Sunday, 07 September 2008


Ken Berwitz

For the poll lovers in the house, here is the first major poll I've seen in which all interviewing took place after Sarah Palin's speech/introduction.  It was conducted by Zogby:

The McCain/Palin ticket wins 49.7% support, compared to 45.9% backing for the Obama/Biden ticket, this latest online survey shows. Another 4.4% either favored someone else or were unsure. 

The Ticket Horserace









Others/Not sure



In the two-way contest in which just McCain and Obama were mentioned in the question, the result was slightly different, with McCain leading, 48.8% to 45.7%.

One-on-One Horserace






Others/Not sure


What, if anything, does it mean?  You decide.


Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama may have just gotten his first taste of what happens when you mess with Sarah Palin.

Read this exchange, courtesy of Fox news, and see what I mean:

Palin to Obama: Oh no you didnt

ALBUQUERQUE, NM Gov. Palin hit back at Sen. Obama during an evening rally in the Land of Enchantment Saturday, arguing that the Democrat is in no place to lecture her on federal earmark requests.

The Democratic presidential nominee told an Indiana crowd today that Palin is a flip flopper when it comes to requesting federal dollars for state projects, noting that her recent criticism of the earmark process comes only after years of advocating for earmarks for her city and state.

When youve been taking all these earmarks when it is convenient and then suddenly you are the champion anti-earmark person, thats not change. Come on! I mean, words mean something. You cant just make stuff up, Obama said.

Palin, who received millions in earmarks for projects during her time as mayor of Wasilla, returned fire tonight in front of more than 6,000 supporters.

Today our opponent brought up earmarks and frankly I was surprised that he raised the subject. I didnt think hed want to go there, she said. Our opponent has requested nearly one billion dollars in earmarks in just three yearsabout a million dollars for every working day. Just wait until President John McCain puts a stop to that.

The state of Alaska has also requested hundreds of millions of dollars during Palins first year as Governor but she noted today that she cut back earmarks in our state this past year.

Im ready to help John McCain end earmarks once and for alleleventh hour, behind closed doors, no public scrutiny, the earmark system that is brokenwe will end that, she said.

Palin, who has adopted McCains passionate anti-earmark rhetoric since being selected as the VP, has also received some heat for her evolving position on the $200 million+ dollar earmark for the infamous bridge to nowhere. While she now tells voters that she told the feds thanks but no thanks for the appropriation, Palin actually advocated for a bridge during her 2006 gubernatorial bid. She eventually rejected the specific earmark but the state still received an equivalent amount of federal money for use on other transportation projects.

Media, as a group, don't seem to have the capacity (neutrality?) to push back at Mr. Obama.  But Sarah Palin has no such inhibitions, does she?

Chalk this up as another reason I am looking forward to the Palin/Biden debate.


Ken Berwitz

Several new polls are out, all of them conducted after the Republican convention and Sarah Palin's coming-out party.  If their results are correct, they are stunning:

-Zogby:  As I posted in an earlier blog, the latest Zogby poll has McCain/Palin leading Obama/Biden by 4%;

-Gallup:  McCain/Palin has moved ahead by 3% over Obama/Biden.  A week ago Obama/Biden led by 8%;

-USA Today:  Most remarkably of all, the latest USA Today has McCain/Palin leading by 4% among registered voters (50%-46%). That is an 11% move from a week ago when they were behind by 7%. 

But among likely voters?  McCain/Palin leads Obama/Biden by 54% - 44%.  That is a double-digit lead! 

If these data are correct, Barack Obama has gone from coasting to victory, to a real fight, to being behind in no time flat.

So don't expect to see that self-assured smile anymore. Voters appear to have called off Mr. Obama's coronation, just as they called off Hillary Clinton's.

The moral of this story?  Never, ever underestimate John McCain --- or, for that matter, a hockey mom/mayor/governor from Alaska.


Ken Berwitz

This piece comes to us from  It needs no additional commentary from me.

Republicans Recycle Flags Dems Trashed

September 6th, 2008

Telling, the things that Democrats refused to recycle at their oh-so-green convention.

Of course like those styrofoam columns, these flags were merely props in the first place.

From the Denver Post:

Republican Recycling

by David Harsanyi on September 6, 2008

This morning, Republicans tell me that a worker at Invesco Field in Denver saved thousands of unused flags from the Democratic National Convention that were headed for the garbage. Guerrilla campaigning. They will use these flags at their own event today in Colorado Springs with John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Before McCain speaks today, veterans will haul these garbage bags filled with flags out onto the stage with dramatic effect, no doubt and tell the story.

What you see in the picture I sent you is less than half of total flags, a Republican official emailed. We estimate the total number to be around 12,000 small flags and one full size 35 flag.

Im not sure what the DNC was supposed to do with unused hand-flags, frankly. But the Republicans are obviously questioning someones patriotism here.

We can practically hear the McCain camp editing the footage for their next ad.


Ken Berwitz

In case you're wondering how a Governor should function when a hurricane hits his/her state's major city, please read these excerpts from an article in today's New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Jindal takes full command in crisis

Governor pushes bureaucracy aside 
Sunday, September 07, 2008
By Robert Travis Scott

BATON ROUGE -- At 2 a.m. Aug. 31, with Hurricane Gustav a day away from landfall, Gov. Bobby Jindal called a meeting of the state's high-level emergency command group to face another crisis in the massive evacuation of southern Louisiana.

Hearing the news that Gustav was a potential monster storm, several hospitals in the New Orleans area had decided Saturday to evacuate rather than ride out the tempest, and suddenly ambulances with critical-care patients were lining up at Lakefront Airport awaiting airlift for the community's most helpless people. But there weren't nearly enough planes.

