Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘2008 election’

The inside story of the Sarah Palin nomination

Posted by sanityinjection on August 3, 2009

I have been trying to avoid talking about Sarah Palin’s resignation as Governor of Alaska. Frankly, I’m not all that interested in Palin anymore, and I was disgusted by the Republicans who decided that the best thing they could do to revive the party’s fortunes was to publicly trash their recent Vice-Presidential nominee in the media. Apparently Reagan’s 11th Commandment has become passe these days.

More interesting for political junkies like myself is the inside story of how – and why – Palin was chosen to be McCain’s running mate. Today’s WashPost has an excerpt from a book on the 2008 election by Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson. They spoke with the top McCain advisors who were involved in the search process and the vetting of Palin to get the real story. Among other things, the piece explains how seriously the campaign considered picking Joe Lieberman, and why McCain decided to take a risk with Palin rather than go with the safe choice, Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty:

“She would not necessarily be ready on Jan. 20, 2009, to be vice president, but in his estimation few candidates ever are. 

“John, high risk, high reward.”

He said McCain replied, “You shouldn’t have told me that. I’ve been a risk-taker all of my life.””

If, like me, you always want to know what is really going on behind the scenes at the highest levels of political decision making, this is a must read.


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Obama Administration drops voter intimidation charges against racist thugs!

Posted by sanityinjection on May 29, 2009

This is a disturbing story. During the 2008 election, at a polling place in Philadelphia, three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense took it upon themselves to “stand guard” at the entrance to the polling place, wearing military-style uniforms and targeting voters with racial slurs. One of the men was visibly armed with a nightstick. Needless to say, voters were intimidated and frightened. Civil rights activist Bartle Bull, a veteran of the struggle to secure the rights of blacks to vote in the Deep South, said:

In my opinion, the men created an intimidating presence at the entrance to a poll. In all my experience in politics, in civil rights litigation and in my efforts in the 1960s to secure the right to vote in Mississippi … I have never encountered or heard of another instance in the United States where armed and uniformed men blocked the entrance to a polling location.”

The Justice Department properly pursued the case and expected to win since the defendants refused to appear or answer the complaint against them. Inexplicably, higher-ups at Justice appointed by President Obama have now ordered  the lower-level lawyers (who are not political appointees) to drop the charges.

I must ask this of my liberal friends: Does anyone seriously think that if this had been three Klansmen dressed in hoods and sheets, that these charges would be dropped without a massive outcry in the media? And yet, you can bet that you will not hear this story being trumpeted by the massive organs of the liberal media. And where is the Democratic Party’s oft-expressed concern about voter suppression? I guess it doesn’t apply as long as the thugs in question happen to be black.

More than anything, this reminds me of the permissive attitude toward politically motivated violence during the Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s. Local officials routinely looked the other way or sat by helplessly while paramilitary groups affiliated with both the left and right wings did battle in the streets. We all know what resulted from that.

The issue is not whether these three fools are especially dangerous – the legal case was not a criminal complaint but a civil one. The issue is that the Administration’s action will certainly serve notice to other such thugs that they can use violence to threaten and intimidate voters without fear of retribution – as long as they are backing the right (or indeed, the Left) cause.

So the next time you encounter a left-wing protester, carrying a sign demanding the legalization of gay marriage, the enactment of restrictive carbon emissions legislation, or the closing of Guantanamo Bay, ask them when they will be speaking out against voter intimidation and supression by the “Philadelphia Three”.

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2008 post-election analysis and the future of the GOP

Posted by sanityinjection on January 12, 2009

RealClearPolitics, in discussing the concept of “permanent majorities” and the cycle of party dominance in American politics, gives us this interesting look back at the 2008 election:

We see that McCain’s lead over Obama holds until Lehman Brothers and AIG collapse. McCain’s numbers drop again after he suspends his campaign, and Obama’s start to rise as the Dow later starts to fall. By the time the stock market bottoms out around 8,500, Obama had the 8-point lead that he would hold through Election Day.

Without the collapse, the campaign dynamic could have been quite different. For instance, how would the country have reacted had the Obama campaign been forced to go sharply negative, rather than employing the kind of “Rose Garden strategy” it was able to employ? If one accepts that the financial collapse hurt Republicans by even a couple of points, then Norm Coleman, Ted Stevens, and Gordon Smith would have stood a much better chance of holding their seats, and Republican House losses might have been quite reduced. In other words, were it not for the timing of an event that was out of the campaigns’ control, the election could have been different.

