Peggy Noonan proclaims the race over — in that McCain has lost

Well now. A bit bold, shall we say. Nonetheless, there it is:

And that’s Mike Murphy in there as well, also piling it on. In both cases, they’re chalking it up to McCain’s choice of VP. Well then.

Sure, it’s a big ol’ point-and-laugh — but you know, it’s the best one of the week so far. Puts this latest piece of hers in some perspective. But hey, tell your audience what they want to hear — and then talk amongst yourselves.

Oh hey, a transcript

Noonan: [Can’t hear since Todd (who is still on air) is talking over her]

Murphy: Um, you know, because, I come out of the blue swing state governor world. Engler, Whitman, Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, I mean, and these guys, this is all how you win a Texas race, just run it up, and it’s not gonna work.

Noonan: It’s Over.

Murphy: Still, McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech and do himself some good.

Todd: [can’t really tell what he says, but he mentions something about “insulting to Kay Baily Hutchinson]

Noonan: I saw Kay this morning…

Todd: She’s never looked comfortable up there..

Murphy: They’re all bummed out.

Todd: I mean, is she really the most qualified woman they can obtain?

Noonan: The most qualified? No. I think they went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narratives…[couldn’t hear the end of it]

Todd: Yeah, but what’s a narrative?

Murphy: I totally agree.

Noonan: Every time Republicans do that, because that’s not where they live and it’s not what they’re good at, they blow it.

Murphy: You know what’s the worst thing about it, the greatest of McCain is no cynicism, and..

Murphy and Todd together: This is cynical.

Todd: And as you called it, gimmicky.

Far be it from me to gainsay anyone speaking, really.

[EDIT: Ah, here we go — I knew this wouldn’t take long:

We were speaking informally, with some passion — and into live mics. An audio tape of that conversation was sent, how or by whom I don’t know, onto the internet.

(A quick note from me — audio tape? This IS 2008, right?)

…In our off-air conversation, I got on the subject of the leaders of the Republican party assuming, now, that whatever the base of the Republican party thinks is what America thinks. I made the case that this is no longer true, that party leaders seem to me stuck in the assumptions of 1988 and 1994, the assumptions that reigned when they were young and coming up. “The first lesson they learned is the one they remember,” I said to Todd — and I’m pretty certain that is a direct quote. But, I argued, that’s over, those assumptions are yesterday, the party can no longer assume that its base is utterly in line with the thinking of the American people. And when I said, “It’s over!” — and I said it more than once — that is what I was referring to. I am pretty certain that is exactly what Todd and Murphy understood I was referring to. In the truncated version of the conversation, on the Web, it appears I am saying the McCain campaign is over. I did not say it, and do not think it.

However, I did say two things that I haven’t said in public, either in speaking or in my writing. One is a vulgar epithet that I wish I could blame on the mood of the moment but cannot. No one else, to my memory, swore. I just blurted. The other, more seriously, is a real criticism that I had not previously made, but only because I hadn’t thought of it. And it is connected to a thought I had this morning, Wednesday morning, and wrote to a friend. Here it is. Early this morning I saw Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and as we chatted about the McCain campaign (she thoughtfully and supportively) I looked into her eyes and thought, Why not her? Had she been vetted for the vice presidency, and how did it come about that it was the less experienced Mrs. Palin who was chosen? I didn’t ask these questions or mention them, I just thought them. Later in the morning, still pondering this, I thought of something that had happened exactly 20 years before. It was just after the 1988 Republican convention ended. I was on the plane, as a speechwriter, that took Republican presidential nominee George H.W. Bush, and the new vice presidential nominee, Dan Quayle, from New Orleans, the site of the convention, to Indiana. Sitting next to Mr. Quayle was the other senator from that state, Richard Lugar. As we chatted, I thought, “Why him and not him?” Why Mr. Quayle as the choice, and not the more experienced Mr. Lugar? I came to think, in following years, that some of the reason came down to what is now called The Narrative. The story the campaign wishes to tell about itself, and communicate to others. I don’t like the idea of The Narrative. I think it is … a barnyard epithet.

I feel better already. As do her editors. Doubtless.] Political Blogger Alliance


Hmm. Maybe a daily Palin update is necessary.

