Campaign Update – news from the front

Considering how many great events are in motion, this might be one of the most important elections in American history.  Here are a few reports from the front.


  1. Palin’s `Guy’ Snubs Subpoena Just Like Rove, Miers: Ann Woolner“, Ann Woolner, op-ed at Bloomberg, 23 September 2008 — Standard behavior by members of our political class.
  2. Transcript of Katie Couric’s interview with Governor Palin“, CBS News, 24 September 2008 — Incoherence personified.
  3. Andrew Halcro, her opponent in the Governor’s race, describes the key to Palin’s successful rhetoric:  “Classic glittering generalities.”
  4. Oops! Colorado McCain camp sends internal e-mail to reporters“, The Colorado Independent, 24 September 2008 — This clear summary of McCain’s position is worth reading, perhaps important.


1.  “Palin’s `Guy’ Snubs Subpoena Just Like Rove, Miers: Ann Woolner“, Ann Woolner, op-ed at Bloomberg, 23 September 2008 — Standard behavior by members of our political class.  Excerpt:

When Todd Palin said thanks but no thanks to a legislative subpoena last week, his defiance had a familiar ring.  Oh, right. That’s precisely what the Bush administration does when Congress sends a subpoena to the White House.

In Juneau, Palin refused to show up to testify before a state Senate Judiciary Committee investigating alleged abuse of executive power by his wife, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, now the Republican vice presidential nominee.

Likewise in Washington, the White House is defying subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary Committee investigating possible abuse of executive power by the president’s people.

Perhaps you were hoping that come January, Washington would usher in an administration that understands it is just one of three government branches, each with a duty to act as a check on the other two. This one clearly doesn’t.

… The two cases also have this in common: The executives’ strategies are so legally specious that they look like nothing more than stalling tactics.  The McCain-Palin campaign no doubt wants to avoid any embarrassing findings before the Nov. 4 election. The Bush White House is trying to run out the clock on the current Congress, which ends in January, hoping the next Congress shows less interest in those fired U.S. attorneys.

… In Alaska, as in Washington, it is illegal to ignore a legislative subpoena. Todd Palin could be jailed for six months or fined up to $500, according to the Associated Press.  But with the legislature out of session until January, nothing will happen, at least not until then.

It wasn’t long ago that Governor Palin pledged cooperation with the Senate committee.  “Hold me accountable,” the governor said in mid-August as the lawmakers’ investigation got under way.  But that was before she joined John McCain’s ticket.

Now the two candidates who insist they would bring change to Washington, who plan to shake it up and make it do right, these self-described mavericks who are working overtime to shed any connection to the Bush administration, have adopted one of the most dangerous principles that Bush has promoted.  They seem to think they are above questioning, indeed, above the law. Sound familiar?  So much for change.

2.  “Transcript of Katie Couric’s interview with Governor Palin“, CBS News, 24 September 2008 — Incoherence personified, as the title of “maverick” provides a cover for all evasions.  Tonight CBS broadcasts the 2nd part, about foreign affairs.  The full interview will be broadcast on September 29 and 30.  Excerpt:

COURIC: You’ve said, quote, “John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business.” Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more example of his leading the charge for more oversight?

PALIN: I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie – that, that’s paramount. That’s more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.

COURIC: But he’s been in Congress for 26 years. He’s been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.

PALIN: He’s also known as the maverick, though. Taking shots from his own party, andcertainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he’s been talking about – the need to reform government.

COURIC: I’m just going to ask you one more time, not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation?

PALIN: I’ll try to find you some, and I’ll bring them to you.

3.  Comment by John Henry posted at Matthew Yglesias’ blog (I do not find this quote on the Internet):

Andrew Halcro, her opponent in the Governor’s race, nailed her MO with “Classic glittering generalities.  Ironically, this is Palin’s greatest strength and although these types of nebulous statements drive policy wonks crazy, the average voters eats them up.”

From Wikpedia

Glittering generalities are emotionally appealing words so closely associated with highly-valued concepts and beliefs that they carry conviction without supporting information or reason. … A glittering generality has two qualities: It is vague, and has positive connotations.

This is one of the seven common propaganda devices identified by The Institute for Propaganda Analysis (IPA).  Collectively they are almost the whole of American political campaigning.

