BBC BLOGS - Justin Webb's America

Archives for September 2008

Debate expectations

Justin Webb | 22:22 UK time, Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Comments

And so to the Big Debate and a view of Joe Biden here that is unusual in the British press, but asks some hard and reasonable questions about him.

A view of Sarah Palin here that suggests she has an ability to crash and burn or remind us all of Ronnie (Reagan, that is) at his best: just dunno which yet.

I suspect they made a mistake in getting a highly educated woman to be the surrogate Palin figure in the practice sessions for Mr Biden. The whole point of Mrs Palin (her degree is in journalism for goodness sake!) and her strength until the party hacks got to her, was that she was unschooled, unsmooth, imperfect.

If she brings that to the debate she could throw Biden off the deep end.

Never on a Sunday?

Justin Webb | 16:25 UK time, Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Comments

My point to MockingbirdGirl and others is that that when a crisis is really serious, people of religious faith might consider their priorities. Yes, on Good Friday or any other day of religious/cultural significance.

There are plainly some religious Jews for whom it would be simply impossible to work at this time.

I remember in Northern Ireland where I began my career there were some politicians who would not be interviewed on Sunday. That is a matter for them and their constituents and I imagine most of their constituents (there and here in the US) would regard such faith-based decisions as an important right. I have been in Israel for Yom Kippur. I know it matters.

But when Israel was attacked in 1973, on that day, a report from the time suggests that survival trumped observance for many:

"Most Jews had been observing strict religious rules of fasting and prayer, but with the outbreak of fighting, Israel's civilian reserve force is now rushing to mobilise."

On other matters, I don't think I have ever seen one single short article so deeply unconvincing as this.

This is better, though I still suspect fundamentally wrong, and the idea that the rise of Venezuela (a rise wholly dependent on high oil prices and trade with the USA!) somehow signifies a tectonic shift in global power is an argument I fear it may be difficult to sustain.

This is more sensible from an area of the world where they know the difference between a crisis and a calamity.

But overall, if we all end up living in caves and bartering for our lunch, I know which group of cave-dwellers will soon come to dominate the world again...

Where are they going?

Justin Webb | 04:23 UK time, Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Comments

I have always fought hard against the barmy notion that Jewish people somehow control the US government, but hold on - are all congressmen and women Jewish? If they are not, where have they all gone? Where is Keith Ellison? And couldn't the Jewish ones have stayed to fix the crisis? I know in America everyone is allowed to do anything, say anything, think anything, if it has a religious element - but couldn't even the Jewish members have binned the holidays this year?

Meanwhile the best commentary I have seen on the situation with regard to those who might take on the mantle was British.

Will she still debate?

Justin Webb | 21:08 UK time, Monday, 29 September 2008

Comments

John McCain is to speak soon - what chance his patriotic instincts tell him that his vice-presidential running mate must now, with great regret, pull out of the debate on Thursday in St Louis?

UPDATE

Disappointing - he didn't say it. Tomorrow, perhaps...

Bailout failure shows Bush's weakness

Justin Webb | 19:22 UK time, Monday, 29 September 2008

Comments

With the Republican revolt in the House of Representatives, President Bush is now confirmed as the weakest Commander-in-Chief in modern history.

He puts Jimmy Carter in the shade. Just as well America faces no serious problems...

A big opportunity for leadership now from Mr McCain or Mr Obama (or both?) - do they have what it takes?

And as a backdrop for Sarah Palin's prime-time outing on Thursday, it could not be worse. I hear she has been accusing Joe Biden of being old. Eh?

Palin under pressure

Justin Webb | 08:45 UK time, Monday, 29 September 2008

Comments

My guess is that John McCain would like the bail-out - sorry, rescue plan - sorry, national investment strategy - to pass only at the end of the week, in order to divert attention from the train-wreck in St Louis on Thursday when the woman rational, educated Americans regard with ever-increasing horror steps into the ring with Joe Biden.