In that:

  • Right about when Joseph Lieberman, rightly known for his pride in his Jewish faith and upbringing, was praising Palin to the skies at the convention, the news started to circulate that Palin had apparently no problem with a speaker at her church — namely one David Brickner, head of Jews for Jesus — a couple of weeks back saying things like this:

    But what we see in Israel, the conflict that is spilled out throughout the Middle East, really which is all about Jerusalem, is an ongoing reflection of the fact that there is judgment. There is judgment that is going on in the land, and that’s the other part of this Jerusalem Dilemma. When Jesus was standing in that temple, He spoke that that judgment was coming, that there’s a reality to the judgment of unbelief. He said “I long to gather you, but…” what? “You were unwilling.” God never forces His way on human beings. And so because Jerusalem was unwilling to receive His grace, judgment was coming. He says, “Look, your house has left you desolate!” What did He mean by that? Remember where He is. He’s standing in the temple there in Jerusalem, the place where God had promised, through Moses,

    “There I will meet with you, there I will hear your prayers, and there I will forgive your sin.”

    And now Jesus in that temple, just before going to the cross, says, ‘From now on this place is desolate.’ And Jesus’ words have echoed down through the centuries. Not a generation after He uttered this promise, Titus and his Roman legions marched into that city and destroyed both the city and the temple. And from that day until this very present there has been no temple, and there is therefore no sacrifice in Judaism. Only we could sacrifice in…the only place was in the temple. And therefore there has been, and there is today, no confidence of atonement, no confidence of forgiveness. If you were to stand outside of a synagogue on the day of atonement and ask those leaving the service, “Did God hear your prayers? Were your sins forgiven on this most holy of all days?” the answer would be, “I hope. I hope, but who can know?” Who indeed but those of us who have come under the wings of the Almighty, who’ve entered into that place of grace where forgiveness is assured for the dilemma of human life. Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It’s very real.

    When [Brickner’s son] Isaac was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment—you can’t miss it.

    Well that’s…charming. And lest you think I’m misquoting, hey, the full sermon’s right here.

  • “Never mind,” you might say, “is that anywhere as bad as Rev. Wright was for Obama?” (Which misses the point much like the whole question of experience and lack thereof has been torpedoed but let us move on.) Ah well, how about this, courtesy of, unsurprisingly, Andrew Halcro:

    With all the debate surrounding the Bridge to Nowhere earmark, I offer you a campaign photo from 2006 when the Bridge to Nowhere was considered the Bridge to Somewhere by one candidate seeking votes from the people of Ketchikan.

    He goes on to explain the timing of both her support — and then her well-publicized and, I now see more clearly, utterly cynical rejection of said ‘bridge to nowhere.’ The details are there, read them as you like. And the photo, well, John at Balloon Juice has provided a helpful crop:

    She certainly seems happy.

    Cute. Really. In a sick sort of way.

  • Then there’s that whole troopergate thing — Halcro has a new general summary up, as well as a good snark at people who keep missing the opportunity to talk with Wooten directly — and the investigation that’s due to conclude right before the Presidential election and all that. Looks like she’s due to testify soon, or they’d like her to. So much to say, really…but isn’t it odd that that, in part to avoid having to testify, she’s had to file an ethics complaint…against herself?:

    Gov. Sarah Palin wants a state board to review the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan — taking the unusual step of making an ethics complaint against herself.

    Her lawyer sent an “ethics disclosure” Monday night to Attorney General Talis Colberg. The governor asked that it go to the three-person Personnel Board as a complaint. While ethics complaints are usually confidential, Palin wants the matter open.

    Under state law, the board must hire an independent counsel for complaints against the governor to determine whether evidence of a violation of the state ethics act exists.

    “Governor Palin believes it will find no conceivable violation of the Ethics Act,” her complaint says. She wants the investigation “to put these matters to rest.”

    Tom Daniel, an Anchorage labor and employment lawyer hired by the board in the Renkes case, took a quick look at Palin’s complaint Tuesday.

    “It appears that the Governor has filed an ethics complaint against herself. … This is very unusual because ethics complaints typically are filed against others,” Daniel wrote in an e-mail responding to a Daily News query.

