Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 28, 2008

PALIN DOESN'T SPEAK FOR CAMPAIGN.... Over the summer, there were a series of instances in which John McCain would say something, and McCain aides would walk it back by saying the candidate doesn't actually speak for the candidate's campaign. At one point, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, one of McCain's top advisors, said that just because McCain says something publicly about a policy, "that doesn't mean it's official."

This morning, McCain took a similar tack with Sarah Palin.

Sen. John McCain retracted Sarah Palin's stance on Pakistan Sunday morning, after the Alaska governor appeared to back Sen. Barack Obama's support for unilateral strikes inside Pakistan against terrorists

"She would not...she understands and has stated repeatedly that we're not going to do anything except in America's national security interest," McCain told ABC's George Stephanopoulos of Palin. "In all due respect, people going around and... sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and then all of a sudden that's -- that's a person's position... This is a free country, but I don't think most Americans think that that's a definitive policy statement made by Governor Palin."

I see. So, just because Sarah Palin says something in public doesn't mean Palin actually believes what she's saying. And for goodness sakes, no one should think that Palin's comments are a reflection of the campaign's position on an issue.

This is getting pretty silly. First, what Palin said was actually fairly sensible, and consistent with the policy favored by both the Bush administration and the Obama campaign.

Second, how are voters to know the difference between the things Palin says that are "definitive policy statements," and the things she says that should be ignored? How is the public to know when Republican candidates mean what they're saying and when they don't?

Steve Benen 1:48 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (64)

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Second, how are voters to know the difference between the things Palin says that are "definitive policy statements," and the things she says that should be ignored? How is the public to know when Republican candidates mean what they're saying and when they don't?

Simple, when they mean what they're saying they will don a pair of moose antlers sort of like this Monty Python skit.

Posted by: Dennnis - SGMM on September 28, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Biden.

Posted by: Trip on September 28, 2008 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Welcome to McCain's Fascist Alice-in-Wonderland 1984.

Geez, the guy is just careening from disaster to disaster ...

Posted by: sjw on September 28, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Should a prelate announce that she is speaking ex cathedra?

Posted by: pbg on September 28, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

The only way the McCain campaign's statements make sense is if you have a head injury.

Posted by: Karen on September 28, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Weird. More important: McCain's Pakistan-answer is even weirder. Incoherent even.

Will he strike or capture Osama bin Laden? Well, of course, McCain says, he'll do anything to secure America. But, he says, the issue is that you don't announce is.

But he just did! Didn't he?

An other interpretation is: so McCain can't tell voters what his position is, they'll just have to guess. That means he has to convince the American public, but not let the Pakistani's know.

Or something.

It's a weird, weird argument!

Obama doesn't say: bombing will commence in five minutes. He doesn't announce.

Illogical, incoherent.

Posted by: Dominique on September 28, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

There's an old Monty Python sketch where Biggles (played by Graham Chapman) is dictating to a secretary and wears fake antlers when he doesn't want his words recorded. Perhaps Sarah Palin can put on fake antlers when what she's saying doesn't count.

Posted by: Tim on September 28, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter John McCain: Don't believe anything you hear Sarah Palin say in the debate, especially if you can understand it.

Posted by: And a pit bull would have made a better Vice President, too. That's TWO things. on September 28, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Reporters should just stop asking questions...it gets too confusing...sticking a microphone in your face and all....it makes candidates say wrong things. We'll tell them what they need to know...otherwise there will just be confusion.

McCain...the goober maverick...doing what he and Palin do best...goobering.

Posted by: bjobotts on September 28, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

So ... McCain doesn't speak for the McCain-Palin campaign, and Palin doesn't speak for the McCain-Palin campaign ...

I can haz hipay job with campaign now?

Posted by: on September 28, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

I'm pretty sure that if Barack Obama said he would send operatives into Islamabad to assassinate bin Laden (of course he isn't there, but that's not the point), the Republicans would be on it like Dana Perino on a cucumber, shouting that this was a prime example of Obama's goofy foreign policy. They simply are not accustomed to being held to the same standard as Democrats, and plainly don't like it.

Posted by: Mark on September 28, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

The next person to interview McCain should ask that very question. What's a definitive policy statement?

Oh, and all of McCain's lies should be quoted back at him, along with airtight factual refutation, and then he should be asked one by one whether he is willing to recant.

And then he should apologize to the U.S. electorate.