  • Name-calling
  • Glittering generalities
  • Transfer
  • Testimonial
  • Plain folks
  • Card stacking
  • Bandwagon

The IPA was a U.S.-based organization composed of social scientists, opinion leaders, historians, educators, and journalists. Created in 1937 by Kirtley Mather, Edward A. Filene, and Clyde R. Miller, the IPA formed with the general concern that increased amounts of propaganda were decreasing the public’s ability to develop their own critical thoughts. The purpose of the IPA was to spark rational thinking and provide a guide to help the public have well-informed discussions on current issues. “To teach people how to think rather than what to think.” The IPA focused on domestic propaganda issues that might become possible threats to the democratic ways of life.  (source)

4.  “Oops! Colorado McCain camp sends internal e-mail to reporters“, The Colorado Independent, 24 September 2008 — Is this good sense or political maneuveringby a candidate falling behind in the polls?  Matthew Yglesias says, “It’s the maverick’s credo – engage in constant, crass political stunts all the while maintaining that they’re anything but crass political stunts.”  I don’t know.

For more information about the candidates

See the archive of all FM posts About the candidates for President.

8 thoughts on “Campaign Update – news from the front”

  1. So let’s see what we’ve got here. Her husband is not cooperating in a politically motivated investigation. Yes, he should cooperate, but his lawyer’s probably wrangling for something, as lawyers often do. A small snippet of an interview shows she dodges questions she’s not ready to answer. And the guy who lost to her thinks he’d make a better governor. Yep, sounds like we’ve got a politician on our hands here!

    Point 4 is a non-sequitor. Is that an accidental paste from another post?
    Fabius Maximus replies: I do not understand your last point. A non-sequitor It is most often used to indicate something which does not follow logically, such as a stated conclusion that is not supported by the facts. This is a list of four articles about the campaign. Related by common subject, but not in any special sequence or adding up to a specific conclusion.

  2. Please do not forget that you are dealing with a born again Christian in Palin. These people frequently believe that they have been annoited by God. I suspect that she believes she has been chosen by the Almighty to be part of the White house. In that respect, what she says and does she probably believes is God’s will. So if she stumbles or obstructs justice, it is no matter. Like the Blues Brothers, she is on a mission from God, or so I suspect she believes. Many of these types are binary thinkers. It is right or wrong, true or false, black or white. There are no shades of grey, no ambiguities. “You are either with us or against us”. Good and evil is all that most of them see. Many of them can not be reasoned with.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Do you have any evidence for this speculation. or are you just making this stuff up? I doubt that every born again Christians believes that they have been “annoited by God” for their jobs. Ditto your assertion that Christians, of any flavor, are more likely to be “binary thinkers” than the general population. And so forth.

  3. I’ll consider this an open thread for election comments. First, the Palin saga is clearly a case of history repeating itself as farce… this woman is robotic, inarticulate, and utterly unqualified to move beyond her present position. The actress Janine Turner, or her character in Northern Exposure, would make a better president. Ludicrous. She is GW Bush without the upper class breeding and the corporate (albeit failed) background. Painful to watch, and insane to contemplate.

    There is much to be made, I think, in the fact that we have a contest between a bomber pilot and a basketball player. In the first case it is all about being above everyone else, blowing stuff up regardless of the consequences, and then seeking the next thrill. In the second case it is about coolness, analysis, attending as much to defense as offense, and playing the clock and the opponent.

    I certainly wish Obama were a better candidate; he admits, articulately and in a very clean manner, to being flawed (joke!). However, he is intelligent, thoughtful and serious, and while given to self-indulgence rhetorically on occasion, not prone to grandstanding. He will make a much better President than McCain and if anything happens to him we will be much better off than with the alternative. It is my fervent hope that intelligent Republicans and conservatives, both, will appreciate these important distinctions and either vote for Obama or use their ballots to register a libertarian or other third-party protest.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Great idea! These collections of news articles make great open thread discussions.

  4. FM, I was in the past adamant that McCain would win. But the Palin decision took the wind out of my sails. It was a very high risk strategy, might have, in say more normal situations, worked well, but it could backfire spectacularly.

    So my prediction is shot to pieces, I assumed that the GOP would logically put in a grey haired somone, who could at least talk about the economy a bit and could neutralise any bounce to Obama. I mean all they had to do was give interviews and babble a lot of nonsense.

    So the GOP is even more self destructive now than the Democrats (which is pretty impressive feat when you think about it). As in the immortal word of Manuel (ref Fawlty Towers) “Que”?

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