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Palin on National Security

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Charlie Gibson had the opportunity of being the first journalist to interview Sarah Palin, after several days of being prepped by McCain aides. The New York Times wrote that choosing Mr. Gibson allowed the campaign to go with “a journalist known for having a mild manner but the gravitas to be taken seriously.” However, Gibson ranged from being somewhat stern to exasperated throughout the course of the interview, which focused on national security issues.

The most interesting moment, which was covered only by the Huffington Post, was in minute 7:52, when Palin is visibly confused about how to respond to Gibson’s question “Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?” She does not seem to know what the doctrine is, and tries to circumvent the question twice, before Gibson actually explains to her what the doctrine is all about. There are other tense moments throughout the interview, but this one was the most telling. It is interesting that a Republican governor who is the Vice Presidential Nominee doesn’t know about the Bush Doctrine, which is a set of foreign policy positions that has changed the course of this nation for decades to come, as it has led us into two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan). 

In general, Palin does not have a strong command of the issues, often regurgitating small catch phrases. However, she fails to make a case for why she is strong on national security, even though at the beginning of the interview, she confidently explained that she was ready to be VP. Even on energy security, which both McCain and Palin have said was her area of expertise, she failed to persuade viewers that she understood the complexity of national energy security policy. 

However, what is more interesting is the coverage that followed. I did a comparison of the headlines from a series of online news sources, including some of the major networks. Here are the ways each of them represented what was a fairly lackluster performance, for the heavily touted VP: 

New York Times: In First Big Interview, Palin Says ‘I’m Ready’ for the Job

LA Times: Palin says she’s prepared to be president

Washington Post: Palin Links 9/11 Attacks to Iraq

CNN: Palin takes tough stance on Russia

Fox News had NO article! They provided the transcript, which I had to search for myself. Here you go: RAW DATA: PALIN’S INTERVIEW WITH ABC NEWS

Well, I’ve been reading the comment boards, and there are still people who are writing things like ‘Oh she nailed it!’ I suspect many did not listen to her evade questions and repeat simple catch phrases over and over. I don’t doubt that Sarah Palin is a smart woman, but thats not really what the national debate is about. Its about whether, she is ready to lead the country, on any issue. Judging by just the Gibson interview, regardless of his demeanor toward her, I would say she’s not. Why? Well, if she’s angling for the number 2 spot in the country, and in many ways the world, she ought to not falter on a gimme question like the Bush Doctrine, especially when the McCain campaign has set the bar so high with regards to experience.

Written by Veena

September 12, 2008 at 4:30 am

Out of Focus

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Enough is enough. Barack said it best today, as he discussed the time and energy wasted by the McCain campaign in the last few days obsessing over whether he called Palin a pig with lipstick. He likened this intrigue to catnip that the media eagerly slurped up. In the world of  24/7 news, each media company is eagerly out to make a buck, especially in this high stakes Presidential Election. However, the lack of journalistic integrity on major all-news networks like CNN, FOX News and MSNBC to obsess over the minutia of the campaign detracts from more serious issues. 

You can turn on any of the aforementioned news networks at anytime during the day and find that they are interviewing experts on each small story that comes across their desk. The format of having multiple advisers all over the country weigh in on something as simple and inane as Obama’s lipstick comment, results in a ripple effect, with every TV station down to the local and international outlets covering this garbage in the nightly news. In the meantime, Americans are bombarded with the same 8 images or news clips both online and on television, which helps to drive negative attention toward whichever candidate has made the latest offense. This formula results in a group of uninformed voters who are voting based on media frenzy and hype versus an understanding of issues. 

The only way for this to stop is if one of these networks takes a stand. We also need more publicly funded broadcasts that don’t have other agendas and don’t need to worry about whether their ratings are going up, so they can focus on reporting news instead of selling it.

If there ever was a time to take some action it is now. If you are reading this post and any of the sentiments above resonate with how you see the world, then write to your local news paper, write a blog post. Do something, because it matters.

Written by Veena

September 10, 2008 at 7:43 pm

Divided We Fall

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All Americans recognize that partisan politics are part of a Presidential election, but the head first dive that speakers at the Republican Convention took into divisive politics that sought to deepen existing fissions along cultural lines in this country was considered reprehensible by many. 

I’m talking about how the speakers at the Republican convention relentlessly evoked images of service, patriotism, duty and tried to associate them as Republican values. The language of patriotism is usually delivered under the guise of supporting the troops, as if Democrats are somehow incapable of this. 

