Across the Pond and back again – Open season II (updated)

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What began as a muttering and grumbling on the internet, much more surprisingly has become a chatter in the stalwart Mainstream media even. What was John McCain thinking, when he presented Sarah Palin as a VP candidate? What does it tell us about his character, his crisis management skills, about his clout within the party and most importantly, about his judgment?

Why crisis management? Well, it was a crisis for him. He had wanted to appoint either Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge and when venting his thoughts created an uproar within the evagelical right wing of the Republican Party. What about his clout? Is he running the campaign or is it run for him and who would you have to expect will be running his Presidency? So how did he solve this crisis? He threw a temper tantrum and picked Sarah Palin, the most unqualified of the short list. That tells us a lot about his volatile character, which obliterates any good judgment he might have, when his anger is stirred.

John McCain has managed to highlight the fact that he is 72 years old with a compromised health, by chosing this utterly improbable running mate. He has cast a shadow of doubt on his own qualification to be commander in chief in a crisis and the press now looks on this trainwreck with horror, disgust and, in some cases, poorly disguised glee. But see for yourselves:

The vetting issue is a touchy subject for the McCain campaign obviously, or they wouldn’t have cancelled McCains appearance on Larry King Live. Here is a CNN panel discussing this and some:

UPDATE: And (another H/T to wordie, who hunts up all those videos and shares them with us) here’s David Gergen, saying it like it is:

From across the pond:

Michael Tomasky, The Guardian

In four days, [Palin]’sbecome a punch line. Democrats should go after her here and there, but again, the main target should be the man of such alleged wisdom and judgment that, when he didn’t get what we wanted, threw up his hands, stomped his feet at the other boys on the playground, said the hell with this and chose the absolutely most unqualified running mate he could have chosen. McCain could still win this election – of course. There’s a long, long way to go. But if he loses, Palin will go down as maybe the single most boneheaded decision a presidential candidate has ever made in America. (read more)

In another article:

Good God. This is the man who’s touting his superior judgment?

He now has, quite deservedly, a full-fledged disaster on his hands. More things will start dripping out. Moderate voters are off this bandwagon, as polls will begin to affirm. She’s there only to placate social conservatives. He dumps her, he infuriates them. He keeps her, he loses massive credibility with non-right voters. He’s really stuck. (read more)

The Times

One former Bush Administration official described himself to me as “personally disgusted” by the selection, one that betrayed a desire by Mr McCain for short-term political gain at the expense of the national interest.


But the anxiety — and alarm at Mr McCain’s high-stakes gamble — is palpable. As David Frum, a former speechwriter for President Bush, put it: “When someone takes the rent money and puts it on black at the roulette table, and it comes up black, we don’t say, “Wow! What a terrific piece of judgment.”(read more)

The Independent doesn’t focus so much on Sarah Palin but on Hurricane Gustav. That doesn’t mean it’s good press for John McCain. Scathing, I’d call it:

And when the disasters come, McCain will not adequately protect the victims.


McCain voted repeatedly against a Senate investigation into what went wrong during Katrina. Evidently, he didn’t think it was worth looking into the fact that for years before Katrina, Louisiana howled at the slashing of levee funding by 44 per cent to pay for tax cuts for the rich. Even the money they were given was being handed on to incompetent Bush cronies rather than the best people for the job.

The Army Corps of Engineers now admits, for example, that they knowingly installed broken pumps manufactured by a company headed by Jeb Bush’s ex-business partner and campaign donor. The same people have been given a lackadaisical contract to rebuild the levees by 2011. McCain then voted against extending unemployment benefits and medical care to Katrina refugees, or even giving extra cash for new radio systems for the emergency services. (read more)

And back again:

The LA Times doesn’t have much trust either:

One Republican strategist with close ties to the campaign described the candidate’s closest supporters as “keeping their fingers crossed” in hopes that additional information does not force McCain to revisit the decision. According to this Republican, who would discuss internal campaign strategizing only on condition of anonymity, the McCain team used little more than a Google Internet search as part of a rushed effort to review Palin’s potential pitfalls. Just over a week ago, Palin was not on McCain’s short list of potential running mates, the Republican said. (read more)

The New York Times, asks the judgment question, too:

Mr. McCain’s hurdles are substantial. To start, he has to overcome Mr. Bush’s record of failures. (The president addressed the convention Tuesday night and now, McCain strategists fervently hope, will retire quietly to the Rose Garden.) That record includes the disastrous war in Iraq, a ballooning deficit, the mortgage crisis — and the list goes on.

