Events of the Week
- First, let me just say that if you are as uncomfortable as I am with the turns this presidential campaign has taken in recent weeks, take a few minutes to read some coverage of the 9/11 Service Forum held on Thursday night. I haven't been able to find a video, but there's a transcript here. Both McCain and Obama spoke, and both kept the partisan sniping to a minimum while discussing their plans and visions for the promotion of national service. I wish that the two campaigns had been able to come to some agreement and arranged for a truly joint appearance where the two candidates could have shared the stage for longer than three seconds and actually had a conversation, but even listening to them separately you could get a sense of where the campaign might be if it was just these two guys talking about the issues. McCain sounded like himself again - he was funny, positive, and quite pleasant. We haven't seen him like this out on the trail for a while, but this event reminded me of the McCain who inspired me to jump into the political fray all those years ago.
Unfortunately, the John McCain of 1999 is not the McCain of today (Thursday's brief interlude notwithstanding). I'm sad to have to say this, but the John McCain who's out there blatantly telling lies he knows are lies is not the guy I poured my heart out for in the 2000 primaries. That John McCain used to say "I want the presidency in the best way, not the worst way." This John McCain's campaign spokesman responded to media criticism of its distortions by saying "We're running a campaign to win. And we're not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say about it." You know, things have gotten pretty bad when it takes Barbara Walters to call a spade a spade, but the campaign doesn't care about that. They're going to keep lying.
- I am glad to see the Obama campaign stepping back up with some stronger criticism of the Republican attacks and going on some offense of their own. But I hope they'll drop the ad which makes fun of McCain for not using a computer, which is simply in poor taste (and could backfire among the folks around the country who don't use computers for one reason or another). Cut out the shenanigans, talk about the issues.
- And now, "The Interview." Yes, I watched it. Yes, I thought both Gibson and Palin survived. But in watching how Palin responded to the questions, I noticed in her style of speaking and answering questions an uncanny resemblance to the way then-Governor George W. Bush handled his major media interviews during the Republican primaries in 2000. It was remarkable.
Palin's prep-team had done a very good job. She got through most of the questions easily, although it did appear at times like she was reading the answers from invisible notecards in the air. Like Bush, though, Palin seems to think that if you just repeat a short sound-bite over and over again, that will suffice for a complete answer. If she had to depart from the script at all, it was clear that she was slightly uncomfortable (although that practiced poise didn't ever quite slip, even during that deer-in-headlights Bush Doctrine moment).
All of the stories about Palin's rise to power, frightening management style, her husband's very ambiguous and active role in her administration, and her extreme lack of interest in foreign policy notwithstanding, we still know very little about Palin's positions on the issues or about how she would handle herself if exposed to the same kind of media scrutiny that the other candidates have faced during their time in national life. She needs to hold a press conference, she needs to do more interviews, she needs to let the American voters get to know her before they have to go into a voting booth and possibly cast a ballot for her as VP. No more hiding.