This is significant as it pertains to the current soul-searching going on in the Republican party. Viewed in this light, 2008 does not represent any kind of wholesale rejection of Republican policies or values. What it does indicate is that the electorate lost confidence in the GOP’s ability to manage the economy, which is significant. If the Republicans want to remold themselves in response to the elections, the key to doing that would seem to be to regain the high ground on economic issues by returning to a policy of fiscal discipline. Under the Bush Administration, Republicans in Congress passed spending increase after spending increase and Bush vetoed none of them. They called for tax cuts, but without corresponding cuts in spending voters may well have wondered where those tax breaks were going to come from.

It’s true that a significant portion of the spending increase was in the defense sector. But if that is to be justified (and I think it can be), then it has to be accompanied by reductions in other areas. Instead, Bush and the GOP horse-traded away fiscal responsibility to the Democrats in return for the latter party’s support of the war funding.

Republicans are beginning the process of arguing themselves into apoplexy over whether the party should become more or less socially conservative. This argument is pointless and needlessly divisive. To borrow a phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

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States to watch tonight

Posted by sanityinjection on November 4, 2008

Sure, we’re all going to watch the election coverage tonight. But let’s be honest – who can pay attention for four hours straight without wavering? Sanity Injection brings you the key states to watch tonight so you know when to start paying attention, and when to go to bed:

FLORIDA: Florida is the absolute must-win state for McCain. There is no scenario where he wins without it. If Florida goes for Obama, you can turn off the TV and head for bed, because it’s not gonna be close. If McCain wins Florida, which I think he will, then he stays alive.

PENNSYLVANIA: Pennsylvania is McCain’s big gamble. The state is expected to go to Obama, but McCain has made a huge effort here. If Obama wins, it’s the first nail in McCain’s coffin. If McCain wins, things is gonna get interestin’.

OHIO: Ohio is also critical for McCain. If he wins Pennsylvania and Ohio, it will be a long night. If he loses Pennsylvania but wins Ohio, McCain can still win. If Obama wins both Pennsylvania and Ohio, it should be all over unless McCain gets an upset in Minnesota and wins everywhere else.

VIRGINIA: Virginia is the third state in the Pennsylvania-Ohio-Virginia Triumvirate that will decide the election. A sweep of all three states wins the election for either candidate. McCain needs to win at least two out of three in order to stay alive, and would still need help out West.

NEVADA: If McCain is still alive when Nevada is called, and he hasn’t swept the Triumvirate, he’ll need Nevada to win. If he loses here, it’s lights out.

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A Sanity Injection for President: John McCain

Posted by sanityinjection on October 27, 2008

It has never been the intent of this blog to serve as a mouthpiece for any political party or candidate. I hope that readers of varying political persuasions can find information, entertainment and the chance to offer their voices here. Nevertheless, with only one week remaining before the biggest election in our country’s recent history, I feel that it is time to be clear about my choice for President of the United States. Sanity Injection officially endorses Senator John McCain for President.

It is certainly tempting for independent voters and even some Republicans to consider a vote for Senator Barack Obama. With the war in Iraq and foreign policy in general fading as an issue of concern to voters, this election has become one about the economy. The current economic difficulties seem to deliver a failing grade for the nation’s leadership, and Obama’s message of change resonates with voters who are fearful and looking for someone to lead them toward brighter horizons.

Indeed, Obama possesses many fine qualities for voters to admire. He is intelligent, an astute politican, possessed of remarkable charisma and great rhetorical skill. He projects a quiet confidence combined with the ability to truly inspire even the cynical in a way no other political leader has in the last eight years. Obama’s candidacy, to the extent that he has inspired people to become involved in the politicial process, has had a positive effect regardless of the outcome of the election.

And yet, a closer inspection of Senator Obama leaves me with areas of concern. Does he really represent change? Well yes, as an individual, a young black man with a very different personality and leadership style from our current President. But the policies Senator Obama has made the focus of his campaign (as opposed to those he has paid lip service to such as NAFTA and offshore oil drilling) are not new and different, but have been advocated before by many within his party, which it should be noted has controlled Congress for the past two years as the economy has gone sour. Electing a Democratic President whose views are solidly in line with an even stronger Democratic Congress is not “change” – at least, not change for the better.

