Daily Archives: October 2, 2008

VP Debate Afterblogging: Talkin’ heads UPDATE: “Biden’s 14 Lies”

Wow, apparently I was a lot tougher on Sarah Palin than the punditocracy or man-on-the-street interviewees are willing to be.  Talking heads on more than one network are saying that Palin reminded everyone why they were so electrified by her in Dayton and St. Paul.  Her charisma has won (or re-won) a lot of people over.

Fox News’s self-described “resident Palin skeptic” Charles Krauthammer conceded that she did “extremely well,” and not least because she didn’t try to pretend to know things she clearly didn’t.  By the way, it appears I’m not the only one who’s been banging his head against the wall wondering why neither McCain nor Palin will pick up the gauntlet thrown down by Democrats and go to town on their failure with respect to financial regulation.

I’ve surfed FNC, CNN, and MSNBC.  That last is the only one not agape at Palin’s success, and that’s because Olbermann is on (wasn’t he yanked from the campaign beat?).  Even Josh Marshall at the hard-liberal Talking Points Memo says:

“One clear fact about this debate is that Palin didn’t have one of those stammering moments that we’ve seen especially in the Couric interview.”

(For those who don’t regularly read TPM and aren’t familiar with Josh’s general attitude toward all things McCain, Palin, or generally not liberal, that’s soaring praise indeed.)

I’m still giving the debate to Palin on a lukewarm basis, but it appears I’m in the minority, at least on the latter score.

UPDATE: From Ace of Spades, Biden’s 14 Lies from the debate.  Ace says it’s from the McCain campaign, so take it as you will.

VP Debate Afterblogging: Focus grouping

Frank Luntz is coming to Fox News live from his focus group headquarters.  Of his group of undecided voters (split evenly between Bush and Kerry voters), nearly everyone thinks Palin came out on top.  They liked her accessibility, her plain speaking, her energy, her surprising ability to hold her own against Biden, and how she “speaks for the people” and personifies “Main Street America.”

Palin’s point (even though it was an aside) about personal responsibility during the “who’s to blame for the economic mess” appears to have gone over very well.  A few people (five or so) say they moved closer to McCain-Palin after tonight in their voting preference.  Luntz concludes that this debate will definitely lead to a noticeable shift in the race.

How often can you say that about a vice-presidential debate?

Instapundit agrees; Allahpundit has more.

Vice-Presidential Debate Liveblog!

Debate’s over.  Lots of punches thrown.  Each candidate appears to have followed his/her debate prep points; Biden didn’t lose his cool, Palin didn’t trip herself up or freeze.

Since Palin is the newcomer entering the debate with a trail of flubs behind her from the last week or so, I think her performance helped her more than his helped him, because this debate was far more about her than about anyone else.  Tonight will probably keep McCain from slipping further in the polls and preserve his chance of making a comeback, but it wasn’t really the tour de force that will rally the ticket back into the fight.

Basically, Biden was good enough, and Palin was better than most people expected (partially due to the expectations game, which I think the Republican advance team won hands down).  This probably became a dead-heat race again tonight, and will officially become one in a few days to a week.

Full text of the debate liveblog below the break.  CBS video here.  More liveblogs and commentary here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here. Additional roundup at Instapundit.  Check the WitSnapper liveblog from the first presidential debate here.

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2K-Blog!

Aaaaaaand WitSnapper has passed 2,000 unique views, in a fraction of the time it took to hit 1,000!  From the hit count breakdown on the stats page, evidently the Crap Sandwich saga of the past week was good for business, though I think the Ifill book business pushed me over the top.

Thanks to all who visited, linked, and trackbacked.  Next milestone post will be on the occasion of the 5K-Blog.

Yin and yang

I’ve been hearing scuttlebutt about what the campaigns have been stressing to their respective vice-presidential candidates in prepping them for the debate tonight.  My funnybone was struck by the mirror-image contrast between the two.