Posted by: Chris on September 28, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

If Sarah doesn't know what to say, and what she does say isn't what John thinks, then why bother asking either of them any questions of substance?

Why not just stick to "wedding-related" questions?

Joe and Obama are the ones to ask about things that matter.

Sarah and John are about trivializing the presidency.

Let's trivialize them.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on September 28, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

what Palin said was actually fairly sensible, and consistent with the policy favored by both the Bush administration and the Obama campaign.

It's consisstent with the Bush administration. I don't think it's consistent with Obama's position. His position was that if we know where Bin Laden is and the Pakistani gov't is either unwilling or unable to respond, that we would. What Bush is doing is simply running incursions. We have no idea how much information he is working with. I don't think Obama's position suggests continuous strikes or incursions, and the hypothetical question he answered implied certain knowledge, nothing less. Meanwhile, Palin is more concerned with preventing any terrorists from crossing into Afghanistan. I certainly don't think Obama has agreed that he would invade for that purpose.

Posted by: Danp on September 28, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

There's an old Monty Python sketch where Biggles...

Tim, I linked to the sketch in my post at the top of the thread. Python seems prophetic these days.

Posted by: Dennis - SGMM on September 28, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

OK, so that's how they're going to play the VP debate. McCain will be at the podium, with Palin standing a little off to the side. Each time there's a question for her, McCain will tell us what she thinks.

Posted by: Stephen Stralka on September 28, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

One of the few times she has made sense and they tell her to shut up. Nice. McCain needs to retire.

Posted by: Sparko on September 28, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I can add Sharia Biggles to the list.

Posted by: Jet on September 28, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Next thursday, screen goes black.

"Governor Palin's statements are her own and do not neccissarily reflect the view points of John MCCain, the McCain Campaign or the Republican Party. "

Picture comes up. music, logo sweeps across screen, voice over: Welcome to the 2008 Vice Presidential debate.

Posted by: Saint Zak on September 28, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

It's a bit off topic but there have been many columnists asking her to step down but from what I understand that would not be possible due to different election regulations in each state.

Posted by: petie on September 28, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

It's a bit off topic but there have been many columnists asking her to step down but from what I understand that would not be possible due to different election regulations in each state.

Posted by: petie on September 28, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

I notice that McCain advisors are starting to call Palin "a good listener". Before 2000, when they pumped up Bush's credentials this way, I had only used the term used to describe kindergardeners and boyfriends.

Posted by: Danp on September 28, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

How is the public to know when Republican candidates mean what they're saying and when they don't?
---
Thankfully, most of what a republican says is self serving, so in that regard: if it is good for the politician, it can't be true!

Posted by: TBone on September 28, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

I notice that McCain advisors are starting to call Palin "a good listener"

This is in line with "Sit down, be quiet. Women are to be seen and not heard."

Posted by: Jet on September 28, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

McCain must have been so hypnotized by Palin's legs that he never noticed her regular geysers of unpredictable babble.

I predict McCain will call Biden this week to suggest they turn the VP debates into a sort of reality show where Palin can run along beaches wearing palm leaves instead of talking.

"Joe, c'mon, just think, you'll be standing right there next to her!"

Posted by: Capt Kirk on September 28, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK
what Palin said was actually fairly sensible, and consistent with the policy favored by both the Bush administration and the Obama campaign.

I kind of get the feeling that Palin's recent incoherence is because the campaign is not allowing her to stray off the sound bite reservation. She might not be the brightest bulb, but I can't imagine she could become governor of a state by being a gibbering moron. I have to wonder if she would do better if she could just speak extemporaneously.

Posted by: terryf on September 28, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

"How is the public to know when Republican candidates mean what they're saying and when they don't?"

If Palin says it:
a) if her lips are moving, it's wrong.
1) if it makes sense, it's wrong, but it's what someone told her to say,
2) if it doesn't make sense, it's her opinion,
3) if she repeats it, she just hit 'Empty'.
b) if you hear words but her lips aren't moving it's the lipstick talking
c) if it's written, it's a fib, but it's official, from one of her campaign managers.

If McCain says it,
a) if his lips are moving, it's wrong
1) if he also blinks rapidly or says "my friends", or "this message approved by John McCain", it's going to be a whopper.
2) if it conflicts with something else he's said, that just means he's a maverick. He has principles, and if you don't like them, he has others. Just pick and choose the ones you like.
3) if it doesn't conflict with any of his past statements, this is an oversight that will shortly be corrected by a future announcement.
4) give the guy a break, for 5 years he wasn't allowed to have any contradictions.

