Election 2008

  Would you back a gun-toting former beauty queen for vice-president?August 31, 2008 10:44 Sarah Palin sounded as though she had won the lottery. Only a month after letting slip that she did not think the vice-president's job was meaningful, Palin was accepting John McCain's offer to join him in the race for the White House.

Some of life's greatest opportunities come unexpectedly, and this is certainly the case today. I never set out to be involved in public affairs ... My husband and I grew up working with our hands. I was just an average hockey mum in Alaska.

Which is how many of the British papers have introduced her to their readership.

She is, the Times says, a 44-year-old moose-hunting mother of five.

She hunts, fishes, and eats moose burgers. She is such a keen runner that she named the first of her five children Track. She is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and was runner-up in the Miss Alaska beauty contest in 1984.

Bumper stickers in Alaska proudly proclaim: "Coldest State, Hottest Governor
  Palin on Foreign Policy: No Passport Until 2007August 31, 2008 10:38 There’s more out there about Sarah Palin and her foreign policy experience/views Saturday than Friday. Let’s review it, vague though it may be:

--On Iraq, she made some remarks about not knowing “what the plan is to ever end the war,” but it’s hard to read too much into that. Thinkprogress.org, though, does have some thoughts on the subject. What’s more, Andrew Sullivan turned up an interview where she expressly said she wasn’t doing much thinking about the war, and said “I want to know that we have an exit plan in place.”
--It’s true she hasn’t visited Iraq, a subject over which McCain and surrogates were rather critical of Barack Obama. But she has visited nearby Kuwait. Other than that, her travel of the world is very limited – a stop in Ireland and Germany. She didn’t have a passport until 2007, according to the New York Times.
--There’s some speculation about whether, as a Pat Buchanan backer, Palin was somehow endorsing Buchanan’s critical point of view toward Israel. So far, though, even the amount of Palin’s backing of Buchanan is in question. And as governor of Alaska, she had signed a basic resolution affirming Alaska’s support of Israel.
--She has in the past indicated that she does not think global warming is a manmade phenomenon.

At this rate of revelation, it seems fair to guess that we’re not going to get much else on Palin’s foreign policy experience or statements. Her paper trail is very short. Whether that matters or not is inevitably going to vary from voter to voter.
  Palin And Mccain Share Enemies, Reformist BentAugust 29, 2008 10:26 If the old adage is true that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," then John McCain and Sarah Palin may have been friends long before the Arizona senator picked the Alaska governor to be his running mate.

Three years ago next month, McCain joined with a few conservative Senate colleagues to suggest that $453 million that had been earmarked to build two bridges in Alaska -- including the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" -- be redirected to rebuild infrastructure in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana. How did that idea go over with Alaska's congressional delegation?

"They can kiss my ear!" said Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). "That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard." And Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) was equally incensed. ""I don't kid people," he said. "If the Senate decides to discriminate against our state . . . I will resign from this body."

The feud between McCain, who has crusaded against earmarks, and the two Alaska titans, who have made careers out of bringing federal money home, has long been in public view. As the Seattle Times put it in a 2006 profile of Stevens: "The enmity between Stevens and Sen. John McCain . . . is almost mythic on the Hill. A former aide to Stevens recalls being trapped in a Capitol elevator with the two men as they argued through four floors."

Fast-forward to today: Young is fighting for his political life after a primary contest this week that has yet to be resolved, and Stevens faces a corruption trial in September. Much of the Alaska GOP establishment has begun to turn away from both men, particularly Young. And that shift has been led by a woman who was barely known on the national stage until today -- Palin.
  Obama Accepts Nomination, Promises Tax Cuts For Working Class, End To Mideast Oil DependenceAugust 29, 2008 09:34 Illinois Sen. Barack Obama formally accepted the Democratic nomination for president Thursday night in Denver, pledging tax cuts for the middle class and an end, within 10 years, to America’s dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Repeatedly touching on pocketbook and economic themes in a 45-minute nationally televised address, Obama called for changes to bankruptcy laws to "protect pensions ahead of CEO bonuses" and an end to tax incentives for companies that send jobs overseas.

"And I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America," he said.

Obama spoke before a crowd of more than 70,000 people at Invesco Field at Mile High, many of whom waited hours in line before getting through the event's extremely tight security and taking their seats.

Before an audience hushed by a pre-speech video on his life that displayed on the stadium's "JumboTron" screens, Obama said the nation stands at a defining moment in its history, “a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.”

“More Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit card bills you can’t afford to pay and tuition that is beyond your reach.”

Obama said these challenges aren’t all the fault of government, but said the failure to respond to the problems is partly a result of “the failed presidency of George W. Bush.”
  Historic Night: Democrats Unite Around ObamaAugust 27, 2008 21:00 It was a scripted scenario, the outcome never in doubt. But when history arrived on the floor of the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday afternoon, it came with the full force of emotion.
After an especially long primary season, after private wrangling and public battle, the Democratic Party became the first major party to select an African-American nominee for president in the nation's history.

With a roar of approval and a sparkle of flashing cameras, the convention's delegates nominated by acclamation Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who just four years ago electrified the Democratic convention with a speech where he first called for "a politics of hope." That message carried him in this election season to the top of his party's ticket.

