Tag Archives: GOP Presidential Candidate John McCain

John McCain Aides Trash Gov. Sarah Palin in Vanity Fair

Republican presidential candidate John McCain names Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain named Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008.

Longtime friends and campaign workers for Arizona Sen. John McCain have been talking to Vanity Fair about what Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s candidacy as vice president did for the GOP ticket in 2008.

“A Little Shop of Horrors,” said one unnamed aide.

Perhaps they want to keep the governor — still a hot-button favorite among social conservatives — off the ticket in 2012?

In a just-published piece by Todd Purdum in the August Vanity Fair, McCain aides said they still suffer a kind of survivor’s guilt. (An earlier version of this post misspelled the author’s last name as Purdam.)

“They can’t quite believe that for two frantic months last fall, caught in a Bermuda Triangle of a campaign, they worked their tails off to try to elect as vice president of the United States someone who, by mid-October, they believed for certain was nowhere near ready for the job, and might never be,” Purdam writes.

A former reporter for the New York Times and husband of former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers, Purdam has a few nuggets of news. Reports of tension between Palin and McCain are, well, true.

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Judging Sarah Palin By The Cover

Sarah Palin Newsweek cover

Sarah Palin Newsweek cover

With its outrage over Palin’s unflattering Newsweek cover photo, Fox News proves that it creates its own reality.  Senior lecturer Sarah Churchwell, writing for the Guardian.co.uk, examines from an international perspective the uproar by the conservative Republicans to the unairbrushed closeup photograph of Gov. Palin.

Last week, Newsweek ran a cover story on Sarah Palin with a close-up of Palin on its cover under the headline “She’s one of the folks (and that’s the problem)”. Republican commentators were quick to protest, but their opposition took a novel turn: they objected not to the explicitly editorialising headline, but to what they argued was an implicitly editorialising photograph. Fox News’s Megyn Kelly complained that it was “ridiculously unfair to her – not the headline, but the photograph”.

The twist was that the photo had not been altered, which, Republican pundits like Andrea Tantaros claimed, was evidence of clear bias on the part of the magazine. “This cover is a clear slap in the face of Sarah Palin,” she told Kelly. “Why? Because it’s unretouched. It highlights every imperfection that every human being has. We’re talking unwanted facial hair, pores, wrinkles.” And why is a news magazine revealing normal human imperfection suddenly objectionable, rather than, you know, normal and human? Because, according to Tantaros, “unlike movie stars and liberal media types, regular ‘folks’ have other concerns besides tweezing, waxing, moisturising, exfoliating, detoxifying and pore tightening. We’re busy.”

You have to admire the sheer effrontery of the proposition that the liberal media has time for grooming but the conservative media does not. Tantaros’s exhaustive catalogue of cosmetic procedures would seem to belie her protestations – if her appearance hadn’t already. This is a woman who is no stranger to the made-up, in every sense of the word. I was reminded of nothing so much as Claude Rains in Casablanca being shocked – shocked! – to find a casino at Rick’s at the same moment that the waiter hands him his winnings. Except that the new twist on the old hypocrisy is that the regular folks who don’t have the time or luxury to spend on superficial appearances are complaining about being confronted with unvarnished reality. Nothing is so unfair as facts in a world of spin, distortion and brazen misrepresentation.

One of my grandmothers would have called this the chickens coming home to roost – except that she was something of a diehard Republican herself. My other grandmother, a liberal elite and damn proud of it, would have said they’ve been hoist with their own petard.

There’s a reason why children learn through rote: repeat something enough, and it will become a habit of thought, and eventually a mode of perception. If you become accustomed to shaping reality to suit your own agenda, then actual reality, when it reappears, will come as an unwelcome shock. And it will always reappear. Facts don’t go away just because they’re as unwanted as facial hair. Tantaros is half right, of course: regular folks don’t object to wrinkles, facial hair or pores, and are unlikely to start disparaging Palin because of the empirical evidence of a photograph. As the article inside the magazine noted, we have far bigger empirical problems with Palin – and her imperfections are far from skin deep.

We have become so accustomed to a world of slant and partiality that Megyn Kelly, looking for reasons to object to the Newsweek cover, explicitly didn’t object to the headline, or consider it unfair. But – unlike the photograph – the headline completely lacked impartiality, announcing its “problem” with Palin from the outset.

As someone who shares that problem, I wasn’t predisposed to protest. After reading the actual article – which apparently conservative media types can’t be bothered to do, as they’re too busy worrying about appearances – I am even more disposed to agree with the article’s perspective, and its arguments. But I am deeply concerned that we’ve become so used to living in a “No Fact Zone“, to borrow Stephen Colbert’s phrase, that Kelly, Tantaros, et al could see nothing remarkable in a news magazine’s cover story announcing an interpretive judgment from the outset.