Posted by: N.Wells on September 28, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

How is the public to know when Republican candidates mean what they're saying and when they don't?

Heuristic: they lie all the time.

OK, so maybe it's a first-order approximation.


Posted by: Cervantes on September 28, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Thankfully, most of what a republican says is self serving, so in that regard: if it is good for the politician, it can't be true!
Posted by: TBone

Which is why the Squirell/Moose ticket is not about reform...the anti-reformists run the campaign.

Posted by: Jet on September 28, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Fake antlers? Palin has real ones to wear.

Posted by: ted on September 28, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

McCain: I was a POW for five years more than twenty years ago.

Steve Doocy: A real hero.

McCain: I learned alot from the Keating scandal.

Steve Doocy: This is not the History Channel! That was twenty years ago!!

Posted by: Jet on September 28, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Questions for the VP debate.

1. How old is the earth?

2. What is a fossil fuel?

3. How much energy should nuclear energy provide (percentage) of US consumption)?

4. How will we know when we've won in Iraq?

5. What will happen now with the US economy now that Wealthcare (maybe) has passed?

The answers to these questions by Joe or Sarah are critical to my sanity. I am not sure my belief of 4.5 billion years to #1 is correct.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on September 28, 2008 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

...I can't imagine she could become governor of a state by being a gibbering moron. -terryf

It's that assumption that allows to many gibbering morons to become governors.

Posted by: doubtful on September 28, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, Palin doesn't know what she's talking about. But let's give a moment's consideration to Joe's Biden's recent little history lesson for Katie Couric, which included assertions that FDR was President when the stock market crashed (he was elected 3 years later), and that the President appeared on television (only a few experimental sets existed).

True, at least Biden knows there WAS a Great Depression.

BTW, Steve, Kevin Drum's name is still on the column's comment preview screen.


Posted by: Nanuq on September 28, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats: Flawed human beings who become governors and presidents as a result of their own merit and ambition, and by being willing to play the game well.

Republicans: Flawed opportunists who become governors and presidents because other, smarter beings chose them to play the game on their behalf.

Posted by: Kenji on September 28, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

First McCain didn't speak for the McCain campaign and now Palin doesn't speak for the campaign.

I want to know who the hell IS speaking for the campaign?

Honestly. WTF?

Posted by: MsJoanne on September 28, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

hate to repeat
a comment but:
i believe tina fey
to be more
qualified than
palin
and funnier too
palin is not
funny at all
and that's scary

Posted by: est on September 28, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

I want to know who the hell IS speaking for the campaign?

http://www.3edc.net/index.cfm

Posted by: The Answer Is Green on September 28, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

(Posted also over at Kevin Drum's place)
It’s a funny thing, but the only way I can make any sense at all out of the Republicans’ presidential campaign is by assuming that they don’t want to win the presidency. But some interesting ideas come up if you start to think along these lines.
Think about it. They have screwed things up so badly during the past eight years that the next administration is going to have a VERY DIFFICULT TIME avoiding economic decline. The international challenges in the wider world are huge. And the nations debt is outrageous. If the Republicans win the White House, things will go so badly, that by 2012, the Republican Party that we know so well may be tossed on the dust-heap of history.
I think that with regard to the White House, the Repubs might be looking to 2012 or 2016. Right now they have the Supreme Court “safe” from their point of view. They don’t have to worry about THAT for another four or eight years. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong about that)
I think that the Republican Party knows its brand is sullied. The best way they have to rebuild it is to stay OUT of the White House for a while now. Look at the base they built while Clinton was in!!
The real heart of this election may in fact be the Senate races. To understand the Republican strategy, I think you need to look down-ticket. And I am worried about the following question: Is the DSCC (the Senate-focused committee) on top of things? What are the odds of getting 60 without Lieberman? If we don’t then the Repubs are just going to block anything and everything. They won’t let anything through that stands a chance of making government look competent.
Sarah Palin’s total lack of qualifications might not matter in this campaign if the party’s purpose for her to get out the conservative vote in key Senate-race states. Sort of like the anti-gay-marriage propositions that found their way onto ballots in some states in previous presidential election years.
Just food for thought.

Posted by: WaryTale on September 28, 2008 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK


"We the McCainsters put words into your mouth! We speak for you, not the other way around!"

This is unreal. Too bas the aveage Joe six-paxk voters isn't paying attention to stuff like this, otherwise the McCain-Palinf folks would be falling farther and farther behind in the polls.

