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ABC News reports:

    In a conservative radio interview that aired in Washington, D.C. Friday morning, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin said she fears her First Amendment rights may be threatened by “attacks” from reporters who suggest she is engaging in a negative campaign against Barack Obama.Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama’s associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate’s free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.”If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald explains why this argument is frighteningly wrong:

So Dumb It Hurts

    If anything, Palin has this exactly backwards, since one thing that the First Amendment does actually guarantee is a free press. Thus, when the press criticizes a political candidate and a Governor such as Palin, that is a classic example of First Amendment rights being exercised, not abridged.This isn’t only about profound ignorance regarding our basic liberties, though it is obviously that. Palin here is also giving voice here to the standard right-wing grievance instinct: that it’s inherently unfair when they’re criticized. And now, apparently, it’s even unconstitutional.According to Palin, what the Founders intended with the First Amendment was that political candidates for the most powerful offices in the country and Governors of states would be free to say whatever they want without being criticized in the newspapers. The First Amendment was meant to ensure that powerful political officials would not be “attacked” in the papers. It is even possible to imagine more breathaking ignorance from someone holding high office and running for even higher office?

Source: HP

A few readers comments from the WSJ

The real question is – is Sarah Palin being dumb – or as with this socialist argument against Obama – simply trying to manipulate the audience?

If you notice Palin won’t actually say Obama is a socialist – just that Joe the plumber said that he thought it sounded like socialism – and then by the way – we find that Joe Plumber didn’t say anything about socialism to Obama’s face – that was said in an interview with Fox News Laura Ingraham.

If she repeats this 1st Amendment line – we will know that it is being exploited – if she never mentions it again this will confirm our suspicions that she is dumb-da-dumb-dumb dumb!!

    That is the dumbest statement I have ever heard a politician make about the First Amendment. The First Amendment protects the right of private citizens — including the press — to speak freely, without government interference. That right is strongest when exercised in relation to public figures like Palin.
    * * *
    If she is upset, she needs to win over supporters with the strength of her ideas. The fact that she can’t speaks volumes about her credibility and the validity of her ideas.
    * * *
    The fact that she’s now twisting the First Amendment, which essentially protects a “free market for political ideas, shows just how poorly she understands the philosophy of her own party. It’s also just poor taste.

Comment by Falstaff

    Sounds like she can dish it out, but can’t take it. If she wants to express her opinion on the media, why shouldn’t the media be able to express their opinion of what she has said. Isn’t that what First Amendment rights are all about?

Comment by No Sympathy for Sarah

    The point is not Palin’s First Amendment rights; it’s the fact that a lot of what she and McCain have been saying is negative and often false. She can, and does, say whatever she wants about Obama. At the same time, her detractors have the right to call her on the negativity and falsity of her speech. The First Amendment has not been abridged by anyone here. She missed the point entirely.

Comment by Missed the Point

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Revived an old ad !!

This ad came out before the financial collapse ~ likely no one knew just how much of a bee sting the Bush/McCain policies would be!

As voters have gotten to know Senator Barack Obama, they have warmed up to him, with more than half, 53 percent, now saying they have a favorable impression of him and 33 percent saying they have an unfavorable view. But as voters have gotten to know Senator John McCain, they have not warmed, with only 36 percent of voters saying they view him favorably while 45 percent view him unfavorably.

Even voters who are planning to vote for Mr. McCain say their enthusiasm has waned. In New York Times and CBS News polls conducted with the same respondents before the first presidential debate and again after the last debate, Mr. McCain made no progress in appealing to voters on a personal level, and he and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, had alienated some voters.

Mr. Obama’s favorability is the highest for a presidential candidate running for a first term in the last 28 years of Times/CBS polls.

Personal appeal is an intangible element in voters’ decisions. Each voter has a personal reason for connecting with a candidate or not. But the percentage of those who hold a favorable opinion of Mr. Obama is up 10 points since last month. Opinion of Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Obama’s running mate, is also up, to 50 percent last weekend from 36 percent in September.

In contrast, favorable opinion of Mr. McCain remained stable, and unfavorable opinion rose to 45 percent now from 35 percent in September. Mrs. Palin’s negatives are up, to 41 percent now from 29 percent in September.

Mr. McCain made no progress in appealing to voters on a personal level, and he and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, had alienated some voters.

Mr. Obama’s favorability is the highest for a presidential candidate running for a first term in the last 28 years of Times/CBS polls. Mrs. Palin’s negative rating is the highest for a vice-presidential candidate as measured by The Times and CBS News. Even Dan Quayle, with whom Mrs. Palin is often compared because of her age and inexperience on the national scene, was not viewed as negatively in the 1988 campaign.

The nationwide telephone poll was conducted Sept. 21-24, with re-interviews completed Friday through Sunday of 518 adults, 476 of whom are registered voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus five percentage points for all adults and voters.

Of those who said their opinion of Mr. McCain had been tarnished, many cited his attacks on his opponent, the choice of Ms. Palin as his running mate and his debate performance.

Among the voters who said their opinion of Mr. Obama had improved, many cited his debate performance, saying they liked his calm demeanor and the way he had handled the attacks on him from the McCain campaign.

Of those who said their opinion of Mr. McCain had been tarnished, many cited his attacks on his opponent, the choice of Ms. Palin as his running mate and his debate performance.

“Even though I am a Democrat, there was a strong possibility I would have voted for McCain,” said Yolanda Grande, 77, a Democrat from Blairstown, N.J. “What pushed me over the line was McCain’s choice of vice president. I just don’t think she is qualified to step in if anything happened to him.”

John McCain was particularly animated at the final presidential debate. Here’s a look at his wide range of facial expressions.










Source: HP

Here’s the facts if Joe made over $250,000 – under an Obama plan he would get a tax increase of 3% on any amount above this figure and a tax cut for the amount below. If Joe is in a partnership – likely he would never reach that higher tax bracket.

It shows how little John McCain understands the middle class – which he is all of a sudden trying to show he is working for!

HOLLAND, Ohio — Joe the Plumber’s story sprang a few leaks Thursday. Turns out that the man who was held up by John McCain as the typical, hard-working American taxpayer isn’t really a licensed plumber. And court documents show he owes nearly $1,200 in back taxes.

“Joe,” whose name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, was cited repeatedly in Wednesday night’s final presidential debate by McCain for questioning Barack Obama’s tax policy.

Wurzelbacher instantly became a media celebrity, fielding calls during the debate and facing reporters outside his home near Toledo on Thursday morning for an impromptu nationally televised news conference.

The burly, bald man acknowledged he doesn’t have a plumber’s license, but said he didn’t need one because he works for someone else at a company that does residential work.

State and local records show Wurzelbacher has no license, although his employer does. Golis said there are no records of inspectors citing Wurzelbacher for unlicensed work in Toledo.

But Wurzelbacher still would need to be a licensed apprentice or journeyman to work in Toledo, and he’s not, said David Golis, manager and residential building official for the Toledo Division of Building Inspection.

State and local records show Wurzelbacher has no license, although his employer does. Golis said there are no records of inspectors citing Wurzelbacher for unlicensed work in Toledo.

And then there was the matter of his taxes.

Wurzelbacher owes the state of Ohio $1,182.98 in personal income tax, according to Lucas County Court of Common Pleas records.

In January 2007, Ohio’s Department of Taxation filed a claim on his property until he pays the debt, according to the records. The lien remains active.

At the debate, McCain cited Wurzelbacher as an example of someone who wants to buy a plumbing business but would be hurt by Obama’s tax plans.

Wurzelbacher, a self-described conservative, had spoken to Obama at a rally Sunday near his home and asked him whether his tax plan would keep him from buying the business that currently employs him, which earns more than $250,000 a year.

“Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?” Wurzelbacher asked.

Obama said that under his proposal taxes on any revenue from $250,000 on down would stay the same, but that amounts above that level would be subject to a 39 percent tax, instead of the current 36 percent rate.

Wurzelbacher owes the state of Ohio $1,182.98 in personal income tax, according to Lucas County Court of Common Pleas records.

McCain said Obama’s plan would stop entrepreneurs such as Wurzelbacher from investing in new small businesses and keep existing ones from growing.

The McCain campaign posted a Web ad featuring the exchange between Wurzelbacher and Obama.

During an afternoon taping of “Late Show with David Letterman,” McCain said he had not yet spoken to Wurzelbacher, and apologized for the press attention he had received.

“Joe, if you’re watching, I’m sorry,” McCain said.

Wurzelbacher had to deal with a clog of two dozen reporters outside his home on a narrow street lined with ranch- and split-level homes Thursday morning. No detail about the divorced father of a 13-year-old boy was too small: Was he a registered voter? Did he have a plumbing license? Whom will he vote for?

He indicated he was a fan of the military and McCain but wouldn’t say who will get his vote. He is registered as a Republican, the county elections board said, because he voted in the GOP primary in March.

Wurzelbacher said a McCain campaign official contacted him several days before the debate to ask him to appear with the candidate at a Toledo rally scheduled for Sunday.

He indicated he was a fan of the military and McCain but wouldn’t say who will get his vote. He is registered as a Republican, the county elections board said, because he voted in the GOP primary in March.

He told reporters he’s unsure if he’ll attend, since he’s now scheduled to be in New York for TV interviews.

On Thursday in New Hampshire, Obama said McCain was misleading voters by proposing tax plans that favor the rich while criticizing an Obama tax plan that would raise taxes only on people making more than $250,000 a year, just 5 percent of all taxpayers.

“He’s trying to suggest that a plumber is the guy he’s fighting for,” Obama said. “How many plumbers you know that are making a quarter-million dollars a year?”

Wurzelbacher said he felt a bit overwhelmed by all the attention.

“I’m kind of like Britney Spears having a headache. Everybody wants to know about it,” he joked.

Source: Washington Post

US Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) reacts to almost heading the wrong way off the stage after shaking hands with Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) at the conclusion of the final presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, October 15, 2008.

REUTERS/Jim Bourg (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008

McCain’s sniping often in miserable voice was a theme throughout the debate and a theme for many of his exchanges – showing that the intellectual argument is a challenge for McCain.

The disdain for Obama is nearly dripping from McCain’s mouth.

“I admire so much Sen. Obama’s eloquence,” he said, “and you really have to pay attention to words. He said we can ‘look at’ offshore drilling. You got that? ‘Look at.’ We need to do it now.”

He then criticizes Obama for never traveling to the southern hemisphere, citing it as a reason why he doesn’t support the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

“Maybe you ought to travel down there and visit them and maybe you can understand them a lot better,” McCain said, disregarding the fact that his running mate has only been to two other countries and just recently got her passport.

As Obama gave his response, McCain rolled his eyes dramatically.

Source: HP

At one point in the debate McCain says congratulations Joe – you’re rich. The embarrassing truth is that the man is far from that. He certainly doesn’t have 7 homes (or was that 8). McCain is clueless! And worst he is arrogant.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden questioned whether Joe “the plumber” Wurzelbacher is a “real” plumber Thursday after the Ohio citizen vaulted to the front of campaign dialogue during the final presidential debate.

“John [McCain] continues to cling to the notion of this guy Joe the plumber,” Biden said on NBC’s “Today” show. “I don’t have any Joe the plumbers in my neighborhood that make $250,000 a year.”

“The Joe the plumbers in my neighborhood, the Joe the cops in my neighborhood, the Joe the grocery store owners in my neighborhood, they make, like 98 percent of the small businesses, less than $250,000 a year.”

A video that shows Wurzelbacher telling Barack Obama earlier this week that the Democrat’s tax plan would prevent him from buying the business he currently works for became an instant YouTube sensation and popular fodder for conservatives.

Obama told the plumber that it was time to “spread the wealth around,” a phrase McCain and his campaign have been reciting frequently.

Biden said he isn’t worried that Wurzelbacher would not get a tax cut under Obama’s plan.

“We think we should give that to the real Joe the plumbers, who make $65,000, $70,000, $80,000 bucks a year,” Biden said on CBS’s “Early Show.”

Source: Politico

‘I Ain’t Bush,’ says McCain

‘Oh Yes Yer Are’ says Obama (and McCain?)

Boy oh boy – Just talking about Joe The Plumber and we find that he owes the state taxes.

Joe stated earlier that he was impressed with John McCain’s war record – though I should mention that John McCain recklessly crashed up to four planes before he went to Vietnam – saved likely by being an Admiral’s son – he wasn’t booted out of his naval pilot unit.

Joe clearly could use some help – like most of us and a vote for McCain – who promises tax cuts for the top 5% earners – over the middle class – is clearly a vote against his own interests — swapped for McCain’s war record and history of service in the military.

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, a.k.a. “Joe the Plumber,” is the topic of the day on the campaign trail, in part because he held an impromptu press conference Thursday morning in front of his house to discuss tax policy, his disdain for Social Security, and his critiques of Barack Obama.

Already, however, there is some dispute as to whether or not Wurzelbacher was being accurate with his critique of Obama. His business, as ABC reports, would almost certainly get a tax cut under Obama’s plan, given that he does not expect to make anywhere close to $250,000 in profits.

Moreover, for someone worried about his taxes, Wurzelbacher doesn’t — it appears – always pay them. A filing with the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas shows that he has had state tax liens filed against him, meaning he was either delinquent or didn’t fully cover taxes that he owed.

A representative at the court explained that Wurzelbacher had not paid $1,182.98 of personal income tax. The state filed a lien on January 26, 2007, and the payment remains outstanding. But the court rep also cautioned that this all may have occurred without Wurzelbacher’s knowledge.

“We get hundreds of state liens every day and we don’t have to make a judgment on them. We are just putting in there what the state says is owed. We don’t notify that person and neither does the state. If there was activity on this lien, if they attempted to collect it on this case – which they haven’t — it would show up. But I am 99.9 percent positive that he doesn’t even know about this.”

Tax-issues aside, the “Joe-the-Plumber” fervor seems to be spreading beyond small town Ohio. On the streets of Manhattan this morning, a plumbing company car was spotted with a “Joe The Plumber For President” poster on its side.

But before Obama supporters fret about losing the plumber vote, it’s worth noting that the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters has endorsed the Illinois Democrat, in part because the union thinks he has the best economic agenda for its members.

“Obama will help us keep existing jobs and work to develop new, higher paying jobs here in America, reform our health care system, fix our ailing schools and make sure that the pensions of our retirees are safe,” the union said.

Source: HP


When Obama said here is your fine: zero – I said Obama’s rude. And McCain was shocked! He should at least know what his opponent is offering.

The real question is can Joe the Plumber save the McCain campaign – I guess we have moved on from Ayers and the palling around phase – now it’s Joe the Plumber – who by the way does not earn more that $250,000 – so he would receive an Obama tax cut if Obama were elected. In an interview Joe Plumber said – well McCain’s got a good war record – and he’s not sure what Obama will do – and this exactly where McCain wants everyone – buy into my war record and glorious past – over my plan for the American people. A long line of McCains means little – but a tax cut for the middle class – and some help with the expenses in life does.

 McCain mentioned “Joe the Plumber” almost constantly throughout the final debate — even tying him into an attack on Obama’s health care plan. But the move led to a “deer in the headlights” moment for the Republican.

“Joe, Senator Obama’s plan … If you are out there, my friend, and you have got employees and you have got kids, if you don’t get a health care plan that Sen. Obama mandates, he is going to fine you,” McCain said.

“I’m happy to talk to you, Joe, too, if you’re out there,” Obama responded. “Here is your fine: Zero.”

McCain interrupted, asking “Zero?” He stayed frozen in the same position, blinking his eyes in confusion, as Obama continued his answer.

“Zero,” Obama said. “You won’t pay a fine because as I said in our last debate, and I’ll repeat John, I exempt small businesses from the requirement for large businesses that can afford to provide health care to their employees who are not doing it. I exempt small businesses from having to pay into a kitty.”

Obama then ripped McCain for proposing to tax the health care benefits individuals will receive from their employer — a winner for him in past debates.

The Washington Post Fact Checker confirmed Obama’s response:

    McCain was wrong to state that small businessman “Joe the Plumber” would end up paying a fine if he refused to provide his workers with health insurance. Under the Obama plan, small businesses are specifically exempted from a requirement imposed on large companies that they contribute to a national health fund if they fail to make “a meaningful contribution” to their employees’ health care costs.

Source: HP

AC360’s Anderson Cooper talks with a panel about how the debate may have changed the dynamics of the campaign.

It is as if Obama has reached a point in the debate and in the election – where McCain’s Smith-like attacks are absorbed or controlled – and even stopped in mid air. So much so that McCain can’t seem to get into Obama’s psyche and take him down with them – and with the better deal – the American people gravitate towards him as the One – and against McCain’s Agent Smith tactics.

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Debates should not be confused with trips to Lourdes: Few miracles are dispensed.

John McCain needed a miracle in his final debate with Barack Obama on Wednesday night, a miracle that would wipe away McCain’s deficit in the polls and re-energize his flagging campaign.

He did not get one. The clouds did not part. Heavenly choirs were not heard. Instead, the American public heard angry attacks from McCain.

Sometimes McCain attacked directly, and sometimes he attacked sarcastically, but he never stopped attacking. And he never rattled Obama. Obama answered every attack and kept his cool.

How cool? Obama was so cool that after 90 minutes under blazing TV lights, an ice cube wouldn’t have melted on his forehead.

McCain attacked him on everything from wanting to raise the taxes of Joe the Plumber – – now the most famous plumber in America and at serious risk of becoming so wealthy his taxes will go up no matter who wins – – to not traveling enough.

How cool? Obama was so cool that after 90 minutes under blazing TV lights, an ice cube wouldn’t have melted on his forehead.

“I admire so much Sen. Obama’s eloquence,” McCain sneered. “Sen. Obama, who has never traveled south of our border.” (This from a man whose running mate got her first passport last year.)

But McCain didn’t just attack, he also defended, including defending those people who attend his rallies and the rallies of Sarah Palin who have shouted nasty and threatening things when Obama’s name is mentioned.

“Let me say categorically that I am proud of the people who come to my rallies,” McCain said. “I am not going to stand for anybody saying that the people who come to our rallies are anything other than patriotic citizens.”

Obama responded to all this — what else? — coolly.

“I don’t mind being attacked for the next three weeks,” Obama said. “What the American people can’t afford is four more years of failed economic policies.”

He never got off his game plan. He never got shook up.

The biggest impact of the three presidential debates for Obama was not anything said or not said. It was impressionistic: Obama simply did not appear to be the scary “other” that McCain needs him to be. “When people suggest that I pal around with terrorists, then we are not talking about issues,” Obama said smoothly.