I’m talking about how they disparaged Democrats for being wasteful and reliant on the government, perpetuating the sentiment that only Republicans strive for efficiency in government.  Starting on Tuesday evening and culminating with John McCain on Thursday, every speech at the Republican convention was interspersed with words like; service, fight, defend, honor, legacy, protection and so on. I sat by and watched as George Bush used these same tactics in the last two elections, by demonizing ordinary Americans and accusing those who disagreed with him as being unpatriotic. I watched in 2004 as incumbent President Bush promised Americans in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan that he would take care of them, as he cooly stood by and let them dishonor John Kerry’s honorable service. (Had the opposite have been true in this election, Democrats would have been denigrated to the status of heretics by the other party).  Unfortunately, eight years have passed and no significant domestic policy changes have occurred except for the Patriot Act, which largely curbed our civil liberties and No Child Left Behind, which was severely underfunded, otherwise those folks in Ohio and elsewhere were very much forgotten. 

So now the United States has sixty days to choose between two men, who both claim to hold the key to our progress. While many John McCain supporters claim that he is not George Bush in sheep’s clothing, many remain unconvinced.  When you look at the direction President Bush has taken the country, and understand that John McCain has been in line with the large majority of his policies, its hard to believe that he’s the maverick that is going to “shake up the Washington establishment.” 

John McCain’s speech focused a great deal on his military service, for which he should be honored. His speech also touched on the economy and how he seeks to change America’s course, because he recognizes that the country is moving in the wrong direction. This is striking because for 6 of the last 8 years, the Republican party who claims to represent true American values, have held power in the legislative and executive branches and have not been able to make the changes to the Washington. It is this party, who seems to have forgotten the core principles our founding fathers took great pains to create. America’s founding fathers wrote that “all men are created equal and are endowed with unalienable rights including Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Their speeches throughout the week, and policies that exclude all groups, reflect their rejection of the very creed that freed our nation.

Instead, their policies have helped to increase the inequality in this country, with tax cuts for the rich and severe under-investment in education, healthcare, science and technology. While McCain showed promise, he has reversed his positions on energy and immigration, helping him to fall back in line with his party’s base.  

When Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani ridiculed the “others” for freeloading off the government, and explained that Republicans know the difference between good and evil, he was saying, “you are either with us or against us.” Their hypocrisy could be the topic of several other articles, but what was even more compelling was the large audience cheering them on with rhythmic and regular chants of “USA” and “Country First,” laughing along with their fairly crude humor. The Republican party fails to recognize that every American is the grandson or granddaughter of generations of immigrants who came to the United States for religious freedom and economic opportunities. As someone who is a daughter of South Asian immigrants, who learned about the American dream, by watching her parents work hard to send their children to the best schools and raised them with strong values and instilled great patriotism and commitment to our communities, these images of the “other America” were eerie and saddening. John McCain might claim to understand the world, but the RNC convention made sure that anyone who was not on the Republican side, felt extremely alienated and bewildered.

If the United States is to heal after The horrendous 9/11 attacks, The agonizing and underrepresented wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, The racial profiling against Americans at the behest of feds that were in hot pursuit of terrorists, The resurgence of race and class wars and vast inequality, The diminished standing of the United States and our lack of forward vision, then we need someone who has the strength of character and conviction and a strong devotion to all Americans, not just those who fit an ideal, defined by the Republican party. This is not an opinion shared by one, but by many, as evidenced by the ten million dollars raised by the Obama campaign, the day after the RNC went on the attack. 

America needs a President who will lead them into the future, one who has lived the American dream, who has an informed world view and can bring innovation, creativity and integrity to the role and who has a definition of American, that encompasses all, not only the few, this is why Barack Obama will make a great President.

Pit bulls With Lipstick

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If you thought this convention was going to be about issues, tonight’s line up of speakers from Mitt Romney to the VP nominee herself, Sarah Palin, made it clear that it was more about the art of illusion. Throughout the summer McCain had trouble rallying his base, and in the wake of the convention and the proximity to election day, he decided to coalesce and go along with traditional Republican themes. I suppose what is disappointing is that before this election began, twenty or so months ago, John McCain had a reputation in Washington as a Senator who had worked across party lines and had focused on issues like campaign finance reform and energy security. However, in the last few months, and especially in the weeks since Steve Schmidt joined his campaign, it seems that much of this independence has dissipated in a race for the White House. This feeling was most apparent in Mitt Romney’s speech, which was both Romney’s opportunity to appeal to the base, and a way to rouse the crowd, after a fairly uneventful first night.

