Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Burn her!

I have been granted some candid footage of the netroots responding to the Palin nomination over the weekend.



Lest you think this is an exaggeration, Alan Wolfe, apparently via Andrew Sullivan, hinted at something rather like this. Sullivan, meanwhile, took seriously a ridiculous story - based, in part, on misdated photos, that Palin's son Trig was actually her grandson.

In an odd bit of quantum thinking (Palin was at once pregnant and not pregnant), some of the same folks who bought into this story also criticized her for not going right to the hospital upon leaking amniotic fluid. You got to hand it to a woman who, when she wants to fake a pregnancy, manages to remember details like amniotic fluid. I wonder where she got it?

But no less a luminary than Alan Colmes, actually decided to go after Palin for doing what her doctor told her she could do. Some read his post as suggesting that Palin caused her child to be born with a disability. He has disavowed that and I assume that he knew Downs is genetic. But I thought he believes that a woman's "health care" is between her and her doctor.

It turns out, though, that Palin's daughter Bristol is pregnant and this must be because she favors abstinence education. Because, you know, teenage girls get pregnant because they don't know where babies come from and have never heard of condoms.

Locally, Jay Bullock says Palin wasn't vetted. It turns out that's wrong. People claim that she insists on teaching creationism. That's not quite right. Others claim that she doesn't believe in climate change. But also not entirely accurate.

She didn't oppose the Bridge to Nowhere, they say, because she initially supported it - or at least said nice things about it to the people that actually live in "nowhere." But the thing is that, when it was time to go forward, she pulled the plug on it.

This much is not from the Obama campaign. But it has also gone over the top, suggesting that she is a nazi. An Obama spokesperson, ringing up Godwin's Law, says that she supported Pat Buchanan who, according to him, is seen by "many Jews" as a "Nazi sympathizer." The problem here is that she supported Steve Forbes that year.

I could go on, but the strategy here is rather obvious. Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. The imperative is that Palin be defined before she has an opportunity to define herself. She can't be allowed to make her case to the voters. She must be "branded" before anyone has a chance to hear from her.

In a comment to another post on this blog, former liberal blogger Seth Zlotocha restates his (I think quite sincere) belief that Obama's has some post-partisan view of politics that is "based on moving away from the unilateralist politics of the current administration (utilizing blatant divisiveness) and the triangulation of the Clinton administration (utilizing subtle divisiveness). It's based on remaining issue-oriented rather than character-driven."

Yeah, sure.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kind of reminds me when the rumors were flying fast and furious about Obama: he's a muslim, hates America, won't say the Pledge of Allegience, etc., etc.

illusory tenant said...

People claim that she insists on teaching creationism.

I don't know who's claiming that, but it's reasonable to wonder what the heck she is insisting when she goes from "I am a proponent of teaching both" to creationism "doesn't have to be part of the curriculum" within a matter of hours.

So, which is it?

Too bad she didn't make those diametrically opposed remarks while riding a sailboard, eh?

Rick Esenberg said...

Anon

You never heard it here.

Tom

I think she explained herself quite clearly. Part of my problem with thist type of politics is that it involves catching someone uttering a poorly formulated sentence or giving whatever he or she has said an extremely uncharitable construction and then refusing to listen to any clarification.

Both sides have done it, but it's being done frenetically with Palin.

illusory tenant said...

I don't think she explained it clearly at all, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt along with your Little Green Football man.

My impression is she doesn't know what she's talking about.

You may be eager to dismiss these missteps, but you know as well as I do that many voters have their pet issues, and this is one for lots and lots of them, regardless of your view of its insignificance.

Terrence Berres said...

The linked article at the Illusory Tenant blog goes on to say, in reference to an answer by the then-candidate for Governor,

"In an interview Thursday, Palin said she meant only to say that discussion of alternative views should be allowed to arise in Alaska classrooms:

"I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum."

I have heard students from some local denominational high schools go through such debates in class. They are then surprised on the first day of Biology class at UW-Madison when told no such questions will be entertained.

illusory tenant said...

They are then surprised on the first day of Biology class at UW-Madison when told no such questions will be entertained.