Secondly, while Obama has great potential as a leader, his relative youth and inexperience raise questions about his ability to handle the most powerful job in the world. Obama would be the second most inexperienced President since 1900. His rapid, meteoric rise to power, impressive as it is, leaves one searching for anything resembling adversity that Obama has had to overcome. We have virtually nothing to tell us how a President Obama will respond the first time he fails at something, as all Presidents inevitably must. One of President Bush’s worst qualities has been his inability to recognize, admit, and work on his mistakes; we cannot afford to risk more of that in the future.

By contrast, Senator John McCain has been tested by adversity in ways few of us can ever completely appreciate. McCain’s long history of service to his country as a soldier and a legislator leave no doubt as to his readiness for the office of the Presidency. His record is full of instances in which McCain bucked special interests and his own party leadership in order to do what he thought – rightly or wrongly – was best for the country. Senator Obama’s record is empty in this regard.

It is hard to imagine a circumstance a President McCain could face that would faze him compared to what he has already endured in the past. McCain’s much-discussed temper does not control his actions, and has not prevented his long and successful political career. Like his opponent, McCain possesses a healthy sense of humor which helps to keep him balanced, as well as a very real spirit of humility and the ability to criticize his own mistakes- a rarity among politicians.

Finally, I must note that I have personally met Senator McCain on a number of occasions. It is hard to explain the impression that he makes in person – a man who bears the scars of his past, but wears them lightly; whose diminutive, even crippled stature somehow only serves to enhance the quiet strength of his will. The McCain I have walked and talked with is the man who, time and time again sat alone by the bedside of the dying Democrat Mo Udall when all of his other political friends had forgotten him, to gain nothing for himself but simply to quietly be there for a man he viewed as a mentor and a friend, never seeking press coverage.

If the two criteria for selecting a President are one’s character and the record of one’s career of public service, there can be no question that Senator McCain is the better of two above-average choices. Sanity Injection recommends that voters still undecided ask themselves this question: “Of the two candidates, who do I feel is more likely to put the country’s needs ahead of his own personal and political ambitions?” Let that answer guide your vote.

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Even journalists now admit the media is hopelessly biased on the election

Posted by sanityinjection on October 27, 2008

Today’s must-read column is from Michael Malone over at ABC News. Malone, a career journalist, laments that the media’s coverage of this election has become so biased that even Dan Rather thinks it’s gone too far:

Malone gives specific examples of how the mainstream media has treated one candidate very differently than the other – not so much by aggressive reporting of one candidate’s foibles, but by a lack of aggressive reporting of the other’s.

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How McCain can still win: The six-state strategy

Posted by sanityinjection on October 22, 2008

With polls showing Barack Obama in the lead now in virtually all of what had been considered “toss-up” states, it is looking more and more like the Democrats will capture the Presidency in the upcioming election. However, a look at the electoral college map suggests that McCain only has to make gains in six key states in order to win the election.

My previous analyses focused on Michigan, Ohio, and the three western states of Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico as the keys to the election. Since then, Colorado and New Mexico seem to be definitely in the Obama camp as well as Michigan, where the McCain campaign has essentially abandoned its efforts.

Instead, McCain is focusing on what his advisors see as an opportunity in the Keystone State of Pennsylvania, where Obama’s lead is seen as vulnerable. A win there would more than offset Obama’s likely victory in the previously Republican-leaning state of Virginia.

In order to win, McCain needs to hold his lead in the states where he is currently ahead, and he needs to pick off the following “toss-up” states which currently favor Obama:

Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Nevada (or New Hampshire.)

This would give McCain 273(272) electoral votes to Obama’s 265 (266) for a narrow victory. In five of the states mentioned, Obama’s lead in the polls is less than 3%.

Of course, this is still not an easy task. But do not be fooled by the media’s insistence that the race is over and Obama is going to win by a landslide. That has always been unlikely and it’s still unlikely now. I think McCain wins at least 4 of the 6 states.

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Comedians pick on Republicans – Should we care?

Posted by sanityinjection on October 16, 2008

Over a five-week period since the end of the conventions, a study shows that late-night comedians told 7 times as many jokes about John McCain and Sarah Palin as they did about Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Should we care?

