Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Gwen Ifill

A Little Bit of Politics

leave a comment »

A little bit of politics.

* Yesterday’s Tina Fey/Sarah Palin skit was another instant classic. It’s no exaggeration to say that Tina Fey may have single-handedly saved America from a Sarah Palin presidency, and for that she deserves our deepest thanks.

<!–

* As for what Gwen Ifill thought of the debate she (poorly) moderated, on Meet the Press this morning she seemed a little miffed that Palin “blew [her] off.”

* For better or for worse Obama has decided that the Keating Five scandal is now fair game. I say “or for worse” only because it’s not clear to me that aggressive negative campaign is still necessary anymore; the Ayers smear to which it is a response is very old news, and there’s strong evidence that McCain has permanently damaged his own brand through his lying and smearing. There’s also good reason to think McCain is already beat, which makes me wonder whether it’s worth it at this point to climb back down to McCain’s level and potentially damage the Obama brand as a consequence.

* Open Left also has a post on realignment elections with some nice very nice historical maps.

* And Nicholas Kristof tackles privilege in the time.

One of the fallacies this election season is that if Barack Obama is paying an electoral price for his skin tone, it must be because of racists.

On the contrary, the evidence is that Senator Obama is facing what scholars have dubbed “racism without racists.”

Written by gerrycanavan

October 6, 2008 at 3:16 am

Debateday!

leave a comment »

It’s finally debateday.

* McCain has stepped up his criticism of Gwen Ifill after yesterday’s declaration that he has “confidence” in her fairness. Meanwhile an AP report suggests that she may indeed need to step aside:

The host of PBS'”Washington Week” and senior correspondent on “The NewsHour” said she did not tell the Commission on Presidential Debates about the book. The commission had no immediate comment when contacted by The Associated Press. A spokeswoman for John McCain’s campaign did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages.

There should have been an explicit conversation about this between Ifill and the Commission and another between Ifill, the Commission, and the campaigns; if that didn’t happen because Ifill didn’t disclose the book, that looks to me like a pretty serious breach of journalistic ethics.

Of course, it’s the day of the debate, probably too late to replace her, so at this point the alleged conflict reduces to little more than a bid to work the refs and a preemptive excuse for Palin’s failures. Like the McCain of yesterday, I have confidence she’ll be fair, but it’s really too bad that she handed the Republicans such a nice talking point.

* There’s lots of speculation that McCain’s last ace in the hole is Rev. Wright. Chuck Todd says it’s too little, too late, and I tend to agree.

* Kos had a good post last night about McCain’s strategic dilemma, the fact that any attempt to play offense in the battlegrounds could result in surprise (and devastating) losses in places like Indiana and North Carolina. North Carolina in particular is an interesting case—another poll (Rasmussen’s) put Obama up three here last week, and there’s good reason to think NC is a genuine battleground this year. But any time or money McCain sinks into keeping North Carolina is lost for Ohio and Florida, states he also needs to win. The map at right has Obama at 269, already a likely-if-ugly win for Obama. A loss in any of what’s left will cost McCain the election—he needs the whole slate of swing states just to tie, and right now he’s behind in most.

* More swing-state talk from Chuck Todd.

* The headline reads: “Obama Makes McCain Very Uncomfortable.”

Let the record reflect that Barack Obama made the approach to John McCain tonight.

As the two shared the Senate floor tonight for the first time since they won their party nominations, Obama stood chatting with Democrats on his side of the aisle, and McCain stood on the Republican side of the aisle.

So Obama crossed over into enemy territory.

He walked over to where McCain was chatting with Republican Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida and Independent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut. And he stretched out his arm and offered his hand to McCain.

McCain shook it, but with a “go away” look that no one could miss. He tried his best not to even look at Obama.

Finally, with a tight smile, McCain managed a greeting: “Good to see you.”

Obama got the message. He shook hands with Martinez and Lieberman — both of whom greeted him more warmly — and quickly beat a retreat back to the Democratic side.

Ambinder explains why these sorts of stories (here’s another from the Washington Post) make Republican strategists very nervous.

* And Jack Cafferty wants to know how anyone, including McCain, can take Sarah Palin seriously. Steve Benen has a good post up at Washington Monthly about the now-infamous Supreme Court question last night, about how (among other things) it eviscerates the justification for the pro-life position through its concession of a right to privacy. She may muddle through tonight’s debate, she may not, but if she survives as a credible national figure after this cycle she certainly doesn’t deserve to.