    Asked whether the personnel board could take the investigation away from the Legislature — as Palin wants to do — Daniel answered: “I’ve never looked at that issue, but I can’t see why filing a complaint with the personnel board would deprive the Legislature of the right to conduct its own investigation.”

    The ethics disclosure echoes points made in a four-page backgrounder on the Wooten matter released by the McCain/Palin campaign. Did Van Flein write the background paper on Wooten for the campaign? He didn’t answer that question when asked in an e-mail Tuesday evening.


Now, what haven’t I talked about in this post so far? The answer is obvious. What would I like to direct your attention towards? This post over at the NRO by Byron York, who is one of the few people there who is starting to get openly queasy about a lot of things — which is nice to see, even if he’s looking at it more from a strategic ‘how can we rescue the beloved brand’ perspective more than honest ‘good grief, we’re utterly messed up, aren’t we’ feelings:

How will Palin address the family issues that have arisen since her elevation to the GOP ticket? My source didn’t want to address that — not because Palin isn’t going to do it, but because that’s the kind of thing the campaign wants to leave for the speech itself. Still, my source said, “We said on Monday and Tuesday that this discussion for us is over. We’re asking people to respect their privacy.” Well, they can dream. In any event, the campaign will release excerpts of the speech later today that might give us a hint where that particular issue is going.

On a question that is flying around here in St. Paul: What about the presence of one Levi Johnston, the 18 year-old father of Bristol Palin’s unborn child? At the end of this kind of speech, there is usually a lot of applause, music, and the candidate’s family up on stage. Johnston is in St. Paul, I am told, but there has been no final decision about what he will do tonight.

“This is not an issue that we’re going to act ashamed or scared about,” my source told me. “Despite the media coverage of this, voters still have such a great response to [Sarah Palin]. This just makes her more real.” So, I asked, does that mean Johnston will be on stage with the Palin family? “At this point we don’t know whether he will be up on stage,” I was told. “It remains to be seen. There hasn’t been a decision made yet.”

Perhaps I’m focusing on an irrelevant issue, but the presence, or non-presence, of Johnston on the stage tonight strikes me as important. It’s one thing for delegates to be understanding and compassionate about the fix these two teenagers have gotten themselves into. It’s another to actually celebrate it. And, given what we’ve learned in the last few days, if Johnston is up on stage with his girlfriend and the Palin family, and Republicans are wildly cheering, it will certainly look like they are celebrating this situation.

I don’t usually engage in these scenarios, but I’ll do it here. If the Obamas had a 17 year-old daughter who was unmarried and pregnant by a tough-talking black kid, my guess is if that they all appeared onstage at a Democratic convention and the delegates were cheering wildly, a number of conservatives might be discussing the issue of dysfunctional black families.

That’s already produced some grumbles and complaints on the site and I suspect he’s getting mail too. Probably not as much as David Frum over there, who has been viewing everything with ill-disguised horror. And he’s been pounded for it by a slew of people, and he’s not backing down, to his credit. He’s gotten some positive mail, though, and I’d like to quote from one letter he put up:

The Palin decision effectively torpedoed, as you clearly understand, the best card in John McCain’s hand: namely the popular perception that he put country before party and himself. Basically it made him and the GOP look both irresponsible and deeply unserious, a perception that is only being heightened by the soap opera atmosphere starting to develop around the nominee.

I’m a retired bank exec of moderately Republican views but I’ve become deeply disenchanted with a party that is now dominated by the sort of people who were writing you anguished letters of rebuke. Most of my circle are upper middle class folks, now dismissed as elitists when in fact we are the achievers, the people that basically make the country work. A lot of us with resumes not unlike Barack and Michelle Obama, in fact two of my kids went to the same schools. My family have voted Republican for generations, my Grandfather used to boast he voted for Alf Landon in 1936, so you get the picture. The Republican party as we used to know it has been destroyed by what I’ll call extreme right wing ideology and Rovian tactics that elevate politics above governance with predictably awful results. I’d say my view is widely shared amongst the sort of Republicans with whom I associate. It explains why the party is losing the suburbs generally, states like VA and CO, and only has one congressman, my congressman, in New England. If November does turn into a wipeout I think you’d be well advised to reflect on this and recognize that if the GOP stays in the NRO/Evangelical Christian/far right mode its future is bleak for demographic reasons if none other.