I think it is perfectly possible that Palin will "win" - some good pre-prepared stunts should do the trick - but at a cost: further alienation of the college-educated centre ground. Palin fever still exists at the grassroots but it has disappeared among the Republican elite and been replaced by plain old sweats. This is typical of what you hear. There is increasing confidence on the left that she can and should be attacked and no shortage of material that suggests a clean-cut hockey mom image is about to be destroyed.

McCain said in the debate that he and he alone of the two candidates understood the difference between tactics and strategy. His problem is that he is all tactics, Sarah Palin being proof of that. And Obama is all strategy, which is not ideal either...

The First US Presidential Debate - Live

Justin Webb | 01:28 UK time, Saturday, 27 September 2008

Comments

First blood to John McCain -- see the ad on this page which was apparently placed early by mistake!

The best thing about this debate is its open format. I expect McCain to win in the sense of connecting with America. He needs to use humour to leap artfully over the nonsense of the last few days...

2007: Barack Obama moves quickly onto the attack - the suggestion that McCain backed the kind of deregulation that led to the crisis.

2010: When McCain said "I havent been feeling too good recently" it certainly got my attention - but he meant about the country.

2012: Neither answers the question of whether they will vote for the plan - (McCain gets closer with I hope so). I wish the moderator could interrupt them (but that would be un-American).

2014: Mr McCain's line on holding people accountable was sharp - Mr Obama agreed but then got academic and windy.

2016: McCain has a fundamental belief in America - gosh. This would be laughed at in any other western nation as a gambit in a serious debate.

2018: Mr McCain looks highly prepared - the attack on Mr Obama on earmarks had a nice line or two but I am sure I have heard some of it before.

2021: Mr McCain is not looking at Mr Obama - he looks oddly aggressive.

2027: They are talking past each other - McCain on earmarks, Obama on health.

2029: This is a huge disappointment - set piece memorised stuff from both candidates. Nothing revealed about either of them: Obama wants college for everyone in the US - gosh again.

2032: McCain is talking now about the money he saved the taxpayer - people went to federal prison he says. Spenders will be scruubbed - eliminated!

2034: The questioning is limp, pathetic even. How America misses a John Humphrys or a David Dimbleby - someone who stips out this time consuming nonsense!

2042: Now Mr Obama is on the attack with the idea that Mr McCain is a Bush clone and must take responsibility for the Bush years. Mr McCain parries successfully with the fact - and it is a fact - that he and the president have not seen eye to eye on some pretty important questions. Stale. Boring.

2049: On Iraq, Mr Obama makes the case against the war with elegance, but it's an old case against a decision that is gone and finished. Mr McCain equally elegantly suggests that the issue is how to get out now. On that they neither of them sound so convincing. Mr Obama is listing the points on which Mr McCain was wrong. Does this damage him? I suspect not - you can be wrong but of good character. You can be wrong in the past but right on the future. Mr Obama is making a mistake by getting into petty fights about Senate votes: "I voted for this but against that" etc.

2053: Victories: Mr McCain has only said "my friends" once (I think) and Mr Obama has not ummed and arred as much as he sometimes does.

2057: Mr Obama hits a good one suggesting that he won't take lectures on saying unwise things from someone who has sung songs about bombing Iran.

2059: Mr McCain has a slightly patronising tone - I don't think Senator Obama understands etc. Could this work for an older man?

2104: Mr Obama has brought up the old throwaway line by Mr McCain that "we can muddle through" and Mr McCain is angry - again he says Mr Obama "does not seem to understand".

2107: Iran now. To bomb or not to bomb. Mr McCain is talking about his League of Democracies - taking on the world. Would it involve Venezuela? Singapore? Georgia? Russia? (only kidding). Of course, the moderator doesn't ask - that would be rude...

2109: Oops - Mr Obama is defending some senate measure again - it sounds silly and defensive.

