Saturday, September 20, 2008

McCain Continues to Prove Palin is Unready to Lead and He is Unfit for Office

Since it's now been over three weeks with no opportunity for the public to freely interact with Palin, it may come down to the solitary VP debate for anyone to be able to ask her questions. But McCain has been trying to sabotage that as well:
At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between Gov. Sarah Palin and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.

McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.

The wrangling was chiefly between the McCain-Palin camp and the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which is sponsoring the forums.

Commission members wanted a relaxed format that included time for unpredictable questioning and challenges between the vice-presidential candidates. Last week, it rejected a proposal from advisers to Ms. Palin and Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee, for few if any unfettered exchanges. Advisers to Mr. Biden say they were comfortable with either format.
McCain knows how unready Palin is for high office, which is why he continues to shield her
from anyone who might challenge her. The media is STILL not making enough of a deal over this. McCain should have his feet held to the fire as long as he keeps treating a potential president like a 9-year-old girl being put in front of cameras for the first time.


soozzie said...

So I guess this means that in a crisis, foreign heads of state can only ask fill-in-the-blank or multiple choice questions, no essay questions. Open book?

On the other hand, since at least the first presidential debate allows 9 minute answers, and a nine minute answer from Palin would probably either confuse everyone involved or start a nu-cu-lar war with an ally like France (Spain being the prerogative of her new BFF), perhaps shorter questions are a good idea.

Charles M. Kozierok said...

Scary, isn't it?

soozzie said...

Yup. I am actually losing sleep.

Now, a little off-topic, but I found this buried in the Times as a comment to a Gail Collins's column. (Love her -- about the only thing I can laugh at right now.) It is long, but revelatory:

Since Monday the McCain camp has stepped up its personal attacks against Alaskans. They’ve continued their D.C.-style tactics against neighbors in this small state. The game plan is to find an excuse to stop our Legislature’s Troopergate investigation, and hide evidence McCain’s folks really don’t want to surface before November’s election. It’s been a little Karl Rove, and parts Laurel and Hardy. How else can you explain the following?

Friday the Attorney General’s office promised state witnesses would comply with subpoenas the Legislature issued last week. Tuesday the Governor’s Attorney General flip flopped, and announced that state witnesses wouldn’t comply because, well, and I’m paraphrasing here - - he’s changed his mind. And in what has to be an idea hatched after a 4th Martini at Chilkoot Charlies, Governor Palin’s attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss the ethics claim she filed against herself two weeks ago. Yup. She really filed a complaint against herself. Tuesday she said she’s discovered, after a thorough investigation of herself, that she’s done nothing wrong. Does anyone know how to get a hold of Jon Stewart and Tina Fey?

It’s silly season up here in the far north, but this week’s moves are aimed at one thing: John McCain’s effort to find cover for being disingenuous. See, before Governor Palin’s nomination for the Republican VP spot, she did the honest thing. She admitted the evidence — of roughly 20 contacts between her staff and husband with Public Safety officials, seeking the firing of Governor Palin’s former brother-in-law — might lead a reasonable person to the conclusion that the she misused her office to fire a state employee. So when Alaska’s Republican-led Legislature called for an investigation, she did the honorable thing and said she and her staff would comply. She denies any wrongdoing.

Things changed on August 29 when Governor Palin was added to the McCain ticket. Since then his handlers have told her she can’t testify. They don’t want the evidence in this case to come out. They don’t want her to testify under oath. They don’t want other witnesses to testify under oath. So they have engaged in daily maneuvers to attack, as disloyal to the McCain campaign, anyone who wants the investigation to move forward. They’ve now attacked two well respected prosecutors, and perhaps the state’s most highly regarded law enforcement official — the Public Safety Commissioner she hired, and then fired, Walt Monegan.

Every day this week McCain operatives have sung the same tune. Today a guy with an East Coast accent, who knows nothing about Alaska, stood in front of a McCain-Palin banner to lead the attacks against people he doesn’t know. At press conferences on Monday and Tuesday campaign staffer Megan Stapleton spit vitriol to repeat her argument that this investigation is really a “Democratic” attack on Governor Palin. See, that’s easier than just saying their VP has reneged on her promise to testify. It’s easier than just saying they don’t want anyone testifying before the November election. It’s easier than admitting they are stonewalling a legislative investigation. Oh — and I know they hate partisan stuff. Yesterday 5 Republican legislators — all allies of Governor Palin, all supporters of the McCain campaign, filed a lawsuit against the Legislature to stop the investigation.

Here are a few things MCCain’s operatives failed to say. There are a few small facts that make it hard to style this as a Democratic investigation. One is that Alaska is a Republican State. We have a Republican Governor and a Legislature of 34 Republicans and 26 Democrats. This summer the Legislature’s Legislative Council voted 12-0 (8 Republicans and 4 Democrats) to hire an investigator, and appointed Democratic Senator Hollis French, a well-respected former prosecutor, to find an investigator.