"I never thought I'd live this long to see this," said Albert Lewis, a Hawaii delegate, where Obama grew up. "I'm very proud to be an American today."
  Obama-Biden Ticket Ready To DebutAugust 23, 2008 09:07 Thousands of supporters were expected at a Saturday rally in Springfield, Illinois, to see the debut of Sen. Barack Obama and Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as a presidential ticket.
Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, announced his selection of Biden as his running mate with a 3 a.m. text message and a statement on his official Web site.
"Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee," the text message said.
"Joe and I will appear for the first time as running mates this afternoon in Springfield, Illinois -- the same place this campaign began more than 19 months ago," Obama said in an e-mail sent to supporters Saturday morning.
"I'm excited about hitting the campaign trail with Joe, but the two of us can't do this alone," he wrote. "We need your help to keep building this movement for change."
  Is Mccain Another George W. Bush?August 19, 2008 11:15 Russia invades Georgia and President Bush goes on vacation. Our president has spent one-third of his entire two terms in office either at Camp David, Maryland, or at Crawford, Texas, on vacation.

His time away from the Oval Office included the month leading up to 9/11, when there were signs Osama bin Laden was planning to attack America, and the time Hurricane Katrina destroyed the city of New Orleans.

Sen. John McCain takes weekends off and limits his campaign events to one a day. He made an exception for the religious forum on Saturday at Saddleback Church in Southern California.

I think he made a big mistake. When he was invited last spring to attend a discussion of the role of faith in his life with Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, McCain didn't bother to show up. Now I know why.

It occurs to me that John McCain is as intellectually shallow as our current president. When asked what his Christian faith means to him, his answer was a one-liner. "It means I'm saved and forgiven." Great scholars have wrestled with the meaning of faith for centuries. McCain then retold a story we've all heard a hundred times about a guard in Vietnam drawing a cross in the sand.

Asked about his greatest moral failure, he cited his first marriage, which ended in divorce. While saying it was his greatest moral failing, he offered nothing in the way of explanation.
  Who'S Rich? Mccain And Obama Have Very Different DefinitionsAugust 18, 2008 13:46 The rich may be different for John McCain and Barack Obama.
On almost every issue, the two presidential candidates have staked out opposing positions. Their contrasting views on wealth surfaced during their back-to-back appearances in Southern California on Saturday night when each was asked to define "rich."
Obama didn't hesitate. "I would argue that if you are making more than $250,000, then you are in the top 3, 4 percent of this country," he said. "You are doing well."
McCain took a far more discursive approach to answering the question but ultimately settled on a dramatically higher figure: "I think if you're just talking about income, how about $5 million?"
The Arizona Republican quickly added that he was "sure that comment will be distorted," and his campaign said Sunday that he was joking.

Even so, the remark highlighted the candidates' disparate outlooks. Analysts who study income distribution said the answers appeared to reflect shifting political calculations more than economic reality.
Economists said in interviews Sunday that neither candidate was wrong because there are no agreed-upon definitions for the terms that describe income segments.
"To be fair to both of them, 'rich' is an adjective," said James P. Smith, a senior economist at the Rand Corp., a nonpartisan think thank in Santa Monica. "Economic science is not going to tell you that 'this' is the cutoff point."
Yet the $5-million level, Smith said, includes "almost nobody." Experts said that of all the households in the nation, fewer than one-tenth of 1% had an annual income of $5 million or more.
  Obama Snags More Republican EndorsementsAugust 12, 2008 20:49 Barack Obama likes to talk about Obamacans – disaffected Republicans who have pledged their support for his presidential candidacy.
On Tuesday he snagged an especially prominent one -- former GOP Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa.
Leach, who served 15 terms in the House, made his endorsement announcement during a conference call with former Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, who was a Republican while in the Senate but is now an independent. Chafee has supported Obama since the Democratic primaries.
Leach told reporters that he was concerned about the Bush administration's "philosophy of government” and worried that Republican John McCain would be “more of the same.” “I'm convinced that the national interest demands a new approach to our interaction with the world," Leach said.
During the call Leach twice suggested that Obama choose Sen. Chuck Hagel as a running mate. If Hagel, a Nebraska Republican and longtime friend of McCain’s, were to join an Obama ticket, he’d be the biggest-name Obamacan in the country. (A Hagel spokesman, however, told USA Today Tuesday that the senator won’t be making any endorsements in this election.)
Leach wasn't the only "Republican for Obama" who emerged today. In a development that could help Obama make inroads in Alaska, Obama’s campaign announced that he was also being backed by the Republican mayor of Fairbanks North Star Borough, Jim Whitaker.
  Obama 'More Renewal Than Departure' Says GoperAugust 12, 2008 11:06 Leach announced that he was backing the presumptive Democratic nominee while participating in the conference call launch of "Republicans for Obama," a group that is designing a website contrasting the records of the presidential candidates.

Leach was joined on the call by two other Republican opponents of the Iraq war: former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee and Rita Hauser, a lawyer who served on President George W. Bush's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the President's Intelligence Oversight Board.

Chafee, who left the GOP in March so that he could vote for Obama in the Rhode Island Democratic primary, criticized McCain for changing his stance on the Bush tax cuts.

"I served with McCain and we were the only two Republicans to vote against the Bush tax cuts," said Chafee, referring to a Senate vote in 2001. "He says now he would make them permanent. It's a different John McCain."

  Paris Hilton'S Mom Calls Mccain Ad Waste Of MoneyAugust 04, 2008 10:50 Paris Hilton's mother -- a John McCain donor -- on Sunday dismissed as a "waste of money" a television ad that used her daughter and Britney Spears to portray Democrat Barack Obama as more celebrity icon than chief executive.

Kathy Hilton, the mother of the blond socialite-actress, lambasted the Republican presidential candidate's advertisement in a blog posted on the political Web site Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.com).

"It is a complete waste of the money John McCain's contributors have donated to his campaign," Hilton wrote.

"It is a complete waste of the country's time and attention at the very moment when millions of people are losing their homes and their jobs. And it is a completely frivolous way to choose the next President of the United States," she wrote.