Tag Archives: sarah palin

DOUBLETAKE: The race goes up the creek

Doubletake, the summer sensation, is back for the new fall season. Every day, Tribune correspondents Jim Oliphant and Jim Tankersley take you around the Moon and back, metaphorically-speaking. Doubletake is also a floor wax and a dessert topping.

Jim Oliphant: So this is a little strange. For the benefit of those reading (that’s you, Dad), Tankersley and I never do this when we are actually face to face. But today both of us are here at the Tribune’s Washington bureau.

Jim Tankersley: It’s like a very special episode of Doubletake— a gimmick to celebrate our return from brief hiatus. Tomorrow, Shannen Doherty will guest star.

Oliphant: Hmm. I’ve heard she’s difficult to work with.

Tankersley: Tori Spelling was unavailable.

Oliphant: If there is one thing Tori Spelling is, it’s available. But I don’t know what is freaking me out more. Sitting here next to you or the fact that you are wearing a tie.

Tankersley: Huh. And here I thought that second sentence was going to be “the potentially imminent collapse of global financial markets or the possibility that Tina Fey won’t cameo on every SNL episode through Election Day.”

Oliphant: All in good time, my friend. It takes time to weave a tapestry. I would rather note that you are wearing a tie, with jeans. Which seems to me very Dustin Hoffman in All the President’s Men, even though I’m not sure whether he actually dressed like that. But we can talk about the, you know, collapse of the American economy too, I guess. Not that I can tell you what credit swap derivatives are–except that they are derivative of something. Continue reading


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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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Is Sarah Palin another Harriet Miers?


She was a woman named to one of the highest positions in the land. The choice was a shock. Immediately, calls went out that she was unqualified, and that the pick had trivialized the institution.

That woman, of course, was Harriet Miers.

When President George W. Bush named his White House lawyer to the Supreme Court in 2005, the backlash was almost immediate and her credentials were subject to withering review.

The harshest critique came not from Democrats, but from intellectuals within the Republican Party, who were concerned that Miers, who had been a corporate lawyer with a firm in Dallas before signing on with then-Gov. Bush, didn’t have the brainpower and background to advance the conservative legal agenda.

By all accounts, Miers was a reliable Christian conservative, but that wasn’t enough. The din grew so loud that Miers gave the president a way out. She withdrew her nomination, and Bush picked Samuel Alito, a long-time federal appeals judge–a choice that was met with acclaim by the conservatives who pushed Miers out.

While Alito seems to have settled in, some on both sides of the philosophical divide still lament that a chance to add a second woman to the court went by the boards. Ruth Bader Ginsburg remains just one of nine. Bush had tabbed Miers because, he said, he was intent on nominating a woman.

This time around, the controversial female nominee is Sarah Palin, who ascended to the governorship of Alaska after serving as a mayor of tiny Wasilla. Again, the pick seemed to come out of nowhere, and the shock is still being felt in some circles.

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