Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Sunday, September 28, 2008

  Palin doesn't speak for Palin

It seems that nobody ever speaks officially for the McCain-Palin ticket. In July, trying to distance himself from statements by Phil Gramm, his campaign co-chair and surrogate ("mental recession", "nation of whiners"), John McCain declared that Gramm ""does not speak for me — I speak for me." But only two weeks later, McCain's top economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin stated that John McCain does not necessarily speak for John McCain either.

[Holtz-Eakin] also disputes the way the [Tax Policy Center] study takes suggestions McCain has made on the stump out of context. "This is parsing words out of campaign appearances to an unreasonable degree," Holtz-Eakin said. "He has certainly I’m sure said things in town halls" that don’t jibe perfectly with his written plan. But that doesn’t mean it’s official.

Today McCain announced that Sarah Palin does not necessarily speak for Sarah Palin. It seems to me the only plausible conclusion is that nobody at all speaks for the Republican ticket – unless it's just a question of nobody ever being held accountable for anything they say.

Here was McCain speaking on ABC this morning:

MCCAIN: ... this business of, in all due respect, people going around and -- with sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and then all of a sudden that’s -- that’s a person’s position, this is a free country, but I don’t think most Americans think that that’s a definitive policy statement made by Governor Palin.

On Saturday Palin said in Philadelphia that she supports cross-border raids from Afghanistan into Pakistan:

Palin’s apparent disagreement with McCain’s position on Pakistan came as the Alaska governor was picking up a couple of cheesesteaks at Tony Luke’s in South Philadelphia. She was approached by a man wearing a Temple University t-shirt, who later identified himself as Michael Rovito.


“So we do cross-border, like from Afghanistan to Pakistan, you think?” Rovito asked.

“If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should,” Palin said.

That sounds like a very "definitive policy statement". McCain says otherwise – apparently because Palin spoke off the cuff, or perhaps just because, as he commented, "she was in a conversation with some young man that -- or whoever it was". Excuses don't come more brazen than that. But in any event, Palin earlier endorsed cross-border attacks in a carefully controlled interview with Charles Gibson:

GIBSON: Do we have the right to be making cross-border attacks into Pakistan from Afghanistan, with or without the approval of the Pakistani government?


PALIN: In order to stop Islamic extremists, those terrorists who would seek to destroy America and our allies, we must do whatever it takes and we must not blink, Charlie, in making those tough decisions of where we go and even who we target.

GIBSON: And let me finish with this. I got lost in a blizzard of words there. Is that a yes? That you think we have the right to go across the border with or without the approval of the Pakistani government, to go after terrorists who are in the Waziristan area?

PALIN: I believe that America has to exercise all options in order to stop the terrorists who are hell bent on destroying America and our allies. We have got to have all options out there on the table.

The problem for McCain is that Palin is stepping on one of his favorite attack lines against Obama, who (wisely or not) several times has said he might order such cross-border raids if necessary to kill al-Qaeda leaders.

During Friday night's presidential debate in Mississippi, Obama took a similar stance and condemned the Bush administration for failing to act on the possibility terrorists are in Pakistan.

"Nobody talked about attacking Pakistan," Obama said after McCain accused the Illinois senator of wanting to announce an invasion. "If the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out."

In the very few formal interviews she has given, Palin has made a habit of taking positions closer to Obama's than McCain's or otherwise trampling on McCain's lines of attack against the Democrats. For example, she offered the opinion on Fox News that politicians with lobbyist connections to Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac have even more to explain than those who'd merely accepted campaign contributions from their executives.

On if there should be an investigation on relationships between political donations from Fannie and Freddie Mac and the bankruptcy and its impact on the economy:

"I think that’s significant, but even more significant is the role that the lobbyists play in an issue like this also. And in that cronyism — it’s symptomatic of the grade of problem that we see right now in Washington and that is just that acceptance of the status quo, the politics as usual, the cronyism that has been allowed to be accepted and then it leads us to a position like we are today with so much collapse on Wall Street."

It didn't help matters that when Palin made that comment McCain was (a) trying to embarrass Obama over such campaign donations, and (b) simultaneously trying to conceal the extent of his own campaign manager Rick Davis' record of lobbying on behalf of Freddie Mac.

Now in a Philly cheese steak emporium we see Palin once again ruining one of McCain's talking points. And he can't have failed to notice that it's one of the very few times she's responded to questions directly from voters. No wonder Palin's been under wraps since the day she joined the Republican ticket. She's not only profoundly ignorant about domestic and foreign policy issues, she's also a one-woman wrecking crew of campaign tactics. Rick Davis was telling the truth, for once, when he said that Palin is "not scared to answer questions." It's the McCain campaign that's scared for her to be answering questions.

crossposted at

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