For McCain, the biggest impact of the debates was visual: In the first debate he refused to look at Obama, in the second debate McCain appeared to careen around the stage and in this last debate McCain would scribble furiously with his Sharpie as Obama was talking or else smirk in response to what Obama was saying.

He never got off his game plan. He never got shook up. “When people suggest that I pal around with terrorists, then we are not talking about issues,” Obama said smoothly.

Moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS often asked provocative questions that sometimes did not get provocative responses. When Schieffer asked each man why the country would be better off if his running mate became president rather than the other guy’s running mate, Obama said Joe Biden “shares my core values.” John McCain said Sarah Palin is a “reformer” and “she has united our party.”

And McCain’s desire to keep his party united behind him — because who else is? — was very much on his mind, dipping deep into conservative Republican talking points. McCain repeatedly accused Obama of “wanting to spread the wealth” around, which doesn’t seem like all that bad an idea to people who aren’t wealthy.

But there was one place McCain would not go: He did not bring up the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. It is a line McCain seems determined not to cross, even though some in his party are urging him to do so.

What McCain really needed is what he still needs: for Obama to make some huge gaffe, something that makes Obama look like the riskier choice between the two.

But Obama made no such gaffes Wednesday night.

“The biggest risk we could take right now is to adopt the same failed policies and same failed politics that we’ve seen for the last eight years,” Obama said.

The race is not over. It would be wrong to write McCain off. After all, there is still almost three weeks to go. And in politics, anything can happen.

It usually doesn’t, however.

Source: Politico

Politico

The third and final Presidential debate took place last night where the topic focused on domestic and economic policy and was moderated by Bob Schieffer.

Both candidates held their own – but in their own ways.

Obama focusing on detail – and conveying his message – while clearing up any inaccuracies or falsehoods put out there by the McCain campaign.

McCain’s effort above all was on attacking Obama – many times despite his message. McCain failed to see the importance of the relevance of this bing the perfect platform in which to get his message across. [McCain’s best line of attack or maybe defense was when he said – he’s not George Bush – something for the party base – but with a voting record of 90% in Bush’s favor others will look to dispute this.]

Whereas Obama reserved his attacks – to where – it was almost as if the attack had to be pulled out of him – McCain would often start his segments with an attack on Obama – and then continue attacking throughout.

But here is where the McCain strategy has a problem – the two men see things very differently.

Obama was brought up as a mixed race kid – who had a funny name – and although kids can be good – they can also be cruel – likely Obama growing up would have had to rely on something more than how he looked and his name.

Move over to McCain – the son and the grandson of Admirals – from ‘a long line of McCains’ would have likely relied on his name and status to deal with problems and to get ahead in life.

Where the young Obama would have had to get over his ego and maybe deal with personal attacks or teasing – McCain would have thought he was owed respect – and with that a kind of spoiled brat personality emerged – added to this his now famous fiery – or un-tempered – temper which he almost certainly used to unsure that he was respected – for being a McCain – the son of an Admiral.

Back to the campaign – McCain has employed a strategy – of attempting to trample Obama’s character – but more to engage Obama in a scuffle to defend his own ego – a part of Obama’s personality – along with Obama’s anger – he has long placed under control.

Where McCain used almost a whole segment to – talk about how injured his feelings were when Rep. John Lewis compared his campaign’s crowd stoking to the segregationist Wallace.

Obama on the other hand – came around to the mentioning the violent incendiary sentiments being expressed about him – in particular at the Palin rallies – only after being prompted a couple of times. And even after this he quickly went on to talk about what he thinks the American people want to hear — the things which are actually affecting their lives.

McCain doesn’t get it. Being – as he says – from the long line of McCain’s almost everything is invested in his ego – in who he is – in who he was – to McCain what he is offering comes second to this.

To Obama what he’s offering comes first. In this sense it’s a more humble gesture. As well as he uses his intellect rather than his ego to get his intentions across.

McCain when compared to Obama is like the defunct robot – that relentlessly repeats the same actions – but is unable to move forward – or sideways – that can still somehow throw a good punch or two – but in all the model that needs to be replaced. If McCain is the antiquated rock-um-sock-um robot model – than Obama would be the highly intelligent and agile AI model that is dependable and articulate and self correcting – which is programmed and duty bound – to act to the best of his capability – in fulfilling the needs of the American people.

With McCain’s repeating moves – he would never be a match for Obama’s intellectual agility – in any debate.

I can feel it coming in the Ayers tonight, oh Lord !!

McCain’s meant to kick some butt – at tonight the last debate – which is to cover domestic and economic polity – though I’m not sure how convincing the average voter that a tax cut for the very wealthy is going to help them – especially since the last one didn’t work.

Tonight is the last presidential debate, and the stakes are highest for John McCain — he’s on track to finish off the season with three strikes. The Arizona Republican has been heightening expectations for a fight. Before last Tuesday’s debate he made a similar move, suggesting to a crowd that he would “take the gloves off.” (He didn’t, and by many accounts the debate was not only “boring” but another win for Obama.) Tonight is McCain’s last chance to close the widening gap between him and Senator Obama. By McCain’s own predictions, it would seem that only a knockout win will do the trick. Read below for McCain’s two major pronouncements: that he’ll “‘whip’ Obama’s “you-know-what” and that it’s “probably ensured” he’ll bring up William Ayers tonight.

Source: HP

Some voters in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll were disappointed by John McCain’s attacks and running mate choice. The poll found Barack Obama was supported by majorities of men and independents.

Some voters in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll were disappointed by John McCain’s attacks and running mate choice. The poll found Barack Obama was supported by majorities of men and independents.

Backfired

The McCain campaign’s recent angry tone and sharply personal attacks on Senator Barack Obama appear to have backfired and tarnished Senator John McCain more than their intended target, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll has found.

McCain Campaign Attacks

After several weeks in which the McCain campaign unleashed a series of strong political attacks on Mr. Obama, trying to tie him to a former 1960s radical, among other things, the poll found that more voters see Mr. McCain as waging a negative campaign than Mr. Obama. Six in 10 voters surveyed said that Mr. McCain had spent more time attacking Mr. Obama than explaining what he would do as president; by about the same number, voters said Mr. Obama was spending more of his time explaining than attacking.

Election Supposition

Over all, the poll found that if the election were held today, 53 percent of those determined to be probable voters said they would vote for Mr. Obama and 39 percent said they would vote for Mr. McCain.

Debate

The findings come as the race enters its final three weeks, with the two candidates scheduled to hold their third and last debate on Wednesday night, and as separate polls in critical swing states that could decide the election give Mr. Obama a growing edge. But wide gaps in polls have historically tended to narrow in the closing weeks of the race.

Opinions

Voters who said their opinions of Mr. Obama had changed recently were twice as likely to say they had grown more favorable as to say they had worsened. And voters who said that their views of Mr. McCain had changed were three times more likely to say that they had worsened than to say they had improved.

Gov. Sarah Palin Choice

The top reasons cited by those who said they thought less of Mr. McCain were his recent attacks and his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate. (The vast majority said their opinions of Mr. Obama of Illinois, the Democratic nominee, and Mr. McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee, had remained unchanged in recent weeks.) But in recent days, Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin have scaled back their attacks on Mr. Obama, although Mr. McCain suggested he might aggressively take on Mr. Obama in Wednesday’s debate.

Confidence

With the election unfolding against the backdrop of an extraordinary economic crisis, a lack of confidence in government, and two wars, the survey described a very inhospitable environment for any Republican to run for office. More than 8 in 10 Americans do not trust the government to do what is right, the highest ever recorded in a Times/CBS News poll. And Mr. McCain is trying to keep the White House in Republican hands at a time when President Bush’s job approval rating is at 24 percent, hovering near its historic low.

Obama vs. McCain

While the poll showed Mr. Obama with a 14 percentage-point lead among likely voters in a head-to-head matchup with Mr. McCain, when Ralph Nader and Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate, were included in the question, the race narrowed slightly, with 51 percent of those surveyed saying that they were supporting Mr. Obama and 39 percent supporting Mr. McCain, with Mr. Nader getting the support of 3 percent and Mr. Barr 1 percent. Other national polls have shown Mr. Obama ahead by a smaller margin.

Members of Congress

The poll suggested that the overwhelming anxiety about the economy and distrust of government have created a potentially poisonous atmosphere for members of Congress. Only 43 percent of those surveyed said that they approved of their own representative’s job performance, which is considerably lower than approval ratings have been at other times of historic discontent. By way of comparison, just before the Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994, 56 percent of those polled said that they approved of the job their representative was doing.

Republican vs. Democrat Rule

And after nearly eight years of increasingly unpopular Republican rule in the White House, 52 percent of those polled said that they held a favorable view of the Democratic Party, compared with 37 percent who said they held a favorable view of the Republican Party. Voters said they preferred Democrats to Republicans when it came to questions about who would better handle the issues that are of the greatest concern to voters — including the economy, health care and the war in Iraq.

Nationwide Telephone Poll

The nationwide telephone poll was conducted Friday through Monday with 1,070 adults, of whom 972 were registered voters, and it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for both groups.

Past Associations

After several weeks in which the McCain campaign sought to tie Mr. Obama to William Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground terrorism group, 64 percent of voters said that they had either read or heard something about the subject. But a majority said they were not bothered by Mr. Obama’s background or past associations. Several people said in follow-up interviews that they felt that Mr. McCain’s attacks on Mr. Obama were too rooted in the past, or too unconnected to the nation’s major problems.

Issues vs. Attacks

“What bothers me is that McCain initially talked about running a campaign on issues and I want to hear him talk about the issues,” said Flavio Lorenzoni, a 59-year-old independent from Manalapan, N.J. “But we’re being constantly bombarded with attacks that aren’t relevant to making a decision about what direction McCain would take the country. McCain hasn’t addressed the real issues. He’s only touched on them very narrowly. This is a time when we need to address issues much more clearly than they ever have been in the past.”

Independents

The poll found that Mr. Obama is now supported by majorities of men and independents, two groups that he has been fighting to win over. And the poll found, for the first time, that white voters are just about evenly divided between Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama, who, if elected, would be the first black president. The poll found that Mr. Obama is supported by 45 percent of white voters — a greater percentage than has voted for Democrats in recent presidential elections, according to exit polls.

Favorability

Mr. McCain was viewed unfavorably by 41 percent of voters, and favorably by 36 percent. Ms. Palin’s favorability rating is now 32 percent, down 8 points from last month, and her unfavorable rating climbed nine percentage points to 41 percent. Mr. Obama’s favorability rating, by contrast, is now at 50 percent, the highest recorded for him thus far by The Times and CBS News.

Prepared

There were still some strong findings for Mr. McCain. Sixty-four percent of voters polled said Mr. McCain, 72, was well-prepared for the presidency, which has been a central theme of his campaign. Fifty-one percent said Mr. Obama, 47, was.

Temperament

But roughly 7 in 10 voters said Mr. Obama had the right kind of temperament and personality to be president; just over half said the same of Mr. McCain.

Enthusiasm

Mr. Obama’s supporters continued to be more enthusiastic about him than Mr. McCain’s supporters, the poll found, and more of those surveyed said they had confidence in Mr. Obama than in Mr. McCain to make the right decisions about the economy and health care. And while more than 6 in 10 said Mr. Obama understood the needs and problems of people like them, more than half said Mr. McCain did not.

Source: NYT

If the right question is asked McCain will bring up Ayers – i.e. if the moderator brings up Ayers then he will talk about it. Is that a one glove half off!

Imagine having to place all your eggs in a basket called Ayers. It’s the unfortunate corner McCain finds himself in.

It appears Sen. John McCain will take Sen. Barack Obama up on his challenge.

In an interview on a St. Louis radio station, McCain said Obama’s comments that “I didn’t have the guts” to talk about William Ayers in the last presidential debate have “probably ensured” that the former 1960s radical will come up in Wednesday’s debate.

Source: Political Wire

McCain continues the smears ~ Obama launched his political careers in the local Ramada Inn.

Biden on ‘The McCain I knew.’

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. was joined at an appearance on Sunday in Scranton, Pa., by Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. was joined at an appearance on Sunday in Scranton, Pa., by Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

SCRANTON, Pa. — The Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., sharing a stage with Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton for the first time this year, said the campaign of Senator John McCain was stooping to stunts and “ugly inferences” because it was losing and was out of ideas.

Rousing a crowd estimated by the police at 6,000 on an otherwise quiet day on the campaign trail, Mr. Biden said Mr. McCain’s campaign had become erratic, a reference to Mr. McCain’s changing positions on the financial crisis and his decision two weeks ago to suspend his campaign briefly to deal with it.

“Presidents have to supply steady leadership,” Mr. Biden told the friendly crowd in this northeastern Pennsylvania city where he spent the first 10 years of his life. He said Mr. McCain had become increasingly desperate and negative because he saw the presidency “slipping from his grasp.”

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee dismissed Mr. Biden’s remarks as “standard stuff” from the Democratic ticket. He declined to comment further.

The Scranton event drew a larger-than-usual crowd for Mr. Biden because of the presence of the Clintons. Mr. Clinton remains popular in this heavily Democratic, blue-collar city, and Mrs. Clinton’s father grew up and is buried here. The Clintons were in Scranton on Sunday to attend the christening of her brother Tony’s newborn son, Simon Joseph Rodham.

“We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. America will once again rise from the ashes of the Bushes.” Hillary Clinton

In the Democratic primary in April, Mrs. Clinton trounced Senator Barack Obama 74 to 26 percent in Lackawanna County, which includes Scranton. Mr. Obama has deployed Mr. Biden here and in other white working-class enclaves to try to win those voters who preferred Mrs. Clinton by such huge margins.

Mr. Clinton, in brief remarks at the beginning of the program, spoke as much about his wife as about the Obama-Biden ticket. People close to Mr. Clinton say he remains bitter about suggestions by Mr. Obama’s supporters that he incited racial animosity during the primaries in support of his wife’s candidacy.

Mr. Obama has been sparing in his use of the former president as a campaign surrogate, although Mr. Clinton left Scranton immediately after speaking to campaign for Mr. Obama in Virginia, a state, Mr. Clinton noted, that had not gone Democratic in a presidential contest for 40 years.

Mr. Clinton said Mrs. Clinton had already made 50 appearances on behalf of Mr. Obama. “She has not only done more to support him than any runner-up in the Democratic primary process in my lifetime,” he said, “she has done more than all the other runners-up combined.”

He spoke warmly of Mr. Biden, whom he has known for more than two decades. He said the choice of vice president was more crucial this year than in the past because the next president would be consumed by the global financial emergency.

“I hope you know that the next vice president for the first two years will be relatively more important in the larger world than has ever been the case because the president is going to have to close the door to the Oval Office and get this country out of the ditch,” Mr. Clinton said.

But he did say that in their televised debate 10 days ago Ms. Palin said she was not certain that global warming was caused by human activity.

“How in the hell — heck — are you going to change it,” Mr. Biden said, “unless you know what caused it?”

In her remarks, Mrs. Clinton offered an updated version of an applause line from her own campaign, saying: “It took a Democratic president to clean up after the last President Bush. It’s going to take a Democratic president to clean up after this President Bush.” (In the primaries, it was “It took a Clinton …”)

She then added a new coda: “We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. America will once again rise from the ashes of the Bushes.”

Mr. Biden barely mentioned his Republican vice-presidential rival, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. But he did say that in their televised debate 10 days ago Ms. Palin said she was not certain that global warming was caused by human activity.

“How in the hell — heck — are you going to change it,” Mr. Biden said, “unless you know what caused it?”

The Democratic ticket is leading in Pennsylvania, according to recent polls, although the McCain campaign is devoting a significant effort to trying to narrow the gap.

Source: NYT

Karl Rove and President Bush in a moment of emotion in August 2007 after Mr. Rove announced that he was leaving the post of White House political adviser to Mr. Bush.

Karl Rove and President Bush in a moment of emotion in August 2007 after Mr. Rove announced that he was leaving the post of White House political adviser to Mr. Bush.

The boy who would be obsessed with the facts – while most of us would have been satisfied that we had blocks as a child – Karl Rove would have counted his — and moved to sorting them out into colors and levels of importance.

WASHINGTON — Karl Rove has inspired a generation of Republican imitators, Democratic vilifiers and, in this election, a term that has reached full-on political buzzword status: “Rovian.”As in, this presidential campaign has been rife with “Rovian tactics” in recent days. This essentially means aggressive tactics — or dirty, in the view of Democrats, who use the term often, and not lovingly.“John McCain has gone Karl Rovian,” Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. said at a recent campaign stop, a variation on a standard stump line from Senator Barack Obama’s running mate.

On Fox News after the presidential debate, Mr. Rove said Gov. Sarah Palin had done a “very good job” of bringing up Mr. Obama’s past associations to the 1960s-era radical William Ayers

Karl Rove, of course, is the revered and reviled Republican maestro who has become ubiquitous in his new career as a commentator, columnist and conversation-starter. He left the Bush administration 13 months ago, yet continues to loom over a campaign that has become the backdrop for his post-White House reinvention.

With Senator Barack Obama, in January 2005, when Mr. Obama and other newly elected members of Congress attended a reception in their honor in the East Room of the White House.

With Senator Barack Obama, in January 2005, when Mr. Obama and other newly elected members of Congress attended a reception in their honor in the East Room of the White House.

On Fox News after Tuesday’s presidential debate, Mr. Rove said Gov. Sarah Palin had done a “very good job” of bringing up Mr. Obama’s past associations to the 1960s-era radical William Ayers, a guilt-by-association tactic that many Democrats decried, naturally, as “Rovian.” Last weekend, Mr. Rove said on his Web site, Rove.com, that Mr. Obama, based on a compilation of recent polling, would win 273 electoral votes — enough to defeat Senator John McCain if the election were held then. While polls had shown the momentum swinging to Mr. Obama, to hear the so-called architect of the Bush presidency saying so was deemed a watershed development among political insiders.

“His name seems as pervasive now as it ever was,” Dan Bartlett, the former senior counselor to President Bush, said of Mr. Rove.

Indeed he does — even though the patron with whom Mr. Rove will always be tied, Mr. Bush, owns some of the lowest presidential-approval ratings ever; even though the “Republican realignment” Mr. Rove once envisioned seems a far-off fantasy.

But Mr. Rove’s lingering impact, perceived power and even his bogyman status continue to place him in great demand, forming the basis of his lucrative post-White House career as a reported seven-figure author, six-figure television commentator and mid-five-figure speaker.

Mr. Rove with Senator John McCain, a bitter Bush rival in the 2000 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination who went on to campaign for the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2004.

