Category Archives: 2008 Election

Battleground fatigue: A letter from Columbus

By James Oliphant
Tribune correspondent

October 28, 2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Here’s one random sampling from a battleground state, with some margin for error.

“I just want it to end,” my father says. “Make it stop.”

The phone has just rung, and he knows the number. Knows not to answer. “It’s just them,” he mutters.

“Them,” by the way, is a non-partisan designation. When it comes to wanting to be left alone, my father is politically agnostic. It really isn’t his fault. He’s lived here going on 40 years and has watched, helplessly, as his once-sleepy town sprouted up around him, went major-league and now is suffering the consequences of being the most divided large city in one of the most divided states in the union.

Throw in advances in technology and the transformational effect of hundreds of millions in cash, and there is literally nowhere to hide. John McCain, Barack Obama and their surrogates can’t be ducked or dodged. They’re on television, on the phone, pounding on doors, sending mail. When it’s one-and-one, they call that felony stalking. Writ large, it’s the modern political campaign in a make-or-break state.

There’s no relief. Michelle Obama was here Friday. McCain Sunday. It’s like the old joke about the weather here. Don’t like it? Wait. Continue reading

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If McCain went Hollywood

John Woo, Kevin Smith and Wes Anderson weigh in. Well, not really.

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Biden: No brain scans for aneurysms

joe-biden.jpg

The Chicago Tribune reports that among recent medical records released by Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, there are no scans that might indicate the potential for another dehabilitating aneurysm such as the ones he suffered 20 years ago. Biden, 65, had multiple brain surgeries following the attacks.

Here’s the report:

Newly released medical records from vice presidential candidate Joe Biden do not include the results of any recent brain scans, which some experts consider necessary to assess whether the senator is at risk for a repeat of the brain aneurysms that nearly killed him 20 years ago. Biden’s most recent physical exam in July showed him to be in good health, according to a letter from Dr. John Eisold that the campaign released Monday. The letter from Eisold, who is the attending physician for Congress, described Biden’s cardiac capacity as excellent.

But the 49 pages of records the campaign released gave no indication that Biden’s doctors sought follow-up tests after the serious aneurysms he suffered in 1988. Medical experts are divided over the need for such precautionary brain scans, but many feel it is the only way to be sure a patient is out of danger.

“If this was my patient, I would re-image every three to five years to make sure no new aneurysm had cropped up,” said Dr. Mark Alberts, a professor of neurology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

The health of the candidates on both sides has become a small but growing issue in the last days of the presidential campaign. A comprehensive look on the subject by the New York Times’ Lawrence K. Altman stated that all four candidates on both tickets could be more forthcoming about their physical condition.

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RNC spent $150,000 to glam Palin

Politico has a scoop:

The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.

According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.

The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.

The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.

The cash expenditures immediately raised questions among campaign finance experts about their legality under the Federal Election Commission’s long-standing advisory opinions on using campaign cash to purchase items for personal use.

McCain camp says that it was always intended the clothes would be donated to charity after the election.

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Is Sarah Palin the new Clarence Thomas?

 

For days, I have been wondering why the Sarah Palin Experience has seemed so maddeningly familiar. Last week, I suggested this was all an an echo of the Harriet Miers debacle back in 2005. Well, strike that. Hit the reset button. After Palin hit the ball out of the park at her nomination speech last week, those comparisons left with it. Palin has revealed herself to be a master politician–at least on the stump. (We still don’t know about the press, but why is there any reason to think she can’t handle it?)

This morning, it hit me. This is Clarence Thomas’ nomination fight all over again. 

You will recall last week when GOP pundit Peggy Noonan was caught on an open mic in St. Paul saying that the Republicans were going to push narrative in this campaign instead of experience. That, in a nutshell, was the White House strategy after Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court by the first President Bush back in 1991. 

Thomas had only been a judge for a brief time on the D.C. Circuit appeals court, and before that had been an administrator at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And while Justice Thomas wrote in his recent autobiography, My Grandfather’s Son, that Bush told him he was chosen because he was the best qualified candidate at the time, few believed it then or even now, 17 years later. 

Instead, it looked like a race-based pick. Thurgood Marshall had retired from the court and the thought of turning the bench back into a whites-only club may have seemed unpalatable to Bush–much less to civil rights advocates. But the truth was that Thomas opposed the agenda of those civil rights advocates in almost every way.

Regardless, Thomas was an almost bulletproof selection. Criticize his record and one opened himself to charges of racism–or at the very least, standing in the way of social progress. And as his critics tip-toed softly, afraid of stepping on land-mines, Thomas after his confirmation aggressively embraced and advanced the legal conservative agenda–and does to this day. 

The McCain campaign will tell you until its talking points scream for mercy that Palin wasn’t chosen because she’s a woman, that it was purely because of her record. Even if that was so, since she was tabbed, no one has forgotten for one second that she is a woman, not the press, not the McCain campaign, not anyone. And it appears she is benefitting politically because of her gender, if the polls are to be believed.

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Terre Haute: More images from the trail

 

Is this a shot at the media?

Is this a shot at the media?

 

Obama speaks on the Fannie Mae bailout.

Obama speaks on the Fannie Mae bailout.

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Obama: Images from the trail

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