Patterico's Pontifications

9/9/2008

JCG on Palin — McCain Camp Needs to Stop the Paternalism

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:56 pm

Jan Crawford Greenburg has a fascinating post about the Palin pick, that combines personal stories about Greenburg’s own history of overcoming sexism with new information about how Palin was picked.

Palin appears to have been selected, in no small part, precisely because she’s a woman. Yet instead of acknowledging that as a real strength, the McCain campaign is acting like gender had little or nothing to do with it. Campaign officials instead have been angrily portraying questions about her qualifications as nothing more than old-fashioned sexism, and then trying to put a protective shield around her.

They’re treating Gov. Sarah Palin—a ground-breaking woman by anyone’s account—like a girl.

As a result, for many, the campaign’s defense of Palin smacks of the tokenism and paternalism of a past generation, things women who’ve fought for equal footing want to believe we’ve moved beyond. At the same time, it seems devoid of the honesty that the first women of firsts—women like Sandra Day O’Connor—brought to the debate. Those women unapologetically said they knew why they were picked, and that it was a good thing for women and for society.

For more than a week now, we’ve heard how Palin’s treatment is sexist. How the questions she’s endured—about her experience, her qualifications and her life—would never have been asked of a man. We’ve seen the McCain campaign say this pit bull of a hockey mom would not talk to the press until she was shown “deference.”

There’s a lot there to react to, and I certainly don’t agree with all of it. I initially bristled when Greenburg cited Palin’s gender as a principal reason she was picked (but keep reading — she backs up that claim). After all, there are numerous reasons Palin would have been a fantastic pick regardless of gender — and a lot of them have to do with her being a younger version of John McCain, with more conservative credentials.

Liberal carping aside, Palin has been a reformer. The L.A. Times — not a paper that is friendly to conservatives — highlighted some of her major accomplishments recently. Those include taking on corrupt Republicans in her state, passing ethics legislation, slashing spending in times of budget surpluses, and forcing oil companies to pay their fair share for access to gas and oil reserves. The Washington Post concedes that she took on Big Oil in Alaska to deliver on a pipeline. And, while she has been criticized for giving a simplistic version of her opposition to the Bridge to Nowhere, the Associated Press (on the pages of the New York Times) gave credit to Palin for killing the project, back before they realized it would help John McCain to admit it.

Palin is conservative, but like McCain, she has put conservative causes on the back burner to fight for the reform issues that animate her public service. She has a reputation for bipartisanship in Alaska, as numerous journalists from the state have repeatedly acknowledged; in fact, she has upset many Republicans more than Democrats.

It’s easy to see why John McCain would gravitate towards such an independent-minded reformer, regardless of gender. So even if McCain picked Palin in part because of her gender (and he apparently did; see below), there’s plenty there to like regardless of gender, and we should be clear about that.

In addition, many of the attacks on Palin have indeed been undeniably sexist. Greenburg cites one that is not: Biden’s claim that electing McCain/Palin would be a step backward for women. Hey, that’s the kind of shot you have to be able to take in the Big Leagues; Democrats always think they have the only policies that benefit women, and you can’t whine when they use that argument against a woman.

But plenty of the attacks on Palin have been sexist. Palin has been called a bad mother for trying to balance career and family — a challenge Greenburg herself has been faced with. She has been criticized for having too many children, for being a former beauty-queen airhead, and for being too fragile to face the press. And it goes on and on and on.

At the same time, I agree that the McCain camp runs a risk of appearing paternalistic if they hide Palin from the media for much of the campaign. I still suspect (or at least hope) that the strategy is a rope-a-dope tactic, lowering expectations for someone who will hold her own just fine. Such an expectations-dampening tactic could serve as valuable insurance against the dangers posed by unfair pop quizzes (“Who is the leader of Podunkstan?”) of the type that many pundits are actively seeking — and that the men in the race will never face (sorry to invoke sexism again, but if the shoe fits . . .). As such, the tactic may be politically wise.

On the other hand, it could reflect a genuine lack of confidence in Palin’s competence. And, as it turns out, McCain’s people may well be underestimating Palin, just like her political opponents are. There is support for that theory in Greenburg’s post, because she can back up her accusation that McCain picked Palin in no small part because she is a woman.

This isn’t some flippant remark tossed off by Greenburg; she’s done the reporting and she can back up what she says. Read Greenburg’s post; excerpting it doesn’t do it justice. Those of us who supported the Palin pick in the weeks preceding the announcement would like to think that McCain was smart enough to see it as obvious all along, but he wasn’t. He stumbled into the best decision he has made in this campaign.

