Writing in the Times, John Harwood looks at the tricky position McCain finds himself in with the need to separate himself from the an historically unpopular GOP president. Harwood looks around and suggests the last candidate who faced a similar quandary was Al Gore when he ran in 2000 in the shadow of Bill Clinton.
Now, to the layman that comparison might seem absurd since at the time of the 2000 campaign Clinton's approval rating was above 50 percent and the country was still basking in peace in prosperity. But back in 2000 the press was obsessed with what it perceived to be Clinton's huge impeachment-related drag on the Gore ticket. The press chattered about the issue endlessly during the campaign. For many campaign reporters, Clinton legacy and role in the campaign was the single most important issue of the race. No joke.
Fast forward eight years and boy, you sure don't hear much chatter about how Bush is going to impact the race do you? It's almost like an embarrassed press corps is just as anxious for Bush to leave the stage as McCain, isn't it?
To interview Sarah Palin? Instead, the cabler handed the exclusive duties to Sean Hannity, who FNC concedes is "not a journalist." See New Hounds.
It's amazing how so many pundits who spent the entire 2000 mocking Al Gore, telling us how phony and abnormal and boring he was, and how authentic George W. Bush was, now try to rewrite history and pretend that they saw right through W. eight years ago. Add Maureen Dowd to the list of fictional I-told-you-so's.
In her Sunday column, Down writes:
The really scary part of the Palin interview was how much she seemed like W. in 2000, and not just the way she pronounced nu-cue-lar. She had the same flimsy but tenacious adeptness at saying nothing, the same generalities and platitudes, the same restrained resentment at being pressed to be specific, as though specific is the province of silly eggheads, not people who clear brush at the ranch or shoot moose on the tundra.
Palin's a lightweight just like W. in 2000, Dowd warns us. It would have been nice if Dowd had, y'know, actually warned us about that eight years ago instead of obsessing over Gore's trumped up faults.
These are the three latest entries on the Los Angeles Times' "Top of the Ticket" blog:
"The Ticket's weekly national electoral map; McCain's bounce gains 2 states": Actually, The Ticket's national electoral map is Karl Rove's electoral map. Literally: "Here is the latest national electoral map constructed by Karl Rove & Co., which The Ticket publishes weekly as they become available."
"So, looks like it was Charlie Gibson's gaffe on Bush doctrine, not Sarah Palin's": Based on nothing more than the say-so of conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, The Ticket leaps to Sarah Palin's defense, approvingly quotes Krauthammer's attacks on Gibson, and snidely concludes: Wonder if there'll be time to cover this story on 'World News' come Monday night." But even Krauthammer acknowledges "Palin didn't know" what the Bush doctrine is. The Ticket quotes that acknowledgment - but still asserts that Palin didn't commit a "gaffe" on the question. Bizarre.
"Oops, Obama ad mocks McCain's inability to send e-mail. Trouble is, he can't due to tortured fingers": The Ticket picks up on conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg's spin and runs with it. The Ticket doesn't mention that McCain told the New York Times earlier this year, "I use the Blackberry, but I don't e-mail, I've never felt the particular need to e-mail." If he can use the buttons on a Blackberry, it seems pretty safe to assume the Goldberg/Ticket line is just spin. (h/t John Cole, via Atrios)
So: a post in which The Ticket uncritically adopts as fact Jonah Goldberg's defense of John McCain, a post in which The Ticket uncritically adopts Charles Krauthammer's defense of Sarah Palin, and a post in which The Ticket adopts Karl Rove's electoral map as its own.
Now, would it surprise you to learn that all three entries were written by Los Angeles Times reporter Andrew Malcolm? Would it surprise you to learn that Malcolm used to be Laura Bush's press secretary?
The struggling wire service, owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, has been fading fast in recent years. Is this why? In a reaction piece to the Palin/Gibson interview, UPI runs a wildly opinionated piece, although it's not tagged as an editorial, that claims, "Gibson was out to embarrass Palin and expose her presumed ignorance from the word go," and that the ABC host was "out for blood and inherently applied a double-standard compared."
That seems to be putting the thumb on the scale, don't you think?
techPresident's Zephyr Teachout, via CJR, on today's campaign press corps:
Post-modern political reporters and bloggers act as hack theater critics, judging performances not by how they as individuals respond, but by how they believe the mythical "american people," "independent voters," and "women" (and most bizarrely "the media") will respond. The standard role of the most prominent commentator and reporter is theater critic first, fact-checker second, independent questioner a distant third. (The inverted triangle reflects this-five paragraphs of post-modern critique; two paragraphs of fact-checking; an unanswered question dangled like a preposition going nowhere at the end.)
As if she's an authority on something, which is always dangerous.
The article is about Charlie Gibson and the reviews he received for his interviews with Sarah Palin. The Times reported that conservative were angry and noted that Malkins on her blog, "posted the headline "ABC News Blows It" on michellemalkin.com minutes after the first of Mr. Gibson's interviews had been shown on "World News" on Thursday. Specifically, "The concerns she tallied about Mr. Gibson included: "Taking quotes out of context," "Getting basic facts wrong," and "engaging in distortionary hype.""
That's all well and good. But this being Michell Malkin, whose track record for truth telling is thin, the Times should have tried to determine whether her allegations carried any weight. The Times did not, giving readers the impression that Malkin was dealing with facts. (Not smart.)
Had the Times bothered to investigate, it would have discovered that, for instance, for her claim that Gibson got "basic facts wrong," Malkin, to prove her point, linked to an item at National Reviews Online which criticized the wording of an ABC News press release touting the Palin interview. That's the proof that Gibson got "basic facts wrong." Oy.
Like we said, whenever the Times feels the temptation to take Malkin seriously, it ought to resist.
This is just sad.
Embracing the GOP spin from the right-wing press, the Post on Saturday runs a front page piece actually suggesting it wasn't such big a deal that Sarah Palin didn't know what the Bush Doctrine was when quizzed by ABC's Charlie Gibson this week. The Post, acting confused, claims there have been so many so-called Bush Doctrines that Palin might have just not known which one Gibson was referring to.
Ugh. Let's just say we agree with WaPo reader "toohool" who posted this comment: "This is dumb. Do a Google News search for "Bush Doctrine" for any span of time prior to yesterday. There is no ambiguity."
But look, the Post even got a serious person to back up the laughably thin premise of the article. Which independent source did the paper tap? The Post got a former staff member of Bush's National Security Council.
It makes sense that Charles Krauthammer would float the same Bush Doctrine spin on the WaPo opinion page on Saturday. It's his job to stand up for the GOP ticket. But in the Post's news pages?