Election 2008

Election Day: Palin's Panic and the Right-Wing's Big Freak-out

National Review waiting for wheel to turn ... Michael Medved: Only national disaster will reverse Republican decline ...
7:00 PM PST

Over at the National Review, John J. Pitney Jr. had this doleful (and bizarrely nonsensical) response to the Democrats' rout:
As we look to the next 2-4 years, we should keep in mind this passage from Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation of Christ: "A prophet is the one who, when everyone else despairs hopes. And when everyone else hopes, he despairs. You'll ask me why. It's because he has mastered the Great Secret: that the Wheel turns.
Yep. Keeping waiting for that wheel to turn.

5:00 PM PST

According to conservative commentator Michael Medved, Republicans will regain power only if,
... some sense of international peril, some imminent and undeniable threat, forces the electorate to focus more on the fate of the country ...
Wishing for national disaster is a pretty strange way to show your love for America.

***


3:20 PM PST

Republicans and Fox news are still shamelessly trying to tap into anxieties over race. As Josh Marshall writes on Talking Points Memo:
It's hard for the GOP and Fox News to give up on whipping up fears that Obama is going to set up a black dictatorship in America where sundry pimps and gangbangers will replace the civil service and institute a reign of racial terror and compulsory miscegenation. Fox and the McCain campaign are pushing hard on this story of two men outside a polling place in Philly dressed in Black Panther garb. People affiliated with the McCain campaign showed up, to photograph or possibly provoke an incident. The police were called. One of the two guys was asked to leave; and he left. The other guys turned out to be an official poll watcher. That was probably the best resolution. As near as we can tell there's all sort of misinformation being disseminated about whites being prevented from voting, etc. We talked to an Obama campaign volunteer who saw the whole thing. And you can see her account here. This is just a kinder, gentler version of the Ashley Todd 'Carved B' mumbojumbo, another desperate Republican attempt to whip up racial hysteria to give them hope of winning the election.
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2:20 PM PST

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) expressed his deep concern for the future of the country today, saying in so many words that a Democratic majority in Congress will destroy America. From Think Progress:

... Lieberman made clear that he firmly opposes Democrats gaining 60 seats in the Senate, saying that the survival of the country is in doubt if Democrats break the filibuster threshold:


BECK: But do you agree that Senator Hatch said to me that if we don't at least have the firewall of the filibuster in the Senate that in many ways America will not survive?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I hope it's not like that, but I fear.
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1:50 PM PST

You can always count on right-wing talk radio shock jocks for subtle, complex political analysis informed by a deep understanding of history. Like the following commentary by right-wing talk show host Bill Cunningham (reported by Media Matters):
"Much like Castro took over Cuba, Mao Zedong took over Red China, and the Communists took over Russia, Obama now is poised, according to many of my good friends on the left like Paul Mason and others, to seize power in America, and I hope to be a bloodless coup.
You mean, like a majority of Americans going to the polls to cast their votes? Actually, that's called democracy.

Cunningham then somehow managed to top himself with the absurdity and offensiveness of his next statement:
[Obama] goes out to his left-wing buddies in San Francisco and smears God, smears guns, smears everything great about this country. Then he comes to these rallies like bromides, like Adolf Hitler in 1933, and the faithful are shouting, 'Yes we can, yes we can.'
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1:30 PM PST

Earlier today Sarah Palin refused to reveal whether or not she had voted to return Ted Stevens (the guy just found guilty of committing 7 felonies) to public office. From John Nichols at the Nation:
" ... when specifically asked whether she had voted for the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, Palin said, "I am also exercising my right to privacy. And I don't have to tell anybody who I vote for. Nobody does. And that's really cool about America, also."
So, no election morning endorsement for Ted Stevens, her scandal-plagued mentor.
But, to the last, the supposed reformer could not quite bring herself to reject the senator who last week was convicted on seven counts of concealing bribes, er, gifts.
It may not just be a case of Palin balancing partisanship, personal loyalty and political reality.
Maybe she was just thinking ahead.
Palin's not talking about taking a victory lap.
After voting in Wasilla, she was flying to join McCain in Arizona. But, she said, "It's great to be home for a couple of hours here, and then we'll be back tomorrow."
And what if, as expected, Stevens loses to Democrat Nick Begich?
A special election? Another leap onto the national stage? Senator Palin?
Could be a good resumé builder for that 2012 run.
***


1:10 PM PST

Elizabeth Hasselbeck, the voice of American conservatism on the View, had a fit over Rev. Jeremiah Wright today. The controversial preacher has not been a story for months -- ever since most of the press, despite its penchant for controversial non-stories, seemed to decide that Wright's views had no bearing on Obama's suitability for office.

