My Dinner With John…

The New York Times this evening posted a couple of brief articles (and here) on how John McCain spent his Saturday.  As near as I can tell, he spent it by canceling his campaign stops and staying in the DC area, first at his condo in Crystal City and then at his campaign office where he made phone calls to various people working on the bailout negotiations (we know this because the campaign told us he was doing this and provided a very brief photo availability showing him talking to a Mississippi Congressman).  There is no evidence he is actively involved in the negotiations even by phone.  His only public event was a live satellite appearance at U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance in Columbus, Ohio.  Similarly, Governor Palin was in seclusion on Saturday in Philadelphia, emerging just long enough apparently to stir up just a little more controversy.

One of the Times articles concluded thusly:

After delivering his remarks, Mr. McCain headed for dinner at the Mandarin Oriental hotel and Café MoZU, a restaurant overlooking the Tidal Basin. Mr. McCain was accompanied by his wife, Cindy; Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, and Mr. Lieberman’s wife, Hadassah; and Senator Lindsay Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

When a presidential candidate goes out to dinner with his wife and closest friends 38 days from the election, that’s a bad sign, particularly when the last 24 hours have been spent basically incommunicado.  The body language of the day’s events says, “I’m done.”  That absolutely may not be true, but such behaviors can become a self-fulfilling prophesy in the glare of presidential politics.

– Austin doing business fine

“…A Conservative Feminist Role Model”

There’s a question: “Governor Palin, do you consider yourself a feminist?

I’m guessing the answer might be, “No!” but maybe I’m understimating the governor of our 47th largest state (beating out North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming).

Governor Palin is facing criticism from a new front today: the right.  Writing for the National Review Online, Kathleen Parker says that Governor Palin is so far over her head that she has become a liability to the ticket:

It was fun while it lasted.

Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Ms. Parker also points out a Palinism that anyone who’s actually parsed one of her interviews has noticed; she doesn’t actually answer many questions, she responds instead by throwing up a blizzard of soundbite, cliche fragments.  Or, as Ms. Parker put it, “If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.”

Jack Cafferty of CNN was a little less restrained, but made pretty much the same point yesterday.  After playing an excerpt of Governor Palin’s interview with Katie Couric, Cafferty called it “one of the most pathetic pieces of tape I have ever seen from someone aspiring to one of the highest offices in this country.”  When Wolf Blitzer replied to this comment by stating that “she’s cramming a lot of information,” Cafferty literally yells, “There’s no excuse for that! She’s supposed to know a little bit of this….You know, don’t make excuses for her! That’s pathetic.”

Here’s the segment:

Ms. Parker correctly points out that Senator McCain can’t dump his VP choice, but that Governor Palin could save the GOP – and the country – from national embarassment (or worse):

Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.

Do it for your country.

Please.

– Austin

PS – Which state has the lowest population per square mile? Got it in one, didn’t you?  Yes, Alaska has 1.2 people per square mile, the winner by far.  The next least-populated state?  Wyoming at 5.2 people per square mile.

PPS – For a round-up of reviews on the latest Palin disaster, click here.  Also, now that I’m looking for it, there’s a growing “Sarah’s gotta go” sentiment percolating through the media.  Check it out at Newsweek and the New York Times. grant applications fine

Paul Newman

We’re a little off-topic here, but I doubt anyone will mind if I mark the passing of Paul Newman.  Mr. Newman always struck me as a very decent person who never got too caught up in the trappings of his celebrity.  I enjoyed his work – on the screen and at my dinner table – and he left the world a better place through his art and philanthropy.  We should all aspire to do as well.  God’s speed.

– Austin

PS – The Verdict, by the way, is my favorite Paul Newman movie.  If you want a brilliant performance and a lesson in the power of redemption, check it out.  What’s yours? invoice samples fine

Profiles in Courage…

The Wall Street Journal, not quite the megaphone of American liberalism, offers up this morning a behind-the-scenes account of what happened in the Thursday meeting at the White House. It details how Senator McCain rode into town and first blew up the chances of getting an agreement and then provided zero leadership in getting the process back on track:

Midway through the White House summit on Thursday featuring America’s top political leaders, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain was asked for his opinion about the administration’s proposed $700 billion financial rescue package. He deferred to the top House Republican, who bluntly laid out a litany of complaints.

The sudden objections caused agitation among Democrats present, who thought they had the makings of a deal. The group turned to Sen. McCain to ask if he endorsed his party’s qualms, but he dodged the question, saying only that the concerns had to be addressed, according to people familiar with the meeting. He wasn’t specific about the legislation itself.

Then, all hell broke loose. “I just sat there and let them scream,” Sen. McCain later told an adviser.

That afternoon, the theatrics of the presidential campaign collided with days of tense negotiations over the controversial bailout package designed to forestall the collapse of U.S. financial markets. At the center of the drama was Sen. McCain.

On Thursday morning, Democrats and some Republicans hammered out a tentative compromise. Then, Sen. McCain arrived in Washington, just before noon and under Secret Service escort. He met with House Republicans and listened to their complaints. He met with Senate Republicans and chided them for assenting to a deal without his input. At 4 p.m., he headed over to the White House.

….

In a private meeting on Capitol Hill, a group of House Republicans, with the blessing of Minority Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio), urged Sen. McCain to consider a more market-based alternative to the Bush-backed plan.

The plan was developed by a cross-section of House Republicans, including Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, and involved a complex use of government insurance to bolster the toxic assets at the heart of the financial crisis. Mr. Cantor said the goal was to come up with something that House Republicans could support.

One Republican said Sen. McCain thought the plan was a “decent idea,” but stopped short of endorsing it.

Later, Sen. McCain sat in on a lunch with Senate Republicans. Present were three senators who had supported the emerging compromise: Sens. Judd Gregg, Robert Bennett and Bob Corker. Mr. McCain, standing and sitting at various points, weighed in, according to people familiar with the meeting. He was upset his colleagues had supported the plan, which appeared likely to become law, without his input.

According to Sen. Jon Kyl, Sen. McCain told fellow Republicans to hold off making a deal. “We have got to see the details in this thing, in writing,” Sen. McCain was quoted as saying.

….

The president and Mr. Paulson made opening comments, with Mr. Paulson reminding attendees of the gravity of the state of financial markets. Mr. Bush turned to Ms. Pelosi, who announced that the Democrats were going to allow Sen. Obama to lead off for them. The Democratic nominee spoke for a few minutes, going over his four well-known principles for what he would consider to be crucial to the legislation.

Then Mr. Bush turned to Sen. McCain and asked if he wanted to follow. Mr. McCain said, “Actually, the longer I’m here, the more I respect seniority.” He said he would defer to the Republican congressional leaders who were present.

Mr. Boehner, the House minority leader, outlined his concerns about taxpayer protections in the legislation and then talked instead about the insurance-based alternative. At several points, the conversation became raucous, with members loudly talking over one another.

In a television interview, Sen. Obama recalled asking: “Well, do we need to start from scratch, or are there ways to incorporate some of those concerns?”

Sen. McCain didn’t answer directly. Instead, he outlined the five principles that he wanted to guide the legislation. (all emphasis added).

Nobody likes the bailout plan, but that’s part of the job; to do the unpleasant work that is necessary.  Senator McCain on this occasion has shown himself unwilling or unable to do so.  That’s not leadership.

– Austin

Photo credit: Getty Images tax filing fine