Mr. Rove with Senator John McCain, a bitter Bush rival in the 2000 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination who went on to campaign for the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2004.

He was in Philadelphia on Monday for a “debate” with former Senator Max Cleland, the Georgia Democrat who lost an arm and two legs in Vietnam. Mr. Cleland lost his 2002 re-election bid after his Republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss, questioned his commitment to domestic security, running an advertisement featuring likenesses of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Many Democrats remain bitter over that defeat, for which Mr. Cleland still largely blames Mr. Rove.

“It’s a source of income for me,” Mr. Cleland said of the Monday joint appearance, sponsored by an insurance trade group, for which he said he was paid $15,000. (Mr. Rove’s speeches reportedly bring $40,000.)

Mr. Rove’s lingering impact, perceived power and even his bogyman status continue to place him in great demand

Going up against Mr. Rove, Mr. Cleland said, “is like going up against the devil himself.”

It can pay to be the devil himself, or at least thought of that way. “There is an incredible amount of interest in what Karl Rove has to say,” said Howard Wolfson, an adviser to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, who appears with Mr. Rove on Fox News.

Mr. Wolfson said he was amazed by how often Democrats asked him what Mr. Rove was like off the air. “When I say he’s nice, people look at me like I’m nuts,” he said.

Mr. Rove declined an interview for this article, but engaged somewhat by e-mail. He said little on the record, ignored some questions and was dismissive of others. “Look,” he wrote, “I don’t mean to be rude but I have so much on my plate that my brain explodes when you ask questions like how much of my time I spend on each of my activities or how did I apply skills to my new chapter, et cetera. I can answer simple questions of fact but I am stretched through the election.”

But it clearly delights him, for instance, that Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts went on about “the smears of Karl Rove” during his speech at the Democratic National Convention in August. Mr. Rove helpfully pasted a passage from Mr. Kerry’s speech on Rove.com, under the headline “The Losers Have Spoken.”

Going up against Mr. Rove, Mr. Cleland said, “is like going up against the devil himself.”

Two top McCain campaign aides, Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace, worked closely with Mr. Rove in the White House and are commonly referred to as “Rove protégés,” a designation that both dispute. Mr. McCain’s top advisers shudder at the perception that Mr. Rove is calling shots for their campaign — in part because his reputation is toxic among many swing voters, and perhaps the best-known victim of “Rovian” hardball tactics was Mr. McCain himself in the 2000 Republican primary campaign.

People close to Mr. Rove said he was determined to leave his mark on this race through public channels. He prepares diligently for his television appearances, and sprinkles his commentaries with the kind of wonkery that goes well beyond the repertoire of most talking heads. (“The Urban Institute and the Brookings Institutions did a study of the Obama tax plan,” Mr. Rove said on Fox’s “Hannity and Colmes” after the Tuesday debate. “The top 5 percent will pay $131 billion more in taxes.”)

Shortly after Mr. Rove left the Bush administration, the Washington lawyer Robert B. Barnett negotiated contracts for Mr. Rove — as a paid speaker, as an author, as a Fox News commentator and as a columnist for Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal.

“Karl Rove might not be the architect anymore, but he certainly left a set of blueprints in the room,”

Rove.com provides listings of Mr. Rove’s television appearances and columns, an outlet for Mr. Rove to respond to attacks against him in the news media and a place in which he links to articles about himself. “Karl tends to follow what is being said about him, somewhat obsessively I think,” said Scott McClellan, a former White House spokesman under Mr. Bush.

Likewise, Mr. Rove’s public words are closely scoured for hidden meaning. He recently said on Fox News that Mr. McCain’s campaign should be doing more to connect Mr. Obama to the former executives of the fallen lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The next day, Mr. McCain’s campaign released an advertisement doing just that.

“Is John McCain’s campaign taking political directives on how to handle the economic crisis from Karl Rove?” asked the columnist Sam Stein, writing for The Huffington Post.

Political strategists and analysts note the telltale “Rovian” influences on the McCain campaign, especially since Mr. Schmidt was given day-to-day authority in July. The campaign has taken a more aggressive tack against Mr. Obama and developed a sharper rapid-response apparatus, said Ed Rollins, a longtime Republican strategist. (“Very Rove,” Mr. Rollins said.)

Over the summer, the McCain campaign embarked on the classic Rovian strategy of taking an opponent’s perceived strength — in the case of Mr. Obama, his international popularity and ability to draw big crowds — and tried to turn it into a liability, likening Mr. Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

“Karl Rove might not be the architect anymore, but he certainly left a set of blueprints in the room,” said Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist and a friend of Mr. Rove, conveying a mixture of suspicion and admiration.

Source: NYT

Like leader – like follower. Many of those following the John McCain campaign are angry – with an added touch of Palin spitefulness – versus the Obama supporter who shows another frame of mind – with Obama its work hard – know what’s against you – whereas the McCain supporter which seems to be dependent on an old order and the assumption that this base of support will automatically be in place – and now we see the violent/angry reaction when it is not.

It is evident from the way Mr. McCain debates – that he is heavily reliant on this power-support or on a sense of supremacy – and when he stands alone in front of the world – with Barack Obama it appears he is reaching for it. The Republican Convention was a little like McCain at the Puerto Rican Craps table – where he becomes untouchable – because of who ‘I am’ – a former POW, and a Senator for 20 odd years. This is the kind of power-framework which he has placed himself in – and therefore he becomes untouchable by Barack Obama, and through that he wins the election – in his own mind.

While McCain is attached to past glories – we have a catastrophic economic crisis – not since the Great Depression and maybe never – as its fallout is not complete – this while McCain is trying to lock everyone into his frame of mind – which is – more than what I will do for you – its what I have done for you – or what I have did – that’s more important – so he’s running on past glories – but what he is offering and expects you to accept – is more of the same – almost the same as what Bush offered – tax cuts for the wealthy who don’t need them as much as the less well off especially in these times – and he is expecting you to accept this – not because they are rational choices – but purely because he was a war hero – and because he has been a Senator for more years than Obama.

With the information age – we can look at his military record (reckless/maverick/lucky), we can look at what he did and didn’t do in the Senate – and we can put that with his plan for the future – and we can look at the current economic state – and say we are going to need more than a touching story about a man who survived the horrors of being a POW. People have children to feed – and a tax cut for the top 5% of the wealthiest people in America – along with benefits for corporations – is not going to help my family – or most of the people I know.

Mr. McCain’s image is his world – it is what he looks at the world through – and when it is challenged, threatened or slighted in anyway – he defends it with his anger. By being behind in the polls – more than anything he sees it as a rejection of his image – of the POW who fought for his country, like so many others and the senator who served – senators make good and bad decisions – so therefore by rejecting his image – he turns to his anger in an attack directed at Obama’s image. But attacking a man who cares less about image – likely will not produce the results that were hoped for.

What we are seeing is a man leading people with this misplaced anger – and its no wonder his crowd is angry – as they also believe people should see McCain’s image. And no matter what he says or what he believes or what he is offering – the image of Mr. McCain should trump everything.

McCain’s image – like Palin’s image of a moose-hunting, polar bear-despising, extreme-anti-abortionist drill-baby-drill final-solution locks her appeal into too narrow a group – has not managed to multiply the women’s vote as expected – by putting a negative, dirty and hateful spin on it – will drive people away from their limited vision faster – and worst you’ll get the wrong types of people being attracted. Unfortunately that’s what has happened – Palin/McCain rallies are turning into Iran – Death to Obama – Obama’s the Great Evil – and WWII Country First/more Country Űber Alle. Signs of this emerged during the GOP convention – and now it is being played out on the stump. At one rally a black camera man was insulted (Palin’s husband and children are part Eskimo) – versus Barack Obama’s DNC Convention – which he not only said but you could see – this was one America – this is not a Black America or a White America this is the united States of America.

With McCain as President – we could expect a leader – who executes his power through his anger – not healthy. A leader who looks backwards – with an over reliance on an image – that has a place – but is no longer as relevant. With Obama as president – we could expect a healing – a thoughtful approach to the environment, to issues which concern women and families, both Wall Street and Main Street, and a forward lookingness to face some of the technological challenges America will face in the near future.

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Thursday that questions about Democratic rival Barack Obama’s association with a former war protester linked to Vietnam-era bombings are part of a broader issue of honesty.

In his strongest personal criticism since his faltering campaign began casting Obama as an unknown and unacceptable candidate, McCain told supporters that Obama had not been truthful in describing his relationship with former radical William Ayers. The Arizona senator also said Obama himself has “a clear radical, far-left pro-abortion record.”

Loud cheers from 4,000 people gathered at a sports complex near Milwaukee greeted McCain’s attacks over Ayers, who helped found the Weather Underground, a Vietnam protest group that bombed government buildings 40 years ago. Obama has pointed out that he was a child at the time and first met Ayers and his wife, ex-radical Bernadine Dohrn, a quarter-century later.

“Look, we don’t care about an old, washed-up terrorist and his wife,” McCain said. “That’s not the point here.”

“He’s a terrorist!” a man in the audience screamed without making clear to whom he was referring.

“We need to know the full extent of the relationship,” McCain replied. Later, McCain told ABC News: “It’s a factor about Sen. Obama’s candor and truthfulness with the American people.”

Obama has denounced Ayers and his violent actions and views. He dismisses McCain’s criticism as an effort to “score cheap political points.”

The AP and other news organizations have reported that Obama and Ayers, now a college professor who lives in Obama’s neighborhood, are not close but that they worked together on two nonprofit organizations from the mid-1990s to 2002. In addition, Ayers hosted a small meet-the-candidate event for Obama in 1995 as he first ran for the state Senate.

David Axelrod, a senior campaign adviser, says that Obama, who was a child living in Indonesia and Hawaii in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was not aware of Ayers’ radical past at the time of that campaign event. Some McCain supporters have expressed skepticism about that.

Some of those at the rally questioned why McCain was trailing Obama and why no one was talking about Obama’s past associations.

Obama’s history with Ayers was explored during the primaries in news reports and in a campaign debate. It has been resurrected by the GOP campaign as the economic crisis deepened in recent days.

Responding to McCain’s criticism, Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor said, “Its now clear that John McCain would rather launch angry, personal attacks than talk about the economy or defend his risky bailout scheme that hands over billions in taxpayer dollars to the same irresponsible Wall Street banks and lenders that got us into this mess a scheme that guarantees taxpayers will lose money.”

One person at the rally here suggested McCain get tougher in his final debate with Obama next week: “I am begging you, sir.”

“Yes, I’ll do that,” McCain said.

To press its argument, the McCain campaign also released a 90-second Web ad about Obama and Ayers.

“Barack Obama and domestic terrorist Bill Ayers. Friends. They’ve worked together for years,” the ad says. The ad also claimed that one of the nonprofits on which Obama and Ayers worked was a radical education foundation.

That educational foundation was The Annenberg Challenge; it was funded by the Annenberg Foundation, a charity set up by longtime Republican backer and newspaper publisher Walter Annenberg. Annenberg has since died, but his wife has endorsed McCain this year.

McCain and his campaign have sought to raise doubts about Obama, who is seeking to become the first black president. Supporters have used Obama’s middle name, Hussein, during introductions of McCain and Palin this week — trying to remind voters that he shares a name with deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The Obama campaign denounced the move, which also plays to Internet rumors that Obama is a Muslim, even though he grew up in a secular household and is a Christian. After the fact, the McCain campaign said in an e-mailed statement that it did not condone using the middle name.

McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, joined McCain at the town hall — the first of three in this swing state with 10 electoral votes — and blamed “mainstream media” for not asking Obama tough questions about his proposals.

“Are Americans having an opportunity to ask all the questions and are we receiving straight answers from our opponent?” Palin asked. The crowd shouted, “No!”

In a response for the Obama campaign, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said that it was preposterous to suggest Obama hadn’t been scrutinized during one of the toughest primaries and general elections in modern history.

McCain also repeated the false claim that Palin opposed the so-called Bridge to Nowhere, for which she campaigned in her race for governor and accepted federal money to build. When the project drew national scorn as an example of wasteful spending, Congress withdrew its support for the bridge but Alaska kept the money for other projects.

A poll released Wednesday by WISC-TV in Madison showed McCain trailing Obama by 10 points, the Arizona senator’s largest deficit in Wisconsin since July when polls also showed Obama with a double-digit lead.

“Do you know how many times the political pundits in the last two years have written off my campaign?” McCain asked.

Source: AP

During the debate McCain had ample opportunity to tell the audience and America – exactly how Obama’s connection to Ayers – could mean he is a terrorist above and beyond all the students taught by Ayers’ who’s a professor, and the faculty that work with him on a daily basis.

DALLAS (Reuters) – Republican evangelicals are not the only political base vice presidential pick Sarah Palin is energizing.

Democratic foot soldiers have sprung into action in response to John McCain’s running-mate’s personal attacks on their candidate, Barack Obama, her opposition to abortion rights and her endorsement from religious conservatives.

“When Palin’s radical and extremist views are combined with her inexperience and questionable record, it makes for an energizing brew more potent than Red Bull,” said Colorado Democratic leader Pat Waak, referring to the caffeinated energy drink.

Palin’s impact on the left was seen almost immediately after her rousing speech last month at the Republican National Convention, when Obama’s campaign reported the next day that over $8 million had poured into it from over 130,000 donors.

More recently, Palin drew the ire of Democrats when she accused Obama of “palling around” with terrorists because he served on a community board in Chicago with former 1960s radical William Ayers.

“Her attacks will make liberals see red,” added political scientist Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University.

The Alaska governor, skewered on late-night comedy shows and an object of liberal wrath on the blogosphere, has also proven an able fund-raiser for other secular and liberal causes before the November 4 presidential election.

Songwriter Gretchen Peters is donating the royalties from her song “Independence Day” during this election cycle to Planned Parenthood — and asks that donations be made in honor of Palin. Planned Parenthood provides women’s health-care services, including abortion clinics, and is frequently a target of social conservatives.

Peters was angered by the McCain/Palin campaign’s use of the song, which is about domestic abuse.

“The fact that the McCain/Palin campaign is using a song about an abused woman as a rallying cry for their vice presidential candidate, a woman who would ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest, is beyond irony,” Peters says on her website.

“They are co-opting the song, completely overlooking the context and message, and using it to promote a candidate who would set women’s rights back decades,” she says.

Planned Parenthood spokesperson Tait Sye said a separate online campaign to raise money on its behalf “in honor of Sarah Palin” has netted more than $1 million from over 38,000 donors in all 50 states and two-thirds of the donations are from new donors who have not contributed to it before.

Organizations and activists who support abortion rights are a base for the Democratic Party. Abortion is a sharply divisive and highly partisan issue in the United States.

Palin, who bills herself as a moose-hunting mother of five, gave birth last spring to a Down syndrome baby and strongly opposes abortion rights.

COUNTERPUNCH

“Sarah Palin has energized the Republican base in unexpected ways and there is always countermobilization to a successful mobilization,” said Jillson.

In the battleground state of Colorado, Democratic Party officials said they were getting a boost from Palin’s presence on the ticket.

“I am meeting women who have never been involved before, and they are really energized to work on behalf of the Obama-Biden ticket,” said party leader Waak.

The factors that make Palin such a target for liberals of course are the same that have enabled McCain to solidify his support among the Republican Party’s evangelical base.

President George W. Bush, a Republican, got almost 80 percent of the votes cast by white evangelical Protestants in the 2004 election and analysts have said McCain, who had failed to really excite this group before he picked Palin, cannot win without them.

Evangelicals account for about 25 percent of the U.S. adult population, giving them clout in a country where faith and politics often mix.

Source: Reuters

While McCain Backs Petraeus, General Sounds Notes That Harmonize With Democratic Nominee.

Gen. David Petraeus (WDCpix)

Throughout Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign, the Republican nominee has wrapped himself in the mantle of U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, proclaiming himself the leading advocate of the former commanding general in Iraq who devised last year’s controversial troop surge. Yet during a talk Wednesday about Iraq at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington policy organization, Petraeus repeatedly made statements that bolstered the foreign-policy proposals of Sen. Barack Obama, McCain’s Democratic rival, or cut against McCain’s own lines.

Petraeus relinquished command in Iraq last month. He assumes responsibility for U.S. Central Command later this month, putting him in charge of U.S. forces in the Middle East and South Asia.

As a serving military officer, Petraeus attempted to avoid any explicit political discussion. “I’m not walking into minefields now,” Petraeus said, to laughter, when asked a question that referred to Tuesday night’s presidential debate. In fact, the general averred that he didn’t watch the debate.

Yet Petraeus, whether intentionally or not, often waded into areas of dispute between Obama and McCain involving Afghanistan, negotiating with adversaries and other recent campaign controversies. Each time, the general either lent tacit support to Obama or denied tacit support to McCain.

Unbidden, Petraeus discussed whether his strategy in Iraq — protecting the population while cleaving apart the insurgency through reconciliation efforts to crush the remaining hard-core enemies — could also work in Afghanistan. The question has particular salience as Petraeus takes over U.S. Central Command, which will put him at the helm of all U.S. troops in the Middle East and South Asia, thereby giving him a large role in the Afghanistan war.

“Some of the concepts used in Iraq are transplantable [to Afghanistan] while others perhaps are not,” he said. “Every situation is unique.”

Petraeus pointed to efforts by Hamid Karzai’s government to negotiate a deal with the Taliban that would potentially bring some Taliban members back to power, saying that if they are “willing to reconcile,” it would be “a positive step.”

In saying that, Petraeus implicitly allied with U.S. Army Gen. David McKiernan, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Last week, McKiernan rejected the idea of replicating the blend of counterinsurgency strategy employed in Iraq. “The word that I don’t use in Afghanistan is the word ’surge,’” McKiernan said, opting against recruiting Pashtun tribal fighters to supplement Afghan security forces against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. “There are countless other differences between Iraq and Afghanistan,” he added.

McCain, however, has argued that the Afghanistan war is ripe for a direct replication of Petraeus’ Iraq strategy of population-centric counterinsurgency. “Sen. Obama calls for more troops,” McCain said in the Sept. 26 debate, “but what he doesn’t understand, it’s got to be a new strategy, the same strategy that he condemned in Iraq. It’s going to have to be employed in Afghanistan.”

McCain qualified that statement in Tuesday’s debate, but clung to it while discussing Afghanistan and Pakistan. “Gen. Petraeus had a strategy,” McCain said, “the same strategy — very, very different, because of the conditions and the situation — but the same fundamental strategy that succeeded in Iraq. And that is to get the support of the people.”