Jindal knew the storm's initial high winds would ground aircraft by 9 p.m., so he had less than 20 hours to mobilize a key part of one of the largest medical evacuations in the nation's history, without sufficient resources in hand. Otherwise, the patients, along with the nurses and doctors attending them, could risk remaining in Gustav's path.

"You could see it in his eye," said Alan Levine, the state's health secretary. "He didn't want any bureaucracy to get in the way."

What followed was an example of how the government since Hurricane Katrina has improved its ability to handle disasters, including, foremost, a more involved federal response, better coordination among agencies and politicians on all levels and the benefit of lessons learned from the catastrophe of 2005.

At the center of this reinvented decision-making system, according to interviews with those in the middle of the process, was Jindal, 37, who was leading a brand new team of aides and Cabinet members with a little more than seven months of experience in office. Adding to the pressure, Gustav drew the media's spotlight during the Republican National Convention, putting Jindal and his GOP administration's performance on a national stage even though he had never in his career faced any crisis so serious.

"I'd give him an A-plus," said Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, who sat beside Jindal at the state command group meetings. "He managed it very, very, very well."

Equally high grades were awarded Jindal by a breadth of participants in the state's Unified Command Group, a panel of 16 that coordinates crisis management for the state, and others who worked in the state Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge in the days before and after the hurricane.

The key, they said, was Jindal's style of demanding solutions and information, setting it down in numbers that could measure progress and shunning any discussions of the bureaucratic process. Add to that Jindal's grasp of details and organization, and his ability to converse on any subject large or small.

"I can't imagine anyone being more organized and being more involved in every issue," said Robert Barham, secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which led the state's rescue efforts.

By contrast, former Governor Kathleen Blanco's input for hurricane Katrina was to go on TV, cry, and ask people to pray. (And then there was New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, whose contribution was to hole up in a luxury hotel and do nothing except complain about everyone who WAS doing something)

That, folks, is why Louisiana got rid of Ms. Blanco (she was so unpopular she could not run for re-election) and elected Governor Bobby Jindal.

Think they made the right choice?


Ken Berwitz

How important is Sarah Palin is to the Republicans this year?  What does she bring to the McCain/Palin ticket? 

Tom Purcell, writing in today's Pittsbugh Post-Gazette thinks he knows.  And I think he knows too, which is why I am posting his commentary below:

She's a Pittsburgh girl

By Tom Purcell
Sunday, September 7, 2008

Some folks are befuddled by who Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin is. I know exactly who she is. She's a "Pittsburghgirl."

Maybe I better explain.

Palin embodies everything feminists have been asking for for years -- she really does "have it all." She's a wife, a working mom and the most powerful woman in her state -- yet she's got feminine poise (as reflected in a popular Alaskan bumper sticker: "Coldest State. Hottest Governor.")

Palin's husband is also what feminists have been asking for for years. He works part time to support her career and nurture the kids -- yet he's masculine, confident and supportive (Alaskans call him the "First Dude.")

You'd think in a truly progressive society folks would set aside their politics for a moment to celebrate real equality in action (just as folks praised Hillary for being the first female presidential candidate and Barack for being the first black).

But that didn't happen, of course.

The same folks who argued for years that there are few differences between males and females -- we were just socialized to think there are, you see -- are suddenly singing the opposite tune.

Somehow -- with a straight face -- they are now arguing that moms are expected to take on the lion's share of the family burdens and that by becoming the VP candidate Palin is turning her back on hers.

What's worse, to some, is that conservative folks aren't responding the way they're supposed to.

Conservatives are supposed to prefer their women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. But they're 100 percent behind Palin -- especially the old, white conservative fellows who are speculating that, eight years hence, a more experienced Palin just might have a shot at the highest office in the land.

The first female president a Republican?

Such a thought has to be maddening to those whose carefully constructed image of "Neanderthal" conservatives is being shattered by simple reality. Such folks can't get a bead on who and what Palin is, so let me take a stab at it.

As I said, she's a "Pittsburghgirl."

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, a down-to-earth blue-collar town. It is the land of big hearts and common sense. If your car breaks down, expect a couple dozen people to stop and help you.

It's a place where neighborhoods are tightly knit and families even tighter. It's a place filled with genuine people who are concerned for their relatives, friends and neighbors -- and especially their country.

Folks in Pittsburgh are sitting around dinner tables and on their front porches talking about the future of this country. Their ideas may be different -- arguments may get heated -- but they're trying to work this election out, trying to do what is right.

Palin resonates with such folks, who have sisters, mothers and wives just like her -- authentic, honest, attentive women who will fight tooth and nail to do what is best for their kids, neighbors and communities.

Unlike some ambitious politicians who need the constant affection and reassurance of the public -- politicians who say "don't you know who I am?" when waiters in trendy restaurants fail to give them the best seat -- you get the sense Palin couldn't care less about such things.

It's early yet and we're just beginning to know who she is, but I offer a bit of advice to her opposition. It's probably not a good idea to underestimate her (like or hate her politics, she hit it out of the park at the convention).

I wouldn't attempt to portray her as a bimbo or an inexperienced lightweight or a religious-right wacko. Most of all, I'd avoid dragging her family into the fight.

I've been in the unfortunate position of opposing a Pittsburghgirl now and then. The outcome has never been pretty.

When prompted, a Pittsburghgirl will reach into your belly and rip out your guts before you have a chance to blink. And she'll do it with a smile on her face and not a hair out of place.

For the past week I've been talking about the fact that Ms. Palin connects with everyday people, especially women.  And she connects with them in places that political polls rarely ever go.

Mr. Purcell understands why she makes this connection.  I hope you do.  And I can pretty much guarantee a lot of smug, entrenched beltway elites and phoney-baloney hypocrites in "women's groups" are about to understand why a lot faster than they want to.

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