We’ve been spun for so long that we can no longer see straight – an undiluted truth, like an untouched photograph, is suspect, dishonest in its honesty, imbalanced by virtue of being insufficiently, or openly, imbalanced. We recognise distortion only in its absence. Objectivity has become objectionable, and if it’s unflattering, it must be unfair.

As an accidental expatriate living in Britain for the last decade, I have often been asked why the UK doesn’t have a version of shows like The Colbert Report, as if its absence reflects a failure of nerve on Britain’s part. But the answer seems to me obvious: it is because the BBC and the other major British news outlets still exercise the principle of journalistic impartiality, and still believe in that fusty, archaic, elitist thing called truth. They don’t always achieve it, to be sure, but as far as I can tell America’s stopped trying. Colbert only makes sense in a mediasphere dominated by the likes of Megyn Kelly, who finds objectivity unfair when it doesn’t favour her agenda. Objectivity may be an impossible ideal for humans to achieve, but that it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth striving for. There’s a reason why we call it the ugly truth.

From over here across the pond, it seems that America has been quite cavalier in its willingness to toss the principles of fact and objectivity aside in favour of a screaming subjectivity that passes for individualism and, God help us, democracy. As Colbert told President Bush at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ dinner, reality has a well-known liberal bias.

Judging Sarah Palin By The Cover

McCain’s Explosive Rages – One Heart Beat Away From Gov. Palin Becoming President???

The Keating Five Scandal: John McCain & the Making of a Financial Crisis

Gov. Palin Losing Friends on the Alaskan Home Front

In an editorial by the former Anchorage Daily News editorial page editor Michael Carey, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s drop in popularity among her constituents is examined.  Life could get interesting for Gov. Palin after the 2008 presidential election when she returns to Alaska and faces the many bridges that she’s burnt. 

Sarah Palin may be making new friends as she campaigns the nation, but at home, she’s making new enemies. She better get elected vice president. If she returns to Alaska as governor, the reception will be frosty — and not because winter has arrived.

In the last month, Palin has become something inconceivable during her first two years as the state’s chief executive: A polarizing figure rapidly emptying the storehouse of good will she accumulated.

For starters, her relationship with the press has collapsed — by her choice. She rarely talks to reporters. Her attack on the “media elite” at the Republican National Convention should have embarrassed her. There is no media elite in Alaska, and she generally received favorable press, except from a few conservative dissenters, as a candidate for governor and as governor.

You say she was unhappy with the eastern media, not the local scribes when she spoke to the convention. Well, during her recent visit to New York City she attended a dinner put together by Rupert Murdoch who, according to gossip columnist Cindy Adams, “piloted Sarah around” during the evening. Murdoch is one of the world’s most influential media barons. Also present was Cathy Black, president of Hearst Magazines. Other VIPS on hand at Tao on 58th Street, where a Kobe rib eye steak costs $88, included Sarah Ferguson, Martha Stewart, designer Vera Wang and the Queen of Jordan. Not the media elite — just the elite.

Troopergate was once a provincial tempest in a teapot that could have been resolved with minimal recriminations. Now it’s a full-fledged partisan battle, and the search for truth has become the hunt for a diamond in a cesspool.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Hollis French deserves criticism for his clumsy response once Troopergate went national: He should have never used the word “impeachment” in any context. But the bulk of this responsibility for the ugly mess falls on Palin herself, who can’t separate her personal life from her professional life, Attorney General Talis Colberg, who can’t figure out if he works for the people of Alaska or the Palin family, and the hammerheads sent up here by John McCain to run the local McCain-Palin campaign. Like their masters, these guys will tell any old tale about Hollis French, the Democrats and the media as long as it advances their cause. Remember Rudy Guiliani and Karl Rove touting Palin’s military experience as commander of the national guard? And her foreign policy experience because Alaska is near Russia? Pants-on-fire lies, but hey, who needs facts when you have talking points provided by headquarters in Washington.

Investigator Steve Branchflower be warned. If you issue a report on Troopergate before the election in any fashion critical of Gov. Palin, you can expect to be made to look like a war criminal. Or worse.

Thanks to Troopergate, the relationship Palin established with Democrats during two legislative sessions — the trust and accommodation she needed to pass her gas-line and oil-tax legislation — no longer exists.

Throughout her political career, Palin has benefited from establishing and exploiting contrast favorable to her. The contrast between Palin the woman-of-integrity and dishonest Republican bosses. The contrast between the fresh new Palin and ham-handed incumbent fossil Gov. Frank Murkowski. The contrast between woman-of-the-people Palin and the public-be-damned oil companies. Even the contrast between young, vital Palin and aging, stiff John McCain — which perversely enough has helped John McCain in the polls.

Now Palin stands in contrast with herself, before and after her nomination. And there’s no benefit for her — at least not in Alaska where she is still the governor.