Governor Palin stated she and her employees would comply with the investigation. French then hired Steve Branchflower, a former DA who most recently was hired by legislative Republicans to run the state’s Office of Victims rights. And on Friday the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 (2 Democrats and 1 Republican in favor); and the House Judiciary Committee issued a 7 - 0 (5 Republicans, 2 Democrats) advisory vote, to issue subpoenas to witnesses the McCain camp had previously stopped from testifying.

Over the last two days McCain’s outside operatives have vilified former prosecutor Hollis French — as an Obama supporter who must have called this investigation to hurt the McCain ticket. But French was appointed to oversee the investigation by a 12 - 0 Legislative Council vote, and is probably the state’s most respected legislator — by Republicans and Democrats alike. He’s so popular the Republican Party couldn’t find anyone to run against him this year. They’ve called former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan — a Native Alaskan who has served Republican and Democratic Administrations with honor, and put his life on the line in uniform- - “insubordinate.” Odd, given that when Governor Palin fired him she offered him a different job. I guess being “insubordinate” was a job requirement for the new position. And they’ve challenged the independence of an investigator and former DA, who has no animus anyone can find.

Those Swift boat ads taught the McCain folks that if you say something untrue enough times, it can stick. My favorite moment of the week came when Governor Palin’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss Palin’s ethics complaint against herself. Stay with me. Her attorneys have been buying the peyote, not me. See, on August 29 they needed to find a way to stop the Legislature’s investigation. They tried asking the Republican leaders to call it off, and take one for the team. But the Senate President and others honorably said no. So they came up with an argument that the State Personnel Board — 3 people appointed by Governor Palin and her Republican predecessor Frank Murkowski - had “exclusive jurisdiction” to investigate wrongdoing by the Governor.

The Legislature wasn’t amused. So Governor Palin then filed a complaint against herself. That, they said, put “jurisdiction” in the hands of their friends at the Personnel Board. They argued that since the Personnel Board was now proceeding with an “investigation,” the Legislature couldn’t. To put icing on the cake, on Monday the Governor’s attorneys moved to dismiss the Governor’s case against herself. They said, and I loosely paraphrase again — that they tried really hard and just couldn’t find any evidence that the Governor did anything wrong. OK. I can’t believe I just wrote that. And I wish it weren’t true.

These are the things you have to do when your presidential candidate doesn’t want his VP to honor a promise, and doesn’t want evidence to come out before an election. These are the things you have to do if your folks aren’t going to comply with a subpoena. That’s because without spin the headline might read: “McCain Interferes With Investigation Palin Agreed To.” How easy it is to re-write a headline. They learned that during the Swift boat campaign too.

All we can hope for is that members of the press will abide by what’s taught in journalism school. Not to repeat the spin of political operatives without reporting the truth. Not to write “he said she said” stories, and pretend the truth is somewhere in the middle. But to report the facts. No matter how you spin it, Governor Palin promised to comply with this Legislative Investigation. McCain’s folks got her to change her position. And the Legislature that voted for the investigation did so on a bi-partisan basis. End of story. End of headline.

Over the next few days McCain’s folks will try to get local legislators to step in line, out of party loyalty, and reverse their vote to investigate Troopergate. But many local Republicans, like Senate President Lyda Green, have so far refused to play those politics. Stay for more from McCain’s Campaign for “Change.” They’ve tried to change the truth. They’ve succeeded at changing Governor Palin’s promise to comply with this investigation. Let’s see what they’ll change next.

--- Rep. Les Gara, Anchorage, Alaska

Charles M. Kozierok said...

Don't lose sleep, soozzie. It doesn't help anyway. :)

Thanks for that post, I'm going to put it where it will be seen more.

Anonymous said...

It can't be good for her going into the debate, if she hasn't been interviewed. She won't be comfortable, and hasn't tested what she's been told. Man, haha, all the better for the democrats I suppose :D

soozzie said...

Oh, I don't know about that. I have some of my best ideas when I'm not sleeping! %-)

And yes, that comment needs more attention. And Sigh. So many blogs, so little time....I remember when the most exciting thing about a presidential election was the epithet that there was no real choice, they're all the same. Little did we know that the bar could be set so very low.

Ariel said...

Wait wait wait, so McCain is proving Palin is unready to lead by shortening the VP debate? Dude, I'm fine with that interpretation, its totally fair... BUT, wtf does that mean Obama proves by hiding from debates with McCain? He refused to have the town hall meetings that he said he would have. He refused to have more debates than the absolute minimum that he could get away with. And he refused to have Lincoln-Douglas style debates, where you actually get a bit of honest back and forth between the candidates. You've been calling McCain a bumbling idiot all over this blog, so why is Obama hiding himself from McCain? Its a two way street with this stuff, and I'd much rather see the VP hidden than the president.