It’s a little too early, way too early, to call GOP apocalypse yet. But the strains, far from being cemented over by this choice, are starting to show.

I predict Palin will make a firecracker of a speech tonight that will be welcomed with huge applause and cheers by the crowd. And I suspect that will be the highlight of her entire time as vice-presidential nominee.

[EDIT: well, I guess we know this much in terms of public image:

Yes, that’s Levi and Bristol in the center, from earlier today. We’ll see about tonight, per York’s post above.] Political Blogger Alliance

So is there anything going on in Denver?

Or will there be anything going on in Minneapolis/St. Paul soon enough?

Swiftly approaching the two-months-to-go point with the election and far from my getting a sense of urgency about everything, time seems to be stretching out further and further. The conventions aren’t helping, and they wouldn’t anyway. It’s now perfectly accepted knowledge to say that the conventions aren’t about anything actually being decided, but about parties partying, so kvetching about them as they are is kinda pointless — near Andy Rooney/Dave Barry territory, I figure.

But the whole theatrics of what must be going on right now amuses. I can’t imagine sitting through it all, though — my lord, what a pain that would be, especially after the Olympics. So instead I vaguely scan headlines and see photos like this that make me go ‘whuh?’:

One more time?

As friend Mackro immediately compared it to:

Robot ROCK

I was thinking a combination between the Oscars and an old Nine Inch Nails concert setup myself (somehow that seems tailormade for a performance of “The Hand That Feeds”), though I’m sure the GOP set will be even MORE ridiculously garish, somehow.

The reason why the conventions still hold the imaginative power they do, for all their lack of anything substantive, grows out of their place and reputation as make-or-break spots for candidacies — two books I highly recommend have a convention as a key event. The first, Kenneth Ackerman’s stellar Dark Horse, is hands down one of the finest popular studies of American history in recent years, covering as it does the candidacy, election and assassination of James Garfield, in doing so fully fleshing out the mass of cross-currents and political influence among many different figures in politics at the time that has been obscured with time. The details of how Garfield ended up winning at the Republican convention in 1880 — thus the title of the book, since his victory was far from foreseen — is fascinating stuff, very undemocratic in any sense of the term, but everything to do with gladhanding, patronage and much more besides.

The second shows how eighty years later the function of the conventions was already starting to turn into something else but still was the place where everything finally got settled in the back rooms. Theodore H. White’s The Making of the President 1960 has long been held up as a model of an election year study, even as time has readily demonstrated White’s own clear subjectivity on many points. Much about the book still recommends itself, though, not least being something that was a study of Kennedy and his organization and approach before his demise and almost reflexive canonization, and as such the study of the Democratic convention and how the Kennedy crowd assured his nomination in the end, if a popularized account, is nonetheless key reading, especially in an era before the current superdelegate oddities for that party.

What seems to have been the last actual ‘all the way to the convention’ nomination battle in recent times, the 1976 Republican race, occurred when I was alive but unaware of what it was all about (hey, I was only five), and since then my encounters with the conventions have all been about a lot of well-meaning cheering and dullardry. (I vaguely remember that the 1984 Democratic had Hart sticking through to the end but Mondale was well in the lead anyway.) I think it’s somehow appropriate that one of the last things I remember from any convention was a speech by an up-and-coming young politician that helped bring him to wider attention for his own successful nomination four years down the road. But the parallels with Obama end there, because Bill Clinton’s speech at the 1988 Democratic convention was one of the most singularly boring things I’d ever seen.

It ran about thirty-five minutes or so — and if it was on YouTube I’d link it, but not surprisingly it’s nowhere to be seen — and I just remember thinking “Who IS this guy? And why am I watching this?” I remember hearing some audience restlessness as it went, and very distinctly remember him saying something like “And in closing…” and then having to stop because of the huge amount of cheers that these words evoked. He looked a little pained.

That said, I also half remember that he ended up as a guest on Johnny Carson or the like shortly thereafter precisely because of this flop of an appearance and was able to poke fun at himself and go on from there, leading of course to a more successful series of speeches and more four years down the line. (Not to mention a more famous talk show appearance from that time as well.) Not a burden Obama has to deal with, at the least. Political Blogger Alliance