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Palin in Spotlight as Republicans Turn on Each Other November 9, 2008

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by: Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian UK

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Many Republicans are pointing fingers at Sarah Palin, blaming her for John McCain’s loss. (Photo: Reuters)

As the implosion of the defeated Republican campaign continued yesterday, the landscape of American conservatism was dotted with signs that these were very strange times indeed.

Rush Limbaugh, behemoth of rightwing radio, took to the airwaves to declare war on two enemies: Barack Obama and the Republican party. Bloggers at FreeRepublic.com, an internet hub for conservatives, announced a boycott of Fox News and John McCain’s aides fell over one another to leak embarrassing details about the campaign to the press.

Liberals, indulging in what the writer Andrew Sullivan termed “Palinfreude”, were presented with a smorgasbord, ranging from the tale of how McCain’s pro-Palin foreign policy adviser had his Blackberry confiscated in the closing days of the race, to how the party had paid for Todd Palin’s silk boxer shorts.

The fighting consuming the McCain and Palin camps threatened to derail broader efforts to overhaul the Republican party after Tuesday’s decisive defeat, for which some insiders blamed Sarah Palin. Veterans of the right gathered in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, on Thursday for a summit on the movement’s future, but even as they did so, the blame went on.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is worse than I thought,” Limbaugh told listeners. “What the Republican party, led by disgruntled and failed McCain staffers, is trying to do to Sarah Palin, is unconscionable … There are country-club, blue-blood … Republicans who want nothing to do with a firebrand conservative [who] can fire up people.” He added: “We’re going to be taking on two things here [over] the next four years: Obama, and our own party establishment.”

John Fund, a Wall Street Journal columnist, said he had received multiple calls from campaign aides wanting “to use me as a conduit for their complaints”.

“Some on the McCain campaign staff seem more eager than most to settle scores,” he noted.

The main ammunition in the war was a lengthening list of allegations against Palin: that she thought Africa was a country; that she failed to inform the campaign about a scheduled call with Nicolas Sarkozy which turned out to be a prank; that she refused to undergo coaching prior to her disastrous interviews with CBS anchor Katie Couric; that she couldn’t name the three countries in the North America Free Trade Agreement; and that the party had spent up to $70,000 (£45,000) on “wardrobe items” for Palin and “luxury goods” for her husband, in addition to the $150,000 already reported. (Some of the claims were revealed by Fox, hence the boycott.)

The New York Times reported that when Palin met McCain in Phoenix on Tuesday night, she held the text of a speech she planned to deliver, in defiance of campaign convention, and had to be overruled.

The attacks are partly ideological: some blame Palin and her social-conservative supporters for blunting McCain’s appeal to independents, while others believe Palin could be the populist, hawkish figurehead of a revitalised Republican future.

But there is plenty of self-interest at stake. “This blame game is the consultants – the people who make their living running campaigns and don’t want to be blamed, because they need another job,” said Al Regnery, publisher of the American Spectator, and former president of Regnery Publishing, the company behind many recent rightwing bestsellers.

At Thursday’s summit, he said, “there was a lot of discussion about these people, who always seem to come back, whether they win or lose, and get paid a lot of money. We said we thought our side would be much better off without them.”

The sniping at Palin has provoked a backlash. One influential website, RedState.com, announced Operation Leper, designed to blacklist campaign staffers believed to be responsible. “We intend to constantly remind the base about these people, monitor who they are working for, and, when 2012 rolls around, see which candidates hire them,” it explained.

There was speculation that the culprits may be former aides to Mitt Romney, positioning their hero for a future presidential run.

The collapse of the McCain-Palin alliance began long before election day, Steve Schmidt, a senior McCain adviser, speaking to reporters on the candidate’s plane, was making little effort to hide his disdain for Palin. Asked if her presence on the ticket had been a disadvantage, he twice refused to answer.

Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s foreign policy chief, this week denied reports that he had been fired in the final stage of the campaign for siding with Palin and leaking “poison” on McCain to the pro-Palin columnist William Kristol. But even one of his allies, Michael Goldfarb, told reporters that Scheunemann’s Blackberry had been confiscated in the days before the election.

Kristol, who in one column advised McCain to “fire” his campaign, scoffed at reports that he had advised Palin. “I’m afraid it shows how paranoid some of these McCain aides have gotten – they should take a good rest after a tough campaign,” he told Fox.

He had met Palin once in his life, he continued, and interviewed her once by phone. “You know why this is really disgusting and disgraceful?” he said. “It’s disloyal to John McCain. Who selected Sarah Palin? John McCain. Who defended Sarah Palin for the last three months? John McCain.”

Returning to Alaska, Palin dismissed the criticisms, attributing them to “a small, bitter type of person”. Instead, she has emphasised perhaps the only thing that still unites her and her supporters with McCain loyalists: hostility towards the media.

