Politics postsWednesday September 10, 2008
The New McCain Ad
Did you read this?
Did you see the new McCain ad?
It's called “Education” and it slams Barack Obama for not doing enough about education; then it delivers the whopper. In the real world, in Illinois, Barack Obama supported legislation to educate kids about pedophiles. The McCain ad calls this “sex education for kindergartners.”
From Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton:
“It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls — a position that his friend Mitt Romney also holds. Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn't define what honor was. Now we know why.”
Begala and Willis to Media: Just State the Facts, Jack
Paul Begala on the media's he said/she said problem. When it comes to facts, demonstrable facts — i.e., Gov. Palin supported the bridge to nowhere, she was up to her ears in earmarks as mayor — it's part of the media's job to state these facts. It's not a matter of partisan debate.
Or, if you want, we can go back to the John McCain-has-no-genitalia discussion. That was a fun one.
Obama to Palin: “Don't Mock the Constitution”
I’m the editor of several Super Lawyers publications around the country, including those in Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin, Illinois, Washington, D.C., and New York — and in the New York issue, which comes out later this month, we’ve written profiles of three of the big civil liberties lawyers in the city: Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Arthur Eisenberg of the NYCLU and Manuel Vargas of the Immigrant Defense Project. The piece, written by Jessica Centers, mostly focuses on their work post-9/11. The various attacks on civil liberties that they’ve fought. The attacks that they keep fighting. So I’ve been immersed in this stuff, at an editorial remove, for a few months now.
Which is why Sarah Palin’s line in her acceptance speech about how Barack wants to “read terrorists their rights” really pissed me off.
At first I didn’t get it. What was she talking about? Then it hit me. Oh my god, she’s talking about the Guantanamo Bay detainees. She’s talking about how the Bush administration, and apparently Gov. Palin herself, or at least her (former Bush) speechwriters, feel it’s OK, and in fact demand, that the U.S. military have the right to grab any foreign national, in any place, put them in military prison, and deny them the right to meet their accusers: To know why they’ve been grabbed. To know why their life has been reduced to a life inside a small box.
In a perfect world this wouldn’t matter, because everything would be perfect: The suspects would be the right suspects, the military would make no mistakes, everything would be fine, And America would be safer.
But it’s not a perfect world, and this entire fiasco is making America less safe.
Today Sen. Obama struck back, as eloquently as ever. First he said that to read terrorists their rights, you have to catch them first, and the Republicans haven’t been very good at that.
Then he launched into a defense of habeas corpus, which has been around at least since the Magna Carta, if not earlier. From the Washington Post:
Calling it “the foundation of Anglo-American law,” he said the principle “says very simply: If the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask, 'Why was I grabbed?' And say, 'Maybe you've got the wrong person.'”
The safeguard is essential, Obama continued, “because we don't always have the right person.”
“We don't always catch the right person,” he said. “We may think it's Mohammed the terrorist, but it might be Mohammed the cab driver. You might think it's Barack the bomb-thrower, but it might be Barack the guy running for president.”
”The reason that you have this principle is not to be soft on terrorism. It's because that's who we are. That's what we're protecting,“ Obama said, his voice growing louder and the crowd rising to its feet to cheer. ”Don't mock the Constitution. Don't make fun of it. Don't suggest that it's not American to abide by what the founding fathers set up. It's worked pretty well for over 200 years."
God, I love this man.
McCain: Reckless, Nutty, Irresponsible
Check out Andrew Sullivan's piece for the Times online. Highlights:
There is one reason the job of vice-president exists. In a system with a single executive, you need someone to fill in if the president is incapacitated or dies. ...The pick is also the first presidential-level decision a candidate has to make. You learn a lot about the candidate...
In Joe Biden, Obama revealed his core temperamental conservatism. It was a safe choice of someone deeply versed in foreign policy, and with roots that connected to the working class white ethnics he needed. It wasn't flashy; and was even a little underwhelming; but it was highly professional.
What we have learned about John McCain from his selection of Sarah Palin is that he is as impulsive and reckless a decision-maker as George W. Bush. We know this not because of what we have learned about this Pentecostalist populist since she exploded on the scene last Friday morning (and God knows we have learned more than we ever wanted). We know it because of how McCain made the decision. He wanted his best friend, Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic vice-presidential candidate for Al Gore. That pick would have been remarkable for its bipartisan nature, would have impressed independents, and signaled a centrist presidency centered on foreign policy. It would have been bold while not being rash.
But McCain is in charge of a party that is now, at its core, religiously motivated. Joe Lieberman, for all his political talents, is Jewish, pro-choice on abortion, gay-inclusive, and domestically liberal. McCain faced an insurrection in his party base if he picked him. Without the evangelical base, he wasn't going to win.
So last week, McCain picked someone he had only met once before. I repeat: he picked someone he had only met once before. His vetting chief sat Palin down for a face-to-face interview the Wednesday before last. It's very hard to overstate how nutty and irresponsible this is. Would any corporate chieftain pick a number two on those grounds and not be dismissed by his board for recklessness?
The Easily Intimidated Sarah Palin
Then there’s this in-depth piece from Ken Armstrong and Hal Bernton at The Seattle Times on then-Mayor Palin’s record in her first year in office in Wasilla in the mid-1990s. It’s pretty scary. She’s intolerant. She gets involved in things she shouldn’t get involved in — such as banning books from the public library. She seems like the worst micro-managing boss you ever had.
But the brunt of the article is her clash with Wasilla’s Chief of Police, Irl Stambaugh, who created Wasilla’s police department a few years earlier. Stambaugh was in favor of two things that got him into trouble with Palin:
- He backed an ordinance requiring Wasilla to close their bars at 2:30 a.m. (weekdays) and 3 a.m. (weekends), instead of the usual 5 a.m., because folks in nearby Anchorage, where the bars closed at the earlier hours, often drove to Wasilla to keep their buzz on, and drinking and driving, as we know, don’t mix. The Wasilla City Council rejected the ordinance by a 3-2 vote. Palin, then with the Council, voted with the majority.
- Stambaugh opposed an NRA-backed state legislative proposal that would allow concealed weapons in banks and bars. He called the proposal (which was vetoed by then-Gov. Tony Knowles) ridiculous. “Bars, guns and booze don’t mix,” he said.
So he was in trouble with Palin from the beginning. “She went on to state that the NRA didn’t like me and that they wanted change,” Stambaugh says.
So did Palin fire Stambaugh at the bidding of the NRA? Probably not. The article implies that she fired him for a more troubling reason: He intimidated her. He’s 6’2”, 240. He always tried to sit, and use a soothing voice, when talking with her, but when he finally got canned, this was part of her official rationale:
“When I met with you in private, instead of engaging in interactive conversation with me, you gave me short, uncommunicative answers and then you would sit there and stare at me in silence with a very stern look, like you were trying to intimidate me.”
I hope voters realize that if she feels intimidated by Putin, or Ahmadinejad, or new Pakistani President Zardari, all of whom won't try to use a soothing voice around her, firing them won’t be an option.