Greenburg complains that the McCain folks “treat Palin like she’s a woman from the olden days who needs protecting—not the modern-day leader she is.” She says:

I know I’m not alone in saying I can’t wait to see her start speaking for herself and answering these questions on her own—beginning with ABC’s Charles Gibson. So far, she seems a far better advocate for herself than John McCain is, as many concluded from their respective convention speeches last week.

I agree on both counts. And I have some advice for the McCain camp — and please, listen up, guys. If you’ve never listened to me before, listen to me now.

Let Sarah Palin be Sarah Palin. I’ve watched plenty of clips of Gov. Palin from the past in debate and interview situations, and she can hold her own. Don’t put her in a rhetorical straightjacket and force her to answer all questions with memorized soundbites from her speech. The only way she’s going to mess this up in any real sense is if you people try to prevent her from being genuine, and if she listens to you. So just trust her. Dispel Jan Crawford Greenburg’s sense that you’re being paternalistic to her, and let her shine — as we, her supporters, have every confidence she can.

Now that my rants are done, please go read Greenburg’s entire thoughtful post.

Arnold Claims He Was Misquoted by Der Spiegel

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:36 pm

Hmmm. Does this sound familiar?

Something about speaking in the native language loosens the lips, which just might explain the freewheeling interview that Arnold Schwarzenegger, California’s Austrian-born governor, gave recently to the German language publication Der Spiegel. So freewheeling, in fact, that the governor’s office is casting doubt on the accuracy of the interview until it can verify the translation.

In a transcript published in English of an interview conducted at least partially in German, Schwarzenegger called the leaders of California’s Republican Party — his own party — “so out -there” politically, saying he has no almost no contact with them.

Why would Arnold be suspicious of a Der Spiegel translation? I can’t imagine why. Unless it’s the fact that their editor admits that the publication rewrites quotes and represents the rewritten version to be a verbatim quotation.

I mean, what’s wrong with that?

P.S. If an enterprising journalist who wants to confirm Arnold’s quotes, I’m sure they need only ask Der Spiegel to hear the tape, and the magazine will happily allow it! Remember, that’s what they said with the Maliki interview:

Der Spiegel has no plans to release the tape (“We don’t see a need to improve upon our credibility by, say, putting the audio on the web.”) but is happy to play it—in person, over the phone—for any journalist interested in verifying.

“Anyone who wants to hear it can hear it,” says Müller von Blumencron. “But no one else has asked.”

And they make it so easy! When I asked, they immediately said I could listen to it told me: “we are sorry, but we generally don’t hand out research material.” Then, when I wrote back and cited their editor’s promise that anyone could hear it, I was told I would have to travel to one of their offices in Washington D.C. or New York City to listen to it. (No, they wouldn’t play it over the phone. I asked.)

What could be simpler? See? Anyone can listen! — as long as they’re willing to travel across the country!

I’ll get right on that, Governor.

L.A. Times: Pay No Attention to Those Gallup Results Behind the Screen

Filed under: 2008 Election,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 9:09 pm

The lead story in today’s L.A. Times claims on Page A1:

National polls suggest the race is a tossup. In presidential contests, though, the trick is stringing together victories in enough states to clear a 270-vote majority in the electoral college

It’s true that some national polls have the race as a tossup. But at least one very respectable polling organization has released some startling polling showing McCain waaay ahead. We’re not told that on the front page.

On Page A10, we’re finally told a little more of the story:

In the face of these obstacles, Republicans see it as a victory of sorts that the race is as competitive as it is. Indeed, several recent polls show the race as close to dead even, and a USA Today/Gallup Poll survey made public Monday showed McCain ahead among registered voters, 50% to 46%.

And?

Aaaaand?

OK, fine. I’ll say it, since you guys won’t.

And it also showed McCain ahead 10 points — 54% to 44% — among likely voters.

When that news hit, I wondered how it would be portrayed. I ultimately concluded it would likely be ignored entirely.

I hate to say I told you so (actually I love to), but I told you so.

And as DRJ already reported, the Gallup tracking poll has had McCain with a five-point advantage for two days now.

More honesty, please.

P.S. The L.A. Times article adds: “If the map were a roulette table, Obama would be dropping chips all over.”

Yeah, and if Obama were a cow, he would be dropping chips all over.

And y’all at the L.A. Times would be following him around with a Hefty bag and a giant shovel.

Team Clinton Won’t Go Negative on Palin

Filed under: 2008 Election,Media Bias — DRJ @ 8:55 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

So far, Hillary Clinton has declined to join Obama in going negative on Sarah Palin.

What did Obama expect? He and his campaign spent months criticizing the Clintons for every negative comment. Why should Team Clinton go negative for Obama and risk alienating women, especially after Obama demonized them at every opportunity?