Couric and Ifill

leave a comment »

The much-hyped Supreme Court section of the Katie Couric interview aired a few hours ago, and it’s just as cringe-inducing as anticipated.

COURIC (to Palin): Why, in your view, is Roe v Wade a bad decision?

PALIN: I think it should be a states issue not a federal government — mandated — mandating yes or no on such an important issue. I’m in that sense a federalist, where I believe that states should have more say in the laws of their lands and individual areas. Now foundationally, also, though, it’s no secret that I’m pro life that I believe in a culture of life is very important for this country. Personally that’s what I would like to see further embraced by America.

COURIC (to Palin): Do you think there’s an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution?

PALIN: I do. Yeah, I do.

COURIC: the cornerstone of Roe v Wade

PALIN: I do. And I believe that –individual states can handle what the people within the different constituencies in the 50 states would like to see their will ushered in in an issue like that.

COURIC: What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?

PALIN: Well, let’s see. There’s –of course –in the great history of America rulings there have been rulings, that’s never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are–those issues, again, like Roe v Wade where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know–going through the history of America, there would be others but–

COURIC: Can you think of any?

PALIN: Well, I could think of–of any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But you know, as mayor, and then as governor and even as a Vice President, if I’m so privileged to serve, wouldn’t be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today.

Transcendentally bad. But Matt makes the point that Palin’s Couric problem has come from the fact that Couric asks follow-up questions—indeed, that she is gently insistent on getting a substantive answer to every follow-up—and that Ifill will have far less opportunity to do the same tomorrow, especially given the last-minute criticism of Ifill’s long-announced book:

Meanwhile, if you watch Palin’s interviews you’ll see that she’s perfectly capable of parrying an initial question with some nonsense and then shifting to her pre-prepared talking points. What was so devastating about the Katie Couric interview is that Couric would gently — very gently — prod Palin with follow-ups that revealed she doesn’t know anything about anything. But with this cloud of suspicion hanging over her, Ifill will probably treat Palin with kid gloves and she’ll be able to turn in the sort of competent performances she offered on the Hugh Hewitt and Sean Hannity shows.

For this reason I want to remind everyone that a Palin meltdown is by no means guaranteed tomorrow—it depends on her ability to spontaneously improvise non-answers to tough questions and Ifill and Biden’s willingness to let those non-answers stand. Biden in particular is in a tough spot—he can’t allow himself to look like a bully, which means he’ll either have to point out that she’s speaking nonsense very carefully, with kid gloves, or else hope the comparison speaks for itself.

So Palin may muddle through with nonsense, or she may completely implode. We won’t know till it happens.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 2, 2008 at 12:32 am

Morning Politics

leave a comment »

Morning politics.

* Landslide ascendant? New polls from Quinnipiac show Obama breaking away in Florida (51-43), Ohio (50-42) and Pennsylvania (54-39). Lots of reasons for this; in addition to the economic crisis that Ben Smith highlights, there’s also McCain’s increasingly erratic behavior and the snowballing unpopularity of Sarah Palin. Nate Silver of 538.com was on Countdown last night trumpeting a predicted 330-207 Electoral College blowout—an opinion Dick Morris of all people would call conservative—and OpenLeft has a great chart from the Princeton Election Meta-Analysis showing the distribution of all possible outcomes.

* Which means it’s time for McCain to get nasty. Again.

* Speaking of Palin, I’m reserving judgment on the debate until I actually see it. It’s very hard to say how the expectations game is going to work; traditionally, the candidate perceived as unimpressive benefits from asymmetric expectations and thereby “wins,” and in that sense Palin can’t lose. But I’m not sure there’s ever been a candidate as manifestly unprepared as Sarah Palin—and basically any mistake she makes, even relatively trivial ones, will serve to ratify the Tina-Fey caricature that has achieved critical cultural mass. In that sense she can’t win. So I have no idea what’s going to happen. Her recent interviews with Katie Couric have been no better than the early ones—she famously reads all newspapers but won’t admit or has no idea what pro-life actually means and it’s now been confirmed she couldn’t discuss any court decision beyond Roe v. Wade—and the Republicans are working overtime both to prep her and to pre-spin the debate. They’re now strongly attacking Gwen Ifill all over. If they’re going to cry about it, fine, let’s replace Ifill—is Katie Couric available?

* Explosive breaking news from Troopergate probably won’t help Palin’s popularity.

* What is it about being mayor of New York City that causes people to lust after emergency powers? Now Bloomberg wants an emergency third term.

* And Google endorses marriage equality.