Saturday, September 13, 2008

Palin Knows Even Less Than Krauthammer Thinks

The propogandists of the right-wing are generally a highly skilled and relatively unsentimental bunch of people. They have to be. Hardly any of them can stand John McCain but they're all carrying his water with the enthusiasm and brio of Adam Sandler's character in The WaterBoy.

But sometimes they goof up. Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer thinks that he's making Sarah Palin look better by pointing out that Charles Gibson only referred to one of the four versions of the Bush doctrine in his question to Palin.
There is no single meaning of the Bush doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration -- and the one Charlie Gibson cited is not the one in common usage today. It is utterly different.
Besides meaning that Bush claims the right to pre-emptively attack countries like Iraq, there are three other Bush Doctrines.

According to Krauthammer, the Bush doctrine also refers to "going it alone" in foreign affairs, the division of the world into those who were "for us" and those who were "against us," and the doctrine of exporting freedom to all the countries of the Middle East.

Certainly Krauthammer's right about all the Bush doctrines, but that makes Palin look even worse than she does already.

In fact, Palin isn't just unaware of one Bush doctrine, she's unaware of all four of the Bush doctrines. Palin didn't know any of the four Bush doctrines when asked. In fact, she didn't even recognize the term "Bush doctrine" as having any particular meaning.

That makes the score the Bush Doctrine-5, Sarah Palin-0.

Update--Perhaps Palin could hire one of her high school classmates to give her tutoring in foreign policy.

And Again--Matthew Yglesias and Rich Lowry discussed the same point earlier in the day.

We're Doomed! Doomed!

The workload for Mrs. RSI's nurse practitioner program isn't too heavy yet. As a result, Mrs. RSI isn't as exhausted as she used to be on Friday and Saturday night and she has the energy to go out and rent her favorite movies.

Unfortunately, her favorite movies are primo chick flicks like Shirley Valentine.

Mrs. RSI not only got to watch Shirley Valentine, but she got some highly valued privacy because the two girls and I scattered to our rooms as soon as it came on. Even at the ages of 11 and 14, Miss Tween RSI and Miss Teen RSI instinctually recognize the soul-destroying qualites of films like Shirley Valentine, When Harry Met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle.

So they ran for their lives.

If Mrs. RSI's professors don't assign her some real work soon, our family is doomed! Doomed I tell you!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin Fills the Tub with Talking Points

Robert Packwood, a long-time Republican senator, once said that politicians need to regularly fill up and empty the "tub" of knowledge. Politicians need to "fill the tub" with facts, arguments, and talking points on topics like Iraq when they are the center of national debate. But they also need to be able to "empty the tub" on that topic and fill it with another topic like "energy" when the debate moves on.

In her interview with Charlie Gibson tonight, Sarah Palin showed that she's "filled up the tub" with McCain campaign talking points and was able to stick to those points. She didn't know much in the way of facts and didn't have much of an idea of the arguments on issues like relations with Russia, the situation in Georgia, the Iranian nuclear program, and Israel. But she didn't often let herself be thrown off the talking points she had been given by the McCain campaign either.

No doubt the McCain campaign was relieved.

Here's an example. Palin made a comment about Russia bordering on Alaska. So media patsy Charlie Gibson gently prodded her on why that mattered:

GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?
PALIN: They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.
GIBSON: What insight does that give you into what they're doing in Georgia?
PALIN: Well, I'm giving you that perspective of how small our world is and how important it is that we work with our allies to keep good relation with all of these countries, especially Russia. We will not repeat a Cold War. We must have good relationship with our allies, pressuring, also, helping us to remind Russia that it's in their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be getting along.

We cannot repeat the Cold War. We are thankful that, under Reagan, we won the Cold War, without a shot fired, also. We've learned lessons from that in our relationship with Russia, previously the Soviet Union.

We will not repeat a Cold War. We must have good relationship with our allies, pressuring, also, helping us to remind Russia that it's in their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be getting along.

Here, you can see where Palin's a skilled politician. Gibson asks her about what insight she has into Russia. Palin doesn't have any facts or arguments to answer that question, but she has the self-possession to ignore the question and recite her talking point about being able to "actually see Russia from land here in Alaska."

When the truth makes you look bad, maintaining a deceptive appearance is all you can do.

Gibson then "oh so gently" follows up with a question about the insight Palin has about Georgia from her close proximity to Russia. Not having any insight into Georgia either, Palin again seizes an opportunity to get in several talking points blather about "how small the world is" and how we're not going to have "another cold war" and "good relationships with allies."

There were a couple of points where Palin did trip up. She said something about the possibility of war with Russia and didn't have any idea what the "Bush doctrine" was.

