Impalin' Palin

SNL's Tina Fey skewered GOP vice-presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin again this week. This time, Fey focuses on Palin's disastrous, neigh-catastrophic interview with Katie Couric. Palin's performance in the interview sparked a mix of disbelief and disgust among newscasters who usually keep their feelings to themselves: CNN's Jack Cafferty said that if the thought of Palin becoming president "doesn't scare the hell out of you, it should," and calls the interview "one of the most pathetic pieces of tape I have ever seen from someone aspiring to one of the highest offices in this country."

Here is a clip from the original interview, followed by SNL's send-up - what's scary is, it's hard to tell which one is the joke.

Update: According to Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post,

"...the worst may be yet to come for Palin; sources say CBS has two more responses on tape that will likely prove embarrassing."

Given what already aired of this interview, it's difficult to imagine what the blooper reel contains - let's hope it sees the light of day.

Making Sense of the Bailout

We will have more to say on the bailout bill a little later today, but for now I found these essays by Larry Summers, Paul Krugman, Robert Samuelson and Steven Pearlstein helpful.

For both economic and political reasons, we start the morning disappointed more wasn't done to keep people in their homes.  

All About Sarah

Governor Palin's big week starts with a powerful call for her to step aside from an unexpected source - Fareed Zakaria.

New McCain Ad Tries to Shift Focus from Economy

A new attack ad from U.S. Sen. John McCain hits U.S. Sen. Obama for voting against a war funding bill, in an attempt to bring the focus of the campaign back to McCain's home turf, foreign policy and national security (and playing make-believe). Here's the ad, entitled "Promise":

The ad fails to mention the fact that Obama voted against this bill after President Bush vetoed Obama's version of the appropriations bill, which included a time-table for troop withdrawl (McCain was absent for the vote but urged Bush to veto the bill). Obama summed it up nicely in the debate on Friday night:

"Senator McCain opposed funding for troops in legislation that had a timetable, because he didn't believe in a timetable. I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable, and was open- ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable. We didn't have a difference on whether or not we were going to be funding troops. We had a legitimate difference."

Spinning Out

Recently, Simon wrote about how U.S. Sen. John McCain's campaign was becoming increasingly untethered from reality. That analysis was confirmed this week when McCain decided, almost surreally, to suspend his campaign and call off the debate; today, The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne Jr. writes that his intervention in the deliberations over the bailout "could not have been more out of sync with what was actually happening."

McCain's campaign suspension didn't stop his campaign from spinning his debate appearance, however. No matter that McCain was not even planning to attend, or that the debate hasn't happened yet - they still released the following web ad today:

That's right. The McCain campaign has officially begun spinning the future. Look for their new ad, coming out next week: "McCain Wins Presidency!"

Friday New Tools Feature: Debate Drama Has "Internets" All Atwitter

At midnight last night, Twitter launched the first specialized section of their site, election.twitter.com. According to the New York Times, below a box that asks "what do you think?" is

"a constantly scrolling display of the thoughts (called "tweets" in Twitterspeak) of other Twitter users. These include all the tweets entered on the election page as well as those entered in any other part of the service with obvious election-related phrases, such as ‘Palin.'"

Already this morning, there are about 60 posts per minute on the election page. If the debate actually happens tonight (assuming there are no more crazy hail-mary moves from the McCain campaign), expect the page to be flooded with tweets; the company's co-founder says that the service saw "off-the-charts messages per second during the acceptance speeches" of the political conventions. Interestingly, the general public opinion on the election page seems to be pretty pro-Obama, which may reflect the mobile-user political trends I mentioned last week.

Twitter represents a fascinating intersection of different new media; it is like a social networking site, a blog, and a mobile service all rolled into one. To learn more about these tools and how they are fundamentally altering politics in the 21st century, we encourage you to read our New Policy Institute's New Tools Campaign papers, Go Mobile, Leverage Social Networks and Engage the Blogs.

You can also sign up to follow NDN on Twitter and receive tweets on all of our latest thinking.

Is McCain Really Not Going to Show Tonight?

Without consulting anyone, Senator John McCain has unilaterally withdrawn from a national Presidential debate. As I wrote yesterday, there is no precedent for this in modern American history. Presidential campaigns went on during the Civil War, the Depression, WWII and the Vietnam War.  All were crises much more grave than what we are facing now.

There is no nice way to say this - John McCain just isn't showing up to the debate tonight. 

Let's imagine what he will be doing tonight instead of debating Barack Obama.  Surfing the web? Huddling with staff? Going for a walk in the woods? Meeting with recalcitrant Republicans who have come out against the Bush bailout? Having dinner with his familiy?  I'm sure the campaign will conjure up some serious photo op.....but come on.  He spent 24 hours in NYC after he made his announcement that he was suspending his campaign....he couldn't take 8 hours to fly to Mississippi to debate Barack? 