2110: Mr Obama on Iran: we cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran. He makes a subtle point about engaging non-democracies... Mr McCain is having trouble with Ahmadinejad pronunciation (and I am with spelling!).

2113: On talking to enemies it's a tie - Mr McCain doesn't rule it out and Obama doesn't rule it in.

2116: Here is another thing that Senator Obama "does not seem to understand", according to Mr McCain: something to do with talking to ones enemies. Mr Obama hit him with the suggestion that he has refused to speak to the prime minister of Spain - making Mr McCain look angry and silly is a good tactic, though he has failed to use it to much effect.

2118: Great McCain line: "So we sit down with Iran and they say they'll wipe Israel off the face of the map and we say "no you won't" The first time in the debate that Mr Obama looks discomfited and annoyed.

2119: Mr Obama calls Ukraine "the Ukraine" - even the mayor of Wasilla probably knows it hasn't been that for some time...

2223: Mr McCain is good on how nasty the Russians are, but what do to about it? We want to work with the Russians but we expect them to behave. And if they don't? Oh, silly me, nobody asks - this is a presidential debate...

2132: Mr McCain on the likelihood of an attack on the US: we are safer but a long way from safe. Mr Obama says the biggest threat is terrorists getting nuclear weapons. He also talks about restoring respect and gives credit to McCain on torture. With Mr McCain we are back to Senator Obama "not understanding" something. I think he has used that phrase, my friends, too many times...

2136: Mr Obama seems to suggest that America is weaker everywhere - everywhere - because of Iraq. It's a telling point - he is much more successful when talking about the mistakes of the past than about the policies of the future. Mr McCain makes a direct attack on Mr Obama - he does not have the knowledge and experience. In a neat twist, he suggests Mr Obama is as stubborn as President Bush! This is a good line - I have met people who see Obama as another Bush - inexperienced and charming.

Conclusion: All in all a waste of time. I take it back - Mr McCain was quite right to consider ditching it. Flabby and insipid - too long and too unfocused to tell us anything. Obama is cool and McCain is tough. Big deal.

A big one

Justin Webb | 19:25 UK time, Friday, 26 September 2008

Comments (503)

Quite a big one then, this debate.

The issues are set out here and the reason he had to go here.

Just as well he sorted out the financial crisis before getting there as he (kind of) promised.

Didn't he?

Mind-boggling contempt for Bush

Justin Webb | 04:41 UK time, Friday, 26 September 2008

Comments

This is now a political as well as an economic crisis. President Bush has lost authority to an extent that must be unprecedented in modern times. Even lame duck presidents normally retain a modicum of respect in their own homes. His party - in particular House Republicans - are treating him with a contempt that boggles the mind. To think we lazily refer to the US president as the most powerful man in the world. He is as powerful as the mayor of Wasilla right now. Credit to the House Republicans: they fight for what they believe in. But John McCain - what does he stand for? Does he back the party rebels or the president - he won't say. As things stand, he stands for not debating.
I stand to be corrected (as usual) but I cannot believe the American people are sitting back and saying, "Good show, John."

American seriousness

Justin Webb | 15:27 UK time, Thursday, 25 September 2008

Comments

I am taken to task by gunsandreligion and others for failing to grasp the severity of the situation but I suppose that is my point: that in a grave situation the job of the leader is to be grave but not act jumpy!

This echoes my view, though for the sake of balance here is the opposing case made with some gusto.

How he can oppose the deal but approve of McCain's effort to get it passed is beyond me, though.

So is America finished?

President Bush last night reminded me of the Japanese Emperor after the atom bombs and Japan's surrender with that famous understatement: "The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage."

His presidency ends now in calamity - only the death of Osama Bin Laden before January can rescue it.

As for his nation, I take away two things from the last week.

First, that the notion of exceptionalism is up for grabs and can be re-tooled in a way that many Americans might actually find more comfortable and less demanding (it's the example, stupid!).