EDIT: Read the link. The author alternatively suggests that the Obama campaign decided not to ask the Clintons to attack Palin, both because they are intimidated by the McCain-Palin ticket and in an effort to marginalize the Clintons. I find that scenario unlikely but I’m adding it since it could be true. I’m obviously not privy to what’s happening inside the Obama campaign.

– DRJ

Obama’s “Macaca Moment” (Updated)

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 7:06 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

An Instapundit reader described today’s Obama comments — comments that arguably compared Palin to a pig and McCain to an old fish — as Obama’s Macaca Moment.

That reminded me of a February 2007 Rolling Stone profile that was published before Obama announced he would run for President. In the article, chief political adviser David Axelrod wondered aloud how Obama would respond to a presidential race:

“Look, there’s no real preparation for a presidential race,” says David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political adviser. “Hillary Clinton, there’s no question, she’s played the course, she knows the sand traps and the lie of the greens. McCain’s been through it once before, too. My feeling about this is, we don’t know exactly how Barack will respond. I’ll be really frank with you: Barack doesn’t know exactly how he’ll respond.

Obama’s comments today may have been scripted for his supporters’ benefit but somehow I doubt this moment was the one David Axlerod hoped for 19+ months ago.

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Jane Swift responded that Obama had made “disgusting comments, comparing our vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, to a pig,” and notes this emailed response from Obama adviser Anita Dunn:

“Dunn said, “This phony lecture on gender sensitivity is the height of cynicism and lays bare the increasingly dishonorable campaign John McCain has chosen to run.”

I love the irony of the Obama campaign lecturing the McCain campaign for being too sensitive on a diversity issue.

– DRJ

All Is Not Well in Sullyland

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:37 pm

At Andrew Sullivan’s blog, he has published a post that reads in its entirety:

“”Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen” – Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Ace:

Steve translates for me:

“What we cannot speak of we must pass over in silence.”

What we cannot speak of we must pass over in silence. Let me translate from English to Moronese: I have been told in no uncertain terms to chill out from my savaging of the Palin family, and posting every single unvetted leftwing conspiracy that I get fed, or possibly lose this gig altogether.

(more…)

Obama: “You Can Put Lipstick on a Pig. It’s Still a Pig.”

Filed under: 2008 Election — Patterico @ 5:10 pm

We have our first major Sarah Palin gaffe. But Sarah Palin didn’t make it:

He says, as he must, that he wasn’t referring to Palin. If not, it’s a remarkably tone-deaf statement.

UPDATE: Video replaced with one that makes the point more clearly — and that explains why McCain using the same analogy for Hillary’s health care plan wasn’t the same thing. There had been no recent lipstick references by Hillary. There was one by Palin — the most famous line in her speech. That’s the difference.

Welcome To the Party, Newsweek — About that Decision to Not Take Public Financing

Filed under: 2008 Election — WLS @ 5:09 pm

[Posted by WLS]

Every time I link and quote one of these guys, I wonder why I’m not quoted in their stories. Here’s a blog entry (“Gee, I wonder if any blogger beat me to this story?”) from Andrew Romano from Newsweek, and HE got a link from RealClearPolitics!!!!!!! What a bandwagon jumper.

On the night of Sept. 16, Barack Obama will not be in Cincinnati, Ohio, or Lebanon, Va., or Grand Rapids, Mich., or any of the other swingiest regions of the swingiest swing states. Instead, the Democratic presidential nominee will start his evening at a 46,000 square-foot mansion in Beverly Hills, then proceed to the posh Beverly Wilshire hotel, where rooms start at $495 a night. Needless to say, Obama won’t be prospecting for votes in the Golden State, where he currenty leads Republican rival John McCain by an insurmountable 15-point margin. He’ll be mining for money.

Why now? According to the Times, Chicago characterized its own monthy haul as the “best…yet” (think $60 million or so). That said, “a California fund-raiser familiar with the [DNC’s] August performance estimated that it raised roughly $17 million last month, a drop-off from the previous month, and finished with just $13 million in the bank”–about half of July’s war chest. In terms of cold, hard cash, then, this probably means that Obama started September with around $90-$100 million in the bank. The McCain campaign, meanwhile, managed to rake in a record $47 million for its coffers and another $22 million for the party, finishing the month with more than $100 million on-hand money that it has now turned over to the RNC. Combined with McCain’s fresh infusion of $84 million in public funds and the $100 million RNC fundraisers expect to raise in September and October, that would leave the GOP with about $300 million at its disposal. To keep up, Obama and Democrats have to rake in about $100 million a month from now until November 4. That’s $25 million more than their best combined monthly total to date. They’re going to need all the help they can get.

