Friday, September 26, 2008

A Few Quick Things

1. I'm glad there will be a debate tonight, and I will have more thoughts on that after it happens.

2. There are several things about Palin's interview this week with Katie Couric that I want to pass along: the withering LATimes review, Hendrik Hertzberg's comments at the New Yorker, and James Fallows' take. And then there's the video. The last response on that clip, where Palin can't come up with any examples of McCain supporting regulation of Wall Street during his Senate career, reminded me of Eisenhower's response to a press conference question about Nixon's accomplishments as vice president ("If you give me a week I might think of one, I don't remember"), which was turned into a tremendously effective ad by the Kennedy campaign.

Palin's interview ability hasn't informed since Charlie Gibson (maybe if they'd let her practice a little more she'd get better at it?). Her responses seem to consist of barely-digested soundbytes, repeated until she thinks she's given an answer of adequate length. Her inability to spell out exactly how Alaska's proximity to Russia and Canada is supposed to be some sort of foreign policy free pass (when that has inexplicably become the campaign's major talking point about her experience) is remarkable, as is the way she manages to avoid answering almost any question in a straightforward manner without weaving talking points in willy-nilly. At any rate, I think a very poor showing. Here's the full transcript of part one, and of part two.

3. John McCain's pseudo-suspension of his campaign this week was a silly stunt (Fallows goes so far as to call it the worst self-inflicted campaign move ever). It bought him some news coverage and (perhaps a good thing for the campaign) distracted from Palin's Couric disaster, which surely would have gotten much more coverage if not for the maneuver, but it certainly didn't help the bailout negotiations, and adding the element of uncertainty about tonight's debate was unhelpful and, frankly, just a bit annoying, not only for the country but perhaps especially for the folks at Ole Miss, who have been preparing for this debate for many months.

4. George Will sometimes makes me a little crazy, but his column this week is almost spot-on. McCain's actions over the last few days have been perplexing and erratic, and more than a little worrisome.

5. Also, I should point out this essay by early Palin backer and conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, who is now calling on Palin to step aside. "As we’ve seen and heard more from John McCain’s running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. Quick study or not, she doesn’t know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion. ... Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League."


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