Thursday, 16 October 2008

THE DEBATE

Ken Berwitz
 
Here, in no particular order, are a few of my top of mind thoughts about last night's presdiential debate:
 
-It was John McCain's best showing of the three.  He was aggressive and made some very strong points.  Even so, however, Barack Obama came across as more articulate and more polished.  I suspect that, given the talent Mr. Obama has for speaking, he would win 100 out of 100 debates against Mr. McCain;
 
-One area in which Mr. McCain did win, hands down, was that he had far and away the best, most memorable line of the debate.  When Obama did his inevitable "you voted with George Bush" routine, McCain said (these are either the exact or almost-exact words) "I'm not George Bush.  If you wanted to run against George Bush you should have run 4 years ago".  That, I assume, was a premeditated answer for the standard Obama attack.  If so, congratulations to whoever suggested it;
 
-John McCain has a tendency to do a sort of shorthand version of what he wants to say - quite possibly because so much of it is part of his stump speech.  But when he abbreviates his comments they often sound disjointed and not in context.  It is understandable that this can happen when someone says the same thing over and over again interminably, but it lessens the impact of what is being said.  In a few cases last night, it made Mr. McCain's point too confusing to understand.
 
-Barack Obama has a tendency to smile patronizingly when Mr. McCain is attacking him.  I suspect viewers had a mixed reaction to this -- some probably saw it as communicating that Mr. Obama was in command and easily able to deflect the attack, while others probably saw it as arrogant and condescending.  Personally, it reminded me too much of of the the way Denzel Washington smiled when he played Frank Lucas in "American Gangster".
 
Bottom line:  Both men did well.  I think the debate went to Obama on style.  But I think McCain may have gained ground voter-wise because this showing demonstrated that the second debate, where he got creamed, was a fluke. 
 
Ok, all debates are now over.  Let's see where it goes now. 


ABOUT THAT THREAT AT THE PALIN RALLY......

Ken Berwitz
 
During a Sarah Palin rally, did someone scream "kill him" at the mention of Barack Obama's name?
 
The left wing blogosphere and the reliably leftward people such as keith olbermann know the answer is "yes".  But is it?
 
Read this and judge for yourself:
 

Secret Service says "Kill him" allegation unfounded

By Andrew M. Seder

aseder@timesleader.com
Staff Writer

SCRANTON The agent in charge of the Secret Service field office in Scranton said allegations that someone yelled "kill him" when presidential hopeful Barack Obama's name was mentioned during Tuesday's Sarah Palin rally are unfounded.

The Scranton Times-Tribune first reported the alleged incident on its Web site Tuesday and then again in its print edition Wednesday. The first story, written by reporter David Singleton, appeared with allegations that while congressional candidate Chris Hackett was addressing the crowd and mentioned Obama's name a man in the audience shouted "kill him."

News organizations including ABC, The Associated Press, The Washington Monthly and MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann reported the claim, with most attributing the allegations to the Times-Tribune story.

Agent Bill Slavoski said he was in the audience, along with an undisclosed number of additional secret service agents and other law enforcement officers and not one heard the comment.

"I was baffled," he said after reading the report in Wednesday's Times-Tribune.

He said the agency conducted an investigation Wednesday, after seeing the story, and could not find one person to corroborate the allegation other than Singleton.

Slavoski said more than 20 non-security agents were interviewed Wednesday, from news media to ordinary citizens in attendance at the rally for the Republican vice presidential candidate held at the Riverfront Sports Complex. He said Singleton was the only one to say he heard someone yell "kill him"

"We have yet to find someone to back up the story," Slavoski said. "We had people all over and we have yet to find anyone who said they heard it."

Hackett said he did not hear the remark.

Slavoski said Singleton was interviewed Wednesday and stood by his story but couldn't give a description of the man because he didn't see him he only heard him.

When contacted Wednesday afternoon, Singleton referred questions to Times-Tribune Metro Editor Jeff

Sonderman. Sonderman said, "We stand by the story. The facts reported are true and that's really all there is."

Slavoski said the agents take such threats or comments seriously and immediately opened an investigation but after due diligence "as far as we're concerned it's closed unless someone comes forward." He urged anyone with knowledge of the alleged incident to call him at 346-5781. We'll run at all leads" he said.

So what do we have here?  We have one person who "heard" someone say "kill him".  No one else heard it.  But the claim immediately became a reality to the Associated Press, ABC, keith olbermann and God knows who else.
 
I wonder who screams "kill him" at Joe Biden rallies when Mr. Biden mentions John McCain.  Maybe David Singleton can attend one or two and find the guy.


OBAMA'S LAMENT ABOUT MEDIA BIAS

Ken Berwitz
 
In what is arguably the single most unintentionally hilarious complaint of this presidential election, Barack Obama is complaining about media bias.
 
That is a little like Bad Pitt and Angelina Jolie complaining that the paparazzi don't take enough pictures of them. 
 
Here are the specifics, from Seton Motley of www.newsbusters.org, along with a really funny response from the people Mr. Obama is complaining about:
 

MRC/NB's Bozell Comments on Sen. Obama's Complaints About Fox News

Photo of Seton Motley.
 
As we reported earlier, in an interview for the upcoming New York Times's Sunday Magazine, and again in last night's Presidential debate, Illinois Senator Barack Obama singled out the Fox News Channel for scorn for how he feels they are covering his campaign.

