September 12, 2008

What Palin Says (or Doesn't)

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At the risk of becoming a one trick pony, today’s entry is something of an election follow-up to our first entry…

It’s now been one week since Gov. Sarah Palin gave her nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Party convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

In that time, media scrutiny around Palin has intensified dramatically, and the Republican Party has responded to the furor by keeping Sarah Palin away from the press. She has not, since her speech, conducted any interviews, held any press conferences, nor answered the questions of any journalist. Granted, she is set to have her first interview with ABC later this week, but while Joe Biden has been traveling across the country alone, espousing fiery rhetoric as he moves, Palin appears at speeches only with John McCain nearby.

While no one has any genuine specifics as to why Palin has gone underground, most tend to believe that McCain staffers and experts have been training her so as to ensure that when she does speak, she will not say anything especially ignorant or incendiary.

While speaking to Chris Matthews on MSNBC on September 6, Todd Haris, a former McCain spokesman, said that it was only natural that McCain would want to make sure Palin was well informed about all aspects of her potential career as well on McCain’s policies. He noted that for the most part voters would not really worry that Palin wasn’t talking to the press and mainly cared about what she said directly to them in speeches.

“Voters don’t care about process stories, but if she goes out and makes a mistake, that’s something they’ll remember,” he said.

The Republicans have also been crying foul at Palin’s treatment in the press, condemning the scrutiny towards her as a product of sexism in the media. This fairly reeks of hypocrisy in the eyes of many people, least of all John Stewart, who displayed a comparison of Republican treatment and defense of Palin vs. earlier treatment of Hilary Clinton on the Daily Show:

Yet, despite the mockery by the Daily Show and the condemnation of numerous journalists and pundits, McCain’s strategy with Palin has actually proven to be effective. Today’s polling has indicated that McCain is either tied with or ahead of Obama nationally and with independent voters in particular.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect, however, is that no one has really taken any issue with what Palin’s selection means about John McCain — what it says of his decision making. On one hand, it can be seen as another one of McCain’s maverick moves, a decision to make an unexpected pick as a way of bucking the system both nationally and within his party.

On the other, it can be seen as the sign of something more disconcerting: a display of McCain’s recklessness in making major decisions that could potentially affect the path of the entire world.

At this point, it’s a toss up as to who’s right, but, Andrew Sullivan, a political blogger for the Atlantic Monthly and opinion writer for the London Times, is convinced that Americans should be afraid of what he called McCain’s “rash, impulsive, reckless pick.”

“Imagine the kind of decision-making McCain has just demonstrated applied to life-and-death decisions with respect to Iran and Russia,” he wrote, “Yes, you have permission to be afraid.”