Hasselbeck apparently disagrees. As the Huffington Post writes:
Election day had "The View" host Elisabeth Hasselbeck all hot and bothered, and she proved she has not forgotten and refuses to let anyone else forget Barack Obama's ties to Jeremiah Wright. When Whoopi tried to quiet her and educate her on what it's like to be an African American, she would not listen. "It's not right!", she kept yelling.
Finally Sherri piped up with the biggest words of wisdom directed at Elisabeth, "You can go to school all you want but you cannot understand the anger..."
***


12:50 PM PST

Sarah Palin today reflected on her future in politics, stressing that she would like to be a 'uniter' (a political philosophy that has not really come across in her campaign style this election cycle). According to CNN Political Ticker's Peter Hamby, Palin stated:
"You know, if there is a role in national politics it won't be so much partisan," she said. "My efforts have always been here in the state of Alaska to get everybody to unite and work together and progress this state."
"It would certainly be a uniter type of role," she added.
Palin, who was once unable to name a single publication that she reads, also offered some advice on how to improve the profession of journalism. According to Hamby:
Asked if she had any regrets about the campaign, Palin bemoaned "the state of journalism today."
"The blogosphere, the two, three hour news cycles, where just too much is reported based on gossip and innuendo and things taken out of context," she explained, adding that she'd like to help improve the profession because she has "great respect for the world of journalism."
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12:15 PM PST

Conservatives are trying to stir up fear of a Democratic victory by propagating the false narrative that America is a "center-right' country -- a myth easily punctured by even the most perfunctory look at most Americans' positions on the issues. As Think Progress writes:

Last Friday, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer called the United States "the quintessential center-right country," and wondered why it was "poised to reject" Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), "the quintessential center-right candidate." Last week's Newsweek cover declared, "America remains a center-right nation -- a fact that a President Obama would forget at his peril."

Ignoring the fact that a progressive majority won back Congress in 2006 -- and that Democrats are expected to make dramatic gains in their majority today -- conservatives continue to insist that Americans are fundamentally conservative and perpetually wary of Democrats:


FRED BARNES: In a center right country, I don't think American people really want the liberal agenda. But they may get it anyway because they're upset during the financial crisis. [Fox News, 10/11/08]

PAT BUCHANAN: The country is center right. As you can tell by the fact Obama's been moving to the center as fast as he can. [MSNBC, 10/16/08]

JOE SCARBOROUGH: The country is not center left. It is center right. This country is more conservative than it was when we took over in 1994 after two years of calamitous Democratic rule. It is a center-right country. [MSNBC, 10/29/08]
[ ... ]

The idea that Americans are fundamentally conservative is a myth. Indeed, a majority of Americans want progressive solutions to the nation's problems, supporting universal health care, expanded environmental protections, a higher minimum wage, the availability of safe and legal abortions, federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, and the rights of same-sex couples to be legally recognized. Additionally, a majority opposes the Iraq War.

By insisting that -- despite all appearances to the contrary -- Americans favor conservatives, the right wing is trying to handicap the progressive agenda before it has a chance of being enacted.
***


11:45 AM PST

With a Democratic blow-out predicted for today, you'd think Republican strategists would spend some time reflecting on how the cataclysmic policies of the last eight years have demolished the Republican brand. Not so Mary Matalin. As Heather on Crooks and Liars writes:

Lady MacCheney still lives in an alternate reality. One in which she hangs out at a saloon with John Hinderaker, who once called Bush a genius.


It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

She's still defending Bush and Cheney for all she's worth and it's pretty sad that she never will come clean with the American people.

From Race to the White House Nov. 3, 2008.

Gregory: Do you think it's possible to overstate the impact of the President on this election? It's where a lot of the arguments started and where, it's where it ends. The shadow that the President and the Vice President for that matter have cast over the Republican ticket.

Matalin: I, to answer your question directly, I don't think it's possible. I think it's, the President's impact on this ticket has been grossly, grossly overstated.

{snip}


And I'll say this and you were there for eight years, we're going to look back at a pretty, really remarkable Presidency relative to national security and yes there is an un, ah unrecorded and unreported lately how long that recovery was that economic recovery right up to this last incident here which he warned against.

I think the Bush Presidency will be remembered as remarkable, but not for the same reasons as Matalin does. The word tragic comes to mind.




