close and has a freshness and newness in her perspective that reminds one of a cold, bracing, clear Alaskan wind!