Archive for the ‘2008 Elections’ Category

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.”
Julius Caesar; Act 3, Scene 1

From today’s New York Times (emphasis mine):

Through the halls of Congress and well beyond, a whisper campaign is bursting into the open: Rather than burden him with the usual constraints on a ticket’s No. 2 not to upstage or get ahead of the presidential nominee, let Ryan be Ryan and take a detailed, policy-heavy fight to President Obama and the Democrats.

Also see this writeup in the Washington Post; September 21, 2012 (again, emphasis mine):

“I was enthused when Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan because I thought that was a signal that this guy was getting serious, he was getting bold,” Walker said. “I just haven’t seen that kind of passion I know that Paul has transferred over to our nominee.” The governor suggested that “pushback from some of the folks in the national campaign” was restraining the Wisconsin congressman from making detailed policy arguments.

That rang a few bells… Sure enough, after doing some digging on Google, I found these (all emphasis in the block quotes mine):

CNN; September 29, 2008:

The New York Times conservative columnist Bill Kristol argued in his column on Monday that McCain must “liberate his running mate from the former Bush aides brought in to handle her — aides who seem to have succeeded in importing to the Palin campaign the trademark defensive crouch of the Bush White House.
“McCain picked Sarah Palin in part because she’s a talented politician and communicator. He needs to free her to use her political talents and to communicate in her own voice,” Kristol wrote.

Washington Times; September 30, 2008:

At critical moments before and during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, his admirers would urge that he be allowed to be himself – rather than the far less authentic and appealing facsimile served up by his handlers.

“Let Reagan be Reagan,” they would urge, confident the man would fare well if left to his own talents and judgment. Time and time again that proved to be the case as his common-man qualities, native intelligence and utter decency allowed him to connect with and secure the support of the American people.

This lesson is worth recalling now, on the eve of a possibly make-or-break vice presidential debate between Republican Sarah Palin and her Democratic rival, Sen. Joseph Biden. The outcome – and the fate of the Republican ticket – may turn on whether her handlers “Let Palin be Palin.”

Wall Street Journal; September 29, 2008:

“It’s time to let Palin be Palin — and let it all hang out,” said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist.

The Weekly Standard; September 8, 2008:

Let Palin Be Palin
Why the left is scared to death of McCain’s running mate.

Mitt Romney on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”; September 29, 2008:

“Holding Sarah Palin to just three interviews and microscopically focusing on each interview I think has been a mistake. I think they’d be a lot wiser to let Sarah Palin be Sarah Palin. Let her talk to the media, let her talk to people.”

To be fair, I did a similar search for news articles, columns, and pundits who were saying “Let Edwards be Edwards” during the 2004 campaign, and didn’t find any.

I’m not comparing Paul Ryan to Sarah Palin on a direct one-on-one basis. Rather, I’m pointing out that the underlying dynamics in both campaigns – a running mate who is more popular with the base than the nominee of a campaign that is not going well – are uncanny. If this continues, it will not be a good sign for the Romney campaign during the final six weeks before Election Day.

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The file has been circulating online recently, but Buzzfeed has posted the McCain 2008 campaign’s entire 200-page opposition research file on Mitt Romney. Enjoy the light bedside reading.

obamabirthcertificate

A month after taking over leadership of the country, questions are still swirling among conservatives about Barack Obama’s citizenship. The latest to try to revive the issue, which was thoroughly investigated and debunked, is Alan Keyes – the man Obama defeated in 2004 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

This isn’t the first time Keyes has raised the issue of his former rival’s birthplace. After the 2008 elections, he filed a lawsuit against Obama, Joe Biden, the California Secretary of State, and the state’s 55 electors.

Keyes has not been a mainstream conservative for some time. He wasn’t even getting 1 percent in Republican primary polls in 2008, and defected to the Constitution Party, and promptly lost their nominating contest as well.

Most Republicans don’t believe this conspiracy theory. But it won’t stop an extreme minority from continuing to raise the subject and keep it alive. I have a feeling it will come up again when Obama runs for re-election in 2012, in a similar way that George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard did in 2004.

Update: Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama caused a bit of a stir over the weekend in discussing the issue. The quote, attributed to him and if accurately reported by a local Alabama newspaper, leaves the citizenship issue unanswered.

Another local resident asked [Alabama Senator Richard] Shelby if there was any truth to a rumor that appeared during the presidential campaign concerning Obama’s U.S. citizenship, or lack thereof.

“Well his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate,” Shelby said. “You have to be born in America to be president.”

Shelby’s spokesman is saying the senator was misquoted. The paper’s editor and his reporter say they stand by their reporting and that the senator was quoted accurately.

Politico’s Ben Smith warns there may be video of this.

This is a bit late, but I just found the Washington Post Investigative Unit’s list of the Top Ten Scandals of 2008, and it’s a doozy.

They are all good and memorable scandals which will be talked about for years, although I would beg to differ. Take Hillary Clinton’s Bosnia sniper fire story off the list and replace it with Sarah Palin’s $180,000 wardrobe funded by the Republican National Committee. One was a case of Walter Mitty-style fabulism which provided for a moment of humor once the reality of the story was verified and little else. The other raised profound questions about judgment and management of campaign funds, and by extension the potential decisions John McCain and Sarah Palin would have made in the White House if they had been elected.

With a new administration, an expanded Democratic majority in Congress, and a full blown financial crisis, expect 2009 to be another bombshell and scandal-rich year for the press to investigate.

turkeys
Just in time for Thanksgiving, CNN’s Bill Schneider has put out his annual list of the biggest political turkeys. I would add to this list Sarah Palin’s interview with Katie Couric, Hillary Clinton not competing in caucus states during the primary, and Bill Clinton’s criticisms of Barack Obama before and after the South Carolina primary.

obama-st-louis

I am a bit of a photography geek and recently came across two excellent photo essays recapping Barack Obama’s improbable quest to win the presidency: this one from the Boston Globe, and this one from TIME Magazine photographer Callie Shell.

This could very well be the greatest stunt ever pulled on the media in modern times.

It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

I don’t know what’s sadder, that Sarah Palin set the bar so low with her gaffes that people believed this to be true, or that the media ran with it without checking his bona fides. Remember the famous line from Ronald Reagan: “Trust but verify.”