One of the biggest knocks against the McCain campaign (and I agree with this, incidentally) is that they’ve kept too tight a lid on Sarah Palin out on the trail.  She doesn’t come across well when her answers are canned and over-rehearsed; this problem was especially apparent during her disastrous encounter with Katie Couric.  Word is that this ends tonight, and that she’s much more comfortable in a debate environment where she has more time and latitude to speak from the heart (assuming Gwen Ifill follows Jim Lehrer’s example in asking questions that elicit information without being leading and simply gets out of the way when the answers start flowing).  Politico (via Allahpundit) says she’s likely to cut loose tonight and go on the attack.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, is under strict instructions from his debate prepping team not to take any bait tossed his way by Palin, to stick resolutely to talking points (“the Obama message”), not to talk about himself too much, and to avoid even the appearance of condescension.  One insider has said that Biden’s best strategy is to finish the debate in such a way that nobody will remember he was even there.

In other words, the respective candidates’ strategies are:

  • On the Republican side, “let Sarah be Sarah.”
  • On the Democratic side, do not under any circumstances “let Joe be Joe.”

I said it before, and I’ll say it again…I wish there were another one of these before the election.

Well, THAT wasn’t supposed to happen, was it?

After the much-ballyhooed thumbs-up given to Crap Sandwich 2.0 by the Senate last night, Wall Street appears not so enthused.

The Dow Jones average greeted Harry Reid’s “middle class tax relief” spin with a drop of 348 points today, along with a NASDAQ loss of 92 points.  Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington State has sent a shock wave through the House by announcing his intention to attach an enormous and hideously expensive economic stimulus bill to the new bailout bill, angering House Republicans (and not just a few Blue Dog Democrats) who already think the bailout is too pricey and intrusive.  (Heaven forfend the Senate should be the only body permitted to inflate the spending in this bill to cosmic proportions.)

Are the Republicans being set up again?  House Democrats appear bent on throwing bill after unsupportable bill at them, daring them to vote them down.  My suggestion?  Call their bluff every time.  I’d much rather Congress fail to act and come under further pressure, than have them pass a bad law that will relieve pressure on them for a good one.

Could Ted Stevens skate?

Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) may just have caught a break from overzealous prosecutors in his trial on corruption-related charges, according to the Los Angeles Times. (Link via Don Surber.)

According to the story, lawyers for the prosecution neglected to disclose testimony possibly helpful to the defense in a timely manner:

The government previously turned over a redacted version of the FBI interview with [Alaska oilman and star witness Bill J.] Allen to defense lawyers but conceded today they had erred and that portions of the summary should not have been excised. They turned over the new evidence after discovering the oversight Wednesday night.

Defense lawyer Brendan V. Sullivan said the omitted material included statements in which Allen contradicts himself on the question of whether he believed Stevens would have paid for the home improvements if he had been billed.

The prosecution is…ahem…meeting with difficulty in convincing the “visibly angry” judge, let alone defense counsel, that this was an accident.  Presiding judge Emmet Sullivan is hinting that he is considering a mistrial:

“I am going to bring the jury in and let them know we are not going to proceed today,” he added later in the morning. “Maybe they will come back for further service . . . and maybe they won’t.”

Buzz says the judge is demanding a good reason from prosecutors not to throw the case out.  If the People blow this case, they have no more business working for the government than Stevens has.

Election’s over: Obama winning animated vote!

Leaked scenes from an episode of The Simpsons set to premiere the Sunday before Election Day (Full Disclosure: this blogger is a Simpsons addict who loves Homer most of all) give a sign of the significant inroads the Obama campaign is making this year among the coveted Animated-American demographic.

Gamely citing his affinity for “anything that’ll take money away from our parks and libraries,” Homer Simpson steps into the doublewide voting booth and casts a smiling vote for Barack Obama.  He is especially pleased that he’s using one of those newfangled “electronic voting dealies,” though he is less pleased with the results when he tries to cast his vote.  View the video at the link above, or at this one, or embedded below at YouTube (assuming it’s not yanked by a C&D order from Fox):

I gotta admit, I kind of like the jab at Ohio toward the end.  Especially given the current Ohio Secretary of State’s recent efforts to use technicalities to disqualify Republican absentee voters and to stonewall polling observers by barring them from sites where prospective registrants may register and cast an early ballot at the same time (i.e. without background-checking the registration).  Of course, ACORN is doing its shady usual in Ohio as well.