The problem is that–compared to his publicly-financed Republican rival–Obama may not have enough money to justify the costs of opting out. While McCain spends the two-month sprint to the finish wooing voters in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania without stopping to replenish his coffers, Obama will have to work harder than ever to keep the cash flow coming. That means more fundraisers in like the one next week in Beverly Hills (or the one with Bon Jovi last week in New Jersey) and less time on the trail.

No doubt that on Sept. 16 Obama would rather be in Ohio than Beverly Hills, listening to a working mom talk about her economic struggles instead of listening to Barbara Streisand sing. No doubt his political strategists–keenly aware of how the rest of American will interpret Streisand + mansions + Hollywood–would agree. But it isn’t quite working out that way.

Gee, that sounds original.

– WLS

A Feminist’s Advice to the Media

Filed under: 2008 Election,Media Bias — DRJ @ 1:39 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Polls show a marked shift in how likely women voters view the Presidential candidates after Sarah Palin was named McCain’s VP, especially among independents. Some women may have been energized by Palin’s gender, some by her beliefs and speeches, and some by the way the media and bloggers treated her. I doubt all these women will remain McCain-Palin supporters over the next 2 months but I think both the media and bloggers failed to consider how women would react to their treatment of Sarah Palin.

Here’s one example that might surprise them:

The National Organization of Women (NOW) website includes this column by NOW PAC Chair Kim Gandy. Gandy is very unhappy with the GOP platform “on issues like reproductive rights, economic justice and equal marriage” and has pledged to work against it and the McCain-Palin ticket. She is also indignant at the media treatment of Sarah Palin:

“Which brings us back to Sarah Palin, who, as I write this, has been McCain’s VP choice for less than one week, and already has faced an onslaught of double standards and condescension. The sexism aimed at Palin might not look exactly the same as the sexism directed Clinton, but it originates from the same biased place nonetheless.
***
I feel for Palin, and for all women struggling to be taken seriously in a man’s realm; the desire to have people discuss your policies, not your hair or hemlines; the conviction that you have every right to raise your family as you see fit, including taking on a demanding job outside the home; the entirely reasonable expectation that you are the peer of your male colleagues and deserve the same treatment and opportunities that they receive.”

Gandy concludes by asking media viewers, readers, and listeners to join together to stop the media slurs because “A woman slurred, regardless of her party or stances, is a woman slurred.”

I hope the media and bloggers can set aside their political agendas long enough to think about what Gandy has written, as well as these words from NOW’s 1966 Statement of Purpose:

“Enormous changes taking place in our society make it both possible and urgently necessary to advance the unfinished revolution of women toward true equality, now. With a life span lengthened to nearly 75 years it is no longer either necessary or possible for women to devote the greater part of their lives to child-rearing; yet childbearing and rearing which continues to be a most important part of most women’s lives — still is used to justify barring women from equal professional and economic participation and advance.”

We’ve come a long way in America: We will have our first minority President or our first female Vice President. Things have already changed in America. It’s time for the media and bloggers to get on board.

– DRJ

A Wild Prediction on Down Ballot Races

Filed under: General — WLS @ 12:24 pm

Posted by WLS:

I’m going to presume in this post that Palin makes no horrific errors over the next 55 days, and the McCain/Palin ticket heads into election day pretty much where they are now — no worse than neck-and-neck with Obama, and still enjoying strong support at the grass roots.

One area where this will produce a huge impact IMO is in Congressional races for seats with freshman democrats that should be vulnerable in an ordinary election year.

The 3 freshman democrats who took over 3 seats in Indiana would be at the top the list. Heath Shuler in North Carolina would be another, as would the guy who won the special election in Mississippi back in the spring.

Those are all seats where there is a historical GOP advantage, but conservative democrat challengers were able to win them in 2006 amid the GOP meltdown.

The generic ballot advantage for the democrats has fallen significantly over the last 10 days. Party self-identification in one of the recent polls had fallen from a 12% democrat advantage to 1%.

If the GOP has challengers in these races, the improved turnout of the GOP combined with a return of independents and conservative democrats to voting for GOP candidates should produce a series of close victories in these races.

The huge number of GOP retirements out of the House, creating many open seats for democrats to go after, may make it impossible for the GOP to take back the House, even if McCain/Palin wins handily.

And the lack of quality candidates for democrat or open seats — combined with the sheer number of seats the GOP is defending in the Senate this year — makes progress in the Senate unlikely.

I think the GOP will wake up the day after the election in much brighter spirits than was assumed to be the case a couple months ago.

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