Tuesday night’s three GOP headliners — Fred Thompson, George W. Bush, and Joe Lieberman — all get through speeches that don’t mention the war in Afghanistan at all.
I don’t have the credentials necessary to go to the actual convention, but according to folks I’ve talked to it’s been low energy in the Xcel Energy Center and a not-exactly-packed house. Indeed, President George W. Bush didn’t even bother to show up in person to deliver the following bizarre smear about how “If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain’s resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry Left never will.”
The analogy between American liberals and Vietnamese Communists is extremely offensive. As is the analogy between criticizing McCain’s policy ideas and subjecting him to physical torture and imprisonment. As is the imputation of bad faith — that right and left can’t just disagree about what’s best for the country, but rather in Bush’s view the left is self-consciously pushing a bad-for-America agenda. And last, of course, it’s not the “angry left” that’s brought institutionalized torture and indefinite detention to the United States of America. Joe Klein says “the most striking thing about the evening was what was missing: even the slightest wisp of substance.”
Tonight in his address via satellite to the Republican National Convention, President Bush blasted Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) critics. Invoking McCain’s time as a POW in a North Vietnamese prison, Bush compared these torturers to members of the “angry Left”:
If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain’s resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry Left never will.
Bush received a loud, standing ovation. Watch it:
In an interview with ThinkProgress yesterday at the Republican National Convention, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) joined the long line of conservatives pushing this talking point, claiming Palin had fully “defeated” the corruption in Alaska:
They play their politics tough. It was somewhat of an old boy’s club that developed over the years. … She did challenge it. She challenged it as an underdog, as an outsider. She succeeded There is obviously some corruption up there. She dared to challenge it. She defeated it.
It’s hard to see how Palin “dared to challenge” the corruption in her state, in particular, the case of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), who was recently indicted by a federal grand jury with seven counts of making false statements for failing to disclose $250,000 in gifts from VECO oil company. Ironically, VECO has ties to Palin, contributing 10 percent of her campaign funds when she ran for lieutenant governor in 2002.
In July, Palin refused to call for Stevens’ resignation. The Washington Post reported today that she previously served as the director of the 527 group Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service.” Despite her claim that she refused Stevens’ “Bridge to Nowhere,” Palin has repeatedly stated her desire to renew federal funding for the bridge.
In the interview, Lungren scoffed at Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) background:
I checked her background and the only thing I can find that she doesn’t have in her background is she wasn’t a community organizer. And yet we have a person running for president for whom that seems to be the major reason to elect him as President. All I know is Alaska that is a very tough state.
Lungren also launched a false attack on Obama, claiming he has not had a “major piece of legislation” and “hasn’t contributed significantly to any major debate we’ve had” in Congress. Apparently, legislation on nuclear non-proliferation, government transparency, and ethics reform don’t count.
The Washington Post reported today that, as mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin hired a lobbyist to secure nearly $27 million in federal funds for the town, and that the lobbyist, Steven Silver, had “close ties” to Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK). TMPMuckraker has found that Silver also listed convicted felon Jack Abramoff’s firm, Greenberg Traurig, as a client:
On Greenberg’s behalf, Silver lobbied the federal government on “issues relating to Indian/Native American policy,” “exploration for oil and gas” and “legislation relating to gaming issues” — the very issues that Abramoff headed up for Greenberg at the time. In other words, Silver appears to have been a part of “Team Abramoff.”
E-mails released during the Abramoff investigation showed a scheduled meeting between between Silver and Abramoff in 2001.
A new Department of Justice inspector general report released today found that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales improperly handled secret information regarding the government’s most sensitive national security programs. DOJ officials have reportedly looked at the report “but did not find a case to prosecute.”
But Gonzales may have done more than just “improperly handle” classified national security documents. CQ’s Spy Talk blog reports that there is “strong evidence” in the report “that the former attorney general lied to federal investigators probing his careless handling of highly classified documents.”
According to the IG report, Gonzales told investigators that he did not know that documents he handled relating to the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program were classified:
Gonzales said that he was unaware of the classification level and compartmented nature of the NSA program he referenced in the notes. Gonzales also stated he did not recall thinking that the notes themselves were classified.
Yet the report also says that an envelope containing the documents were marked “top secret” by Alberto Gonzales himself:
The envelope containing documents related to the NSA surveillance program bore the handwritten markings, “TOP SECRET – EYES ONLY – ARG” [the attorney general's initials] followed by an abbreviation for the SCI codeword for the program.
House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-MI) said it is “shocking” that Gonzales mishandled the documents, adding that the “department ought to explain clearly why it declined to pursue charges against Mr. Gonzales and what actions it intends to take in response to the report.”
In an August, 30, Today Show interview, former Speaker of the House and American Solutions For Winning The Future mastermind Newt Gingrich (R-GA) praised the “courage” and “experience” of Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), whom Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) had announced as his running mate. Newt claimed:
Interestingly, she’s the first journalist ever to be nominated, I think, for the president or vice president. She was a sportscaster on local television, so she has a lot of interesting background.