Petraeus also came out unambiguously in his talk at Heritage for opening communications with America’s adversaries, a position McCain is attacking Obama for endorsing. Citing his Iraq experience, Petraeus said, “You have to talk to enemies.” He added that it was necessary to have a particular goal for discussion and to perform advance work to understand the motivations of his interlocutors.

All that was the subject of one of the most contentious tussles between McCain and Obama in the first presidential debate, with Obama contending that his intent to negotiate with foreign adversaries without “precondition” did not mean that he would neglect diplomatic “preparation.”

McCain, apparently perceiving an opportunity for attack, Tuesday again used Obama’s comments to attack his judgment. “Sen. Obama, without precondition, wants to sit down and negotiate with them, without preconditions,” McCain said, referring to Iran.

Yet Petraeus emphasized throughout his lecture that reaching out to insurgent groups — some “with our blood on their hands,” he said — was necessary to the ultimate goal of turning them against irreconcilable enemies like Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Petraeus favorably cited the example of one of his British deputies, who in a previous assignment had to negotiate with Martin McGuiness of the Irish Republican Army, responsible for killing some of the British commander’s troops. The British officer, Petraeus said, occasionally wanted to “reach across the table” and choke his former adversary but understood that such negotiations were key to ending a war.

Petraeus reflected at length on the need to “take away and hold the strongholds and safe havens” possessed by Al Qaeda in Iraq during 2007 and 2008, saying that without doing so, the rest of the counterinsurgency strategy “won’t work.” While he did not initially make reference to Al Qaeda’s much greater presence in the Federal Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, it was hard not to hear the overtones of the current argument over Pakistan policy between Obama and McCain.

McCain has attacked Obama for explicitly stating conditions under which he would order U.S. military action against the senior leadership of Al Qaeda in Pakistan, deriding that by saying Obama is “going to attack Pakistan,” while advocating that the Pakistanis perform the task instead of U.S. troops.

[..]

Source: Washington Independent

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden called out his GOP rivals for their attacks of late, accusing John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, of practicing the politics of “fear” in their attacks against Democratic candidate Barack Obama. But Biden stopping short of calling it racism.

Joe Biden arrives at Tampa International Airport to speak a rally at the University of South Florida
At a rally in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Biden had some harsh words for the Republican ticket. “They’re going to take the low road, the low road to the highest office in the land,” Biden said.

The Delaware senator, a long-time Senate colleague and friend of McCain, said the Arizona senator had filled his campaign with some of the “political manipulators” from President George W. Bush’s team in 2000. He brought up that year’s South Carolina primary, when rumors spread that the McCains’ adopted daughter was McCain’s child from an affair.

“The McCain campaign went out and hired some of the very political manipulators in the Republican primary who, in 2000, led those vicious attacks against John’s daughter and John’s lovely wife,” Biden said.

He continued: “They’re attacking Barack Obama in the ugliest of ways. Ladies and gentleman, this is beyond disappointing, this is beyond disappointing, this is wrong.”

As for McCain’s comment at a rally this week in New Mexico–when the Republican nominee asked “Who is the real Barack Obama?”–Biden said it was a “veiled” question and an “appeal to fear.” He also responded to Palin’s attacks of late, where she insinuated that Obama has a close relationship with 1960s-radical-turned-college-professor Bill Ayers. “To have a vice presidential candidate raise the most outrageous inferences, the ones that John McCain’s campaign is condoning, is simply wrong,” he said.

UPDATE: Responding to Biden’s comments, McCain campaign spokesman Ben Porritt did not defend the original attacks but instead lobbed another round at the Democrats. “What Barack Obama and his running mate fundamentally lack is a record of making change or reform and in turn the credibility to call for it,” he said. “Their ‘run with the herd’ mentality, radical associations, and partisan proposals have made them the most liberal ticket in political history.”

Source: WSJ

At least the 2nd Presidential Debate got off to a good start!

At least it got off to a good start!

Tonight’s debate wasn’t even close. Sen. Barack Obama ran away with it — particularly when speaking about the economy and health care. Talking about his mother’s death from cancer was very powerful. On nearly every issue, Obama was more substantive, showed more compassion and was more presidential.

In contrast, Sen. John McCain was extremely erratic. Sometimes he was too aggressive (referring to Obama as “that one.”) Other times, he just couldn’t answer the question (on how he would ask Americans to sacrifice.) And his random attempts at jokes (hair transplants?) were just bad.

Tom Brokaw was terrible as moderator. His fixation with the rules — particularly when the candidates were not complaining — was distracting and a disservice to everyone. The format didn’t work very well, but Brokaw made it worse.

Other reactions:

Andrew Sullivan: “This was, I think, a mauling: a devastating and possibly electorally fatal debate for McCain… I’ve watched a lot of debates and participated in many. I love debate and was trained as a boy in the British system to be a debater. I debated dozens of times at Oxofrd. All I can say is that, simply on terms of substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority, this has not just been an Obama victory. It has been a wipe-out. It has been about as big a wipe-out as I can remember in a presidential debate. It reminds me of the 1992 Clinton-Perot-Bush debate. I don’t really see how the McCain campaign survives this.”

Ezra Klein: “Tonight was supposed to be John McCain’s night, but it was the first clear debate win Obama has scored over the course of this campaign — including the primary. McCain, as it turned out, was badly disadvantaged by the format. This debate was more physical than previous encounters. And McCain, for reasons of age and injuries and height, has a less commanding physical presence than Obama.”

Mark Halperin: “McCain spent much of the evening trying to define Obama on his terms, but never broke all the way through.”

Marc Ambinder: “CW says that John McCain had a 90 minute window to turn his campaign around – to put into play the McCain Resurgence Strategy, if you will, and if that’s the CW threshold, I don’t think McCain met it.”

The instant polls taken just after the debate also show Obama as the winner.

CNN poll of debate viewers: Obama 54%, McCain 30%

CBS poll of uncommitted voters: Obama 39%, McCain 27%

Source: PoliticalWire

That One was raised by a single mother and his grandparents. They didn’t have much money, but they taught him values from the Kansas heartland where they grew up. He took out loans to put himself through school. After college, he worked for Christian churches in Chicago, helping communities devastated when steel plants closed. That One turned down lucrative job offers after law school to return to Chicago, leading a successful voter registration drive. He joined a small law firm, taught constitutional law and, guided by his Christian faith, stayed active in his community. That One and his wife Michelle are proud parents of two daughters, Sasha and Malia.

More at thatone08.com

In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, John F. Kennedy’s nephew discusses Barack Obama’s leadership potential, why it’s difficult to compare the candidate with the former president and his gripe with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

'He's tempered, thoughtful and reflective -- important qualities to have in a leader.'

A campaign button worn by a supporter of US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama: 'He's tempered, thoughtful and reflective -- important qualities to have in a leader.'

SPIEGEL: Do you think that trust in American capitalism has been shattered by the finance crisis?

Anthony Kennedy Shriver: Over the course of time our country has faced enormous challenges, many far greater than this one — the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, the civil rights movement, the riots in Chicago and Indianapolis and Watergate, which rocked confidence in the political system. The country will get through this, and we’ll be stronger and better than before. We have enormous resilience.

Anthony Kennedy Shriver, 43, is the fourth- youngest nephew of John F. Kennedy. He lives in Miami, where he runs Best Buddies, an international non- profit organization that serves the intellectually handicapped. So far he has stayed away from politics, but Shriver says he is still young and could change his mind.

Anthony Kennedy Shriver, 43, is the fourth- youngest nephew of John F. Kennedy. He lives in Miami, where he runs Best Buddies, an international non- profit organization that serves the intellectually handicapped. So far he has stayed away from politics, but Shriver says he is still young and could change his mind.

Shriver: Not at all. This is going to be our biggest and best year ever financially. We just held a huge bike ride fundraiser out in California with help from my brother-in-law Arnold Schwarzenegger and my sister Maria Shriver, and it raised 30 percent more money this year than we did last year. The Best Buddies Ball is scheduled for October and we’ve increased revenue by 220 percent over last year. You’ve got to be more creative and work harder to appeal to people. There’s nothing I can do about the economy, obviously. You just have to realize there are obstacles in front of you and you have to figure out how to get over them and do better than in the past.

SPIEGEL: Who has the best plan to heal the economy, John McCain or Barack Obama?

Shriver: This is not about who has the best plan. Great challenges always bring people together, and this will do for the United States what we haven’t seen in many years. The World-War-II generation had a common bond — they fought together to overcome a great enemy during the war. That created a sense of respect and dignity in Congress. But a lot of people there now, many of whom are my age and younger, have never faced anything that’s really been that challenging. Sept. 11 was a great tragedy, but it didn’t make us work together as a nation. The economic challenge could bring the country together, including the White House and Congress, to rally behind something that is challenging the whole fabric of our society.

SPIEGEL: Are you saying it doesn’t matter who becomes the next president, that McCain or Obama will both be forced to bring the country together?

The crowd erupts moments after US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama delivers a speech at the Victory Column at Tiergaten Park, July 24, 2008, in Berlin, Germany. Obama warned America could not quell violence in Afghanistan alone, and called on Europe for more troops and funding to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Obama in Berlin: The crowd erupts moments after US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama delivers a speech at the Victory Column at Tiergaten Park, July 24, 2008, in Berlin, Germany. Obama warned America could not quell violence in Afghanistan alone, and called on Europe for more troops and funding to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Shriver: No. It matters enormously who becomes president for many reasons other than the current economic crisis. It’s very important that Obama get elected because he would take the country in the right direction. There’s a huge difference in the way they view the role government plays in people’s lives in the US and the role Washington plays in the world.

SPIEGEL: Obama would likely be very different from McCain — he’d call for greater regulation of financial markets and increased international diplomacy. He’d be the antithesis of Bush.

Shriver: Bush totally blew it by not capitalizing on the international spirit of goodwill and the desire to help America after the tragedy of 9/11. He lost it, and I think you don’t get many opportunities like that your lifetime.

SPIEGEL: How do you feel about Obama’s lack of experience?

Shriver: I understand people’s concern about that. It is important to be out there in the world, meeting heads of state and traveling, and for this years of public service are certainly key. I don’t necessarily think you have to have held political office, but I think you do need to be informed and have engaged with people in a public way for a considerable period of time. That’s not a highlight of his resume, but he’s got many other things going for him. He’s got excellent judgment, and you can tell a lot about people based on the decisions they’ve made in their lives.

SPIEGEL: By judgment you mean that he spoke out against the Iraq War when it was still popular?

Shriver: Yeah. It gives you a sense that he’s tempered, thoughtful and reflective — important qualities to have in a leader.

SPIEGEL: Your uncle, John F. Kennedy, didn’t have a lot of experience when he came into office, either.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama waves in front of the Victory Column (Siegessaeule) near the Brandenburg Gate on July 24, 2008 in Berlin, Germany.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama waves in front of the Victory Column (Siegessaeule) near the Brandenburg Gate on July 24, 2008 in Berlin, Germany.

Shriver: He had quite a bit. He had been a Congressman and a Senator. He also gained a lot of experiencing fighting in World War II, which made him a hero. He wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book and traveled and lived abroad.

SPIEGEL: Granted, that is a bit more than Obama.

Shriver: But look at Sarah Palin. She seems like a nice enough woman, but it’s horrifying that people in the US would consider somebody who didn’t even have a passport until last year and oversees one of the smallest states by population in the whole union — someone who has little political and no worldly experience — as a serious candidate for vice president.

SPIEGEL: Your organization Best Buddies works with children with disabilities. Palin has a child with Down syndrome. You, like many Americans, must sympathize with her for that.

Shriver: She gets sympathy for it, but it doesn’t mean anything to me. I wrote to her before she had that baby, and she didn’t even pay attention to us. So now she’s a great hero because she has a baby with Down syndrome. That baby is going to be a great gift for her, but it doesn’t mean she’d make a good president.

SPIEGEL: What’s more important — for a president to inspire people or to have the best programs?

Shriver: The best scenario is to have the substance and the inspiration. That’s why President Kennedy was so effective and unique. Obama clearly has the ability to inspire, but it is difficult to compare him to someone like Kennedy, who had the chance to serve in the White House and had a record of delivering in really challenging times.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama delivers his speech in front of the Siegessaeule on July 24, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama will give a major speech on the historic U.S.-German partnership, and the need to strengthen Transatlantic relations to meet 21st century challenges in front of the Siegessaeule at the Grosser Stern in Tiergarten Park.

BERLIN - JULY 24: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama delivers his speech in front of the Siegessaeule on July 24, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama will give a major speech on the historic U.S.-German partnership, and the need to strengthen Transatlantic relations to meet 21st century challenges in front of the Siegessaeule at the Grosser Stern in Tiergarten Park.

SPIEGEL: In the course of the campaign, did you get the feeling that Obama overdid it a little bit by comparing himself to your uncle all the time? His campaign chose a stadium for his nomination ceremony — emulating John F. Kennedy, who also accepted his nomination at a stadium in the 1960s — and often held events at schools that bear his name.

Shriver: It’s common in the United States for young, aspiring leaders as well as older ones to want to connect themselves to political leaders or individuals who are highly respected and admired. Obama’s not the first one, either. John Kerry tried to talk about President Kennedy, saying he was also from Massachusetts, had served as a Senator and had the same initials: John F. Kerry.

SPIEGEL: But if you overdo it you might come across as displaying too much hubris.

Shriver: It’s always risky to compare yourself with an iconic figure. You run the risk of coming out on the wrong end of the equation.

SPIEGEL: Your brother-in-law, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, talks very fondly of Obama. Could he end up in an Obama administration, even though he’s a Republican?

Shriver: He’s very open-minded, and in the end it would depend on the job and what kind of an impact he thought he could have. I think if it was the right opportunity, he’d do it. Many of the values and positions he holds are very much in line with the Democratic Party platform; he also has some from the Republican platform.

Source: Der Spiegel

Another predictable debate which noone won can only be good news for Barack Obama who needs only not to lose to winGerard Baker, US editor in Nashville, Tennessee

If John McCain’s supporters were hoping that Tuesday night’s second presidential debate would turn back the Obama Tide that has engulfed their campaign in the last two weeks they will have been disappointed.

It was a flat, unmemorable affair, a matchsticks-on-the-eyelids struggle to stay awake, a predictable canter through the now familiar fields of the fading 2008 presidential election landscape: the financial crisis and the economy; health care; energy; taxes; Iraq; the war on terror; Afghanistan, Iran.

Some of the exchanges, it is true, were sharper than in their first debate two weeks ago. Senator McCain, behind in the polls, swung a few times and landed a blow or two on the glass jaw of his opponent. But this was not a debate in any meaningful sense of the term. It was once again an alternating recitation of standard campaign lines.

Senator Obama – you may be shocked to hear – promised tax cuts for working people; universal health care, an end to financial deregulation, the winding down of the war in Iraq, a renewed commitment to the war in Afghanistan and an America that is liked by the world. Senator McCain – in case you hadn’t heard – is a Republican who will continue the failed policies of George Bush.

For his part Senator McCain insisted he was – wait for it – a reformer who would reform Washington, end corruption on Wall Street, drill for oil, win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and robustly defend America’s interests. Senator Obama, he gravely reminded the audience, could not be trusted because he didn’t have the experience or the judgment.

One expects candidates to get their points across in these debates. But real debates involve thrust and parry; contention and objection; point and counterpoint. This had none of those necessities. And neither candidate was properly challenged by the moderator, Tom Brokaw, the superannuated NBC News Voice of God, to explain the trickier elements of their observations or square the contradictions in their claims. The town hall format, in which a few regular Americans in the auditorium (and a handful from outside via the internet) asked mostly bog-standard questions failed to break the gnawing predictability of it all.

Before the debate there had been much discussion about whether Senator McCain would use the occasion to repeat some of his campaign’s recent attacks on Senator Obama, specifically whether he might raise the spectre of some of the Illinois Democrat’s questionable associations in his past. Senator McCain has a reputation as a bare-knuckled fighter when he’s down, and given the parlous state of his campaign with less than a month to the election, it was thought he might take the lunge.

But in the event the Republican left the gloves on. There were no references to William Ayers, the 1960s lefty terrorist with whom Senator Obama evidently has a not-fully-explained past entanglement. Nor was there any time – on this occasion – for the volcanic Jeremiah Wright, Senator Obama’s professionally aggrieved preacher and mentor.

Instead, Senator McCain tried to duff up his opponent by what might be called Marquess of Queensberry Rules. In the financial section of the debate he got in a few good jabs over the Democrat’s support over the past few years for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage behemoths whose bloated expansion, with the willing support of Democrats, is at least as much to blame for the current crisis as any supposed capitalist rush to deregulation. And he cheekily compared him to Herbert Hoover, the Republican widely credited (if that’s the word) for the policy errors that led to the first Great Depression.

Probably the only moment of real surprise in the whole 90 minutes came when Senator McCain, explaining how he and his opponent had voted differently on an energy bill, referred to Senator Obama as “that one”.

It produced a slight wince of disapproving dismay in the media watching hall, the sort of response you might evince when someone gently belches at a dinner party.

But, like that little betise, it was gone in an instant. The debate quickly resumed its lumbering path towards bedtime. Even a final bright question from the internet that asked the candidates to say what they didn’t know and how they might learn it quickly became an excuse for another predictable recital of stump speech talking points.

In short, as with the first presidential debate two weeks ago, and the vice-presidential contest last week, no-one won this bout.

All of which is good news for Senator Obama. Thanks to the financial crisis that has erupted in the last three weeks , the Democrat has opened up a commanding lead in the polls that will surely now – less than four weeks before the election – only be undone by some terrible error on his part, or some unimaginable breakthrough by Senator McCain.

The Illinois senator is now in the position of a golfer who is dormie three in a matchplay tournament. If he doesn’t lose, he wins. And he can even afford to lose a couple of holes and still be in command.

Source: Timesonline UK

Immediately after the debate, Wolf Blitzer goes there: “It’s apparent to say that Sen. McCain has some disdain, I think it’s fair to say, for Sen. Obama. That was very apparent throughout the course of this debate.”

Source: HP


Watch full debate here

A good debate, McCain tried his usual lines of attack but Obama was prepared. What we could most take from it – was the differences between the two men. The McCain style is to attack almost without looking and the Obama style – to gather the facts and make a solid advance given a broad view of factors.

McCain was undoubtedly more respectful to Obama – bar a couple of incidents most notable – when he referred to Obama as ‘that one’. It seems to be slowly sinking in that Obama is for real – and not only is he there as McCain’s challenger – but also what Obama says and thinks has gravity with the American public.