Posted by: ctrenta on September 28, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

"How is the public to know when Republican candidates mean what they're saying and when they don't?"

I think it's safe to say that if their lips are moving, they're lying.

Posted by: Helena Montana on September 28, 2008 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

So, let me get this straight. McCain goes on 60 Minutes last week and suggests that Palin doesn’t need to do any interviews with the MSM because “the American people are vetting her.”

But the positions she takes in conversations with them aren’t supposed to be viewed as “definitve policy statement(s) made by Governor Palin”?

If she won’t face the media – and we should ignore what she says in direct conversations with the American people – then by the McCain campaign’s own admission, Palin isn’t being vetted at all.

Posted by: PJH on September 28, 2008 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin doesn't speak for the McCain campaign. She's just there to flash her ankles and be eye candy for the reliigous right.

Posted by: Lew Scannon on September 28, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

McCain also disagreed with his campaign on his healthcare taxation plan this morning in the Stephanopoulos interview. He was confronted with a quote from his own campaign saying that for some people, McCain's tax credit won't offset the cost of having their employer-sponsored benefits taxed. And McCain said "the way I see it," that simply isn't true.

Posted by: gradysu on September 28, 2008 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

"This is getting pretty silly. First, what Palin said was actually fairly sensible, and consistent with the policy favored by both the Bush administration and the Obama campaign."

for weeks, libtards like steve benen have been saying palin is basically a worthless moron.
now that she agrees with obama and presumably benen, she's "fairly sensible".

could benen pick one line of horseshit reasoning?
...because this 'useful idiot' logic is beyond unreasonable...
washington monthly, bring back kevin drum.

Posted by: nitish on September 28, 2008 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, when will tha be?
A bushcon meaning what they say?
What about the media?
Will there ever be a time when the media mean what they say?

Posted by: johnsnottoodistracted on September 28, 2008 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

... just because McCain says something publicly about a policy, "that doesn't mean it's official."

Wow, there's that resolute, straight-talking and decisive Leader at work. This should be an Obama campaign commercial and talking point, why isn't it (if not.)

Posted by: Neil B on September 28, 2008 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

First McCain doesn't speak for his campaign:

"Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain’s chief economic adviser, told Slate, “[McCain] has certainly I’m sure said things in town halls” that don’t jibe perfectly with his written plan. But that doesn’t mean it’s official.”

And now Palin doesn't speak for it either?!?! Who's running for president here?

Posted by: Teri from Ohio on September 28, 2008 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Oh please, it's official when, in retrospect, having been said, it didn't upset too many people who are important enough at the time to public perceptions of where and how the campaign is going.

That's simple enough, isn't it?

Sorta reminds me of "that version of events is no longer operative."

Posted by: bleh on September 28, 2008 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin is actually a stand-in for Risa Levitt Kohn, the museum curator in San Diego who

(1) presented herself as a "Dead Sea Scrolls scholar" even though she had never published anything on the topic;

(2) explained, several months later, that she was not an "expert" on the scrolls and had only a "tangential knowledge" of the topic;

(3) asserted that "you don't want to confuse people" by telling them the truth about the current state of research on the Dead Sea Scrolls; and finally

(4) declared that the scrolls are "not really Jewish texts" (a view with which, incidentally, the Jewish Museum in New York appears to disagree).

Kohn's peculiar declarations did not stop the North Carolina Department of the Environment (of all places) from hiring her as a "scientific consultant" on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

And, although the thought makes me cringe in terror, Sarah Palin's statements might not stop the American people from voting for her either...

See, e.g., http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/did-christian-agenda-lead-biased-dead-sea-scrolls-exhibit-san-diego

Posted by: View from Here on September 28, 2008 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

nitishparasite: From troopergate to her view of Putin's reared head outside her window, Palin has shown a prodigious vapidity--heretofore seen only in Sean Hannity outtakes.

Using the word "libtard" automatically discredits your position and ends any chance you might have had to live a normal life. You have an incurable disease caused intellectual dishonesty. And no, you can't ever have sex. Too dangerous trying to bend over and pleasure yourself.

Posted by: Sparko on September 28, 2008 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Also, Scarah Palin is scaring lots of her own people:

http://www.amconmag.com/larison/2008/09/26/t-minus-six-days/

T-Minus Six Days
Posted on September 26th, 2008 by Daniel Larison

Capitol Hill sources are telling me that senior McCain people are more than concerned about Palin.