But secondly, that American seriousness of purpose (in spite of Mr McCain) is well reflected in a Congress that takes time to think about issues before passing them on the nod, even grave issues.

In the British parliamentary system, we sometimes take the quick action route and always regret it.

Nailing a sneezing maverick

Justin Webb | 03:40 UK time, Thursday, 25 September 2008

Comments

In times of crisis you really need a maverick at the top. Or perhaps, the American people are beginning to wonder, not. In the swing states they are swinging away from McCain. The candidate's behaviour is surely the cause of this, rather than any new Obama effort. For McCain to go on television with his dramatic statement but not mention that Obama had called him earlier in the day was simply bizarre. Did he think the Obama people would forget? Or not mention it? I talked to a senior Republican a few weeks ago who said "I hope John doesn't catch a cold" - well, he has. He is sneezing and his party is worried.
This measured piece makes sense and there will be plenty more partisan attacks out there. Now if he goes to the debate he will look as if he has been dragged there; if he doesn't go he will look frightened. This is an unhappy situation he has created entirely for himself. To panic and dash about the nation suspending campaigns and mentioning 9/11 will seem odd to most Americans. President Bush looked much calmer and Barack Obama - with his laconic observation that presidents have to be able to focus on more than one thing at a time - nailed him. There is plenty of time for the tables to be turned but this is Obama's week - a strong debate showing would put him in a very strong postion for the final month of campaigning ....

Straight talk from Obama

Justin Webb | 19:34 UK time, Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Comments

This is shockingly statesmanlike, but I do think the nation is ready to be told that it has to face up to these hard times and take whatever medicine is on offer.

Straight talk from both candidates would involve the news that taxes will have to rise and spending fall over the short- to medium-term - probably most taxes and most spending.

Interesting suggestion here that Joe Biden has actually benefitted from the Palin phenomenon because it has kept him in the shadows where his errors go un-noticed.

I love these pieces setting out ghastly things that never quite come to pass.

But you cannot argue with the fact that the above scenario is at least technically possible, as is the equally ghastly one whereby one candidate gets a very sizeable majority of the votes but loses narrowly in some key states so still goes down.

UPDATE

There is now no doubt that Obama is benefiting from the financial crisis. He must be rueing his (successful) effort to get the first debate on Friday changed from domestic to foreign affairs. Ooops.

Should McCain have picked Romney?

Justin Webb | 22:32 UK time, Monday, 22 September 2008

Comments

The Palin bounce is disappearing quicker than you can say "Geraldine Ferraro" - and the value of steady, elderly well-connected chaps (Paulson et al) is rising fast.

The Republicans would have had a miserable convention with Tom Ridge on the ticket or Mitt Romney, but this week they would be climbing instead of falling and issuing plans for rescuing the capitalist system rather than railing at greedy Wall Street bankers or calling for people nobody has ever heard of to be fired.

Will they listen now to the siren voices suggesting desperate measures? I doubt it.

But the author of that piece (a charming and witty man I might add) was also one of the team behind the Willy Horton ad.

If Obama does well on Friday he'd better watch his back.


Winning on tone, not policy

Justin Webb | 03:17 UK time, Monday, 22 September 2008

Comments

Do Obama and McCain dare to face down the effective president pro tem, Treasury Sec Henry Paulson? Over the weekend it seemed that Paulson was making progress and that congress would sign the Wall St rescue deal soon -- now Obama and McCain have both jumped on the oversight bandwagon and it's going to get rough again. But the fact is that the candidates are trying to make a mark having failed so far to convince any serious commentators that they have a real alternative vision to Paulson's. Tax cuts? Err - guys, the money has just been spent on Wall St as this piece makes clear.

The interesting thing is that round one of the meltdown slapdown has been won by Obama on tone, not policy - and that has to be a worry for Republicans. Calling for the sacking of the boss of the Securities Commission (as McCain did) seemed oddly unpresidential. So did the remark about the fundamentals being sound - did he not know that a new twist to the crisis was looming? America is addicted not to oil but to debt. It is as much a moral problem as an economic one. But foreigners thinking (hoping?) that it is all over this time for the US and its global leadership will likely as not be as disappointed as they always have been in the past as this Brit points out.