Charles M. Kozierok said...

"why is Obama hiding himself from McCain?"

He isn't.

Look, the debates aren't really the point here anyway -- the point is Sarah Palin facing the people she wants to lead and giving them honest answers to legitimate questions. She is the only one of the four candidates who has not made herself available to open, unscripted questioning from the press. It's only *because of that ridiculous situation* that the terms of the debate become important.

Obama has been challenged and forced to account for pretty much everything that people could find to throw at him. Palin has not even come close. We have a right to know how she justifies her positions, why she keeps lying about her record, and why she is now obstructing an investigation she pledged full cooperation with.

Go to Youtube and watch some of the segments of O'Reilly's interview with Obama. Then try to find something comparable with Palin. When that happens, you can then compare the two with some validity. Until then? No way.

Ariel said...

Oh come on! How can you possibly say hes not hiding himself from McCain? He literally could not have exposed himself any less to debates with McCain than he is. I don't mind seeing folks strongly support their party, but how about a little objectivity here? Yeah, he's been in a lot more real interviews than Palin's one fake one, but its ridiculous to not draw conclusions about a man who would be President who is afraid to debate the other candidate. (especially when the other candidate sucked so badly in the Primary debates)

Charles M. Kozierok said...

"Yeah, he's been in a lot more real interviews than Palin's one fake one, but its ridiculous to not draw conclusions about a man who would be President who is afraid to debate the other candidate."

No, it's ridiculous to draw the conclusion that Obama is afraid of McCain when he's already shown he's willing to walk into the lion's den of Bill O'Reilly.

And for the Nth time, this isn't about debates -- it is about access to the candidates by the public and the media. Both Obama and McCain have provided plenty -- Palin has provided virtually *none*. That's the problem.

Ariel said...

Consenting to an interview with Bill O'Reilly shows you aren't afraid of debating John McCain? Boggle.

Obama is hiding from McCain (notice I said McCain, not O'Reilly), despite saying he would do otherwise. That might not show the same degree of unreadiness as the way that Palin is hiding from everyone, but both are hiding and both are showing us something undesirable about their readiness and their willingness to be open and honest with America.

Charles M. Kozierok said...

"That might not show the same degree of unreadiness as the way that Palin is hiding from everyone"

It doesn't show *any* degree of unreadiness. That was my point in mentioning O'Reilly, who hit Obama hard on pretty much every topic, and Obama did just fine.

You sound like a grade-school kid who challenges someone to a fight, and if the other person refuses *for whatever reason*, they stand around going, "what's the matter, ya chicken?"

It's childish and transparent.

Obama didn't agree to extra debates with McCain because he didn't want to have extra debates with McCain. If you want to think that's because of 'fear', be my guest.

Regardless of your attempt to change the subject, though, the real issue was and remains John McCain's deliberate attempt to hide Sarah Palin from the American people.

Ariel said...

The real issue is candidates hiding and how it reflects on them, not Palin hiding and how it reflects on her. The only reason you claim that the issue is only Palin hiding is because its not convenient for you to address the issue in an objective way from both sides. You'd rather ignore Obama's hiding from McCain and just focus on Palin's hiding from Biden and the media. Palin *must* be hiding because she is unready to lead, but you don't even bother to try to address Obama's hiding. You just lie (yes, lie) and say that he isn't hiding at all (what exactly do you call it then?). Hypocrisy alert.

Immature? You mean like resorting to personal attacks when your blind partisanship is questioned? Meh, since I'm so transparent lets just color me unimpressed.

Charles M. Kozierok said...

"The real issue is candidates hiding and how it reflects on them, not Palin hiding and how it reflects on her."

But Palin is the only one who *IS* hiding. Obama has made himself available for dozens of interviews and conferences, and he and McCain are going to have three long debates. Just because McCain wants more than the standard three, that doesn't mean Obama is hiding. It means he feels that it is time he could put to more productive use elsewhere.

"The only reason you claim that the issue is only Palin hiding is because its not convenient for you to address the issue in an objective way from both sides."

The issue is Palin because she is the only presidential or vice-presidential candidate in HISTORY who seems poised to go through the entire campaign without ever answering serious questions about her track record and policies. And that's wrong.

BaseballCoach said...

"Just because McCain wants more than the standard three, that doesn't mean Obama is hiding.

Obama said in May that we would debate John McCain "anywhere, anytime."

If he's not hiding, then he certainly LIED.

Let's face the truth, Charles. Obama may be a great orator, but he's mediocre at best without the teleprompter. McCain doesn't like the teleprompter and is much more comfortable speaking off the cuff. Obama is hiding from McCain because he cannot win in the debate format. McCain got the best of Obama at Saddleback, and I expect him to do the same in the debates.