It's not clear what's meant by "such questions," but if they're redolent of Pentateuch studies then, rightly so, they shouldn't be entertained by biology professors.

Terrence Berres said...

"...if they're redolent of Pentateuch studies then, rightly so, they shouldn't be entertained by biology professors."

Doesn't that approach run the risk that the students will wind up knowing the subject matter but not believing it?

Jim C. said...

No discussion goes on for incoming students taking introductory biology classes at UW-Madison. They're lectures.

Seth Zlotocha said...

You never heard it here.

Yeah, sure. You only said that his campaign was "dangerous" and suggested it could result in totalitarianism.

But what you said isn't really the point, is it?

But it has also gone over the top, suggesting that she is a nazi.

Did you pull your groin making that leap?

Here's the line from one of the Obama campaign's Florida spokespeople: "Palin was a supporter of Pat Buchanan, a right-winger or as many Jews call him: a Nazi sympathizer." An unnecessary cheap shot, yeah, but that's not even calling Buchanan a Nazi, let alone Palin.

Putting that aside, a single line in an email from a Florida spokesperson for Obama that was reported in a Miami Herald blog and repeated on conservative blogs? That's supposed to contradict the argument that Obama would make a meaningful move toward post-partisanship as president?

As you put it: Yeah, sure.

As I said in my last comment, Obama obviously isn't perfect. He knows how and is willing to throw a punch (though whether he knew about, let alone supported, the lone, barely reported punch you pointed out is highly questionable). He knows how and is willing to be political. But he also, as demonstrated in his statement about Palin's daughter, has an impulse for and interest in taking our policy discussions to a different level than they've been for quite some time; combined with his ability to inspire, that has the potential to be a powerful thing. If you don't buy it, fine, but let's not act as if the bar for it is total campaign purity.

Rick Esenberg said...

Seth

Actually, what I did was quote an op-ed which referred to a kind of totalitarianism and then wrote about the dangers of expecting too much from politics.

My understanding is that the Buchanan smear was made by an Obama operative and Congressman Robert Wexler. You are right that there is a difference - of some sort - between being expressly called a nazi and being wrongfully accused of supporting a nazi sympathizer. I am sure that the reference to Buchanan's alleged affinity for nazis was strictly for identification purposes and was not intended to suggest anything about Governor Palin.

As for whether there should be a debate on something called "creationism," I see nothing wrong with allowing students to ask questions and, I would suggest, they ought to question the broader metaphysical claims that are often made about evolution.

I think that Obama was right to say that Bristol Palin was off limits. Although I can't see that his admonition has had much of an effect, that isn't necessarily his fault. But ... his statement is hardly unheard of in the recent annals of American politics. Happens all the time.

Terrence Berres said...

Jim C.:

"No discussion goes on for incoming students taking introductory biology classes at UW-Madison. They're lectures."

So it might have been over-explained, if it's just an example to illustrate that a lecture course means no questions are ever permitted.

Seth Zlotocha said...

Actually, what I did was quote an op-ed which referred to a kind of totalitarianism and then wrote about the dangers of expecting too much from politics.

I am sure that the references to totalitarianism and danger were strictly for academic purposes and was not intended to suggest anything about Senator Obama.

But ... his statement is hardly unheard of in the recent annals of American politics.

I think if you give his statement an honest read, you would find it at least unique and certainly refreshing in the recent annals of American politics. Obama not only says Bristol is off-limits; he also goes a significant step further by empathizing with her situation through pointing out that his own mother was 18 years old when she gave birth to him. That's a pretty powerful statement, much more so than a bland, "I prefer to discuss the issues," or, as McCain put it in response to the smears of the Corsi book, "Gotta keep your sense of humor."

Seth Zlotocha said...

And, on what Palin is facing, I'd look pretty hard at the McCain campaign. Palin wasn't ready for prime-time, at least not getting tossed into it as a VP candidate just as the political season takes fire. I'm not talking about being ready to govern here, I'm talking about being ready to face the heat of a national campaign. She could've been ready if she was allowed to enter the national spotlight on her own terms or even ease into it over 18+ months like a presidential candidate is able to do. At this point, she really needs this victory, almost more so than McCain, because -- right or wrong -- it's going to take quite a bit to rebuild her image if she wants to reenter the national spotlight later on.