Meanwhile I post this simply, as they say in Northern Ireland, for badness!

Hagel questions Palin's experience

Justin Webb | 15:46 UK time, Thursday, 18 September 2008

Comments

This is important - removed from all the internet-based nonsense, this kind of thing will have an effect on independents.

Too kind to burn witches

Justin Webb | 09:15 UK time, Thursday, 18 September 2008

Comments

At the risk of losing some friends, I must say I think some of the anti-Palin stuff in comments on recent postings has gone way over the top.

She is not the harbinger of some dark witch-burning retreat into superstition and irrationality.

Even if she became president the Democrats would control Congress, and anyway her views (on abortion for instance) are simply unpopular in the nation as a whole.

Look at the polls. Look at what happened in South Dakota when they tried a Palin-style law against almost all abortions. It was struck down.

The changes of heart on the Bridge to Nowhere et al suggest as well that she is a politician (yippee!) and well capable of bending with the flow, so don't expect her to call for witches to be burned if that doesn't play too well in the focus groups.

Americans are generally too kindly to take to all this Old Testament stuff in really large numbers and the creationist museum in Kentucky is - literally and metaphorically - isolated.

The social conservaties perished (well, all right, lost this battle) with Terri Schiavo.

Lotta sense on Palin

Justin Webb | 08:08 UK time, Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Comments

I see our efforts with this new series on BBC radio have been appreciated by at least one person living in the US and the series itself is now well under way.

Lotta sense in this piece whether or not you think it's a good or bad thing...

Palin's bounce - and Ferraro's

Justin Webb | 23:53 UK time, Sunday, 14 September 2008

Comments

This comes into the category of "news we could have used some time ago" but fascinating nonetheless. Wasn't the decision to execute the Rosenbergs bestial and unforgiveable by dint of the simple fact that they had two pre-teen children? To cause such suffering to innocent youngsters just seems, well, worthy of the behaviour of America's enemies at the time (and current enemies as well).

I am in the UK for a brief visit to launch one of the BBC's contributions to the tsunami of America-related coverage planned for the next few months. This will be the best. (I can say that since I have nothing to do with the series itself!)

Britons' view of the US has been further complicated by Russell Brand's troubles (he called the President a retard) leading to much analysis of Why We Are So Different - of which this was the best.

I haven't yet seen the whole of Sarah Palin's interview but it is the start of the process by which she comes to earth.

Everyone in the UK is worried President Palin will declare war on Russia mistaking it for an errant dinosaur, though I think this piece is reasonable in pointing out that she was hardly declaring the Russia war, just playing tough.

But it gets tougher for her from here, far tougher. Geraldine Ferraro's bounce lasted two months.

Reactions to Obama's 'lipstick' comments

Justin Webb | 20:58 UK time, Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Comments

Responses to "lippygate" range from the trenchant to the sympathetic but over over over academic. (The idea of the media "unearthing facts" devoid of context is simply silly - havent we understood for decades that even science exists in a broad context of human thought processes and prejudices: don't journalism professors have to study this fellow...)

All of this hugely interesting for another area of scientific enquiry: the psychology of voting behaviour. Do facts matter?

Has Gordon Brown endorsed Obama?

Justin Webb | 20:21 UK time, Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Comments

As the outside world gets increasingly nervous about the prospects of Obama losing (prospects which, frankly, are neither increased nor decreased by recent events I suspect) this is an interesting aside.

Gordon Brown and John McCain share a temper (according to those who claim to know) but little else it seems.

A great reading list

Justin Webb | 08:57 UK time, Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Comments

A correspondent sends me a list of books people are claiming Sarah Palin tried to ban in her local library when she was mayor. It is plainly fake. Apart from anything, I doubt Wasilla library has the shelf space. Great list - someone who read them all would emerge more civilised than when they started...