Gingrich, a Ph. D. historian, should know that claim is laughably false. There have been at least two presidents and two vice presidents who were professional journalists before being elected to office, most recently Vice President Al Gore:
Albert Gore, Jr. 45th U.S. Vice President (1993-2000), and Democratic nominee for president, 2000. Gore served as an Army journalist at Fort Rucker and in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971 and became an investigative reporter for the Tennesseean upon his return. [Biography.com]
Warren G. Harding 29th U.S. President (1921-1923). Harding was the publisher and editor of the Marion Daily Star (Ohio), before entering political office. [Grolier]
William Howard Taft 27th U.S. President (1909-1912). Taft worked briefly as a legal reporter with the Cincinnati Times and the Cincinnati Commercial. [Encyclopedia Britannica]
Charles W. Fairbanks 26th U.S. Vice President (1905-1908). Fairbanks co-edited The Western Collegian at Ohio Wesleyan University and worked for the Associated Press in Pittsburgh after graduation. [1904 Republican National Convention]
This was, of course, a much smaller confabulation by Newt Gingrich than those of his billionaire-funded “Drill Here, Drill Now” 527 campaign to place American energy policy deeper in the clutches of Exxon Mobil.
(HT: Richard Cohen)
UPDATE: Gingrich repeated the false talking point on Fox News the same day, without any equivocation:
She didn’t go to an elite school, she’s not from Princeton or Harvard or Yale, she went to the University of Idaho. On the other hand, she’s the first journalist ever to be named to a national ticket. I think, as a journalism major, she’s going to raise some very interesting questions for a lot of reporters.
In an interview with ThinkProgress earlier today in St. Paul, progressive radio (and soon-to-be-TV) host Rachel Maddow called the decision-making process for John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin “shocking.” “Nobody can quite believe that John McCain picked her,” she said, adding, “I think the question right now is whether or not the choice is going to be withdrawn.” The decision to replace her needs to happen “very quickly,” Maddow said, “before it gets very complicated with the rules of the RNC“:
And I think that that’s actually what people are thinking about, rather than what will Sarah Palin mean for the country. I don’t get the sense that anybody is totally committed to the idea that she is going to be vice president, or even the vice presidential nominee.
This has been greeted with such shock — and with every salacious detail about stuff that wasn’t vetted coming to the floor seemingly with each hour of the news cycle — it is becoming less likely by the hour that Palin will still be John McCain’s nominee even by the end of the week.
Today, Focus on the Family founder and chairman James Dobson vigorously promoted Gov. Sarah Palin on Laura Ingraham’s radio show. Responding to critics who say Palin as a mother of five — including an infant with Down Syndrome — might be too busy to be Vice President, Dobson declared it “a personal matter,” and lauded the fact that Palin still cooks for her children:
DOBSON: I think that is her choice. That’s a personal matter that’s in her own family. And she seems to be doing it well. She loves her kids, she loves her family. … When she was elected governor, she eliminated the position of chef at the mansion because she wanted to do the cooking for her own family. I mean, this is a very unique, special lady.
Of course, Dobson and his group haven’t always embraced career moms. In his book, “The New Dare to Discipline,” Dobson “blames the supposed crumbling of ‘moral values’ and [the] ‘anarchy that is now rumbling through the midsection of democracy’ on working mothers and ‘permissiveness.’” Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, cheered the fact that fewer women aim to be working moms, “a reflection,” he says, “of a renewed realization that nothing is more important than being there for your kids.”
Dobson has gone even further, painting a dire portrait of an exhausted working mom — whose 9-5 job pales in comparison to the 24-hour job of Vice President — who could “go over the edge” at any moment:
DR. DOBSON: Some women are able to maintain a busy career and a bustling family at the same time, and they do it beautifully. I admire them for their discipline and dedication. It has been my observation, however, that this dual responsibility is a formula for exhaustion and frustration for many others. It can be a never-ending struggle for survival. … Consider what it is like to be a mother of young children who must arise early in the morning, get her kids dressed, fed and located for the day, then drive to work, labour from nine to five, go by the grocery store and pick up some stuff for dinner, retrieve the kids at the child-care centre and then drive home. She is dog-tired by that point and needs to put her feet up for a few minutes. But she can’t rest. The kids are hungry, and they’ve been waiting to see her all day. [...]
On weekends, there’s housecleaning to do, clothes to be ironed and pants to be mended. … A little push in any direction and she could go over the edge.
Dobson does say that a mother “has that right” to choose to work, and that “it is nobody’s business but her’s and her husband’s,” but his dire warning paints a far different picture than his enthusiastic support of Chef Palin today.
In a book he co-authored in 2006, Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin — speaking for traditional media — wrote that the Drudge Report “rules our world.” During a media panel hosted by the Politico this afternoon in St. Paul, a questioner asked the reporters what websites they turned to first every morning to get their news. Nearly all the reporters said Drudge still rules their world. Fox News contributor and Fortune Magazine journalist Nina Easton had lavish praise for Drudge:
NINA EASTON: I use Drudge. I think Drudge is really, really useful on keeping up on things. If I have to go on-air in 10 minutes, and I need to make sure I’m not missing something, something didn’t break. I just click on Drudge. I think Drudge has gotten less partisan, or you know, whatever it was at the beginning. I think it really is, if you want to know what’s in the water table of the news, you gotta click on it several times a day.
Only Politico’s Jim Vandehei mentioned a liberal site. “Almost every day, I start by going to Drudge and then Huffington,” he said, to get an idea of “what people are popping on both the left and the right.”