Sure, Palin could've declined the invitation, but expecting a young, motivated politician to turn down her party's current leader is asking a lot, too.

So it sucks that our national political atmosphere is like this, where branding before you're branded is key, but that's the reality, and it has nothing to do with Obama.

Also...

I am sure that the reference to Buchanan's alleged affinity for nazis was strictly for identification purposes and was not intended to suggest anything about Governor Palin.

I never said it didn't. I said barely-reported, lone comment from a Florida spokesperson doesn't contradict the argument that Obama would move toward post-partisanship in policymaking and problem-solving as president.

Also, on this issue of support, Palin did clearly support Buchanan. It matters little that she supported Forbes over him; the point is that she literally supported the candidacy of Pat Buchanan when she put on that button. To be clear, I don't think it's a big deal that she wore the button; it says very little about her feelings on Buchanan's controversial positions. It's an attempt at guilt by association, which is why it's a cheap shot; but it's best to call it out on that rather than dancing around the issue of support.

joe stalin said...

Illusory tenant is clearly afraid of women.
C'mon, IT say it....use the "c" word IT. You know you want to.
So this is what the left becomes as Barry Obama starts tanking.
It's classic. Intolerant, bigoted losers.

John Foust said...

TB, checking the bio courses does show discussion sections and labs following the lectures. I suspect any TA would be glad to swat the Bible college kids' questions.

"Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks." Is that part of the "OODA loop" meme that the local Republicans are parroting in order to emphasize McCain's military background?

William Tyroler said...

Seth:

... a single line in an email from a Florida spokesperson for Obama that was reported in a Miami Herald blog and repeated on conservative blogs? That's supposed to contradict the argument that Obama would make a meaningful move toward post-partisanship as president?

As you put it: Yeah, sure.

(...) I said barely-reported, lone comment from a Florida spokesperson doesn't contradict the argument that Obama would move toward post-partisanship in policymaking and problem-solving as president.


It's a bit more interesting than that. Entirely apart from the statement Seth alludes to (from an Obama spokesman, as he notes), Dem Congressman Robert Wexler had this contribution to make:

John McCain's decision to select a vice presidential running mate that endorsed Pat Buchanan for president in 2000 is a direct affront to all Jewish Americans. Pat Buchanan is a Nazi sympathizer with a uniquely atrocious record on Israel, even going as far as to denounce bringing former Nazi soldiers to justice and praising Adolf Hitler for his "great courage."

At a time when standing up for Israel's right to self-defense has never been more critical, John McCain has failed his first test of leadership and judgment by selecting a running mate who has aligned herself with a leading anti-Israel voice in American politics. It is frightening that John McCain would select someone one heartbeat away from the presidency who supported a man who embodies vitriolic anti-Israel sentiments.


This was a lie; Palin never supported Buchanan. Far as I can tell, Obama never withdrew or apologized for the lie, which was trumpeted by both a spokesman and stalking horse. Whether or not the import of the lie is that Palin was a Nazi (Rick) or merely a Nazi sympathizer (Seth) is a sterile debate. The larger point is that the Obamanic claim of post-partisanship is fraudulent.

Implicitly recognizing the problem, Seth argues that "branding before you're branded is key, but that's the reality, and it has nothing to do with Obama." So, then, that's the Change we've been waiting for: not the Audacity of Hope but, rather, Shit Happens.

Interesting aside: turns out that Buchanan's policy prescriptions are shared by Obama, not McCain. More Change we've been waiting for.

krshorewood said...

Rick, would you kindly stop repeating the lie that Palin opposed the Congressional funding for the bridge to no where. Congress dropped the funding a year before she went into office. There was no one to say "thanks but no thanks."

She doesn't even know when the Pledge of Allegiance was written. What a train wreck and the fun part is watching the sweat as your guys try to defend it.

krshorewood said...