She had “a little bit of disappointment in my heart about the world of journalism today”, she said, while McCain’s closest aide, Mark Salter, told Politico: “Maybe if the media had been fair, we still would have lost. But there were two different standards of scrutiny for us and Obama.”

Palin offered to help reporters confront their problems. “I want to … help restore some credibility there,” she said.

Another Prominent Republican Dumps McCain October 31, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in John McCain.
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October 31, 2008
Posted: 01:35 PM ET
From

Duberstein is pulling for Obama.

Duberstein is pulling for Obama.

(CNN) — Former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria this week he intends to vote for Democrat Barack Obama on Tuesday.

Duberstein said he was influenced by another prominent Reagan official – Colin Powell – in his decision.

“Well let’s put it this way – I think Colin Powell’s decision is in fact the good housekeeping seal of approval on Barack Obama.”

Powell served as national security advisor to Reagan during Duberstein’s tenure as chief of staff.

Duberstein spoke with Zakaria about his final days in the Reagan White House. The Reagan official, along with Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Carter National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, also discussed the transition process to a new administration.

Watch the full discussion on the next administration this Sunday at 1 p.m. on Fareed Zakaria GPS.

Why a Staunch Conservative Like Me Endorsed Obama October 26, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, John McCain, Sarah Palin, U.S. Election 2008.
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Ken Adelman, Huffington Post, October 24, 2008

Who cares?

That’s what I wondered when George Packer (ace of the New Yorker) asked whether he could post my intention to vote for Obama on his blog.

So I duly ignored him. Only when he bugged me two days later did I say okay, and responded in quick, instinctive emails back.

Little did I know the splash this would make. Not until a day later, when my wife and I were up in Philadelphia to teach leadership via scenes from Shakespeare’s Henry V for the Wharton Business School. When friends joined us for dinner at UPenn, they said their taxi driver had talked about my “endorsement of Obama,” having read it online during a break.

What’s most fun about unexpectedly “breaking through” on an issue is not feeling powerful, that you’re molding minds out there. People make up their own minds, based on lots more information than my personal inclinations.

Okay, this type announcement can give (maybe a few) conservatives some cover — not publicly to use with others, but privately to assure themselves that it’s actually okay to break away. To break with the most conservative, or Republican, candidate and vote (in my case, the first time ever) for “the other guy.”

And it’s not most fun dealing with longtime friends, fellow conservatives. Most are polite and say they understand, and they’ll get over it. Yet a few do get heated, show their disappointment, and say they can’t understand my taking a public stance (even if I privately stray).

I don’t enjoy those discussions, since I’ve long prided myself in being a staunch conservative.

Not a neo-con, since I was never liberal along the way (having campaigned for Barry Goldwater in 1964, when at that hotbed of lefty politics, Grinnell College). I’m really a con-con.

And not a staunch Republican, as I’ve never been to a Republican rally or convention (I came closest in 1980, after writing Don Rumsfeld’s speech and after we drove there; but I left Detroit before the convention opened).

So I’ve considered myself less of a partisan than an ideologue. I cared about conservative principles, and still do, instead of caring about the GOP.

Granted, McCain’s views are closer to mine than Obama’s. But I’ve learned over this Bush era to value competence along with ideology. Otherwise, our ideology gets discredited, as it has so disastrously over the past eight years.

McCain’s temperament — leading him to bizarre behavior during the week the economic crisis broke — and his judgment — leading him to Wasilla — depressed me into thinking that “our guy” would be a(nother) lousy conservative president. Been there, done that.

I’d rather a competent moderate president. Even at a risk, since Obama lacks lots of executive experience displaying competence (though his presidential campaign has been spot-on). And since his Senate voting record is not moderate, but depressingly liberal. Looming in the background, Pelosi and Reid really scare me.

Nonetheless, I concluded that McCain would not — could not — be a good president. Obama just might be.

That’s become good enough for me — however much of a triumph (as Dr. Johnson said about second marriages) of hope over experience.

Now what’s most fun about the media breakthrough is hearing from gobs of people from previous lives. Many long forgotten, reminding me of long forgotten times together. People emerging suddenly, from the dark matter of time, into the recesses of the brain.

These folks were important at various stages of my life — grammar school playmates, Grinnell classmates, Indianapolis cousins, Dan Quayle, Dick Allen, colleagues from the Reagan arms control agency (chuckling over my quip to Packer that I wouldn’t have hired Sarah Palin to a mid-level job there).

A veritable stroll down memory lane, to see a line of people who have touched my life at various times, in its varied stages, reconnecting in a most unexpected (even bizarre) manner.

Now that’s fun.

More Republicans Join Stampede to Abandon McCain October 25, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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by: Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian UK

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Scott McClellan, former White House Press Secretary for George W. Bush, has endorsed Barack Obama for president. (Photo: Reuters)

   

 

 Washington – Joel Haugen, a Republican fighting a tough congressional race against the Democrats in Oregon, has fallen out with his party. The reason: his surprise endorsement of Barack Obama for the presidency.