These points will get some play in the liberal blogs, but Palin deployed her tub full of talking points in a way that achieved her overall goal of talking somewhat tough about foreign policy without seeming like a bullying wacko.

That's not bad considering that she really knows very little about the world and is unprepared to talk foreign policy on even the simplest level.

The Propping Up McCain Campaign

It looks like Sarah Palin is going to be spending a lot of time on the road with McCain. According to MSNBC, this will allow McCain's campaign staff to keep Palin on a short leash and shield her from the media.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will spend much of the next few weeks campaigning with Sen. John McCain, a move that not only capitalizes on the Republican enthusiasm for the vice presidential nominee but also limits her exposure to the news media . . .

McCain and Palin traveling together limits her exposure to reporters and gives McCain's top aides more control of her. Palin has not done interviews since the first and only one she gave to People magazine on the day McCain introduced her as his vice presidential choice.

There's a way I can see this. The McCain campaign keeps John McCain tightly controlled. Therefore, it's no surprise that they would want to keep a close watch over Palin as well.

But I still don't think that's the main reason why Palin's going to travel with McCain.

The media and the rest of America has to face the facts.

John McCain's just not that much of a presidential candidate. McCain is so gaffe-prone that his campaign staff has had to hide him from the media. Likewise, McCain is so volatile that he has to have buddies Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham with him as "minders" to keep him on an even keel.

And now, McCain is so far overshadowed by his "instant celebrity" vice-presidential candidate that he needs to have her with him to have any kind of enthusiasm on the stump.

If the Republican presidential campaign is all about propping up John McCain, Sarah Palin's celebrity status makes her the most important of McCain's campaign props. In other words, MCain needs Palin a lot more than Palin needs McCain.

There's also the fact that Republicans want Sarah Palin to be president far more than they want John McCain.

And that leads me to a final thought.

If John McCain wins the election, he'll be the first president in American history who was a lame duck even before he was elected.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Zen of Not Umming

Today, I was interviewd for half an hour on "Front Page," a radio program hosted by Chuck Mraz on MSPR in Morehead. Without going into the details, I was much less nervous and had fewer "umms" and "uh's" than I had in my one television program last summer.

My mother-in-law thought it was better as well.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Waiting for McCain to Die Party

It looks like the election is boiling down to a battle between the Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama and John McCain, the candidate of the "Waiting for John McCain to Die" Party.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Housing Socialism in America

Over the weekend, the federal government announced that it was taking over mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, meaning that “effectively, the federal government has now become the nation’s mortgage lender.”

In other words, mortgage lending has become a form of socialist enterprise in the United States.

Who's to blame?

Obviously, it's the conservatives have taken their eye off the advance of American socialism.

Obsessed with preventing "socialized medicine" in the form of the federal government mandates for private health insurance, conservatives didn't notice that socialism had advanced so far in the housing business.

Originally founded as government agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had become semi-public businesses that "guaranteed" up to 80% of private housing loans by buying those loans up and reselling them on the market. Thus, the federal government was providing the same kind of guarantee in housing that Hillary Clinton and other health reformers wanted to provide for health insurance.

Where were Harry and Louise of the famous anti-HillaryCare ads when this happened. From a conservative point of view of keeping government out of the economy as much as possible, "socialized housing" had arrived.

With the federal government's takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government's role in the housing market has advanced even further. Of course, there was no realistic choice. If private housing markets were going to function adequately, the federal government had to step in and directly guarantee private mortgage lending. Otherwise, a large percentage of houses wouldn't be built, builders would go unemployed, and building supply companies like Lowe's would not be able to remain in their current businesses.

That's why the sphere of "socialism" has been expanded in the housing market. The private markets need some sort of principle of "social management" in order to function adequate.

And that's why the sphere of "socialism" needs to expand in health care. American health care is enormously expensive and does a poor job of promoting health. The only way that things are going to improve is if the federal government finally takes a role in guaranteeing private health insurance and then begins to re-organize the relationship between government and private health markets in a way that better serves the common good.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Charlie Gibson: Winner of the McCain Media Patsy Prize

The McCain Campaign has just voted Charles Gibson of ABC News as the easiest touch in the mainstream media.

That's why they agreed to let Gibson be the first media figure to interview Sarah Palin.

Congratulations to Charlie Gibson.

The McCain Media Patsy Prize is certainly a prestigious prize and Gibson beat out a lot of tough competition to emerge as top patsy.

Postscript: Liberal bloggers Glenn Greenwald and Digby think that Palin will do just fine during the interview. I'm not so sure that's the case. Palin's certainly a smart politician, but media members can trip even the smartest politicians on small inconsequential points if they want to. The late and overly lamented Tim Russert's question to Hillary Clinton about driver's licenses for illegal aliens is a case in point.