Now John, I would be the only person on this blog who would know what an OODA loop is.

Seth Zlotocha said...

Fancy footwork, William, but I don't see how anything you wrote contradicts or even directly challenges anything I wrote.

If a barely-reported comment from a Florida spokesperson doesn't contradict the argument that Obama would move toward post-partisanship in policymaking and problem-solving as president, I don't see how the same, also barely-reported, comment by Wexler significantly changes the equation.

This was a lie; Palin never supported Buchanan.

That's ridiculous. The line from the Florida spokesperson and Wexler is guilt by association crap (which is, coincidentally, what you're doing here with Obama and Wexler), but it's just ridiculous to assert that Palin didn't offer her support to the candidacy of Pat Buchanan simply because supported Forbes more.

Whether or not the import of the lie is that Palin was a Nazi (Rick) or merely a Nazi sympathizer (Seth) is a sterile debate.

Nice try, William. Sorry, but "Obama called Palin a Nazi," and "An Obama spokesperson said Palin supported someone who many in the Jewish community consider a Nazi sympathizer" are two very different things, and Rick knew it.

Implicitly recognizing the problem, Seth argues that "branding before you're branded is key, but that's the reality, and it has nothing to do with Obama." So, then, that's the Change we've been waiting for: not the Audacity of Hope but, rather, Shit Happens.

Way to take two separate comments and -- poof! -- make them appear as one.

My comment there was on the national atmosphere -- driven by the fast-paced media, aided in recent years by the Internet -- that requires a candidate define her/himself before getting defined. As politics, particularly campaign politics, has become more about drama than issues for the media that's interested in ratings, national candidates are expected to be at least as concerned about style as substance.

For goodness sakes, here's McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, just yesterday: "This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates."

To say all of that is Obama's fault is absurd. Shit, he had to go through it just like everyone else. In fact, he -- much like Palin -- faced the very worst of it due to his fast rise onto the national scene (the difference was he got to do it on his own terms and over an 18+ month stretch). McCain has aided countless times in this election by the very fact that he's a "known quantity," so issues like his infidelity and the Keating Five have hardly come up (do you think Obama or Palin would've been so lucky?).

Interesting aside: turns out that Buchanan's policy prescriptions are shared by Obama, not McCain. More Change we've been waiting for.

Sorry, William, but a shout-out from Pat Buchanan just isn't the same as a shout-out to Pat Buchanan.

But if Buchanan thinks we should talk to Iran, we never should've invaded Iraq, and we should be concerned about the situation of Palestinians (but remain closer allies with Israel), then he not only agrees with Obama, but also with me and most of the country on those policy prescriptions.

William Tyroler said...

I imagine this thread is close to done; everyone else probably has the good sense to direct their attention elsewhere. Still ...

barely-reported, comment by Wexler: Hey, if I knew about it you can bet it was well-traveled. Easy enough to search for it; in fact, Wexler's insidious comment received international coverage. And, as one might readily surmise, it got significant coverage in Wexler's state, Florida -- a key battleground state.

You think it's coincidence that Wexler took Obama's talking point and ran with it? I don't. We'll have to disagree on that, too.

It's "ridiculous" to say that Palin never supported Buchanan? Please. She formally supported one of his opponents; there's no evidence she supported Buchanan. The line from the Florida spokesperson and Wexler is guilt by association crap, as opposed to a suggestion of support. Really? You yourself quote the spokesman as claiming, "Palin was a supporter of Pat Buchanan." Wexler said that Palin endorsed Buchanan: goes a mite farther than guilt by association, doesn't it?

To say all of that is Obama's fault is absurd. True. But that doesn't absolve him of all responsibility. He's either ushering in a transcendent era of post-partisanship or he isn't. Maybe it isn't his fault that the media are in the tank for him, or that party hacks are happy to throw slime. But if he can't inhibit this sort of thing -- especially when it emanates from within his own circle -- then what's the point of his claim to transcendence?

But if Buchanan thinks we should talk to Iran, we never should've invaded Iraq, and we should be concerned about the situation of Palestinians (but remain closer allies with Israel), then he not only agrees with Obama, but also with me and most of the country on those policy prescriptions.