***


11:30 AM PST

At a press conference today an aide to Sarah Palin repeatedly tried to end the interview and hustle the Governer away from reporters. Palin was having none of it, lending credence to recent griping by McCain aides that Palin has 'gone rogue' (perhaps in preperation for the undoubtedly bright political future she envisions for herself?) Think Progress writes:

Today, speaking to reporters shortly after casting her vote in Wasilla, Palin demonstrated of bit of her rogue desires. As Palin continued to answer questions from the press, her aides tried repeatedly to halt the exchange and move her along ... but to no avail:

PALIN: Hopefully, I'll be able to do that as vice president.
AIDE: Great. Thank you very much.[...]

PALIN: we -- we look forward to the end of this day.
AIDE: OK, thank you, guys. We've got to get going here. [...]

PALIN: No, we'll be talking to him probably on the drive back into Anchorage. I'll call him. Yes. Thank you, guys.
AIDE: OK, guys. Thank you very much.

Every attempt Palin's aides made to end the press conference was rebuffed by the Alaska Governor. Watch it:



Palin was asked during the press conference whether she voted for Sen. Ted Stevens. "I am also exercising my right to privacy and I don't have to tell anyone who I voted for, nobody does, and that's really cool about America, also," she said.

Previously, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds claimed that she would not vote for Stevens, but Palin has refused to make such a pledge herself.
11:15 AM PST

Showing his usual classy restraint, Michael Savage yesterday exploited the death of Obama's grandmother to revive the entirely discredited rumors that the Democratic candidate's birth certificate is not valid. Media Matters reports:
During the November 3 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage again revived discredited "rumors" about Sen. Barack Obama's "birth certificate not being valid" -- this time while discussing the recent death of Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. Savage stated: "And, oh yes, our condolences to his grandmother who raised him, who he so bravely visited last week -- shockingly, out of nowhere, in the, in the last days of a campaign -- while the rumors of his birth certificate not being valid were circulating throughout the Internet. Shockingly, Obama goes to Hawaii, and again, not one of the empty skirts in the media asks him about his birth -- his birth certificate, the Kenyan relatives. Not one of the empty skirts in the media raises the question. And today she dies, poor lady dies, poor lady dies today; the woman who raised him -- the white grandmother who raised him.
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10:50 AM PST

David Limbaugh, brother of esteemed political thinker Rush, is deeply concerned about his liberty and safety under an Obama administration. The cause of his concern? In part, Limbaugh does not trust Obama because the Democratic party has dared to criticise Bush administration policies, such as wiretapping, torture, and an utter disregard for the Constitution -- that have trashed basic rights and liberties over the past eight years.

Writes Limbaugh:
For the past eight years, Democrats have slandered America as an imperialistic country that always prefers force to diplomacy ... that encourages sadistic torture of enemy prisoners, as opposed to tough interrogation techniques to extract information to save the lives of its people; that eavesdrops on private conversations among its citizens rather than monitoring terrorist communications into its borders; and that abuses rather than goes out of its way to accommodate the savages in Guantanamo's prison. None of it is true.
Limbaugh goes on to slander Obama's community organizing and vaguely refer to ACORN before darkly intoning "Are you not worried about our liberties under an Obama administration?"


10:30 AM PST

Conservatives are already thinking up ways to obstruct a progressive agenda should Obama win today. Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake reports on the blatant misinformation being spread about the Employee Free Choice Act by conservative commentators:
Fred Barnes in the WSJ this morning is talking about "the 'card check' proposal to end secret ballots in union elections." And Tom Troy of the Toledo Blade writes in an article on Arnold Schwarzenegger:
He also blasted Mr. Obama for his support of the Employee Free Choice Act, a union-backed measure that would abolish the secret ballot by which employees choose whether to be represented by a union.
No. Although Schwarzennegger is acting the stooge for union busters too, The Employee Free Choice Act does not "abolish secret ballot."
Obama was one of the Senate sponsors of the Employee Free Choice Act, and he has said that passing it will be one of the priorities of his administration. Lisa Vorderbrueggen of the Contra Costa Times gets it right in an article about a hit piece on George Miller:
The TV ad appears to be part of a national campaign by business interests to defeat a controversial bill called the Employee Free Choice Act. The act would add a second method under which employees could form a union.
The claim that the bill will "abolish secret ballots" is a lie, plain and simple. The Employee Free Choice Act, which is supported by almost every single Democrat and several Republicans in Congress, gives employees the choice to form unions. The Employee Free Choice Act is based on a simple democratic principle: if a majority of employees say they want a union, they should get a union.
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9:00 AM PST