I thought McCain got off the a running start and looked for a moment like – he was 40 years younger (maybe thirty yrs) – but that soon dried up – and I was honestly worried about McCain’s health – he appeared pent up – shaken and sometimes out of breath – that it really brought home his frailty – but more it had the effect of making him look desperate and even begging.

Obama clearly wants to take America along another vein – and it is not at all clear that McCain wants to do the same – instead he seems to be a man who is bolstering himself on what he knows already – and where he has been – and added to this McCain seems to be ignoring – the atmosphere of change – that is sweeping the world – in the environment, foreign relations to name a few. Where McCain seems to be looking to put the old puzzle together better – Obama seems to be gathering the pieces to put together a new puzzle. That’s change – whereas what McCain seems to talking about is an alteration.

Obama is saying it may be necessary to use aggression – but under his administration – he would use every effort – including diplomacy and gathering the support of our allies – to avert ever having to use such force. When Obama talks about aggression – McCain attempts to make it look as though he is being reckless – not only has Obama’s ideas been copied by the Bush administration – both making cross border attacks into Pakistan’s lawless border – and in dealing with Iran.

Obama used his segments wisely – to clearly lay out a broad a plan as possible – over scoring points – he seemed to be more focused on relaying his message in the most positive and direct way as he could. McCain was also clear on many points – but this was lessened by the fact that he was maybe looking for a punch up or a dust up – in the end McCain did not show himself at all superior. And that matters in a debate.

As for scoring points – Obama comes across as being more measured – and through this his brilliance comes out. He starts off his segments – kind of like the water that comes onto the shore – first the water is by your feet and next you know – it’s up to your knees. That’s Obama’s style. And one of the best examples of this was when he talked about energy and the need to come together – to effect change.

McCain’s style seems very – us and them – and then ‘them’ is made in to a target – them could be Barack Obama and them could be Russia – but it is almost as if he still flying the plane – as a naval bomber – and has to solve the problem via bombing. And he portrays himself almost as the man who knows how to bomb – but more there is a phantom army in support of his efforts. He has been in the Senate for many years – and he says I know how to catch Bin Laden – and another thing he frequently says is I know how to win a war. And what is Russia, for McCain – it’s the KGB – over an evolving nation – that most in Europe would attest to. And how he plans to deal with it – in his short answer – it seems would be like going back to the good old days – or pure aggression between the two nations – US and the USSR, over the reality of a far more open Russia that looks very different today.

With McCain’s shaky health – and Palin’s pursuit of trigger happiness – I would be worried about this line of attempt to deal with the problems we face with Russia.

Another part of the debate focused on healthcare and taxes. On taxes McCain seems to have switched direction on that one – telling Obama – in gambling man’s style – that maybe he would not lower taxes for the rich /those making over $250,000/yr. That’s when Obama retorted – that the Straight Talk Express has lost its wheel. If McCain has changed his mind here – then he agrees with Biden – in this economic environment that kind of expenditure on the rich – is unpatriotic – as it is the poorer people who need money more in tougher times. And goes directly in the face of what Palin has been yelling on the stump.

All in all it was clear that Obama – has become more adapt at debating McCain – one of the highlights was when he said – McCain keeps saying I don’t understand – yes I don’t understand how we could have gone to war – in Iraq when Al-Qaeda was in Afghanistan.

Sen. John McCain has said he wants to shift the national dialogue away from the ongoing economics crisis and onto Sen. Barack Obamas character, and will likely use the stage of tonights debate to do just that.

Sen. John McCain has said he wants to shift the national dialogue away from the ongoing economics crisis and onto Sen. Barack Obama's character, and will likely use the stage of tonight's debate to do just that.

Obama Wants to Talk About the Economy; McCain Wants to Talk About Obama

Sen. John McCain has said he wants to shift the national dialogue away from the ongoing economics crisis and onto Sen. Barack Obama’s character, and will likely use the stage of tonight’s debate to do just that.

When the candidates meet tonight at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., for their second of three debates, the pressure will be on McCain, who is trailing in the polls, to convince people to reconsider their priorities as well as their votes.

That means continuing his campaign’s strategy of attacking Obama’s judgment, analysts said.

“He’s got a very difficult task ahead of him,” said Torie Clarke, a Republican strategist and ABC News political consultant. “He has to do something different. He has to say something that will change the game. He has to inject something into the system that will shake things up, because right now, it does not look good.”

Tonight’s town hall style debate is moderated by Tom Brokaw of NBC News. Brokaw will ask six or seven of the more than 6 million questions submitted over the Internet.

Another dozen or so questions will be asked by a group of 80 undecided voters from the Nashville area selected by the Gallup Poll.

Questions on both domestic and foreign policy will be followed with a two-minute response by each candidate and then a minute of open debate between the two.

McCain favors the town hall format and has previously challenged Obama to other town hall debates, but he arrives tonight at a moment when people say they are deeply dissatisfied with the current Republican administration and worried about their financial futures.

Down in the polls in the key battleground states, McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, went on the offensive this weekend, aggressively attacking Obama for his association to 1960s radical William Ayers, a move some see as part of a last-ditch attempt to revive a flagging campaign.

Source: ABC News

At the vice presidential debate in St. Louis, the McCain campaign rented out a stadium to re-energize the conservative base in light of Sarah Palin’s recent gaffes. Despite the revival feel, zeal for Palin isn’t translating in the polls. While some would argue Palin exceeded expectations, unregistered voters seem unimpressed.

Source: ANP

I’m of two minds about how to deal with the McCain campaign’s further descent into ugliness. Their strategy is simple: you throw crap against a wall and then giggle as the media try to analyze the putresence in a way that conveys a sense of balance: “Well, it is bull-pucky, but the splatter pattern is interesting…” which, of course, only serves to get your perverse message out. I really don’t want to be a part of that. But…every so often, we journalists have a duty to remind readers just how dingy the McCain campaign, and its right-wing acolytes in the media (I’m looking at you, Sean Hannity) have become–especially in their efforts to divert public attention from the economic crisis we’re facing. And so inept at it: other campaigns have decided that their only shot is going negative, but usually they don’t announce it, as several McCain aides have in recent days–there’s no way we can win on the economy, so we’re going to go sludge-diving.

But since we are dealing with manure here, I’ll put the rest of this post below the fold.

It is appropriate that the prime vessel for this assault is Sarah Palin, whose very presence on a national ticket is an insult to your intelligence. She now has “credibility,” we are told, because she managed to read talking points off notecards in the debate last week with unwitting enthusiasm.

Over the weekend, she picked up on an article in The New York Times, which essentially says that Barack Obama and the former terrorist Bill Ayers have crossed paths in Chicago, served on a couple of charitable boards together, but aren’t particularly close. To Palin–or her scriptwriters–this means that Obama has been “palling around” with terrorists. Now, I wish Ayers had done some serious jail time; he certainly needed to pay some penance for his youthful criminality–even if most people in Chicago, including the mayor, have decided that he has something of value to say about education. But I can also understand how Obama, who was a child when Ayers was cutting his idiot swath, would not quite understand the enormity of the professor’s background. (I got to know Alger Hiss twenty years after the fact–he was a printing salesman then, a friend of my father’s–and thought of him as a sweet old man, if a good deal more liberal than dad’s other friends.)

In any case, this is rather rich coming from Palin, who is married to a man who belonged to a political party–the Alaskan Independence Party–that wanted to secede from the union. (I should add here that the Times may have been overreacting to the McCain campaign’s attack on its fairness here: the Ayers story was a nothingburger, but it was placed prominently in the top left hand corner of page one–a position that would seem to indicate that it contained important news, which it didn’t.)

Then we have the ever-reliable Bill Kristol, in today’s New York Times, advising Palin to bring up the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Palin, of course, believes that’s a darn good idea:

“To tell you the truth, Bill, I don’t know why that association isn’t discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that — with, I don’t know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn’t get up and leave — to me, that does say something about character. But, you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up.”

So then, I’d guess, it would be appropriate to bring up some of the nuttiness that passes for godliness in Palin’s religious life. Leave aside the fact that The Embarracuda allowed herself to participate in a cermony that protected her from witchcraft, how about her presence–she didn’t “get up and leave”– at a sermon by the founder of Jews for Jesus, who argued that the Palestinian terrorist acts against Israel were God’s “judgment” on the Jews because they hadn’t accepted Jesus.

Speaking of Jews, the ever-execrable Sean Hannity has been having intercourse with a known Jew-hater named Andy Martin, who now wants to expose Barack Obama as a Muslim. According to the Washington Times:

In 1986, when Mr. Martin ran as a Democrat for Connecticut’s 3rd Congressional District seat under the name “Anthony R. Martin-Trigona,” his campaign committee filed papers saying its purpose was to “exterminate Jew power in America and impeach U.S. District Court of Appeals judges in New York City.”

Calling all Podhoretzs! Where’s the outrage? I mean, don’t the hateful doings at Palin’s church and Hannity’s perfidy deserve a lengthy exegesis from Pete Wehner or Jennifer Rubin or one of the other empretzled ideologues over at Commentary?

As I said, I’m of two minds about this. I don’t want to give currency to this sewage, so it will remain below the fold. And I’ll try to devote the lion’s share of my time to the issues–the war, the economic crisis, the fraying health insurance system, the environment–that should define this campaign. But what a desperate empty embarrassment the McCain campaign has become.

Soure: TIME

Dow slids below 10,000, watched by trader Arthur Cashin wearing a 'Dow 10,000' hat that was given out when the index first hit 10,000 on March 29, 1999

Dow slids below 10,000, watched by trader Arthur Cashin wearing a 'Dow 10,000' hat that was given out when the index first hit 10,000 on March 29, 1999

US stock markets slumped sharply with the Dow Jones falling through the psychologically important 10,000 mark for the first time since October 2004 amid fears that the fallout from the credit crisis will push the country deep into recession.

The Dow Jones fell 569.8 to 9755.5, with the S&P 500 off 64.2 at 1035.0 despite moves by the Federal Reserve to instill confidence in the financial system through capital injections.

Nearly a quarter of the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange hit new lows within an hour of the opening of the markets, with every stock in the Dow Jones index down on the day.

The S&P 500 was flat to its trading level 10 years’ ago, leading US commentators to speak of a “lost decade” in equity markets.

The stock market slumps followed similar moves in Europe where the FTSE 100 was on course for its biggest one-day fall in more than 20 years.

The index of leading shares was down almost 9pc at one stage – the biggest decline since the aftermath of Black Monday in October 1987.

A host of the UK’s biggest banks were rocked by turmoil across the European banking sector, with Royal Bank of Scotland falling 22pc at one stage. Mining stocks were also hit, dragged down by fears of falling demand in the face of a growing global slowdown.

Germany’s Dax was off 7.4pc while the Cac-40 in France fell 8.2pc and Italy’s benchmark S&P/Mib fell 9.17pc – its lowest level since the index was established in September 2004.

Traders in the US said the only way to halt the decline, even temporarily, was for central banks around the globe to push through co-ordinated interest rate cuts.

“There is no support to halt share declines. No one is buying,” said one trader at a big US bank. “We were told to reduce our risk and to stay out of the markets. There is too much irrational behaviour out there.”

The stock market declines will heighten fears over the US government’s power to prop up markets despite its success in pushing through a $700bn (£403bn) bailout of the banking system on Friday.

The Federal Reserve acted to shore up confidence in the banking sector today and free up the credit markets by doubling the amount of money it makes available under its Term Auction Facility to $900bn.

Banks will be able to draw down funds from the facility and maintain liquidity in the face of an interbank lending market that has all but ceased to function.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei index lost 4.2pc, South Korea’s Kospi slipped 4.3pc and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 5pc. China’s CSI 300 Index fell 5.1pc, as trading resumed after a one-week holiday.

Source: Telegraph

NEW YORK – Wall Street suffered through another traumatic session Monday, with the Dow Jones industrials plunging as much as 800 points and setting a new record for a one-day point drop as investors despaired that the credit crisis would take a heavy toll around the world. The Dow also fell below 10,000 for the first time since 2004, and all the major indexes fell about 5 percent.

The catalyst for the selling was the growing realization that the Bush administration’s $700 billion rescue plan and steps taken by other governments won’t work quickly to unfreeze the credit markets. Moreover, investors are increasingly unnerved by the paralysis in the credit markets that has started to affect companies trying to borrow for acquisitions or just to conduct their daily operations.

That sent stocks spiraling downward in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and drove investors to sink money into the relative safety of U.S. government debt. Fears about a global recession also caused oil to drop below $90 a barrel.

“The fact is, people are scared and the only thing they’re doing is selling,” said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research. “Investors are cleaning out portfolios and getting rid of everything because nothing seems to be working.”

The selling was so extreme that only 107 stocks rose on the NYSE — and 3,121 dropped. That’s a telling sign considering the stock market is considered a leading economic indicator, with investors tending to buy and sell based on where they believe the economy will be in six to nine months.

Good article – one of the main points is Palin’s coldness or detachment from emotion. You can see an example of this in her answer here – when she was asked on abortion and what if her teenage daughter was raped and become pregnant – it is interesting to see the difference between her answer and the answer given by the others – responding to the same question.

This article makes reference to Palin’s answer in the VP debate – to what if the worst happened – to your respective – presidential running mates – when it was Palin’s turn – through the next two statements she was smiling – glee she seemed hard pressed to control – the writer calls it weird – I’m glad I’m not the only one who found it more than strange.

More when she was asked the question in the debate on what would be an acceptable trigger for use of a nuclear weapon – Palin was way to flippant for me — nervousness about Palin – might be the least of out problems.

See OFKR take on the VP Debate here.

SARAH PALIN’S post-Couric/Fey comeback at last week’s vice presidential debate was a turning point in the campaign. But if she “won,” as her indulgent partisans and press claque would have it, the loser was not Joe Biden. It was her running mate. With a month to go, the 2008 election is now an Obama-Palin race — about “the future,” as Palin kept saying Thursday night — and the only person who doesn’t seem to know it is Mr. Past, poor old John McCain.

To understand the meaning of Palin’s “victory,” it must be seen in the context of two ominous developments that directly preceded it. Just hours before the debate began, the McCain campaign pulled out of Michigan. That state is ground zero for the collapsed Main Street economy and for so-called Reagan Democrats, those white working-class voters who keep being told by the right that Barack Obama is a Muslim who hung with bomb-throwing radicals during his childhood in the late 1960s.

McCain surrendered Michigan despite having outspent his opponent on television advertising and despite Obama’s twin local handicaps, an unpopular Democratic governor and a felonious, now former, black Democratic Detroit mayor. If McCain can’t make it there, can he make it anywhere in the Rust Belt?

Not without an economic message. McCain’s most persistent attempt, his self-righteous crusade against earmarks, collapsed with his poll numbers. Next to a $700 billion bailout package, his incessant promise to eliminate all Washington pork — by comparison, a puny grand total of $16.5 billion in the 2008 federal budget — doesn’t bring home the bacon. Nor can McCain reconcile his I-will-veto-government-waste mantra with his support, however tardy, of the bailout bill. That bill’s $150 billion in fresh pork includes a boondoggle inserted by the Congressman Don Young, an Alaskan Republican no less.

The second bit of predebate news, percolating under the radar, involved the still-unanswered questions about McCain’s health. Back in May, you will recall, the McCain campaign allowed a select group of 20 reporters to spend a mere three hours examining (but not photocopying) 1,173 pages of the candidate’s health records on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. Conspicuously uninvited was Lawrence Altman, a doctor who covers medicine for The New York Times. Altman instead canvassed melanoma experts to evaluate the sketchy data that did emerge. They found the information too “unclear” to determine McCain’s cancer prognosis.

There was, however, at least one doctor-journalist among those 20 reporters in May, the CNN correspondent Sanjay Gupta. At the time, Gupta told Katie Couric on CBS that the medical records were “pretty comprehensive” and wrote on his CNN blog that he was “pretty convinced there was no ‘smoking gun’ about the senator’s health.” (Physical health, that is; Gupta wrote there was hardly any information on McCain’s mental health.)

That was then. Now McCain is looking increasingly shaky, whether he’s repeating his “Miss Congeniality” joke twice in the same debate or speaking from notecards even when reciting a line for (literally) the 17th time (“The fundamentals of our economy are strong”) or repeatedly confusing proper nouns that begin with S (Sunni, Shia, Sudan, Somalia, Spain). McCain’s “dismaying temperament,” as George Will labeled it, only thickens the concerns. His kamikaze mission into Washington during the bailout crisis seemed crazed. His seething, hostile debate countenance — a replay of Al Gore’s sarcastic sighing in 2000 — didn’t make the deferential Obama look weak (as many Democrats feared) but elevated him into looking like the sole presidential grown-up.

Though CNN and MSNBC wouldn’t run a political ad with doctors questioning McCain’s medical status, Gupta revisited the issue in an interview published last Tuesday by The Huffington Post. While maintaining a pretty upbeat take on the candidate’s health, the doctor-journalist told the reporter Sam Stein that he couldn’t vouch “by any means” for the completeness of the records the campaign showed him four months ago. “The pages weren’t numbered,” Gupta said, “so I had no way of knowing what was missing.” At least in Watergate we knew that the gap on Rose Mary Woods’s tape ran 18 and a half minutes.

It’s against this backdrop that Palin’s public pronouncements, culminating with her debate performance, have been so striking. The standard take has it that she’s either speaking utter ignorant gibberish (as to Couric) or reciting highly polished, campaign-written sound bites that she’s memorized (as at the convention and the debate). But there’s a steady unnerving undertone to Palin’s utterances, a consistent message of hubristic self-confidence and hyper-ambition. She wants to be president, she thinks she can be president, she thinks she will be president. And perhaps soon. She often sounds like someone who sees herself as half-a-heartbeat away from the presidency. Or who is seen that way by her own camp, the hard-right G.O.P. base that never liked McCain anyway and views him as, at best, a White House place holder.

This was first apparent when Palin extolled a “small town” vice president as a hero in her convention speech — and cited not one of the many Republican vice presidents who fit that bill but, bizarrely, Harry Truman, a Democrat who succeeded a president who died in office. A few weeks later came Charlie Gibson’s question about whether she thought she was “experienced enough” and “ready” when McCain invited her to join his ticket. Palin replied that she didn’t “hesitate” and didn’t “even blink” — a response that seemed jarring for its lack of any human modesty, even false modesty.