A Wrinkle in Time by L'Engle
Brave New World by Huxley
Catch 22 by Heller
Clockwork Orange by Burgess
As I lay Dying by Faulkner
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Confession by Rousseau
Death of a Salesman by Miller
Flowers for Algernon by Keyes
Lady Chatterleys Lover by Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood by the Grimm Brothers
Lord of the Flies by Golding
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck
To Kill a Mocking Bird by Lee
One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest by Kesey
The Chocolate War by Cormier
Pigman by Zindel

I do hope that when the first interviews are given the curse of access journalism (mustn't upset her as we need to get to McCain) does not stop someone asking about Lady Chatterley's Lover. What has she got against lusty working-class English folk!

I suspect she would laugh and be perfectly charming about it all. And that, My Friends, is a problem for the Democrats: cheap smears on the internet do not add up to an anti-Palin policy. Obama knows this...

Disappointment?

Justin Webb | 05:39 UK time, Friday, 5 September 2008

Comments

Here's the reaction from the heartland.

And this from the unconvinced.

I have to say, from my vantage point next to the DC delegation, my overall impression was that the audience in the hall were disappointed. The whisper uttered by a strong man can work in a big hall but he seemed rather engulfed and hemmed in. He was never in control.

The biggest cheers were for Sarah Palin, but what does this say about his dominance of his own ticket? She, after all, disagrees with him on one central platform item (man-made climate change) and one suspects on others as well.

That having been said, he has a certain grace, an inner strength that I suspect will have played well where serious people were watching carefully and wondering about leadership - particularly if their fears are about war and terrorism rather than the economy.

As I was leaving, the North Carolina placename fell (or was pushed over) and struck me a glancing blow before banging heavily on to the head of a woman standing next to it. Medics appeared and there was some concern, though she's OK I am glad to say. But a lucky escape for her - and for the convention...

John McCain's speech - live

Justin Webb | 02:27 UK time, Friday, 5 September 2008

Comments

I'll be commenting on John McCain's acceptance speech live, so please keep refreshing your page to read my most recent updates.

21:17: A slightly tentative start from John McCain with praise for Laura Bush. Most Americans know that the Bushes and McCains are not close. He can't waste time in this speech with platitudes - he's got to say something exciting.

21:21: The stage is low, looking in from the side. It appears that John McCain is attached to the crowd. It's a nice effect - it certainly works from the angle I'm at.

21:25: A protestor is shouting - the crowd is drowning him out with prolonged shouts of "USA".

21:26: This is now becoming a serious distraction. Another protestor is shouting as he's hauled out of the arena - will McCain be put off his stride?

21:27: The protestor's silenced now - and there's a huge cheer for a mention of Sarah Palin.

21:30: A strange part of th speech now where he's talking about changing Washington - does he think President Bush has been a good thing or a bad thing? It's one of the questions he's going to have to address in the speech. It's almost as if the enemy has been in power in Washington for the last eight years.

21:36: An important little story now about a family having a tough life in the heartland. It ends with him saying: "Their lives matter to me". If people believe that, McCain has a chance of winning this. If he's unconvincing he simply can't win. And he knows the polls show most people don't think he understands their lives.

21:41: We've reached a section of the speech where he goes through the things he would do and the things Obama would do - with cheers for him and boos for Obama. The audience is energised but I'm not sure it plays that well around the nation.

21:42: A good line on jobs: "We're going to help workers who've lost a job that won't come back to find a new one that won't go away".

21:44: A promise for more choice in education gets good cheers as well. This is the kind of thing that the country needs to hear, though frankly I think this audience would rather be cheering and booing - and they're still dreaming of Sarah...

21:47: A big cheer as well for a promise to drill new oil wells off the American coast. Funny, he hasn't mentioned man-made global warming. The Iron Lady from Alaska doesn't think it exists. A real straight-talk express line would have been to tell this audience - and her - that it does.