The campaign has held a mock debate and a mock press conference; both are being described as “disastrous.” One senior McCain aide was quoted as saying, “What are we going to do?” The McCain people want to move this first debate to some later, undetermined date, possibly never. People on the inside are saying the Alaska Governor is “clueless.” ~Ed Schultz

Posted by: Neil B on September 28, 2008 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Nitish, your entire "reasoning" program is why conservatrolls like you are the real retards. I have seen your same fallacy belched by similar dittoheads all over. Don't you know that ad hominem (if you know what it means) is a logical fallacy? Any given statement, no matter who makes it, has its truth value objectively determined by how it corresponds to reality. So no matter how stupid someone typically is, any true statement they make is still... true, and therefore must be so acknowledged by any rational debater (same even if you merely agree with "the point" in itself.) Is that too hard to understand?

Liberals and other rational, reality-based thinkers give credit where credit is too, they don't personalize everything and debase their intellects by pretending that literally everything said by an opponent is stupid and false. That's why a recent ad from the McShame camp idiotically pretending that Obama is not fit, because several times he said McCain is right, is a very disgusting insult, literally, to human intelligence.

delver24

Posted by: on September 28, 2008 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

How is the public to know when Republican candidates mean what they're saying and when they don't?

Simple. If their lips are moving and sound is coming out, they're lying.

Posted by: Michael on September 28, 2008 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

That's easy.

If it makes sense, they didn't mean it.

Duh.

Posted by: Paul Camp on September 28, 2008 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one who has noticed that the posts here and on Yglesias are virtually the same? Who is copying whom? ;-)

Posted by: Orson on September 28, 2008 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

delver24, there is no 'truth' in palin's statement
"If that's what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should," Palin said.
it's not a fact to be proven nor disproven. it's a suggested policy in a hypothetical scenario.

and Sparko, you're correct palin who you state has demonstrated "prodigious vapidity" echoes obama.

mccain stated it properly in the debate: you shouldn't publically promise and brag about bombing a supposed ally regardless of the consequences to that ally.
i thought that was one of the reasons libs criticize george bush. i guess libs believe obama should get a pass on alienating our allies.

Posted by: nitish on September 29, 2008 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

Yes well speaking of finding some use for thier dickman replacement, why are there no comparisons?
Shouldn't the new dickman have some ........ like thinking or something?
Generally no one wants another dickman for anything but why no comparisons?
They both drink and shoot. That's a good place to start.
Speaking of dickman: remember as soon as he moved in he had all his bushcons over to decide the next 8 years in secret.
See why they wanted it secret now?

Posted by: Johnsnottoodistracted on September 29, 2008 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

This just in from AP. After their latest problems of stall and spin recovery, the Republicans have asked for the question in the VP debate to be changed from multiple choice to a true or false format.

Posted by: Jake Crawford on September 29, 2008 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

nitwit: "mccain stated it properly in the debate: you shouldn't publically promise and brag about bombing a supposed ally regardless of the consequences to that ally."

McLame: "Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Iran"

Catchy, innit?

Posted by: Kenji on September 29, 2008 at 4:32 AM | PERMALINK

This is indicative of the cynical approach to principles, positions on the issues, and just plain believability. Campaigns on the right adopt this slash and burn strategy when it comes to the truth since their basic belief about the electorate is that it is a manipulable, superstitious, irrational body that does not have a memory or the sense to do any thing but respond to appeals to fear.

Posted by: TomChicago on September 29, 2008 at 6:46 AM | PERMALINK

Tina Fey makes more sense ( pew pew)

Posted by: RememberNovember on September 29, 2008 at 7:04 AM | PERMALINK

Kenji, who knew iran was an ally?
let's make Kenji Secretary of State, as obviously breakthroughs can be made while typing at your keyboard...

to give you a real-life example of the difference between bombing an ally and opponent, there were little to no repercussions when israel bombed a site in syria, while karzai is not a big fan of nato air strikes.

alotta people around here should stop contorting themselves to defend obama's absolute disregard his actions would have on an ally.
i'll say it again:
"i thought that was one of the reasons libs criticize george bush.
i guess libs believe obama should get a pass on alienating our allies."

Posted by: nitish on September 29, 2008 at 7:55 AM | PERMALINK

Going to be a very interesting week. Will she or won't she (debate)? And if she does, how much of what she says--the tiny minority that is intelligible, that is--will McCain have to walk back?

Posted by: shortstop on September 29, 2008 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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