In the last of her Couric interview installments on Thursday, Palin was asked which vice president had most impressed her, and after paying tribute to Geraldine Ferraro, she chose “George Bush Sr.” Her criterion: she most admires vice presidents “who have gone on to the presidency.” Hours later, at the debate, she offered a discordant contrast to Biden when asked by Gwen Ifill how they would each govern “if the worst happened” and the president died in office. After Biden spoke of somber continuity, Palin was weirdly flip and chipper, eager to say that as a “maverick” she’d go her own way.

But the debate’s most telling passage arrived when Biden welled up in recounting his days as a single father after his first wife and one of his children were killed in a car crash. Palin’s perky response — she immediately started selling McCain as a “consummate maverick” again — was as emotionally disconnected as Michael Dukakis’s notoriously cerebral answer to the hypothetical 1988 debate question about his wife being “raped and murdered.” If, as some feel, Obama is cool, Palin is ice cold. She didn’t even acknowledge Biden’s devastating personal history.

After the debate, Republicans who had been bailing on Palin rushed back to the fold. They know her relentless ambition is the only hope for saving a ticket headed by a warrior who is out of juice and out of ideas. So what if she is preposterously unprepared to run the country in the midst of its greatest economic crisis in 70 years? She looks and sounds like a winner.

You can understand why they believe that. She has more testosterone than anyone else at the top of her party. McCain and his surrogates are forever blaming their travails on others, wailing about supposed sexist and journalistic biases around the clock. McCain even canceled an interview with Larry King, for heaven’s sake, in a fit of pique at a CNN anchor, Campbell Brown.

We are not a nation of whiners, as Phil Gramm would have it, but the G.O.P. is now the party of whiners. That rebranding became official when Republican House leaders moaned that a routine partisan speech by Nancy Pelosi had turned their members against the bailout bill. As the stock market fell nearly 778 points, Barney Frank taunted his G.O.P. peers with pitch-perfect mockery: “Somebody hurt my feelings, so I will punish the country!”

Talk about the world coming full circle. This is the same Democrat who had been slurred as “Barney Fag” in the mid-1990s by Dick Armey, a House leader of the government-bashing Gingrich revolution that helped lower us into this debacle. Now Frank was ridiculing the House G.O.P. as a bunch of sulking teenage girls. His wisecrack stung — and stuck.

Palin is an antidote to the whiny Republican image that Frank nailed. Alaska’s self-styled embodiment of Joe Sixpack is not a sulker, but a pistol-packing fighter. That’s why she draws the crowds and (as she puts it) “energy” that otherwise elude the angry McCain. But she is still the candidate for vice president, not president. Americans do not vote for vice president.

So how can a desperate G.O.P. save itself? As McCain continues to fade into incoherence and irrelevance, the last hope is that he’ll come up with some new game-changing stunt to match his initial pick of Palin or his ill-fated campaign “suspension.” Until Thursday night, more than a few Republicans were fantasizing that his final Hail Mary pass would be to ditch Palin so she can “spend more time” with her ever-growing family. But the debate reminded Republicans once again that it’s Palin, not McCain, who is their last hope for victory.

You have to wonder how long it will be before they plead with him to think of his health, get out of the way and pull the ultimate stunt of flipping the ticket. Palin, we can be certain, wouldn’t even blink.

McCain we hear is more that partial to a game of craps – but where’s the gambling man’s winnings and losses – accounted for on his tax returns? Is McCain being dishonest? Has McCain acted legally?

Senator John McCain is a gambler. If I’d known that right away I would have immediately seen what was wrong with his tax returns.

I am a tax attorney, so a tax return means more to me than it would to most. I reviewed McCain’s tax returns as a basic check on the candidates. You can look at McCain’s 2006 and 2007 tax returns for yourself. The tax returns are below a lot of verbiage about his charitable activities.

According to a New York Times article of September 27, 2008 “For McCain and Team, a Host of Ties to Gambling,” reported by Jo Becker and Don VanNatta Jr., McCain gambled at the MGM Grand in May 2007.

Apparently McCain is a habitual gambler; he usually plays craps. He even says, “I am a gambling man.”

Gambling has tax implications. According to IRS Publication 17, “Your Federal Income Tax”, 2007 edition, page 89 “Gambling Winnings. You must include your gambling winnings in income on Form 1040, line 21. If you itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040), you can deduct gambling losses you had during the year, but only up to the amount of your winnings.” In other words, you can’t subtract your losses from your winnings and just not report. You have to report the winnings, and then claim the losses.

But McCain’s tax returns say nothing about gambling winnings or losses.

As a casino gambler, McCain is likely to have lost more than he won. But by not reporting his winnings, the different percentage calculations built into the tax calculation are thrown off, and if he gambled much at all, he has underpaid his tax. The amount of understatement of tax may be minimal, but that’s not the point.

The real purpose of preparing his tax return and omitting the gambling winnings is so that people would not know how much he gambled. If he won $200,000 playing craps in Las Vegas, it would make a difference in the way voters viewed his suitability as a presidential candidate.

There are circumstances under which the tax returns could be correct, such as McCain gambled once in 2007, not at all in 2006, and lost everything the one time he gambled. Such an explanation is unlikely in light of McCain’s alleged long history of gambling.

I think we are looking at tax returns calculated to hide an aspect of the candidate. My 35 years of experience in taxes tells me these tax returns are wrong, and we do not know the true scope of McCain’s gambling or of his potential obligations to gambling enterprises.

Source: HP

See earlier Sarah Palin Vlogs here

Source: 23/6

McCain plans to go after Obama hard in the coming weeks – but what can he say that he has not already said. McCain’s best chance is to make this election about personalities – like – Palin looks great – vote for me !! But with the financial crisis – piled on top of 1 million home foreclosures – and almost 800,000 jobs lost this year alone – McCain is going to have a difficult time stirring this election back round to a personality contest!

Anyway McCain says he plans to let it all out – to remove the gloves – NEXT TUESDAY !!

Set your clocks folks for the Straight Talk Showdown!

Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama’s character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat’s judgment, honesty and personal associations, several top Republicans said.

With just a month to go until Election Day, McCain’s team has decided that its emphasis on the senator’s biography as a war hero, experienced lawmaker and straight-talking maverick is insufficient to close a growing gap with Obama. The Arizonan’s campaign is also eager to move the conversation away from the economy, an issue that strongly favors Obama and has helped him to a lead in many recent polls.

“We’re going to get a little tougher,” a senior Republican operative said, indicating that a fresh batch of television ads is coming. “We’ve got to question this guy’s associations. Very soon. There’s no question that we have to change the subject here,” said the operative, who was not authorized to discuss strategy and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Being so aggressive has risks for McCain if it angers swing voters, who often say they are looking for candidates who offer a positive message about what they will do. That could be especially true this year, when frustration with Washington politics is acute and a desire for specifics on how to fix the economy and fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is strong.

Robert Gibbs, a top Obama adviser, dismissed the new McCain strategy. “This isn’t 1988,” he said. “I don’t think the country is going to be distracted by the trivial.” He added that Obama will continue to focus on the economy, saying that Americans will remain concerned about the country’s economic troubles even as the Wall Street crisis eases somewhat.

Moments after the House of Representatives approved a bailout package for Wall Street on Friday afternoon, the McCain campaign released a television ad that challenges Obama’s honesty and asks, “Who is Barack Obama?” The ad alleges that “Senator Obama voted 94 times for higher taxes. Ninety-four times. He’s not truthful on taxes.” The charge that Obama voted 94 times for higher taxes has been called misleading by independent fact-checkers, who have noted that the majority of those votes were on nonbinding budget resolutions.

A senior campaign official called the ad “just the beginning” of commercials that will “strike the new tone” in the campaign’s final days. The official said the “aggressive tone” will center on the question of “whether this guy is ready to be president.”

McCain’s only positive commercial, called “Original Mavericks,” has largely been taken off the air, according to Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political ads.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s performance at Thursday night’s debate embodied the new approach, as she used every opportunity to question Obama’s honesty and fitness to serve as president. At one point she said, “Barack Obama voted against funding troops [in Iraq] after promising that he would not do so.”

Palin kept up the attack yesterday, saying in an interview on Fox News that Obama is “reckless” and that some of what he has said, “in my world, disqualifies someone from consideration as the next commander in chief.”

McCain hinted Thursday that a change is imminent, perhaps as soon as next week’s debate. Asked at a Colorado town hall, “When are you going to take the gloves off?” the candidate grinned and replied, “How about Tuesday night?”

Yesterday in Pueblo, Colo., McCain made clear that he intends to press Obama on a variety of familiar GOP themes during the debate, as he accused the Democrat once again of getting ready to raise taxes and increase government spending.

“I guarantee you, you’re going to learn a lot about who’s the liberal and who’s the conservative and who wants to raise your taxes and who wants to lower them,” McCain said.

A senior aide said the campaign will wait until after Tuesday’s debate to decide how and when to release new commercials, adding that McCain and his surrogates will continue to cast Obama as a big spender, a high taxer and someone who talks about working across the aisle but doesn’t deliver.

Two other top Republicans said the new ads are likely to hammer the senator from Illinois on his connections to convicted Chicago developer Antoin “Tony” Rezko and former radical William Ayres, whom the McCain campaign regularly calls a domestic terrorist because of his acts of violence against the U.S. government in the 1960s.

The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. appears to be off limits after McCain condemned the North Carolina Republican Party in April for an ad that linked Obama to his former pastor, saying, “Unfortunately, all I can do is, in as visible a way as possible, disassociate myself from that kind of campaigning.”

McCain advisers said the new approach is in part a reaction to Obama, whose rhetoric on the stump and in commercials has also become far harsher and more aggressive.

They noted that Obama has run television commercials for months linking McCain to lobbyists and hinting at a lack of personal ethics — an allegation that particularly rankles McCain, aides said.

Campaigning in Abington, Pa., yesterday, Obama continued to focus on the economy, even as he lashed out at McCain.

“He’s now going around saying, ‘I’m going to crack down on Wall Street’ . . . but the truth is he’s been saying ‘I’m all for deregulation’ for 26 years,” Obama said. “He hasn’t been getting tough on CEOs. He hasn’t been getting tough on Wall Street. . . . Suddenly a crisis comes and the polls change, and suddenly he’s out there talking like Jesse Jackson.”

Obama highlighted a new report showing a reduction of more than 159,000 jobs last month, and he linked the bad economic news to McCain and Palin.

“Governor Palin said to Joe Biden that our plan to get our economy out of the ditch was somehow a job-killing plan; that’s what she said,” Obama told a crowd of thousands. “I wonder if she turned on the news this morning. . . . When Senator McCain and his running mate talk about job killing, that’s something they know a thing or two about, because the policies they’ve supported and are supporting are killing jobs in America every single day.”

Before the bailout crisis, aides said, McCain was succeeding in focusing attention on Obama’s record and character. Now, they say, he must return to those subjects.

“We are looking for a very aggressive last 30 days,” said Greg Strimple, one of McCain’s top advisers. “We are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis and getting back to discussing Mr. Obama’s aggressively liberal record and how he will be too risky for Americans.”

Source: AM 1090

Dopey is as dopey does -> Palin

As soon as Palin gets a chance to open her mouth – it’s like all hope gets dashed!!

Anyway Palin talks on – Fox News – I’m getting a picture of Hannity down near her shoes. Too strange!

Why – John McCain – why !!

Hasn’t Palin heard civilians are being – taken out in Afghanistan villages – and in Pakistani ones’ when we make cross boarder raids –

Speaking to Fox News on Friday, Sarah Palin indicated for the first time that she does not consider Barack Obama qualified to be commander in chief and sharply criticized him for saying last year that U.S. troops in Afghanistan are “just air raiding villages and killing civilians.”

Calling Obama “reckless,” Palin said that where she comes from Obama’s remarks “disqualify someone from consideration for the next commander-in-chief.”

“Some of his comments that he’s made about the war, that I think, in my world disqualify someone from consideration for the next commander-in-chief,” said Palin. “Some of the comments he’s made about Afghanistan, what we are doing there, ‘just air raiding villages and killing civilians.’ That’s reckless.”

Palin invoked Obama’s “just air raiding villages and killing civilians” remark during her Fox News interview as an example of the kind of issue that she wanted to be asked about by Katie Couric, the CBS News anchor who recently stumped the Alaska governor by asking her to name a Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade with which she disagrees.

The Alaska governor first brought up her objection to Obama’s comments at Thursday’s debate.

“That’s not what we’re doing there,” said Palin, referring to Afghanistan. “We’re fighting terrorists, and we’re securing democracy, and we’re building schools for children there so that there is opportunity in that country.”

Obama made his controversial remarks while campaigning in New Hampshire on Aug. 13, 2007. His comments came when he was asked how he would refocus U.S. troops out of Iraq to better fight terrorism.

Watch Obama’s remarks here: LINK

“We’ve gotta get the job done there,” said Obama, referring to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, “and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there.”

The Obama campaign responded to Palin’s criticism by standing by the Illinois Democrat’s 2007 remarks, directing ABC News to an Associated Press fact check from Aug. 14, 2007 which says of Afghanistan that “Western forces have been killing civilians at a faster rate than the insurgents have been killing civilians.”

The McCain campaign slammed Obama for not retracting the “just air raiding villages and killing civilians” remark and instead pointing to data about civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

“Americans have at times questioned Senator Obama’s support for American troops because of what were believed to be ill-considered remarks,” said McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb. “The fact that Barack Obama and his campaign would stand by this statement is a stunning admission to the contrary — Barack Obama actually believes American troops are engaged in war crimes as a matter of routine.”

War crimes – or collateral damage —

Source: ABC News

Palin Administration Against Sudan Divestment Before It Was For It, Documents Show

Palin Administration Against Sudan Divestment Before It Was For It, Documents Show

When Palin says something – it’s better to – go and double check!

SHARE Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin fought to protest atrocities in Sudan by dropping assets tied to the country’s brutal regime from the state’s multi-billion-dollar investment fund, she claimed during Thursday’s vice presidential debate.

Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks duringa vice presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008.

Not quite, according to a review of the public record – and according to the recollections of a legislator and others who pushed a measure to divest Alaskan holdings in Sudan-linked investments.

“The [Palin] administration killed our bill,” said Alaska state representative Les Gara, D-Anchorage. Gara and state Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, co-sponsored a resolution early this year to force the Alaska Permanent Fund – a $40 billion investment fund, a portion of whose dividends are distributed annually to state residents – to divest millions of dollars in holdings tied to the Sudanese government.

In Thursday’s debate, Palin said she had advocated the state divest from Sudan. “When I and others in the legislature found out that we had some millions of dollars [of Permanent Fund investments] in Sudan, we called for divestment through legislation of those dollars,” Palin said.

But a search of news clips and transcripts from the time do not turn up an instance in which Palin mentioned the Sudanese crisis or concerns about Alaska’s investments tied to the ruling regime. Moreover, Palin’s administration openly opposed the bill, and stated its opposition in a public hearing on the measure.

“The legislation is well-intended, and the desire to make a difference is noble, but mixing moral and political agendas at the expense of our citizens’ financial security is not a good combination,” testified Brian Andrews, Palin’s deputy treasury commissioner, before a hearing on the Gara-Lynn Sudan divestment bill in February. Minutes from the meeting are posted online by the legislature.

Gara says the lack of support from Palin’s administration helped kill the measure.

“I walked out of that hearing livid,” Gara recalled of the February meeting. Because of the Palin administration’s opposition to the bill, “We could not get a vote in that committee,” he explained. At no point did Palin come out in support of the effort, Gara said.

Gara said that after it was clear the bill had stalled, he and others pressed the administration directly on Sudan divestment.

“We were outraged,” Gara recounted. “We went to the Commissioner of Revenue and said, ‘What the hell are you guys doing? This is genocide. We’re going to keep pushing this until we divest.”

Two months later, at the end of the legislative session, the administration softened its position. Appearing before a Senate committee which was considering a companion measure to Gara’s bill, Palin’s Treasury commissioner, Patrick Galvin, stated the administration supported such a measure, though it hoped to amend the bill to allow for investments held indirectly, for example in index funds.

“At the last minute they showed up” and supported the divestment effort, Gara said. But by then the legislative session was almost over, and there wasn’t enough time to get it passed.

The Alaska Permanent Fund currently holds $22 million in Sudan-linked investments, according to the non-profit Sudan Divestment Task Force. Divestment advocates say the fund does not need an act of the state legislature to divest itself of those holdings.

The McCain-Palin campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been a strong supporter of Sudan divestment efforts, and has urged Americans to liquidate their holdings in companies who do business there. He was criticized for that position when it was revealed in May his wife Cindy held $2 million in investment funds owning shares of Sudan-linked companies. She sold those holdings following a reporter’s inquiries.

Source: ABC

Palin’s hostile charm offensive – against the meedya !

Appearing on a friendlier news outlet, Gov. Sarah Palin said she was “annoyed” with the way Katie Couric handled their interview and complained that the CBS Evening News host failed to give her the opportunity to take a proverbial axe to Barack Obama.

In a portion of her sit-down with Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron, Palin claimed that Couric’s questions — which produced a series of staggeringly embarrassing responses — put her in a lose-lose position.

“The Sarah Palin in those interviews was a little bit annoyed,” she said. “It’s like, man, no matter what you say, you are going to get clobbered. If you choose to answer a question, you are going to get clobbered on the answer. If you choose to try to pivot and go to another subject that you believe that Americans want to hear about, you get clobbered for that too.”

For the record, Couric asked her, among other things, what type of news sources she turns to for information, which Supreme Court decisions she disagreed with, why Alaska’s proximity to Russia gave her foreign policy experience, her opinion of the bailout package for Wall Street, and where she thought Vice President Dick Cheney erred. Which one of those questions was designed to trip her up (as opposed to, say, give viewers a better sense of her character and views) is tough to ascertain.

Later in her interview with Cameron, Palin offered a sense of what she thinks would have been a fairer set of questions. Unsurprisingly, they all would have provided her the opportunity to rail against Obama.

Source: HP

First of all we have to congratulate the moderator Gwen Ifill – for running a fluid VP debate – that encouraged more natural to and fro – almost seamlessly without the restrains of time.

Sportscaster Sarah Palin, who I suspected – would emerge today did – filled to the brim with all the notes that her minders could commit to the paper – pulled as many punches as she could – Joe Biden never missed one in return.

Hungry energy markets – as in hunger babies – getting fed at the pumps?

While Sarah Palin’s minders had it set up for her to smear Joe Biden and Obama’s records – Joe Biden was out to present the facts – any smears were easily put down – with a grace and a forcefulness that brought both men and women audience members in (if you were watching it from CNN – there was a line on screen that rated how viewers saw it. When Palin got nasty – with her winking and forced beauty queen – her ratings actually went down – it was clear both men and women were turned off by it.)