That's indeed an efficient summary of Obama's foreign policy planks which are, if you ask me, naivete on stilts. But I agree with the implicit point that we know where Obama stands on these issues and we won't be able to say later (when, as seems likely, he gets elected) that we were fooled.

Seth can (and I do not doubt will) have the last word. I'm done, except to say: thanks for the conversation, Seth; it's always a pleasure.

Terrence Berres said...

John Foust said "I suspect any TA would be glad to swat the Bible college kids' questions."

As I heard it, something like that is what these (Bible high school) kids expected, but didn't experience.

Seth Zlotocha said...

Hey, if I knew about it you can bet it was well-traveled.

Hardly. Based on our previous conversations, it's pretty clear you're closely tapped into issues related to Israel and the Jewish community in the US. And something isn't well-reported until it hits one of the mainstream news outlets, particularly on one of the network TV programs where most voters still get their news (I don't think too many are reading haaretz.com).

But that's all largely beside my point. My point is not to argue whether it was a crappy comment; it was. My point is that it isn't significant enough to contradict the argument that Obama would pursue post-partisanship in policymaking and problem-solving as president.

For the record, what would be significant enough is something like making the campaign's central election argument about character rather than issues, which is what the McCain campaign has done through preposterously sarcastic ads attacking Obama as a person, an almost exclusive focus on the character of its own candidate (all that "One Man" nonsense, which started in the GOP primaries and is reaching a fevered pitch during the GOP convention), and, most recently, the blatant admission by the campaign manager that this election isn't about issues.

there's no evidence she supported Buchanan.

Except the "Buchanan for President" button she wore when publicly greeting him (you don't need to wear a campaign button to make a candidate feel welcome; do you think, as an up & coming Republican, she would've worn one for Gore?).

Wexler said that Palin endorsed Buchanan: goes a mite farther than guilt by association, doesn't it?

Yeah, sure, it's easier to argue that "endorsed" is the wrong characterization of what Palin did by wearing a Buchanan campaign button than it is to do the same with "supported," but I don't think the essence of the cheap shot -- the guilt by association -- is altered much either way. Even if she did formally endorse Buchanan and just support Forbes, that wouldn't say much more about her support for Buchanan's controversial positions than wearing his campaign button in a public appearance.

But if he can't inhibit this sort of thing -- especially when it emanates from within his own circle -- then what's the point of his claim to transcendence?

It's that he will make a difference, not that he will be perfect. The purity argument -- he either ends it all or it doesn't count -- is bunk.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that the Republicans, after decades of hyper-partisanship that was so extreme that once in power they felt justified in blocking “liberals” and Democrats from nonpartisan jobs, are now the party of “Country over Party.” Are you Country First Republicans aware of the K-Street Project? Monica Goodling? no bid contracts to partisan contractors? Karl Rove and Lee Atwater? Rush Limbaugh? Joe Scarborough? Bill O’Reilly? Can’t you win on the issues? We’re tired of your aggressive bullying on blogs, talk shows and in the House and Senate. That appears to be all you know.

Where is your non-partisan railing against right-wing absurd bloggery that Obama is the Anti-Christ? One would think you non-partisan supporters of Palin would be exponentially outraged over those kinds of smears.

Be partisan, I don’t care, but at least make an attempt to see reality. Use your lies and smears, but at long last, I hope the Country has gotten tired of the permanent Republican majority and we throw you bums out.

Rick Esenberg said...

Keith -

As I understand it, Congress didn't cut the funding but removed the earmark. Palin refused to use it for the bridge. You can criticize her for not condemning the bridge earlier, but it was designed to address a real problem (albeit not one worth that kind of money) and someone running for Governor in Alaska could not fail to talk about that problem. As a general matter, she vetoed a lot of pork barrel spending.

I've already addressed the Pledge issue which I think is just as earth shaking as Obama's visit to 57 states, Biden's claim to know Bob Casey, Jr., two years before he was born, Al Gore's poor latin, etc.