To address those many problems, this country needs a leader with sound judgment and strong leadership skills. Choosing Ms. Palin raises serious questions about Mr. McCain’s qualifications. (read more)

It is on both sides of the pond, that the question is being raised. Is John McCain cut out to be President at all? You are maybe lucky McCain’s choice of running mate highlights his weaknesses now, so you can still be spared to watch his judgment and skills being tested live in a severe international or economic crisis.

From across the pond – Palin and more..

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What am I to say. I was absolutely flabbergasted by McCain’s choice. My thoughts meandered from “Maybe he’s a genius and I didn’t notice.” to “He’s making fun of all of us.” back to “They won’t vote for someone like her, will they?”. The thought of Sarah Palin jumping into the fray if anything should happen to the oldest first term US-President ever is so outlandish I am really at a loss what to say. It is telling, however, that the Republican leaning part of Larry King’s panel yesterday did not seem too happy, either. They went out of their way to avoid the focus on McCain’s age and the possibility that Sarah Palin could be US President in a hurry.

As usual I give you the quotes of some of the British and European newspapers, so you can get an impression what the “old world” thinks about your politics. Today’s Sunday papers have more than the usual number of really good articles, so enjoy reading.

Murdoch’s The Times points out, that all’s not well within the Republican Party about this:

The Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, was facing a backlash from his party last night over the appointment of Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, as his running mate after it emerged that he had met her only once before offering her the job.

His choice of Palin, a 44-year-old, gun-toting, moose-burger-eating mother-of-five, confirmed his maverick reputation but also caused some leading Republicans to question his judgment. (read more)

What a contrast to Obama.  Simon Jenkins explains why the Presidential Elections in the US are so closely watched all over the world and how Obama would put an end to stupidity in US government. Mind, this is still The Times:

Every American voter casts a de facto proxy vote for the disenfranchised millions who consume America’s foreign and military policy abroad, from Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and Burma to benighted Palestine. For tens of thousands of them, an American president is the difference between life and death. Millions more depend on the presidential election as beneficiaries of US aid, or as victims of US hostility and sanctions. Billions of Iranians, Pakistanis, Russians and Chinese have an interest as nations which American governments criticise and threaten. Obama’s global popularity lead over McCain is thus more than a beauty contest. Were he to be elected, his country would unquestionably experience an immediate and dramatic surge in popularity. (read more)

The Guardian focusses on the female vote:

Never before have women voters been so much the focus of concerted political attention. Clinton’s sprawling, dramatic battle with Obama has put the female vote firmly in the headlines. By the end of the fight, Clinton had moulded herself into the unabashed champion of women, demanding that their voice be heard. Now Obama is scrambling to make sure those voters stay in his coalition. The surprise factor is that the Republicans have joined the chase and are aggressively pursuing the same target. McCain is heaping praise on Clinton and her achievements. Now he has picked a mother of five from Alaska as his running mate. Battle has been joined. The war for the women’s vote could define the final two months of the election. (read more)

The campaign, will be a vicious one, however, they predict and point out who and what to watch out for:

Democrats do launch attack ads and campaign negatively but no one does it like the Republican party. Under a succession of dark geniuses, the party has perfected the black art of negative campaigning. It has created the most effective attack machine in the Western world, with the sole purpose of destroying opponents and winning elections. For opponents it is a source of shock, misery and more than a little envy. Its tentacles stretch from the McCain campaign into the murky corners of talk radio, the internet and shadowy groups willing to use any outlandish smear. (read more)

The Independent compares the Presidential race to a horse race and warns that all is not over yet:

The thrill of politics, at its simplest, is that of the horse race. In this country, most of us have forgotten what a close race looks like. Our last truly competitive general election was in 1992. Last summer, until Gordon Brown shied at the fence, we were briefly returned to the urgency and the drama of the daily battle for advantage. But America has provided two consecutive two-horse races since the primaries began at the start of the year. This is politics at its most compelling, when the winner is the one who makes the fewest mistakes. (read more)

John Rentoul takes on Sarah Palin, too and has something to say about her as America’s “Iron Lady”.