Well, yes. The point is not that comedians like Jay Leno or David Letterman are deliberately trying to smear the Republican ticket. I have no doubt that they would be surprised by the disparity and insist it is unintentional. And I’m sure that’s true, at least to the extent that they are unlikely to be censoring jokes about the Democrats thought up by their writers.

Rather, the writers themselves simply aren’t suggesting jokes about the Democrats. Again, probably not intentionally. Comedy writers tend toward the liberal side of the spectrum and it’s natural to make fun of those you disagree with.

I don’t think anyone would argue that it is a problem if, on a given episode of the Tonight Show, Leno does a Sarah Palin joke and doesn’t do a Joe Biden joke. No one wants to take equal time to that extent. However, it is a different story if night after night after night, the barbs are only going one way, especially if they are repeating a theme over and over again. If you hear something over and over many times, and never hear anything contradictory, it’s only natural you will start to believe it. So for example, if Leno and Letterman are doing jokes about McCain’s age night after night, eventually a regular viewer cannot help but become partially convinced that, in fact, maybe McCain *is* too old to be a good President.

Want proof? I give you Gerald Ford. Comedians frequently made jokes about President Ford being a klutz and a lousy golfer, based on a couple of things Ford did on particular occasions in front of the camera. Millions of Americans old enough to remember still associate these characteristics with Ford. In fact, Ford was actually gifted with above-average dexterity, having been a college athlete, and was quite a good golfer. But people believed these myths about Ford because they were fed them over and over and over again.

Nor do I buy the line that Obama and/or Biden aren’t as funny or as ripe for the picking. Come on – Biden is famous for sticking his foot in his mouth, and makes an easy target. And one can endlessly make fun of the “Obama as Messiah” theme without any reference to his race. Comedians certainly have not shied away from spoofing Jesse Jackson for fear of being called racist.

It’s healthy to be able to laugh at our politicians and elected officials. But when all the laughter is one-sided, it starts to blur the line between humor and character assassination, however unintentional it may be.

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Final Presidential Debate: Analysis

Posted by sanityinjection on October 16, 2008

Last night’s final debate between the Presidential candidates finally provided something that political analysts have been craving: a good story. Today’s media outlets feature a dozen stories about America’s new Everyman, “Joe The Plumber”, the star of McCain’s most effective line of attack on his opponent in the debate.

More on Joe in a moment. But first I’d like to note that Bob Schieffer did a very good job as the moderator, getting the candidates talking to each other which they largely avoided in the previous debates. Schieffer stepped in only when he had to, and kept the focus not on himself but on the candidates, where it belongs. None of this came as a surprise to me, because I have felt for a long time that Schieffer is the finest network TV journalist in America. His constant professionalism gives the lie to those who would have us believe that you cannot be objective and still ask tough questions. CBS gained nothing when they booted Schieffer from their evening newsanchor spot in favor of Katie Couric, other than an upgrade in the legs department. TV journalism will be immeasurably poorer the day that Schieffer decides to retire.

The format of the debate, like the first debate, put Senator McCain at a disadvantage. Having an audience that is not allowed to react squashes the effectiveness of McCain’s humor, one of his best assets. The side-by-side split screen that showed both candidates throughout the debate was a disaster for McCain. He doesn’t need the contrast between his weathered features and Senator Obama’s handsome ones. McCain sat there with a weak smile on his face while obama talked, looking for all the world like your senile grandpa who doesn’t seem to understand what’s going on. Obama reacted to McCain’s attacks just as he would to that grandpa – by lowering his head and laughing with what appeared to be affectionate tolerance. McCain didn’t help matters by constantly tripping over his own tongue, though his accidental reference to his opponent as “Senator Government” would have been brilliant if it had been deliberate.

In fact, Obama was on the defensive for most of this debate, which was also a change from the previous debates. Yet Obama handled all of McCain’s assaults well – answering some and deflecting others. It was a masterful performance, helped by the fact that most of McCain’s charges were ones he had made in the previous debates, which Obama obviously had plenty of time to prepare answers for. McCain did score a number of good points, but Obama was unrattled. Surprisingly, the war on terror and Afghanistan were never mentioned – I can’t fathom why McCain would fail to introduce the one topic where he consistently beats Obama among voters. As in the previous debate, Obama has to be considered the winner by default, because McCain needed a decisive victory and Obama didn’t.