The VP in training – also tried her folksy tales to nowhere – but Biden instantly picked up on this with – what are you saying – I haven’t heard anything.

The part I liked was when Palin – compared the Obama Biden tax cut to 95% of Americans – to wealth redistribution (who told her to say that) – then follows that up with an example which counters this – of how she ‘fought’ the oil companies in the state of Alaska to see that some of the oil wealth was shared out among the people there. On the one hand McCain wants to specifically – set aside a part of his budget to give the oil companies – already making record profits – billions more – while on the other hand Palin is telling the American people – in Alaska I worked against this measure and saw to it that – the oil profits were shared out. Joe Biden seized the moment – nicely – by pointing out how Palin actually agrees with himself and Barack Obama’s plan.

Joe Biden’s ability to pick up detail was masterful. Very little gets by this guy. If he couldn’t be President – than he should be sitting next to the President – wise choice Obama!

When Palin spoke of going to war – one of the areas that is worrying a lot of people is her talk of Russia – Palin seemed to move into extreme when she needed to make her point – her voice became strange – which indicates – this lady’s eagerness to go to war – and perhaps there would be something a little too irrational and unmeasured about her consideration. And she was somewhat flippant on the trigger for the use of a nuclear weapon question. Palin frightening!

And in closing when asked if something should happen – God forbid – to John McCain – I thought can this woman contain her pleasure – she started smiling – through each of the statements that followed.

When asked Joe Biden role once he gets into the White House would be to sit in all meetings and to be an integral part of the Presidency – whereas under a McCain administration Palin would be given a souped-up title and moved to deal with energy issues – something perhaps we should be worried about – with her Drill Baby Drill ethos – it is unlikely that much of the energy budget will be devoted to new energy sources – in her debut statement at the GOP Convention Palin said we can drill our way out of our energy difficulties. Maybe this is another area her and John McCain disagree on (or do they) – besides drilling in ANWR. She also mentioned dealing with the needs of special needs children or families – strangely I thought I heard women’s issues – which would be so haram – but then she did not say women’s issues – and those issues on charging for rape kits – slashing funding for teen pregnancy and the women’s right to choose are still there. Also that John McCain voted against equal pay for equal work and the protection of women from spousal abuse.

Joe Biden came across as smooth as silk – where on listening to Palin debate a second time – begins to have a hacksaw quality about her voice or persona – I sure wish we don’t have to see this for the next four years.

Biden is gracefully intelligent – and seems to have a nothing to prove bottom line – he works from another place – which could have something to do with his own personal tragedy which he touched upon in this debate – but he has a wonderful way about him – that I am sure will serve the country well.

Down to the wire now. Sarah and Dina are up early cramming and jamming for tonight’s big face-off. They’re finding Sarah’s weak spots and plugging holes. If Mr. Joe Biden tries to slap Sarah’s face with her own rape kit, she’ll be ready.

See earlier Sarah Palin Vlogs here

Source: 23/6

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos reports: Stakes are high for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin going into tonight’s vice presidential debate with Sen. Joe Biden, D-Dela., with the latest poll finding she has become a drag on the Republican ticket.

Any mistake or gaffe by Palin could be fatal with a new poll finding voters are now questioning their commitment to Republican presidential candidate John McCain because of her.

About one third of likely voters, 32 percent of likely voters now say Palin makes it less likely they’ll vote for McCain, according to the ABC News/Washington Post poll released today.

Palin is beginning to have a big credibility problem: 60 percent of Americans are now doubting her qualifications for office, up 15 points from an ABC/Post poll last month.

The poll found a minority of likely voters, 35 percent, believe she is experience enough to be president.

The ABC poll also suggests that questions about Palin are reinforcing concerns about McCain’s age. Almost half of voters, 48 percent, now say the senator’s age is a worry — a new high — and 85 percent of that group say that Palin is not qualified to serve as President.

It hasn’t been an easy month for the Alaska governor. Palin initially boosted McCain’s poll numbers, but after refusing to speak to the media she gave a few select interviews where she gave muddled responses.

Contributing to her perception problem: more voters have likely seen the Saturday Night Live sketches making fun of her rather than hearing her speak on the campaign trail.

It’s all cementing in the minds of voters a preconceived notion that Palin is ill-prepared for the job.

Biden’s poll numbers contrast starkly with Palin’s with 75 percent of Americans saying he understands complex issues, 70 percent saying he has suitable experience to take over as president if necessary, and just 13 percent saying the Delaware senator makes them less apt to support Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

In his debate against Palin tonight, Biden will try to show gracious restraint, and focus his attacks against McCain, Obama campaign aides tell ABC News.

Meanwhile McCain campaign aides say Palin will attempt to aggressively take the fight to Obama.

Source: ABC

NEW YORK — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin enters her debate Thursday with Joe Biden needing to make a strong positive impression on voters, many of whom are expressing serious doubts about her readiness.

A new AP-Gfk poll released Wednesday found that just 25 percent of likely voters believe Palin has the right experience to be president. That’s down from 41 percent just after the GOP convention, when the Alaska governor made her well-received debut on the national stage.

This photo provided by the Palin Campaign shows Republican vice presidential nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, right, preparing for her first and only debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Sedona, Ariz., ranch of her running-mate, Sen. John McCain, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008. On the left is McCain-Palin campaign senior policy advisor Randall Scheunemann. The debate will take place Thursday in St. Louis, Mo. (AP Photo/Palin Campaign) (AP)

This photo provided by the Palin Campaign shows Republican vice presidential nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, right, preparing for her first and only debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Sedona, Ariz., ranch of her running-mate, Sen. John McCain, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008. On the left is McCain-Palin campaign senior policy advisor Randall Scheunemann. The debate will take place Thursday in St. Louis, Mo. (AP Photo/Palin Campaign) (AP)

Thursday night’s debate in St. Louis gives her a chance to overcome the doubts in a 90-minute showcase, the first time most Americans outside Alaska will see her in a lengthy give-and-take session.

On the other hand, a poor performance against Biden, the Delaware senator, could cement a negative image for the rest of the campaign.

Palin has been preparing at Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s retreat in Sedona, Ariz

Source: Washington Post

Back to Palin’s folksy tales – if Sarah Palin is good at telling a story so is Joe Biden – the only difference is he actually thinks the facts matter. He would not tell a story to conceal the fact that he knows nothing about the issues – but besides oil – that’s all Palin has been doing.

For all the speculation over how Sarah Palin will fare in the vice-presidential debate Thursday night, her Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, faces a challenge of his own: taking on the Alaska governor without coming across as sexist or a bully.

Barack Obama’s campaign has assembled a team of top advisers, including several prominent female debaters, to help prepare the Delaware senator, known for his tough attacks and candor, to debate the Republicans’ first female vice-presidential nominee. Since Sunday, the team has been hunkered down at the Sheraton Suites hotel in Wilmington, Del.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has been playing the role of Gov. Palin. “I want to beat him up a little, so he does well,” Gov. Granholm told reporters. One Biden aide said Gov. Granholm was chosen to portray Gov. Palin in the preparations because she ran as an outsider and reformer in Michigan in 2002 and 2006. Like Gov. Palin, Gov. Granholm is a former beauty queen and sports mom.

Sen. Biden also has received advice from Democratic primary opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, and a number of top campaign aides.

Aides say Sen. Biden will emphasize issues rather than attacks, and debate preparations have centered on making the case for Sen. Obama rather than tearing down Gov. Palin. “I think this will come down to bigger questions than who can throw a sharp elbow. This is a much bigger election” than that, says Patti Solis Doyle, Sen. Biden’s campaign chief of staff.

Sen. Biden recently said reporters are in a “time warp” if they think he will prepare any differently to debate a woman than a man. He cited debating Sens. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Olympia Snowe of Maine and other women in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Biden debated Sen. Clinton 12 times during the Democratic primaries.

“It seems like the only people in the room that think that debating a woman is going to be fundamentally different are people who don’t hang around with smart women,” Sen. Biden said aboard his campaign plane.

Sen. Biden’s 30-plus years in the Senate could open a line of attack from Gov. Palin, who left the campaign trail Monday to prepare for the debate at Sen. McCain’s ranch in Sedona, Ariz., McCain aides said. She could also use Sen. Biden’s experience to portray him as the Washington status quo.

While Biden aides insist gender isn’t an issue, it is rare for a woman to be on the ticket. The last time — and the first time — a woman was on a major-party ticket was in 1984, when Democrat Walter Mondale picked Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate.

Ms. Ferraro debated then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in an encounter that was widely interpreted as having sexist overtones. “Let me just say, first of all, that I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy,” Ms. Ferraro replied to one attack. At the same time, strategists say Sen. Biden can’t soften his approach or appear to be changing his tactics because he is debating a woman; that, too, could be perceived as sexist.

Aides say Sen. Biden can counter some of the Alaska governor’s down-home appeal by playing up his working-class roots in Scranton, Pa. Sen. Biden, consistently ranked as one of the least-wealthy senators, still lives in Wilmington and takes the train to work in Washington. “I think Biden should use his sense of humor and really turn this into a debate about who’s folksier,” says Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

Source: WSJ

Sarah Palin Vlog #1: Katie Couric Interview

Sarah Palin Vlog #2: Debate Prep

Sarah Palin Vlog #3: Cramming for the Economics Debate

Source: 23/6

Spilling the beans – Palin is quoted as saying – facts and figures don’t matter!

Monitor opinion editor Josh Burek talks with former Alaska state representative and gubenatorial candidate Andrew Halcro about Gov. Sarah Palin’s debating abilities.

Anchorage, Alaska – When he faces off against Sarah Palin Thursday night, Joe Biden will have his hands full.

I should know. I’ve debated Governor Palin more than two dozen times. And she’s a master, not of facts, figures, or insightful policy recommendations, but at the fine art of the nonanswer, the glittering generality. Against such charms there is little Senator Biden, or anyone, can do.

On paper, of course, the debate appears to be a mismatch.

In 2000, Palin was the mayor of an Alaskan town of 5,500 people, while Biden was serving his 28th year as a United States senator. Her major public policy concern was building a local ice rink and sports center. His major public policy concern was the State Department’s decision to grant an export license to allow sales of heavy-lift helicopters to Turkey, during tense UN-sponsored Cyprus peace talks.

On paper, the difference in experience on both domestic and foreign policy is like the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing a bullet. Unfortunately for Biden, if recent history is an indicator, experience or a grasp of the issues won’t matter when it comes to debating Palin.

On April 17, 2006, Palin and I participated in a debate at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks on agriculture issues. The next day, the Fairbanks Daily News Miner published this excerpt:

“Andrew Halcro, a declared independent candidate from Anchorage, came armed with statistics on agricultural productivity. Sarah Palin, a Republican from Wasilla, said the Matanuska Valley provides a positive example for other communities interested in agriculture to study.”

On April 18, 2006, Palin and I sat together in a hotel coffee shop comparing campaign trail notes. As we talked about the debates, Palin made a comment that highlights the phenomenon that Biden is up against.

“Andrew, I watch you at these debates with no notes, no papers, and yet when asked questions, you spout off facts, figures, and policies, and I’m amazed. But then I look out into the audience and I ask myself, ‘Does any of this really matter?’ ” Palin said.

While policy wonks such as Biden might cringe, it seemed to me that Palin was simply vocalizing her strength without realizing it. During the campaign, Palin’s knowledge on public policy issues never matured – because it didn’t have to. Her ability to fill the debate halls with her presence and her gift of the glittering generality made it possible for her to rely on populism instead of policy.

Palin is a master of the nonanswer. She can turn a 60-second response to a query about her specific solutions to healthcare challenges into a folksy story about how she’s met people on the campaign trail who face healthcare challenges. All without uttering a word about her public-policy solutions to healthcare challenges.

In one debate, a moderator asked the candidates to name a bill the legislature had recently passed that we didn’t like. I named one. Democratic candidate Tony Knowles named one. But Sarah Palin instead used her allotted time to criticize the incumbent governor, Frank Murkowski. Asked to name a bill we did like, the same pattern emerged: Palin didn’t name a bill.

And when she does answer the actual question asked, she has a canny ability to connect with the audience on a personal level. For example, asked to name a major issue that had been ignored during the campaign, I discussed the health of local communities, Mr. Knowles talked about affordable healthcare, and Palin talked about … the need to protect hunting and fishing rights.

So what does that mean for Biden? With shorter question-and-answer times and limited interaction between the two, he should simply ignore Palin in a respectful manner on the stage and answer the questions as though he were alone. Any attempt to flex his public-policy knowledge and show Palin is not ready for prime time will inevitably cast him in the role of the bully.

On the other side of the stage, if Palin is to be successful, she needs to do what she does best: fill the room with her presence and stick to the scripted sound bites.

Andrew Halcro served two terms as a Republican member of the Alaska State House of Representatives. He ran for governor as an Independent in 2006, debating Sarah Palin more than two dozen times. He blogs at http://www.andrewhalcro.com .


Sarah Palin discusses global warming and its causes, vaguely, on CBS
Sarah Palin clearly was in her comfort zone when she chatted on-air Tuesday with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt. As The Ticket noted , she presented a persona and offered some lines that could serve her well in her Thursday debate with Joe Biden.

Tuesday also saw the broadcast of the last of her several interviews with Katie Couric of CBS (we will miss them; they were fast becoming a staple of our daily routine).

The final segment may not spark more calls from conservative commentators that Palin give up her spot on the Republican national ticket. But in front of the television cameras — and in the face of more pointed questioning — the self-assurance that marked her conversation with Hewitt continued to elude her.

One answer by Palin will do little to quell concerns about her position on global warming. As she did with ABC’s Charlie Gibson a few weeks back, she did her best to skirt a direct answer on its causes.

From the transcript:

    Palin's idea for the polar bears is to shot them - literally - Palin and her husband Todd are challenging the Federal Gov. to have polar bears removed from the threatened species list - as their habitat - which is already being eroded by the loss of ice - gets in the way of their and Big Oil’s proposed oil drilling plans, but also to lift the ban on hunting them.

    Palin’s idea for the polar bears is to shoot them - literally - Palin and her husband Todd are challenging the Federal Gov. to have polar bears removed from the threatened species list - as their habitat gets in the way of their and Big Oil’s proposed oil drilling plans, but also to lift the ban on hunting them.

    Couric: What’s your position on global warming? Do you believe it’s man-made or not?

    Palin: Well, we’re the only Arctic state, of course, Alaska. So we feel the impacts more than any other state, up there with the changes in climates. And certainly, it is apparent. We have erosion issues. And we have melting sea ice, of course. So, what I’ve done up there is form a sub-cabinet to focus solely on climate change. Understanding that it is real. And …

    Couric: Is it man-made, though in your view?

    Palin: You know there are – there are man’s activities that can be contributed to the issues that we’re dealing with now, these impacts. I’m not going to solely blame all of man’s activities on changes in climate. Because the world’s weather patterns are cyclical. And over history we have seen change there. But kind of doesn’t matter at this point, as we debate what caused it. The point is: it’s real; we need to do something about it.

Pardon us for asking, but would it not be difficult to devise an effective policy to mitigate the effects of global warming without a firm grasp on what caused it?

Palin also was not about to be pinned down …

… by Couric on the subject of her reading habits. Here’s the exchange:

    Couric: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?

    Palin: I’ve read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.

    Couric: What, specifically?

    Palin: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.

    Couric: Can you name a few?

    Palin: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn’t a foreign country, where it’s kind of suggested, “Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?” Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.

Palin may well ace her final on Thursday (especially if much of the public decides to grade on the curve). But following the debate, we think it far more likely her future bookings will tilt heavily toward tete-a-tetes with friendly radio types than sit-downs with the likes of Gibson and Couric.

— Don Frederick

Source: LATimes

Will looking good be enough!! Without a teleprompter how will Palin communicate the facts?

She’s clearly good at making up a story or two – perhaps this might be one of her solutions.

But we should all look to getting behind Joe Biden – so far every reporter that Palin has had an interview with has been accused of beating her up – it’s the workman who blames his tools for the Republican spin artists.

Joe Biden when asked how would he deal with Palin – he said “respectful” – what more can she hope for – but this in no way should mean he should give her an easy ride.

The only easy ride she should get is from McCain!!

*

Not since Dan Quayle took the stage in 1988 have debate expectations for a major party candidate been as low as they will be on Thursday for Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

A newcomer to the national scene, Ms. Palin has given little indication that she has been engaged in a serious way in the pressing national and international issues of the day.

But a review of a handful of her debate performances in the race for governor in 2006 shows a somewhat different persona from the one that has emerged since Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, named Ms. Palin as the vice-presidential nominee a month ago.

Ms. Palin, a former mayor who had become a whistle-blower about ethical misconduct in state government, held her own in those debates. (There were almost two dozen in the general election alone; she skipped some, and not all were recorded.)

She staked out a populist stance against oil companies and projected a fresh, down-to-earth face at a time when voters wanted change. That helped her soundly defeat Frank H. Murkowski, the unpopular Republican governor, in the primary and former Gov. Tony Knowles in the general election.

Her debating style was rarely confrontational, and she appeared confident. In contrast to today, when she seems unversed on several important issues, she demonstrated fluency on certain subjects, particularly oil and gas development.

But just as she does now, Ms. Palin often spoke in generalities and showed scant aptitude for developing arguments beyond a talking point or two. Her sentences were distinguished by their repetition of words, by the use of the phrase “here in Alaska” and for gaps. On paper, her sentences would have been difficult to diagram.

John Bitney, the policy director for her campaign for governor and the main person who helped prepare her for debates, said her repetition of words was “her way of running down the clock as her mind searches for where she wants to go.”

These tendencies could fuzz her meaning and lead her into linguistic cul-de-sacs. She often used less than her allotted time and ended her answers abruptly.

When questioned about the nuts and bolts of governing, Ms. Palin tended to avoid specifics and instead fell back on her core values: a broadly conservative philosophy and a can-do spirit.

“My attitude and my approaches towards dealing with the complexities of health care issues,” she said in an AARP debate in October 2006, “is a respectful and responsible approach, and it’s a positive approach. I don’t believe that the sky is falling here in Alaska.”

These patterns could help explain why the McCain campaign negotiated for less time for discussion in her debate Thursday with Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware than the presidential candidates had in their debate last week.

Ms. Palin was not always at her best when questioned by her opponents in the governor’s race.

In the AARP debate, Mr. Knowles and Andrew Halcro, an independent, double-teamed her to press her about how she would pay for health care.