Mitt Romney’s speech was perhaps the most reprehensible because of his use of fear mongering; reaching into Bush’s vocabulary using phrases like axis of evil and exclaiming that John McCain would defeat radical violent Islam. He also tried to evoke the notion that Patriotism was reserved to Republicans. It amazes me that he can talk about what America needs and then talk about how Democrats as elitist liberals who were more interested in giving rights to criminals. When someone who was running for President questions habeas corpus, you have to wonder if they really understand what America is really about.  This sentiment was echoed forcefully by Sarah Palin, who stated ““Al-Qaida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America; he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights.” These are dangerous remarks to make, they are polarizing and inaccurate and it is irresponsible for the Republican party to play to Americans’ vulnerabilities in such a misguided way. Since 9/11 the “imprison now, question later” motto of the Bush/Cheney administration has seriously encumbered on our rights as Americans. Romney also talked about how the Republican party was the “party of big ideas, not the party of big brother.” What about wiretapping, isn’t that as big brother as it gets? 

As far as Sarah Palin went, she seemed to be the refreshing face that the Republicans have needed. She was effective with the crowd and is definitely a more exciting speaker than McCain. However, I thought it was in extremely bad taste for her to diminish the role of community organizers, saying “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities,” which was a direct reference to Senator Obama’s remarks, that were later called sexist by Carly Fiorina. Several commentators pointed out that her remarks have the potential to alienate the communities she was seeking to reach out to in her speech. The other interesting thing is that in recognizing Sarah Palin’s executive experience, albeit still rather slim, one must also recognize that John McCain does not have any executive experience. Since this is one of their strongest claims against the Obama/Biden ticket, and McCain is angling for the top job, does that mean he too is ill-equipped for the job? 

Sarah Palin came out fighting, and in her own words remarked that she is a pitbull with lipstick, so I am hoping Carly Fiorina will stop playing the sex card, and recall the cheap shots that were angled at Obama’s character, instead of his policy stances, when the Dems start to fight back. 

As an American, I think that RNC Night 2, was extremely offensive. Mike Huckabee actually used the phrase “man of color”, Palin dimished the importance of community organizers and the whole host of speakers made it seem like Democrats were both unpatriotic and unAmerican. I watched speech after speech last week, and the Dems did not go for the jugular, they went after McCain on the issues. On the other hand, the Republicans, while trying to rally a cry to all Americans, made it seem like they were focused on a very particular demographic. This is concerning, as the latest census shows that in 30 years, this country will be one-third Hispanic and one-third White.

However, I do recognize that Sarah Palin appeals to people in a way that Barack and Joe have not been able to, because I think they seem different, despite their humble beginnings. This is where the Democrats need to improve their appeal. In any case, I look forward to less of the partisan politics and more to some substantive discussions on issues where America is headed.

Written by Veena

September 4, 2008 at 7:13 am

Republican Convention Redux – Night 2

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Despite a large crowd that waved placards and broke out in random chants of “U-S-A” and “Country First” over the course of two hours, there was not a great deal of enthusiasm during the first full night of the Republican National Convention. In addition, having watched most of the DNC convention last week, the organization and overall execution were certainly not matched by the Republican party this election year. 

The lack of enthusiasm was reflected most obviously in President Bush’s brief and carefully constructed speech. I’m not sure what the political pundits are saying right now, but it seemed to me that the speech was extremely forced. The President also did not really go after the Democrats, aside from a few small jabs like referring to the “angry left.” The concise nature of the President’s speech has not gone unnoticed by the media, who have indicated that the McCain campaign has taken pains to distance themselves from the sitting President, who is largely unpopular amongst most Americans. 

The surprise speaker of the night was Fred Thompson, not because he wasn’t scheduled, but because he was more energetic than everyone who preceded him. Thompson had some interesting lines in trying to make the case that John McCain was made up of “rebellion and honor.” Perhaps the most out of place line was when Fred Thompson explained that McCain drove a “Corvette and dated a girl who worked in a bar as an exotic dancer under the name of Marie, the Flame of Florida.” Thompson also focused a great deal of time in detailing out John McCain’s extremely painful and heroic ordeal as a POW during the Vietnam War. During these moments, the audience seemed somber, especially the many Veterans that sat in the audience.  

He made several jabs towards Obama, likening him to someone who “talked a good deal on the Sunday talk shows and frequented the Washington cocktail circuit.” However, nothing was much of a surprise, it was really the typical “Obama is a talker, not a reformer” rhetoric. He also warned of the protectionism, higher taxes and expansive bureaucracy if Obama were elected and made fun of the lack of Progress made by the sitting democratically controlled congress. In some ways, it was disappointing, because I expected the Republicans to have some fresh new ideas, but this was not the case. In the same vein, while Thompson did do McCain justice by describing his character, he failed to impart why McCain’s service, would translate to being the best choice for President. 