    “I believe in putting nation before party and my first priority is following my conscience with regard to what is best for America,” Haugen said in a statement issued by his office today. “I have a huge amount of respect for John McCain, but I believe that he has more of a cold war mentality.”

    Haugen is just one of many Republican politicians, dubbed “Obamicans”, who have defected to Obama. The latest high-profile desertions include Scott McClellan, George Bush’s former press secretary, who endorses Obama in a taped CNN programme to be broadcast this weekend, and William Weld, the Republican governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997.

    Weld, in a statement released today ahead of a press conference in New Hampshire, described Obama as “a once-in-a-lifetime candidate.”

    Last weekend, Bush’s former secretary of state, Colin Powell, Obama’s biggest Republican catch so far, publicly backed the Democratic candidate.

    It is unusual to see so many prominent Republican politicians and columnists shift, even allowing for the fact that party affiliations are more fluid in the US than Europe.

    The ‘Obamicans’ have their own website, listing those who have endorsed Obama and exchanging views. Campaign paraphernalia is also available from Barack Obama’s team that includes a “Republicans for Obama” button badge.

    According to Haugen’s campaign manager, Sarah Tiedeman, he made no secret of his views while fighting for the party nomination, telling the press about his unhappiness with Bush’s eight years in office and that he was likely to endorse Obama over McCain. He won 70% of the nomination vote.

    The Republican party became increasingly “unfriendly”, Tiedemann said, and has since withdrawn all financial support.

    Haugen, as a compromise, is now standing under an independent banner, though he remains a registered Republican. Tiedemann said the reaction among Republicans over his endorsement was mixed. She acknowledged it was “unusual” to make such an endorsement but Haugen “feels the Republican party has got so far from its roots.”

    Other defectors include Arne Carlson, the Republican governor of Minnesota from 1991 to 1999, who wrote in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune yesterday: “The choice of governor Sarah Palin as a running mate, and the resultant shallow campaign based on fear and suspicion, looks frighteningly similar to the politics of Karl Rove [Bush’s campaign strategist].”

    He described Obama as having “the potential to become a truly great president”.

    McClellan, who published a book earlier this year critical of the Bush administration, accusing it of lying, told CNN he would vote for Obama because he offered the best chance of changing the way Washington works.

    The founders of Republicans for Obama include a former Iowa congressman, Jim Leach; a former Rhode Island senator, Lincoln Chafee, and a former Bush fund-raiser, Rita Hauser.

    Another defector this week is Ken Adelman, a foreign policy adviser to Ronald Reagan, who told the New Yorker he would endorse Obama because of McCain’s temperament, describing as weird his behaviour in response when the economic meltdown began.

Frank Schaeffer: McCain’s Attacks Fuel Dangerous Hatred October 15, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in John McCain, Sarah Palin, U.S. Election 2008.
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McCain’s attacks fuel dangerous hatred

John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as “not one of us,” I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence.

At a Sarah Palin rally, someone called out, “Kill him!” At one of your rallies, someone called out, “Terrorist!” Neither was answered or denounced by you or your running mate, as the crowd laughed and cheered. At your campaign event Wednesday in Bethlehem, Pa., the crowd was seething with hatred for the Democratic nominee – an attitude encouraged in speeches there by you, your running mate, your wife and the local Republican chairman.

Shame!

John McCain: In 2000, as a lifelong Republican, I worked to get you elected instead of George W. Bush. In return, you wrote an endorsement of one of my books about military service. You seemed to be a man who put principle ahead of mere political gain.

You have changed. You have a choice: Go down in history as a decent senator and an honorable military man with many successes, or go down in history as the latest abettor of right-wing extremist hate.

John McCain, you are no fool, and you understand the depths of hatred that surround the issue of race in this country. You also know that, post- 9/11, to call someone a friend of a terrorist is a very serious matter. You also know we are a bitterly divided country on many other issues. You know that, sadly, in America, violence is always just a moment away. You know that there are plenty of crazy people out there.

Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs.

John McCain, you’re walking a perilous line. If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters when they scream out “Terrorist” or “Kill him,” history will hold you responsible for all that follows.

John McCain and Sarah Palin, you are playing with fire, and you know it. You are unleashing the monster of American hatred and prejudice, to the peril of all of us. You are doing this in wartime. You are doing this as our economy collapses. You are doing this in a country with a history of assassinations.

Change the atmosphere of your campaign. Talk about the issues at hand. Make your case. But stop stirring up the lunatic fringe of haters, or risk suffering the judgment of history and the loathing of the American people – forever.

We will hold you responsible.

Frank Schaeffer is the author of “Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back.” His e-mail is frankaschaeffer@aol.com.

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