Fox found a way to smarmily remind voters of the William Ayers controversy this morning, combining footage of Ayers exiting a polling station with a non-too-subtle commentary painting the now-college professor as a dangerous criminal and linking him to Obama. In the course of the 50 second segment, the anchor manages to make it sound as if Ayers is stealing an old lady's purse instead of exercising his right to vote, and finds at least two different ways to connect Obama and Ayers:
"From Bill Clinton to a very different Obama supporter, and that is William Ayers, who showed up and got caught on camera going into the polling station today. One of the reporters, I believe it was a Newsweek reporter, shouted out to him ... "Mr. Ayers, who did you vote for". Apparently he did not respond. I think that may be his wife, Bernadette Dohrn, who also helped him found the Weather Underground, a domestic terrorist group, showing up to vote at the same polling station that Barack Obama votes at, because they live in the same neighborhood, as Obama said in that debate ... "

***


The ugly tactics of the panicked McCain camp and their surrogates in the conservative media and blogosphere are likely to get even nastier and more desperate on election day. AlterNet will have ongoing, updated coverage of the misinformation and Orwellian double-speak bound to spew forth from the right wing in their final, desperate attempt to hold on to power. Here's a taste of what's probably to come:

Palin defends singer who accuses Obama of hating national anthem

At a Palin rally today singer Hank Williams Jr. invited the audience to join him in "our national -- you know, that song that, uh, Mr. Obama's not real crazy about ... "

According to CBS News, Palin thanked the country singer for exercising his First Amendment rights (presumably the media didn't try to muzzle him):
"Hey, he exercises those First Amendment rights. We love him! Yes. So we want to thank Hank and we are going to see him tomorrow night on the other side of victory, my friend."
Though Palin defended Williams Jr.'s rights, she said nothing to the crowd to disabuse the crooner's notion that Obama isn't fond of the national anthem. Palin has, however, previously said that she is sure Obama loves his country and doesn't doubt his patriotism.
Desperation at Fox

On the last day before the election Fox News is telling viewers not to trust the polls -- except for the ones that tell them what they want to hear. From News Hounds:
FOX News is a mass of contradictions this morning 11/3/08, telling viewers not to trust the polls (that show Barack Obama with a commanding lead over John McCain) even as their banners read "It's not over yet - polls tightening!" and "Polls show tight race in final days." So, only believe selectively - only that which confirms your most fervent wishes.

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Sarah Palin on foreign policy

Sarah Palin has demonstrated her extensive grasp of foreign policy issues yet again. From Think Progress: "In her interview with Fox News' Greta van Susteren last night, Gov. Sarah Palin appeared to claim that the U.S. needs to "win" the non-existent war with Iran:
We realize that more and more Americans are starting to see the light there and understand the contrast. And we talk a lot about, OK, we're confident that we're going to win on Tuesday, so from there, the first 100 days, how are we going to kick in the plan that will get this economy back on the right track and really shore up the strategies that we need over in Iraq and Iran to win these wars?
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Palin's latest desperate assault on Democrats -- and the truth

Today at a campaign stop Palin claimed that some Democrats' call to pare down our insane military budget shows they think 'terrorists' are the good guys. From Talking Points Memo: "After saying that some Dems want to cut defense spending by a quarter, she said:
"What do they think? Do they think that the terrorists have all of a sudden become the good guys, and changed their minds? No! The terrorists still seek to destroy America and her allies and all that it is that is that we stand for: Freedom, tolerance, equality."
[ ... ]
And so Palin's final appeal on the eve of almost certain defeat puts it right out in the open: It's war hero versus ally of terrorists who want to destroy America and kill your children.
Which gives rise to a question: What American presidential campaign has been more crassly militaristic and jingoistic than this one?
***


Convicted felon Ted Stevens thinks he should still be a lawmaker; Harry Reid disagrees.

Last week Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was found guilty of 7 felonies -- a state of affairs that has not shaken Stevens' faith in his suitability for elected office. In a recent statement Stevens claimed innocence and reasserted his plan to return to Senate.

However, according to Harry Reid, even if Stevens manages to get reelected despite the fact that he is a convicted criminal, " ... a convicted felon is not going to be able to serve in the United States Senate. And as precedent shows us, Senator Stevens will face an ethics committee investigation and expulsion, regardless of his appeals process," Reid said."