Gov. Palin Losing Friends on the Alaskan Home Front

Palin’s Popularity Tumbles Among Alaskans

Anti-Palin protest in Anchorage, Alaska

Anti-Palin protest in Anchorage, Alaska

The Miami Herald ran a report on September 30, 2008 by Chris Adams on the recent dramatic drop in Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s approval ratings with her home state constituents.  As details emerge about the Troopergate ethics investigation and the many controversies and scandals surrounding Gov. Palin come to light as a result of her choice by Republican Senator John McCain as his vice presidential running mate, the 80%+ approval rating Palin once enjoyed continues to slide downhill among many Alaskan Democrats and Independent voters.

Ask a governor if she’d be happy with a 68 percent approval rating and she’d probably laugh at the question. It usually doesn’t get much better than that.

For Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, though, that represents a hefty drop.

Since John McCain tapped the first-term governor to be his vice-presidential running mate, Palin’s sky-high home-state approval ratings have come down to Earth.

Above 80 percent approval for parts of her term – she was at 82 percent in a key local poll twice this year – Palin’s popularity has swooned as new information about the local abuse-of-power investigation known as Troopergate has trickled out, and as national and local media pick over her track record as a governor and small-town mayor.

Palin still has overwhelming support among Alaska Republicans. But many Democrats and independents, who gave her positive marks just a month ago, have changed their views.

“My problem is not with Sarah Palin the governor,” said Ron Zandman-Zeman, 60, a recently retired schoolteacher from Anchorage. “She was doing the job she was elected to do. I don’t think she can do the job she wants to be elected to do. And that’s why I’m here.”

“Here” was a rally in a downtown Anchorage park this past weekend, where several hundred demonstrators gathered under a brilliant blue sky to protest Palin and her attorney general, mostly for their handling of the Troopergate controversy.

Until this summer, there were plenty of Alaskans who’d supported or been neutral toward their governor. Palin built a reservoir of goodwill during a handful of key issues, including prodding the state’s oil industry to cough up more of its profits, which fund the vast majority of state operations.

After McCain shocked the political world by picking Palin, the rest of the country experienced a flash of infatuation with the charming, gutsy governor. But some Alaskans turned against what they saw as her newly aggressive, mean-spirited demeanor.

At the studio of KENI in Anchorage, Andrew Halcro has become a focal point for anti-Palin advocates. Halcro is a former state legislator who was beaten by Palin in the 2006 gubernatorial election. (Running as an independent, Halcro finished third behind Palin and former Gov. Tony Knowles, a Democrat).

But he’s also a Republican. He has been disillusioned with Palin for, among other things, her handling of the Troopergate issue. For the past month, he’s been hosting a daily talk radio show.

At first, callers were defensive on Palin’s and Alaska’s behalf – particularly as the national media and left-wing blogs published information about the governor’s family and questioned her record in office.

“It was uncomfortable to even talk about a story in the morning paper,” he said. “People would say, ‘You need to move on.'”

Palin had done a good job of governing from the center, he said. But her recent mocking of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, for example, is a surprise to many Alaskans.

“I see a real change in the callers,” he said. “People are seeing Gov. Palin in a different light.”

Zandman-Zeman, for example, said he had respected McCain in the past, until the Republican presidential nominee changed his approach to appease more conservative elements of his party. Zandman-Zeman also had come around on Palin during her time as governor (he supported somebody else in the 2006 election), and he might’ve supported her for re-election in Alaska.

But he still considers her out of her league on the national scene. On Saturday, he held a sign near a street corner as cars whizzed by, drivers honking in support of the demonstrators.

His sign read: “Palin – A Good Gov in Way Over Her Head.”

While many demonstrators objected to Palin on partisan or ideological grounds, two issues that clearly rankled Alaskans had nothing to do with party loyalty: openness and independence.

Ivan Moore, a local pollster who works with both Democrats and Republicans, recently found that Palin’s support had slipped to 68 percent. The poll was conducted from Sept. 20 to 22 among 500 likely Alaska voters and has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

Inside those numbers was a dramatic drop in support from Democrats and independents, although support from Republicans remained strong at 93 percent. Among Democrats, her approval rating dropped from 60 percent to 36 percent, a 24-point drop. Among independents, it fell from 82 percent to 64 percent, an 18-point drop.

Moore said those numbers were likely driven by the harsher tone Palin has adopted on the national campaign trail, as well as the fallout from Troopergate.

Palin’s lost many supporters because she’s worked to thwart a bipartisan inquiry into Troopergate after saying she’d cooperate. (Troopergate involves the firing of the state’s public safety commissioner, who’d refused to fire a state trooper who’d been involved in a messy divorce with Palin’s sister).

In addition, fiercely independent Alaskans resent moves by the McCain campaign to control what they see as purely state matters.

