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    Great Spangled Fritillary

    McCain (you’ll have heard this?) wants to postpone the debate to do an ostentatiously public-spirited confab in Washington about the bailout plan:

    Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain announced Wednesday that he is suspending his campaign to return to Washington and focus on the “historic” crisis facing the U.S. economy.
    McCain said it was time for both parties to come together to solve economic crisis.

    Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama said at a news conference later Wednesday that he and McCain had spoken by phone and had agreed to issue a joint statement about shared principles in the approach to resolving the economic crisis.

    But he disagreed with McCain’s call for postponing Friday’s first presidential debate in Oxford, Mississippi.

    “It’s my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person will be the next president,” Obama said in Clearwater, Florida. “It is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once. It’s more important than ever to present ourselves to the American people.”

    That’s a pretty fair observation; I’m not sure I buy the subsequent line about not wanting to “infuse Capitol Hill with presidential politics,” though, given the way members of both parties opportunistically point fingers at executive and legislative officials alike when trying to convince voters that the other side sucks.

    I’ve heard lefty friends suggest that McCain is doing this as a gimmick to worm his way out of the debate. My own instinct says that McCain is (1) indeed doing this as a gimmick but (2) not to buy time to prep more for the debate (or whatever it is his detractors think he needs time to do). McCain has long made a show of his ability to work with people across party lines. Note that I do not see the results as an alloyed good.


    The belief that the McCain campaign is going to try to leverage American racism to win against Obama is being further developed, and Eric looks at some of its components:

    The way things are going with these endless charges of “racism,” I think it’s more likely to be a referendum on the intractability of the imputation of racism. Which of course the imputers would claim proves their point. That’s because when an issue — dishonest or not — is injected into a campaign as relentlessly as “racism” is being injected into this campaign, it’s there, and it won’t go away easily. The old “try not to think about elephants” routine. American voters are being inundated — on a daily basis now — with the following, deeply ugly, message: if you’re white and you don’t vote for Obama it’s because you’re a racist.

    The only people who have any hope of a defense are Republican stalwarts. They can say “I just voted the Party line as I always do.” Not so for Democrats and independents. If they vote for McCain, they will have to live with the unsettling knowledge that post-election inquisitors will always be able to ask them who they voted for in 2008, and if they answer McCain, it will be seen as suspect. And even if they say, “It’s my business who I voted for!” leftie McCarthyites will take that as a tacit admission that they voted for McCain. And either way, they’re obviously racists, right?


    I got a message from a reader the other day that reminded me of something Ross Douthat had written, which I’d been meaning to cite (emphasis mine):

    And even if you agree [with the prior point that Mike Huckabee was able to take on a suitably presidential mien despite being an outsider who hadn’t lusted after the job since kindergarten, while Palin has not], you may say that the comparison is unfair – first, because Huckabee was unusually glib and charming, as politicians go, and second because he had a long primary season, much of it spent in relative obscurity, to achieve this effect, whereas Palin has only two months, all of them spent in the full-on glare of an obsessed and hostile press corps. Which is true enough! But Palin is where she is, and eight weeks is all she gets: The fact that she has a tougher challenge than Huckabee doesn’t absolve her from the obligation to rise to meet it, and thus far she has not. I’m more inclined to reserve judgment on her present (and future) prospects than the disillusioned Noah Millman, whose reasons for being initially enthusiastic about her almost precisely match my own, and more likely to place the responsibility for the way she has been used to date with the uninspired, trench-warfare-plus-nothing McCain campaign. But the fact remains that she has given one fine speech, and two lackluster interviews, and has otherwise dodged the sort of rough-and-tumble venues and conversations that Huckabee welcomed, and which he used to make his candidacy for president seem more plausible than it initially appeared. Palin needs to at least approach the standard Huckabee set; she hasn’t yet; and that failure is showing up in her approval ratings. There’s still time for her to turn it around, and as you might expect, I’m pulling for her to do it. But at this point, there’s an awful lot riding on that one vice-presidential debate.

    Palin has said that she didn’t hesitate when McCain tapped her as his running mate, because she knew she could be ready. Right, then–show us some ready. I don’t entirely blame her and the campaign brain trust for limiting her interaction with the media, which any moron can see are out to find dirt on her in a way that they are not with Obama and Biden. But like it or not, it’s 2008, and the ability to work the media without getting worked over is an indispensable political skill, certainly at the level of the vice-presidency.

    One of those links above goes to this piece by Noah Millman, in which he says:

    Based on her performance on the campaign trail so far, she’s a shallow and demagogic politician. And if, on the off chance, that’s not who she is, then it’s instructive that the McCain campaign seems to be eager to have her play this particular character.

    Palin still strikes me as the least demagogic of the four candidates this year, and depending on how we’re definining shallowness, I don’t think she looks so bad comparatively, either. On the other hand, “not as shallow and demagogic as most of Washington” is not exactly what one would call high praise.

    One Response to “Great Spangled Fritillary”

    1. Zak says:

      I think Palin appeals to the ignorant because they can sense that she is exactly as ignorant as they. I can’t figure out why you aren’t appalled about her candidacy, though, because you clearly don’t fit into this group. I mean, she might be a nice person, but she is so clearly out of her depth that you can’t help but feel sorry for her. I just want McCain/Palin to lose so she can get out of the spotlight, where she clearly does NOT belong.

      I mean, did you catch these interviews:



      Dont’ they fill you with a sense of pity for her personally and horror for the country that she could be President January 21?

      I mean, you don’t have to be a big Obama fan to grant these issues….

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