In response to Mr. Knowles, she mentioned “certificates of need” and said they had been inflexible, “creating an environment where a lot of folks are lacking the receiving of their health care that is needed in some of the areas, especially in some of our larger markets.” She added, “The State of Alaska needs to be looking specifically at that inflexibility that exists today in order to fill some of the market needs that are out there in Alaska in our larger markets.”

She then added, “I can’t tell you how much that will reduce monetarily our health care costs, but competition makes everyone better, it makes us work harder, it does allow reduction in costs, so addressing that is going to be a priority.”

Mr. Knowles was nonplussed, saying that he did not understand her answer and that Ms. Palin had missed the point.

Mr. Halcro asked how she would pay for critical health care programs.

“Well, the point there, Andrew,” she said, “is that these are critical, and again it’s a matter of prioritizing and it’s a matter of government understanding its proper role in public safety, is health care, so it’s a matter of priorities.”

Mr. Halcro called her answer “political gibberish.”

But other times, she gave direct answers that appealed directly to her audience. The candidates were asked in a debate on Aug. 17, 2006, by a rural resident via video whether they would restore a longevity bonus for senior citizens, a payment intended to keep them from leaving the state.

“No,” Mr. Murkowski said gruffly. John Binkley, a third candidate, said yes. Ms. Palin’s response was filled with emotion.

“Yes, our precious, precious elders,” she said, looking into the camera. “For those who were prematurely lopped off, I am so sorry that that has happened to you.”

But generally, her voice carried surprisingly little affect.

“In tone, manner and sometimes even language, she treated every issue exactly the same,” Michael Carey, the former editorial page editor of The Anchorage Daily News, wrote in an essay about Ms. Palin. “She gave no suggestion that some issues are of higher priority than others. Her voice was cheerful, up-tempo, optimistic, never off key but always in the same key.”

Perhaps her strength in debating was coming across like an average person who understood the average person’s needs and would not be expected to have detailed policy prescriptions.

She also neutralized some of her conservative social views. She said intelligent design should be taught in schools — along with evolution. She said she favored the teaching of abstinence — along with the teaching of sex education. “Let the kids debate both sides,” she said.

She was not a particularly aggressive debater, and she rarely took an opportunity to challenge her opponents. But when pressed, she could be tough. In a roundtable discussion in October on the “Bob and Mark Show,” Mr. Halcro suggested that Ms. Palin had not attended enough debates.

“It’s been a year today that I’ve been on the campaign trail,” Ms. Palin responded, “attending many, many more forums, more debates, than either one of you, Tony and Andrew, because I had a primary opponent. You know, you got to have the balls to take it on in the early part of a campaign, and not just go right to the big show.”

Source: NYT

Choosing Sarah Palin for his ticket re-energized John McCain's campaign in the polls.

Choosing Sarah Palin for his ticket re-energized John McCain's campaign in the polls.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s painful performance in interviews with CBS’s Katie Couric last week rattled some backers of Sen. John McCain.

One conservative columnist, Kathleen Parker, even called on her to quit as McCain’s running mate.

“It was fun while it lasted,” Parker wrote last week in the National Review. “But circumstances have changed since Palin was introduced as just a hockey mom with lipstick.”

But it’s highly unlikely Palin will be leaving the ticket. Here are eight reasons why:

1. It would raise fatal questions about McCain’s judgment, which he trumpets as an advantage over Barack Obama.
[Choosing a VP that doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state is questionable – though letting Palin go – would expose McCain to a wide open assault and rightly]

2. It would put McCain on the defensive for the final five weeks, when he needs to put Obama on the defensive.
[Bring it on!]

3. The party’s social conservative base has given Palin its unconditional love.
[Did she really shoot a moose – as everything else she has claimed has come under some scrutiny. The plight of polar bears in the Alaska don’t concern this lot.]

4. Who else is going to have a shot with Hillary Clinton voters?
[The really question is how many Hillary voters – with her backward looking platform? – Equal pay for equal work – not with McCain – pro-choice – only if Palin’s own life is in danger.]

5. Mid-course corrections have a sorry history: Democrat McGovern, who dumped Tom Eagleton in 1972 after learning he’d had electroshock treatment, lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon.

6. She’s a fundraising dynamo.
[Give her a script she’d be a great actor.]

7. She’s a crowd magnet, and without her, McCain rallies could go back to their old sleepy ways.
[McCain celebrity problem – to the point where they can’t campaign separately- no one turns up to see him.]

8. The Democrats’ veep, Joe Biden, is a gaffe machine too. One whopper and he’s under the microscope, not her.
[Don’t count on it!]

Source: DAILY NEWS

Sarah Palin earned a reputation as a strong debater during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign in Alaska, but she has appeared to struggle in one-on-one sessions with nationally known journalists since being named McCain's running mate. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Sarah Palin earned a reputation as a strong debater during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign in Alaska, but she has appeared to struggle in one-on-one sessions with nationally known journalists since being named McCain's running mate. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – She burst onto the American political scene as Sarah “The Barracuda” Palin, a confident, moose-hunting, hockey-mom governor whose razor-sharp attacks on Barack Obama, Washington insiders and the U.S. media “elite” helped revive John McCain’s presidential campaign in early September.

But as she prepares for her vice-presidential debate Thursday against Senator Joe Biden, Palin is now fighting to dispel perceptions among some conservatives that she’s quickly becoming a political liability for the Republican candidate.

McCain on Monday dispatched his two most senior aides – campaign manager Rick Davis and strategist Steve Schmidt – to his ranch in Sedona, Ariz., to begin three days of intense coaching with the Alaska governor ahead of her 90-minute showdown with Biden at Washington University in St. Louis.

The decision came amid widespread criticism in the media and – more distressing for McCain – mounting anxiety among Republicans over Palin’s performance during an extended interview last week with CBS News anchor Katie Couric.

In its aftermath, Palin’s favourable ratings have fallen and she’s become fodder for withering satire on late-night comedy shows like Saturday Night Live – a fate that has hurt presidential candidates in the past.

“I think that most people looking at Thursday night’s debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin are nervous, especially Republicans,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “Because 90 minutes is a very long time – and you can only talk about gutting a moose once during that debate.”

Palin earned a reputation as a strong debater during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign in Alaska, but she has appeared to struggle in one-on-one sessions with nationally known journalists since being named McCain’s running mate.

In her interview with Couric, Palin offered this explanation of how Alaska’s proximity to Russia enhanced her foreign policy experience.

“It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as (Russian prime minister Vladimir) Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America,” Palin said. “Where, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there.”

Kathleen Parker, a syndicated conservative commentator, said the interviews showed Palin is “clearly out of her league” and called on her to step aside.

“I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly,” Parker, an early supporter of the governor, wrote in a post-Couric interview column. “I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.”

There is a lively debate among Republicans about whether McCain’s own campaign is partially to blame for Palin’s problems. Advisers have largely shielded her from the media since her breakout performance at the Republican convention, placing extraordinary pressure on the governor in her few high-profile interviews.

(…)

The stakes for McCain are high. The latest Gallup daily tracking poll of the U.S. presidential race shows Obama with an eight-point advantage – 50-42 per cent – over McCain.

“I think this debate is more important than most vice-presidential debates usually are because the McCain campaign is swimming upstream,” Jillson said. “They are down in the polls. And if their vice-presidential candidate looks like she is not ready to be president of the United States, should the requirement fall on her, I think people will again look to Obama.”

Biden faces many potential pitfalls himself, including the possibility he might underestimate Palin.

The Delaware senator has made several notable gaffes recently, criticizing one of his campaign’s own anti-McCain ads and flubbing a historical reference to the 1929 stock market crash. He has a reputation for talking too extemporaneously and sounding condescending – which could backfire against Palin.

“If we’re not going to judge Joe by one sound bite, in one interview – which is fair to Joe – and we’re not going to take a mistake that he’s made and say ‘that that’s a death-defying blow,’ let’s don’t do it for her,” Graham said.

To help Biden prepare, Obama’s campaign enlisted Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to act as pre-debate stand-in for Palin.

“How could you lose a debate with Sarah Palin? By running afoul of the gender issues, making women in particular feel as if Sarah Palin was unfairly treated the way some think Hillary Clinton was unfairly treated,” said Jillson. “He’s got to be respectful.”

Source: Canwest News Service

PRINCETON, NJ — Barack Obama leads John McCain, 49% to 44%, when registered voters are asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, according to the latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking update.

These results, from Sept. 24-26, are almost entirely based on interviewing conducted before Friday night’s first presidential debate. This suggests Obama was moving into a slightly better positioning as the two met in Mississippi to debate foreign policy matters and the economic crisis. The five percentage point lead for Obama in today’s update is one of his best in recent weeks, just short of the six-point advantage he had in Sept. 17-19 polling. McCain had been running ahead of Obama since the Republican National Convention earlier this month, but as the financial crisis deepened Obama regained the lead positioning he had enjoyed through much of the summer. (To view the complete trend since March 7, 2008, click here.)

The initial impact of the debate — and perhaps more importantly, the political spin in the days after — on voter preferences will be apparent in the next few days of Gallup Poll Daily tracking, with Tuesday’s report the first for which all interviews will be conducted after the debate. — Jeff Jones

Source: Gallup Daily

Several people commented the John McCain never glanced over once to look at Obama – McCain’s debating style indicates that he is depending of some sort of old guard force – to be there to automatically back him up – which will be there to assist him in getting others to see why Barack Obama should not be standing next to him in this debate.

What he fails to comprehend and perhaps is most afraid of is that Obama represents – the new guard – what we saw in the turn out of 200,000 people in Germany – what we saw on the last day of the Democratic Convention and with his acceptance speech – that Barack Obama is leading the charge as the new guard – with a new vision – that this can’t be put down with a few sarcastic old guard remarks and condescending phrases. Either way the new reality is Obama’s – like it was also Gore’s and Kerry’s – as it’s time move away from the old way and in a whole new direction.

The first Presidential Debate kitted off tonight between Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama.

A skilled Barack Obama held his own – against the more experienced but narrowly focused McCain.

McCain attempted to use his campaign stump – condescending phrases to outline his superior judgment on matters – but found it very difficult to undercut Obama’s steady focus and confidence.

McCain looked authoritarian at times – and almost fossilized – age can be accounted here – though it is more John McCain’s frame of mind – which could seem frozen in the past. Particularly when McCain says he looked into Russia leader Putin’s eyes and he saw three things K G B – then quickly added that he doesn’t think we should go back to the cold war – which is not what he said in his speech – at the GOP Convention.

Barack Obama called it – looking at it through the prism – of Iraq – and then he broadened that and said that we need to have wider diplomatic focus – as for example China is now beating the US at their own game.

While McCain talked about – utilizing allies in Europe for war – and if like Spain there is some difference (over Iraq) – he is prepared to cast them aside – even a NATO ally – Barack Obama talked about bringing in European allies together to negotiate – with thugs for example in Iran – and if America needs to attack – then it comes down to a consensus – and the US military doesn’t have to virtually go it alone – but more – Barack Obama believes respecting our allies – and something he has talked about before – on hearing their allies concerns – and taking those into account as a part of US foreign policy.

When the US goes it alone – and it appears that no one else can have any input – then you end up with situations like the already suspicious Russia becoming aggravated – and then worst – the new alliances which form out of that aggravation – such as the partnerships with Venezuela – and the lack of full support on Iran by Russia.

America with all its military capability can’t come off looking like the aggressor. With the either you’re for us or you are against us – black and white US diplomacy – which McCain still holds on to with regards to Spain – you can’t build allies – you are going to make enemies anyway – there is little that can be done to please the Iranian leader or satisfy Hugo Chavez – but building as broad a base of allies can’t be overlooked. In addition it restores America’s image in the world as it comes across looking fairer – with the added benefit of more people sharing a similar view.

Obama sees a chance to use America’s influence – not only as a police force – around the world – (and I might add concentrating only on those areas which have to do with oil and gas) – but to extend America’s influence by seeing more investment in improving people’s everyday lives – like in areas of education so that more children have the chance to go to school (and the eradication of malaria in places like Africa) – around the world.

Here’s Obama undoing McCain’s bluff-it style – where he uses his age to promote confidence in is judgment even though he could be completely wrong – Obama should be wary of McCain’s over confidence – where he appears to have it under control – likely he doesn’t – as Obama showed in the following clip.

John McCain confidence on issues – belies his lack of foresight – Obama takes advantage

McCain Wins Debate Before It Happens!!

McCain Wins Debate Before It Happens!!

We certainly know what he was planning!

After days of saying that John McCain would not attend Friday’s presidential debate unless an agreement on a bailout package for the markets was “locked-down,” the McCain campaign has gone back on its word.

On Friday, it announced that the Senator would head down to Mississippi even though, as they readily admit, much work remained needed on the bailout agreement.

The whole episode left even conservatives admitting that the McCain campaign looked erratic and a bit foolish with no apparent direction or guiding principle.

“It just proves his campaign is governed by tactics and not ideology,” said Republican consultant Craig Shirley, who advised McCain earlier in this cycle. “In the end, he blinked and Obama did not. The ‘steady hand in a storm’ argument looks now to more favor Obama, not McCain.”

Shirley added, “My guess is that plasma units are rushing to the McCain campaign as we speak to replace the blood flowing there from the fights among the staff.”

Adding to the rocky perception was a McCain campaign web ad released this morning declaring “McCain Wins Debate!” — put out even before the candidate had announced he was planning to debate.

Aides to Barack Obama were not, generally, surprised by the announcement, though nonetheless pleased. One called the Arizona Republican’s gambit – of leaving the trail to supposedly forge a compromise on the bailout – a “failure.” Other Democrats were equally biting in describing the moment.

“It means that people think he went back on his word,” said Howard Wolfson, formerly the communications director for Hillary Clinton. “John McCain’s presidential campaign has been in a death spiral since the Wall Street collapse and this summit gambit was an attempt to pull out of it. But it hasn’t succeeded because McCain hasn’t done anything to move the ball forward.”

Allies of McCain tried to put the best spin on the announcement, saying that while the bailout legislation was not yet completed, McCain thought it best to address the nation.

“What’s more important than anything that when we go to Mississippi tonight, both candidates can say that the Congress is working,” said Sen. Lindsay Graham

But others couldn’t help but admit that the Arizona Republican had mismanaged the whole scenario, basically walking himself into a corner, stuck with the choice of looking either scared or unprincipled.

“He will been seen as blinking first,” Shirley declared, “since it was he who said he wasn’t going until the crisis is averted. Hobson’s choice, painted in a corner, bollixed — pick your poison, or pick your cliche.”

Source: HP

I got the feeling that’s what McCain’s insistence on moving the debates was all about. Palin needed more time to prepare. By the look of her interviews – I’d say the McCain camp is in deep water.

But then if McCain got rid of Palin – how would that look on his judgment!! I’d bet he doesn’t change his direction and would contemplate or get the public ready for a Bush style debate where the expectations are set so low that if she opens her mouth – to say her state is near Russia – she wins the debate.

Radio talk show host Ed Schultz reports:

Capitol Hill sources are telling me that senior McCain people are more than concerned about Palin. The campaign has held a mock debate and a mock press conference; both are being described as “disastrous.” One senior McCain aide was quoted as saying, “What are we going to do?” The McCain people want to move this first debate to some later, undetermined date, possibly never. People on the inside are saying the Alaska Governor is “clueless.”

Source: HP Original Ed Schultz

Here’s John McCain is full fixing mode – off to fix the financial crisis – in the meeting with the President Obama and others John McCain’s voice was barely audible!

Obama did attend on the request of the President – who has been making such a big deal about suspending his campaign – in order to deal with the problem – had almost nothing to add – given the perfect opportunity.

Let’s see how long this charade can continue – will he or won’t he show up for the debate tonight?

That he also wants to postpone the VP debate is telling – a Biden vs. Palin debate – everyone can’t wait to see that – could McCain think she needs more time to prepare?

We would love to hear more about the Russian Alaska connection.

While John McCain was giving his economic speech I actually noticed his left eye acting strangely. And you got the sense that he wasn’t well – not with the flue – but sick ~ with something. I surprised to hear people talking about it today – it directs attention to his health.

Mind you George Bush’s eyes looked pretty perturbed during his address to the nation on the current financial crisis. He deserves to be shocked –

and for that matter so does McCain – when a million homes are in foreclosure and you are saying that the economy is strong – here’s a reality check for the self styled Deregulation John.

He probably needed to suspend the campaign to slow down and get a needed medical check. That eye didn’t look good.

Obama Will Make Debate A Townhall If McCain Doesn't Show

Obama Will Make Debate A Townhall If McCain Doesn't Show

UPDATE: An adviser Barack Obama says he expects John McCain to attend:

“I actually think he’s going to come to the debate,” the adviser, Robert Gibbs, told reporters in Washington on Thursday.

And echoing a talking point that Senator Obama used in his press conference on Thursday, Mr. Gibbs added: “I think he will decide that a president is capable of doing more than one thing at a time.”

Barack Obama is committed to hosting a public, televised event Friday night in Mississippi even if John McCain does not show up, an official close to the Obama campaign tells the Huffington Post.

In McCain’s absence, the Senator is willing to make the scheduled debate a townhall meeting, a one-on-one interview with NewsHour’s Jim Lehrer, or the combination of the two, the official said.

Such a course of action could make life incredibly difficult for McCain, who has called for the suspension of the debate in light of the current economic crisis. Should he stay in Washington D.C. — if a bailout is not completed by then — and let Obama alone reach tens of millions of television viewers?

A lot, of course, depends upon what the debate commission decides to do. At this point in time, there is no indication that they are going to postpone the affair, as the McCain campaign has asked.

Separately, on Thursday, Obama himself said he was intending to go to Oxford, Miss for the scheduled debate and called on McCain to be there with him.

“The American people deserve to hear directly from myself and Sen. McCain about how we intend to lead our country,” Obama said. “The times are too serious to put our campaign on hold, or to ignore the full range of issues that the next president will face.”

Meanwhile, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said on Thursday that he expected the debate to go forward as planned.

Source: HP

Let's Postpone VP Debate Too

McCain: Let's Postpone VP Debate Too

The greatest show on earth campaign mangers call for time out ~ but time out for McCain to go Fix Washington’ aah..that’s ‘Fix the Economy’ is one thing ~ but asking for that same time for Palin ~ ‘ready to lead on day one’ is another. And this is where this comes down to a game.

It is clear Palin needs more time to prepare for the VP debate with Joe Biden.

It’s John McCain and his party’s deregulation that has brought the country to it’s knees ~ now he wants to appear presidential going off to fix it.