Sondra Tompkins, a reliably Republican voter, found herself speaking out at the rally – upset, she said, because of Palin’s handling of the trooper issue and the example it sets for children in the state.

“They’re listening, they’re watching, and they’re asking questions,” Tompkins called out to the crowd. “Do we tell them it’s OK not to tell the truth? Do we tell them it’s OK to bend the truth? Do we tell them it’s OK to distort the truth if you have a gaggle of lawyers to defend you?

“It’s not OK, and I think Alaskans have had enough.”

Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., said an approval rating in the 60s for a governor is good. His recent polling in six western states found two governors with approval ratings in the low-80s, two in the 60s and one in the 50s.

The sky-high ratings Palin once had are somewhat unusual, he said – but not unheard of.

“Governors in smaller states tend to have much higher performance ratings because their constituencies are smaller,” he said. “They have personal contact with the voters and so there is more familiarity between them and the constituents. But 68 percent is pretty good.”

Palin’s Popularity Tumbles Among Alaskans

Anti-Palin Rally Draws 1,000 Protesters in Anchorage, Alaska


Speakers at the Hold Palin Accountable Rally Saturday September 27 2008

Speakers at the Hold Palin Accountable Rally Saturday September 27 2008

Participants hoist a variety of Anti-Palin signs at the Hold Palin Accountable Rally

Participants hoist a variety of Anti-Palin signs at the Hold Palin Accountable Rally

In an Anchorage Daily News article by Kyle Hopkins, hundreds of people converged on downtown Anchorage September 27, 2008 protesting Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s mishandling of the Troopergate investigation.  Demonstrators carried signs demanding Gov. Palin clear up lingering questions in the stalled ethics investigation into the termination of popular Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan and shouted “Recall Palin” at passing motorists.   

Walt Monegan's mother Betty Monegan appears at the Hold Palin Accountable Rally

Walt Monegan's mother Betty Monegan appears at the Hold Palin Accountable Rally

They also called for the resignation of Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg, who is seen as delaying the investigation due to Gov. Palin’s selection as GOP presidential candidate John McCain’s vice presidential running mate.  Speakers included Walt Monegan’s mom, Betty Monegan, who became emotional at the outpouring of support for her son.

A protest rally blasting Gov. Sarah Palin’s handling of the state’s so-called Troopergate investigation — and calling for the attorney general to resign — drew 1,000 or more people to the Delaney Park Strip in Anchorage on Saturday.

Protesters chanted “recall Palin!” as organizers told the crowd to push state legislators to keep after their investigation into the governor’s firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

The investigator hired by the Legislature is scheduled to present his report on Oct. 10.

“This report needs to be released. Not just for us … it needs to be released for all those people in the Lower 48 who are going to make a decision on Nov. 4,” Democratic blogger Linda Kellen Biegel told hundreds of protesters gathered on the Park Strip grass.

Protest sign at the Saturday September 27th Hold Palin Accountable Rally

Protest sign at the Saturday September 27th Hold Palin Accountable Rally

Earlier, hundreds of people lined I Street, waving signs that said “Steady on her heels, wobbly on her words” and “Tina Fey would do a better job” at passing cars. A group calling itself Alaskans for Truth organized the event, which at times resembled a Barack Obama campaign rally.

Anchorage singer-songwriter Libby Roderick led the crowd in a chorus of “We’re gonna keep on moving forward” and “Stand tall for Obama,” while Obama volunteers signed up supporters under a nearby tent.

Next to the Obama fliers sat petitions calling for Attorney General Talis Colberg to be removed from his job.

On July 28, the Legislative Council — a bipartisan group of 12 state lawmakers — voted to launch an abuse-of-power investigation into Palin’s firing of Monegan.

Palin initially said she’d cooperate with the investigation. Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain announced Palin as his running mate Aug. 29, and the McCain camp has argued that the investigation became a partisan witchhunt spurred by Democrats.

Colberg is suing to quash the Legislature’s subpoenas of Palin aides in what’s become a turf battle between the state’s executive and legislative branches of government.

Nicole McCullough came to the rally with her grand-niece and grand-nephew — twins born the day before Palin’s youngest son, Trig. McCullough wore a pitbull mask with large red lips, a reference to a Palin’s joke about hockey moms at the Republican National Convention.

A Hillary Clinton supporter earlier in the election, McCullough called Palin “a female Dan Quayle” and carried a sign that read: “Gov. Pitbull, call off your McCain dogs.

It’s a reference to the McCain spokespeople and attorneys, including the self-described “Truth Squad” that’s been defending the governor in regular Anchorage press conferences.

“She’s had a lot of outside lawyers coming into the state … and I think they’re just being in the way of our legislative process,” McCullough said.

As of this afternoon, the McCain campaign couldn’t be reached for comment.

Anti-Palin Rally Draws 1,000 Protesters