Honestly, I think this is a national disgrace, and he should be embarrassed by the crazy decision his campaign has made. McCain has run one of the wildest and most unorthodox - some would say silly, depressing, pathetic, shameful - campaigns in modern times.  He should get off his butt and show that he isn't scared of talking about our challenges in front of the American people. 

1130 Update: The McCain campaign has just announced they will be participating in the debate tonight.  

1145 Update - Chris Cillizza has already found web ads placed by the McCain campaign claiming "McCain Wins Debate!"

The Times Comes Out for Keeping People In Their Homes

In a powerful lead editorial today, What About The Rest of Us?, the NYTimes echoes NDN's calls to make keeping people in their homes the core of the final financial rescue package:

Lawmakers were still wrangling Thursday night about the Bush administration's $700 billion bailout of the financial system. Political theater was mainly responsible for the delay, but it will be worth the wait if lawmakers take the time to make sure that the plan includes real relief for homeowners and not only for Wall Street.

The problems in the financial system have their roots in the housing bust, as do the problems of America's homeowners. Millions face foreclosure, and millions more are watching their equity being wiped out as foreclosures provoke price declines.

The problems became even more evident Thursday night with the federal seizure and sale of Washington Mutual to JPMorgan Chase.

It's unacceptable that lawmakers have yet to come out squarely in favor of bold homeowner relief in the bailout bill. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the biggest advocate of bailing out Wall Street, is also a big roadblock to helping hard-pressed borrowers. He wants to keep relying on the mortgage industry to voluntarily rework troubled loans, even though that approach has failed to stem the foreclosure tide - and does a disservice to the taxpayers whose money he would put at risk in the bailout.


Economic Stimulus? - Reid and Byrd Unveil Economic Plan

Here's the proposed Economic Recovery Package. The overall intent to "not forget Main Street" and "create good-paying American jobs" is a noble one, I question whether this package achieves such a goal. There is a great deal of progress in the area of Energy, allocating funding for key energy initiatives of which NDN has been an advocate (see NDN's Green Project blog). However, there is no mention of International Trade or initiatives to export new technology; the section on job creation mentions infrastructure, which is an important step forward, but no mention of how to use globalization to create more high skilled, better paying jobs. I would ask why the section designed to help small businesses - by all accounts the "job creators and drivers of the economy" - only allots $275 million for microfinance and other assistance to "Main Street," while it provides $776 million for border facility construction and "other homeland security infrastructure." I hope our taxpayer dollars don't continue to go towards a border fence that has not worked instead of small and medium-sized businesses that sustain our communities. The stimulus includes $466 million for DHS to begin construction of a consolidated headquarters in Washington, D.C., as "DHS has a critical need for a permanent, unified headquarters" - maybe having everyone under one roof will help reduce the backlog in naturalization and immigration applications! THAT must have been the hold-up all this time. While the $466 million are being allocated for offices, only $100 million is going to help communities along the southwest border fight the illegal flow of guns and drugs between the U.S. and Mexico that is fueling violence along the border. Call me crazy, but I think the offices can wait in line behind the safety of border patrol and citizens on both sides of the border. The conflict on the border similarly contributes to the economic downturn in that the violence has effectively killed business and tourism that previously made border cities job creators and places that flourished with commerce and (legal) economic activity.

Don't Forget Foreign Policy: Warning Shots over Pakistan

While new Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has been complimenting Sarah Palin on her good looks in New York, Pakistani border guards have been firing on U.S. helicopters in Afghani airspace. Spencer Ackerman writes:

The situation with the Pakistanis is deteriorating by the minute. On Sunday they fired “warning shots” at U.S. helicopters in Pakistani airspace. Yesterday they may have shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle in Pakistani airspace. And now the Pentagon has just announced that the Pakistani Army fired on U.S. troops in Afghan airspace.

The details are still murky, but it appears there was probably confusion about either orders or, more likely, where exactly the border lies. As Ackerman suggests, it's no international incident, but it could become one very quickly if a warning shot finds a target.

The economy certainly deserves a prominent spot in the debate this Friday(assuming it happens...), but I hope the planned topic of the debate-- foreign policy-- doesn't get lost altogether.  America is still confronting a number of tricky situations overseas-- situations that will require the engagement and leadership of a President-- and we can see some marked differences between the candidates.

The American electorate deserves to hear the candidates discuss our relations with Pakistan. How will they work with the new Pakistani government to stamp out al Qaeda and Taliban strongholds in the Pakistani northwest? Under what circumstances might they support incursions from Afghanistan into Pakistani territory? Pakistan has been an important ally, but it's a country in flux, with internal rifts to sort out.  How Washington works with the government in Islamabad will have serious repercussions for both countries.

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