The Telegraph points to the cloak and daggers-style process around Sarah Palins nomination:

Later that night she held talks with top McCain aides Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter in a “safe house” – the home of a friend of the Republican candidate.

The next morning, Mrs Palin was driven to the McCain ranch in nearby Sedona. There she first met Mrs McCain before her husband formally offered the vice-presidential slot as they sat and chatted on the deck. It was just their second meeting in person.

Mrs Palin and her aide flew later on Thursday with the two McCain lieutenants to Ohio, where they checked in to a hotel as the “Upton family”, while Mr McCain made his way publicly to the key battleground state. (read more)

The risk in choosing Sarah Palin as a running mate goes beyond her inexperience, there’s always “Troopergate”:

What started as a family dispute in the suburbs of Anchorage could yet determine who governs the world’s most powerful nation for the next four years as Alaskan politics finds itself as the unprecedented focus of a billion-dollar election battle. (read more)

The Economist points out the risks of this nomination as well and, again, praises Obama:

But the risks of choosing such an unknown quantity are enormous. An important aspect in selecting a vice-president is to reassure the electorate that should anything happen to the man in the Oval Office there is a competent and trustworthy stand-in ready to take over. John McCain’s age (he is 72) is an underlying factor with voters. Although Ms Palin’s youthfulness, she is 44, is an eye-catching contrast to the top of the ticket, questions will be raised about her ability to run the country if Mr McCain should ever be incapacitated.

And the tenures of both Al Gore and Dick Cheney as vice-president have raised the profile of the office. Vice-presidents were once expected to be solid and reliable but mostly boring. Messrs Gore and Cheney took on policy portfolios, such as government reform or preparing for war with Iraq. Barack Obama’s pick of Joe Biden for the role now seems all the more wise. (read more)

Der Spiegel revisits the race issue:

Now, though, it’s McCain against Obama, Republican against Democrat, old against young — and, more than anything else, white against black. McCain, of course, hasn’t broached the race issue directly. But indirectly, the argument goes like this: To be white means to be like John McCain — patriotic, bedecked with medals and honors, self-sacrificing and a hero. To be black means to be like Barack Obama — eager for the spotlight, similar to a Hollywood actor, egocentric, flippant and lacking truly American values. White America is — subtly and adroitly — being mobilized against black America. (read more)

But Obama has left his mark on the Democratic Party, too, a good thing in Der Spiegel‘s eyes:

One test of a presidential candidate’s strength, and often his best shot at winning, is how much he can mold his party in his image and rally it around a powerful argument for his election. Barack Obama left Denver having made significant progress on both fronts.

The Democratic Party today is different from the one that lost the last two presidential elections. It is bigger, younger and less visibly linked to traditional Democratic interest groups. (read more)

Finally, Die Welt another conservative newspaper puts it’s finger on McCain’s age

Vice presidential choices seldom have much effect on the presidential election. But McCain’s choice received extra scrutiny because of his age and bouts with skin cancer. He turned 72 on Friday and would be the oldest, first-term president in U.S. history. If he dies or is incapacitated in office, Palin would succeed him – a point stressed by Obama’s campaign in pointing to her resume. She is only two years into her first term in governor, and her previous experience was as a small town mayor.

and worries:

Palin has no international affairs experience and, in little more than a month, will be in a nationally televised debate with Biden, one of his party’s leading voices on foreign policy and a quick witted, sharp-tongued public speaker. She is three years younger than Obama and a generation younger than Biden. (read more)

It’s a good thing today is a Sunday, this is an awful lot to read and each one of the sites linked to has much more to offer. So, grab a cup of coffee and see for yourselves. Have a nice and peaceful Sunday!