Then, it was on to the keynote speaker,  Joseph Lieberman, a former Democrat turned Independent.  From the get go, Lieberman failed to engage the audience, and only received applause when he uttered a positive statement about John McCain’s service.  Lieberman, like Thompson, touched on McCain’s history of being a reformer and standing up to political lobbies and even in some cases taking on the Republican establishment. However, as he continued to speak, it almost seemed that McCain, the maverick, reformer etc. didn’t belong to to the Republican party, but rather that he was an Independent, running under the guise of ‘Republican’. By this point in the night, the convention hall in St. Paul seemed like a diffused balloon, as the camera panned across delegates, looking off into space or half-heartedly waving signs emblazoned with “COUNTRY FIRST” on one side. Unfortunately for Lieberman, he did not make a strong case for McCain’s run for the presidency. The only issue he touched on forcefully was the surge in Iraq, which was successful, but at a recognized cost. (See Iraq War Posts on this blog).

Overall, unlike last week, when the Democrats were able to deliver consistent and cohesive messages, the Republican party seemed to flounder. On the second night of the convention, there were no energizing speakers who appealed to the base, but rather a group of scattered speakers who failed to deliver for John McCain. 

Update: In a commentary by Carl Bernstein regarding the theme of last night’s Republican convention, it seemed that he felt strongly that the subtle references to the “angry left” and continual reference to patriotism should be concerning to the Democrats because these are the same tactics that were used to elect Bush 43, in 2000 and 2004.

I agree with Bernsteins’s article because from the haunting video about American’s and service to the detailed account of John McCain’s time in a torture camp, it seems as if they were trying to put forth the notion that he was in fact more in line with “America.” However, as I noted above, the almost feverish appeal of “USA” and “COUNTRY FIRST” chants that took over the room, was eerie, since the population of the room was not representative of a modern-day America.

Here’s the article: http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/03/bernstein.rnc/index.html 

Written by Veena

September 3, 2008 at 5:18 am

SPIN!

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Update 9/3: Looks like the McCain campaign thought they were being treated unfairly because Campbell Brown, asked them a question. As a result, Larry King Live will no longer get the McCain/ Palin interview. More on this story here: http://www.broadcastingcable.com/CA6592163.html

 

Original Post:

The McCain campaign’s spokesman, Tucker Bounds, was surprisingly grilled on CNN by Campbell Brown. Definitely watch the entire thing because she tries to hold his feet to the fire, because he actually failed to answer a single question that she asked with a direct response. Instead, his response throughout the 7 minute interview was to deflect her questions and respond in the negative about the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. 

However, throughout the whole interview, Tucker Bounds is unable to articulate clearly whether Sarah Palin meets the McCain campaign’s high standard for foreign policy experience, which they have so aggressively applied to Barack Obama in the summer months of the campaign. 

This is a departure from the traditional interviews that CNN anchors usually conduct with political strategists and campaign representatives. Moreover, it does continue to highlight how ill-eqiupped the McCain campaign is to respond to specific questions about their VP candidate. It will be interesting to see how the campaign represents Palin to the general public during the Republican National Convention this week.

Written by Veena

September 2, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Polar Opposites

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 Senator McCain has chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate. This move seems to indicate that McCain’s campaign has hitched their success in this election to the Hillary Clinton supporters that are still angry and unwilling to accept Barack Obama as their Presidential candidate. However, Sarah Palin is quite possibly the polar opposite of Hillary Clinton.

If the McCain camp tries to tap the experience issue, then Sarah Palin’s time as city council member and mayor of a small time, and brief executive experience as governor (less than 2 years) is not going to quell voters concerns. In fact, it might raise more concerns about whether the McCain administration is ready for the hard work that awaits them in the White House. This is especially true because she thus far doesn’t seem to have any major foreign policy or national security experience.

If the McCain camp is trying to appeal to women’s rights, well then Sarah Palin is definitely not their lady, because she is pro-life and an active member of Feminists for Life

Oh, she also opposes same-sex marriage and is in favor of drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge. 

The strategy on selecting Palin is still unclear to me, but from just a few minutes of research, it is clear that she is going to find it challenging to debate Senator Biden on national security, foreign policy and perhaps even economic issues. In addition, several the country with a serious question – if McCain could not serve, is America willing to take the risk on this one-term governor as the next President of the United States? This seems to be the contention in the media as well.

It will be an interesting election moving forward, but I certainly don’t see any Hillary supporters moving over to this camp, because Sarah Palin’s social values are so distinctly different. In fact, the selection of a candidate who is so far removed from Hillary’s beliefs, might have helped bring those on the fence, back to Obama’s side.

Written by Veena

August 29, 2008 at 3:16 pm