Excerpted Sen. Obama quotes from the Times Sunday Magazine: "I am convinced that if there were no Fox News, I might be two or three points higher in the polls.... If I were watching Fox News, I wouldn't vote for me, right? ... Because the way I'm portrayed 24/7 is as a freak. I am the latte-sipping, New York Times-reading, Volvo-driving, no-gun-owning, effete, politically correct, arrogant liberal. Who wants somebody like that?"

MRC President and Newsbusters.org Publisher L. Brent Bozell, III issued the following statement in response:

"Okay, Sen. Obama, we will cede you the point that the Fox News Channel, by accurately portraying you and your record, has brought you down 2-3% in the polls. Now it's time for you to concede that were it not for NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, etc., etc., etc. Sen. John McCain would be up by 20%."

The only thing missing is a statement from John Lewis that Mr. Bozell's comment reminds him of George Wallace.
 
But there is still time.............


THE "GUILT BY ASSOCIATION" ISSUE

Ken Berwitz
 
Funny, isn't it, how an issue can be framed as significant or outrageous by politicians - usually related entirely to whether it does or does not get that politician votes.
 
With that in mind, here is Jeff Jacoby's latest column, which discusses the guilt by association that we're not supposed to be talking about these days:
 
GUILT BY ASSOCIATION? THINK AGAIN

By Jeff Jacoby

The Boston Globe

 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

 

     Early in his 1980 campaign for president, Ronald Reagan spoke at the

Neshoba County Fair near Philadelphia, Miss., a town infamous for the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964. In the course of remarks dealing mostly with economics and education, he said: "I believe in states' rights. I believe in people doing as much as they can at the community level and the private level." (You can hear Reagan's speech at http://www.onlinemadison.com/ftp/reagan/reaganneshoba.mp3).

 

     Reagan should have known better than to use a phrase like "states' rights," however innocuously, in a place like Mississippi. His campaign appearance wasn't a veiled appeal to

segregationists-- Reagan was no racist -- but for more than a quarter-century, that is how his detractors on the left have spun it. Bob Herbert wrote in The New York Times last year that Reagan went to Mississippi "to assure the bigots that he was with them." It's an ugly calumny -- and a good example of guilt by association at its most poisonous.

 

     A more recent example occurred in 2000, when George W. Bush made a campaign stop at Bob Jones University, a school known for anti-Catholicism and a ban on interracial dating. Other than that single brief visit, Bush had no tie to Bob Jones. He hadn't studied there, never supported it financially, didn't share its racial or religious views. Nevertheless, he was sharply criticized for his appearance. The media declared it a "defining moment" of Bush's campaign, and many of his critics (including then-rival John McCain) pronounced him guilty by association of aligning himself with Bob Jones's noxious teachings.

 

     One other illustration: the bludgeoning of Samuel Alito during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 2006. Senate Democrats led by Ted Kennedy pummeled Alito over his membership in the long-defunct Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a conservative group in which Alito had never played an active role. A former ROTC cadet, he had joined the organization in support of its call for restoring the military program to Princeton. But because it had also blasted racial and gender preferences in admissions, Kennedy and other Democrats insinuated that Alito must be a bigot.

 

     In none of these cases was there anything like the relationship that Barack Obama had for so many years with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the incendiary, America-damning pastor he described for years as his mentor, his sounding board, and his friend. In none of them was there anything comparable to Obama's significant involvement with William Ayers, the domestic-terrorist-turned-extremist-professor with whom Obama worked closely at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, channeling more than $100 million into radical education projects.

 

     Nor was anything in the Reagan, Bush, or Alito episodes akin to Obama's highly profitable relationship with Tony Rezko, the crooked Chicago businessman and political fixer who was convicted in June on multiple counts of fraud, corrupt solicitation, and money laundering. In the course of their 17-year relationship, Rezko directed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Obama's political war chests; he also facilitated the Obamas' purchase of a $1.6 million mansion by agreeing to buy the adjoining lot from the same seller.

 

     More and more loudly, Obama and his defenders have been insisting that to call attention to these deplorable associations is to engage in ridiculous and unfair "guilt by association."

 

     But it isn't ridiculous to question the values of a candidate whose political career got its start in the Chicago living room of violent traitors like Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, who have never expressed remorse for the brutal crimes they committed in the Weather Underground. There is nothing unfair about wondering how Obama could have worshipped for 20 years in Wright's church, yet never objected to the fanatic pastor's virulent diatribes: that AIDS was created by the US government as an instrument of genocide, that America is the "US of KKKA," that the 9/11 slaughter was "America's chickens coming home to roost."

 

     Guilt by association? Not when the associations have such deep roots or raise such troubling questions about Obama's character and judgment. It was only in the heat of a presidential campaign that Obama finally repudiated his alliances with Ayers, Wright, and Rezko. It isn't irresponsible to ask what those associations tell us about a man poised to be the next president of the United States. It would be irresponsible not to.

.
It is one of the more disturbing elements of this year's presidential campaign that, for Barack Obama, we are supposed to ignore issues that we could raise without a second thought for anyone else. 
 
I wonder if this "hands off" rule, that applies only to Mr. Obama, will win him the election.
.


ONE OTHER THING ABOUT THE DEBATE

Ken Berwitz
 
One other thing about last night's debate:
 
If I hear about "Joe the plumber" one more time in my natural life it will be one time too many.

j Joe the Plumber does NOT have a plumbing license! This is so funny! (10/16/08)


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