As I have said earlier, the key to understanding a debate is not how viewers react during the debate, but how they react to the stories that the media runs with that come out of the debate. Herein lies the one potential bright spot for McCain. The story of this debate is the story of Joe The Plumber, an independent voter who was caught on film questioning Obama at a public appearance as to whether Obama’s plan would raise his taxes if he were to purchase the business he works for. In response, Obama came as close as he ever has to making a gaffe by using the phrase, “spreading the wealth around”. McCain skillfully used this interaction to debunk Obama’s assertions that his economic plan would not hurt any working people and recast him as a socialist. Obama fought back pretty well, with both candidates at times turning to the camera and speaking directly to Joe, although Obama seemed to think doing so was a bit beneath him.

Needless to say, the media ate this up. The problem for Obama is that, while he was able to control the effect of the attack with his responses, what he cannot control is the real Joe The Plumber. That man, Joe Wurzelbacher, instantly became the hottest ticket for the chattering classes. Naturally, everyone wanted to know: What does Joe think? Who is Joe going to vote for?

And Joe has not hesitated to give interviews. While refusing to say who he will vote for, he had nothing good to say about Obama, saying that the Senator’s response to him:

“scared me even more…That’s kind of a socialist viewpoint. You know, I work for that. You know, it’s my discretion who I want to give my money to; it’s not for the government decide that I make a little too much and so I need to share it with other people. That’s not the American Dream.”

McCain could not have found a better surrogate or a better encapsulation of his characterization of his opponent’s economic policies. Although powerful, it may well come too late to make a difference in the race. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Obama campaign quickly trots out its own iconic blue-collar symbol (Mary The Schoolteacher? Tony The Construction Worker?) to try to counteract Joe The Plumber’s impact. McCain still needs something else between now and election day – either some dramatic improvement in the economy or a foreign policy crisis – in order to turn the tide.

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The Biden-Palin VP Debate: Analysis

Posted by sanityinjection on October 3, 2008

There’s an old saying in sports that there is a difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. In sports, playing not to lose is usually a bad strategy, but in politics, that’s not always the case. Last night, both VP nominees, Sentaor Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin, were playing not to lose. And in my opinion, both were successful.

The debate held pitfalls for both candidates. For Biden, the danger was that he would get carried away and say something offensive or inane that would embarrass his campaign. He did not do that last night. For Palin, the danger was that she would flub questions and be exposed as inexperienced and not knowledgeable enough on the issues facing the country. She did not do that last night.

I thought both candidates’ performances could be described as good but not stellar. There was nothing “game-changing” in this debate; nobody scored a knockout punch. Biden displayed a good command of the issues and spent most of the debate hammering John McCain’s record and campaign proposals. On the intangibles, he came across as reasonable and avoided the danger of appearing condescending or dismissive of his opponent – notably refraining from correcting her when she flubbed the name of a general. He even choked up slightly at one point when discussing the loss of his first wife and his concern over his son who is serving in the National Guard.

Palin managed to hold her own against Biden. She was never going to outpoint him on policy details, but she was conversant on the issues and succeeded in challenging several aspects of Obama’s and Biden’s records that Biden then had to defend. On the intangibles, her charisma absolutely radiated – she actually winked at the camera on a couple of occasions. She was authentic as she reminded the audience of her solidly middle-class, middle-America status.

To the extent that anyone “won” this debate, I would give the nod to Palin, not because she outpointed Biden, but because she had the most to lose if she had performed poorly. She confounded the many critics who expected her to fall flat on her face. Biden, by contrast was a known quantity; his performance, while one of his better ones, was less of a story.

The problem for the Republicans is that this debate is unlikely to have a major impact on the race, as VP debates almost never do. (In 1988 Lloyd Bentsen absolutely destroyed Dan Quayle in their debate, but the Bush-Quayle ticket still won the election decisively.) Obama is surging in the polls, no doubt in part because of the current economic crisis which focuses voter attention on the Democrats’ issues. McCain and Palin need something in the next 30 days that will reverse that trend, or they will almost certainly lose. As it stands right now, the Obama campaign just needs to play defense. But their lead is not so great as to be insurmountable or irreversible. What we learned last night is this: If McCain loses the election, it won’t be because of Sarah Palin.

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