Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Babies, lies, and scandal

US Weekly magazine cover showing Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin

I found this US Weekly story through ABC News, where US is publishing the scandals surrounding Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The US story of Palin's scandals are also being told by her political opponents. But that is not the devastating part of this US story--the cover is. Robert Klein, from ABC News' The Note, provides this interesting commentary:

Let’s say you don’t read The New York Times or The Washington Post (or The Note, for that matter). Let’s say you don’t follow the big political blogs and you’re not obsessed with every turn of the screw of this fascinating presidential race.

Let’s say, instead, like millions of working-class Americans, you get your “news” on the political race from the supermarket aisle. Let’s say you’re -- I don’t know, a “hockey mom” -- and you’re intrigued by this Sarah Palin person you’ve been hearing so much about since Friday.

So you’re shopping this week -- and what do you see on the cover of US Weekly? That esteemed journalistic institution is taking it right to John McCain’s running mate -- with a hard-hitting piece that details the “scandal” involving her daughter’s pregnancy.

“BABIES, LIES & SCANDAL,” screams the headline on the cover, with a picture of a smiling Palin holding her fifth child, 4-month-old Trig.

Inside is a collection of Palin lowlights -- from her daughter’s now well-known pregnancy; to Internet rumors that the governor pretended to be pregnant to cover for her daughter; to “troopergate”; to her onetime support for the “bridge to nowhere”; to a radio appearance where she giggled while shock jocks called a political rival a “bitch” and a “cancer.”

“Within hours of McCain’s surprise introduction of the little-known, charismatic mother of five as his running mate, the scandals began to emerge as quickly as flies at a Labor Day picnic,” Mara Reinstein writes for the magazine.

“While putting to rest one scandal, Palin appeared to have opened another of even greater significance. Staunchly antiabortion (even in cases of rape) and opposed to sex-education classes (she believes in abstinence instruction for teens), ques­tions began to arise about not just her judg­ment, but that of McCain’s as well,” Reinstein writes.

It should be noted that there is no new reporting here that I can discern -- just a greatest hits from what’s out there.

But this, to me, is the clearest evidence yet that the McCain-Palin campaign is losing the battle over Palin’s image. US Weekly readers are the voters her selection was designed to attract. There’s not much to like in this early take -- and not much to indicate that the next round will be much better.

Klein's commentary is especially fascinating. The McCain campaign selected Palin in an obvious attempt to court the women vote that has been energized by Hillary Clinton's primary campaign. What is more, as Klein suggests, some of these women voters may not have been diligently following the political news from the mainstream media, or the political blogs, during this past Labor Day weekend. What has happened is that the Palin scandals have left the political world and has quickly filtered into Middle America via the US Weekly magazine, sitting prominently on the supermarket aisles. And it has filtered down to the supermarket aisles faster than the McCain campaign could control Sarah Palin's introduction as John McCain's running mate. Sarah Palin's image is not longer that of John McCain's running mate, but rather a scandal-plagued politician hastily selected by the McCain campaign without thoroughly investigating Palin's political record, or her past. There is now speculation as to whether Palin may end up withdrawing from the ticket.

Not a good way for McCain to start the Republican National Convention.

Update: I think I'll give Sarah Palin three weeks before she withdrawals her name from the ticket. This week is the Republican National Convention, so the press and blogosphere will be dividing their time from commenting on the convention and on Sarah Palin. Next week will be continuing the news and criticism of Palin's scandals, especially if the McCain campaign refuses to allow Palin to be interviewed by reporters on these scandals. It could become a snowball effect of Palin constantly being dodged by these scandals, while unable to present the argument to vote for the McCain/Palin ticket. And if Palin does withdraws her name from the ticket, it will cause even more problems for the McCain campaign. How could the American public trust a President McCain to select the right choices on tough policy issues, when he couldn't even select the right vice presidential choice the first time? Such a Palin withdrawal would show a complete recklessness on John McCain's part in regards to his decision-making--John McCain is a bad decision-maker. And if Palin does withdrawal, the McCain campaign will be in an even worst situation where McCain will have to quickly choose a new vice presidential candidate, less than two months before the election, and well after the Republican National Convention has ended. That will also bring up questions as to whether McCain is fit for making the correct decisions in a crisis situation.

Of course, this is all speculation--place your bets!

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