But they said Fannie and Freddie were fine…!

The Wall Street Journal (via Instapundit) has a long roundup of Democrats in the House and Senate who were howling at the very implication that anything might be wrong with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, back in 2003-2006 when the Republicans were beating their heads against the wall trying to reform oversight of both.  I posted video on this earlier.

As I’ve said on this blog before, McCain had better start running against Congress but quick; he’s the only one who can pull it off, and Congress has no fans left.  After being stabbed in the back by Nancy Pelosi last weekend, you’d think he’d be eager.

Captain Ed has a pop quiz.

(On a lighter note, Jim Treacher has an exclusive advance look at Ifill’s debate questions.)

More Ifill fallout: Race and peer review

Tonight’s vice presidential debate moderator Gwen Ifill says she never mentioned her pro-Obama book, slated for post-election release, to the Commission on Presidential Debates.  (Via Captain Ed.)  Would it really have been that hard for the CPD to Google Ifill’s name once or twice?

Meanwhile, Ifill is getting testy about the book, now playing the race card:

Ifill questions why people assume that her book will be favorable toward Obama.

“Do you think they made the same assumptions about Lou Cannon (who is white) when he wrote his book about Reagan?” said Ifill, who is black. Asked if there were racial motives at play, she said, “I don’t know what it is. I find it curious.”

She can ask the Columbia Journalism Review (thanx again, Captain Ed), which echoes the point I made yesterday; i.e. Ifill may well turn out to be a model moderator, but a moderator with a book in the works whose sales depend largely on who wins the election just doesn’t look good.

Conflict of interest is often about appearances. There appears, to us, to be a conflict in Ifill moderating tomorrow night’s vice presidential debate. Here’s why:

Ifill’s upcoming book is called “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.” It, apparently, “surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama’s stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African American politicians [like Newark Mayor Corey Booker and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick] forging a bold new path to political power.”

The book apparently will be published on January 20th, 2009, Inauguration Day.

It stands to reason that a book with such a title would sell better if a certain person is inaugurated on that day.

The damage is already done; it would embarrass too many people to get a new moderator at this point.  My solution is a thought I never thought I’d have in my life:  a second Palin-Biden debate.

Senate passes their own “crap sandwich”

The Senate has taken the lead this time around in crafting a new bailout bill, the first of which was affectionately referred to by House Majority Leader John Boehner as a “crap sandwich” (and he was a supporter).  The final roll call was 74 in favor, 25 against.  Voting in favor were 39 Democrats, 34 Republicans, and 1 independent, including Sens. McCain, Obama, and Biden.

News reports are describing this new Senate bill as essentially the old House bill with “sweeteners” (Senate language for “lots of earmarks and pork”).  Among the new yumminess (via The Corner) that turns this bill into what Miz Michelle calls “the crap sandwich with sugar on top:”

New Tax earmarks in Bailout bill
– Film and Television Productions (Sec. 502)
– Wooden Arrows designed for use by children (Sec. 503)
– 6 page package of earmarks for litigants in the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident, Alaska (Sec. 504)

Tax earmark “extenders” in the bailout bill.
– Virgin Island and Puerto Rican Rum (Section 308)
– American Samoa (Sec. 309)
– Mine Rescue Teams (Sec. 310)
– Mine Safety Equipment (Sec. 311)
– Domestic Production Activities in Puerto Rico (Sec. 312)
– Indian Tribes (Sec. 314, 315)
– Railroads (Sec. 316)
– Auto Racing Tracks (317)
– District of Columbia  (Sec. 322)
– Wool Research (Sec. 325)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, on the other hand, is touting the bill as “tax relief for the middle class,” rather than the less-marketable “subsidies for the wooden-arrow industry.”

So now it’s back to the House.  Frankly, I am dying to see which House members change their votes from “no” to “yes” on this, and even more so to hear how they’ll justify it.  Also a little curious as to whether some House members who held their noses for the first one will decide they’ve had it and refuse to vote for the same bill with pork/sugar added.  Jake Tapper has more on the bill’s House prospects.