21:51: A promise of solidarity with Georgia is almost whispered. It's a style that leaves the audience here a little non-plussed but I suspect on TV it works quite well. He looks calm and controlled. A ranting McCain would frighten the horses.

21: 52: Again, when he says "I know how to stand up to those who oppose us", he whispers it. The line has little effect in the hall but may well strike a chord outside.

21:54: I thought for one brief and very strange moment that Cindy McCain had walked out. This would be news event. In fact I would probably have to stop blogging to cover it. But in fact the family have simply moved behind the scenes to prepare to join him on the stage later.

21:58: He tells the story of being shot down over Vietnam with a twinkly charm. Humorous, but it brings you up short to look at him - a 72-year old man - and to think what his body has been through. And his mind.

22:01: I wonder if part of his low-key speaking style is a deliberate effort to draw a distinction between himself and Obama.

22:05: The end of the speech is almost entirely drowned out by cheering. Most people can't hear what he's staying but they don't care. They think there ought to be one rousing moment so they've decide to make one for themselves.

Thanks for reading - log on later on when i'll be giving you a more considered take - and other people's reactions as well.


America's answer to Thatcher?

Justin Webb | 16:03 UK time, Thursday, 4 September 2008

Comments

I wonder if the USA has found its Margaret Thatcher. Strident and self confident - immensely grating on those who do not like her, but immensely pleasing to those who do.

I still think Sarah Palin could disappear in a puff of smoke - but if she is strong, really strong this is what awaits.

The Thatcher likeness is striking to British commentators - and supporters of the Iron Lady see similarities in the treatment meted out to them...

Palin's punches

Justin Webb | 06:18 UK time, Thursday, 4 September 2008

Comments

I liked the parliamentary-style jabs at Obama and they have peppered the news coverage, though I still think she is skating on thin ice. Rudy Giuliani stirred the crowd with a demand that "they" stop asking her how she can cope with her parental opportunties as well as this new job. Strikes me that it is a perfectly reasonable question - you could argue that tiny babies need mums more than dads - and anyway "they" are mostly on the right, as here.

Is she tough or is she reckless? This is downright strange if it is true.

An interesting conversation with one of my favourite Republicans, Dick Armey of Texas, the former congressional leader. He says he supports Mrs Palin BUT he does not support this method of choosing vice presidential candidates - instead he suggests that the vice-presidential pick runs alongside the main man (oops, or woman) on the ticket. So they run as a couple and are elected in the primaries as a couple. Patronage and rolling the dice is replaced by good old democracy. Sounds wise, like so many of Dick's views. .....

Carly Fiorina on Sarah Palin

Justin Webb | 16:34 UK time, Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Comments

I agree with those who say she is not the new Eagleton: ditching her would destroy McCain's campaign. It is interesting to get the take of party insiders who are not natural backers of Sarah Palin though, and I sat down with Carly Fiorina, one of McCain's senior advisors and strongest surrogates.

Here it is:

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Eagleton?

Justin Webb | 17:35 UK time, Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Comments

Thomas Eagleton?

The Palin pregnancy

Justin Webb | 20:22 UK time, Monday, 1 September 2008

Comments

The news of Sarah Palin's daughter's pregnancy is gut-wrenching for Republicans. After a gulp or two, and the evangelical equivalent of a stiff drink, it certainly will not affect their affections for this vice-presidential candidate among social conservatives (she is, after all, doing the right thing in socially conservative circles by not having an abortion).

And the fact is that her situation is not unusual in America, but it must lead to mutterings in the country club set about the direction the McCain camp is taking the party: into the unknown.

UPDATE: I have just been on the convention floor in the moments before it began and I think this piece has it about right in terms of early reaction: I talked to a handful of people, all of whom said it was a private family matter. Plenty more listened in and did not seek to diffeR.

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